Greencastle-Antrim School Board members approved the district's reopening health and safety plan at Thursday evening's meeting.
The move sets the stage for students to return classrooms Monday, Aug. 24, for the first time since schools were closed in March due to COVID-19.
"We really do have to focus on what's best for our students," said Dr. Lura Hanks at her first board meeting since becoming superintendent on July 1. She noted community support has been overwhelming and said board members, community members, staff, administrators and students have been involved in planning for the district's phased reopening.
Hanks said the priorities continue to be the health and safety of students and staff; teaching and learning; and social and emotional health of students, staff and families.
Under Pennsylvania's current "green" phase conditions, children in kindergarten through eighth grade will attend school four days a week — Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Instruction will be virtual on Wednesdays.
High school students will attend school in person two days a week — either Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays. Their classes will be online three days a week.
The district also has plans for what will happen if the state reverts to the "yellow" or "red" phases.
"Our focus will be on instruction and excellence regardless of the circumstances," Hanks said, adding, "In person instruction is a luxury."
The district will be looking for input and feedback and Hanks said, "If something isn't working, we're ready to adapt and adjust."
Health and safety
The board approved the health and safety plan 8-0, with President Tracy Baer absent, following a presentation by Michael McManus, middle school assistant principal, who co-chaired the committee with fellow assistant principals Alison McKissick from the elementary school and Kevin Carley from the primary school.
McManus provided an overview of the 40-plus-page plan, which can be seen in full on the district website:
Components required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education include facilities cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation; social distancing; monitoring of student and health staff; health and safety professional development; and health and safety plan requirements.
The plan follows CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting schools and buses. Frequently touched surfaces including door and sink handles will be cleaned daily, with a monitored schedule for other daily and weekly cleaning. Touchless water bottle fill stations will limit the use of drinking fountains. In addition, doors, windows and fans will be used to circulate outdoor air.
Handwashing and social distancing with be stressed for students, who must wear masks or face shields inside or outside when 6-foot distancing is not possible, as well as on buses. Colorful CDC posters in the schools will remind them about good hygiene practices.
Student schedules are being planned to limit movement in buildings, where one-way traffic patterns will be in place.
Other measures include not allowing students to serve themselves in the cafeteria; eating meals in classrooms and other locations; limiting gatherings and events or holding them virtually to ensure social distancing; restricting nonessential visitors and volunteers; and limiting nonessential travel outside of buildings, including field trips.
Parents are asked to monitor their child's health with a symptom check every day before school and district staff will self-screen under the plan, which also outlines what to do if symptoms are detected.
"I appreciate the huge sums of time that were dedicated to this," said Mike Still, school board vice president.
Dr. Carter Davidson, a school board member and ENT specialist who looked reviewed the plan from a professional perspective, said he doesn't like wearing a mask all day, but does it to "keep people safe."