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Edison releases reopening strategy

HAMMONDSVILLE — Edison Local School District officials have crafted a plan for reopening schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and hope to have students back in class later this month and early September.

The school board met July 23 to approve the plan, which follows guidelines based on coronavirus risk levels. Superintendent Bill Beattie said officials are eyeing an Aug. 31 start date for upperclassmen with preschool and kindergarten students to begin Sept. 2. School districts currently follow their county health departments’ color levels of yellow, orange, red and purple to signify risks with yellow being lowest and purple the highest. School officials said all plans are subject to change based on evolving conditions, data about the status of the pandemic and recommendations and guidance from public health authorities.

“It’s based on the four-color system,” said Beattie. “It is reviewed weekly and released every Thursday afternoon. If there is a change in risk levels we will adjust accordingly.”

The reopening plan involves face-to-face instruction in the buildings all week at the yellow and orange levels with students and staff to follow safety protocols. At the third (red) level, the district will implement hybrid learning, where two groups of students will alternate two days a week. One group will attend Monday and Thursday and another on Tuesday and Friday with Wednesday as an independent learning day for all pupils. Should the area reach the purple stage, students will complete online learning at home.

In-school protocols include health assessments with temperature and symptom checks; social distancing of 3 to 6 feet depending on risk level; and face coverings over the nose, mouth and chin. Students from grades K-12 must wear masks on buses, in the hallways and in classrooms with mask breaks by teacher direction and any health appeals for face coverings must be made in writing by a student’s primary care physician to district nurses starting Aug. 24. The district nurses will work with the local health department and face shields and other measures may be approved through the process. Parents are to take temperatures at home and students and staff will not be permitted to attend if they above 100.4 degrees, and will not be able to they return for 24 hours until they are fever free.

A school nurse will be housed at Stanton and John Gregg Elementary schools and Edison High School with transportation protocols also put in place on buses. Some options may include temperature scans as students board the bus or enter school buildings; placing two students per seat, and in some instances, three students if the children are younger and siblings attending the same building seated together, if possible; and the use of face masks for drivers and students if social distancing is difficult.

If a student refuses to wear a mask, the district might refuse to transport them. Buses will be sanitized and cleaned between runs and buildings will be cleaned regularly in highly trafficked areas and classrooms with deep cleaning performed each evening. Other plans include one-way hallway traffic when possible; grab-and-go breakfast meals with lunch being expanded to other areas of the buildings; and promoting good hygiene practices with hand sanitizer machines available for frequent use. Teachers will travel between classrooms instead of students and there will be no lockers, shared supplies or permitted visitors or volunteers, plus field trips are canceled and student attendance will be taken daily.

In the event of hybrid learning, many of the protocols mirror the face-to-face plan with the addition of adjusting special education services and attendance being taken in class and by log-in or check-ins when home learning. Should schools move to the remote learning phase, teachers will have additional time for small group work, intervention and student and parent communication; grades will count and school counselors will work with students in College Credit Plus classes. Individual family issues will be handled at the building with school counselors and special education services will be adjusted. Breakfast and lunch will be delivered to designated sites five days a week and student log-ins or check-ins and check-outs will be used to take attendance.

Leaders want to ensure that students are equipped to learn at school and at home by providing 1-to-1 devices for grades PreK-12 and a district curriculum, while Google Classroom and Google Meet programs will be enacted for all educational options. Teachers will be available for parent meetings and office hours and the grading system will return to the traditional policy followed prior to the school closure in March. ECAT, Edison’s virtual online school, will be offered weekdays and applications are available at edisonwildcats.org. It is a self-placed, independent learning platform and is supported and monitored by Edison Local teachers.

Officials said the district or an individual building may be directed to close down by the Jefferson County Health Department or school may shift to a remote learning option if teacher and staff COVID-19 absenteeism outpaces available substitutes. Risk levels are released every Thursday at 2 p.m., and if the risk level changes from orange to red or red to purple or also deescalates, the district will be expected to change educational options the following Monday.

“We have plans in place and it is our goal to implement them using the health guidelines to ensure the safety of every staff member and student,” Beattie concluded.

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