Sailing into 2020-2021: Colfax school district back-to-school plan for COVID-19

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The 2020-21 Colfax Back-to-School Plan covers a variety of details pertaining to the five day per week in-person instruction approved by the Colfax Board of Education August 5.

According to the introduction to the plan, “The purpose of our Colfax Back-to-School plan is to keep our students, staff, and community safe while adhering to any applicable public health orders and guidance … Our intent is to provide in-person learning to the greatest extent possible, while also taking prudent steps to keep our students, staff and community safe. This plan is based on the trajectory of public health data centered here in Dunn County, while monitoring regional and state data … the plan is a continual work in progress and based on public health assumptions and subject to change. Thank you for your patience, flexibility and continued support as we get through these challenging times together.”

The Colfax school district has purchased cameras for each of the classrooms so that students who are attending school online from home can receive the same instruction as their classmates in school.

The lessons will be recorded, and the videos will be accessible online for those students who need to watch the video. Internet access in some rural areas of the school district is not always reliable, and there may be some days where the online students are unable to access the class at the time it is being taught.

In addition to parents being able to choose an online option taught by Colfax teachers for students pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, parents also can choose a virtual school option for students in grades seven through 12 that will be taught through a virtual school accredited by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

A full-time option for grade seven to 12 students also is available for students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), are medically fragile or are unable to successfully participate in an accredited virtual school. Eligibility will be determined by the student’s IEP team and parents/guardians.

The Google Classroom remote learning platform will be used by Colfax teachers to deliver curriculum. Classroom Dojo will be used for the lower grades.

Here are some of the details from the back-to-school plan:

• The start-of-the-year orientations and open house will take place virtually for most grade levels to limit traffic to buildings prior to the start of the school year.

• Ongoing communication to staff and families will continue through the school website, mailings, and school messenger communication system.

• Parents should remain flexible knowing that the school district may need to switch between in-person and remote learning or a combination of both at any moment based on Dunn County Public Health data.

• If a student is quarantined, the student will use the remote learning process.

• If a teacher is quarantined , the teacher will continue to teach remotely, if possible, with staff coverage in the room (para-educator) using Google Classroom or Classroom Dojo.

• If an entire class is quarantined, or if an entire wing, section or building is quarantined, the teachers will teach remotely and the students will learn remotely.

• Group gatherings in large areas, such as gymnasiums, cafeterias and hallways, will be limited.

• Visitors will not be allowed inside the building.

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face coverings, hand sanitizer, thermometers and gloves, will be provided to school personnel throughout the school year. Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings.

• An isolation room will be available for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, and students will be isolated until they can safely leave the building.

• The School District of Colfax and Dunn County Public Health will be communicating with families if a student has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person.

• Field trips and other outings in the community will be cancelled until further notice.

• Only non-contact greetings will be acceptable.

• All students, staff and essential visitors will be required to wear a mask. Exceptions will be made for documented medical conditions. Masks will be required on the bus at all times, in the school buildings at all times and in the service line at meal times (although masks can be removed at the designated eating space).

• No volunteers will be allowed in the school building.

• Interaction of the students will be limited outside of the classroom.

• Student grouping will be used as much as possible throughout the day.

• Social distancing will be provided in all situations, as much as reasonably possible, including on the buses, hallways, cafeterias/commons, the playground and the classrooms. One-way pedestrian patterns will be established in the hallways.

• Ventilation systems will be evaluated to maximize the circulation of outdoor air. The ventilation systems were updated per code in 2017-2018 with the referendum building project.

• Daily and weekly cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be increased.

• Individual supplies and community items managed by the classroom teachers will not be shared.

• Hand hygiene will be taught and reinforced.

• COVID-19 educational stickers, door signs, reminders and other visuals will be used.

• The number of hand sanitizing stations will be increased throughout the school building.

• Shared drinking fountains will be turned off, and water bottle use will be recommended.

• Buildings and vehicles will be sanitized using the ozone process.

• Plans will be used for admitting students to the building and for parking. No congregation or gathering will be allowed.

• Spectators at events may be limited or restricted based on public health data.

• If students lack Internet access, hard copies of the Colfax school district curriculum will be used to create as much equity as possible in the event that school is held remotely online.

• In either a hybrid or remote school environment, the Pupil Service Team (school counselors, school nurse, psychologist, pupil services director and administration) will continue to provide the protocols and training necessary to support the mental health needs of students.

• Food servers will wear the proper PPE.

• Students will not have access to serving utensils, and school nutrition staff will serve all meal items.

• Social distancing will be used in the cafeterias and commons, and when numbers exceed social distancing guidelines, alternative dining spaces will be used.

• School meals will be available to all students if there is a full or partial district closure.

• Outside groups or organizations will not be allowed to use school grounds or buildings because of the increased need for disinfecting and sanitizing.

• Audiences for concerts, plays, musicals, sports and other events may be limited or restricted as per the Dunn County Public Health Department. Events will be live-streamed through the school district’s website at  www.colfax.k12.wi.us (Viking TV link).

• Activities and events may be postponed or adjusted to meet guidelines or current conditions in the school or in the community.

• School sponsored clubs or activities will be required to be pre-approved by the administration, with a viable safety plan prior to starting any meetings or hosting any events.

• Buses will be cleaned and disinfected following student pick-up and drop-off, with particular attention paid to high-touch areas.

• Bus times may be extended to allow for more buses to be used.

• Bus and family drop-off and pick-up zones may be modified to enforce separate entry and exit.

• Face coverings will be required when riding the bus.

• The school district is highly recommending that families mail student lunch money prior to the first day of school to limit visitors in the building.

• Parents are encouraged to make a “sick child plan.” Children with symptoms will be isolated with supervision until someone can pick them up from school. Parents are encouraged to make plans now to have someone available to pick up their child in a timely manner in the event the child becomes ill or requires quarantine.

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