School opening plan okayed by CCS board
Chase County Schools (CCS) board held a special meeting Monday night to discuss the re-opening of school on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
“Basically, we’re just making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Supt. Adam Lambert said.
At the last regular meeting July 14, the board referred the re-opening resolution to a committee of board members, teachers and community members to further discuss COVID safety concerns.
The committee presented their revised plan to the board Monday night, and it received approval.
The re-opening plan didn’t change much from the original resolution presented to the board last month.
The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) is in Phase 4 of the Directed Health Measures (DHM) as of Aug. 1.
Phase 4 means most of the restrictions in the DHMs have been totally lifted, while others are eased.
One of the main concerns the board discussed was the use of masks.
“Once a kid gets in class, and they get seated, they can take it off,” Lambert said.
When not in classrooms or in areas where social distancing is not possible, such as busses and hallways, masks will be required.
Another common concern Lambert has heard from parents is what would happen if there is a COVID-19 case confirmed at CCS.
“‘So what happens when little Johnny gets sick in my child’s class, will the whole class shut down?’” Lambert said. “The answer’s no. We’ll have seating charts on buses, seating charts in classrooms so that we can contact trace if need be.”
Cleaning will be another issue addressed when school starts.
“That’s mostly for the middle and high school kids who switch classrooms a lot,” Lambert said.
In addition to providing masks, Lambert said the district will be providing rags and disinfectant for in-between classes.
“When a kid comes into a new classroom, they’ll wipe down their desk and chair,” Lambert said.
The school also has electrostatic blockers.
“If I was looking at your computer screen and I sprayed it, the spray would go around the backside and clean as well,” Lambert said. “That’s going to happen every night.”
One part of the approved plan states that all students will attend in-person instruction.
“Our goal is to keep kids in school,” Lambert said.
If a case was reported and a parent wanted to keep their child at home, “they’d have to do home-schooling,” he added. “We’re not doing distance learning at this time.”
While distance learning isn’t happening right now, the school is prepared for that to happen.
“That’s the hard part about all this is it can change by the hour depending on what the health department says,” Lambert said.
In the event of distance learning happening, “it’d be a lot more structured than spring was,” he added.
Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt held a press conference Monday in response to Nebraska schools opening this fall.
Ricketts mentioned multiple reasons why in-classroom learning is more beneficial to students, including:
—Remote learning can be less effective, and it’s important that we provide the highest quality education possible.
—Social isolation isn’t good for the well-being of kids. They need interaction with their friends and the mentorship teachers provide.
—Education promotes physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
—Kids battling food insecurity have better access to good nutrition when they’re in school.
“Getting kids back into the classroom is critical to their well-being,” Ricketts said. “CDC Director Robert Redfield recently reported that his agency is seeing more suicides and drug overdose deaths, among the high school population, than fatalities from coronavirus.”
Blomstedt said the Department of Education is doing everything possible to ensure the best and safest environments possible for students.
“We’re working with schools to ensure that they can manage the safety of students and staff, while keeping their educational system moving forward,” he said at the conference.
All notes for back-to-school guidance from the Nebraska Department of Education are available online at www.launchne.com.
More information can also be viewed at the CCS website, www.chasecountyschools.org or by calling the school or Lambert at 308-882-4304.