POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education discussed school re-entry scenarios during its meeting on Tuesday evening.
During the meeting, the board heard from a parent about her thoughts on re-entering into the schools in the fall. The parent asked the board to consider a few situations, including programs and accommodations for special education students, class sizes, number of days in the buildings, hard-copy assignments rather than online and the “what-if” scenarios.
Superintendent Jack Cullen said she brought up “excellent points.”
In his report to the board, Supt. Cullen said the re-entry plans would be works in progress for the next few weeks. Cullen said the target start date set by the governor is Sept. 8 and this changes the schools calendar. The projected end date is June 2, 2021 and the state does not want that to change. The board must keep the 200-day employees at 200 days of employment. Students need to come close to the 180 days of instruction according to the state department.
Cullen said for transportation, the school system is considering the possibility of two routes each morning and each evening. This scenario would allow for social distancing on the buses to be easier. The district is also purchasing a sprayer for each bus to disinfect them between routes. Transportation Director Charles Towner said the process would take the drivers about two minutes and it would kill nearly all germs on contract. There would also be recommendations to wear masks while waiting at the bus stops and on the bus.
Beverly Glaze, the child nutrition director, said they are working on creating meals and plans for all scenarios. Each school will be getting a food packaging system that will allow cooks to plate meals and put a plastic seal on the tray, which will allow them to travel to classrooms or buses if needed without spilling. If the students can still have lunch in the cafeteria, the sealed trays will allow for less contact and a faster lunch line. Glaze said there will be no self-serve items, including condiments and milk, which will be packed in the lunch trays or handed to the student by the cook.
Glaze is considering options for students with special diets — including keeping students with allergies safe while in a smaller classroom. Glaze said she wants to train the teachers’ aides for signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Cullen said that when students enter and leave the school buildings, the doors will be opened so they don’t touch the handles.
For athletics, Cullen said more restrictions will be announced in the future. Right now, if there is close contact, each individual needs to wear a mask. Cullen said that band and cheerleading members are recommended to not go to away games.
The board was going to look at the virtual school policy to extend it from grades sixth through 12th to kindergarten through 12th grade. Cullen said virtual school is different than remote learning, which is what the students began in March.
Cullen said attendance policies could change due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which gives emergency sick days to staff and teachers who have symptoms. There is no policy that Cullen knew of for staff who needed to quarantine.
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.