On Thursday, parents in the Knoxville Community School District received a letter from Superintendent Cassi Pearson regarding the Iowa Department of Education’s recent announcement regarding Reopening Guidance for schools. According to the letter, the Department of Education announced that all school districts in the state may begin offering school-organized activities effective July 1st.
The district says they will continue to plan for resuming in-person instruction and extracurricular activities at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Recently the Knoxville School Board approved the districts Return to Learn Plan that must be submitted to the state by July 1st as well. Superintendent Cassi Pearson tells KNIA/KRLS News the district is trying their best to handle a variety of potential scenarios for the fall. They will prepare for the possibility of implementing virtual learning, as well as using a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction with virtual learning. They will also plan for possible changes to how they approach extracurricular activities.
Although the recent guidance from the state provides some clarity, there are still many unknowns when it comes to how school will look in the fall. The district will continue to keep the community updated throughout the summer and in the weeks leading up to the first day of school.
Below are several key takeaways from the DOE’s guidance:
- The DOE and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not currently recommend that schools screen students and staff upon entering buildings. This is because one symptom does not necessarily indicate communicable disease.
- The DOE does not recommend that schools require face coverings in their buildings. However, the guidance encourages schools to maintain respectful environments in which students and staff feel comfortable wearing masks if they choose to do so.
- While the DOE recognizes that schools may not be able to guarantee physical distancing throughout the day, they should implement preventive strategies to protect public health. For example, schools should establish a plan for when a student or staff member becomes ill and should be ready to execute emergency operations protocols for communicable disease outbreaks.
- The guidance urges schools to educate students on a variety of preventive measures, including hand-washing, maintaining physical distancing, and staying home if they feel sick.
- The DOE advises that school districts establish a framework for the routine cleaning of facilities, high-touch surface areas, cafeterias, concession stands, health offices, and buses.