The Colome Consolidated School Board has put on first reading a plan for the safe return to school for all students and staff in the district. The board has had two meetings to discuss and make changes. Each time the board has met there has been some tweaks to the plan.
By Dan Bechtold/ Editor
The tentative passage of the plan is set for the Aug. 10 board meeting. School in the Colome district will start on Aug. 18. There are three levels to the plan which takes into consideration if there are any cases of COVID-19 in the school.
Level one is green which allows school to be open as normal as possible with precautions in place. There will be hand sanitizers, signs posted to wash hands and adjust lunch time if needed. Social distancing measures will be increased.
Masks will be available and it will be parent/student choice if they wear a mask. Masks will not be mandated. Some staff members may make the choice to wear a mask during the school day.
The school emphasized there will be no bullying tolerated of students who choose to wear a mask.
Level 2 is yellow and includes more precautions as suggested by the South Dakota Department of Health and the state Department of Education. This level will require the wearing of mask and clear plexiglass dividers in certain areas .More custodians will be hired for additional cleaning, if needed.
If needed in level 2 there will be a modified schedule such as staggered arrival and release time and bus routes may be changed. There may be a combination of face to face and online learning using Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams for a limited time. With the online learning the students would be at home and not in the classroom.
Level 3 red is the most serious and would mean school cannot be operated as usual and all learning will be online. The school may consider full distance learning.
The Department of Health and the department of education will work with the school district leadership to determine if a shut down is needed. This would happen if there were multiple cases of COVID-19 in the school. The school plan is very fluid as things change day to day with COVID-19.
Supt. Dr. Debbie O’Doan said the plan is to open the schools in the best way possible keeping everyone as safe as possible. O’Doan noted the school will be flexible enough to make changes as needed in accordance with the local COVID-19 case data.
Water bottles will be highly encouraged to avoid sharing water fountains. Hand sanitizers have been installed in every classroom plus multiple places in hallways and common areas. With COVID-19 there will need to be extra cleaning by the custodial staff. Rooms and hallways will be disinfected two times weekly. Temperature checks of students will happen in the main office and Title I room. Temperature checks will be taken if a student shows signs of illness. Students with a fever will be required to put on a mask and will wait in the isolation room until parents come to pick them up.
Parents are expected to monitor their children and keep them home if they are sick.
For sports and extracurricular activities the school will follow South Dakota High School Activities Association guidelines. At the present time all fall sports are a go and have been approved by the SDHSAA with restrictions. O’Doan noted if the school reaches the red level and in order to avoid becoming the next hot spot the school will move to full distant learning for a limited period of time. O’Doan says communication is a key as the school year starts and students and staff work their way through a pandemic.