Yuma School District-1’s Board of Education approved the district’s Return to School Plan, last week during a special meeting at the district office.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board the plan is a living document, and it likely could change in form or another as the board will revisit it at two more meetings in August, the regular meeting set for August 17, and another special meeting on August 31.
“It probably will change,” she said.
All the school superintendents in Yuma County, along with both hospitals, and the Northeast Colorado Health Department will continue to meet on a weekly basis to monitor what is going on with COVID-19 countywide and within the school community.
As reported before, families will have three options when the new school year begins August 31.
• In-person instruction at the school.
• Synchronized remote learning, with a student participating in the full class day via an electronic device from their home. The district has purchased enough Chromebooks and hot spots for each student.
• Do online courses through Colorado Digital Learning Solutions. Those who choose that route still will be counted as a YSD-1 student, but will not be with Yuma teachers, and families must commit for the full semester.
The Return to School Plan was passed out with student registration packets last Friday. It is also on the district’s website, yumaschools.org.
“This has been a very large undertaking,” Chrisman said last week, “but we feel with the collaboration we had with the hospitals, the task force and the health department that we have a good plan.”
She said everyone should plan on intermittent closures, during which the district will move to remote learning. The superintendent noted it was a good thing the district made its Chromebook and hot spot purchase when it did in the spring because they are arriving just in time to get set up for the start of the school year.
The plan states any student or staff that shows any of the COVID-19 symptoms will have to leave school. Chrisman said the district has to assume it is COVID-19 until the student or staff member proves otherwise.
The current list of symptoms are: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. (This list is subject to change.)
Some board members expressed exasperaton that just a headache would get a student sent home.
With the assumption that it is COVID, students and staff will either need to go to the doctor, who can show it is not COVID-19, get a COVID-19 test that comes back negative, or stay out of school for 10 days and show no signs fo illness anymore before returning.
Of course, parents are guardians are being asked to screen their children before sending to school, including taking their temperature, and keeping home if it is above 100.4 degrees. In fact, parents and guardians are being asked to absolutely not send a child to school if sick with anything, not just COVID-19 symptoms.
Students will have to be removed from school within one hour, while staff members must leave immediately. The district is encouraging parents/guardians to include as many emergency contacts for a student as possible.
While discussing with board members students having to be sent home, or not come to school in the first place if feeling ill, Chrisman noted that schools always have had health components in place when it comes to illness, such as staying home for a couple of days if have a fever, but it has been difficult to make parents follow those guidelines.
Students are to be screened at home each morning, then they are again if riding a school bus, and an adult needs to be at the bus stop with the student to make sure he or she can get on the bus — because if they show any of the symptoms, they will not be allowed to enter. Board member Dan Ross questioned if the bus drivers now are supposed to be nurses now also. Chrisman said the best for all is if ill children are kept home. She said paras might ride the school buses with the drivers to help out.
Students and staff also will be screened within one hour after arriving at schools. It is still being determined exactly what the screening will entail.
Yuma-1 will be discouraging any outside visitors to the schools in 2020-21. In fact, students better make sure they have everything because parents will not be allowed to bring them homework or lunch if they forget it at home. Chrisman added the school still will feed the student.
It is important that students with pre-existing conditions such as allergies and symptoms to have that on record with the school.
The district plan takes into account if the state’s mask mandate is in effect, and if it is not.
As of now, under the mandate, all students age 10 and above will have to wear a mask at least while entering the school and while moving about the building.
Chrisman said it had not been confirmed yet, but students probably will not have to wear a mask while in the classroom if able to maintain social distancing.
Any student not willing to adhere to that will be removed from in-person instruction. Chrisman said the district has no choice but to follow those rules.
Students also will not have to mask up when outside or when eating, though social distancing on the playground will be required, which was noted will be particularly tough on the younger children.
If the mask mandate is lifted, students will not have to wear a mask but it will be strongly encouraged
Staff will still have to use face coverings.
