Each week, we will be providing a Return to School Committee Report. This 3rd edition of the weekly report includes information about bus transportation, guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, information on planning with Chartwells for school lunch and updates from the three Return to School sub-committees.
Bus Transportation Survey and Guidelines
Plans for the safe reopening of school in September must comply with RIDOH directives, including social distancing on buses. The recommendation from the Governor's office and the District is that parents, if possible, make arrangements to either drive their students to school (potentially arranging carpools) or allow them to walk or bike to school.
Per district policy, elementary children who live one walking mile or more from their home school are eligible for bus transportation. For secondary students, the eligibility zone is greater than two miles from the school. While buses may have picked up some students in the walk zone in the past, this will not be possible this year.
Parents of eligible students, who know they NEED a school bus, must OPT-IN for transportation for the school year. If parents/guardians do not register for bus transportation, those students will be removed from bus rosters, allowing for more accurate planning.
Here are the current guidelines for bus transportation:
1. All students on buses are required to wear masks and must have been screened at home before getting on the bus each day.
3. Students will use hand sanitizer as they enter/exit the bus.
4. Students will be seated one child per seat unless they are with siblings.
5. Students will have assigned seats. Students need to ride the same bus to and from school.
6. Students must all sit facing forward.
7. Physical distancing at bus stops is recommended.
Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics
This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published some guidance for school reopening that can be viewed on their website at https://bit.ly/AAPconsiderations.
School Lunch Planning
Members of the Return to School Committee met with representatives from Chartwells this week to discuss options for providing lunch and breakfast to students when we return to school. All options discussed took into account physical distancing, use of PPE, cleaning protocols, food safety standards, recycling of food and packaging waste, and scheduling of food service.
Collaboration Across Subcommittees and the State
Administrators are working together to coordinate the work of the three Return to School subcommittees. The elementary principals met to plan for student arrival and dismissal. Principals have been meeting with colleagues in meetings organized by the R.I. Association of School Principals and district administrators are participating in regular meetings with RIDE, RISSA and other professional groups. The state has secured the services of the District Management Group (https://www.dmgroupk12.com/) to support districts’ planning efforts .
Update from the Subcommittees
Leadership and Communications Subcommittee
The Leadership and Communications Subcommittee summarized data from two staff forums, prepared a bus transportation survey and this weekly report, and coordinated the work of the other two committees. Members also began writing the plan that will be submitted to RIDE on July 17th. We are also reviewing sick leave policies for both staff and students and are investigating other federal leave provisions, should they be needed by our staff. We will be strategizing about how to increase the number of substitute teachers.
Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee
The Instructional Core and Social-Emotional Learning Subcommittee continues to collaborate with school principals to create schedules for limited in-person learning, partial in-person learning, and full in-person learning scenarios. We are working on a plan to more effectively use paraprofessionals during distance learning and have begun to review the guidelines for a limited return scenario. The subcommittee has also been working on the templates that will be part of the district’s reopening plan that will be submitted to RIDE.
Operations and Resources Subcommittee
The Operations and Resources Subcommittee continues to create protocols for physical/social distancing, health screening for students and staff, cleaning, and response to positive outbreaks. Staff have created model classrooms that approximate RIDE guidance for social distancing and have begun working with teachers to remove some classroom furniture and organize space to reduce risk of virus spread. Meetings with the bus company are ongoing. Signage required by the guidance will soon be ordered, along with other essential supplies. Last, the team has begun a budget for CARES Act funds.
Judy Paolucci, Superintendent
and Members of the Return to School Committee