As the Westerville City School District prepares to reopen schools for the 2020-21 academic year, members of the leadership team have taken a multifaceted approach to address concerns about COVID-19 and safeguard the health and well-being of students and staff.
The approach, which aligns with recommendations from local, state and national public health agencies, includes a facial mask policy and administrative guidelines that require students and staff to wear facial coverings in halls, common areas, classrooms, and on district vehicles. Staff and students will be provided reusable 3-ply cloth masks. Additional disposable and reusable supplies will be on hand for as-needed use, and mask breaks will be built in during the school day.
An alternating “A Week/B Week” schedule will reduce the number of students in school and on district vehicles. During any given week, half of the district’s students will attend classes in person, while the other half is on remote instruction for the week. With fewer students attending school at any given time, student seating will be spaced apart to meet social distancing standards of 6 feet or more. Guidelines establish that any interactions less than 6 feet apart should be kept to 10 minutes or less. Shared materials will be sanitized before being used.
The district has ramped up cleaning and sanitizing procedures, as well as invested in supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff as needed. Classrooms will be regularly cleaned and sanitized. The Facilities and Operations team is currently installing more than 400 hand sanitizing stations across the district, and hand sanitizer will also be available in learning spaces and office locations. Many elementary school classrooms already have hand-washing stations in the room or immediately outside the door. Learning and office spaces will be stocked with gloves, towels, and products safe for “as needed” use by staff and students.
Meanwhile, the transportation department has worked with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to add hand sanitizing stations on each bus. Drivers will wear facial coverings and disposable masks will be available on buses for students if needed. Buses will be cleaned and sanitized between runs.
The transportation department will work with building leaders to support staggered student drop off and pick up. Some extended services, such as transporting students to alternate sites like daycares, will not be available at the start of the school year. However, as those services are able to be restored, transportation services will begin to provide them again. Transportation officials are working to make next year’s bus schedules available on or before Monday, August 17, 2020.
The district’s facilities team continues to explore and make modifications to lunchroom tables and seating areas to meet social distancing guidelines. Cleaning and sanitizing will occur after each group of students eats. Breakfast will be “grab & go” with students eating these meals in their classrooms.
District officials recently received confirmation from the state that meals will be available for students while under the A Week/B Week schedule. All students who want food while they are in the remote cohort or in the Westerville Virtual Academy need to opt into the program and pick up a week's worth of breakfasts and/or lunches at designated times and locations. The cost of the food will be the same as if the student were in person in the cafe.
Please continue to watch for new and updated information about the 2020-21 school year online at www.wcsoh.org/backtoschool and www.wcsoh.org/restart.