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Dewey Pubic Schools

Posted: Aug 03, 2021 6:00 AMUpdated: Aug 03, 2021 9:56 AM

Bulldogger Back to School Plan Approved by DPS

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Garrett Giles

The Dewey Public Schools Board of Education has approved a Bulldogger Back to School Plan for the upcoming school year.

During the Dewey Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday night, Superintendent Vince Vincent said it was required of the District to have a back to school plan if they wanted to receive the next round of federal dollars offered to them as part of their response to the global coronavirus pandemic. He said they needed to have a plan in place for what the year would look like after a crazy 2020 anyway.

The plan states that Dewey Public Schools understands the importance of in-person learning. The District was able to offer in-person learning for over 90-percent of the 2020-2021 school and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this, Vincent said they anticipate continuing in-person learning for the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year. He said school is scheduled to being with students on campus on Thursday, Aug. 12 and close on Thursday, May 12.

DPS realizes that there may be circumstances that require them to close a classroom, school site, or the entire school district due to a rise in confirmed cases of any highly contagious health event. Vincent said they have continue to allow for school calendar flexibilities by adding 10 minutes to the school day with a daily start time of 8:20 a.m. and daily close time of 3:25 p.m. He said they will work to initiate a Distance Learning Pathway if they find themselves moving in that direction.

The following addresses safety recommendations as part of the Bulldogger Back to School Plan:

1. Universal and correct wearing of masks

Dewey Public Schools will follow all state imposed regulations in regards to mask mandates. Due to Oklahoma State Senate Bill 658, Vincent said current state law prohibits a mask mandate unless the school has consulted with the local county or city-county health department within the jurisdiction where the school board is located and when that jurisdiction is under a current state of emergency declared by the governor.

If a mask mandated is instituted, the mandate must be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board meeting. Additionally, the mandate must provide specific purposes for the mandate and have a reference to the specific masks or medical devices that would meet the requirements of the mandate.

Vincent said Dewey Public Schools recommends the wearing of masks for health and safety reasons when viral transmission rates are elevated. He said transmission rates are elevated in our area currently.

According to Vincent, the current numbers equate to early February 2021. He said our area was in Orange Level 2 at 44 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

2. Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing

As was the case during the previous school year, school facilities will be set up to provide opportunities for students and staff to physically distance themselves from others. Classrooms will be set up to provide student spacing of at least three feet apart. Large inside gatherings will be allowable but procedures will be in place to accommodate appropriate spacing when necessary and based on local transmission rates of COVID-19. Large inside gatherings may be limited or prohibited if it becomes unsafe due to the spread of contagious illness. School meal service area and student congregate settings before/after school will allow for proper spacing as was done last year.

Unfortunately, Vincent said proper physical distancing is not practical or feasible when students are using school transportation. He said they strongly encourage families to start making plans to transport their child to or from school each day. For those families who can accomplish this, it will greatly reduce the number of students on buses for those who must rely on school transportation, thus allowing distancing measures to be put in place more often.

Face coverings are highly recommended for bus drivers and students while in school vehicles. Vincent said bus drivers will attempt to create assigned seats for daily bus riders and when weather permits, all bus windows will remain open to ensure proper air flow throughout the bus.

3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

All members of Dewey Public Schools should follow this simple health guideline for the health and safety of everyone; "if you are sick, please stay home." As with normal procedures, anyone with a fever at or above 100 degrees should remain home but can return once the fever has subsided for 24 hours without the aid of medication.

Vincent said everyone will be expected to continue to conduct self-health checks before coming to school/work or while participating in school activities. He said this will be an area where DPS needs great collaboration with staff, students and their families. He said they cannot feasibly perform the proper health checks for students on a daily basis without a significant disruption to the educational process.

Students and staff are encouraged to practice proper hygiene. Vincent said hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent infections of all types. He said teachers will teach proper hand washing techniques for younger students and set up processes for students to wash hands regularly.

Dewey Public Schools has placed hand sanitizer stations in every classroom on campus and in other strategic areas within each school site. Procedures will be implemented to utilize classroom hand sanitizer stations as students enter the classroom and/or at established time intervals when hand washing is not available.

