School Reopening Update July 22, 2020

School Reopening Update July 22, 2020
Posted on 07/22/2020

Superintendent Newton’s Weekly School Reopening Update
July 22, 2020

I am very excited to say that we are only five weeks away from reopening all of our schools in Uinta 4. Once we do reopen on August 26, 2020, our goal is to do everything we can to remain open. Current health requirements for a positive COVID-19 test would require a 14-day quarantine and the temporary closing of schools for thorough cleaning and sanitizing. One key component to successfully remaining open will be to take preventative measures to keep the COVID-19 virus out of our buildings. It will be very important for students and staff members to stay home when ill. Parents will be asked to screen their children daily for symptoms of COVID-19, including performing a temperature check, before sending their children to school. Any student showing symptoms of COVID-19 or registering a screening temperature over 100.4 degrees must remain home. The school district will provide a daily screening guidance document for parents to use. Staff members will be held to the same standards. Additionally, the district has purchased six temperature screening kiosks that will allow temperature screenings to be performed at the entrances to all of our buildings any time a student or staff member enters the building. Once again, any student or staff member registering a temperature of over 100.4 degrees will need to go home. We are hopeful that simple preventative screening measures like these will help keep our schools open. When surveyed a couple of weeks ago, 91% of parents and 99% of staff members stated they would be willing to do temperature and symptoms checks in order to remain open.

We will also be making some preventative changes in the area of food service. The K-8 building will utilize the cafeteria, a portion of the main gym, outside seating, the middle school commons areas and classroom pod areas to eat lunch to help maintain a safe social distance of six feet. Students will utilize two serving lines to facilitate faster food serving. Food service and custodial staff will clean high traffic and seating areas between grade levels exiting and entering the designated eating areas. Mountain View High School will increase the amount of available seating outside for the good weather months. Allowing students to eat in the cafeteria, the high school gym commons areas and outside will allow for appropriate social distancing of six feet. Also, traffic flow will be adjusted in the high school cafeteria to allow one-way traffic in and out of the lunchroom. Plexiglas shields will also be installed in the lunchroom serving areas to better protect lunch servers and students. Students in all buildings will wash their hands prior to and following lunch. Hand sanitizer will be available in each location. Face coverings will be used by all food service staff while serving students. Face coverings will also be used by the ticket taker. The ticket taker will enter student numbers on the keypad to prevent students from having to touch the keypad. The food service department will continue to follow all USDA, state health department, and federal food service guidelines for cleaning and sanitation. Additional cleaning and sanitizing steps have been introduced to exceed these guidelines. Uinta 4 will no longer have any self-serve options, including the salad bar for students or staff. Parents should not come to school to eat lunch with their child and parents will not be allowed to bring snacks for birthdays or holiday parties.

In order to allow our route buses to continue to operate at full capacity, any student or staff member who rides a school bus will be required to wear a face covering. If you would prefer that your child not have to wear a face covering on the school bus, then you will need to bring them to school yourself. Survey results from a couple of weeks ago indicate that 88% of our parents are willing and able to bring their children to school if bus capacity is limited. In anticipation of parents choosing this options, we are designing measures that would better accommodate more parents dropping off and picking up their children. As we all know, this is already a major challenge at the K-8 building. One possible solution could be moving our bus loading and unloading zone to the south side of the K-8 building near the single lane exit. Students would load or unload at that location and then our buses would take the single lane exit out onto Willow Street. The students who walk to school would use the exit gate over by the cell tower that exits onto Willow to keep them away from the bus traffic. This would allow us to turn our current bus loop into a second parent loop. We will provide more details with this possible solution as we get closer to school starting. Also, in early August we will be sending a simple survey out via email asking parents to identify whether they will have their children ride the bus wearing a face covering or bring their children to school themselves. This will help us to gauge the possible impact on the two parent loops.

The information mentioned in this weekly update will be a small part of Uinta 4’s Smart Start Reopening Plan that must be submitted to the Wyoming Department of Education by August 3rd.

I will continue to have conversations with the Board of Trustees, the Reopening Committee and Uinta County health officials throughout the next seven days in regards to the extent and circumstances in which face coverings will be required during the regular school day. Current language in the Wyoming Department of Education’s Smart Start template indicates that face coverings would be required “to the greatest extent possible” if social distancing of six feet could not be maintained. I will be able to provide you specific details about these conversations and decisions in next week’s update.