Written by Amy Malander, Superintendent
Schools are preparing for the reopening of in-person instruction to start the 2020-21 school year. As part of this process, the Central Valley Board of Education met on Monday, July 13, 2020, to look at a series of decisions about what “school” will look like this fall. Most decisions about how the school will operate this fall will be left in the hands of local education officials. The school boards will direct the administrative team to implement key policy issues and questions related to staff and students.
The first decision was accepted and agreed upon that in-person instruction was the best option for our students’ educational achievement, as well as their social and emotional well-being. The first day of school for students Kindergarten through 12th grade will be on Friday, August 14, 2020. Preschool will start on Monday, August 24, 2020. The Wolbach and Scotia sites will have the morning session and Greeley will have the afternoon session.
The Central Valley school district will be in contact with Loup Basin Health Department on a regular basis giving us guidance through this unprecedented time. Loup Basin Public Health Department is made up of 9 counties: Blaine, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Howard, Loup, Sherman, Valley, and Wheeler. The population is around 31,000 and approximately 5,300 students. Loup Basin has worked in-conjunction with the schools in offering the influenza vaccinations and monitoring attendance during the cold and flu season. They offer guidance to school officials when it would be beneficial to close when student absence is high. Loup Basin has yet to advise Central Valley to close for illness. I attribute that to our parents keeping their students’ home when they are sick and to great cleaning procedures by our custodial staff. The custodial staff has implemented more cleaning measures since COVID-19 in order to keep our students safe and healthy.
The next decision was the masking of staff. The Board of Education has decided when there are no outbreaks of COVID19 in the area, staff can decide on an individual basis if they wear a mask. When an outbreak occurs, staff will be asked to wear a mask. The administrative team will be working very closely with the health department when making their decisions. Mask usage is a very sensitive topic. We are making decisions with only the best intentions in mind.
Student masking was the next issue. We are not planning, at this point, to start the year wearing masks. Students may wear masks if they so desire. The school will be in close contact with the local health department regarding the number of COVID out-breaks in the area and there may be times when students are asked to wear a mask. This could change based on the COVID-19 counts.
The last item discussed was employee leave/attendance.
Yes, we will be social distancing. We are adjusting rooms and schedules to allow for 6 feet social distancing as much as we can, but we intend to be “practical” about it as well. There will be liquid hand sanitizer at various stations and locations, as well as dispensers in each classroom. We will also be encouraging students to wash their hands in the restroom if they do not want to use hand sanitizer.
The local school officials are in the best position to make decisions about how to reopen school this fall. There inevitably will be differences between schools in how they respond to the challenge of COVID-19. These issues are complicated and constantly evolving. The Central Valley Administrative team is working with the Loup Basin Health Department again next week to get more details of the re-opening plan and will keep you posted