David City Public Schools will be returning in-person for the new school year starting Aug. 12.
“On our risk dial, we’ll be starting at tier 2 – yellow,” Superintendent Chad Denker said.
The COVID-19 risk gauge is put out by Four Corners Health Department. Green is considered low risk, yellow is moderate, orange is high risk and red indicates a severe outbreak.
“We plug in a whole lot of local data into that; it helps give a little guidance and background as to where we are in terms of our district, in terms of risk for COVID,” Laura McDougall, executive director of Four Corners, said.
Masks will not be required at the yellow risk dial but all food service staff will be wearing face coverings while working, he noted. Masks will also be required on all school transportation by both drivers and students.
However, if a classroom has a student or staff member who has an underlying health condition, the staff may require masks in that instance, Denker said.
Students will be expected to follow social distancing measures in the halls when possible, he said, and one-way directional movement during passing periods and before and/or after school.
“We’re really hoping about 90% will be wearing masks,” Denker said, noting that he believes students who are heavily involved in sports and other extracurricular will be cautious about their health.
According to a back to school plan available on David City Public Schools’ website, backpacks will be allowed in classrooms, no visitors will be allowed to gain entry to the building, large meetings and parent/teacher meetings will be held virtually, water fountains should not be utilized but bottle filling stations will be available, group interaction should be limited in the classroom and field trips will not be allowed.
Staff and students will be screened for COVID symptoms upon entry into the building. During lunch, self-serve will not be available, there will be a limited number of students per stable with tables being spread out and sanitized between lunches.
The plan also says that bathrooms will be cleaned every two hours with desks and other frequently-utilized areas being cleaned three times a day. Plexiglass shields are installed in office areas.
All school buildings will have a space designated for students and/or staff displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
If the risk dial elevates to tier 3 – or orange – face coverings will be provided and required for all students, staff and administration. Deep cleaning will also be increased in this phase.
Denker added that parents will need to set expectations for their children/teens, such as encouraging them to wear a mask for an hour or two a day to get used to it.
“Everybody needs to do their part,” Denker noted.
This week, Denker said, teachers have been undergoing training in the event that the school would be forced to close.
“If we get into a shutdown again, at least we’ll be able to do a better job,” Denker said.
The first day for Aquinas & St. Mary’s Catholic Schools is Aug. 12 with East Butler Public Schools opening Aug. 13. School administrators at those institutions are following Four Corners’ risk gauge as well.
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.
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