July 8, 2020
I am grateful to live in a community of caring and loving families, and I am thankful for all the messages of support, ideas for school reopening practices, and offers of help. Please know that we are aware of your concerns and the concerns of others who have varying opinions about school reopening. We are working diligently to put a plan together that can meet the needs of our students, families, and employees. I, along with our district leadership team and Board, have been in regular contact with our local health department's Director, Dr. Blodgett, to help guide our plan development and implementation, based on sound data and current known ways to mitigate and minimize risk. We are also under the direction of the Governor's office (force of law) and the Utah State Board of Education. We have gathered a team of 45 individuals from our community including physicians, parents, teachers, nurses, administrators, etc. They have been meeting over the last week or so to help give the District some direction on our plan based on the requirements and recommendations of the entities I mentioned previously.
Our educators and support staff love school, love our students, and want to reimagine our schools and school settings in such a way that all who are participating feel safe, loved, and accepted. Preliminary plans are to open all of our schools in the fall with a typical 5-day schedule. The following Situational Characteristics will serve as the foundation for our fall reopening, and it will be critical for our community to become familiar with them so that we can work as a team to minimize and mitigate the risks that come with COVID-19.
- Educating and practicing proper hygiene etiquette that will be outlined in the ICSD Fall Reopening Plan.
- Always staying at home when sick (employees and students).
- Using face coverings when appropriate as outlined in the ICSD Fall Reopening Plan. The USBE, Governor, and State and local health departments are requiring all adults to wear these coverings when appropriate and when social distancing is not possible. They are also requiring that students accessing bus transportation wear these coverings, as well as encouraging, not requiring, all students ages 10 and older to wear these coverings in school buildings when social distancing cannot be assured. It is important to note that if the Governor announces a change in requirements and recommendations, then ICSD will need to change their plan to reflect the Governor's direction. Schools will work with individuals who have health circumstances that prohibit the use of face coverings.
- Practicing social distancing by revising the logistics surrounding large gatherings and classroom practices will be outlined in the ICSD Fall Reopening Plan.
- Cleaning and disinfecting all district facilities multiple times during the day: especially in "high-touch" areas, and maximizing air-flow in buildings and on buses as well as other practices that will be outlined in the ICSD Fall Reopening Plan.
Recent articles released by the American Academy of Pediatrics seem to support the need to have students return to school when measures are taken to minimize and mitigate risk. Remote and blended learning opportunities will be provided for those who prefer these options. We found that during school closures this past spring, for some families, this type of instruction worked well and students continued to learn effectively. However, we also found that because of varying factors, many of our students were not as successful, and families are wanting their students to return to the in-person learning settings that our schools provide. We are diligently working to accommodate as many of these preferences as possible for our nearly 10,000 students and their families.
As mentioned, measures will be taken to minimize large gatherings. When student gatherings are essential, the numbers will be reduced and extended spaces provided (e.g. lunch rooms, sporting venues, etc.). Steps will be taken to regularly sanitize common areas as well as encourage and facilitate regular hand sanitizing and hand washing. Social distancing within our buildings will be facilitated with signage and markings, whenever possible, throughout our schools and will be supported by faculty and staff.
Finally, our district reopening plan draft will be ready on July 21, and training and instruction for school administrators and district staff will begin at this time. The ICSD Board will consider the plan for approval in their regular Board meeting on July 28, and the plan will be published on our district website, and school administrators will communicate to their families and students the specific details regarding school practices.
Again, thank you for your help, feedback, input, and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters and work to provide quality educational opportunities and supports to meet the needs of our students and employees in the days ahead.