No more perfect attendance awards. Keep students 6 feet apart in classrooms as well as on buses. Wear cloth face masks.
And, be aware that there could be another round of school closures ahead.
Until the threat of the coronavirus pandemic lifts, this may be the new normal for public school students, according to guidance released Wednesday afternoon by the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino.
School districts are locally controlled by trustees who are responsible for decisions that affect education, safety, operations, staffing, and facilities, county schools spokeswoman Lisa Birrell said.
But the 28-page guidance, which will be updated in the coming weeks, is intended to assist districts as they prepare to reopen schools, almost all of which closed after March 13 to stop the spread of COVID-19, she said.
Among the Recommendations
Students and staff should not come to school sick and should be sent home if they show coronavirus symptoms at school, such as a fever. If feasible, students and staff should have daily temperature and symptom checks at school.
“Leave policies should be flexible and not punish people for taking time off, and should allow sick employees to stay home and away from coworkers,” the guidance recommends.
Face masks, which have become a political lightning rod in some circles, are recommended for staff and students, the guidance says. The face coverings should be cloth, not surgical masks, respirators, or other medical personal protective equipment.
“Face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult,” the guidelines advise.
Desks should be spaced 6 feet apart “when feasible” and should face the same direction instead of each other, and students should be subdivided into smaller groupings or “cohorts” so as to limit any spread of infection to larger groups.
Likewise, food service personnel should be grouped in smaller cohorts to limit the potential spread of the highly contagious virus among them.
Prepare to Be Flexible
Based on health conditions, districts should be prepared to “toggle” between in-classroom and distance learning. This means they should make sure all students have access to the internet, with laptops or tablets and a “hot spot” if their family doesn’t already have internet access.
When students can’t be distanced, such as at bathroom sinks or in school reception areas, plastic sheeting may be installed to provide separation barriers.
Schools should encourage frequent hand-washing or use of hand sanitizer and be prepared for deep-cleaning of school facilities should coronavirus cases erupt.
And districts should prepare for significant enrollment drops as parents opt for online programs that will keep their children at home and limit their potential exposure to COVID-19.
Read The Fresno County Reopening of Schools Guidance