D-38 Announces Back-to-School Plan

By Kaitlyn Ketchell, Reporter

Right now, the District 38 school board is hosting a live school board meeting to discuss plans for the 2020-2021 school year. From masks, social distancing, lunches, buses, and more, the board is revealing their plans on how to keep us as safe as possible this year.

The meeting can be viewed here and the plan for the school year here.

UPDATED 4:00 P.M. TUESDAY JULY 21, 2020

The District 38 school board announced its plan for the 2020-2021 school year on July 20, 2020. Here’s a review of what was discussed:

Attendance Plans: The district laid out three options for returning to school for high schoolers. One option is having a “regular” school week, with students attending in-person learning five days a week. Students also have the option to participate in a fully online course, which will be facilitated by D-38 teachers, or students can opt for part in-person and part-online.

Masks: Students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks while entering/exiting D-38 buildings, sharing hallways, riding the bus, in locker rooms and restrooms, and other common areas. Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear masks in classrooms as well. Masks will not be provided by the schools, so students, staff, and visitors must provide their own masks. When masks cannot be worn for either medical or educational reasons (band, athletics, etc), increased social distancing will be implemented instead.

Sanitation: In increased importance will be placed on handwashing and hand sanitizing in the upcoming school year. Hand sanitizing stations will be added around schools and D-38 buildings. Additionally, there will be ongoing sanitation of commonly touched surfaces, as well as reduced sharing of surfaces (like electronic devices).

Social distancing: Six feet of social distance will be encouraged at all times, but if this is not possible, as much distance will be put between people as can be managed. Some schools could have one-way hallways when possible. Recess times will be staggered in elementary schools and locker use will be limited in middle and high schools (lockers will not be provided unless requested in high schools). Large gatherings such as assemblies, dances, or performances will not be hosted.

Symptom checks: Students and staff will complete daily COVID-19 symptom checks before arriving at school. Symptoms include new onset of coughing/shortness of breath, fever (100.4 Fahrenheit or higher), chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of smell/taste, and other gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, etc). Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is not allowed to enter any D-38 buildings.

Exclusion from school: When a student tests positive for COVID-19, they are expected to stay home at least ten days after first noticing symptoms, and cannot return to school until they have had no fever for three days and symptoms improved. People who came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 must stay home for fourteen days after exposure, and meet the above criteria as well. Those with symptoms, but have not been tested or receive care, must not come to school either.

Cohorts: Students will be kept in cohorts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Students will stay in the same groups with the same teachers as much as possible, but will still be allowed elective classes that maybe with different cohorts. High schools in particular will rely on other ways to mitigate risk as cohorts are difficult to maintain at this level.

Nutritional services: Lunches will still be provided for purchase in boxes or bags. Condiments and utensils will also be provided in individually-wrapped packages. Microwaves, toasters, and hot water dispensers will no longer be provided. Students are asked to use lunch account money to pay rather than physical cash.

Buses: Buses will operate normally, but drivers and students will be required to wear masks while on D-38 buses. The seats will be cleaned thoroughly between routes, and routes that have too many riders will be run as two routes.

Special student populations: Accommodations will still be made for students with special support needs this year. They will have access to both in-person and online learning based on what works best for their needs.

Contingency plans: In the event of 1-2 positive cases within a cohort, the student(s) must quarantine at home for 14 days. If there are positive that are not limited to a cohort, or if the school does not implement cohorts, all involved students and staff must quarantine for 14 days. If multiple classes/cohorts have more than two cases over a two week period, school closure may be considered. If more than 10% of the students/staff are absent due to quarantine, there will be a school-wide two-week closure.

District 38 is trying their best to keep everyone safe and educated this upcoming school year. The board meeting can be watched here and the 2020-2021 plan here.

Parents should have received an email with information about the back-to-school plan. There is now a page on the district website titled ‘Back-to-School 2020’, with all the necessary information on it. After reading through all the available resources, go to this form to indicate to the district your or your child’s intended enrollment for fall 2020. Forms are due by July 31, 2020.