Parents, teachers, kids all part of keeping school safe

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 9/3/20

VIENNA — Following the first day of school at Maries R-1 on August 24, at the school board meeting that evening, it was reported the first day went well especially with making a last-minute …

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Parents, teachers, kids all part of keeping school safe


VIENNA — Following the first day of school at Maries R-1 on August 24, at the school board meeting that evening, it was reported the first day went well especially with making a last-minute change to require everyone to wear a mask while in the hallways.

Superintendent Mark Parker said the kids did a good with mask-wearing. A parent called him and thanked the school for taking the safety of the students and staff seriously and the parent was very happy with the change in policy and supported the decision.

High School Principal Ian Murray spoke to the school board about what they might expect with school-sponsored extracurricular activities during this time of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Prevention information supports the wearing of masks and social distancing. Because of the volatile nature of the virus, Murray said the school must have plans in place, but the plans are subject to change abruptly. When changes are made to how the school will deal with the virus and activities, a school person will be involved as well as the health department. They will ramp up sanitizing and mask-wearing by athletes at sporting events and other extra-curricular activities.

Murray said they may have to use tiers with rules for gatherings. For example, tier one is athletes and coaches only and no fans at the basketball games. Tier two may be athletes, coaches and parents and no other fans. There is work being done to try to live stream games but there are places and people who do not have good service.

A teacher present at the school board meeting, Misty Weakly, suggested looking into Periscope, a free streaming service.

Parker said Maries R-1 IT Director, Kevin Schwartze, is working on streaming home basketball games. This won’t be done with baseball and softball games because there is not internet at the ballparks.

Murray said extra precautions will be taken for athletes traveling to other schools to play ball games. The temperature of each athlete will be checked before they get on the bus to go to an away game. If one Vienna athlete has an elevated temperature, the entire team will not go to the game. Virtual learners are not eligible to be on a ball team.

Masks will be worn when athletes can’t stay at least six feet away from each other. They can’t share a towel or a water jug. There will be a seating chart on the bus. Athletes will ride a bus to the game site, but are encouraged to travel home with their parents as it helps by there being less chance of exposure because of the reduced number of students on the bus.

Murray said they will make changes as needed. “I hope we don’t have to look at it but we may not be able to have fans present.”

Board member Cindy Petershagen said athletes and students who participate in extra-curricular activities who wear masks in the classroom may sit next to students who are not wearing a mask. She said she wants all students to be safe but it just takes one person without a mask sitting next to other students to make all of them vulnerable to the virus. Murray said students who don’t wear masks can sit in the back of the classroom. He saw less than half of the students in the classrooms not wearing masks and they all were good about using masks while in the hallways.

Special Education Director Joe Edwards said the students are in the classroom for a long time. The health department has stated, “It’s not if, it’s when.” Petershagen said they need to follow the health department’s guidelines. If a student is suspected to have the virus the student will be isolated in a classroom with a mask.

Murray said the actions they are taking now “dictate the future. They hold the key to how long we go.”

Board member Mike Kleffner said everyone is part of keeping students and staff safe as it takes parents, teachers and the kids.

Board Vice President Penny Schoene said it is likely someone will get the virus and the school district has to do the right thing.


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