A-A discusses return to school

Friday, July 24, 2020

Alta-Aurelia schools are preparing for numerous COVID-19 adjustments when schools reopen on August 24th. The district plans to reopen with an enhanced traditional learning scenario, with students in the classroom. Sonia Galvin, Alta-Aurelia District School Nurse, updated the school board at the July 20th meeting on the district’s Health Services COVID-19

Return to School Plan. The school district uses guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Her report was part of the bigger picture of the district’s 2020-2021 Return to Learn Plan (RTL).

Adjustments include: Facial coverings will be promoted for students and staff but not required. Hand hygiene and social distancing will be promoted. Face shields are also promoted. Galvin said she hopes that everyone is on board with the recommendations.

Temperature screenings will not be taken at school, but families will be encouraged to do that at home, especially before coming to school each day.

“The idea across the state is that if a child should come down with a fever and not wearing a mask, we hope to be able to reach the parent in a timely manner, and have the student wear a mask in the “isolation area” tunil picked up,” she said.

Superintendent William Walters is taking the back-to-school plans very seriously. “We haven’t taken it lightly from the day it started,” he said.

“We have been working on our return to school since early June. The rules have changed several times over the course of the past few weeks. It’s important to remain patient so we are able to follow the proper recommendations and keep our students safe and learning.”

Things could change and patience pays off, he said. “We want to keep our kids safe. I feel responsible for every kid in this school district.”

When it comes to facial coverings at school, two sizes of disposable masks will be available and are an option for those who have parental permission. Examples of the masks and shield were shown to school board members. A student may wear a facial covering from home. Paper sacks will be available to put a mask in during lunch.

With regard to temperature, Galvin said that for now, when a student comes down with a fever of 100 degrees or more, the hope is that the child will stay home until post symptomatic for at least 72 hours. This is recommended state-wide and comes from the CDC, she said, adding that district requirements can be amended later if things go better than anticipated.

“Time will tell, but we’re hoping to do the the best that we can,” she said. “We’re also hoping everyone, i.e. staff & families, will follow the CDC guidelines (which are in the process of being changed). Taking temps at home is an option before coming to school each day. No one is to attend if they’ve had an OTC med like Tylenol, for example, to reduce their temp below 100 degrees.”

Additional precautions that will be taken at school include gowns for the nurses and aprons for staff to use when necessary to possibly prevent exposure to bodily fluids. Gloves will be available for teachers who want to wear them. There will be plenty of hand sanitizer available. Two air purifiers have been ordered to assist in removing impurities and which are currently recommended and increasingly more popular, Galvin said.

Each nurse’s office will have a type of isolation room. “Here at Alta, there will be a shower curtain in the nurse’s office to separate the kids that come in for an injury or for someone who is actually ill,” she said, while In Aurelia, a room is available for the same purpose. “In addition, we plan to have a system in place with teachers to avoid the potential of exposure to contagious conditions.”

Galvin is concerned about the challenges everyone will face with wearing protective gear and taking the time to do things in the proper order such as wearing and caring for a mask and/or shield.

There is a thought process that goes into it, she said. It takes practice to use the gear. Contamination could occur if used improperly. “You’re going to wear yourself out just thinking about it.”