Parkway leaders share a glimpse of plans for the 20-21 school year

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PAWESEHI staff

Schools remain closed as students and parents wait for information on the upcoming school year.

Keith Marty, Superintendent of Parkway Schools

Keith Marty, Superintendent of Parkway Schools

Q: What are the special protocols for students, staff, families, and guardians who are at higher risk from COVID-19?

Plans for Parkway will be released on Monday,  July 20-same-day plans going out from all area school districts.  We have used information from parents and staff surveys in our planning, as well as recommendations from the CDC and local St. Louis County Health Department.  School districts have worked in coordinating planning and communications.

Q: Describe how faculty will be trained on the safety protocols.

Parents and students will see options and choices.  There will be a distance learning and virtual option for parents with students who have health issues or who have concerns sending students back to our buildings physically. We will also have staff members with health issues and concerns about returning.  The teachers in this way can become distant learning and virtual instructors.

Q: What plans are in place to ensure that the entire school community understands the plans to protect student and staff health and safety when in-person instruction resumes?

Our plan is to have other students return physically-face to face.  However, we may need to restrict the number of students in school if there should be a community spread of the virus.  We would have a continuum in place, from having all students back to a restricted number depending on what is occurring locally with COVID-19.  This will be outlined more in our plans on July 20. I should emphasize that our planning has been directed around two principles:  Safety of students and staff, and the need for a quality teaching and learning experience.

Q: What is the action that will be taken in case a student does not wear a face mask? How will you ensure students wear their face masks properly?

Dr. Robin Wallin is our Director of Health Services, she is directing and coordinating our health-related activities, which will be communicated to parents, students, and staff.  There will be a protocol for health screening.  We will ask students and staff to have face masks/face coverings in their possession and wear them as directed.  We hope to develop a culture of caring and concern for one’s self and one another.  We will expect student and staff compliance.

Q: What changes can we expect?

There will be changes, as I have already pointed out.  There will be changes and restrictions on the buses, and all will wear masks on the bus.  There will be changes in how students enter and exit our schools, as well as traffic patterns for students in our schools.  There will be no large gathering of students. There will be some physical changes noted.  There will be more regular and scheduled disinfecting and sanitizing.  

There will be much more preparation of staff for the school year in August.

 

Jeremy Mitchell, Principal of Parkway West

Jeremy Mitchell, Principal of Parkway West

Q: Describe how screening will work on a daily basis.

Most of it will be a series of questions asked to students. It has not been made for certain. 

Q: Who will be responsible for conducting the daily screenings if there is daily screening?

It will be hard to screen every student, so not for certain yet.

Q: Will students be required to wear face masks?

There is a good possibility of it. We will follow the expectations of the county (which is to wear masks out in public), I would be shocked if we were not asked to wear masks. We would also allow students to bring their own masks. 

Q: Will class size change?

Depends on what the decision is made by the superintendents. We might have to social distance the best we can if all students are going back to school. 10-15…we will roughly cut classes in half. We will still try to minimize the number of students in the hallways and in the classroom. 

Q: Is there any possibility of any dances/pep rallies/events happening at all?

Everything is still in place as far as we know and if we have to cancel then we will. We have canceled red and blue night, but have not canceled anything like homecoming events and graduation.

Q: How will lunchtime look this year?

Depends on what is said on July 20. We might actually add another lunch period or spread out where everyone eats, allowing students to go to different places to eat lunch to continue to practice social distancing as much as we can. 

Q: Will vending machines still be available?

Those will still be available. It’s something quick and makes a lot of sense to keep. 

Q: What about free and reduced lunch? Will that still be available to those who use it?

The free and reduced lunch will still be provided as we want to make sure that every student has lunch like we always have done. 

Q: When it comes to schedules, will there be no option of having study halls? To be able to manage where students are going and what they are doing to continue to practice safe social distancing? 

We would probably have additional staff to keep it spread out…use the cafeteria and the library. I would hate to take that away because a lot of students use that and we would use directional signs on the ground to help students be more mindful of social distancing needs

Q: What methods is the district taking to ensure student safety on buses?

