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Daily health screenings and masks are part of the plan

BOWLING GREEN—The Bowling Green School Board reviewed the plan presented by Superintendent Matt Frederickson to open the district’s schools in August.

After meeting with other area superintendents and state health officials, Frederickson presented their findings with Bowling Green’s School Board on how what would be the best course on how to reopen the R-I campus next month.

“We’ve been working very hard over the last couple of months meeting with different groups,” he said, such as the health department and all the northeast superintendents. “I also meet with the superintendents in the St. Louis area, so I get both perspectives.”

A letter went out to families, faculty and staff last week, which detailed the procedures that would be taken before, during and after school opens on Monday, Aug. 24.

As part of the new procedures, faculty and staff would be receiving updated sanitation training. Frederickson said the training would be incorporated into the meetings the teachers and staff usually have before the start of classes.

“We have meetings right before school starts, and we also send out virtual training that they can view before they come to the meetings,” he added. “And those are done by our insurance company,” he said of the virtual training videos. This company insures about 98 percent of the schools in Missouri, and it has been developing these online and face-to-face training for teachers, administrators and staff.

Parents and staff are being asked to self evaluate for symptoms of the COVID-19 virus using a form that had been mailed to them. It is also available online, so they can make multiple copies. Frederickson said they would not be collecting the forms every day, but everyone should still fill them out every day and let the school know if something changes.

“And when in doubt,” he added, “we’re asking folks to keep those students out. It’s better to be safe.” Students won’t be penalized for their attendance if their absence is related to COVID-19.

Those entering the school buildings would also have their temperatures taken daily. Those with a temperature of 100.4 or higher would be isolated and then sent home.

If students or staff cannot maintain a good social distance— 3 or more feet apart—masks would be required. Frederickson said they have plenty on hand and have ordered more as backups.

In the event a parent or guardian still does not feel comfortable sending their children to school, there are some virtual learning options available.

The deadline to apply for virtual, or remote learning, is Aug. 14. Parents or guardians would be given notice within a week if their application was accepted.

“We’re going to work with everyone,” Frederickson said. They want to be as flexible as possible with families on this matter. And if a student or a group of students present symptoms of the virus, and have to be quarantined, they could stay connected to their classroom using remote learning alternatives.

Inside the classroom, desks and workstations are being placed as far apart as possible. All assemblies, rallies, school parties, and dances have been canceled until further notice.

Additional details on how athletics would be handled should be released by Athletic Director Matt Chance based on guidelines from the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

If someone became sick on campus, Frederickson said they are identifying space in each school to isolate that person until he or she could be sent home.

“Then we’d go through the protocol for cleaning and disinfecting the area,” he added.

Buses would have assigned seating and would be loaded from the back to the front. In the letter to families, those who live within a mile of the school are being encouraged to walk or ride a bike, and those parents who can are being asked to ride to school with them.

Some classes are being split, so that the students can maintain a safe distance from each other. Frederickson said they could also hold some classes and activities outside if the weather permitted.

“That’s where the mask comes into play,” he said. “If we can’t be as social distant as we like, that’s where the mask can be so helpful.”

He noted that he’s seen a lot of reports about the effectiveness of a mask, but after hearing about the hairdresser and her numerous clients who wore masks while being worked on while she was infected with COVID-19, and there was not any transmission of the disease proves how effective they are.

“I think we have to go with what our health department is recommending. There’s always going to be risks in everything we do, so we’re just trying to mitigate it as much as we can,” he said.

Frederickson said he surveyed the teachers to find out what concerns they might have, and then he would answer those and find out if there were more questions about what was required of them to slow the spread of the virus.

He also noted that Bill Allen said he would lend the school some of his big tents for their back-to-school training sessions.

“That way we could spread out and still have our teachers together,” he said.

All the precautions are to avoid another shutdown, such as the one that ended the last school year.

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