4. Cleaning and maintaining health facilities, including improved ventilation

Cleaning will be more preventative in nature and will include an increase in the rotation and duration of the routine cleaning schedule. Vincent said it will also include an intense focus on high touch areas such as restroom facilities, door handles, lockers (when assigned), playground equipment railings/handles, etc. during the school day. He said deep cleaning procedures will be implemented daily and during after-school hours based on the current routine nighttime maintenance schedules.

Additional cleaning/disinfecting equipment was purchased during the 2020-2021 school year that will continue to be used to meet the demands of proper cleaning/disinfecting in a timely and efficient manner. All maintenance employees will be required to utilize the proper safety/personal protective equipment that is appropriate for the situation for their continued safety.

Vincent said the District has made an investment in replacing older HVAC equipment at the Elementary School in order to improve the ventilation and air quality of the facility. With the availability of federal funds, Vincent said the District will continue to identify older and inefficient HVAC equipment throughout all school facilities for additional replacement projects over the next three years.

5. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine

This was created in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, and Tribal health departments. Vincent said the District will continue its efforts and procedures regarding contact tracing that was followed in the 2020-2021 school year in collaboration with the Washington County Health Department. When a school is notified that a staff member or students has tested positive or was in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 or related variant, Vincent said the following procedures will be used:

  • Staff/Students exhibiting infectious illness symptoms in context to the risk of exposure of COVID-19
  • Will be sent home with recommendations to be tested for COVID-19
  • May return when a negative COVID-19 test is confirmed and documentation is provided to the school

Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test. They may return after 10 consecutive days if fever free for 24 hours without the aid of medication and symptoms have diminished.

Vincent said staff/students who have been determined to be a close contact of someone testing positive for COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine if fully vaccinated and symptom free. He said they will be required to quarantine for 10 days from the last date of exposure and monitor for symptoms. They may return from quarantine early if a negative test is confirmed on/after day five of the last day of the exposure. Return date could be any time after seven days from the last date of exposure. (Documentation of negative COVID test will be required to be submitted to the school).

6. Diagnostic and screening testing

Due to the District's close geographical location to its county health department and physicians’ offices, the District will not be offering COVID-19 testing on campus. Vincent said all employees and students will be directed to the Washington County Health Department or their family physician for COVID-19 testing.

7. Efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities

Vaccination efforts for staff were conducted with local health authorities during the 2020-2021 school year. Due to the district's close location to the health department, local pharmacies, and physician's offices, the District will not be offering vaccinations on campus. For school year 2021-2022, Vincent said the District will encourage eligible staff and students to get vaccinated at the locations mentioned above.

8. Appropriate accommodations for disabled children with respect to health, safety policies

All District health and safety policies and procedures are developed to ensure that every student has a safe place to learn. However, Vincent said there may be circumstances that require the District to accommodate students with disabilities. He said those accommodations will be made in accordance with each student's applicable individualized education plan.

9. Coordination with State and local health officials

The District will continue to communicate and coordinate any necessary mitigation efforts with the Washington County Health Department regarding contagious illness issues that may arise. Vincent said the District will continue to monitor viral transmission rates of COVID-19 via the state's color coded maps and local information (if provided) when determining the need to set capacity limits for facilities and/or when shifting to distance learning is absolutely necessary for the health and safety of all students/staff. He said the District will make every effort to keep school open to in-person learning and keep students in school.

10. Continuity of Services

Dewey Public Schools will continue to provide educational, health and meal services to students who either choose or are required to enter into distance learning options offered by the District. The following options/responses are provided by the District:

  • A fully virtual and blended learning option for students in grades 6-12.
  • Distance learning educational plans developed and implemented for PreK-12th grade students who may be required to enter into temporary distance learning.
  • If it becomes necessary for school closure, distance learning plans will be initiated for PreK-12 grade students with in-person learning opportunities for students served by Special Services programs.
  • Continued consultation opportunities with school-based nurse for students that are participating in virtual or distance learning.
  • Planned and continuous contact with students in distance learning from school-based guidance counselors for PreK-12 grade students.
  • Meal service provided to all students via "grab and go" option for PreK-12th grade students while in virtual or distance learning.

The Bulldogger Back to School Plan would be approved unanimously by DPS.

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