Moore Public Schools released Friday an updated “Return to Learn” plan for the 2020-2021 school year that includes new face mask requirements and revisions to the district's COVID-19 exposure plan and quarantine protocol.
It also includes additional information on the school’s attendance policy.
Friday’s updates were made after the district received further guidance from the State Board of Education and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MPS superintendent Robert Romines said. The State Board of Education approved a list of recommendations for school districts to follow amid the COVID-19 pandemic last Thursday.
Several aspects of the original plan will remain, including the district’s three-option plan that allows students to choose a traditional, blended or fully online educational experience. The district’s back-to-school date of Aug. 13 has also not changed.
The district reiterated on Friday that it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will make changes to its “Return to Learn” plan if necessary.
The following details though are changes and updates to the district’s “Return to Learn” plan:
Mask policy revisions
The district’s updated plan will require masks for students and staff in all grades, with the level of requirement varying depending on grade level.
According to the plan, students and staff will be required to adhere to the following mask requirements:
- Grades 7-12 will be required to wear a mask when present at school sites.
- Grades 4-6 will also be required to wear a mask, with some exceptions. Students and staff will be permitted to pull their mask down while in the classroom “as needed," and masks will not be required during recess, physical education classes or while eating meals.
- Grades Pre-K through 3 will be required to wear masks in hallways and common areas. Masks may be removed inside classrooms if classroom cohorts “remain grouped together throughout the day.” Masks will not be required during recess, physical education classes or while eating meals.
All students and staff will be required to wear masks while on school buses, according to the plan. Teachers and staff will be provided face shields and coverings.
The original plan only required masks for students and staff in grades 7-12, and recommended masks for students and staff in lower grades. Romines said the additional mask requirements reflect recent guidelines from the State Board of Education and federal health officials.
“We started reviewing some of the guidance from the state department, and they talked about recommending masks for fourth through six grade students,” Romines said. “CDC guidelines have addressed social distancing, and that it will be difficult or impossible to do in classrooms.”
The district worked with different agencies and health departments to determine the best mask policy for Pre-K through third grade students, Romines said.
For students and staff that have medical concerns regarding masks, medical exemption forms are available on the district’s website, according to the plan.
Exposure and quarantine procedures
The updated plan provided additional details regarding protocol for if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
If a student or staff member tests positive, they will be required to quarantine for 10 days, according to the plan. The person will not be allowed to return to an MPS facility until they complete their quarantine requirements and are not exhibiting symptoms.
After a student or staff member tests positive, MPS nurses will notify “all applicable staff and students’ parents/guardians who have been potentially exposed.” The district will contact anyone who has been within six feet for more than 15 minutes of an individual who tested positive.
For anyone that has been exposed, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days before being permitted to return to an MPS facility, according to the plan.
If a student tests positive, they will be transition to distance learning, which utilizes Canvas, the district’s online management system, during recovery. Canvas is utilized for options 1 and 2 of the three-option plan to allow for easy transition if needed, according to the plan.
Teachers will work with the student to help them complete any missed assignments.
The district has systems in place that will be able track the student’s progress online, Romines said. If students are making academic progress and fulfilling requirements online, they will be counted as present. Students will have weekly benchmarks that the district will monitor, Romines said.
Teachers will be required each week to contact students and their parents or guardian regarding questions about coursework or Canvas, Romines said.
To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at school sites, students and educators have been asked to check their temperatures before arriving. Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will not be permitted on campus. Romines said parents have been asked to call the school if their student has a high fever or is exhibiting other COVID-19 symptoms, and the student will not be counted absent.
As noted in the original plan, the district is currently working to install air filtration systems in every air conditioning unit at school sites.
The systems will produce ionized particles that will help kill COVID-19 airborne particles, as well as flu, mold and mildew.
The district recently began installing these systems at the three high schools and is hoping to have them installed before school starts, MPS assistant superintendent of operations Jeff Horn said. The district is working to install them at all school sites throughout the fall.
Romines said the systems will help reduce utility costs by 30 percent, and they will seek additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in hopes of receiving a partial reimbursement.
Other potential changes
Romines said that the district will remain in contact with the Cleveland County Health Department and the State Board of Education, and will listen to their guidance as the school year begins.
Romines said the district is aware that tough decisions regarding school or district-wide closures could be made if cases rise in the district or across the state, and it will work with the agencies to determine if those decisions are necessary.
“Moore Public Schools has been faced with a lot of challenges over the years, and we’re used to these challenges," Romines said. "We will continue to do what’s best for our students and staff.”
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