Notes From the Superintendent
The first day of school for students will be next Thursday, August 13. Several weeks ago, the school released our return to school plan and posted it on the school website. As of now, we will be using that plan to reopen the school. If you have not done so already, please read the plan so you are aware of the rules/guidelines we will be utilizing. We realize there are many different opinions on how and what we should be doing. The plan has been developed based on the local conditions of our communities and Harlan County. As we move forward, we encourage comments, concerns, and opinions from the public. You can do this by calling the school or emailing Mrs. Brandyberry or Mr. Davis. Below is a series of questions I have been asked the last couple of weeks. I have tried to answer each question based on the facts I have, and not opinions. The staff is looking forward to having your children return to school. It is a top priority to do all we can to keep our students and staff safe!
What will the first day of school look like? Because of the COVID 19 concerns the first day of school will be different than in the past. A brief review of the changes will be as follows:
1. As previously mentioned in the schools reopening plan, all visitors, including family members, will be restricted. This will include the first day of school. All elementary parents bringing and/or dropping their children off at the school are encouraged to drop them off at the west doors. We will have staff at the door to meet the children and take them to the lunch room for breakfast or to their classrooms.
2. All 7-12 students will be assigned a classroom they will go directly to after arriving at school or after they are done eating the school breakfast. Room assignments have been made by grade, and once in their rooms, the students will be given further instructions on the remainder of their day.
What will the procedure be for prescreening students? We ask and highly recommend that parents prescreen all children at home for temperature, cough and other symptoms prior to sending them to school. At this time, the plan is to prescreen all students when they enter the building. Due to the congestion we expect on the first day of school, temperatures will be taken in the classrooms. The prescreen will include taking their temperature and observing the students for any symptoms associated with COVID-19. After lunch all students will have their temperature taken again in the classroom by staff. If any student’s temperature is 100.4 or above, they will be taken to the school nurse for further screening. Students riding the school bus will be prescreened by the driver and temperatures will be taken as they get on the bus. They will also be checked when they get to school.
Will the staff be prescreened and temperatures taken each day? Yes.
What happens if a student has a fever of 100.4 or above or has other symptoms after seeing the school nurse? The student will be isolated in the nurse’s office or other spaces away from other students and staff. Parents will be called to come and get their child, or if they drove to school and with permission by the parent, they will be allowed to drive home.
Who is the school nurse? The school nurse is Melissa Simonson. She is a Registered Nurse and a 2006 graduate of Washburn University. She has been employed by Good Samaritan Society Colonial Villa & Home Health Care, Phelps Memorial Health Center and Holdrege Memorial Homes. She has worked for the school since 2014 our school nurse as well as a para. We are very fortunate to have her on staff.
What will the policy be for wearing masks in school? At this time, and based on the fact that Harlan County has 0 COVID cases, the policy is that masks are optional as listed in the school’s reopening plans. During our meetings with the secondary students on the first day of school, we will encourage students to wear masks during the school day, especially during passing periods. We will also suggest to the elementary students to wear masks. As we are doing now, we will monitor the COVID situation in our communities and Harlan County, and will make changes as necessary. We encourage parents to talk to their children about the wearing of masks and make the decision you think is best for your child and/or your family.
What is the policy for wearing masks on buses? All bus drivers will be required to wear masks, and we highly encourage students to wear masks as well.
Will the school provide masks? Yes. All students and staff will be provided a mask by the school and labeled for the individual. These masks will be kept at school and washed & disinfected by the school staff. Students may also elect to use their own masks from home. All the student masks were made by Penny Rhodig, with the help of others. Harlan County Health System has also donated 500 reusable cloth masks to the school. Alma Public Schools greatly appreciates the time and effort of Penny and the others who put in to make the masks and Harlan County Health System for their donation.
Does Two Rivers’ Risk Dial match with the school’s Risk Dial? No. Two Rivers’ Risk Dial has four colors – green (low risk), yellow (moderate risk), orange (elevated risk), and red (pandemic risk). The school will use the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association (NRCSA) Risk Dial, based on a three-tier system, green (low/no spread), yellow (minimal/moderate spread) and red (substantial spread). As previously mentioned, the school’s reopening plan is based on the NRCSA‘s Considerations for Developing Re-Opening Plans for Nebraska Schools. This plan is located on the school’s website.
Will the school follow the Two Rivers’ Risk Dial in making decisions about the operation of the school? No, the school will be using local information in making decisions in determining where the school is at in regards to the school’s Risk Dial.
What is the reason for not following the Two Rivers’ Risk Dial? The Two Rivers’ Risk Dial is based on the seven counties in their district and does not look at each county individually. Based on Two Rivers’ information, 93% of the positive cases (1384 total cases) are in Dawson (68%) and Buffalo (25%) Counties and the rest in Phelps (2.5%), Kearney (2.3%), Gosper (1.2%), Franklin (0.65%), and Harlan (0%). Based on TR’s website as of today, 1.4% of the total population in the TR district has tested positive.
Will there be sports/activities this year? The NSAA has released guidelines for all fall activities to proceed as scheduled. We will inform everyone if something changes.