Garden City USD 457 reentry plan for pandemic approved

Meghan Flynn
USD 457 superintendent Steve Karlin talks to board of education members during a meeting July 30 at Garden City High School's auditorium.

A lengthy meeting was held on July 27 by the Board of Education for the final draft of the 2020-21 Garden City Public Schools Re-entry Plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan contains three learning options for students — on site, remote and blended.

On-site learning is school as close to normal as it can possibly be, where students attend classes in person with the addition of safety measures implemented from the Finney County Health Department.

Remote learning is virtual school where students complete coursework through online, live or prerecorded lessons, educational programs, assignments and testing. Daily communication between students, teachers and parent/guardians is required.

Blended learning is a mix of on-site and remote learning where a student may come to the school for a few classes, such as orchestra or math, and then do the rest at home.

Blended learning is only available to students in grades seven through 12; however, it is also available to remote learning sixth-grade students who wish to participate in band or orchestra on site.

In addition to the learning options, operational levels were created in concert with the Finney County Health Department.

The levels outline how the schools would be run and the different protective measures that would be taken in response to the COVID-19 situation.

Six levels were created, with Level 1 having the fewest restrictions and Level 6 being remote learning.

Level 1 is on-site school as if COVID-19 didn’t exist, with no protective measures or restrictions.

Level 2 is on-site school with basic protective measures.

The protective measures include daily symptomatic screening by teachers; masks recommended for grades seven through 12 if social distancing is not an option, or for grades K-12 at teacher discretion; hand washing encouraged before and after lunch and after recess; small work groups; assigned seating; modified lunch schedules with students eating in classrooms or some students in classrooms and some in the cafeteria; and large group classes to be held outside or socially distanced.

Level 3 is on-site learning with enhanced protective measures and limits on group gatherings.

The protective measures include everything in Level 2, but masks are required for grades 7-12 if social distancing is not possible or for grades K-6 at teacher discretion due to at-risk students or staff or activity that can’t be socially distanced, and trying to limit the mixing of students as much as possible.

Level 4 is on-site learning with enhanced protective measures, a parent option for remote learning, limits on group gatherings and social distancing requirements.

With Level 4, if there is possible classroom/staff exposure, quarantined students will participate in remote learning following guidance from the health department and all other students will have the option for either on-site or remote learning.

Other protective measures include daily symptomatic screening by teachers; groupings that aren’t face to face, meaning all desks/tables must face the same direction; masks are required for all grade levels; small groups maintaining 6-foot social distance guidelines; encouragement of hourly hand sanitizing; school libraries are closed; no indoor physical education unless social distancing and the same classroom group can be maintained; no large group activities; school playground equipment is closed; modified lunch schedules; limit touching; and geographic sequestering is possible.

Level 5 is hybrid learning only. Only half of the student population would be on campus at one time, while the other half would be remote.

Students would have a hybrid of on-site learning and remote learning, alternating days when each group is on site.

Other protective measures include everything from Level 4, but masks are required if students and staff are not socially distanced, and desks and tables would be spaced 6 feet apart.

Level 6 is remote learning, like school was for the last nine weeks of the last school year; however, there would be an accountability piece that didn’t exist during continuous learning.

Determination of the levels at each school will be a joint decision with the school administration, district administration and the health department.

Also, each school level — early childhood, elementary, intermediate, middle school, high school and the alternate education center— have further plan breakdowns including morning routines, lunch routines, hallway procedures, building operations, instruction, daily screenings, and bus procedures.

For example, at the elementary level when arriving at school, if arriving before school starts or before staff arrives, students should wait outside, 3 to 6 feet apart, if the weather is good. If the weather is bad they should wait in the gym, sitting 6 feet apart.

When students arrive at the elementary schools when staff is present, they should go directly to their classroom and social distance.

There will also be assigned seating in all classrooms at all school levels in every building.

In addition to the levels a classroom/academy procedure for isolation within a school building was created to help building staff, students and parents avoid unnecessary contact.

The procedure is color coded as red status, yellow status and green status.

Red status is when a teacher is quarantined and/or multiple students are ill. The classroom/academy is closed.

Yellow status is when a student is positive, therefore the teachers and other students are under close monitoring for symptoms over the 14-day incubation period.

The classrooms/academy under monitoring will be isolated from all other students and staff within the building and will utilize separate entrances and/or staggered arrivals, passing in hallways, recesses and will not participate in school-wide gatherings.

Green status is when no positive cases are identified within a classroom or academy unit. Classes go on as normal.