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Elkhorn, Millard, Bellevue school districts bringing students back to class in August

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 3:39 PM CDT
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Elkhorn, Millard, and Bellevue school districts on Tuesday sent letters to student families stating they are making plans for all students to return to their classrooms five days a week starting in August.

Elkhorn Public Schools is preparing to resume "in-classroom learning" Aug. 18 with safety protocols in place, including face masks in some circumstances.

Millard Public Schools will start their school year Aug. 10, and Bellevue students will return on Aug. 13. Both included links in a letter to their respective student families asking for feedback.

Each district said it would provide masks to students and staff; Elkhorn and Millard will provide two each, and Bellevue's letter said the BPS Foundation would likely provide one to each staff and student.

"We expect that mask-wearing will be an important measure to be utilized to further protect the health of our students and staff while in school," according to a letter sent to EPS families on Tuesday from Superintendent Bary Habrock. "Students and staff will be expected to wear masks as much as reasonable and appropriate. Principals and teachers will work with students and families on what is reasonable and appropriate for each individual student."

Bellevue's superintendent acknowledged that masks are an issue of particular concern.

"We are aware our families and staff may have concerns related to face coverings (i.e. masks, shields), and we have heard from individuals on both sides of the issue," Superintendent Jeff Rippe said in his letter to families. "...It is highly probable that BPS will require face coverings for students and staff when social distancing cannot occur."

Millard and Bellevue families are being asked to pre-screen and otherwise monitor students for any symptoms of COVID-19 and will be encouraged to keep them home if they exhibit any signs of the virus.

Elkhorn and Millard school districts indicated that temperature checks could be required as the school year unfolds. All three indicated that plans at the start of the year could be modified — including a return to at-home learning — should outbreaks occur or other directed health measures be activated.

Anticipating outbreaks,

, such as reverting to remote learning, according to the letter to student families.

"We have created several backup plans that may need to be implemented at any time throughout the school year to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and community," the EPS letter states, noting that further details are expected to be released in August.

Elkhorn outlines protocols

EPS also released a document with details on the protocols that will be in place for the upcoming school year.

FACEMASKS:

state that students and staff are expected to wear masks when entering the school building, and that social distancing will be "expected in classrooms when physically possible," or that "students will sit in pods of two and be socially distanced as the classroom allows" in spaces that don't allow for 6 feet of space between each student.

Two washable masks will be provided to each student and staffer, the reference states.

SOCIAL DISTANCING:

Students won't use lockers and will instead carry all supplies in their backpacks, according to the protocols document. When moving between classes and activities, students will walk on the right side of the hallway.

Elementary students will eat lunch in their classrooms, while middle- and high-schoolers will have more lunch periods to allow for social distancing.

Students will enter schools through assigned doors, with temperatures taken "as reasonable and directed by Douglas County Health."

Students won't be allowed to congregate at entrances or exits, and parents are to stay in their vehicles when picking up students.

Those elementary and middle-school students walking home will be dismissed first, then students riding on buses, with the rest dismissed thereafter. High-schoolers will be dismissed via multiple exit points.

CLEANING & SANITIZING:

Students and staff will be required to wash or sanitize their hands when entering the building, when entering and exiting individual classrooms or the cafeteria, and when exiting the building.

"Enhanced cleaning protocols in place throughout the day," according to the EPS protocols.

Water fountains will only be for filling water bottles.

Those families with specific health concerns that may prevent their students from returning to the classroom are asked to reach out the student services director.

According to the letter, the August start date includes Elkhorn North High School and Woodbrook Elementary, which have construction underway.

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