XENIA — Public schools in Greene County have agreed to some common COVID-19 practices as they plan to reopen buildings this fall.
While each of the seven districts and the career center will develop plans specific to their needs, commonalities include health considerations, communication protocol, transportation, and remote learning options.
“Each school district recognizes the need for consistency in areas of operations while recognizing that individual differences in classroom sizes, school facilities, and building operations may lead to some district customization,” according to the document.
Under the agreement, each school district will: implement recommended health and safety protocols to the highest degree possible; work closely with the Greene County Public Health to promote health safety in each school building; and be transparent with all stakeholders that some level of risk will always be present when children and school district employees occupy school district facilities.
If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she must be fever-free for three days without fever-reducing medicine and have other symptoms improved while waiting 10 days since the symptoms first appeared. To return to school after a confirmed case of COVID-19, the student must be transported to school by the parent and must be checked by the school nurse. The protocols may change as determined by GCPH.
GCPH will develop a county-wide communication template which will include in which classroom/bus/school/other area the confirmed case was. Districts will cooperate with GCPH in contact tracing and potential quarantines.
While transporting students, districts may allow multiple students per seat, depending on the situation. Districts will attempt to seat siblings together and are urged to use seating charts to assist with contact tracing, if needed. Face masks may be required for drivers and may be required for students. If a district requires students to wear a mask on the bus, the district may refuse to transport a student who refuses to do so. In the event state policies require school districts to use alternative schedules, districts may adopt minimum requirements for transportation to reduce the number of students who are eligible for school district transportation.
School districts will offer remote learning option(s) for parents who do not wish to send their child to school. This may or may not include GCESC/GCCC programs as it will depend on the specific program/service. Parents/guardians may choose from two options:
— Send their child to school in the building (assume some level of risk).
— Agree to remote learning from home for their child for one semester at a time. Students will not be permitted to come in and out of remote learning within each semester.
Each school/district will determine where/when staff and students will wear face coverings. This will be situational and will be determined by each school’s unique circumstances. Face coverings are recommended for all students and staff particularly if they are within six feet of another person.
According to five guidelines for reopening announced by Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday, all school employees — including teachers — will be required to wear face coverings unless it is unsafe or significantly interferes with the learning process. DeWine said that order is in line with requirements for other workers in Ohio.
He added that face masks may not be practical for some staff and recommended other precautions such as face shields.
DeWine issued a “strong recommendation” that kids in third grade and up wear face masks and should work to reduce any kind of social stigma for any students who can not and should not wear a face covering.
The remainder of the guidelines released by DeWine Thursday are to vigilantly assess symptoms; wash and sanitize hands; clean and sanitize the school environment to limit the spread on shared surfaces; and practice social distancing of six feet as often as possible.
“We have an obligation, all of us, to educate our children and keep them safe,” DeWine said.
He also said there is a consensus among teachers, principals, parents, and the public that “our kids need to get back to the school building.”
Dr. Chris Peltier, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics-Ohio Chapter, echoed those thoughts.
“Kids in school do more than just learn math and science,” he said, citing access to healthy meals and exercise.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.