Blackwell Public Schools details COVID-19 plans
Blackwell Public Schools officials have released information on how the district plans to safely educate students amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a series of public announcements in recent weeks, district officials have outlined the precautions students and staff members will be required to take during the upcoming school year to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Blackwell Public Schools is committed to providing the safest and healthiest learning environment possible for our students,” officials said in a recent news release. “Our goal is to create the most normal school day as possible while mitigating the risk of COVID-19. We understand that you have many questions regarding the upcoming school year. Please keep in mind that this is new territory for everyone involved, and things are changing on a daily basis. This information could change at any time given due to the guidance that we are receiving from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.”
The Blackwell Journal-Tribune has compiled the district’s reopening information in this article and organized the information in a topical manner.
The first day of class for students is Aug. 20. District enrollment will be conducted Aug. 5 and 6.
Students must enroll at their respective schools, and school staff members will check the temperatures of anyone entering school buildings.
Those who are new to the district and have not yet completed their child’s enrollment paperwork should report to the district’s central office, 201 E. Blackwell Ave., instead of the child’s school site.
Here’s how to enroll students at each school site.
BLACKWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
On Aug. 5, Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘M’ will enroll from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘N’ through ‘Z’ will enroll from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Pre-K and Kindergarten students will enroll in the library. First and second grade students will enroll in the music room. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students will enroll in the gym.
On Aug. 6, students whose last names begin with the letters ‘N’ through ‘Z’ will enroll from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Those whose last names begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘M’ will enroll from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Students and parents are asked to enter through the school’s main doors and proceed to their child’s enrollment area.
BLACKWELL MIDDLE SCHOOL
Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘M’ will enroll from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘N’ through ‘Z’ will enroll from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Each student should enter the building with only one guardian. They should enter through the school’s main doors on the east side of the building and proceed to the cafeteria. Students will need to purchase ID cards, lanyards, and planners for a total of $10. Yearbooks and school T-shirts will also be available for purchase, though they are optional.
Sixth grade students may move their learning supplies into their lockers and meet their teachers Aug. 13. Seventh graders may move-in Aug. 17, and eight graders may move in Aug. 18.
Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘M’ may move-in from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘N’ through ‘Z’ should move-in from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
BLACKWELL HIGH SCHOOL
Blackwell High School students will enroll by grade level and last name.
Seniors will enroll Aug. 4. Juniors will enroll Aug. 5. Sophomores will enroll Aug. 6. Freshmen will enroll Aug. 7.
Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘L’ will enroll from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Students whose last names begin with the letters ‘M’ through ‘Z’ will enroll from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Enrollment will be conducted in the school study center.
Juniors and seniors may move their supplies into their lockers and meet their teachers Aug. 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Freshmen and sophomores may do so Aug. 18 during the same timeframe.
Blackwell Public Schools students will have two pathways of education to choose from: traditional learning at school and at-home virtual learning. Parents who are interested in the virtual pathway or have questions about it should contact their child’s principal for more details.
To contact Jennifer Hankins, Pre-K and Kindergarten principal, email email@example.com.
To contact Melissa Agee, first and second grade principal, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Melissa Moore, third, fourth, and fifth grade principal, email email@example.com.
To contact Becky Miller, middle school principal, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Gerry Magin, high school principal, email email@example.com.
Administrators are working to create schedules that include minimizing close physical interactions as much as possible, district officials said in a news release. Classrooms will be arranged to maximize desk spacing between students and teachers. BPS officials are also adjusting some lunch schedules and passing periods between classes to maximize social distancing.
Disinfection, sanitation, and cleanliness will be a high priority at all schools, officials said. Extra cleaning attention will be given to frequently touched surfaces. Students will be expected to wash or sanitize their hands often throughout the day.
Face coverings will not be required for students and staff members. However, students and staff members are allowed to wear them if they choose to do so. The district will provide a washable face covering to any student or staff member that wants one.
