Superintendent Mike Bick laid out the district’s plan to reopen during the 2020-21 school year during the Bright Local Board of Education meeting Wednesday.
According to Whiteoak Jr./Sr. High Principal Jason Iles, the district plans to move forward with all fall sports.
Though Bick and other board of education members stressed that this plan will most likely evolve as needed to fit the district’s future needs and state guidelines, as of Wednesday, the school year will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 19. At that time, students will attend classes five days a week.
On July 20, Bick said the district will send parents and guardians a survey so the district can assess how many students will use buses to get to their schools.
As some Bright Local bus routes take about one and a half hours to complete, the district will ask that parents, guardians and students monitor students’ temperatures before students arrive at school. To help with that, some school board members suggested that the district look into providing families with thermometers.
Bick said he spoke with Greenfield Exempted Village School District Superintendent Quincey Gray, who recommended a device that can be installed in entrances with the purpose of “scanning” students’ temperatures as they pass through doorways.
Due to the amount of time students may spend on buses, Bick said that the district will recommend that students wear masks while on the bus, but the district is not requiring that students wear masks.
Bick added that staff members must wear masks or face shields when in close contact with students.
Preschool coordinator Lisa Beresford said that based on the Ohio Department of Education’s recommendations, preschool students will attend school Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, so teachers may use Wednesdays to sanitize classrooms and prepare lessons.
Preschool students will be placed in smaller groups, and in at least one preschool classroom, Beresford said a divider will be installed.
Iles addressed several issues that the district needs to address or consider while preparing to begin the school year.
Since student arrival time by bus is around 6:50 a.m., and staff arrival time is about 7:10 a.m., the district is working to plan for how mornings will look during the school year to ensure the district has enough staff members to complete health assessments and supervise students as students arrive on campus.
“Another piece is, when they came in the building, they’d normally be housed in the student center — all approximately 400 students would be in there. That’s not going to be possible anymore,” Iles said. “So as they come in and they get breakfast, they’re going to have to report directly to a classroom at 6:50 a.m. That means we have to have supervision in that classroom and that hallway.”
According to Iles, in order to follow local and state guidelines, the junior high and high school will also need to alter their master schedules. This could mean that junior high and high school students eat lunch in three “waves.”
Iles added that he doesn’t expect the time slots for class changes to be altered.
“The health department said that as long as they aren’t in contact with another individual for 15 minutes or longer, class changes should be fine,” Iles said.
Bick added that masks are optional, but recommended, during class changes.
“I’ve been meeting with the health department,” Bick said. “It all goes back to contact tracing. If a child were to test positive, then they go back and find out who that child has been within six feet of for 15 minutes or more — walking down the hallway is not a concern.”
Iles added that the high school plans to close bathrooms during class changes.
“The plan is to have a chart where they have to sign out to use the restroom and have that outside the door just in case, so we’re able to see who was out at what time and to just be able to trace,” Iles said.
For parents and guardians who feel it’s unsafe for their children to attend school this school year, Bick and Iles said the district will provide other options, such as fully online coursework, which would allow children to remain Bright Local students and continue to receive support from a local district. According to Iles, students can complete this coursework from anywhere in the world so long as they have internet access and a device.
In the event that the school must temporarily close this year, the district is also working to provide options for students who may not have internet access.
In other news, Bick reported that the district has served 40,770 meals since March, though he added, “I imagine that’s 41,000 by now.”
Iles reported that junior high and high school volleyball and junior high and high school boys and girls basketball, cross country and golf have been in session. These teams have been adhering to local and state guidelines, and Iles said Wednesday that they’d had no issues.
The district also has openings for varsity track, varsity cheerleading, and seventh-grade girls basketball coaches. As of Wednesday, the district also had an English/language arts teacher position available.
Iles added that the scheduling process is still in progress.
For more information, visit www.bright.k12.oh.us.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.