Safe Opening Information

Spring Lake Elementary

Information to help parents in their decision making

This past week I have spoken over the phone with several parents calling to ask clarifying questions about the reopening of our school. These have been great conversations and I wish there were enough hours in the day to talk personally with each and every family. I recognize that parents are wanting more detail and clarity in order to make the best decisions for their children.

We are preparing a document that will be sent out to all parents regarding specific safety protocols that will be in place within our district. This is important to us and we want to get it right, so we are being urgent but careful in our preparations. Your children deserve a well thought out, in-depth and vetted plan, which takes time. In the meantime, I wanted to send out information that keeps coming up in my conversations with families. I believe everyone is asking the same questions and this may be helpful.

If you still need to register, please do so as soon as possible. If you later change your mind about face-to-face vs. at-home learning, there is an easy process to make the change. However, we are asking for a final decision by JULY 30th because we need to get kids assigned to classes, teachers need to know how many children they will be teaching, whether they will be a face-to-face or distance learning teacher and have sufficient time to plan for the needs of the students they've been assigned.

Let's jump in to the conversations in question/answer format:

QUESTION: I want to send my kids back but I'm worried about the safety protocols. Is anything being done and if so, what will it look like?

ANSWER: We have been working round the clock since April and all summer long to put safety protocols in place.

From the moment your child steps off the bus, out of your vehicle or walks/bikes to school in the morning up until they exit the doors to leave each afternoon, we have been thinking through every detail of what will be needed for safety. Here are a just a few of the things we are working to prepare for:

  • Contactless entry and exit (exterior doors will be propped opened and supervised for a 20 minute window during drop off in the morning). Kids can enter/exit the school without touching any surface.
  • Parents are encouraged to limit drop off to our 20 minute window and are asked not to send children to school too early (suggested drop off window is 8:50-9:10 am). Children who arrive early will be supervised and have designated waiting areas, each family sitting 6 ft. apart, until the bell rings to dismiss children to breakfast and classrooms.
  • Sanitation stations are available throughout the school so children can sanitize upon entering. Staff will monitor, teach and train students how to properly sanitize.
  • Signage has been created and will be placed strategically throughout the school to remind and teach children about safety procedures.
  • Hallways will have directional pathways that will be taught and reinforced.
  • Teachers are planning handwashing into the schedule each day (at arrival, before lunch, after lunch, after recess, after a transition).
  • We have purchased soap dispensers and hand sanitizer dispensers for every classroom.
  • We have purchased a fogger so that we can fog/sanitize rooms at night.
  • Masks will be required upon arrival and while in hallways before and after school.
  • All drinking fountains will be closed. All children are allowed (and encouraged) to bring a water bottle each day clearly marked with their name.
  • Parents will be asked to assess their child before school each day to ensure there are no signs of illness. If parents do not have access to a thermometer, the school has purchased several no-touch thermometers and would be happy to take temperatures upon arrival for those who can't do it at home.
  • A child with any sign of illness will need to stay home and can even work remotely on their school work until they feel well enough to return.
  • We have created a quarantine room at the school where sick children can wait until parents are able to pick them up (away from the main office and other children).
  • We have created a "green room" for students who are nervous, afraid or having anxiety about returning to school. This will be supervised by a staff member and students will be taught self-calming and emotional regulation skills to help them feel better and get back to class.
  • Custodial and administrative staff will be routinely cleaning and disinfecting the front office, bathrooms, or other common areas.
  • Parents are asked to provide a mask for their child each day. Children who come without a mask will be provided one for that day. Our PTA is ordering school masks that include a place to write your child's name. Those will be on sale during back-to-school events.
  • Break-away lanyards are being made so that children can keep their mask around their neck when they aren't wearing it to avoid others touching it, dropping it or accidentally putting on the wrong mask. (They are awesome - I'm really excited about this idea so kids can keep track of their mask - THANKS PTA!)
  • We have ordered a few plexi-glass dividers for each teacher.
  • We have ordered PPE for teachers and staff and are working on ordering face shields for students (they are currently back ordered until October but we'll keep trying). Parents are welcome to send a face shield in addition to a mask with their child.
  • Our planning time classes (art, music, computers) will be taught in the classroom to eliminate risk.
  • Students will all have their own supplies (no shared supplies such as markers, scissors, art supplies, etc.).

QUESTION: Are you really going to require the students to wear masks for 6 hours a day? Will they ever get a break?

ANSWER: We are going to uphold the wearing of masks in order to reduce the risk to students and staff. But never fear, we are planning for breaks.

