GMG Return to School
*Due to storm damage / power outages, the start of the 2020-21 school year has been delayed. Teacher work days will be communicated by building administrators. The first day of the school year for students will be Thursday, Sept. 3 for the elementary (K-6), and for secondary students in grades 7 and 9. (to allow for an orientation time for those new to the junior high and high school levels). All grades will report starting Sept. 4. The updated 2020-21 academic year calendar can be found HERE
New - Health Protocols for Parents/Guardians - Please read prior to the start of the school year
New - Community Transmission and Learning Models (AKA "When might GMG temporarily change from in-person learning to another learning model?"
While below are some general district plans for Return to School, the building leadership teams have been further developing details of the building plans. These are an ongoing work in progress as we approach the start of the school year, but can be viewed HERE for the elementary and HERE for the secondary.
Our GMG Return to Learn Team and School Board would like to use this opportunity to communicate an update about a return to school this fall.
At GMG, the Board of Education has approved a return to full in-person learning starting August 24. However, we are aware that ongoing guidance from state and local agencies may impact plans, as well as pandemic conditions / levels of community spread during the year. There are three potential options that could be utilized at times during the school year; In-Person Learning (as we are expecting to start with), Distance Learning, and a Hybrid Plan of both In-Person and Distance Learning. The district could potentially shift in and out of different plans for a period of time based on requirements / recommendations from the Governor's Office or Public Health due to the pandemic situation (for example, plan could start out as In-Person learning, then shift to Distance Learning or Hybrid Learning for a period of time, and then back to In-Person learning).
We'd like to share some of the main points of our return to school planning, but please note these are subject to modification as we continue to receive ongoing state guidance and further develop details of each. According to recent guidance from the state, a district may offer accommodations for remote or online learning if a child, another resident of the child’s residence, or one of the child’s regular caretakers has a significant health condition that increases their risk of COVID-19. The child’s parent or guardian must provide written verification from a licensed healthcare provider. If the district is doing in-person learning (as currently expected), we plan to support students that may be gone short-term (generally speaking, a couple weeks or less) through Google classroom and other online supports from our teachers. If a parent is planning to keep their child at home long-term due to a health reason as listed, the district will seek to accommodate parents on a case by case basis, primarily through providing a computer and access to a state-approved online learning course provider (not taught by our district teachers). If at this time you plan to keep your child at home long-term due to the health criteria as listed above, you are asked to email your child's building principal to let them know. We expect to have an online learning provider selected for these long-term cases and communicate that to parents by the second week of August. Parents of students with an IEP that may be doing online learning long-term are asked to contact their child's building principal in regards to setting up an IEP meeting to discuss options prior to the start of the school year.
#1 In-Person Learning (w/ Mitigation / Safety Measures)
Mitigation / Safety Measures
All health and safety measures at school should first begin with an emphasis that students and staff who are ill should stay home. No one with a fever (temperature of 100.4 or greater) should be at school. The school has acquired touchless thermometers, and may also use these to help screen individuals. Those arriving at school exhibiting symptoms that are common to Covid-19 infection may be denied entry or be isolated as possible, and will be sent home as soon as possible.
Elementary classrooms may take increased breaks to ensure all students are washing their hands more frequently while at school. Students will be instructed in CDC guidance on effective hand washing. Older students will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently, and signage posted throughout the building.
Hand Sanitizer Available
There will be increased access to hand sanitizer throughout the buildings for students and staff use. Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in common areas throughout each building, and hand sanitizer will also be available in all classrooms.
The district has acquired touchless thermometers, and will use them to spot-check students and staff, or for those that may be exhibiting symptoms common to Covid-19. Any students or staff members with a fever (100.4 degrees or greater) will be sent home as soon as possible. An individual must be fever-free without use of fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
A face covering (mask or clear face shield) will be required at school in most situations for PK-12 staff and for students in grades 3-12. A clear face shield will be provided by the district to all PK-12 staff and 3-12 students. While a face covering is required, there is choice in the type; individuals will have the option of wearing the clear face shield, a mask, or both if desired. If masks are worn, they should not be shared with others and the school does not provide masks for students. At this time, students at the elementary in grades K-2 are recommended to wear a face covering when it can be done in a safe and hygienic manner. Staff and students will be expected to support a respectful, inclusive, and supportive school environment. Disposable gloves will be available to certain staff upon request, and disposable gowns will be stocked in each nurse's office. More details on PPE will be shared prior to the start of the year.