All students and staff members will have their temperatures taken before entering school buildings and buses each morning. Any person with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will immediately be sent home. In order for that person to return to school, he or she must be fever-free for 48 hours without taking medication.
Bus transportation will be provided for those who rely on it.
The district is encouraging all parents to transport their children to and from school if possible. Children riding buses will have their temperatures checked before entering the bus each morning. Students from the same family will need to sit together while riding the bus. Students riding the bus will be allowed to wear face coverings if they choose to do so.
BMS and BHS students will still have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and FFA.
Visitors and guests will not be allowed in school buildings unless they are deemed essential by the school principal. Visitors deemed essential by administrators will have their temperatures taken upon arrival at the school.
Elementary students will still have recess time during the day.
All teachers and staff members will have their temperatures taken prior to students’ arrivals. Staff members will take students’ temperatures before they enter the building each morning. Checks will be performed in pick-up and drop-off car lines, near crosswalks, and at bus stops.
Midday temperature checks will be performed by classroom teachers as well.
Coaches will check the temperatures of student athletes before morning practices.
SAFETY IN BUILDINGS
At BES, the school’s front door will be accessible throughout the day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
At BMS, all students will enter the building through the gym doors and bus drop-off area.
Students' temperatures will be taken before entering the building. Students arriving after 8:00 a.m. will enter the building through the front doors.
At BHS, students will enter the building through the study center doors every morning. Students may start entering the building at 7:00 a.m.
The school sites will use staggered dismissal procedures throughout the day for recess, lunch, and the end of the school day.
Teachers must require their students to practice proper handwashing during bathroom breaks, before lunch, and after taking courses in physical education and music. Students must also practice proper handwashing while in the library, at recess, and especially after sneezing, coughing, blowing their noses, and participating in any other activities that could spread illness.
Additional hand sanitizing stations will be added throughout the buildings for student to use when needed.
Bathrooms will be sprayed down with a child-safe disinfecting solution multiple times throughout the day.
All school sites will follow social distancing guidelines and have procedures in place to mitigate possible exposure to the virus.
Schools will not have whole-school assemblies until the immediate threat of COVID-19 has passed.
No visitors will be allowed in any parts of school buildings except offices. Visitors’ temperatures will be taken upon entering offices. With administrator approval, meetings that require a parent or guardian to be present will take place in conference rooms. Visitors’ temperatures will be taken again upon arrival, and the conference room will be disinfected after the conclusion of the meeting.
School water fountains will be shut down during the pandemic. Students are encouraged to bring pre-filled water bottles from home. Water fountains will be available for students to refill bottles with the assistance of staff members.
Social distancing will be practiced to the extent possible in common areas such as hallways, cafeterias, and gyms. Each classroom will adapt to create the most efficient approach for student safety, officials said.
All special education, title, and ELL services will still be provided. Special service providers will pick up individual students and small groups of students from their homeroom classrooms when it is time for their scheduled sessions. Special service classrooms will be sanitized with child-safe disinfecting solution after each session.
There will be no sharing of individual school supplies. If sharing a particular item is necessary, it will be sanitized between after each student use.
If a teacher is ill and a substitute teacher is hired, school officials will first contact a school board-approved sub. If a substitute is not available, the district will utilize a paraprofessional on-site. If neither a substitute teacher nor a paraprofessional is available, school officials will divide students equally among the remaining grade-level classes.
QUARANTINE FOR SICK STUDENTS
An isolation room will be utilized for students presenting COVID-19 symptoms and for students who are running fevers. Parents will be contacted to pick up their child and should seek medical attention if they think it is necessary. Students cannot return to school until they have been fever-free for 48 hours.
If a child or staff member has been diagnosed with or placed in quarantine due to COVID-19, the Kay County Health Department will issue a release letter. This release letter must be presented to the building administrator when it is safe for the child to return back to school.
Officials ask parents and guardians to keep their contact information and emergency contact information current with the school. If changes in contact information occur, parents and guardians are asked to call the school.
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