Monett School District planning for re-opening
Disinfection, masks, social distancing protocols outlined
With COVID-19 positive cases on the rise in the bi-county area, school administrators are wrangling how to safely resume classes in August.
The Monett School District has developed a re-entry plan based on recommendations from both Barry and Lawrence County Health Departments, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and other medical resources.
“At this time, area schools are starting to collaborate on re-opening plans,” said Russ Moreland, superintendent at Monett School District. “Schools are different places, as we are hesitant to put much information out there, as it is being revised so frequently.”
Presently, guidelines promote the frequent practice of hand washing and sanitizing, practicing social distancing to the extent possible, and remain in contact with local health departments to remain updated on current and future best practices recommendations.
The district has also installed temporary plexiglass barriers in various areas around the campus and will continue monitoring the need for additional barriers.
“Water fountains will be restricted,” Moreland said. “Students will be encouraged to bring water bottles from home in order to utilize the automatic water dispensers for refills.”
Staff members will be required to wear face masks or shields when they are not able to safely distance from others.
“In areas such as special services, English Language Learning and speech recovery, students need to see the teacher’s mouth,” Moreland said. “These face shields will allow teachers to safely offer support to students.”
Students are not required to wear face masks, but they are highly encouraged to do so.
“We encourage families to monitor student temperatures before sending them off to school,” Moreland said. “Anyone with a fever greater than 100 degrees
should not come to school. Students and staff will be excluded from school if they test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19, based on CDC guidelines. Symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
“The district will limit visitors on campus as much as possible and will implement KIDAccount to help provide accurate records of those entering and leaving the building during the school day.”
KidAccount is a computerized visitor monitoring platform that also encompasses car and transportation directives, dismissal management and reunification notifications in the event of a school wide evacuation.
Moreland said additional hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the buildings and at all entries. In addition, district personnel will clean and disinfect frequently touched areas on a daily basis, including knobs, office areas, student desks, restrooms and areas within the cafeteria. Disinfecting areas will occur through wiping areas along with a nightly disinfectant fogging spray in all classrooms and libraries.
Breakfast will not be served in the cafeteria, but there will be a breakfast in the classroom, such as the model used in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade last year and the grab-and-go model in the high school. Building lunch schedules will be designed to maintain social distancing and limit crowding to the extent possible. Additional tables will be provided to allow students more room as well. There may be periods of time in which students eat in their classrooms or outside.
Transportation protocols include both the driver and all passengers be masked due to the difficulty with social distancing.
Busses will be cleaned and disinfected each time they return to the terminal.
Students will be assigned seats to promote consistency of seating, and upon boarding, the bus will be filled from the back to the front as much as possible. As weather permits, bus windows will be kept down to promote the flow of air.
While the district will provide transportation, parents are encouraged to drop off and pick up students when possible to help reduce the number of students on a bus.
Students who demonstrate continued coughing while on a bus will be referred to the building nurse’s office upon arrival at school.
During class time, modifications may be made to promote social distancing.
Elementary recess will continue with efforts made to limit larger gatherings on the playground. In an effort to help control large gatherings at all campuses, school assemblies and celebrations will be modified or canceled.
As much as possible, the district will hold physical education classes outside with emphasis placed on utilizing activities that allow for social distancing. Hand-washing before and after an activity will be expected. Library services will be provided to students, however, returned books will not be re-shelved until the appropriate number of days to reduce the opportunity for contact spreading of COVID-19. District libraries will be disinfected on a daily basis as well.
The district will provide both seated and virtual instruction options for students and families. Families who chose virtual instruction are asked to commit to that format for one semester at a time to assist with planning purposes. Students who chose this option may transition back to a seated course at the completion of a semester. Families who chose virtual instruction should have appropriate internet access. If additional support is needed for internet access, the family should contact the building principals.
“Students who participate in the virtual instruction option will be held to the same learning standards and measurement of those in seated courses,” Moreland said. “This includes the grading system in place at each campus. Students would be expected to complete all coursework through the virtual or distance learning platform.
“In-person classes will utilize an online platform of See Saw or Google Classroom in the event of future school closures to promote smoother transition if needed.”
Teaching assignments may change based on student enrollment and the number of students who chose to participate in virtual instruction.
“Parental responsibility is also more important then ever,” Moreland said. “Especially with keeping student accounts updated with correct phone numbers and other contact information.”
In the event of another school closure, a transition to complete virtual instruction will be implemented. The district may cancel all activities as deemed necessary. If school is canceled, activities scheduled in buildings by the district or the community may be canceled as well.
Moreland said the current proposed guidelines are reflective of today’s local standing in an effort to curb the rising incidents of COVID-19 transmissions, but those may change frequently, as advised by local health departments and opinions of professionals, such as those in the medical field.
“What this looks like on Aug. 25 may not be the same as it will look on Sept. 1,” he said. “Our goal is to open as safely as possible for our students, staff and administrators. Dove-tailing social distancing and education will be a challenge, but we care very much for our kids and want to make every effort on their behalf.”