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Plans in place for area schools

Prescott's Return to Learn

“Field trips have been cancelled,” school nurse Cassie Butler told the school board July 15. “Large group assemblies and things like that have also been cancelled for right now and probably most of the fall.” Meeting for their monthly meeting recently on July 15, the Prescott School District unveiled its operational game plan for reopening with on-site instruction in the district come fall, as an active worldwide pandemic stalks the world and its public health—including the people of Pierce County Wisconsin. The plan details for returning to classes on-site were revealed in an Executive Summary put out by the school district. Rule number 1: there will be masks!

“Masks will be required based on a situational basis that takes into account health circumstances outside of the school as well as logistics inside the school,” the Return to Learn (R2L) Executive Summary makes known. Masks or the alternatively named “face coverings” are considered an important ally in the fight against COVID-19, commonly transmitted by respiratory droplets.

As to the bus garage update, it was shared by Director of Transportation Tim Rundquist at the last Prescott school board meeting that buses have already had hand sanitizer installed, and that each driver will disinfect their bus each time it gets driven to the bus garage. Seating arrangements have been made to allow for families to stay together on the bus, and the seat behind the driver will be kept empty whenever possible. Because of the changes, the country bus routes will be able to be restructured with fewer kids and higher safety for each and all. Buses will be staggered and go to different schools at different times, with one bus unloading at a time. The Prescott district bus department has purchased face shields but is asking drivers to provide their own masks. All buses will go to all schools, with no carousel. Students will only be allowed to get off at their own house. As for tracing of COVID contacts, cameras were installed in the buses two years ago, and supply a record can assist if needed. After busing it was on to food service, shared by Tina Stenroos, Director of Food Service for Prescott.

Stenroos told the board that students will still go down the cafeteria line for school, and food service will still try to offer a la carte items at the high school and middle school. Syrup will be avoided at breakfast and breakfasts at the Elementary and Intermediate schools will be in the classrooms. Regarding changes to school cafeteria operations are that barcode scanners will replace PIN pads at the cashier, and the high school and middle school will have an ID card with barcode to help facilitate lunch. The Elementary and Intermediate schools will have a roster sheet with each classroom, with the cashier scanning the sheet for the barcodes.

Staff will help students with silverware and trays, while some students at the Elementary and Intermediate will eat their lunch in classrooms to prevent overcrowding of the lunch room. At the high school, an additional lunch period will be added, and all lunch schedules will have time for cleaning tables between each group. All staff serving food will be wearing a mask or face shield and there will be no condiment carts anymore, the school board was told. From food service it was on to school grounds and facilities, with Mike Hoikka.

Starting before students return, Hoikka told the board that cleaning staff will be reviewing proper use of cleaners and disinfectants along with cleaning procedures, and there are also added electrostatic machines for cleaning. Due to lunches being different, the staff will have to reschedule when the areas used for lunch will be cleaned. Proper PPEs and high touch point areas will also be reviewed. More training of staff with the environmental company the school works with will be done related directly to COVID, and 50 percent of annual cleaning products were reported as already being on hand, along with three additional electrostatic sprayers to disinfect all surfaces, Hoikka told the board.

The grounds and facilities staff had also gone through different rooms with staff to remove non-essential and hard to clean items. Drinking fountains will be shut off and capped, while bottle fillers will be operational. More fresh air will be brought in automatically, and upgrades looking to improve dehumidification will be looked in. Air will be circulated prior to student arrival and after they leave for longer, as well. But in case students do get sick, reporting is important!

“It’s going to be even more important that parents call their students in sick, and leave more of a detailed message,” school nurse Cassie Butler said of attendance this fall. “We need to know what their symptoms are and when they started. If they have multiple symptoms we need to know all of them,” Butler said, including whether students have been taken to be tested and eventually what the results are. “The more detailed information we can get from parents, the less follow-up I need to do with my nurses that same day,” she said. To reassure those worried about medical information being passed on, Butler told one board member that HIPPA prevents this information from being shared with staff that isn’t directly involved in an individual student’s care. However, Butler said that the district was required to report the details of communicable diseases to public health, including student information parent contact info. The majority of contact notifications would be via email.

Regarding wider community knowledge of having contact with someone confirmed to have COVID, Butler said that it would be a tiered approach and “very situational dependent,”— need to know only, in other words. As stated by Rundquist, buses will have assigned seating by family groups. Of the Return to Learn plan for the high and middle school buildings, there were a few details, beginning with the high school.

• In the first place, there is a large-scale restructuring planned for students at the high school, from a semester based schedule to a trimester based one, bringing with it a shift in class scheduling and student interaction. With fewer transition periods between classes comes the opportunity/caveat of shifting from an emphasis in breadth of student learning, to depth of student learning.

• Student learning will focus on five courses at a time, allowing them to learn a subject in more depth. With a total of three shifts in class schedule throughout the school year instead of two, students will have additional opportunities to take electives and other courses, as well as recover credits from potentially failed courses within the same school year, while maintaining safety and public health.

• Along with a restructuring of the school year, there will be a restructuring of the Prescott High School Organizational space from a subject-based pods to grade-levelbased pods, in order to minimize potential crossover between students from different grade levels.

• As a result of these efforts to mitigate risk, Prescott High School students “will take a majority of their courses on a grade-level assigned pod,” per the R2L Executive Summary. In addition, student’s peer-topeer interactions will be reduced in frequency outside of their grade level, a measure also meant to mitigate risk.

• Finally, all elective-based courses will remain centrally located within the high school, so that students from each pod will not crossover during traveling to class.

From high school the R2L Executive Summary moves to Middle School, with similar but distinct plans adapted to the middle school environment, both of change and continuity. First, the changes!

• Students returning to class this year as a Prescott Middle School student can expect to have reduced Band/Choir class sizes in sectional groups according to a Bell Schedule. Additionally, they will attend their classes within the same group or ‘cohort’ and eat lunch in these same classrooms, lunch groups having been reduced.

• Students and staff “will be recommended and/or required to wear masks” under mask considerations, and there will be limits placed on school visits for who enters the building.

• Finally, the district will provide a blended learning model for those students who either cannot or who choose not to attend on-campus instruction.

Along with these changes to the middle school learning environment come what hasn’t changed.

• The middle school will continue to provide an engaged, supportive, and caring staff for all students, committed to meeting the needs of its diverse student body.

• All classes and “exploratories” historically provided will continue to be provided.

• Students’ schedule structure will be similar to how they have looked in the past.

• School will be open to the entire student population.

Prescott Schools will continue to be flexible and ready to pivot their instruction plans as needed “at any given point in time,” per the Executive Summary. Please check the school website or Facebook pages for the most upto- date information. See you soon!

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