The governors office as well as the Utah County Health Department is requiring masks in school and we will support this directive. I understand that wearing masks is going to be difficult, but I also believe we can rise to the occasion.

Your children will absolutely get small breaks throughout the day and teachers are already thoughtfully considering how they will build in breaks where students can be socially distanced enough to take off their masks. We are building in additional recess breaks where students can get outside. Teachers are planning lessons that can be done outside or in different locations throughout the school where kids can spread out, be socially distanced and take off their masks.

We are designing areas in classrooms where students can go if they are having a hard time wearing the mask. For our youngest students (preschool, kindergarten) we understand that this will be a work in progress and that more breaks may be needed.

If parents are completely against having their child wear a mask, then the at-home learning option may be better for your family. Wearing masks will allow us to get students back in the classroom and moving forward with their learning. We will do all we can to make this bearable and doable.

QUESTION: We are too nervous to send our kids to school, but they didn't do well with remote learning in the spring. How will this look different? What support will our family receive? What will at home learning be like? How many hours per day?

Answer: If you chose At-home learning, it will look much different this time around. We will do all we can to help your child to still feel a part of the school.

An army of teachers, specialists, coaches and administrators from multiple districts have been working all spring and summer to design a better, more engaging, more comprehensive at-home learning platform for families. It will be better this time around if you need to choose the at-home learning option. That said, it requires a commitment on the part of families to make sure that students are getting their assignments done and staying consistent with school work so that children do not fall behind.

In the spring, we started off strong with at-home learning. In the first weeks, we had almost 85% engagement with students logging on and doing work every day. After Spring Break, that fell below 50% and during the last two weeks each teacher only had a handful of students actually logging on and doing the work. We understand that it was a stressful time for families and the situation was difficult. However, it is important that this time around, participation in daily learning remains consistent.

  • The curriculum will be focused on the essential standards for each grade level. Students will complete learning modules focused on the most important skills to be mastered.
  • If your child has an IEP, a meeting will be held with the IEP team to decided how to meet the goals of the IEP.
  • The school can provide devices for all of your children that can be checked out.
  • We will send home workbooks, practice books and other curriculum materials for your use.
  • Your child will have access to all of our learning platforms (iReady Reading, Math, Imagine Learning, Raz Kids, Nearpod, etc.).
  • You will have access to an entire curriculum including lessons, activities and resources for your child to learn the core standards at home.
  • All assignments and learning will launch from a single platform to make things easier for families. (Upper grades = Google Classroom, Younger Grades = SeeSaw)
  • Your child will be assigned a Nebo District teacher to support, train and help your child with their learning. Please note that this won't necessarily be a Spring Lake teacher, however, it will be someone who is good at navigating digital learning platforms and can offer a high level of support for your family.
  • Your child will be given assignments and assessments and grades will count this time around.
  • The at-home learning will take approximately the time listed below for each grade level:

Kindergarten/1st grade approx. 2 hours a day
2nd/3rd grade between 2.5 - 3 hours a day
4th/5th grade around 3 - 3.5 hours a day

It is important to me that our at-home learners feel connected to the school. Your children will be invited to participate in different ways whenever we have a fun event happening at the school. The school library will have specific hours for at-home students so they can still come and check out books. We will invite your family to participate in a variety of ways. Once a hawk, always a hawk!

***Parents who choose at-home learning will have to stick with it for an entire term. At the end of each term, we will open classes for your child to return if you are ready. Here are the term dates for this school year:

TERM 1: August 19th - October 29th

TERM 2: November 2nd - January 14th

TERM 3: January 18th - March 25th

TERM 4: March 29th - May 27th

*Many parents have asked about the difference between at-home learning and homeschooling. Families who chose home school will be seeking out their own curriculum, gathering their own resources and the children will be un-enrolled from Nebo School District and from Spring Lake Elementary.

QUESTION: What will lunch look like? Will kids get a recess?

ANSWER: Lunch and an accompanying recess have been thoughtfully designed to increase safety.

Lunch time is going to be redesigned for safety... and it's going to be a good thing, I promise.

  • Our lunch schedule will be completely staggered with only one grade level in the lunchroom and out on the playground at a time.
  • Students will no longer have to punch in their lunch number on touch a keypad which will speed up our ability to distribute food and seat children safely.
  • Students will be spaced out so they can spread out and eat their lunch mask free. We are placing stickers on the lunch benches so kids know where to sit to maintain appropriate space.
  • New rules will be taught and practiced including hand washing/sanitizing, not sharing food, etc. We ask parents to make sure their children can open the items in their lunch by themselves so no one else has to touch their food.
  • Each grade level will have the playground to themselves, which will be a nice change as younger kids won't have to compete with older kids for play space.
  • Students who remain socially distanced at recess may play without a mask.
  • We will have added supervision and there will be less children outside at one time allowing supervisors to keep a better eye on individual students.
  • The playground will be sanitized and sprayed down with non-toxic antibacterial cleaner between each grade level.
  • We are implementing some exciting changes in the lunchroom experience to make it more calm, inviting and fun.

