Bulldogger Back To School Plan
Face Coverings, Distance Learning, Bus Routes
Dear Bulldogger Families,
As we approach our school opening date, I have a few updates to our Bulldogger Back To School Plan that I'd like to share with you. You may have noticed in recent days that some schools are now planning to begin their school year in a distance learning format. Dewey Public Schools is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that we can open school to on-campus learning on August 13th. However, the current and continual rise in community (via county) viral transmission is causing us to revise pieces of our plan as new information becomes available. After monitoring COVID-19 transmission data and reviewing recommended protocols from the State Dept. of Health, State Dept. of Education, and the State Board of Education, we have put together a list of very basic protocols that should help guide our decision making as transmission rates change weekly within Washington County. The color coding you see on the attached document categorizes viral transmission by county and was developed by the State Dept. of Health. As of this publication, Washington County is currently on the upper half of the YELLOW category. In accordance with the color coding, the State Dept. of Education attached recommended protocols that schools should follow based on each county's color code. The protocols listed in the document below have been adapted to reflect Dewey Public Schools' anticipated response to that county data. Additionally, although this guidance is specific to viral transmission within a community/county, we must also respond and adapt to COVID-19 transmission within our school campus. It is possible that we may need to intermittently close a classroom and/or school site based on circumstances on our campus. Consequently, there are 3 areas listed below that are affected by changes to our plan and I will address each one individually.
Let me first say, our primary goal this year is to be able to provide students with an in-person and on campus education for as long as we possibly can. However, I am increasingly concerned about how long we will be able to keep our campus open as we see a steady increase in community virus transmission. My hope was that we wouldn't get to this point but it appears the trends are not going in the right direction. So, if the wearing of face coverings gives us a chance to remain open longer and provides a safer learning environment for our staff and students, it is Dewey Public Schools' RESPONSIBILITY to implement such procedures. Because of this, we will be adopting the following guidelines for the start of school on August 13th.
- When physical distancing is not possible, all faculty and students in grades 6-12 are REQUIRED to wear a face covering. As we've outlined many times, it is much more difficult for our 6-12 population to practice proper physical/social distancing precautions due to the mobility of these grades.
- A face covering can be any one of the following:
- Cloth face mask covering nose & mouth
- Neck gaiter/buff (Supplied by school but no timetable on delivery date at this time)
- Clear face shield (mainly for those who have troubles wearing a cloth face covering)
- This policy will generally apply to these scenarios:
- As students are entering & exiting a school building
- During passing periods and transition times in hallways
- Commons areas and library/media centers
- During 1-to-1 instruction from the teacher in close proximity
- Any group activity in close proximity to other students (lab settings)
- Face coverings WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED when a student is:
- Seated at their assigned seat in the classroom
- Outside when physical distancing is possible
- At recess, PE classes while participating in activities, or athletics/extracurricular activities while exercising/performing or when physical distancing is possible
- It is still highly recommended that PreK -5 grade students wear a face covering in the same scenarios.
Our primary goal is to provide on campus learning opportunities for as long as possible; however, we are fully aware that many conditions that affect our ability to do that are out of our control. So, as a part of our Distance Learning Pathway, we are implementing a phased approach if it becomes necessary for us to adjust our in-person learning options. The following describes what is involved in each phase.
Phase 1 - We will CONSIDER implementing Phase 1 when our county enters Orange 1 and will definitely implement Phase 1 when entering Orange 2 as indicated in the Health & Safety Protocols.
- Grades 6 -12 will move to distance learning. It is much more difficult for grades 6-12 to physically/socially distance due to the operations of those grade levels. Also, this population can pivot to distance learning much easier and more effectively with less interruption to learning than younger grades.
- Grades PreK-5 and identified special populations will continue on campus learning. We will move grades 3-5 to classrooms in the Middle and High Schools so that they can physically distance more effectively and continue learning on campus. This will also allow our younger grades to spread out as necessary and eliminate multiple grade levels using shared spaces like restrooms while in the Elementary School building. Learning becomes much more difficult in a remote setting for this population compared to their older peers for many reasons. This also helps alleviate child care conflicts for parents who do not have viable child care options during school closures.
All school operations such as busing and food service will continue for all students. Grab & Go meals will be available for pick up for students in distance learning.
Phase 2 - We will CONSIDER implementing this phase when our county enters Red as indicated in the Health & Safety Protocols.
- Grades PreK-12 will move to distance learning. Chromebooks will be checked out to PreK-5 students for use at home during distance learning.
- Identified special populations will continue on campus learning to serve their needs.
All school operations such as busing and food service will continue as needed to serve students. Grab & Go meals will be available for students in distance learning.
Phase 3 - We will move to this phase based on necessity due to unsafe conditions for the gathering of students of any number.
- All grades and student populations will move to distance learning.
Grab & Go meals will be available for students in distance learning.
It is possible to move in and out of phases and color codes on a weekly basis.
Dewey Public Schools is short one full-time route driver as we begin the school year. This development will not allow us to run all 8 routes that has become typical for our district. So in response to this and to help us practice better physical distancing on buses, we're urging parents/guardians to develop ways to have their child transported to and from school if possible. We will be forced to no longer have bus stops at the following locations for this school year:
- No city stops on Bus 4 route between school campus and the railroad tracks (appox. 2nd Street) along North Delaware Street.
- No city stop on Bus 7 at North Choctaw Avenue and 9th Street.
These particular stops are well within walking distance and have safe routes to the school campus.
The last change involves those students who ride Bus 4. There will be no Bus 4 route in the morning. Students who typically ride Bus 4 in the morning will now be picked up by Bus 6 at all the current bus stops. In the afternoon, Bus 4 will run its normal route so students can continue to load that bus after school.
As we expected, this school year is presenting challenges that we thought we would never encounter. My hope is everyone will practice patience, understanding, and flexibility as we navigate this school year. How can you help as a parent? Work with us and resist any temptation to work against us. Please understand that we know our plans are not perfect; I'm not sure that exists, but there are many dedicated employees that love our students and continue to put in long hours in hopes of being able to provide the kind of educational experience that our students deserve.
With much appreciation,