At their regularly scheduled August board meeting on Monday night, the Board of Education for Marietta Public Schools approved a re-entry plan. The plan, developed by administrators, faculty and staff members of the school, working alongside parents and members of the local healthcare community, contains the protocols that will be put into place when the 2020-21 school year begins in a few weeks.
“This plan for starting the 2020-21 school year will be far different than the start of any school year in the past,” said Superintendent Brandi Naylor. “It will focus on learning and the safety and ongoing health of students, staff and families.”
After COVID-19 resulted in Oklahoma schools closing to in-person learning for the last quarter of the 2019-20 school year, Marietta has chosen to reopen the campus to in-person learning to begin this year, fully recognizing that the situation is ever-changing, necessitating flexibility throughout the coming year. The school calendar will remain the same as originally adopted, although changes may become necessary.
The re-entry plan is based on input from stakeholders as well as the most current information available. As the year progresses, the school will continue to collaborate with the Love County and Regional Health Departments.
To begin with, students will not be socially distancing within classrooms. However, other precautions, such as frequent hand sanitizing, limited use of shared supplies and the use of face masks when appropriate will be observed.
Procedures for picking up and dropping off students will be determined on a site-by-site basis.
Daily, as all students and staff enter their buildings, they will follow a symptom screening process. After a student or staff member is on campus, if they become symptomatic, they will be isolated (with adult supervision for students) until they can be removed from campus. They must remain home for a 10-day isolation period or until a documented negative test result comes back and they have been fever free for 48 hours without medication before they may return to school.
If a student or staff member has been in close contact with a positive case either at or away from school, that person is expected to self-quarantine for 14 days after exposure. If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and has been at school, the school will contact parents and consult with the Love County Health Department to determine if there is a need to quarantine additional persons or close the school site. Protocols are included within the plan for a tiered response for potential short-, mid-, and long-term school closures, depending on the severity of the situation.
In the event of any quarantine or closure, distance learning will be utilized. Students are expected to participate in online instruction and complete assignments in order to receive credit and be considered present for that day.
Masks for students and staff are highly suggested. If confirmed case numbers begin to increase, masks may be required. Students will use hand sanitizer upon entering buildings and before entering classrooms. Handwashing breaks will also be scheduled throughout the day.
Cleaning practices will be focused on frequent disinfecting of surfaces where bacteria or viruses are most likely to be transmitted. Hand sanitizer will be provided in all common areas and classrooms.
In the cafeteria, tables will be separated into sections and spaced out. Tables will be sanitized after each use. Hand sanitizer will be used as students enter the cafeteria.
The school will continue to provide transportation for students, but request that parents transport their children when possible to reduce the number of bus riders. As students load the bus, they will have their temperatures checked and will receive hand sanitizer. Social distancing will be practiced on buses when it is feasible to do so. Additionally, windows will be opened to increase air flow when possible and seating charts will be administered with members of households sitting together. Employees will disinfect buses after each use.
Students who participate in athletics are asked to bring their own water bottles labeled with their names. When possible, activities will be outdoors. When indoors, social distancing will be practiced, and common surfaces will be disinfected after use. Students’ temperatures will be checked before extracurricular activities and students may be asked to wear masks.
To begin the year, teachers will instruct students in the use of software and devices in the event that distance learning should take place. Additionally, teachers will determine whether students may need a device or hotspot. When necessary, these will be distributed based on student need.
Although the district believes in-person learning to be most effective, they are also providing a full-time virtual education option. Parents who are interested in this program need to visit with their child’s principal, as entry into the program will be on a case-by-case basis and requires the approval of the principal.
Students who are enrolled in the virtual program must commit to at least one semester. Virtual students will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.
Naylor and the district’s staff realize that this year will be a challenging one, but they believe that the re-entry plan will give them the best chance at a successful year.
“For academic, socio-emotional, and economic reasons, we are compelled to provide a working in-person learning model, but we also cannot ignore that the threat of this virus remains,” said Naylor. “We must remain open to possibilities and consider all options to move forward. We are compelled out of love for our community and our children to put forth our very best efforts.”
A complete copy of the re-entry plan will be available on the school’s website.