MSD, DCHS prepare for new year
Both local school districts, Monticello and Drew Central, have released information on the return to school on Thursday, Aug. 13, as originally scheduled and the options parents and students have between the traditional in-classroom model or a virtual school model. The schools have each released guidance on their websites that answer questions about returning to school in the fall, including information about the virtual school option, offered by both districts, use of masks and social distancing and screenings.
The first day of school remains the same as originally scheduled, for now, the date is subject to change based on Arkansas Department of Health directives at the time.
Based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the ADH, everyone 10 hears old or older are recommended to wear face coverings, both schools stated they strongly recommend that adults and students 10 and older wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, such as on a school bus. Students under 10, with health issues or special needs will not be asked to wear one. All other students will be highly encouraged to wear face coverings in areas of high concentration when social distancing can not be obtained. In the event of an increase on cases, face covering could become required. The school will provide two washable masks for each student.
All students age 10 and over are encouraged to wear face coverings at all times while on the bus, based on ADH and CDC guidelines. It is recommended that children under 10 also wear a mask whenever possible and practical due to the confined area an inability to social distance.
Drew Central added students with special needs or health issues may be given an exception and will be addressed on a case by case basis. Bus drivers will also have assigned seating with children from the same household being assigned to the same seat. If a student is unable to stay in their seat, they may be removed for the remainder of the nine weeks or semester after two written warnings to the principal.
Both schools are also moving to a blended learning environment, the blended learning will enable students and teachers to move more smoothly between the traditional bricks and mortar classroom and the virtual classroom.
According to Drew Central, blended learning will also cut down the amount of paper used for assignments.
Cleaning of facilities
Both districts are making sanitation and cleanliness a high priority and will be cleaning high touch surfaces and restrooms on a continuous basis, purchased sanitation sprays to quickly clean spaces between uses and students will be asked to wash their hands whenever they move to a new area.
Gaps in learning from last year
Students will be assessed to determine strengths and weakness and additional help will be available if needed. Missed skills in courses have also been embedded into the curriculum. Example: A student enrolled in Algebra II will have geometry skills embedded in the Algebra II class.
Extra classes and extra curricular activities
Extra classes such as PE, music and art will all still be available to the students, as will recess in the appropriate grades. High School and Junior High sports are expected to return with some modifications. The schools are still awaiting guidance on band and choir.
Social Distancing will be observed wherever possible but at times students will be closer that 6 feet apart. Classrooms are being redesigned now to further protect students by spacing students out and or adding dividers to tables.
Drew Central and Monticello will trust the parents to screen their children before sending them to school. Monticello issued guidance that the teachers and students will complete a daily screening tool. Both districts are trusting parents not to send their children to school if they:
• have a fever of 100 (Drew Central) or 100.4 (Monticello) in the last two days
• had a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat or loss of taste and smell
• have been in contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days
Student or employee infected with COVID-19
Monticello School District has stated the school will stay in contact with ADH and follow current ADH guidelines.
Drew Central School District has the CDC guidelines listed in their plans. They include notifying and staying in contact with local health officials, dismissing students and staff for two to five days in order to evaluate the situations and determine appropriate next steps, communicate with parents, students and staff and clean and disinfect thoroughly.
Both districts have plans for virtual school. The deadline to apply for MSD’s virtual school is Thursday, July 9. The deadline to apply for DCSD’s virtual school is Tuesday, July 14. Both schools have applications online MSD: billies.org, for DCHS: drew central.org