Carrollton City Schools has announced that students will return to campus this fall for the 2020-2021 school year.
In March, the district had closed campus completely and moved to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, the system announced a plan for re-opening based on four scenarios, termed Levels One through Four, and can shift to any of them as circumstances require.
When school starts in August, the district currently plans to be at Level Two, which is an on-campus learning model that minimizes large group settings and implements social distancing measures and robust cleaning and hygiene practices.
For students, particularly those who are medically compromised, there is an online at-home learning option available. Parents desiring to learn more about the at-home learning option should contact their child’s principal preferably by July 31st or as soon as possible.
Details of the plan include a mandatory requirement for all teachers, staff, students, parents, and visitors to wear face coverings to support the health and safety for all.
There are three other teaching levels that may be adapted as the situation merits.
Level One will have normal, traditional school operations. Level Three will have a hybrid model of online learning and face-to-face learning in order to ensure all students are not on campus at the same time. Level Four would be the closing of campus and a complete return to online learning.
“For academic, social-emotional, and economic reasons, we highly support the in-person learning model,” wrote superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus in a letter to families. “But we also cannot ignore the continued threat of the virus.”
The reopening plan focuses on four key areas: meals, transportation, social distancing, and personal hygiene.
The schools will continue to provide student meals while also implementing modifications such as preparing individually-wrapped meals for breakfast and lunch and serving meals in classrooms or locations that promote social distancing until further notice.
School buses will have measures to ensure safety and reduce the transmission of the virus by requiring staff and students to wear face masks on all bus routes, provide hand-sanitizing stations on each bus, wiping down buses after every route, disinfecting buses after morning and evening routes, and opening windows during bus routes.
As a part of social distancing, schools will require face masks for staff, students, and visitors during school hours and bus transportation; configure classroom space to allow for social distancing; stagger the use of communal spaces; and reschedule all field trips for later in the year.
This will also include limiting the transitions of students during the school day; limit large group gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities; limit the number of visitors to all schools; and limit the sharing of student supplies, equipment, and technology in classrooms.
Students and visitors will be monitored for signs and symptoms of illness and students will be touted and reinforced with hygiene best practices including hand washing continually.
Water fountains will be disabled in schools and there will be alternate water options for students. Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized routinely.
Sufficient cleaning supplies will be provided to all areas as well as hand sanitizing stations in classrooms and high-traffic areas.
There will also be required routine disinfection of classrooms and work areas and provide consistent cleaning expectations for staff.
If a staff member, student, or visitor becomes sick, there is a protocol in place for that. There will be an isolation room or area to separate anyone who exhibits COVID-like symptoms. Areas used by a sick person will be closed off with no further use until cleaning and disinfection of the space occurs.
Students or staff who present with a positive COVID-19 test will be required to quarantine for 14 days or present a negative COVID-19 test from a qualified healthcare professional before returning to school.
Those individuals who are sick with a non-related COVID-19 illness should not return to school until they no longer exhibit symptoms and have been fever-free for 48 hours without any fever-reducing medication or have been cleared by a medical professional.
“This document presents our most current thinking,” said Albertus. “It is still a work in progress — and we believe, through continued candid and constructive feedback from our community, this plan can improve even more. We recognize that some of the concepts might cause some anxiety. But we must remain open to what’s possible and consider all options to move forward.”