QUESTION: Is school going to be fun at all? I'm worried that my child is going to be unhappy with all the changes and expectations.

ANSWER: There are going to be a lot of changes, but along with safety plans we are making plans to have a lot of fun! Student social and emotional well-being will be our top priority.

As principal at Spring Lake Elementary, I can't imagine coming to work every day if it's not going to be fun. Along with the changes, we are also expecting and planning for a lot of happiness, joy and positivity.

As we have talked and brainstormed through scenarios, we have realized that we can do almost everything we were doing before, just in a different, more thoughtful way. For example:

Instead of SOAR "assemblies" we will have SOAR "broadcasts". Events and performances will be pre-recorded or live-streamed through Facebook and viewed in individual classrooms. This will allow for parents at home as well as our at-home learners to fully participate. Who knows, maybe our SOAR broadcasts will be better than the SOAR assemblies ever were.

We are going to have a "Lunch Time Playlist" and kids can request songs to be played while they eat lunch.

We will be honoring, recognizing and celebrating kids every day, just like we did in the past. Even students who are learning from home will be able to earn Student of the Month recognition and awards.

The teachers are gearing up to provide engaging, fun lesson that integrate technology and teach students to better navigate their digital learning platforms so if it becomes necessary to move to online learning again, we will be ready!

QUESTION: What will happen if there is a positive case of the virus? Will we have to go to remote learning again? How will you deal with a possible outbreak?

ANSWER: We are still working through exactly what this will look like. We are preparing for every scenario.

The district is planning to handle any outbreak or positive cases on a school-by-school basis. If one teacher in a Springville school tests positive, it wouldn't make sense to shut down all the schools in Payson. Things will be handled by situation and location.

If we have a positive case, we will work with the Utah County Health Department through our school nurse (Janet Shakespeare) and our social worker (Annie Mason) to contain, quarantine and support families who may be affected. We are planning to organize our classrooms and the school day to provide us reliable ways to do contact tracing. This is why we aren't rotating kids to different rooms and keeping the same group of kids together throughout the day as much as possible. We want to be able to quickly identify and mobilize if a case emerges. The district will be sharing more detailed protocols regarding positive cases in the near future.

There is a possibility that we may have to move to at-home learning for a few weeks if a positive case emerged at the school. We are planning to better train and prepare students for that scenario beginning the first week of school. Each child will have their own device (chromebook) dedicated specifically to them that they can take home if we have to transition to learning at home. They will have been taught and will practice how to access their lessons and upload assignments so they will be ready.

QUESTION: What can I do in the next few weeks to help my child get ready to return to school? Is there anything I can do to help?

ANSWER: There are several things you can do to help prepare for a safe opening.

First and foremost, please be positive with your children. If parents are saying things like, "This is going to awful!" or "there is no way my kids are going to wear a mask", children will hear that and internalize it. This will only make the return more difficult and stressful for kids.

Parents will be asked to send their children with a mask. Several parents have shared how they are taking a positive spin by letting kids pick fabric and help sew their own masks. Another mom told me she purchased some masks and her kids had fun matching their clothes to the mask they would wear each day. Another mom said she let her kids try out different styles of masks so they could chose and decide which ones felt the most comfortable and breathable. If you need help getting masks, please contact the school. I have volunteers willing to sew masks for students over the summer.

If you have the means, I also suggest finding your child a good water bottle that has a tight fitting lid and easy access to the water (ex: a flip lid). Choose one with enough capacity that your child may only need to fill it up once or twice throughout the day. Let them help decorate it and add their name in big letters. We considered buying water bottles for each child but decided against it because we didn't want 600 matching water bottles as it would be very easy to mix them up or drink out of the wrong one.

I also suggest joining and getting involved with our PTA this year. They have been helping with projects this summer and are always in touch with the needs of the school. We would love for you to join and get involved.

Please check our Facebook Page and website often. If there are needs at the school it will be posted there. I am so grateful for our awesome school community! So many have reached out to offer help and support and it means alot.

We are excited to welcome our students back to school and support those who are learning from home. I know we can rise to this difficult situation and we are planning on a great school year in 2021!

Warmest Regards,

Mrs. Jordan