In a letter to Bobcat Nation, Hemingford Public School Superintendent Charles Isom shared that they are planning for the first day of school to be on Friday, August 14th for all students.
“While we are very excited to welcome everyone back, we understand fully this will not be a return to normal,” Isom said. “Operating our schools safely is our first concern. As we have throughout the pandemic, we look to our state and local health officials for guidance. They are the public health experts. We are layering in multiple safety protocols to protect the health of our students and staff and to keep our buildings open. We know the best educational option for all our students is to be in our schools with our teachers.”
Hemingford Public Schools will make changes and adjust as needed. They want to let the public know that there is always the chance that they may have to resume remote learning again, but for now, they are very thankful to welcome all students back to the buildings.
Parents will be asked to screen their students for temperature/fever and other symptoms such as shortness of breath, body chills, headache, loss of taste or smell, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea. Close communication with the school is important as they do not want children who are feeling ill to attend. The district will also implement thermal temperature screening of students as they enter the building.
Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer have been ordered and will be distributed among the schools. Cleaning protocols have been updated. There will be an increased frequency of hand washing and/or hand sanitizing.
Masks will not be required.
“As of today, we are in a position not to worry about social distancing. As we monitor the situation, this can change by the day,” Isom said.
“We are hoping to secure masks for each of our students and staff members. We understand there are many feelings about masks. Please talk to your family about masks and work on wearing them for periods of time. We are struggling to find pediatric masks for up to grade 3. Families are welcome to provide their own masks that your children are comfortable with.”
It is unknown how health recommendations and state mandates will look in August with respect to face coverings, the current health department recommendation are as follows:
When you can social distance (social distance = 6 feet), no mask. When you cannot social distance, wear a mask. More specifically, if close contact is more than fifteen minutes without social distancing, wear a mask.
“If school were to start today, our staff would follow this recommendation, and we would ask our students to do the same,” Isom said. “Your help is needed as we prepare for a full opening. As has been the case throughout COVID-19, things change. We will not know until later this summer exactly what the health department recommendation will be or whether we will be under a required Directed Health Measure. We understand that wearing a mask may not be possible for every student, and we will work individually with those families. We also understand that it is not realistic to expect that every student will properly wear a mask all day. Our goal is to encourage wearing facemasks or cloth face coverings when appropriate or to the extent feasible.”
“There will be short periods of time when wearing a mask is going to be strongly encouraged throughout the day. For example, standing in line while waiting for lunch. These are times when social distancing is not going to be possible and a mask is the best option for preventing the spread. Our goal is to not just open schools, but to keep them open.”
“We are continuing to have discussions on what the lunchroom will look like. As we finalize plans, we will keep you posted as best we can,” Isom said. “Transportation is another area of discussion. Assigned seats are being discussed. We are also discussing taking temperatures and wearing masks so that we can run our routes completely.”
“The mask is to help people that maybe compromised or vulnerable to the virus. Mask are an added layer to help from spreading the virus any more than necessary.”
“We can’t do this without your help, and each one of us knows that the best thing we can do to educate our students is for them to be in school every day working with their teachers.”
“We know this has and continues to be a very difficult time,” Isom added.
The school will do their best to communicate changes and The Ledger will continue to update the public with more details as the first day of school gets closer.