SIDNEY — Sidney City Schools released its plans Tuesday on how the district will reopen for students and staff for the 2020-21 school year while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we look to start the 2020-2021 school year, the health and safety of students, staff, volunteers and community are paramount. Sidney City Schools (K-12) plans to start school with in-person instruction five days a week beginning Sept. 8, 2020, with the exception of kindergarten, which will run on a staggered start as in years past,” said Superintendent Bob Humble in a release posted on the school’s website.
“We believe it is extremely important for the mental and physical well-being of our students that they be in school. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” he said. “However, given that we have students and/or families with legitimate health concerns, we will offer a remote learning option.”
Parents of students in K-12 will select in person instruction or remote learning on the student’s final forms. The deadline for choosing remote learning is Aug. 7.
The district released its policy on how they will accomplish in person instruction while following the guidelines established by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department (SSCHD).
OSH asked districts to focus on five areas when implementing its reopening plan. The areas are:
• Assessing symptoms;
• Washing and sanitizing hands;
• Thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing school environments;
• Practice social distancing;
• Implement face covering policies.
Student, staff illness
The school district will monitor overall daily absences for COVID-10 impact.
Students and staff should check their temperature and monitor their health at home on a daily basis before coming into a school setting.
Sidney City Schools may check students’ temperatures and observe for other symptoms. Families will be contacted and asked to pick up their child who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.
Any student or staff member with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher should stay home.
Any student or staff member that has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home from school and should be assessed for COVID-19.
Wilson Health Clinic at Sidney City Schools, located in the basement of the Board of Education office, welcomes walk-ins. Walk-ins for Sidney City Schools students and staff will be Monday, 6 to 8 a.m.; Tuesday, 3 to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 5 to 8 p.m.; Thursday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and Friday, 3 to 5 p.m. The clinic is located at the Board of Education office at 750 S. Fourth Ave., Sidney, and is served by Dr. Mick Beyer and his staff. Call 937-419-8021 for more information.
Returning to school after illness
If a student or staff member is diagnosed through testing as having COVID-19, they must meet the following criteria to return to school:
• Three days with no fever (without using fever reducing medication) and other symptoms improved and 10 days since symptoms first appeared
• Students and staff that only have a fever and no other symptoms and have not had any contact with an individual that has COVID-19 may return to school after they are fever free for 24 hours without using any fever reducing medications.
• Any other illnesses should be handled in the routine manner according to district policies as outlined in the student handbook.
ª To return to school after a COVID-19 diagnosis, the student must be transported to the school by the parent/guardian and must be checked by the school personnel by appointment.
• Staff may be required to provide documentation from a physician to return to work or abide in accordance with updated guidance from the ODH or the Shelby County Health Department.
Families are responsible for reporting a positive COVID-19 case to the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department. The school district is also required to report COVID-19 information to the health department.
Communication will be developed in conjunction with the SSCHD and Sidney City Schools to specify to guardians which classroom/bus/school/other activity the confirmed case was in. Necessary and appropriate information will be shared with staff. Student names will not be shared.
Guidelines for students
Students will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap multiple times a day. Staff will reinforce the important health benefits of washing hands for disease prevention. Hand sanitizer will be provided in common areas and within each classroom for student us. Hand washing or use of hand sanitizer will be required before lunch, after using the restroom, and before and after recess.
Daily cleaning and disinfecting of all areas in the school will continue to be standard practice. Special attention will be paid to common areas including classrooms, cafeterias and buses, and high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, handrails, drinking fountains, keyboards, desks, tables and chairs.
Water fountains will be shut off and schools will be equipped with water bottle filling stations. Students will be asked to have a reusable water bottle as a part of their school supplies.
The current recommendation for social distancing is 3 to 6 feet of space between individuals when feasible. The district will do this to the best of its ability by teaching students the importance of being considerate of others’ space and keeping their hands to themselves; creating routines supporting space at lunch and during transitions between classes and breaks;and encouraging students to minimize congregating in large groups before and after school.
The district will follow the governor and the Ohio Department of Health guidelines for face coverings, Staff and volunteers will wear masks anytime they are in contact with students when it is instructionally appropriate, as well as with other adults. Students will be highly encouraged to wear masks on school busses or other areas where social distancing is difficult, but masks are currently not required by the state. Families who would like for their child to wear a mask will be responsible for supplying the mask. Masks are not mandatory for family members in the office area. Visitors entering the school building beyond the office area will be asked to wear a mask.
“In order to serve families who are medically fragile or have concerns about safety, Sidney City Schools will be offering a remote learning option. Careful consideration should be given to the learning expectations and requirements. At this time, there is no hybrid of remote learning and in-person instruction; it is all or nothing/one or the other,” said Humble.
Guidelines for remote learning include:
• Semester time commitment – families choosing remote learning will be asked to commit to this learning model one semester at a time;
• Daily classroom engagement will be expected, assignments will have deadlines, and grades will be taken;
• Grade level expectations will be the same for remote learning as in-person instruction;
• Plan for more rigorous instruction/engagement than what was experienced in the spring;
• Families choosing remote learning who are not medically compromised will be required to provide their own technology;
• K-8 students will not receive unified arts with remote learning (art, PE, technology, STEAM, all music, Workforce Academy, etc.)
• Grade 7 and 8 athletes will not be eligible to play with this option as they will not be able to meet the five course requirement per OHSAA eligibility rules.
Whittier Early Childhood Center plans to start school with in-person instruction two days a week beginning Sept. 14, 2020. During the week of Sept. 7, an hour time slot will be assigned to parents for Stay & Play. This will be an opportunity to meet the child’s teachers and learn about the preschool program.
Currently, under direction of Gov. Mike DeWine, early childhood classrooms may only have nine children at a time. In response, Whittier Early Childhood Center will offer a hybrid model of services with in-school participation two days a week. If the allowable number of students increases, the district will look at returning to a four-day model. Parents who pay tuition will only pay for those two in-school days.
Option A: In-person sessions Monday and Tuesday; online lessons available Wednesday and Thursday
Option B: Online lessons available Monday and Tuesday; in-person sessions Wednesday and Thursday
All families will select between Option A and B in Final Forms. The deadline for choosing a specific day is Aug. 7, 2020.
Some students may be asked to attend four days a week as determined by their IEP.
During Monday night’s board of education meeting, Humble said the superintendents of the Miami Valley League met Monday and “we’re moving forward with fall sports.”
The plans, he said, will be released when they are finalized.
“As long as the governor allows it, we will have fall sports,” said Humble.
Humble said if a staff member or student tests positive the health department will decide if all students in the class will be tested for COVID-19. Classrooms are going to be cleaned everyday to help keep the virus out of the school.
If a teacher does test positive their sick leave, said Humble, is covered under the CARES Act guideline. He added it may vary by situation.
Class size hasn’t been determined yet, he said, as it could change as parents sign up for remote learning.
“At this time no decision has been made other than we will distance as much as possible without adding staff,” said Humble.
Humble also added the Latchkey program will be open during the school year.