The Washington Court House City School (WCHCS) District is planning to be in full session this fall, according to information released by the district Monday.
In a letter to district parents, students and staff, WCHCS Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey wrote, “I know these last several months (since March 13th) have been very challenging for all of you. Whether you are a student, teacher, staff member, or parent, everyone has been affected by the pandemic as well as other events that are taking place in our country and world. We appreciate your resiliency during these difficult times.”
Bailey stressed in the letter that the plan is not set in stone due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can change any time based on a number of factors. Second, Bailey said the letter serves as a basic overview and that specific details for every item is not included in the letter at this time. The guidelines have been developed based upon feedback from a student and parent survey, staff feedback as well as the Ohio Departments of Education and Health guidelines.
“Washington Court House City Schools will be in full session starting this August,” Bailey said. “This means that school will be full day, every day. We are excited to get the students back into the buildings to continue to engage, inspire and grow.”
The first of these guidelines is that the new start date for students is Aug. 24 and in addition, the school is requiring the students to come into school at a time to be determined for two reasons. The first is to help hold an individual re-entry meeting for every parent/guardian.
“We want to hear from you how your child is doing since the shutdown on March 13,” Bailey said. “You will meet with a small group of staff members to discuss your child’s progress in academics last spring, how the Emergency Remote Learning went, and also to check on your child’s social-emotional and mental health.”
Additionally, the school will hold an assessment with all students to determine where they are educationally.
The district has also posted guidelines for busing this fall as it is certain busing will occur. In an attempt to keep social distancing on busing and to avoid having to run additional routes, WCHCS is asking all parents/guardians with the ability to bring their child to school to please do so each day. The district is also encouraging all students who are able and close enough to walk to consider this option as well. With the need to adhere to health guidelines, the district will have to adjust procedures which could potentially cause delays in transportation both in the morning and afternoon.
The next aspect the district covered was a health clinic that will be created in each building that will be used as a separate area for students exhibiting symptoms. This will allow students with other health needs from possibly being exposed, but any student with a temperature over 100 degrees will be sent home. All students will have their temperatures taken again prior to entry to school. Emergency contacts need to be updated by parents, and ill students must be picked up immediately. The district is prepared to follow all protocols if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 that are set by Fayette County Public Health.
All WCHCS employees will be required to wear masks inside except those individuals who are alone in a private office. This applies to even those adults who are outside but are within six feet of others. All students are also highly encouraged to wear masks in school buildings. Masks for those on buses may become a requirement, but the district is still awaiting guidelines from the state.
The next change students should note is a change in classrooms and lunches. Currently, the plan is that all students attending Cherry Hill Primary and Belle Aire Intermediate will be assigned a classroom for all core instruction and students with multiple teachers will not move in these buildings. Rather, the teachers will move between classes which is expected to cut down on the need to disinfect between student uses and should allow more time for instruction.
Washington Middle and High School students will have to change classrooms throughout the day, so various guidelines will be adopted to provide the safest environment possible, according to Bailey. Additionally, all students will eat in a classroom and those who eat a school lunch will be served a sack lunch. The district is continuing to work on how it will handle some details, such as the handling of money.
Finally, in the interest of student and staff safety, all district campuses are closed to non-essential visitors. Any who are permitted are required to wear a mask and follow guidelines for social distancing inside the school. Parents/guardians who are picking up a student may call the office upon arrival and receive assistance in order to have a no-contact visit. Visitors will only be permitted into school buildings for authorized events and predetermined meetings arranged with school personnel.
As always, students are encouraged to continue hand washing before they leave home and will be asked to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer throughout the day to prevent the spread of germs. Additionally, the district remains firm in its ability to disinfect the district, and the planning team is working with maintenance department members on thorough cleaning protocols for all areas of the buildings and buses.
“If you have any concerns regarding your child returning to school in the fall, there will be an option to continue online learning for your child,” Bailey said. “Guidelines and registration will be available on our website beginning July 20 and must be completed by Monday, Aug. 3. Thank you for your support during this difficult time. I always say that Blue Lions are resilient and this challenging time is no exception. Our faculty and students went above and beyond during the closure in March, April, and May. I am very proud of everyone who came together to educate our youth during this time. Thank you to all parents and guardians, we could not have done it without you. With that said, we still need you to be a true partner with Washington Court House City Schools to build the strongest group of learners in the State of Ohio!”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.