Reopening Plan Update 3 – June 15, 2020
The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) has provided a framework for the reopening in the fall. It is located at: https://www.maine.gov/doe/covid-19/reintegrate.
The Commissioner shared the State will determine when schools may reopen depending on the regional situation with COVID-19. Once our Penobscot County, Greater Bangor area has the go ahead to reopen, the Bangor School Department (BSD) Plan, in alignment with the MDOE framework, will be put in place. Everyone is hopeful that all continues to go well in the region and we will reopen for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
The Planning Committee will review schedules with distancing under the new MDOE framework with a priority placed on having as many in person sessions as possible for our students. This past Friday, the Committee reviewed current thinking and recommendations from the BSD nurses and School Physician for the third column of the CDC Decision Tree for reopening schools.
- Develop and implement procedures to check for signs and symptoms of students and employees daily upon arrival as feasible.
Employees self-check and report: Employees will do self temp checks and answer questionnaire prior to school and alert principal and nurse if they are experiencing fever /symptomatic and they will not go to work. Thermal scans will be done upon arrival.
Students self-check and report: Parents are responsible for checking symptoms of their children and reporting to the school if student has a fever/symptomatic. Students will go through a thermal scan upon school arrival. Students indicating a potential body temperature will have further screening done by a nurse or trained employee. Parents will need to pick up their child if fever/symptomatic.
Individual school plans for thermal scans, temperature checks, screenings, and isolated holding locations have been drafted.
Privacy screens will be used for temperature checks and for holding rooms.
- Encourage anyone who is sick to stay home.
Letters to parents explaining when to keep children home will be sent.
Educational materials will be posted and emailed to parents.
We will also use Bangor app notifications.
Nurses will create and post informational videos -about symptoms of Covid vs. allergy/cold/flu season. School physician verified not every student with a cough should be referred to PCP or doctor – deep cough, fever, etc yes – but dry/allergy related cold, no.
- Plan for if students and/or employees are sick.
Individual school plans will identify where students will be held until parents pick up students.
If a parent does not have transportation, we are looking at alternatives to transport the child home.
If employees are ill, the current procedure will be followed. They will go home and coverage will be provided, if necessary. Per the school physician, students and staff must be fever free for 24 hours before returning to work.
- Regularly communicate and monitor developments with local authorities, employees and families regarding cases, exposures, and updates to policies and procedures.
Nurses will attend regularly scheduled meetings with CDC and communicate with the school Physician and Nurse Consultant at DOE, and City of Bangor Public Health Nurse.
Policy JLCC Communicable/Infectious Diseases will be implemented.
Superintendent will be notified. Communication will be distributed to families as necessary.
- Monitor student and employee absences and have flexible leave policies and practices.
Students -BSD will follow policy on Homebound Instruction. BSD will make accommodations through Section 504 plans and IEPs. BSD may need to be more flexible with the absentee makeup procedure for those families infected by COVID-19.
Employees – Use sick leave per contract and FMLA for extended work absences
Employees and students will need to follow CDC/PCP recommendations.
Documentation from their provider will be required, if COVID-related illness is suspected.
- Be ready to consult with local health authorities if there are cases in the facility or an increase in cases in the local area.
Nurses and Superintendent will consult with CDC, School Physician, and Public Health Director. Nurses will communicate with the school Physician, Nurse Consultant at DOE and City of Bangor Public Health Nurse.
The BSD set up a survey monkey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C3ZGJ6R for parents to submit their questions about the reopening plans. We will try to answer your questions in each Reopening Plan Update.
- Can you guarantee schools will not have a COVID-19 case and spread?
We cannot guarantee there will be no COVID-19 cases or spread. There are risks in all gatherings of individuals. The BSD will follow the guidance of the CDC, our school physician, Public Health Director, school nurses, and other medical experts as well as the MDOE framework for reopening schools to reduce risk as much as possible.
- Will the goal be to have students back at school full time or will they have partial days at school?
Our goal as educators and parents is to have the students have as much in-person school time as possible. We know it is better for students educationally and socially to be at school. We also know it is helpful for working families to have children at school. With that said, we must meet the distancing guidelines within our school buildings and with our current staffing. We are measuring all classrooms and spaces to determine exactly how many students and staff we have in our school buildings. These numbers will determine the best scheduling option.
- Will parents have the option to choose online instruction and not send their children back to school?
Students, employees, and families with medically documented high-risk categories in their household may be eligible for accommodation including remote learning. Families and employees should provide this medical documentation and notification to their school principal or supervisor as soon as possible.
- Will school be opening in the fall? What safety measures will be put into place for students?
Our goal is to open in the fall as long as the State of Maine opens our schools. Please refer to the Reopening Plan Updates to see the safety measures be discussed for implementation. In addition, a Reopening Plan will be submitted to the School Committee for approval in July.
- Will transportation be provided for students?
Yes, transportation will be provided and students will be required to wash hands before coming to the bus stop, distance at the bus stop and on the buses, and wear masks while riding, unless there is a medically documented condition.
- Will there be virtual orientations?
We will include virtual options and also will work on in-person options in order to train students of the safety measures required at school.
- Will there be safe places to send my children if days are staggered? I have to work M-F and need childcare. This is why we need information ASAP!
We understand your situation and are doing everything we can to see if we can have students at school M-F. If we cannot due to distancing, there are community partners who are willing to support families. We also know parent groups are hoping to develop safe options together.
- Will some students be able to spend more time in school than others? Can we prioritize elementary students?
All students are best served by in person instruction in our opinion. We are working to provide an equitable plan for all students and families.
- Will children have to wear face masks and stay six feet apart?
MDOE recommends staff wear masks and students should be encouraged to wear masks, especially older students, when distancing is not doable. Students must distance and stay apart as much as possible. Students must wear masks while on buses. Therefore, students will wear masks at times and do not need to at other times.
- Will the plan change if the situation improves over the summer?
Yes, the plan will change if the situation improves and if the situation worsens. We also have to plan for resurgence in the fall, which many health experts predict. As the MDOE has shared, we need plans to reopen, to return to remote learning if needed, and everything in between.
- What will the policy be if my family travels outside of the State?
BSD will follow the CDC guidance on travel outside of the State/Country.
- Will there be sports?
We do not know at this point in time. The Maine Principals’ Association is also reviewing a variety of plans.
- Will the COVID vaccine be required of students?
Any decisions regarding vaccinations would be made at the State level. This would not be a BSD decision.
- Will siblings be able to go on the same days?
Yes, we realize families would prefer to have children attending on the same days and this would be a priority.
We will continue to update you as we learn more.
Betsy M. Webb, Ed.D.