Pine Tree ISD Superintendent Steve Clugston says if the district’s COVID-19 safety plan is followed this school year, exposure to the virus shouldn’t happen.
The district released its guidelines this week for 2020-21 that mirror other area districts with on-campus and online learning options and face mask requirements.
The guidelines also include monitored recess and PE, extra daily cleaning and a call for students to bring their own water bottles to school.
“I feel good about our plan, I really do,” Clugston said. “I’ve had a lot of good feedback. For some parents, the online platform is going to be the best choice for them. But the vast majority of kids want to be in school and need to be in school. We’re going to do everything we can to keep them safe as well.”
The district urges parents to prescreen all students before they leave their homes each day. Parents should not let students go to the bus stop or enter campus buildings if they have a fever without medication; cough; sore throat; fast breathing; chills; shaking with chills; muscle pain; headache; or loss of taste or smell.
Students will be required to wear a mask when they are close to others on campus. Once students can be properly spaced out in a classroom, masks will be voluntary.
According to the district, teachers will have to wear a mask or face shield when social distancing cannot be enforced and while teaching. All staff members will be required to wear a mask when they are within 6 feet of a student. Increased use of hand sanitizer also is part of the guidelines.
“The biggest thing with the staff is keeping your mask on, washing hands, not touching your face,” Clugston said. “The custodians are cleaning and fogging the building every night. Everybody being responsible and following those guidelines is going to be essential.”
Children will be able to have recess and PE but will have to wear a mask when physical play begins, which will be monitored to maintain social distancing.
Additionally, water fountains will be temporarily closed, and children are encouraged to bring their own bottled waters.
The district also said any student or staff member exposed to COVID-19 will need to quarantine for 14 days. In the event a student or staff member tests positive for the virus, they must pass a screening before returning to campus.
In addition, the district’s online learning will follow a remote asynchronous model, meaning students and teachers do not need to engage in real time. Parents can choose the model during registration, but it can be changed with a request during the year, according to the district.
The online learning platform will track student attendance, and if a student is not able to work during regular school hours, his or her attendance still can be counted, Clugston said.
“It’s similar to if a kid came in late and a teacher marks them absent, but then they had a doctor’s note and the office can change it,” he said.
Standardized testing will need to be taken in-person for security purposes, according to the district.
Students will not be able to participate in extracurricular activities while using remote learning.
The district will provide special education and other accommodations to special-needs students who choose remote learning. Individual plans will be communicated with the teachers.
“Each kid has individual needs. They’re going to have access to their regular teacher,” Clugston said. “There’s certain services that could be done through video. We may have people going to the home to do therapy. You just look at the need of the kid and try to serve the need. We want our kids to be successful whether they’re here on site or remote.”