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Crenshaw County Schools release tentative reopening roadmap

Crenshaw County Schools released its tentative roadmap for the 2020-21 school year online last week.

According to the Alabama State Department of Education, local Boards of Education are responsible for determining, “upon recommendation of their superintendents and in consultation with the Alabama Department of Public Health and/or local health officials” for determining the status of in-campus learning throughout the upcoming school year.

Day-to-day policy procedures such as the wearing of facial coverings are to be determined by the local school system. However, the ALSDE guide does list “essential guidance” that school systems must follow, including “enhanced cleaning and sanitization and [designated areas] of quarantine for students who become ill at school.”

The state’s Parent’s Guide to Alabama’s Roadmap to Reopening Schools can be found here: https://www.alsde.edu/Documents/RoadmapParentFAQJune262020.pdf

The Crenshaw County Schools Roadmap has been shared by Crenshaw County Schools on their Facebook page and can also be found on their website, https://www.crenshaw-schools.org/

The CCS roadmap begins with the caveat that all information currently listed within is “based on the infection rate of Crenshaw County at the time of document publication. An increase in the COVID-19 rate of infection within the community may necessitate modification of response practices.” It also specifies that CCS is bound to comply to policies mandated by the ALSDE, the AHSAA, the ADPH along with the Crenshaw County Health Department and local and state orders and ordinances.

The roadmap goes on to elaborate on “exclusion guidance,” consisting of a table that outlines the various steps to take for students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19, those who have been tested for the illness as well as those diagnosed with non-COVID illnesses during the upcoming school year.

Those who have been tested for the illness or have symptoms consistent with it, for example, must “stay home at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared,” wait until they have had no fever for at least three days and wait for improvement of other symptoms. Furthermore, the guidelines state that siblings and household members must also stay home for 14 days.

The guidelines for a person waiting for a COVID-19 test or those who have received either a positive test result or negative but have symptoms are taken from the ADPH guidelines available here: https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/patients.html

The guidelines go on to describe screening procedures.

The first “point on the screening continuum” is the student or staff member’s home.

The guidelines state that “families should self-report symptoms of illness to the school nurse as soon as possible.” Transportation is the second point, and “bus drivers will be trained to identify any symptoms related to COVID-19.”

Finally, school staff will also visually check for symptoms, “which may include temperature checks.” Parents will be notified if symptoms appear.

Next, schools will have quarantine areas for those exhibiting symptoms, and anyone with symptoms must wear a mask.

If an employee or student does test positive, “all persons within the class/organization will be notified.”

On the subject of masks, the guidelines currently state that both staff and students will have the option of wearing masks. Students will be “encouraged but not required to wear a mask during the school day.” Hand sanitizer stations will also, according to the roadmap, be available on each school campus.

For sanitizing, the guidelines state that custodial staff members will be “trained on deep cleaning best practices.” Student desks and frequently touched surfaces will be sanitized “as often as is feasible,” each campus within CCS will be disinfected daily, and water fountains will be disconnected.

Daily operations also have changed substantially.

Students will be required to report directly to their classroom upon arrival on campus in the mornings and will have breakfast in the classroom.

Students will also be required to leave campus immediately at the end of the day “unless reporting to an extracurricular activity.”

Seats in all classes will be assigned, and “faculty will collaborate to ensure…students are seated similarly in each class.”

Visitors will be required to report to the main office of any campus, and access of the campus will be restricted and will require administrator approval.

Further guidance is also offered pertaining to transportation. Parents who are able to transport their children to and from school are asked to do so to limit the number of students on busses.

As for physical distancing on busses, the roadmap states “although attempts will be made to separate students, physical distancing cannot be guaranteed on buses while transporting students.”

The roadmap states that students who have COVID-19 symptoms should not be sent on the bus. However, if a student with symptoms is on the bus, they will be required to wear a mask. The front two seats on the bus will function as a quarantine area, and the driver will be required to contact the school and the student will be met by the school nurse and/or administrators upon arrival for evaluation.

Seats and rails, according to the roadmap, “will be cleaned before and after each route and as often as is feasible.” Hand sanitizer will be available on all busses, and they will have assigned seating as well. Members of the same household will be seated together.

The roadmap states that students may bring individual clear water bottles to school and on the bus “but must not share bottles.”

“The roadmap also contains guidelines for athletics and other activities.

Crenshaw County Schools is implementing safe and healthy practices for all athletic and extracurricular activities. All schools will implement strategies adopted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association that will help provide a safer environment for student athletes,” the guide states.

The guidelines contain many changed procedures, including social distancing strategies, changed parent drop-off and pick-up processes, sanitizing procedures and more.

Athletes will be required to provide their own personal water bottles, and group watering stations, team towels or other commonly shared equipment will not be used.

Weight room surfaces will also be sanitized before and after use.

Gate and concession personnel at games will be provided with “appropriate PPE,” and the school staff and student guidelines will overall extend to any extracurricular activity.

Spectators at games will, like students and staff, be encouraged to wear masks.

There are two instructional models being offered going into the 2020-21 school year.

The “traditional” model is a “blended” version of face-to-face instructional and the traditional learning environment with “technology enhanced” learning in a “variety of configurations.”

According to the roadmap, “this approach is necessary to ensure that both students and staff are acclimated to distance learning in the event schools should need to close for a short or long-term duration and support individual needs on a case-to-case basis.”

The second model is virtual. With this model, students will receive instruction, course material and content online. It will require daily online participation.

Students in grades K-8 who choose the virtual model will use the SchoolsPLP platform. Those in grades 9-12 will use ACCESS.

Virtual students must have an electronic device compatible with the online program and its requirements. Daily, reliable internet access is “the responsibility of the parent/guardian.”

Students “must remain in the chosen model of learning for a minimum of one nine-week grading period.” Students will be considered enrolled regardless of the chosen model.

The child nutrition program has also received some modifications. Breakfast will be available to all students in the classroom. Sack lunches will be available “at minimum for the first month of school.” Seating will be determined by administrators, and the year will begin with students eating in the classroom or in an area chosen by administrators. Bottled water will be available for purchase in the cafeteria.

For recess, school adminstrators will “develop a schedule to limit the number of students having recess at the same time.” Vending machines will not be available, but administrators will set up a “school store.” Both classrooms and outdoor areas will be used for recess.

The final section on the current roadmap pertains to the 21st Century Afterschool Program.

It will be available, and many of the same rules and guidelines will apply. Social distancing guidelines will be implemented in the program, and masks will be encouraged but not required. Snacks will be provided in bags, and areas used by the program will be sanitized at the end of each day.

These guidelines are, also mentioned earlier, subject to change based on multiple factors including the county’s infection rate and local and state mandates.

The full roadmap can be found at https://www.crenshaw-schools.org/ and is also linked on the CCS Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CrenshawCountySchools/