Campbell County Public Schools To Require Face Coverings, Temperature Checks
Campbell County Public Schools is moving forward with its plan to have students back in school buildings in September for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, with added requirements of face coverings and temperature checks.
The Campbell County School Board last month approved the division’s reopening plan, which prioritized in-person learning for its youngest students and blended in-person and remote learning for older students when school starts on Sept. 1 for elementary schools and Sept. 8 for middle and high schools.
At the request of division administrators, the board unanimously voted at its Monday meeting to amend the division’s reopening plan to require face coverings and daily temperature checks for students and school personnel.
“After much consideration, we believe the guidance is clear — there’s lots of evidence that wearing a face covering, along with proper hand-washing and social distancing, is absolutely the best way to keep this virus suppressed,” said division superintendent Robert Johnson.
The division’s current reopening plan has varying schedules across its elementary schools. Throughout the division, students in grades pre-K through second will receive in-person instruction four days per week. At some elementary schools, depending on class sizes and facility space, third, fourth and fifth graders also will receive in-person instruction four days per week. At others, third through fifth graders will have in-person classes two days per week and learn remotely on the other three days.
All elementary schoolers in the division will learn remotely on Fridays.
In-person schedules for middle and high schoolers also vary across schools, but many will be split into groups and attend school in-person two days per week, learning remotely on the remaining days.
The reopening plan includes a 100% virtual option, Campbell County Online Learning Academy, which students can take advantage of if they are unable to return to in-person learning. Johnson said Monday about 35% of the division’s students have signed up for the virtual option — which is over 2,400 students. Enrollment for the online option ends Aug. 13 at 10 a.m.
According to the mask policy posted to the division’s website, students and staff must wear face coverings when they are within six feet of another person. Face coverings are required while students are on buses, traveling through common areas, or in class within six feet of a teacher or another student. Face coverings will not be required when a student is socially distanced from others, including while working independently, eating or playing during recess, the policy states.
Johnson said he and his team would begin developing a protocol and determining what equipment the division may need for conducting temperature checks. If possible, Johnson said, the division will have this practice in place when students return to school buildings in September.
Board member Barbara Rypkema said she had heard from teachers who said implementing face covering and temperature check requirements would alleviate some of their hesitations about returning to schools to teach in-person.
Rypkema also voiced her hesitation to have students return to school buildings after the division saw two cases of COVID-19 while holding summer school in July. Late last month, the division announced one case each at Rustburg and Tomahawk elementary schools. The two schools had been open for summer school from July 13-31 and Tomahawk Elementary School had less than 40 students in attendance when a staff member reported testing positive, according to Denton Sisk, director of student support services for the division.
Sisk said he could not provide a number of students that are expected to return to school buildings next month, as families are still enrolling students in the online option. Sisk did say there would be more students in buildings than there were during the summer school programs.
Rypkema said because the division saw COVID-19 cases during the short summer school session with fewer students and staff in buildings, she is “very hesitant to go back at all.”
Johnson said the division’s next challenge is educating the schools’ community on the policies in its reopening plan and implementing the safety measures.
“We have a plan to get open, now we need to stay open,” Johnson said.
Board member Scott Miller asked what circumstances would cause the division to adjust its reopening plan.
Johnson reiterated the division will remain flexible as it reopens and could alter its plans moving forward. If area COVID-19 numbers improve, he said, staff may consider getting students in schools more days per week. If the number of cases continues to grow, they could switch to remote-only.
As of Tuesday, the Central Virginia Health District, which includes Lynchburg and the surrounding counties of Campbell, Bedford, Appomattox and Amherst, had seen 1,500 positive cases of the virus, 218 of which were reported in Campbell County.
“We’re going to be making some changes, I’m sure of it,” Johnson said.
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