Whitko releases re-opening plans for 2020-21 school year

Whitko school officials released their re-opening plans for the upcoming school year on Monday evening.

The following was taken out of the manual that was sent to media:

1. Meeting the Needs of Each Family – Whitko Community Schools will support multiple student learning options.
– Whitko Community Schools will continue to issue all K-12 students a Chromebook for use during the 2020-21 school year.
– While we believe the most effective instruction for your child happens in the classroom, Whitko Community Schools is sensitive to families’ concerns about the safety of their child(ren). We will offer the following delivery methods for K-12 instruction.

Two options will be used: Option 1 – In-Class Instruction; Option 2 – Distance Learning

2. The Classroom Environment – The Classroom environment will focus on healthy and sanitary conditions to the greatest extent possible.
– Instructional spaces will be organized to create maximum space in the classroom to allow for social distancing.
– Acrylic dividers will be used when small groups are necessary to maximize instructional effectiveness.
– Larger spaces in the school buildings will be organized to allow for social distancing.
– Elementary students will remain with their class during the school day. The class will move to related arts classes (art, music, PE, etc.), lunch, and recess on a staggered schedule.
– Students will be assigned seats in all classes.
– In classrooms where there are multiple classes, student desks etc. will be sanitized throughout the day.
– Each classroom and the equipment in the classroom will be cleaned and sanitized at the end of every day. Teachers and students will avoid or minimize sharing materials. When possible, personal sets of materials will be provided.
– Lockers and other storage type facilities will be assigned to students.
– Hand sanitizer will be available to students and staff.
– Building principals will schedule regular and frequent opportunities for student handwashing.
– An increased focus on healthy practices and personal hygiene will require additional time during the day at all schools. Principals will create a staggered schedule to reduce density in hallways, restrooms, cafeterias, playgrounds, and other common type areas.
– Physical education classes will be outdoors when possible. Activities will limit the amount of shared equipment. Recess activities will include those that limit close contact. Locker room use will be limited.
– Playground equipment will be cleaned between uses.
– Based on current guidance, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks and shields on buses, while walking throughout the school, during emergency drills as applicable and during certain other parts of the school day.

3. Family Support – Families and Whitko Community Schools will work together to keep our schools safe and open.
– The Centers for Disease Control, Indiana State Health Department ask that all employees and students wear face coverings. At this time, face coverings for students will be required on buses, walking throughout the school and during emergency drills as applicable. Student face coverings during the entire school day are strongly recommended. We ask parents
to ensure that students have a clean face covering to wear on buses or for use during the school day.
– If a student shows symptoms of COVID-19, the student will isolate at school and parents will be called. The student should see a physician. If the students tests positive or is not tested for COVID-19, please see below for steps to return to school. If a student tests negative for COVID-19, they may return to school with a note from the physician.
– Mandatory Reporting of a Documented Positive Case of COVID-19. If a student tests positive for COVID, the parent or guardian must notify the school principal even after hours. The County (Whitley and Kosciusko) Health Department will be notified. The infected student will be required to isolate at home for at least 10 days from the time symptoms first appeared and be fever free without fever reducing medication for 72 hours.
– Health officials will work with the school to determine who was a close contact. A close contact is defined as any student or adult who was within 6 feet of the COVID-19 positive student for longer than 15 minutes at home or at school.
– Students will be identified by the the county (Whitley and Kosciusko) Health Department and parents/guardians of the students will be notified ASAP of the possible exposure. ONLY parents of the identified students will be notified. The close contacts will be required to quarantine at home for up to 14 days. Testing will be recommended.
– If a Whitko Community Schools student has been exposed to COVID-19 outside of school or in the home, the student will be required to quarantine for up to 14 days. The school administration must be notified. If the student has symptoms, it is recommended that the student be tested.
– The only way we can keep our schools open is if parents/guardians keep students home if they are sick in any way. We have eliminated attendance incentives to discourage students from coming to school when they are ill.
– Whitko Community Schools asks parents and guardians to screen their students everyday prior to coming to school. The symptoms of COVID- 19, a screening questionnaire, and Health Hygiene Precautions are attached.
– Families are asked to send water bottles with students. Drinking fountains will be unavailable.