Sanitizing and disinfecting efforts at the schools, equipments and vehicles, is being taken to the next level. Chrisman said the district is spending $130,000 on cleaning supplies for the upcoming school year; it usually spends $50,000. Backpack sprayers and sanitizing “bombs” will be utilized frequently.
Students in grades K-8 will be kept with their own “cohort” group. It will be more difficult to maintain cohorts in the high school, but YHS is going to keep to it as much as possible with students remaining with their assigned block schedule cohorts throughout the day.
Students will stay with the same group, his or her classroom, including lunch and recess.
Board member Duane Brown asked Chrisman during last week’s special meeting if any staff have expressed concerns about returning to school. She said she had not been made aware of any such concerns as of that time.
The board approved the Return to School Plan on a 5-0 vote, though there definitely were reservations from some board members about even having to have such a plan.
Chrisman said it was the only way to return to in-person instruction. All five board members — President Dan Ross, Lindsey Galles, Kim Langely, Thomas Holtorf and Duane Brown — were in attendance.
Green, Yellow, Red
Yuma School District-1 will return to in-person instruction, with other options (see accompanying article), on August 31.
However, Superintendent Dianna Chrisman said everyone needs to be prepared for intermittent closures, she told the Yuma-1 Board of Education during is special meeting last Thursday. The board approved the Return to School Plan during the meeting on a 5-0 vote. All five board members — President Dan Ross, Lindsey Galles, Kim Langely, Thomas Holtorf and Duane Brown — were in attendance.
As reported before, Yuma-1 has three different phases in place — Green, Yellow and Red.
Green is the least restrictive. Chrisman said if the current low level of cases continues in Yuma County, the Yuma schools likely will open under Green.
However, she said the district is considering operating lunch time as if under Yellow, which has the students meet in their classrooms. When asked why by board members, Chrisman said it would help maintain a routine for younger students, instead of suddenly having to go to that if COVID-19 cases arise and the district goes from Green to Yellow. She also said it would help in keeping students with their cohort group
Open campus for lunch at Yuma High School will remain in effect even in Yellow.
As mentioned above, if things stay the same as of now — with few active and new cases in the county, Yuma-1 likely will begin in the Green Phase. The schools would abide by the general rules set forth, but there will be no additional restrictions. Social distancing, and mask wearing if still mandated by the state, would remain in effect.
Yellow — Yuma will go to the Yellow phase is 10 or more students or staff in the Yuma schools test positive within one week. (The threshold for the Wray schools also is 10, while it is five for Liberty and Idalia.)
Besides eating in the classroom, classrooms will be separated on the playground.
All students and staff will be screened within the first hour of the school day, with anyone testing positive being sent home — staff immediately, and students must be picked up within one hour.
The Yellow Phase will be in effect for a minimum of two weeks, and until the number of new cases has started to decline.
Extracurricular activities may continue, which for Yuma will be softball, boys golf and cross country. Attendance will be limited to no more than 50-percent capacity. Students will be fully screened prior to leaving for activities in another town.
The Red Phase means the schools will close and covert to remote learning, except for Little Indians Preschool. The district is supplying each student with a Chromebook to be kept at home, and hot spots will be given to those who require one.
The threshold for moving into Red will be 30 actives cases within one week. School will be closed for a minimum of two weeks. On-site learning could resume once the number of reported students/staff are at or below the threshold for Yellow Phase. School will reopen at the Yellow Phase for one week, and may proceed to Green as the illness numbers allow.
There is wording in the Red Phase about still having extracurriculars. Chrisman made it clear previously that there would not be any team games during such a time, but the wording was left in, in the event an individual student who does not show any symptoms has an opportunity to participate in some kind of major event.
The county-wide guideline outline that any students or employees that test positive may not return to school until they have met all of the following:
• No fever for 72 hours without use of fever reducing medication, and;
• Symptoms are improving, and;
• 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms.