With over three hours of discussing, revising, and clarifying version two of the Fremont County School District #1 Smart Start Plan for the 2020-21 school year. It was approved (with revisions) by a vote of 6-1 tonight, July 21st, moving it forward to the state for review and approval.
The phrase “students need to come back to school” was the main theme of tonight’s special meeting. The question was, how to make it happen?
Face mask requirement
Whether or not to require face masks was the big point of variance among the majority tonight. The Smart Start Guidelines set forth by the Wyoming Department of Education says social distancing and face coverings should be used to the greatest extent possible.
Aside from students who are not able to wear a mask for medical reasons, the likelihood of getting students to wear a face mask – properly – is relatively low. Granted, this is all speculative since we are in uncharted waters. However, the reality of the actual classroom space available for physical distancing seems to be the biggest hurdle. Can you fit 20+ students in a classroom 6′ apart? The overall consensus of the FCSD #1 faculty and staff tonight was no.
“It is impossible for us to meet the plan that the state has set without requiring face masks,” FCSD #1 Board Member Joe Palladino said during the discussion.
After going back-and-forth on terminology, it was decided to update the term “required” in regards to face coverings to “used to the greatest extent possible” in the plan.
Who decides the tier?
Every school statewide must submit a plan with three tiers (defined below) for different learning environments.
It was clarified that the board will decide which tier the district is in, with the advisement of the superintendent and health officials.
Exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms
The statement, “Any student sent home with COVID-19 symptoms may return to in-person school once a physician release is presented,” was added to the “Health Screening” section of the plan.
Preventative measures at the school
Superintendent Dr. Dave Barker shared a specialized air filtration system is going into all buildings, increasing sanitizer stations, adding 8 additional custodial positions for on-demand cleaning, and increasing the number of sanitizing equipment and supplies. Please note, this list is not comprehensive.
Where are we now?
August 25th is the first day of school and FCSD #1 is currently in “Tier I” for the return to school. This is not a guarantee that things won’t change before the first day, but the district will keep everyone updated on changes.
Version two of the Fremont County School District #1 Smart Start Plan with revisions shared above, along with a few other clarifiers, will be sent to the state for review and approval.
After tonight’s meeting, the likelihood of additional updates is fairly strong. Everything on many levels (national, state, local) is fluid and can change very quickly.
County 10 will keep you updated as the process continues.