The Hillsboro City Schools will start the 2020-21 school year as originally planned on Aug. 12 with all students and staff required to wear a face mask, face shield or face covering in the classrooms, superintendent Tim Davis said at Monday’s board of education meeting.
Davis said the school district prefers the use of face shields because “in education we feel it’s very valuable to see your faces.” But he also said students can wear a face mask or other face covering, or even a combination of a face mask and face shield.
While a face covering of some type will be required in classrooms, Davis said that although they will be highly recommended when students are traveling between classrooms, during recess and on buses, they will not be required.
“This is subject to change with different restrictions that come out, but that’s our plan for now,” Davis said. “We’re looking to get back to being as normal as possible, as safe as we can.”
Following are some of the other highlights of the school district’s plan regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:
* An online alternative will be provided for students in grades 6-12. There will not be an online option for students in grades K-5. The deadline to enroll for the option is Aug. 3. Those interested in the option should call 937-393-4417.
* Staff members will conduct temperature checks during the first period of the school day. If a student is checked with a 100-degree or above temperature, the student will need to stay home for a least three days fever-free without medication.
At Monday’s meeting, Davis said student temperatures will not be checked when they board a bus. He said that could cause traffic backups, and if a student had a temperature above 100 degrees when they boarded a bus, there would be no safe way to send them home since there is no guarantee anyone would be home. He said checking students as the enter school buildings could leave students standing outside in hot, cold or rainy weather. If a student has temperature above 100 degrees when they are checked by a staff member, they will be sent to school nurse where their temperature will be checked again.
* Masks will be required in the classroom. Wearing a facial covering throughout the day and on the school bus is highly recommended, but will be a the discretion of the individual and their family.
* The district does not plan to the adjust the school calendar unless absolutely necessary and deemed so by public health authorities.
* The district is not preparing for blended learning sessions or alternating student days in the classroom. It plans to operate with either all students on campus receiving face-to-face instruction or all students at home completing remote learning should the governor impose another stay-at-home order.
* In the school setting, school personnel will do their best to accommodate social distance guidelines by maximizing the distance between students as much as possible. Hand sanitation stations will be available throughout all buildings on campus. To minimize contamination, students will be encouraged to bring their own water bottles from home and avoid using the drinking fountains. Students will be allowed to have clear containers holding water with them through the day in the classrooms.
*All gym, recess and encore classes (band, music, art choir, etc.) will resume as normal with maximum distance provided.
* Students will eat in the building cafeterias with one another, not at their classroom desks. The school lunch and breakfast programs will continue to be offered daily.
* All visitors and volunteers will kept to a minimum. Anyone entering the building will be restricted to the main office area only. If anyone needs to leave the main office area they will be screened for a temperature and have to wear a mask while in the building.
* All buildings, classrooms and offices will receive regular cleaning and disinfecting.
* Students will be responsible for their own Chromebooks during the school day and sharing will not be permitted.
* The school plans to continue its dual route bus schedule as normal. Student will sit side-by-side, and siblings will be encouraged to sit together. Due to COVID-19, students will only be allowed to pick two pick-up/drop-off locations.
* The district will provide students with a remote learning option for anyone who is not comfortable with the traditional on-campus instruction in grades 6-12, with appropriate internet access. If you choose this option it will be for an entire semester at a time. There will not be a remote option for students in grades K-5.
* Students, staff and volunteers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can return to school after a minimum of 10 days have passed since symptom onset, and 72 hours have passed with no fever (without the use of medication), and other symptoms have improved.
In other news from the meeting, board member Jerry Walker asked if the district is looking into a possible need for more substitute teachers in the event that some teachers need to be quarantined. Davis said the district is trying to recruit more subs, as well as more bus drivers and other support staff. To that end, the board improved increasing the pay for substitute bus drivers to $15 per hour.
The superintendent said work is progressing on the school’s auditorium, with the project expected to now be finished by the first or second week of January.
He said work continues on the new access road leading to SR 247, but said it has slowed a bit after crews ran into rock when trying to cut the angle of the slope leading toward SR 247. He said the hope is that the road will be finished before school starts.
Since COVID-19 closed the schools in March, Davis said Hillsboro’s food truck had served more than 70,000 meals as of last week.
Open houses have been cancelled this year, Davis said, “Because we cannot physically have all those people in the buildings for two hours and keep them safe.”
He said the district is looking at ways to prevent students from congregating in the schools’ entryways, and that all the filters in the schools’ HVAC systems are being replaced.
For more information on school supply lists, etc. watch the Hillsboro City Schools’ Facebook page.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.