Preliminary plans for reopening Washington County schools include early-out day for K-12 students

Photo illustration of children going to school in masks. | Photo by puhimec, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Following the release of a preliminary plan for reopening schools to teachers and principals, the Washington County School District Board of Education is scheduled to meet Monday evening at 5:15 p.m. to discuss and further develop the plan.

School child wearing face mask during corona virus and flu outbreak. Boy and girl going back to school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown. Group of kids in masks for coronavirus prevention.

While the plan released to teachers is still preliminary and isn’t expected to be finalized by the board until July 27, many parents are antsy to know what to expect, especially with the first day of school only weeks away.

According to the plan sent to St. George News, schools will open for in-person schooling on Aug. 13. The school week will be a traditional Monday through Friday schedule except on Friday. On Friday, students will be let out early at differing times: elementary at 1:15 p.m., intermediate at 11:45 a.m. and high school at 12:30 p.m.

The early-out Friday schedule will be used for teacher and staff professional development and training as well as deep cleaning of schools.

As per Gov. Gary Herbert’s executive order, face coverings will be required for all staff and students. According to the plan, some exceptions will be considered for those with a qualifying health condition and will be determined on an individual basis.

Girl wears mask, Unsplash, St. George News

Face coverings will not be required during lunch, recess or in cases where social distancing can be maintained.

The plan asks that all do their best to protect those most vulnerable, mitigate risk and potential spread of virus and be understanding and reasonable with face covering removal under the instruction of a teacher. Parents are also asked to regularly wash face coverings.

Classrooms will be arranged to create as much spacing as possible. When physical distancing is not possible, face coverings will be required for teachers and students. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing will be employed.

Madeline Kazantzis, the organizer of Moms Against Masks, talks to protestors outside of the Washington County School District building, St. George, Utah, July 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Madeline Kazantzis, St. George News

For lunchtime, students will be required to wear masks when in line, and student seating will be spaced as much as possible. Elementary lunch will be scheduled by grade level. Between each seating, tables will be sanitized.

For those parents or students who are uncomfortable with in-person schooling, other options include remote at-home learning, Utah Online School (for secondary only) and in-person/remote combination, which will be arranged due to a qualifying condition for a short-term basis of two or three weeks.

While all Utah High School Activities Association activities are scheduled to begin on time, the plan notes that this is fluid and could change. When activities are happening, all participants will be symptom-checked prior to participating. All spectators will be required to maintain social distancing and/or wear face coverings

The plan also states that all district buildings and properties are not considered to be free or safe from COVID-19.

Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 24, 2020 | Screenshot from Gov. Gary Herbert Facebook page, St. George News

In the case a person tests positive for COVID-19, that person and those exposed will be subject to health department guidelines in order to return to school and/or participate in activities.

If the governor or/and Southwest Public Health Department make the announcement to soft close schools again, the plan states that they are more prepared with qualified teachers and will move to remote teaching and learning.

Steve Dunham, communications director for the district, previously told St. George News that the plan would be released to parents a week in advance of the July 27 meeting in order to provide ample time for review in advance of the meeting, at which time the board will be taking under consideration public feedback pertaining to the plan.

As per the Utah State Board of Education requirement, all schools must have their final reopening plans approved by a local board during an open public meeting and posted onto both the district’s and school’s websites by Aug. 1.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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