Western Reopening Plan
REOPENING PLAN DOCUMENT LINK
July 9, 2020
Dear Western Families, Students and Staff,
Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we have worked to finalize our school reopening plan. The recent Return to School Survey completed by parents, as well as staff input has been very important as the School Reopening Task Force assembled this plan. COVID-19 has been a significant challenge that has forced us to re-evaluate practices, procedures, funding, and staffing across Western School Corporation in an effort to ensure that all staff and students can best work and learn in a safe environment.
We want to assure you that while some things will be different this school year, our purpose and values have not changed. We will strive to meet the needs of each student with the same focus and personal attention that we always have at Western. We will provide appropriate academic rigor and support, maintain a welcoming and safe environment, celebrate student achievements, encourage innovation and exploration, and collaborate with families and community stakeholders. Our dedicated Western staff will be ready to greet students when they return on August 12th, 2020.
We’re also committed to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and will not compromise on the safety of students and staff. This return to school plan is based on information we have at this time and it is subject to change at any time.
Please note that we have built this plan based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), Howard County Health Department, and information we have received from our survey and stakeholders.
We are excited to open our buildings and welcome students back soon! We know you will have more questions and we will continue to communicate additional information and more details as we move closer to reopening school or as needed.
In addition, we know that some families will choose not to send their children back to school due to medical concerns or personal choice as it relates to the spread of COVID-19. For these students, we will offer a remote learning option so these students will receive the same quality education as those attending on campus.
Our online registration opens on July 13, 2020. Regardless of the choice between sending your child to school on campus, or the remote learning option, we need all parents to register your children for the 2020-2021 school year. Within the online registration you will have the option to choose remote learning. Choosing this option will then take you to the remote learning application that will also need to be completed. This information is important for us as we plan class lists and staffing.
In a separate attachment is our full Western School Corporation’s Reopening Guidelines and Plan for 2020-2021 School Year. The following is a condensed version to address some of the specific questions you may have as we plan for the first day of school on August 12, 2020.
When Will School Start and Has Our Schedule Changed?
We plan to open schools on our regularly scheduled start date of Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The 2020-2021 Western School Corporation calendar has not changed.
Will Instruction be in School Buildings or Online?
We will offer face-to-face, in-school instruction every day (Monday-Friday) for students who are returning to school on campus. Remote/distance (online) learning will be available for students and families that have chosen this option through registration.
Will Social Distancing Be Required?
We will practice social distancing as much as possible. Due to the size of our student body and our facilities it will not be possible at all times. In classrooms, student seating may be arranged to all face in the same direction, when possible, and will be spaced as far apart as possible. On buses, we will be placing two students per seat and assigning seats. At lunch, we will maximize available spaces for distancing and use additional spaces outside of the lunch room to further promote social distancing.
Will Masks Be Required?
Students and staff will be required to wear masks, when social distancing is not possible or as requested. Masks will be required on buses, while entering and exiting the school building, while picking up food in the cafeteria line, during passing periods, in small group/close proximity instructional settings, and as requested by the teacher or instructional assistant. Masks could also be required for certain classrooms or classroom activities.
Students should plan to have at least two cloth masks as part of their back-to-school supplies.
If you need assistance obtaining masks, please contact your school principal. Western Schools will have access to masks and we will make them available as needed. We encourage students and staff to have a clean mask each day to mitigate risk and to promote proper hygiene.
I Do Not Want My Child Wearing a Mask.
We are aware that there are strong opinions about the use of masks. The Indiana State Department of Health cited a 40-60% reduction in COVID-19 transmission when masks are used by all, which is why we are requiring them for certain situations.
This is especially important since some carriers of COVID-19 may not have any symptoms. Children, despite being generally less affected by COVID-19, expose school staff and adults at home who may be more at risk. Students who cannot or will not wear a mask during the required times at school will need to utilize our remote/distance learning option at home.
What Will Be Different on School Buses?
As mentioned, there will be two students per seat and masks will be required on buses. Also, parents must reserve ONE spot for their child to ride the bus and students will be assigned one seat. Students will not be able to ride multiple buses or a friend’s bus home.
Depending on how many students reserve a seat on the bus, we may be required to discontinue or limit bus service for out of district students. For now, parents should understand that you may elect one location for pick-up and drop-off as we are attempting to minimize and limit as much student contact as possible. Any transportation changes during the school day can only be changed to a car rider.
I Drop My Child Off at School. Will Anything Change?
In order to limit access to the buildings, we are making changes to traffic patterns and drop off locations to accommodate this need. All student pick-up and drop-off will be curbside. For the safety of everyone, all drivers will remain in their vehicles and students will be loaded and unloaded on the curbside by Western staff without crossing traffic or vehicles. Maps of the changes specific to each building will be communicated.
What Changes Will Students See in the Cafeteria and at Water Fountains?
Students may be assigned seating and will be spaced as far apart as possible. Masks will be required while picking up food in the cafeteria line. All students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer prior to entering the cafeteria and no cash will be used in lunch lines. (Cash will still be accepted for pre-payments.)
There will be no self-serve. Food Service personnel will place the food items and drinks on the trays or hand the selected food items and drinks to the students. Utensils will be prepackaged and placed on the tray or handed to the student. Students are not to share food or drinks with others.
What Changes Will Be Implemented in School Health Clinics?
There will be separate areas created for our health clinics—one for regular care and an isolated area for anyone who presents signs or symptoms of illness.
Parents will no longer be allowed to bring medications into clinics. If you need to provide medication for your child, a nurse will meet you by appointment in a designated area to handle this.
You can also expect to see changes in how we administer stocked medicines, the suspension of nebulizer treatments, and new criteria for staying home from school/returning to school, based on CDC guidelines.
