June 30, 2020

Task force looks at reopening schools

Before the 2019-20 school year ended, a task force was already studying myriad issues of reopening school for 2020-21 amid a pandemic. While School Board members will get a final comprehensive report July 20, Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., gave them a status update on the work of the five subcommittees that comprise the Reopening School Task Force.school board meeting_type

The five subcommittees, their scope of study and status are:

Social & Emotional Wellness – Support students and staff during the reopening of school, reestablish PBIS expectations, identify students in need of assistance and re-establish cognitive endurance.

Status:

  • Evaluating needs of students and staff
  • Prioritizing professional learning activities and welcome back activities
  • Identifying professional learning around supporting students with mental health and SEW needs, with common resources for staff to support students in discussion
  • Developing plans to re-establish PBIS within schools

Teaching & Learning – Enable students to continue to make academic progress and prevent regression. The subcommittee will set the direction and vision for the academic program which includes building the instructional model for potential learning environments.

Status:

  • Preparing for traditional in person start:
    • Preparing for returning students and anticipating the need for virtual instruction for students if they become ill or need to be quarantined for 14 days
  • Creating action plans for “common” platforms based on grade levels, i.e., See Saw, Google classroom, etc.
  • Planning for a 100% virtual option for parents not wanting to send their children back to school buildings
  • Reviewing how to utilize staff who indicated, through a district survey, they are interested in working in a virtual setting
  • Parents will receive a survey to determine interest in a 100% virtual setting for their students

Technology – Ensure effective and equitable access and use of technology to support learning and communication in all learning environments. The subcommittee will lead technology access and support by conducting an inventory, issuing devices and ensuring access for families who do not have internet.

Status:

  • Determining needs for equipment to support teaching and learning
  • Standardizing platforms used
  • Streamlining processes for communicating software and application availability and requests
  • Assessing bandwidth
  • Collect data points during online registration regarding devices available and internet access

Human Resources and Finance – Maintain effective and efficient budgetary, financial and human resources operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.

Status:

  • Creating Pandemic Handbook
  • Accommodation forms
  • Employee sick-time questions
  • Recommendations on travel outside of state
  • Creating guidance for staff to follow regarding PPE in classrooms
  • Creating a flow chart or graphic representation of when an employee/family member/child has COVID

Facilities and Operations – Maintain effective and efficient facilities, nutrition services and other key operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.

Status:

  • Food service items under consideration:
    • Touchless or no-touch point of sale, student IDs on lanyards with barcode
    • Disposable trays and utensils
    • Staggering arrival times in the cafeteria
    • Potential to have assigned seating
    • Directed traffic flow
  • Busing items under consideration:
    • Potential assigned seating on buses
    • Loading back to front
    • Washing and cleaning process between routes
    • Parents can opt out using buses
  • Health room and monitoring items under consideration:
    • Designated isolation room in each school. Showing symptoms (N95 for staff/gowns) isolate in an area
    • Self-monitoring for families/students as well
    • Education and training hygiene – more signage
    • Limiting visitors coming into school to only essential individuals
  • Other items under consideration:
    • Plexiglass high traffic areas
    • Investigating face shields for staff working directly with students
    • Working on hand sanitizer dispensers for all rooms
    • Signage reminders about handwashing and symptoms
    • Closing drinking fountains but keeping water bottle fillers open
    • Reevaluating cleaning processes for cleaning high-touch – high traffic areas
    • DPI has provided district with masks to distribute to students

Personnel action

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the retirement request of Food & Nutrition Services Assistant Manager Sandra MacPherson, effective Aug. 31; and
  • approved the resignations of Maple Avenue special education teacher Heather Ertl, Woodside instructional paraprofessional Lauren Vogt and Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee Diana Muche, all effective June 2020.