No votes were taken as the Washington School Board reviewed the district’s Return to Learn plan in a work session Thursday night. Superintendent Willie Stone explained that over 50 people helped develop the document that covers cleaning procedures, transportation, learning platforms, and safety measures for students and staff.
Administration proposes requiring face coverings – either shields or masks – for all staff and for varying amounts of time for students based on age with less time for younger students and required during the day for middle and high school, Stone explained why, “The reason why our lead team decided to push it towards face coverings, and I’ll be honest I was one that was kind of pushing towards it, is I can defend us having to wear face coverings. Every decision that I’ve always said, ever since I’ve been here, every decision I make will always be for the safety of students. And it’s hard to argue, we can argue but there’s enough data showing that face covering helps. … I worry about our students contracting, but our students most of the time, and in most conditions or most cases students will contract it or can contract but they will not have severe problems. But we’ll have staff members with several students, with hundreds of students and I think it’s important to protect our staff members and while doing that this is going to help us be able to stay in session face to face longer.”
Classes will be in person, but students have the option to attend online. Washington will contract online learning with Edmentum, so current staff aren’t teaching both in person and online.
Stone says there is an emphasis on social distancing. For P.E. classes, face coverings won’t be required if appropriate physical distance can be maintained and outdoor classes are encouraged. They are still working on a plan for music classes and plan to present it next week.
Every building in the district will have isolation rooms for students who may show symptoms during the school day. Parents will be called to pick up students with symptoms. School officials will work with public health professionals in such situations to conduct contact tracing and take guidance on who will then need to be quarantined.
Parents are encouraged to drive their students to school or have them walk if possible, to help with social distancing on buses. Students will have assigned seats in classrooms and on buses. When students arrive at school for the day they will go directly to their classrooms.
The district has 2,200 shields and 10,000 masks on hand. Many of the extra measures the district is implementing are being paid for by the $250,000 it received through the CARES Act. The board will officially consider the plan at a special meeting next Thursday (8/6) at 7 p.m.