Maxwell Unified School District is planning to welcome students back to campus on Aug. 12.
School officials said parents want their kids back in educational programs that foster the overall health and wellbeing of children, staff, and communities.
“A lot of the feedback I’m getting from parents and community members about the return to school is that they want the return to be as normal as possible,” said Maxwell Superintendent of Schools Summer Shadley.
Schools across the U.S. shut their doors to in-person instruction at the recommendation of State Education officials in March, due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now calling for schools to reopen because they are fundamental to child and adolescent development – and well being – because they provide academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, speech development, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits.
Shadley said the district, due to its low numbers, is not required to have or submit a reopening plan for COVID-19 but that she has been working on a plan anyway.
“I thought it would give us a very good starting point, and make sure we are all on the same page on day one,” she said.
Shadley said the schools would have a number of measures in place that should help reduce the spread of coronavirus, including sanitizer available throughout the school and in each classroom. Due to a backlog of orders throughout the country, the automatic dispenses will be limited to common areas, such as libraries, gym, and cafeterias until the district can make them available throughout the campuses.
At this time, the district is not looking at masks being a requirement, although the plan is subject to changes, Shadley said.
According to a recent survey of parents in the district, 90 percent do not want their children to be masked at school, said Trustee Cristy Edwards.
“I believe it is my job to represent them,” Edwards said. “I do think there are definitely protocols that need to be put in place.”
Masks, however, will be available at the school to anyone who wants them. Teachers will also have no-touch thermometers to use at their discretion if they have a student who may not be feeling well.
Shadley said the schools would also make extraordinary efforts to keep the campuses clean and sanitized.
Parents who want to keep their children off school buses will need to provide their own transportation. Parents who are comfortable sending their children on a school bus will be required to sign a waver.
In addition to opening the schools to normal instruction, the district will also plan for “distance learning” options for those with COVID-19 vulnerabilities, Shadley said.
The district also plans for sports to resume in the fall, although school officials acknowledged that plans could change if the state imposes restrictions.
Currently, the state is allowing all decisions on how the schools reopen to be made at the local level.
“That is what I am hoping, but there is more to come on that,” Shadley said.
Shadley said the district will have more information sent out to parents and available on the district’s website in the next few weeks.
EDITORS NOTE: The Pioneer Review will report on individual school opening plans as they become available. ■