4. Food Service – Whitko Community Schools will continue to provide meals for students.
– Students will wash their hand before breakfast and lunch.
– Breakfast will be “Grab and Go” as students move to their classrooms.
– Depending on the grade level, students will have lunch with their class or social distance in the larger spaces.
– Lunch times will be staggered.
– Meals will be served on disposable plates with disposable silverware.
– Lunch money will be collected by school staff prior to lunch time. Money will no longer be exchanged in serving lines (breakfast or lunch).
– Parents may still deposit lunch money online (portal open August 1). This link is located toward the bottom of the Whitko homepage (www.whitko.org)
– Water will be available.
– Lunch areas will be sanitized after each student group.

5. Transportation – Whitko Community Schools will transport students to and from school. Whitko Community Schools recommends that parents take their child(ren) to school whenever possible to avoid excessive contact in a situation where social distancing is not possible.
– All students and staff will be required to wear masks while on the bus in order to protect students and staff. Some school employees may wear shields and gloves.
– All students will be assigned a seat for all bus transportation.
– Indiana Department of Education has recommended that schools keep students on one bus. In order to keep students on one bus, bus changes will not take place at the Larwill campus.
– Families with elementary students who attend school in another attendance zone (i.e. live in PES zone, attend SWE or live in SWE, attend PES) are welcome to continue to attend their current school, however, parents will need to provide the transportation for their child to that school.
– Walk zones (areas where children walk to school) have been expanded with safety in mind.
– Buses will be regularly cleaned and sanitized between all trips.
– Bus drivers will have hand sanitizer if needed. We ask that students keep any personal sanitizer that they may have in their back packs while on the bus.
– Students will proceed to classrooms prior to the start of school.

6. The School Environment – All schools will focus on creating a safe healthy environment for students and staff.
– Signage will be placed throughout the school to promote hygiene and protective measures.
– Signs will be placed throughout the school with reminders of social distancing, one-way traffic (if applicable) and others as necessary.
– Visitors and guests will be restricted to school offices until further notice. No school volunteers until further notice.
– Guest speakers and/or mentors can participate through virtual means.
– Field trips are suspended until further notice.
– School rentals will be limited to ensure the cleanliness of the schools.
– Sudents will continue to receive intervention and special education services in the classroom environment.
– The Special Education Department will provide guidance regarding the delivery of special education services.
– Large group activities in the schools will be suspended until further notice.
– Whitko Community Schools will follow cleaning and sanitizing schedules for each school on a daily basis.
– Whitko Community Schools has committed extra resources to our Guidance and Counseling Department. Whitko Community Schools recognizes the challenges faced by students and families and we believe these resources will help us support the social emotional needs of students and families.
– For the purposes of contact tracing, students will remain in class groups where possible.
– Student teachers will be fully trained and follow the same protocols as all other employees.
– Substitute teachers and support staff will be fully trained and follow the same protocols as all other employees.
– All students and staff will be trained to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19, become familiar with the self-screening checklist and proper hygiene practices.

7. Nurses and Office Nurse Assistants – Nurses have prepared plans for when there is a positive case of COVID-19.
– Each school has identified a space to treat symptomatic students and staff. This area will be restricted to authorized staff and sanitized when vacated. This area is also separate from the traditional nurse station to keep potential exposures to a minimum.
– When a student is ill, the parent or guardian may be asked whether the student is exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19.
– Students who are ill will be walked out of the school to their parents or guardians.
– The Health Commissioner from the Indiana State Health Department encourages everyone to get an influenza immunization.

8. Other Considerations – This plan is based on the most current guidance at the time of approval (July 20, 2020). Keeping the safety of our staff and students in mind, changes may occur as necessary to help mitigate risks.
– Extra-curricular activities and sports will continue subject to Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) guidance.
– Attendance letters will be waived until further notice. All staff and students are asked to stay home when sick or having symptoms of COVID-19. Whitko Community Schools will be flexible regarding attendance and eligibility for athletics and extra-curricular activities as
– If there are changes to this document, notice will be emailed to all families.