The Logansport Community School Corporation (LCSC) Board on Monday presented its plan for returning to school this fall.
It will be much different from most school years with water fountains shut off, staggered lunches and bathroom times and wearing of masks or a facial protection device in the halls and on buses.
“It boils down to two things: Try to keep physical distancing. And if you can’t, wear a mask,” said former Logansport Junior High School principal Jeff Canady, who is now acting as workplace coordinator during the pandemic. He’s paid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The three most effective things to combat the coronavirus are washing hands, maintaining social distance and wearing masks, he said.
Although school will be in session at the buildings, there are remote learning options for those students at high risk — like those with asthma or diabetes — or those who are otherwise medically fragile if their parents don’t want them to attend in person. The principals, curriculum director and the director of special education will coordinate home learning with the family.
Logansport is the first of the four Cass County schools districts to present their plan for the 2020-21 school year. However, Logansport, Pioneer Regional School Corporation, Lewis Cass Schools and Caston School Corporation all worked together to have similar plans, helped by the Cass County Health Department.
Pioneer presented their plan Tuesday night, and the other two will present on Wednesday at their school board meetings.
Pioneer Superintendent Chuck Grable said Tuesday afternoon that his district’s plan would not differ much from what Logansport presented.
“We agreed on the big things — wearing masks, when and where they’ll wear masks,” he said. That will be when the students can’t social distance.
Lewis Cass Superintendent Tim Garland agreed that the Cass County plan is the long view.
The surrounding counties are also coordinating between districts because schools have students that travel between districts for classes, he said.
The Logansport school board will vote on the plan July 27.
“We know everything changes from day to day,” said LCSC Superintendent Michele Starkey. “[We] put together the best plan we could put in place right now.”
For physical distancing, students will no longer congregate in one area in the morning but go straight to their first class. Those receiving breakfasts will get them and go to the classroom.
• Students will face the same way in classes.
• Students are required to wear face masks/coverings on the bus and when in school but not in a classroom.
• Students and staff won’t be required to wear face masks in class but may if they choose to.
• Nurse offices will have masks available.
• Foot traffic inside buildings will move in one direction or, if that’s not possible, students will be asked to stay to the right in halls.
• Secondary level student bathrooms can have no more than three students at a time.
• People are not allowed to visit the school.
There’ll be measures for sanitizing and cleanliness as well.
• Buildings will be open only from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. so custodians can clean and disinfect.
• Hand sanitizing stations will be at entries, the cafeteria, the library and other areas deemed appropriate.
• Students will be allowed to have their own water bottles because fountains are shut down.
For food service:
• Cafeteria staff and assistants will wear PPE.
• Students must use hand sanitizer as they enter the cafeteria.
• Food and beverages will be served to the students instead of them picking up items like milk.
• Cafeterias will operate at 50 percent capacity. Alternative serving locations (like lecture halls or possibly outdoor dining) will be added. Cafeteria tables will also be at half capacity.
• Preschool and kindergarten students will be served meals in their classrooms.
• Condiments will be served in individual serving packets at secondary schools. Food service employees will serve elementary students condiments.
• The school will use disposable trays and silverware.
• In elementary schools, class sales will be used to avoid students using a PIN pad.
• In secondary schools, students will use barcode cards.
Students who are coronavirus positive will have excused absences, and they will be treated much like students with broken bones or tonsils removed, Starkey said.
Students and staff will be responsible for monitoring their temperatures and will answer the usual COVID-19 risk questions before entering the building each day.
Field trips will be limited, as will visits by parents, such as eating lunch with a student.
Parents are encouraged to do as much online as possible to avoid coming to the school, like paying lunch accounts online, Canady said.
At Pioneer, the students will have swipe cards for lunches instead of touching a PIN pad, Grable said..
And the water fountains will be off, although Pioneer will have bottle refill stations.
Grable said the differences between Pioneer and the other schools implementing the overall plan will be differences between buildings, accounting for ages and building lay outs.
Garland said the bottle refill stations are easier to do at their smaller schools because of cost.
Lewis Cass also plans to have a student back-to-school packet that the school board will vote on Wednesday, Garland said.
In addition to hiring Canady to assist with the new situation, Logansport has hired a director of digital learning to work with teachers, Starkey said. During the end of this school year with the switch to online teaching, district officials found that Logansport schools need to provide more support.
The school district should be prepared as if the schools are totally online only for the full year, Starkey said.
School Board President Bill Cuppy said that in the two weeks until they vote on the plan, “We do want your feedback,” he said. “We obviously need school, but we have to provide options if that’s not safe.”
Starkey held a streaming video question and answer presentation at noon Tuesday. That discussion can be viewed via YouTube at https://youtu.be/vYdBzd-YZkQ