HURON— The Huron School Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday evening at the high school auditorium, seeking the public’s input on the proposed school re-entry plan that had been under review.
The plan offers two options and is divided into three phases.
School is still on track to begin on Monday, August 24. The school board and COVID Task force approved to start the school year off under Phase 2, Yellow Phase.
Questions were asked about the children’s/student’s mental health and what factors are going to be taken.
Vice President Garret Bischoff explained that, “As parents, it’s up to us to reflect positivity onto our children, try to make them understand that we have safety measures we are putting into place to make school safe, re-boost the fact that education is important and we need to educate our kids and keep going forward and do the best we can, to bring positivity to the situation,” he said.
Superintendent Terry Nebelsick stated that plexiglass shielding will be provided around the reception desks, teacher desks as requested, student desks and study corrals where applicable. There will be sanitizer at the entrance of the school/building, commons, in every classroom, and any other high traffic areas in the school/building.
Virtual open houses will be held at all levels. High school Principal Michel Radke and vice-principal Rodney Mittelstedt will create a “Back to School” video to share with the public before school starts.
Threshold 1, Low Spread will be Phase 1 Green: Schools open, Masking recommended, Shielding in place, and social distancing. With face coverings recommended for staff and students, face-coverings required for one-to-one interaction, and during movement.
Health screenings must be completed at home. Students with temperatures greater than 100.00 will be sent home and can return when symptoms have subsided for 48 hours, including 24 hours without aid of fever reducing medication.
Staff will reconfigure classrooms to protect students as space allows, with social distancing where possible. Staggered recess, lunch and special schedules will be implemented. All desks will face one way or face-to-face with shield.
There will be increased cleaning of surfaces, nightly disinfecting of classrooms and common areas, installation of hand sanitizing stations, and sanitation wipes or sprays available in every classroom. There will be no visitors past the entry points, with limited visitor access (by appointment or official school business only). An intercom will be used as communication to parents. If a student is late, the parent or guardian will bring the student no further than the vestibule; and, if early pick up, the parent or guardian will enter the vestibule and wait for the student.
During meals, the sneeze guards will be extended to counter level and more will be added to the height where necessary. Breakfast and lunch will be served in the commons. Cashiers will wear face shields or be positioned behind a Plexiglas shield. Barcode readers will replace the PIN pad entry system for students, additional eating space will be ensured to maintain social distancing protocol, and extending serving times where possible.
At the elementary schools, there will be spaced out serving periods, with the students socially distanced while in the commons. The tentative serving times will be 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., kitchen staff and paras will ensure students are not touching other children’s things as they serve the milk, silverware, and condiments.
At the Middle School, they will extend the serving periods and change student seating to allow for social distancing. The commons area will be equipped with rectangular tables and fixed seating to ensure proper spacing. Tentative lunch times will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be no a la carte items or salad bar to prevent cross contamination. Similar to elementary level, the kitchen staff will wear gloves and serve items on the trays. There will be separate tables for students trays and food disposal. The option of serving students outside of the building during appropriate weather will also be considered.
At the High School there will continue to be two lunch periods, thereby reducing the number of students who are in the Commons at one time. Students will be released to go through the lunch line by table, rather than standing in line with everyone else in the Commons. Parents of the Freshman students will be given an option to give their students an “open lunch” while we remain under the current COVID-19 procedures. The students will be relied on to social distance themselves from others, and to not touch other students items while in the lunch line. Sanitization of tables will be done between each group of students.
Regarding transportation, all staff and students are required to wear face-coverings.
The public is encouraged to drive their children to school in order to give adequate social distancing for the limited number of buses the school district is equipped with. On the buses there will be shields for each seat going from the ceiling of the bus to the bottom of the seat. There will be a supply of disinfectant spray, sanitizer wipes, plastic gloves, and individual hand sanitizer on each bus for the drivers to utilize.
As for activities and facility use, the activities throughout the season will have regular spectator attendance, a pre-participation waiver signed by parent/guardian and student, screenings before any practices and events.
Threshold 2, Moderate Spread will serve as Phase 2 Yellow and this is where the district will begin the year, based on information at hand.
Schools open (with increased safety measures to Phase 1) Masking required, individual classrooms of departments may be closed, parents and families of the students will be informed of the increased safety measures for each building, and increasing isolation measures by building/classroom. With no students present, a staff member may work alone without a face-covering. Should other staff be present, face-coverings and social distancing rules are mandatory.
Threshold 3, Substantial Spread Red, will serve as Phase 3: Buildings will be closed to students, and the schools will implement 100% distance learning for Option A students. Schools can return to Phase 2 after 14 days, and decisions on all staff reporting vs. closing buildings will be handled by the Superintendent’s office case-by-case.
Option A will be distanced learning for designated number of days based on data. Option B status for an actively enrolled distance learner doesn’t change. I-Pads will be allowed to go home with all Kindergarten-12th grade students. Schools will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and secured until reopening. Grab-n-Go meal delivery will be reinstated in the Middle School/CTE parking lot. For activities and facility use, all activities will be suspended until further notice.
Business Manager Kelly Christopherson stated that they have spent countless hours purchasing cough masks, disposable masks, masks with a see through mouth area so the staff and students can see one another’s mouths, face shields, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant machines, have bought disinfectant by the 55 gallon barrel, and have studied the kill time for disinfecting.
Christopherson explained that over $130,000 has been spent to purchase school bus shields and $88,000 is going to desk shields to make sure each desk has a protective shield.
The next school board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, in the IPC room on the second floor of Huron Arena.