Washington school board discusses aspects of return-to-learn plan

WASHINGTON — Thursday evening, the Washington school board discussed different aspects of the 2020-21 school year’s return-to-learn plan, setting a date for next week to make a final decision.

The school board discussed different aspects of the plan including in-person learning, face coverings, mitigation efforts and more.

With board approval, the schools will return 100 percent in-person with precautions in place, such as hand washing, social distancing and face covering usage.

If parents are not comfortable sending their students back to school, a virtual option is being offered through outside programs.

Even though the school is looking at returning in-person, the school discussed different options for students, as well as a virtual option for students who may not be comfortable returning.

The virtual programs will not be taught by teachers within the school.

“With all the pressure teachers have this year, we just think it’s best we hire this out,” Stone said.

Edmentum will be used by elementary and middle school students. High school students will use Apex.

The school is currently unsure what eligibility for sports and other extracurricular looks like at this time.

“If they decided to take virtual school, are they eligible for co-curricular,” Stone said.

Parents who wish to use the virtual option are asked to contact the superintendent and building principals to register.

While in-person, students and staff will be required to wear face coverings with no set end date. Each student will be provided a face shield and staff members will be given face shields and masks. So far, the school have ordered 2,200 face shields and has 10,000 masks with more on the way.

“Every decision I make will always be for the safety of students,” Stone said. “There’s enough data showing that face covering helps.”

Stone said he is worried about the students contracting the virus and infecting staff members.

“It’s important to protect our staff members, this is going to help us be able to stay in session, face-to-face longer,” Stone said.

Middle and high school students will be required to wear their face coverings all day.

Middle school students will be given one 10-minute break during each class period where they can remove their face covering with proper social distancing. High school students will be given two 10-minute breaks during each class.

Grades 3 through 6 will be taught how to properly wear a face covering and will be expected to wear it throughout the day. Periodic breaks of not more than 10-minutes will be given throughout the day.

At the elementary level, adults will be required to wear masks but the students will not. Instead, the students will wear them periodically throughout the day and when transitioning throughout the day.

Stone said research has shown kids under 10-years-old have not been passing the coronavirus on or are as not as contagious.

If the school is made aware of a positive test, their plan is to work with the Washington County Public Health to determine the proper steps. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined for 10 days. In addition, the Washington schools said they must be fever free for 72 hours, free of using medication and have symptom improvement before returning to class.

“We’re trying to do what’s best for all, not what’s best for the individual,” Stone said.

To try and mitigate students coming to school when sick, students and teachers are asked to take their temperature before attending school. If a family does not have a thermometer, Stone said the school has around 120 generic digital ones on hand.

All the information on the return-to-learn will be posted on the district’s website and letters have been sent to families.

The meeting will be 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.