Tidioute board setting opening rules — again
The pages of the calendar turn, bringing a new school year ever closer despite the complications set up by COVID-19.
As the pandemic causes ever-changing rules for schools, Tidioute Community Charter School is already taking steps to make changes to its reopening plan.
The TCCS board approved a reopening plan. School officials are working to implement that plan — and the changes made to it.
“If you come in here four weeks from now, this team will have the school reinvented,” CEO Dr. Doug Allen said. “We want to assure citizens, employees, students, and parents, that we are maintaining social distancing.”
“We’re going to follow the guidelines from the CDC,” Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Ryan Guerra said. “We’re not going to do anything to put our kids at risk.”
A focus group met on Tuesday to discuss plans, including adjustments that may be needed following Gov. Wolf’s enhanced masking order and to “help us realize things that might need changed, reviewed.”
For now, masks are required for students coming and going, but not when they are in their classrooms.
“If you’re in the hallway or walking around, you’re going to be masked up,” Allen said. “If you move from one room down to the office, you’re wearing a mask. Inside the room, inside the third grade room… we may not require a mask, because we’re in the room practicing social distancing. The consensus right now is if you’re in the room, you don’t have to be masked up.”
As students arrive at the school, each bus and van will release them at different times to promote distancing.
During the focus group, participants suggested using two entrances in the morning to speed up the required screening processes.
The school has ordered three temperature-scanning kiosks with facial recognition.
“You just look at it and you’re done,” Allen said.
The scans happen in about one second and the students’ photos will be loaded from the yearbook.
Students who show a temperature above 100 will be taken to an isolation area. Their temperatures will be taken again and, if necessary, the students will remain in isolation until they can be taken home, School Nurse Susan Shiley said.
Melissa Kingen of the Nutrition Group explained the procedures for meals.
“The students would pick up their breakfast from a kiosk as they enter school,” she said. “They’ll take it to their classroom.”
Breakfasts are covered and the covers are disposable.
For lunch, “the students will come down to the cafeteria, they’ll come through the serving lines, staying six feet apart,” she said. “It’ll be a very limited menu… because we need to keep that line moving.”
There will be choices, but not as many as students may be used to.
“The servers will pack everything… even the milk… with a lid and students will take it back to their classrooms,” Kingen said. “They can get the regular hot meal going through the line. That would be a real challenge if every single meal was delivered.”
Guerra detailed the maximum CDC occupancy of each room and said that changes were made to the room assignments to provide appropriate space for classes and for safety issues not related to COVID-19.
He also talked about athletics.
“Our athletics plan is really secondary to getting ready for education,” he said. “Wins and losses is not our most important thing. Safety is.”
“We will work on following social distancing. We are not going to just let our kids go in their and run wild. We will look at possible suspension of the program if we cannot follow the rules.”
Under the current guidelines, there will not be spectators at events to start the season.
“Games and matches will be played at this time with no spectators,” Guerra said. “We will live-stream our home games.”
Assistant Principal Ryan Steffan said he has ordered signs, distance and direction markers, and plexiglass shields.
He said the school has hired another full-time custodian to handle the additional cleaning required under the COVID-19 guidelines.
Allen detailed some of the protocols that would come into play if a student or staff member were to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
That would involve a 14-day quarantine for the individual, closure of the school for a 24-hour deep clean, and contact tracing to see who else might be infected.