LIMA — Lima schools has announced its plans to reopen on Aug. 12 with in-person instruction five days a week, and superintendents across Allen County have drafted a list of common practices to be followed when most of their schools reopen later in August.
Both the Lima and Allen County announcements came after weeks of discussion.
“We’re trying to meet everybody’s needs,” said Lima School Supt. Jill Ackerman.
Staff and students in Lima schools will take part in a daily health check, which will include temperatures taken prior to coming to school. Anyone with a temperature of over 100 degrees must stay home. Anyone with other symptoms like fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea must also stay home.
Lima schools also plans to provide hallway traffic flow that promotes social distancing.
All staff will have to wear a mask or a face shield. Students in grades 3 through 12 will be required to wear a mask or a face shield in high traffic areas, including entering or exiting the building, passing time in the hallways, when in the lunch line and other times deemed appropriate.
“There could be times where kids are working in groups. Every kid in the district will be given two masks at the beginning of the year so they’ll have them so when there’s times when they need to wear them, they’ll have them available,” Ackerman said.
Students who ride the bus also will need to wear a mask or a face shield while being transported.
Students will be allowed to carry a water bottle.
The school will continue to promote hand-washing the use of hand sanitizer and good hygiene.
If a parent isn’t comfortable in sending their child to school there is an online option. Parents can sign up beginning July 15 at www.limacityschools.org. The deadline to apply is Aug. 7.
Chromebooks will be handed out to students in grades K-12 and students and families will assume financial responsibility for the care of the devices.
As for sports, Lima schools will follow OHSAA guidelines, whatever those end up being.
“I think the plan is very feasible and it also gives options to parents,” said Ackerman. “If they’re not comfortable with on-site education, they have that option for the virtual platform.”
The 11 Allen County superintendents recognize the need for consistency in areas of operation, while recognizing that individual differences in classroom sizes, school facilities and building operations may lead to some inconsistencies.
In an effort to be transparent, they put together a five-page document that acknowledges some level of risk will always be present when students and school district employees occupy school facilities. On that note, it includes general principles that will guide each school district as they move forward. Among them:
• Any student or employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 may not return until released by Allen County Public Health.
• In the case of fevers not related to COVID-19, students or employees with a fever of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home. They may not return until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
• Students will be spaced apart in classrooms as far apart as possible.
• Face coverings are highly recommended for students in grades 3-12. School employees will be required to use a face covering with limited allowable exceptions document in writing.
• Hand sanitizer is to be made available in high traffic areas including entrances to buildings and classrooms.
• During times when food is served, tables will be spaced six-feet apart. Students likewise will be spaced as far apart as possible. There will be limited capacity in the cafeteria and students eating in the classroom should be considered. Outside of lunches, only pre-packaged food is allowed.
• Volunteers should be assigned one consistent work area rather than “floating” or rotating between classrooms. Visitors will be discouraged and field trips limited.
• Buses should be loaded back to front and unloaded front to back. Only two students will be allowed per seat, though in the case of smaller, younger children, three may be allowed. Districts will attempt to seat siblings together.
• During recess, districts will limit student access to certain pieces if playground equipment and restrict activities that are “high touch” and difficult to clean or maintain. Parents may opt out of recess.
• School districts will offer remote learning for parents who do not wish to send their child to school.
Craig Kupferberg, superintendent of the Allen County Educational Service Center, praised the collaborative effort in putting together this document. He said each school district will need to fine-tune their plan to their own needs.
“For example, requiring kids to wear masks on buses. That was a long discussion and I would imagine most of the schools will, but they don’t have to. Some may come out with their own document.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.