By LeAnn R. Ralph
GLENWOOD CITY — Tim Johnson, Glenwood City school superintendent, says if there is one thing he wants people to know about school starting this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that there are still just as many questions as answers.
Be that as it may, “the school district will continue to work with the DPI, CDC, and public health to put mitigating measures in place to keep our students and staff as safe as possible. We know that it will be a year of adjustments,” Johnson said.
The Glenwood City school district’s recently-released re-entry plan has eight different sections: academic planning; health precautions; COVID symptoms; day-to-day operations; transportation; physical spaces; extracurricular athletics and club activities; and the county health department.
“The return to school plan was largely generated from a group of about 20 staff members with representatives from nursing, support staff, custodial, teachers, counselors and administrators,” Johnson said.
In the introduction to the plan, Johnson writes: “Our first priority will always be to create procedures that support the safety and well-being of our students, staff and community. It is our desire and intent to have face-to-face instruction five days a week.”
Starting school again will require a number of changes, such as additional technology for a more blended instructional learning, increasing physical spacing in the classrooms, at recess and while eating as well as an increase in cleaning and disinfecting routines and increases in school nurse staffing, cleaning staff and food service staff.
As of right now, the Glenwood City school district is aware of one federal grant for around $70,000 that the district will be receiving, Johnson said.
“This money will be used to support additional technology needed to support a more blended instruction learning plan as needed,” he said.
“Additional costs will easily exceed $250,000 with consideration for additional staff, cleaning equipment and supplies, personal protective equipment and technology,” Johnson said.
When asked if there was anything else he wanted people to know about school starting this fall, Johnson said people should consider the value of expertise.
“Although there are very strong opinions regarding many issues around COVID, the district continues to implement those things that the experts inform us on. Please remember that our expertise is in educating students, not the mitigation of infectious disease,” he said.
Here is an overview of the Glenwood City school district’s return to school plan.
The focus will be on where students need to be academically by the end of the school year.
The school district will prioritize what the students need to learn to reach those outcomes, or essential learning targets.
No matter whether the instruction is in-person or in a blended on-line format because of required school closures, the instruction will be designed to help students meet the year-end outcomes.
Assessments will be used to make sure students meet the year-end outcomes and are prepared for the next level of learning.
The school district will respond to students and will reteach or enhance instruction based on the individual needs and the performance of students.
The school district will promote, teach and reinforce that students should stay home if they are sick.
The district also will promote, teach and reinforce practicing good hygiene; recommend face coverings based on individual situations; practicing social distancing; covering coughs and sneezes; and monitoring symptoms.
The symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus included a fever of at least 100 degree Fahrenheit, along with chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
Symptoms can also include congestion or a runny nose, muscle fatigue, body aches and headache.
Other symptoms include a new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
Before each school day, parents will screen their child’s health.
If symptoms exist, students should not attend school, and if symptoms develop at school, the children will be sent home.
The school district plans to limit visitors in the schools.
The school district also will support cohort grouping, will limit field trips and large gatherings, and will reassign staff as needed to cover operational needs and to prioritize student learning and safety.
Physical spacing will be increased in the classrooms, while at recess and while eating.
Cleaning and disinfecting routines will be increased.
The school district also will increase school nurse staffing, cleaning staff and food service staff.
The number of students will be reduced on bus routes.
Hand sanitizer stations will be installed on buses, and the buses will be disinfected in between trips.
Self-transportation to school will be encouraged.
Drop-off and pick-up zones will be modified, and the bus routes will be modified.
The school district plans to use physical barriers and to adjust classroom furniture.
Anyone with symptoms will be separated into designated areas.
The use of common spaces will be staggered, and the interaction of students will be reduced.
Proactive signs promoting healthy practices will be on display.
Only bottle-filling water fountains will be used.
Students will not share supplies.
Hand hygiene will be taught and reinforced, and contact will be minimized through doors and halls.
Stringent cleaning protocols will be practiced.
Extracurricular and club activities will be informed by guidance from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).
The school district will be prepared to move between safety models based on county risk levels and activity risk levels for COVID-19.
Activities and events may be postponed or adjusted to meet guidelines and current conditions in schools or in the community.
Some activities may have limited spectators or no spectators.
The county health department issues quarantine or self-isolation orders.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, the county health department will be informing you of your next steps and will be notifying the school district of the order.
The school district will not be leading in contact tracing or in issuing orders for quarantine.
The school district is required to report any known or highly suspected cases of COVID-19 to the county.
The county health department also has the authority to close schools when there is a public health concern.
The school district is working with the county and will communicate updates.
As a general rule, if an individual tests positive for COVID-19, he or she is required to stay home a minimum of 10 days, three days of which are symptom free.
Those who have been determined by the county health department to be in close contact with an infected individual will be quarantined for 14 days.
“We know you have questions. We also know it’s very difficult for families to plan for fall when there are so many unknowns, especially around the issue of childcare.
“We are working hard to incorporate evolving guidance in order to make decisions and answer your questions. We do plan on opening in the fall with face to face instruction, following the approved and posted district calendar with the modifications listed in this document and adjust as necessary to support your child’s safety. Additional communication from buildings will be forthcoming as the beginning of the year approaches.
“Thanks for your support, patience, and partnership.”