We are finally ready to share our plans for reopening this fall. This letter is lengthy, but we want to get you as much detail as we can about our plans. There are still many details and logistics to work out but this will give you a framework so you can begin your planning.
Before I get into the plan, please know that we want students back in our buildings to the extent possible. We recognize the difficulties placed on families when we are not physically present at school and the importance academically, socially and emotionally of having students in our buildings. Also please know that these plans can change. There are still discussions taking place at the state level between legislators and the Department of Education that could cause us to shift our plans. In addition, we continue to monitor best practice from local, state, and federal health experts. That said, we felt it important to provide you the information you need in as timely a fashion as is feasible so that you can make your plans.
Our plan consists of three possible scenarios. I will first describe each scenario and then provide information on mitigation efforts, personal protective equipment, meals and transportation. I recognize this information will raise many questions and would ask that you please communicate your questions with us here at school so we can address them in a timely and respectful manner.
Scenario 1: Full Attendance with Family Choice
In this scenario, we plan to bring all kids back to school but provide families with the choice to participate in-person or remotely. We will have students in attendance Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. We would use Wednesdays to deep clean the building, support those families choosing remote learning, support students who are not engaging or are struggling with the learning, and provide professional learning for staff. Some students may be asked to attend to get extra help or get caught up on Wednesdays but they would be in one-on-one or very small group situations. All students not required to be in school will be learning remotely on Wednesdays.
This plan allows us to serve families who prefer in-person instruction at school and families that prefer to keep their children home. It is also very easy to shift from this plan to a five day per week plan if we find we do not need the entire day Wednesday to carry out instruction for all families. If school were to start tomorrow, this is the plan we would use.
Scenario 2: Hybrid Plan
In this scenario all students would be assigned as “A Day” students or “B Day” students. A’s would come to school on Mondays and Thursdays and B’s on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would continue to be used as described in Scenario 1. In
addition, Wednesdays would be used to support students with limited access to the internet as needed. All children in a family would be either A or B. No family would have 1 child attending A days and another child attending B days. Our plan is to have information to families by the end of July on whether they are A or B.
This scenario gives us the opportunity to better provide for social distancing. We predict this scenario might be used if we are shut down for a period of time and then asked to do a “slow reopening”. There are other situations that may cause us to move to scenario 2, however, our best guess at this point is these situations would be limited in duration. For example, we may be closed for 2 weeks doing full remote learning and then back with our hybrid plan for 2 weeks before returning to our full attendance plan.
Scenario 3: Remote Learning
In this scenario all students would be required to do their learning remotely. Voluntary remote learning is no longer an option. My principals and teachers have been working hard to improve the way we do this work. I think it is somewhat comforting to know that since we know so much more about the virus, if we are required to go to remote learning, it will be for a shorter period of time – hopefully two weeks or less. That said, the reality of the situation is that this might be required so we are planning accordingly.
In order to mitigate the spread of the virus, we are implementing the following protocols.
Buildings will be deep cleaned every Wednesday and at some point after students are out of the building on Fridays.
Students will be asked to help wipe high-touch areas several times throughout the day with safe sanitizers.
Extra furniture with soft surfaces will be removed, as they are difficult to sanitize.
Families will be asked to monitor temperatures and keep kids home if they have symptoms
PPE and Distancing
The following practices will be incorporated to help with mitigation.
• Face coverings will be strongly encouraged, particularly during times
(passing time for example) when distancing is difficult. We will be providing facemasks for all students and some face shields. We are also asking families to help us out by providing their own, as they are able. Although we are not requiring face coverings, for the protection of all involved we are asking for cooperation and support in our efforts to mitigate.
Students will be distanced in classrooms and other areas to the extent possible. When practicable, desks will be in rows and facing the same direction. In classrooms where that is not possible, plastic barriers will be installed.
We have a scheduling committee working on logistics for times when distancing is particularly difficult including recess, passing times, and before and after school. More to come on this.
Middle and High School students will be asked to use hand sanitizer upon entering each classroom. Elementary students will be asked to sanitize often.
Explicit instruction on hand sanitization and wearing of face coverings will be provided to all students.
School busses will be sanitized daily.
Meals: The following practices will be utilized to ensure safe feeding of students:
Breakfast and lunch will be available to all students every day; regardless of
if they are attending in person or remotely. That includes Wednesdays for all students. Families will be asked to indicate whether they intend to take advantage of meals on remote days, much like our summer grab-and-go program.
Meals will be served to students. There will be no shared utensils.
Checkout will be touchless. Students will have a bar code that will be scanned
to pay for meals.
Lunchrooms will be kept to half capacity. That means some students will eat
in the lunchroom and some will eat in another area (classroom, outside, etc.)
on a rotating basis.
Students eating in the lunchroom will have assigned tables.
It is very difficult to social distance on a school bus so we are going to do the following to ensure safety of students and drivers on the buses.
Town routes will be eliminated during the pandemic to prevent overcrowding.
Families will be asked to provide transportation to the extent possible.
When the bus gets too full for social distancing, students will be asked to
wear face coverings. They will also be asked to wear face coverings while loading and unloading.
At the risk of redundancy – we realize these plans create some difficulties for families in terms of planning and providing for childcare when we are in remote situations, which is why we want to get this information to you as soon as possible. It is important for each family to plan for all three scenarios as we may need to pivot from one to the other with little advanced notice.
Prior to the start of school, we will be asking all families to provide some information in regard to their intentions to attend in-person or remotely, to participate in the lunch program on remote days, to ride the bus in the morning and/or afternoon, and any other information we will need to provide a safe start to school. Please be thinking about those things so you are prepared to answer.
We hope our plans balance the need to have students physically present at school with the need to provide a safe and healthy learning environment. We know our plans are not perfect and we are open to respectful dialog around how we best do this work. We need your patience and support as we work through this difficult situation and we commit to doing our very best to serve the students and families of our district. Thank you for taking the time to read this information. Please know we are continuing to work hard to add detail and are committed to communicating that as soon as we have it.
I hope you are staying well.
Eric Trager Superintendent