While GMG will continue to provide transportation, whenever possible for families and at least for the first several weeks of the school year, we strongly encourage parents or other family members to transport their children to/from school. Students in grades 3-12 are required to wear a face covering before entering and while on the bus, and those in grades PK-2 are recommended to wear a face covering on the bus when it can be done in a safe and hygienic manner.
Air Quality / Environmental Health
GMG is in the process of obtaining a medical-grade air purifier for every classroom and main building office.
Water fountain use will be discouraged with the exception of touchless bottle fillers. We recommend all students bring their own water bottle to use (labeled with their name).
Office / Secretary
Clear dividers / panels will be utilized to help provide more of a barrier at building secretary desks.
Physical Distancing / Spacing
Where practical in the classrooms, students will be separated by a 3-6 foot distance, with preference for the higher distancing. Outdoor classrooms / learning is encouraged when safe and practical for learning objectives. When learning objectives or activities do not require close contact or touching, teachers/staff will seek ways to reduce or eliminate those practices. In common areas such as lunch rooms and playgrounds, staff will seek methods to increase spacing as feasible and schedules that accommodate smaller groups and cohort grouping.
Sharing of school supplies should be limited. Staff and parents should attempt to ensure all students have their own supplies. In some cases in which sharing is necessary, additional effort should be made to frequently sanitize supplies.
Visitors to the buildings will be restricted. Parents bringing/picking up children from school should plan to do so outside. Any visitors that do enter the building should wear a face covering (clear face shield or mask).
Assemblies/Open Houses, etc.
We are temporarily suspending large assemblies, open houses, and similar large groupings / events at school when not required for our learning objectives. We hope to be able to reintroduce these events later in the school year.
School Activities / Sporting Events
Spectators are encouraged to maintain physical distancing at events. For indoor events (such as sporting events in the gym), spectators are required to wear a face covering (such as mask and/or clear face shields). For outdoor events, a face covering is recommended, especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Spectators are not to attend if exhibiting any common Covid-19 symptoms or if you have been in close contact with anyone in the past 14 days that was positive for Covid-19.
For outdoor events as feasible, spectators are allowed to bring “camp chairs” or similar personal seating.
Based on local and state conditions and in consultation with public health, school events or activities may be curtailed, canceled, or have a limited capacity for spectators.
#2 Required Distance Learning
If the school district is forced to close by the Governor's proclamation or by a local outbreak/spike of Covid-19 cases in consultation with public health, the district will deploy required distance learning for all students. When possible, distance learning will happen for an established number of days, and that will be communicated to the public and families. Attendance, schoolwork, assessments, and grades will all be required.
Learning Management System
Each building has defined a learning management system to facilitate online learning for students. This may include Google Classroom, Seesaw, or other system adopted. These tools will be used in conjunction with other tools for online learning.
As part of our Return to Learn funding from the federal government, the district will order a limited number of hotspots to allocate for temporary loan to families in need for student use (based upon Federal Free and Reduced guidelines). The district also plans to share information about other internet accessibility options and providers with families.
GMG has surveyed staff on potential professional development needs and will be conducting a variety of training sessions in August and throughout the year to ensure staff are ready to support learners in an online environment.
Purchased Tools and Resources
GMG continues to identify required online learning resources for staff and students. The district has committed to purchasing ongoing licensing and software to enhance teaching and learning in a virtual environment. We continue to explore additional resources and funding will be allocated to meet the needs of teachers and students.
Ensure Teachers Have Proper Tools/Spaces to Teach Online
Our staff will be allowed to teach online from home or from their classrooms. Staff will be able to access district print resources in the building. They are already allocated a laptop computer for daily use.
Ensure All Students Have Access to a Device
At the start of the school year, the district will have enough computers for all students K-12 (Chromebooks for grades 2-12 and iPads for grades K-1).
Deploying Other Materials
In some cases, print and hard-copy materials will need to be distributed to students. These may be delivered via van/bus routes, through the postal service or via pick-up/drop-off services on school sites.
#3 HYBRID MODEL - COMBINED IN-PERSON & DISTANCE LEARNING
In the event that partial face to face learning (but not at 100% capacity) is either required or recommended due to level of community spread or further desire to enact greater levels of physical distancing / less exposure to others in the buildings, the district may utilize a hybrid model to serve students. This model will allow for students to receive face to face instruction and engage in distance/online learning. In a hybrid model, approximately half of students will be on-site during any given day, and the other half doing distance learning from home.