R-1 announces reopening plan, 2020-21 school year guidelines

Board president describes pandemic as ‘fluid situation’

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/20

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board recently was presented with guidelines for a return to school Aug. 24. Superintendent Mark Parker, at the July meeting, said the procedures and guidelines …

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R-1 announces reopening plan, 2020-21 school year guidelines

Board president describes pandemic as ‘fluid situation’

Posted

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board recently was presented with guidelines for a return to school Aug. 24. Superintendent Mark Parker, at the July meeting, said the procedures and guidelines have been put in place to help with social distancing when possible, face-to-face contact, contact tracing, and for the overall protection of students and staff.

He has not developed a plan for what the school will do if people begin to get sick and infection rates go up in the county. School Board President Vicki Bade said it is “a fluid situation” and they will make changes when necessary.

Parker said reopening the school on Aug. 24 will take cooperation between the school district and parents. They need to work together to provide a safe and clean environment for all of the people who enter the school.

It will be imperative that students and staff do not come to school if they are sick, have Covid-19 symptoms, or if they have been exposed to someone who had Covid-19. Parker said parents are asked to take an active role by checking on the health of their children on a daily basis, and if they are sick, they need to stay home. The school needs to be notified if the child will be staying at home due to illness.

Parker presented the board with the following information about reopening school at Maries R-1. Students have been out of school since the coronavirus closed all schools in mid-March.

Masks

Face masks will not be mandatory for students, but they are recommended. All students must have a mask in case situations arise that warrant their use. Masks will not be required but are recommended for persons who are identified as high risk; during transportation on buses when social distancing (6 ft) can’t be guaranteed; at any time when a student/staff feels uncomfortable or the need to wear a mask; during transitions, such as arrival and dismissal, and when in hallways or using restrooms; in the classroom, teachers will be able to remove masks during large group instructions, but will wear masks when working in close proximity with students. Teachers are required to wear masks when it is not possible to social distance.

At the school board meeting, Parker said the school “highly recommends” wearing masks. They have ordered Vienna Eagles masks, which are made of cloth and are washable. They have enough for every student to have one. He will apply for county Covid-19 money to pay for the masks. Also, students are asked to bring their own mask.

building visitors

Visitors allowed inside the buildings will be limited to those times that are deemed absolutely necessary. Parent conferences/meetings will be available through a virtual format, phone call or other electronic means. All visitors will report to the high school or elementary office with a valid ID card and will complete a health screening upon arrival. Access inside the buildings will not be allowed without proper screening.

Parents’ Responsibility

The school district is asking parents to help with the safe school reopening by performing daily health checks on their children before sending them to school. If the child has a fever or is sick or exhibits Covid-19 symptoms, do not send them to school as this may cause other students and staff to become ill.

Bus Routes

While on the bus, students will be seated in assigned seats and the students will need to remain seated in their assigned seat. The driver will make the assignments according to bus stop/family so they sit together on the bus. Weather permitting, buses will travel with windows open to increase air flow.

Arriving at School

Teachers and staff will complete a health assessment upon arrival each day before reporting to their classroom. Students will have a temperature check/screening if appropriate when entering the building at the beginning of each day.

Other Preventative Measures

The school will have an extensive cleaning and disinfecting routine. Each school bus will be disinfected after the morning route. Classrooms will be disinfected each night and throughout the school day. Commonly touched surfaces will be disinfected nightly and or multiple times during the school day. Removing alternative students seating that cannot be disinfected properly.

Personal hygiene measures include frequent, scheduled hand washing with students. Hand sanitizer dispensers in each classroom and throughout buildings. Replacing water fountains with bottle filling stations/fountains, which are no touch.

Social distancing measures include limiting the number of students allowed at one time in certain areas. One-way stairs in the high school to limit face-to-face contact.

Students and staff will wear social distancing bracelets used to signify that’s person’s comfort level pertaining to social distancing. A red bracelet communicates the person is not comfortable with anyone coming within the recommended six feet. A yellow bracelet communicates others can approach with caution, no touching, but masked individuals can come within six feet. A green bracelet communicates the person is open to hugs and handshakes.

Unnecessary furniture will be removed from the classroom to allow more room for spacing students out. Lunch times will be staggered and scheduled to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.

Bade asked about the green bracelet option being a good one.

The board members appeared to favor school starting as scheduled for the school year. Board member Mike Kleffner said at the Belle Fair people were not wearing masks and did not seem concerned about it. Bade said hygiene is the key. Parker said every classroom will have hand sanitizer and the teachers will wipe them down. Board Vice President Penny Schoene said the teacher should be the one dispensing it so not so many hands pressing that button. Parker said what is important is the end result and they will have a cleaning schedule.

Kleffner asked about the results of the surveys and Parker said 304 surveys were completed and only three parents said they wanted education to be virtual and not in-seat school. He said 98 percent of the parents want the kids in school.

Still, virtual is an option but if they choose virtual at the beginning it will be for the entire semester. If they change their mind before the cut off, they can get out of it, but not after the district has spent $3,000 per student for the virtual learning. Schoene asked Parker to make sure the parents know this.

Kleffner asked if a student is learning virtually, can that student still participate in sports and extracurricular activities. Parker said the state says if parents think it is too dangerous for students to be in school, it’s too dangerous to be on a team.

MSHSAA is looking at how school sports will be handled. They will limit the number of people at sporting events, such as 50 fans from each side, using a pass list and then streaming the game online. Gyms are big and hold a lot of people even when social distancing. Bade said she noticed this summer a lot of people were wearing masks and it may be a requirement.

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