Dear RAPS Community, I am writing to update everyone regarding RAPS plans for school in the fall. In the spring, we collected data fromparents,teachers and students around the topic of online learning. (Note: The results are available by clicking the prior links.) We wanted to know what had worked and what areas needed improvement. We were looking for preferences to modes of instruction so that we would be able to direct our efforts at planning for fall in the right direction. While the data shows that there are concerns about returning in person, students, parents, and teachers all recognized that students learn best in the classroom at school. As we look forward to seeing our students and staff back in our buildings this school year, our planning has focused on a safe return to in-person learning. Reviewing the requirements and recommendations from the Return to School Roadmap and the guidance from our local health officials, our best chance to stay face-to-face with our students is to implement as many of the mitigation strategies as we are able. Specific to facial coverings/masks, these will be a requirement when we begin school this fall. At this time, we anticipate the following:
- All students and staff will be required to wear facial coverings while on a school bus. This would include normal to/from school routes and extra-curricular travel.
- Facial coverings must always be worn in hallways, classrooms and common areas by students and staff in the building except for during meals.
- There will be a short health screening of all staff and students as they enter the buildings.
- Students will have their temperatures taken as they get on the buses.
- Any visitors entering any district buildings must wear a facial covering and go through a health screening process. Please note that as we begin the year, visitors to the buildings will be limited.
- To help with social distancing and the spread of the virus, furniture will be spaced as far apart as possible, daily schedules may be altered to minimize mixing of students, opportunities for frequent hand washing will be provided and educating and training will be provided to ensure healthy hygiene habits for our students.
- Additional safety protocols and expectations may be implemented as we coordinate with local health professionals during this very fluid situation.
Please recognize that this is where we will start the year. There will be some flexibility to the conditions above in certain instances:
- If classes are outside and students are appropriately distanced, masks will not be required.
- Other safety gear may be required in science, vocational and industrial arts classes.
- For staff, when in an office space or classroom where only one person is present, facial coverings are encouraged but not required. Common area offices (e.g. main offices) will require masks at all times.
- Staff will plan for masks “breaks” during the day for students.
Again, this is where we will begin, but as the school year progresses, I know we are all hopeful that we will reach a better place that will allow us to return to more normal operations. In anticipation of the mask requirement, families can help prepare younger students by establishing routines and working with your student to develop a comfort level with wearing a mask. As a district, we will supply two reusable cloth masks when we start. In planning to return to school, it may be better to find a facial covering that your child is comfortable with now. I know that many families have already acquired facial coverings for their students. The CDC provides guidance on appropriate face coverings (click here for more information). Any facial covering, including those that are homemade, will be allowed, provided they are consistent with CDC guidance and our school dress codes. For any student or staff member who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering, a waiver may be secured by providing documentation from a doctor indicating that the accommodation is required “at school”, and clarify if a face shield is/is not an appropriate alternative. For the vast majority of our staff and students, this should be rare. Our district recognizes that not all families will be comfortable returning to school in person, which is why we will offer an online option for our students for the first time. We are in the early stages of developing an online virtual program that will deliver a rigorous, standards-based curriculum that will mirror what is happening during face-to-face instruction in each classroom daily, which will be much different than the remote learning that took place during the school shut down this spring. It is our hope that this virtual option will also provide accommodations to those who might require changes in mode of delivery during the school year due to COVID-19 related issues. We all recognize that COVID-19 remains a fluid situation. I know that many of you have questions that were not answered in the letter. We want to do our best to answer any questions you have prior to the start of school. We will be composing a Q&A document to share with families in August before we return. If you have questions that you wish to see addressed in that document, please send us your questions. Families click here. Staff clickhere. It is our continued goal to provide the highest level of instruction and learning while providing the safest learning environment for ALL of our students and staff. We appreciate your continued support and patience during this time. As always, please feel free to call my office at (989)275-6600 if you have any specific concerns. Educationally Yours, Catherine R. Erickson