H-D, CAL department heads make final plans for an unprecedented new school year

Signs posted at the Hampton-Dumont District Office remind staff and students to wear masks, socially distance and stay home if sick. Similar signs are posted at all school building entrances and throughout the buildings. GREG FORBES/HAMPTON CHRONICLE
Greg Forbes

This time of year, Hampton-Dumont and CAL department heads are usually making the final tweaks on plans and improvements to buildings but Maintenance Director Marlin Smith can attest the lead up to the new school year has been anything but usual.

“This is a lot different of an offseason,” he said.

Smith is referring to the new procedures and safety features the staff throughout the districts are working to install in order to prevent the spread of the novel corona-virus as students return to school on Aug. 25.

The Hampton-Dumont and CAL Boards of Education last Monday approved a plan that would see students attend school in a hybrid model, where approximately half the student body would attend school on some days of the week and the other half would attend on the remaining days.

Ahead of welcoming students back, Smith and maintenance staff have worked to install plexiglass barriers in the school buildings’ and district office’s front desk, as well as barriers to separate kitchen staff from students in the lunch line. He said a lot of time has also been spent ordering and installing hand sanitizing stations throughout the schools. Each classroom will have disinfectant and foaming hand sanitizer available and hand sanitization stations will be fixed at the main entrances of each building.

Classrooms that had tables for seating now have desks and the tables have been removed in order to encourage social distancing.

Smith said the maintenance department has also ordered new half-gallon pump up misters for disinfecting, which will allow faster and more thorough sanitization, and has filled the misters with a disinfectant that specifically lists the human coronavirus as a disease it quells.

Along with the return to learn model, the districts also approved mandatory face mask usage in all buildings and at all events on school grounds. Smith said the staff has posted reminders of the mask rule, as well as remind-ers of hand washing and social distancing, at the entrances of each building as well as throughout the hallways.

Each building’s principal was also encouraged to develop a path plan as students pass from class to class and some are working to install signs and stickers on floors and hallways.

Dan Schipper, Transportation Director with the districts, said district buses and vehicles have been a target of significant focus as far as safety and sanitation are concerned. He said masks will be required for all riders and a bus associate will be on each bus in order to take temperatures as students board.

He said in order to keep contact as minimal as possible, students will board the bus front to back and remain in their designated seats for the duration of the trip. Students will be dismissed by row from front to back. While on the bus, no food or drink will be allowed and students must remain seated, facing forward.

Hand sanitizing stations will be installed at the front doors of each bus and disposable masks will be provided to students who don’t have one.

After both the morning and evening routes, bus drivers will sanitize all buses.

Schipper said an additional route through town has been added to alleviate the number of students per bus.

Should a student register a fever while walking onto a bus, the bus associate with attempt to locate a parent or guardian in order to take their child home or the student will be isolated on the bus until he or she arrives at school, at which point a parent or guardian will be contacted and the student will be kept away from others.

As far as athletic events, Schipper said seats will be numbered and an athlete will be expected to travel to and from an event in the same seat to which they are assigned. However, the district is asking parents to transport their children to and from activities whenever possible in order to cut down on the number of students riding on the bus.

As buses arrive to school in the morning, each bus will be designated a specific door at which to drop off students. As students enter the building, District Nurse Jenni Swart said staff will be present to take temperatures and conduct routine health screenings.

In order to ensure the mask precaution is followed, Swart said the district has purchased two washable cloth masks for each students that will be distributed with the usual supplies. Students may also wear masks from home, but the district is working to develop language on what counts as a mask. Additionally, each teacher will be provided a face shield.

Swart said each building has a designated area separate from the populated spots should a child have a temperature or show symptoms where he or she will be kept until the student can be sent home.

“In regards to symptoms, we will be cautious and if we suspect a student may be sick, they’re going home,” she said. Swart said should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19, the district will work with Franklin County Public Health to determine a close contact list. Close contact, she said, refers to contact with an individual for 15 minutes or more within six feet or less. Anyone identified as a close contact will be required to be tested and quarantined for 14 days away from school and those who test positive will need to iso-late within their homes for 10 days. Swart added that a 14-day quarantine must be complete even if an individual’s test returns negative.

She said the districts will keep a Google document of those identified as a close contact and keep track of what day an exposure occurred compared to how long the individual has been out of school.

“It does not matter if you test negative at any point in that 14 days, that does not get you a get out of jail free card,” she said. “It takes any-where for two to 14 days for the symptoms and on an average, it’s about five days after an exposure where you’ll develop symptoms and we know there’s asymptomatic people, too.”


Hampton Chronicle

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