2020/2021 Planning Update: 7.2.2020

20-2021 Planning updateAs our calendar turns from June to July, we wish you and your family a safe and relaxing Fourth of July holiday weekend. Thank you for continuing to stay in touch during these summer months as we plan and prepare for a successful school year. Please see below for this week’s planning update.

As a district, we remain firmly committed to opening our schools in-person and on-time in accordance with our 2020/2021 school calendar. While COVID-19 remains an active, dynamic and evolving situation, the recent increases in cases locally and across our state underscores our continued need to prepare for the wide variety of scenarios that we may encounter across the next twelve months. Effectively, our developing, multifaceted plan will allow our schools and district to flex how we function in accordance with changes in local health conditions. While opening schools on-time and in-person in August remains our collective goal, we also want to ensure that we are ready for the entire school year should local health conditions demand modifications.

One related modification that will be needed across the coming year involves bus transportation. By design, buses typically transport as many as 40 to 50 students at any one time. While effective in terms of the logistics of a transportation system, large bus capacity numbers do not come close to adhering to social-distancing guidelines. In predicting this challenge for the coming school year, our transportation team has been busy working to redesign our transportation system and practices in an effort to accomplish the below objectives:

  • Reduce capacity numbers per bus to roughly 24 students: Reducing capacity numbers will allow students to sit one-per-seat unless students are from the same household. This improvement will allow for more distancing between students.
  • Adhere to School Attendance Patterns: Redesigning transportation routes to adhere to school attendance boundaries will reduce the number of students per bus, minimizes the number of contacts a student encounters within a given day and shortens the time each student must ride on a bus from home-to-school and school-to-home.
  • Eliminate Transfer Points: By eliminating most of our transfer points, students will not be required to exit one bus and enter another as part of their daily route. This improvement will reduce the time students spend riding on buses while also eliminating cross-school exposure risks for all riders. This modification will also allow time to clean/disinfect buses between routes thus further reducing exposure risk for our students.

In the coming weeks, we expect to provide further details related to bus transportation for the 2020/2021 school year. We are optimistic that the above can be accomplished with minimal modifications to school start/end times. If successful in this effort, these new transportation practices will provide students, families and schools with a consistent bus schedule across the entire school year regardless of community health conditions. This consistency will be an invaluable asset in helping to keep our students safe and healthy across the entire 2020/2021 school year.

This week, our collective planning efforts will be further informed by forthcoming state-level guidance. This state-level direction will be helpful as we work to incorporate the recommendations of state and local health officials. Of the national-level guidance to date, the release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this past week has been exceptionally well received. In particular, AAP’s recommendations include sound, research-based information that is actively assisting us weighing some of the more challenging aspects of conducting school in the midst of a pandemic. This, along with expected state-level guidance, will significantly help to inform our ongoing efforts.

Next week, please look for an additional parent/family survey. This brief, two-minute survey includes 11 questions that will help us better understand each family’s needs in advance of the coming school year. This is a confidential survey that will include a direct, family-specific link. This secure format will help ensure that family-specific information is not inadvertently shared in any regard. Please look for more information pertaining to this survey as part of our next update, early next week.

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