Please reach out to your school nurse if you have specific concerns regarding your child’s medical care.
What Changes Will Be Implemented on Playgrounds, in Physical Education, or Other Special Area Classes?
To limit exposure, classroom groups will play at recess within playground zones and will rotate through different play zones throughout the week.
Physical Education classes and other special area classes are still being evaluated and more information will be coming at a later date.
How Will the Remote/Distance (Online) Learning Option Work?
Online learning with instruction and/or supervision with a Western School Corporation teacher and administrator will be available for students that elect to participate in remote/distance (online) learning.
To manage staffing and scheduling, students must commit to in-person or remote/distance learning for an established period of time and will not be permitted to move back and forth during this commitment.
Students will have the option to select online learning on a semester basis.
Students who do not attend school in person will be enrolled in remote/distance learning facilitated by a Western School Corporation teacher and administrator by our Learning Management System. Students may receive both virtual instruction (class meetings, small group, and one-on-one) and pre-recorded lessons that focus on essential standards in each core subject area (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies). In addition, reading, practice exercises, and other activities may be given. Students will be engaged in learning activities similar in length and time to their peers attending school in person, which will include special area classes.
Students who do not attend school in person will be enrolled in remote/distance learning facilitated by a Western School Corporation teacher and administrator by our Learning Management System. Students may receive virtual instruction (class meetings, small group, and one-on-one), pre-recorded lessons that focus on essential standards in each core subject area, or with a software platform that provides online instruction. Their progress in a software platform will be monitored by a licensed teacher, but course content will be delivered online through the software. In addition to online readings and practice exercises, instruction and assignments may include other activities such as video tutorials, presentations, projects, and exams. The time needed to complete coursework varies for each student but should be comparable to the requirements for in person learning. Some courses may not be available online.
Will Students Be Screened for COVID-19 Symptoms?
Parents need to be attentive and responsible for the daily health of their children and will be required to sign an expectation agreement indicating their commitment to ensure their child is symptom free and safe to attend school each day. This includes being fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication. School staff will also be receiving professional development on how to recognize potential COVID-19 symptoms. No one should be in our buildings if they are experiencing symptoms of illness.
What Will Happen if Someone Tests Positive for COVID-19?
If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19, we will follow directions from the Howard County Health Department, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), and the Indiana Department of Education. This may include closing a classroom, school or schools for a period of time and shifting quickly to eLearning or remote learning at home for students who are impacted. Many of our new procedures are designed to support contact tracing should a confirmed case occur. This will assist the Health Department with quickly identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed.
Will Schools Be Open All Year? Will These Procedures be in Place All Year?
The pandemic shifts rapidly and we do not know what the rest of the school year may bring. If cases surge, schools may be ordered to close again, requiring all students to shift to remote learning. If the situation improves, we may be able to relinquish some elements of this plan and return to more normal operating conditions.
What Cleaning Enhancements Are Being Implemented in Buildings?
We have been stocking up on personal protective equipment, hand washing materials, and cleaning supplies.
In addition to our regular cleaning, we will be disinfecting more often in common areas like hallways, cafeterias, bathrooms, playgrounds and buses, as well as high-touch surfaces like door handles and desks. We will be shifting custodial hours as needed to assist with supplemental cleaning as well as utilizing teachers and staff in supplemental cleaning when appropriate. We will also be using electrostatic disinfectants as needed in buildings and buses for intense after-hours cleaning.
What Social and Emotional Resources Will Be in Place as Students Return?
We recognize the importance of providing students and staff with extra social and emotional support as they return to school this year. Our counselors, social workers, and psychologists will be ready to assist students and staff in need of support. Additionally, school-based mental health professionals through Community Health Network will be available. We will be sharing additional resources throughout the year and when requested.
What Can Parents Do Now to Ensure a Smooth Start to School?
We encourage parents to talk with, reassure, and support their children about these changes including the importance of social distancing, washing their hands, not touching their face, and wearing a mask.
- Allow your child to ask questions and answer them to the best of your ability. Find guidance here.
- Explain the why behind wearing a mask and have your child practice wearing their mask in different scenarios for different lengths of time. Heroes Wear Masks
- Read a story about returning to school such as Going Back to School or Welcome Back to School.
- Follow recommended guidelines regarding masks and social distancing this summer to help prevent a future surge in cases that might impact the start of school.
- Help students get back into a normal schedule at least a week before school begins, such as reinstituting bedtime and wake up routines.
- Be sure that all your child’s immunizations are up to date, including newly required immunizations for students entering kindergarten, 6th and 12th grades.
- Stay in close communication with your school should your health situation or return plans change.
- Remember, we are all in this together. COVID-19 has created many inconveniences for everyone. Your flexibility and cooperation is greatly appreciated to help the entire school community function to the best of its ability.
What Other Changes Can I Expect?
- Unfortunately, we must restrict all school visitors to promote health, safety, and social distancing.
- Students and staff should not be in buildings if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness.
- We will be limiting before and after school care as students should arrive and leave school at approved times to minimize and limit as much student contact as possible.
- We will be reviewing our overall attendance policies for staff and students, as well as eliminating any attendance recognitions that could encourage attending school when not feeling well. More information on the specific attendance policy changes will be coming at a later date.
- The pandemic shifts rapidly and we do not know what the rest of the school year may bring. Other changes could certainly be implemented and we will be in close communication with staff and families as future decisions are made.
Circumstances are constantly changing and we will continue to communicate with you any changes that will need to be made. Again, I want to thank all of you for your understanding as we face these challenges together.
CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK TO THE REOPENING PLAN