DuBOIS — The DuBois Area School Board, at last week’s meeting, approved the health and safety plan for summer instructional programs.
With this approval, the board also authorized Superintendent Wendy Benton to revise the plan as deemed necessary with the understanding that any revisions will be presented to the board for approval at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
Directors voting in favor of the plan included Larry Salone, Jeff Madinger, David Schwab, Dustan Dodd, Albert Varacallo III, Sam Armagost and Robert Wachob. Mark Gilga and Gil Barker were absent from the meeting.
“I think that it’s so important that people understand and recognize that this is guidance, these are suggestions and considerations, they are not regulations or mandates,” said Benton. “I participated in a Zoom meeting with the Secretary of Education today, and he really reiterated our obligation to make a good faith effort to do whatever it takes to be able to educate the children in our community.”
Benton said the district acknowledges and accepts that there will be differences of opinion and how people perceive COVID-19.
“Some people feel that they are at great risk, other people, they really aren’t concerned with it at all,” said Benton. “We do acknowledge that and we appreciate it, we respect it. But I just ask that our whole community be supportive, respectful, and unified in our efforts to educate the children.”
The 31-page plan will be posted on the district’s website for review and will also be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Assistant Superintendent Brigette Matson, while highlighting some of the main points of the plan, said the first one focuses on cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation.
“All of the classrooms, restrooms, and any other areas within the school building that are used for our summer instructional programs, those will be cleaned on on a daily basis, inside the classroom, as well as outside,” said Matson. “In addition to that, staff members will periodically be cleaning materials that students are using throughout the day, whether it’s technology, supplies that they have within their workstation and in their work areas.”
During summer instruction, students will be eating their meals at their desk, said Matson.
“They (staff) will be cleaning and disinfecting the desk prior to, and at the conclusion of meals,” she said. “This serves a couple purposes, less traffic in the hallways, we’re able to keep them in one area and exposed to those students that will be in that room with them all day long. Staff members that are leading the charge for the summer instructional programs, they’ll have training on the appropriate planning and ventilation techniques prior to any of these programs beginning.”
The second part of the plan discusses social distancing, as well as some other safety protocols, Matson said.
“The social distancing, like we have said in the past, we will do that to the greatest extent feasible. A lot of it comes down to what capacity the classrooms have,” said Matson. “We will utilize every area of the classroom that we possibly can to get the students spread out as much as we possibly can. We’ll be staggering schedules for things like restroom breaks, hallway usage, recess, and limit the number of students that are in one location at one time.”
The third section of the plan focuses on face coverings.
“All of our teachers, our paraeducators, as well as our students, we will be strongly encouraging them to utilize face coverings,” Matson said. “If they are unable to self provide a face covering, we will have one available for them to use. Everybody that is participating in this program and helping to implement these services, our instructors, our paraprofessionals, they will receive training regarding the entire health and safety plan.”
The last category of the plan, Benton said, is monitoring student and staff health. Parents of students attending the summer instructional programs will be expected to monitor their child in relation to possible symptoms, exposure to others confirmed to have COVID-19, and complete a temperature check on a daily basis prior to coming to school.
Students entering the school building to attend the summer instructional programs will be escorted to check-in stations where staff will conduct daily health checks (symptom assessment, exposure assessment, and temperature check), prior to entering the program/building. Students exhibiting symptoms and/or are running a temperature will be moved to a supervised quarantine area. Parents will be notified to pick up their child.
“We cannot stress enough the importance that this is a shared responsibility,” said Benton. “As we all know, we have experienced a multitude of unexpected changes, and time and time again our community, our school community, has continued to rise to the challenges. And we just want to stress the importance that it is everyone’s responsibility to help, to keep our region in the green phase.”