NORTH LOGAN – Cache County School District Public Information Officer Tim Smith was a guest on KVNU’s For the People program on Friday. He said the county school board met Thursday night and, after a lot of discussion a couple weeks ago, passed a school reopening plan.
“I like to remind people that it’s only a plan; one of the things we’ve had a difficult time doing is getting our feet under us. Just when we think we have some solid ground under us, something hits us with a change,” Smith said.
One thing that happened just before they met was the release of a state manual which was over 100 pages long. He said it is a great guideline but they were not aware of it until the county’s plan was due. It’s something they will need to go through to make sure their plan is aligned with the state. He said the manual is a collaborative effort between school districts and county health departments. Smith said there is a lot of support for the county reopening plan amid some apprehension.
According to the district’s previously-prepared plan, each student will receive two cloth masks. In a letter to parents, the district encouraged students to be committed to wearing a mask to show their appreciation to teachers and other school employees.
“There’s some anxiety out there still – a lot of support for our plan, a lot of support for reopening schools – but there is some anxiety among our staff members, who are going to be staffing those classrooms and lunch rooms and driving the school buses,” Smith continued. “But a lot of support in that camp also for getting school started.”
He acknowledged there is some anxiety among parents, as well. But he said as they work through that, they take situations on a case-by-case basis and try to mitigate the issues and be prepared as they can to get rolling. He said they’ll try to reopen as normally as possible but they will start training with the administrators on Monday.
The district plans to have schools open on schedule, beginning August 20th, with in-school instruction taking place Monday through Friday. Classes will let out 45 minutes early each day. Teachers will be available during that time to provide open office hours for both in-person and remote learning students. Students who are unable to attend school for in-class instruction may choose an online option. The online school option will not include all of the same options that students have for in-person learning, but will include the essentials. Students in grades K-6 will be taught by a licensed teacher and through Cache Students Connect. Students in grades 7-12 will use Utah Students Connect, and also receive instruction from a licensed teacher. Dual Language Immersion programs will not be available for online learning.
Smith said their plan is very principle–based, with general principles on how to handle any cases of COVID-19 in a school setting. He said each of the school situations are different in the district. Smith said an initial survey with parents showed only an 8 percent preference for an online environment only, but he said the vast majority supported a Monday through Friday schedule. At the same time, they will continue to closely monitor virus transmission in the valley.
He said parents with questions can visit the district’s website. He said the district really seeks cooperation from parents to keep kids home if sick and to show support to fellow students and teachers by wearing face coverings.