The Belgrade School District sent out a letter this week to parents, students, and staff to begin school preparations for the fall. Due to concerns of COVID-19, many parents have questions about what school might look like when and if the kids return to school. The letter reveals the BSD's plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you don't have a child in the Belgrade School District, this may give you some ideas of what the local schools are thinking when it comes to reopening this fall.

The BSD's rough plan outline includes:

  • Looking at alternative schedules, such as every other day.
  • Deciding how to handle the situation if a student tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Putting hand sanitizer in every classroom.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting shared technology.
  • Training teachers to expand their skills with instructional technology in the case that classroom learning is not an option.

Here's the entire letter Belgrade staff, parents, and students received this week:

Dear Staff, Parents, and Students:

There is much talk these days about what reopening schools should look like in August of this year (2020). As a District, we started preparations this past spring and continue to develop detailed plans needed to provide instruction this fall. Given this past spring, there is much that must be considered for us to reopen schools in August. Our ideas to accomplish the reopening of school are outlined below.

First off, please know that we are taking the COVID-19 issue very seriously. Even if the governor moves us to Phase 3 by August, we believe that it is still important for us to maintain as many of the protocols for distancing, cleaning, disinfecting, and using the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as possible. Doing this will help mitigate the effects of the virus in the District.

This virus is something we have not faced before. In that sense, it presents many issues for us. Primarily, it does not allow us to predict its behavior or make definitive plans to combat it. We have to be flexible and adaptable in our plan of attack.

  1. Our goal is to begin the school year in a normal fashion, with regard to attendance. However, we realize that we must also make plans for students and employees who may be dealing with health issues, such as immunodeficiency, pre-existing conditions, possible contact with at-risk populations, etc. Our committees are addressing these concerns and will have recommendations for the Trustees by its August meeting.
  2. Safety barriers are already in place when individuals visit the main office area of each building in the District.
  3. Signage will be posted in each building instructing everyone on the importance (and the proper technique) of social distancing, washing, and sanitizing hands. Additionally, students will be engaged in conversation on the issue.
  4. Sanitizer will be provided in every classroom.
  5. Buildings will be cleaned and disinfected using an intensified process.
  6. Technology used by multiple students will be cleaned and disinfected using specific processes. We do not have the resources for a one-to-one technology setup when it comes to Chromebooks and laptops.
  7. Teachers have been provided with opportunities for training to expand their skills with instructional technology. This will enhance distance learning if we are mandated to close school buildings in the fall. We are also developing protocols and expectations to increase consistency from building-to-building and teacher-to-teacher.
  8. Instructionally we are also looking at alternative schedules, such as every other day.
  9. Discussions are taking place on food services as well. Do we feed students in their classrooms instead of the Commons?
  10. The District must also decide its threshold for COVID-19 cases. If one student becomes infected, do we close the entire school for a period of time?
  11. Once that threshold is decided, what is the process for isolating the infected person? How do you trace contacts? How do you monitor the necessary individuals during quarantine? Do you do a deep clean of the infected area/school, before reopening?
  12. We are in discussions with outside organizations on daycare.

Again, this is a work in progress. We will begin placing documents on our website as the process moves along. If you have suggestions, please let us know.

Thanks for your continued support and patience in these uncertain times.

Godfrey Saunders