West Jeff Schools offering two back-to-school options

(Posted July 20, 2020)

Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Jefferson Local Schools is moving ahead with two options for reopening school in the midst of a pandemic—in-person five days a week or electronic learning, both starting on Aug. 19 for the 2020-21 school year.

“We had input from virtually all sources, including the county superintendent and the county health commissioner,” said Superintendent William Mullett during a July 13 school board meeting.

Students who choose e-learning will be held to the same academic and social standards as students attending school in person. However, e-learning students may not be permitted to participate in some extracurricular activities.

Enhanced cleaning protocols will be followed in all buildings. These include more hand sanitizer devices and daily intensive cleaning in buildings, classrooms and buses.

“In about a week, we should have information on contact tracing if someone contracts COVID-19,” Mullett said, “which would certainly have an impact on our operations.”

If an employee or student tests positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), they must quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. Madison County Public Health will conduct contact tracing.

Other illnesses experienced by students or staff will be handled on a case-by-case basis with guidance from the health department and the student’s or staff’s physician.

Families are urged to screen their children for illnesses and keep them home as necessary. Sick children will be directed to the school nurse immediately upon arrival if they are exhibiting symptoms.

The health department issued orders mandating that students and staff are required to wear a mask at all times, except while eating and drinking and in special cases.

Students will be allowed to carry water bottles. Water fountains cannot be used, so stations will be available to refill water bottles. No outside food deliveries are allowed for students or staff.

Hand washing is required throughout the day and seating charts are mandated for classrooms and buses. Siblings will be seated together on buses if possible. Adjustments will be made throughout school buildings, as well.

Additional personal space will be created in classrooms, and students will face the same direction as much as possible. Students are required to immediately report to their classrooms after entering the building and are not allowed to congregate in hallways.

Music, art and library time will be held in classrooms for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Norwood Elementary. Supply sharing will be minimized.

In-person student events require masks or social distancing with limited family participation in a highly structured environment. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in front offices.

In the cafeterias, visitors are not allowed for lunch, and adjustments will be made to serving lines. Seating charts may be used if needed. Students in kindergarten through second grade will eat in their classrooms. Students in grades three through five will be at half capacity, and students in grades six through 12 will be spread out. Individual classes will stay together at recess.

Students are not required to dress for physical education classes in order to minimize locker room interactions. Physical education classes will be held outdoors, except during bad weather.

Field trips are cancelled until further notice. Visitors are limited to the main office and must wear a mask. Daytime volunteers will not be scheduled. Perfect attendance initiatives for staff and students are eliminated for the 2020-21 school year.

While the district is hoping to follow its brick and mortar and e-learning plan, Mullett said, “It could change,” depending on the pandemic. Parents and guardians are urged to visit the district’s website, www.west-jefferson.k12.oh.us, and Facebook page and check their email for changes or new information.

Send questions, comments or concerns to reopen@westjeff.org. Parents electing to enroll their student in the E-Learning option are asked to fill out a survey for each of their children. The survey can be found on the district website. Look for the reopening article under “District News” on he district website; In the article, click on “E-Learning Option Survey.”

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