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Parents ask questions about reopening Washoe County schools

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 11:11 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Parents with students in Washoe County schools had the chance to ask district leaders what’s being done to follow critical health guidelines during a virtual forum on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

Washoe County School District (WCSD) leaders have been working around the clock to come up with a plan to reopen schools next month.

“We are committed to clearly communicating with our staff, families and students throughout this process.”

Malena Raymond, President of the WCSD Board of Trustees

It was made clear by officials that when students arrive at school, their temperature will not be taken and COVID-19 testing will not be done on site.

Parents were concerned about a number of issues, one being face coverings in the classroom, how teachers will enforce it, and when it’s okay to not wear one.

Raymond added, “There was no hesitation in our decision, there was no doubt that what was right for our district was to require everyone to wear a face covering on our property and that includes our youngest students.”

“There will be times where it is appropriate to remove the face mask for maybe a medical reason, if children are out on the playground and able to maintain social distance,” Margaret Allen, Director of Student Health Services said.

Another hot topic parents asked about was physical distancing. Leaders said how that will look will be different at each school because every campus and classroom has a different layout.

“There are a number of approaches that are being used,” Joe Ernst, Area Superintendent said. “We’ve had multiple classrooms go in, set up the classrooms to see what that looks like.”

Safety within transportation was also at the forefront. Officials said parents who are picking up and dropping off their kids at school will be asked to follow mask requirement guidelines. Buses will be filled at 50% capacity, with everyone wearing a face covering. Extra cleaning procedures will take place before, during and after all bus routes.

Pete Etchart, Chief Educating Officer added, “We’re also trying to test some electrostatic sprayers to see if we can make that process a little quicker. We’re going to keep roof hatches open and strategic windows open for air flow.”

Adam Searcy, Chief Facilities Management Officer said soap and hand sanitizer will be distributed to each classroom and on hand with all custodial staff. He added that teachers and staff will also be scheduling routine hand washing trips throughout the day for students.

District leaders later mentioned that school supplies will be individualized and not shared in classrooms to avoid spreading the Coronavirus. They said families who cannot afford all supplies requested by teachers will be taken care of by the district.

For students who will be distance-learning, the WCSD is working on ordering laptops to give to the families most in need first. It’s also trying to secure 3,000 mobile hot spots to distribute to those without working WiFi.

While a lot of decisions are still yet to be finalized, district staff are working diligently to welcome kids back in the safest way possible.

On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the WCSD Board of Trustees voted to have the 2020-2021 school year begin for most students on August 17. The plan still needs state approval.

Under the proposal, elementary school students would return to the classroom full-time. Middle and high schoolers would have a mix of distance-learning and in-person instruction.

For more information about the district’s reopening plan, click here. For a list of frequently asked questions, click here. The virtual forum was recorded and saved for you to re-watch.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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