REGIONAL- The St. Louis County Schools unveiled a 32-page back-to-school plan on Tuesday outlining an extensive array of policies and procedures being implemented to ensure a safe and healthy return …
REGIONAL- The St. Louis County Schools unveiled a 32-page back-to-school plan on Tuesday outlining an extensive array of policies and procedures being implemented to ensure a safe and healthy return to in-class learning in district buildings in September.
The district school board approved a return to in-class instruction at a special meeting on Aug. 4, although at that time the complete back-to-school plan was unavailable. The district was well within the state-prescribed range of the 14-day average of new COVID cases for in-class learning at that time. And while a surge in total county cases subsequently pushed Duluth-area schools into the range of requiring a hybrid model, the average outside of Duluth, including ISD 2142, actually dropped slightly as of last Thursday.
The back-to-school plan emphasizes safe health and sanitation practices. It describes possible modifications to schedules, routines, and use of physical spaces and outlines instruction and assessment practices that accommodate full in-class, hybrid, and distance learning models. It also addresses steps to be taken if a student or staff member exhibits COVID-19 symptoms. The plan is written to provide overall consistency throughout the district while allowing individual schools the flexibility to adapt to best meet their particular needs and circumstances.
Parents and students also may choose distance learning instead of in-person attendance and must notify the district by Aug. 24 if they so choose.
A summary of key provisions that follows focuses primarily on elements for the district’s planned return to in-person learning. The plan provides additional guidance if the district or one of its schools should have to shift to a hybrid learning model limiting attendance to 50 percent of building capacity and alternating between in-person and distance learning days.
• Parents will be responsible for screening their children’s health daily and are required to report to their school if a child is experiencing COVID symptoms. A detailed screening guide is being provided to parents.
• Staff members must submit a daily health screening survey before they report to work.
• All students, staff, and other people present in schools and district buildings or riding on school transportation are required to wear masks or face shields, except for preschool-age children in their classrooms.
• Bus seats will be marked to promote social distancing, and hand sanitizers will be available in all district vehicles.
• Schools will provide one cloth face covering for each student and students are encouraged to have at least two clean masks or shields with them in a school building. Additional disposable masks will also be available if needed.
• Non-essential building visitors will be limited. Student drop-off and pick-up will occur outside, although preschool students may be walked to classrooms by their parents.
• Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout school buildings, and posters placed at all hand-washing stations to emphasize good handwashing practices.
• Room configurations will be adapted as possible to provide for social distancing. Floor markings and signs will be used to help with social distancing and traffic flow in areas that may have congestion.
Possible COVID procedures
• A student with suspected COVID symptoms will be taken to an isolation room where they will be under visual supervision of a staff member until such time as the student is picked up or the district provides transportation home. Both are required to wear face masks, unless the symptomatic person has trouble breathing or is incapacitated. If medical care is required, 911 and parents will be called.
• Specific intensive cleaning protocols will be implemented for all areas the person is believed to have been in, including common areas such as restrooms.
• The district will notify the Minnesota Department of Health, and county and state officials will assist in determining an appropriate response at the involved school.
• Custodial staff will clean and disinfect common areas such as entrances, restrooms, cafeterias, and bottle filler stations a minimum of three times a day.
• Classroom door handles and frames, light switches, tabletops, desks, chairs, cabinet handles, and sinks will be cleaned and disinfected before and after school and as needed. Teachers and paraprofessionals will assist custodians as needed.
• Playground equipment such as swing chains, slides, overhead bars, and grab handles will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Shared equipment in gymnasiums will be cleaned and disinfected between classes.
• Toys in classrooms that cannot be cleaned and sanitized will not be used.
• Lunch schedules will be staggered to promote social distancing.
• Elementary recess will be scheduled for one grade level at a time.
• A seven-period day and modified day schedule for secondary students will be employed to accommodate in-school and distance learners.
• Each student will be assigned an iPad or laptop computer and encouraged to clean them throughout the day.
• Benchmark screenings and assessments will be administered.
• In an effort to simplify distance learning, the district will utilize SeeSaw and Google Classroom for elementary students and Schoology, Google Classroom and Infinite Campus for secondary students.
• Distance learning coordinators will facilitate interaction and assistance with families.
The complete district back-to-school plan can be accessed online by going to the district website at https://www.isd2142.net and clicking on the COVID-19 link in the menu bar.
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