HALLSVILLE, Mo. (KMIZ)
Hallsville Schools are set to return to in-person classes on Tuesday with virtual options available for students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district’s return to school plan breaks down many precautions the schools have in place as students, teachers and staff reenter the classrooms.
Kelsey Strubel, a second grade teacher, said teachers of all grade levels are collaborating and working together to find the best precautions to have in place when students return.
“Students are getting individual baggies of manipulatives,” Strubel said. “So that they are not sharing anything and touching things. So there's a lot of thought that's gone into exactly how we're going to keep students safe in that regard.”
Masks are required to be worn by employees and expected to be worn by students when social distancing is not feasible, such as hallways, common areas and school buses.
Masks are a part of the district’s dress code, just as students are expected to wear shoes to school, students are expected to wear masks to school, as well.
Extra cleaning measures will be in place. Students and staff are also expected to do daily self checks to be sure they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms before arriving at school.
The district highly recommends parents and families take their students to school as social distancing will not be feasible on buses.
Masks will be required to be worn by bus drivers and expected to be worn by all students who ride.
According to the district’s plan, the transportation department will review the number of students per stop and look to limit the number to no more than 10, if possible.
Hallsville, Harrisburg, Southern Boone, Centralia and other local school districts are teaming up to teach those students who choose virtual learning for the school year.
“We're kind of combining forces to make sure that there's a lot of teachers who are able to teach virtually,” Strubel said. “And that will be their specific job this year to kind of help support those students.”
What those classes look like and which district will teach the classes is different for every grade level.
The district said that if families choose the virtual learning option, it requires a device like a laptop or iPad and reliable internet connection for video conferencing, but cell phones will not be sufficient.
The district can not guarantee access to a device or a hotspot, so the needed virtual learning items must be supplied by the family.
The Boone County Commission approved spending CARES ACT funding on hotspots needed for school districts. Hallsville Schools just received 100 of those on Wednesday.
Chelsea Jackson, Hallsville Primary Principal, said the district has been surveying the families to see what technology they have at home and prioritizing the new hotspots for families who don't have access to wireless capability at home.
“That option will just make it more equitable for all of our students to participate in whatever type of learning they need at that moment,” Jackson said. “So that's always our goal to give kiddos exactly what they need when they need it.”
Jackson said the district does have some devices that it would like to make available to families, if they need them.
Virtual learning students will not be able to participate in extracurricular activities or classes on campus. As of Thursday, 10% of Hallsville students are set to begin the virtual learning option.
According to the Columbia/Boone County health department COVID-19 Information Hub, 22 total cases of COVID-19 within Hallsville’s zip code.
Jackson said as of now, the district does not have a set number of cases before all learning will transition to virtual.
She said it will be determined by attendance once in-person classes begin and daily reports from the health department.
Sarah Bradshaw, Hallsville Title I teacher said many parents and teachers are concerned about regression students may face due to being out of classes for a longer period of time due to the virus.
“We've been out since March,” Bradshaw said. “So that's a big amount of time for the kids to be out of school so I'm sure there's gonna be some regression, but our teachers are great and everybody is working really hard to make sure that when they come back we get them going and we figure out where they are and service those students who really need a little bit of a push to keep going further.”