Schools in Dawson County will reopen for in-person classes on August 7 with no mandate for teachers and students to use face masks, the school system announced on Friday.
According to its release, the school system will implement enhanced safety protocols throughout Dawson County campuses, with the ability to adjust measures as new information on the COVID-19 pandemic becomes available.
Safety protocols will include social distancing measures in school buildings and on buses. Bus drivers and cafeteria staff will be required to wear face masks, but masks won’t be required for teachers and students.
“Masks/face coverings are encouraged, not required, when social distancing isn’t possible,” the release said. “Staff and students will be allowed to bring face masks/coverings.”
The school system will not require all students and staff to be tested for COVID-19 once schools reopen, according to the release.
“The health department does not recommend widespread testing before the start of the new school year,” the release said.
Enhanced handwashing and sanitation protocols will be in place, and hand sanitizer will be available in all areas, including buses. Frequently touched surfaces will be disinfected frequently, water refill stations will be used instead of water fountains and both students and staff are encouraged to bring their own refillable bottles from home.
Outside visitors will be limited, and visitors entering the school will be screened for symptoms. Screening for symptoms among staff and students will occur as needed, and protocol for those who feel ill while at school will be implemented.
“Any staff or students with a temperature over 100.4 will be isolated in a specified location and sent home,” the release said. “Local health officials will be notified for guidance and next steps.”
Based on classroom configuration, desks will face the same direction wherever possible and students seated at tables will be on the same side. Students will be discouraged from gathering in parking lots and common areas, and the schedule of large gatherings such as recess and class changes will be staggered. Flow paths will be marked in the hallways, cafeteria and entering the school to keep students separated and to minimize the congregation of students.
Field trips will be eliminated until further notice.
According to the release, parents have the option of choosing between in-person and online learning options. Online learning guidelines will be different from the spring 2020 semester and much more rigorous, according to the release.
“The expectations and rigor will mirror in-person/face-to-face instruction and will require a full school day,” the release said. “Expectations in terms of attendance, grading and accountability will be the same for those students participating in online earning and in-person learning.”
Parents will be asked to fill out a Commitment Form indicating which learning option their child will be participating in and to return the form to the school by no later than July 24. For parents who don’t return the form to the school, it will be assumed that their child will be attending school in person.
Parent involvement will be paramount for the online learning option, and all students will be assigned a teacher who will support and facilitate their online learning.
The release states that students from kindergarten through 5th grade choosing the online learning option must make a commitment to proceed for the first nine weeks of school, while students in 6th through 12th grades must commit for the entire first semester of school.
Parents will be provided additional information for online learning once details are finalized, according to the release.
To submit questions on the reopening plans visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScQ8TASd1pQlaRYsAePHvIIxnMhd69lkqtPEpvjo90AD6vQow/viewform.