WHITLEY COUNTY— The first day of school for students enrolled in the Whitley County District will be Wednesday, August 26 and like many other districts around the Commonwealth there will be two options available for learning.

Administration took to social media last week to let students and parents know that those who do not feel comfortable returning to school in person, there will be an online or remote learning option.

It is the district’s goal to return safely as many students as possible to in-person school settings—there is no substitute for the attention and engagement that is only possible with in-person learning, the announcement said. School officials are committed to following the guidelines set forth by the various health agencies and officials to keep students safe and healthy with students’ well-being ranking as first priority.

District officials want students and parents to know that everyone will be asked to wear masks while inside school buildings this fall. Students and staff will be expected to wear masks when they are moving around the building or when they are not able to maintain the 6 feet social distancing guideline. Masks will not be required for children in preschool or kindergarten. Individuals who have a documented medical exemption by a health provider will be expected to wear a face shield. In a meeting with the local health department the school district was advised that while face shields do not provide the same level of protection as face masks, they are better than no face covering at all.

Classrooms will be set up with social distancing in mind. Common areas such as the gymnasium will only be used for specific classroom activities, not for assemblies or special events that involve multiple classrooms.

Students will eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria and classrooms to allow for distancing of students as they will need to remove masks in order to eat. The cafeteria staff will adhere to CDC and health department regulations concerning sanitation and food safety. Additional staff have been added at each school to assist with sanitizing high traffic areas such as restrooms and entryways.

All school employees will be required to check their temperature at home and will be re-checked upon arrival to school. Temperature checks will be highly encouraged for all students before leaving home each morning. Each student will be temperature checked using a touch-less thermometer upon arrival to school. Any student who has a fever will be taken to an isolation room and rechecked by the school nurse using a different type of thermometer to verify the reading was accurate. Any child who has a fever higher than 100.4 upon being re-checked will be sent home.

Students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day will be moved to the specific room designated for medical-related isolation until they can be picked up by a family member.

Students in the elementary grades will be provided some type of recess following CDC guidelines to insure safety. Physical education classes will continue but instruction and activities will allow for social distancing. When possible, classes will be taken outside.

It is recommended that you purchase a re-usable water bottle for your child to use at school.

Students will be provided extra opportunities during the day to wash their hands. Hand sanitizer will also be available to students for instances when hand washing is not feasible.

Students riding buses to and from school will be given hand sanitizer upon entering the bus. Masks will be required on the bus. For those with medical exemptions a face shield can be substituted. Buses will load back to front and unload front to back to minimize contact. Every effort will be made to seat family members from the same household together and to limit others to one person per seat when it is possible. Seats will be assigned so a seating chart can be made. This will assist with contact tracing should it be necessary. Once the buses are empty of passengers, bus drivers will spray their buses down with a chemical that is shown to kill COVID-19.

Currently the district plans to have sports the same as any other year for elementary, middle and high school teams, and adhere to the guidelines set forth by health agencies and officials.

The school district reminds parents that while these precautions will require adjustment and will be at many times inconvenient, they are in place for everyone’s safety. Families play a critical role in supporting the new culture of health and safety that each school must establish. Families can help stop the transmission of COVID-19 in their school communities by checking their children daily for any COVID-19 symptoms and keeping them home from school if they are sick or have had contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Families can also contribute by supporting the use of masks in school and on the bus and by staying in communication with teachers and school leaders and continuing to follow state guidance on health and safety outside of school.

The districts two options for attendance this school year are:

- In-person learning with new safety requirements: This option means that students will come to school each day and teachers will be teaching as usual while adhering to the new safety protocols. Parents would have the option to allow students to ride the bus to school or provide transportation.

- Remote Learning and/or NTI Packets: This option means that students will attend school through an online platform or NTI packets. This option requires that you have internet access and a device such as a Chromebook or PC. The district will provide Chromebooks for students in 4th-12th grades. For anyone who does not have a device and/or internet, NTI packets will be provided by the district. The district asks that you notify your child’s school if you plan to utilize this option. Be specific in communicating whether you will be online or if you will need NTI packets because you do not have access to internet or a device for the online programs.

Information posted by Whitley County School District

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