ABERDEEN, S.D. (By Elisa Sand firstname.lastname@example.org) – The Aberdeen Catholic School system has established a simple back to school plan.
Roncalli Superintendent Tim Weisz said the district intentionally drafted a simple back to school plan putting practical guidelines in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Students return to class Aug. 17, Weisz said. Weisz said Roncalli purposely drafted a concise plan so it was direct and to the point.
“We’re really emphasizing the fact that we’re going to make it as safe as possible,” he said.
The plan includes provisions for families that are unable to physically send students to the building. Weisz said there could be a number of reasons for this. The child could be immune compromised, he said as an example, or there could be a family member undergoing cancer treatment.
Families who cannot send their children should contact the elementary or middle/high school principal.
students will remain in their classes as much as possible throughout the day and plans are in place if the district needs to switch to remote learning.
Weisz said the district learned this past spring about remote learning and will limit the educational platforms used by teachers.
“We’re going to ask teachers to use Google Classroom or DoJo — that’ll be more friendly for families to handle,” he said.
And, he said, the district was able to purchase new equipment for teachers to aid in remote learning with federal funding awarded through the CARES Act.
Weisz said masks will be optional for students, but just like families, there are teachers who have health concerns and teachers will have the option to require masks in their classrooms.
“Face masks and face shields will be available to faculty,” he said. “When practical we’ll ask teachers to use those,” he said.
Face masks will also be required in other instances like during science labs.
Social distancing will be practiced as well as instruction on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette like sneezing or coughing into the arm.
Lunchroom procedures will also be adjusted for social distancing and non-essential visitors at schools will be limited, according to the plan.
Parents will also be asked to take the temperature of their child or children before sending them to school and check to see if they have any new symptoms (new or worsening cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste, loss of smell or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).
Any student with a temperature at or above 100.4 or with new COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to stay home for 14 days.
A 14-day stay at home will also be required if a student has close contact (within six feet for at least 15 minutes) with someone who tests positive.
Criteria is also established for a student’s return to school. As an example it must be at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and three days since the students had a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Staff will also be required to take temperatures
District parents are asked to fill out and return a school commitment form by Aug. 3 to allow teachers to plan accordingly for the start of the year. Those forms were emailed directly to parents, Weisz said, and simply indicate whether or not students will be returning to class.
Weisz said he believes the smaller class sizes at Roncalli will be an advantage this year as does Aberdeen Christian Superintendent Eric Kline.
Kline said the district is also looking forward to students returning to campus with the first day set on Sept. 8.
Kline said the district will start school off as usual with healthy hygiene practices and keeping student desks separated.
Masks will not be required, he said, but that option will be left up to families.
Kline said there will be students who may have extended absences if they develop symptoms or have close contact with someone who tests positive. In those cases, he said, staff will work with families using technology as needed.