Students and parents will find a complicated, new educational system this fall with new guidelines providing a glimpse into school life during a pandemic.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Department of Education issued guidelines for the upcoming school year Wednesday. Healthy at School provides school districts with in-depth guidance on how best to negotiate the upcoming school year.
First on the guidelines is social distancing. School districts will be expected to “develop unique plans” to make sure their facilities operate within the best interest of their faculty and students. The safety expectations put forth adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization.
Before a student can even step onto a bus, parents have to attest that their child’s temperature does not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit each morning. Upon arrival at school, the student’s temperature will be rechecked. If their temperature is found to be greater than 100.4 degrees, the students and driver could be involved in contact tracing should the original student be determined to have COVID-19.
Any student found with such a high temperature would be sent home. Other exclusionary criteria include coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, new rash, or exposure to a COVID-19 case.
Masks will be required at all times on the school bus unless medically necessary or the student is special needs. If the bus is not at full capacity, students are to spread out in order to maximize social distancing, but siblings from the same household are expected to sit together.
Bus riders will be assigned seats and a manifest will be kept to not only help mitigate any potential spread, but to initiate contact tracing should a student contract COVID-19. Any student boarding must use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Contact tracing is used to identify those with a contagious illness, isolate them, and quarantine others who may have come into close contact with the infected individual.
Since the bus driver’s already high responsibilities cannot be interfered with, KDE guidelines suggest having additional personnel on all buses to “safely implement mitigation strategies.” These monitors’ duties could include checking temperatures, administering sanitizer and making sure students abide by social distancing guidelines. Monitors could be vetted volunteers, older students, teachers or other school personnel.
Classrooms may be rearranged and their sizes possibly reduced in order to maximize social distancing of at least six feet. If minimum distance is not possible within any given classroom, the school will need to space students as far apart as possible. Any staff or students within will be required to wear a mask at all times unless medically necessary. If the classroom manages to achieve minimum social distancing requirements and no one is walking about, masks can be lowered.
Minimum social distancing will also be expected within hallways and cafeterias. One potential strategy for hallways is to designate some for one-way traffic and specify doors for entering and exiting. For the cafeteria, it suggests possibly serving lunches to students in the classroom, or allowing them to bring their food to the classroom.
Cleaning and sanitization efforts would also be implemented daily for much of schools’ facilities. Frequently touched surfaces, such as desks and water fountains, would need to be cleaned and sanitized “routinely” throughout the day. Teachers and administrative staff, the guideline states, should help janitorial staff in a lot of these practices.
More details are available at education.ky.gov.
Graves County Schools Superintendent Matthew Madding and Mayfield Independent Schools Joe Henderson were not immediately available for comment.