Back To School With Covid-19 Rules

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
School began at the Warsaw R-IX and Lincoln R-II School Districts on Tuesday, August 25. Cole Camp R-I School District had a staggered soft opening beginning with grades 9-12 on Monday, August 24; middle school on Tuesday; K-4 on Wednesday; and the remainder of students on Thursday. All schools began student first days with orientation about the changes in school protocols that have been put in place to keep students and staff safe. All schools are also abiding by guidelines given to them by the Benton County Health Department (BCDH).
Warsaw Superintendent Dr. Sean Poyser said that social distancing will be required as much as possible, and where it is not possible masks will be worn.
“We are going to err on the side of caution and do the best we can,” said Dr. Poyser. “Everyone will wear a mask except for our little ones such as PreK. Outside classes will be held when possible, and with help from the Corps of Engineers we have gotten 30 picnic tables for that purpose. Clean equipment is available for recess and sports, and sanitizers are available in every classroom and on the buses. There are signs everywhere telling students to wash hands and wear masks.”
Dr. Poyser said that seating charts will be kept of every classroom and of every bus route so in the event that someone contracts the coronavirus those in close contact with that person can be traced.
“School nurses are in contact with the health department on a regular basis, with our contact person  nurse Brooke Daleske,” said Dr. Poyser. “I also speak often with the Administrator, Linda Viebrock.”
Dr. Poyser said that breakfast and lunch for K-12 will normally be in classrooms. However, at the high school, students will eat in their classrooms two days a week and rotate to the cafeteria for the other two days.
“The high school band class has special masks to enable them to play instruments safely,” said Dr. Poyser. (These masks are described by as having a slit that closes around the instrument through use of magnets which allow the musician play while cutting down on aerosols.)
Cole Camp Superintendent Steve Hubbard said that masks are required when social distancing is not possible. He said that special daily clean-ups are always performed during flu season or other times when there is a risk of illness.  However, this year they are starting out doing the extra cleaning in the building as well as on buses. 
“We are trying to cut down on hall traffic in the elementary schools,” said Supt. Hubbard. “Elementary teachers usually lead their students in lines on the right side of the hall, and we are having PE, Art and Music teachers go to their student’s classroom instead of having students travel in the hall.”
Supt. Hubbard said that breakfast and lunch are both grab and go meals that are taken to the classroom to eat. He said that he felt bad about having to keep students from the cafeteria.
“Band is trying some outside activities, but the school is space prohibited too much to do a lot of social distancing,” said Supt. Hubbard. “There are seating charts for classes and buses. And we are asking parents to screen their children at home before sending them to schools. Every teacher has been given a point and click thermometer to check temperatures every morning. Permanent playground equipment outside is not cleaned, but after recess students are required to wash hands. Each class has its own equipment for outside use such as balls and jump ropes.”
Supt. Hubbard said that a few school employees were exposed to someone with the coronavirus during the summer, but did not contract the disease themselves.
Lincoln Superintendent Kevin Smith said that masks have to be worn on school buses full time, and at school when social distancing is not possible.
“We are encouraging parents to drive their children to school to decrease the number of students on buses,” said Supt. Smith. “We have decluttered our classrooms to make room for more social distancing, and breakfast and lunch is generally eaten in classrooms. However, we have a daily rotation letting small groups eat in the cafeteria on their scheduled day. PE and Recess is best held outside, and to allow band members to play instruments without a mask, they will have as many activities outside as possible.”
He said that no daily temperatures are taken, but after children have chosen where they want to sit, seating charts will be made and each student stays in that seat. 
“There are signs on each door to remind students to wear masks, and other signs around the building reminding everyone to social distance and wash hands,” said Supt. Smith. “Each class has its own playground equipment and washes hands after playing. All drinking fountains have been removed from the building and everyone has his or her own water bottle that can be refilled at a water-refill station. Cleaning and sanitizing is taking place every day.”
Supt. Smith said that the kids seem excited to see their friends in the school setting, and that a Football Jamboree went very well last Saturday.
School sports are still on in all school districts. Some of the protocols being practiced include having athletes carry their own water bottles and hand sanitizers. They are also encouraged to social distance instead of stopping and talking to fellow players. Warsaw has increased the number of buses needed to transport athletes to away games, so they can spread out. Sports directors have been advised to only allow 50 percent of stadium seating to be utilized during games, but some of them are letting spectators bring lawn chairs to sit in on specified areas of the lawn.