I know they are looking at the guidelines and I believe there will be more buses so not everyone will be jammed. There will not be 3:30 or 4:30 buses anymore and those will be used for buses in the morning/afternoon. The buses for sports at 5:30 will still be available and even more buses will be used for the athletes for the same reason–to make sure there is no overcrowding. 

Q: How will this be measured and tracked?

Our director for transportation works with the folks at Missouri Central and they will have conversations to make sure that everything is in place and we will oversee it in the district to understand that they are following the protocol

Q: What will the health protocols be when students visit the school nurse?

They are redoing the nurse’s office (it was already planned) and it will actually have another room and someone who is sick will go into it. It will be an isolation room where they can wait for their parents to come and get them. I hope that folks will not come to school if they are sick but if it were to happen, we have something for them. We will be very fluent and make changes based on reality. 

Q: What will the protocol and location be for isolating students or staff who show symptoms associated with COVID-19 and cannot immediately leave the school?

The goal would be to have the student out of the building as soon as possible, but the students could be there as long as possible. There are rooms near the nurse’s office that we could use if needed. It is easier now due to the construction that is going on. 

Q: What construction is actually going on?

The main office is under construction, a new wing by the main foyer, they are extending that and there will also be better air conditioning, especially in the gym areas. 

Q: Describe how faculty will be trained on the safety protocols.

It will be different because we can’t have big group meetings anymore. It will be more individualized. 

Q: What preparations have the facilities and staff received before reopening?

It will be the same every year just different because of the virus right now. There will be one day where teachers can come in and do what they need to do which we have never really done before but I believe it is a great thing. 

Q: What will the hygiene and personal protective equipment requirements be for staff and students? 

The face coverings are the biggest thing (will be mandatory), there will be more custodian staff and they will clean the often touched areas. Demand and supply are really hard right now and I just don’t know if hand sanitizer will be available all the time. There’s no way that we can keep everyone 6 feet apart but if we can keep everyone moving, we can minimize contact.

Q: What procedures are in place for when a student or staff member contracts COVID-19?

We will use the most updated county procedures. Stay at home for the 2 weeks quarantine, whatever the county health procedures are. This virus is changing constantly so we just follow what we can. 

Q: How will larger classes—such as music, art, and physical education be modified to allow them to continue but with appropriate social distancing?

They will receive training to know how to modify that so that students will still get their credits.

Q: Will you have hallway monitors to ensure students are social distancing?

I think we will have folks like myself out there to remind students to be safe like we always do.

Q: What do you think we should do?

A part of me says that we should bring everyone back but another part of me says we could get sick really fast so I think we should bring students back every other day. I think it really depends on us following the protocols and being proactive to keep having that normal experience. 

 

Brian Kessler, High School Athletic Director

Brian Kessler, High School Athletic Director

Q: How have school sports changed under COVID-19?

At this point we are practicing in smaller groups with much less contact, utilizing physical distancing as much as possible.  Athletes and coaches are expected to have face coverings when not exerting themselves physically.  

Q: Will athletes be required to test before games? 

Athletes, Coaches, and Officials will all be screened daily prior to being allowed to participate in that activity.

Q: How will you ensure the safety of athletes?

Safety and security is our primary concern for all participants (coaches, players, and officials) that are participating in extracurricular activities.  We are following all guidelines and recommendations set forth by Parkway and the St. Louis Sports Medicine COVID-19 Task Force. As you know there is a screening procedure we are using on a daily basis to track all participants.  We are screening for symptoms of COVID on a daily basis.  In addition. I along with our coaches have spent substantial time with our athletes communicating our expectations and why we have these expectations in place.  We have asked all participants to stay away and alert our coaches if they have COVID or have come in contact with anyone that has had a positive COVID test. We have sent correspondence home to all families with this same information.  Should we have to handle a positive case we are in a good position for contact tracing and will have all our I’s dotted and T’s crossed to keep those in our community safe, informed and be as transparent as possible. 

Q: How will this be measured and tracked? 

We use a QR code that has questions that must be answered by our athletes before practicing as well as having them sign a waiver, making sure they are healthy to practice and be around others.

Q: What will clubs look like this year? 

Hopefully like they always have.

Q: Will there be any after school activities anymore?

Hopeful it is just like always.

Q: Will sports still take place after school until 5:30?

Yes, That is the plan.