BUCKHANNON —The principal of each school in the county presented individual re-entry plans at the Upshur County Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening.
Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s new Principal Mr. Jonathan Pollock discussed what his school will look like this year. He explained that they have scheduled cleaning and sanitization times throughout the day and each classroom will have hand sanitizer dispensers available. Custodians will also sanitize bathrooms after each class change. All students will be required to wear face coverings. Discipline for non-compliance with wearing masks will involve explaining the requirement and discussing other possible options. If necessary, Pollock said he will make time to discuss the requirement with families as well.
B-UHS will also be utilizing new software, e-Hall Pass, to help monitor how many students are out of the classroom in real time, which the students will report themselves with their iPads. This will work to keep crowd numbers down in the hallways. In the commons area, there is room for three students per 10-person table with masks off. This area will be used if classrooms overflow. The average class size will be 14-15, with the highest around 19 students, but Pollock assured there is enough space in the classrooms to keep a safe distance.
Pollock said any students exhibiting symptoms will be isolated in the Community Care Clinic, and alternatively in the conference room or Principal’s office on days the clinic is not operating. The school will run on a four-block day. For dismissal, seniors who drive will be released first, followed by two bus waves. B-UHS will be hosting freshman orientation open house sessions for two hours on three different nights, led by the student council. Each hour will hold 50 students, staggered between 25 taking a tour, while the other 25 are receiving information.
Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Principal Michael Lynch explained that the average class size at his school will be approximately 25 students. He said the school will constantly remind students to wear their masks. Lynch also explained that because distancing in the cafeteria is easier, 120 to 130 students will each lunch at a time. B-UMS will offer sixth graders the option to attend an open house with small group tours. The school will run on a block class schedule with four classes on the first day and four on the second day.
Union Elementary Principal Michelle Fleming explained her school will be working in “families,” where the students will be traveling with their classroom families throughout the day, and then transition into their “bus families” at the end of the day. Both will be introduced on the first day of school. Each room will be sanitized after each “family” uses the area, and bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized hourly. UES will be utilizing their two indoor recess rooms, as well as their outdoor classrooms, throughout the year. In the morning, students will be screened at “COVID time” in the classroom by answering questions. Students will be taken to the nurse if they seem to be experiencing any symptoms as a precaution.
Hodgesville Elementary Principal Janet Phillips explained that her 151 total students will be split into two groups attending school on different days. Group A day will consist of 53 students, composed of about 33 students in Pre-K through Grade 2, and 20 students in Grades 3-5. Group B day will include 60 students total, with 35 students in Pre-K through Grade 2, and 25 students in Grades 3-5. Teachers will detect the whereabouts of all students through the Voxer app. Markers will be placed throughout the school to help students maintain a safe six-feet distance. Kindergarten through fifth graders will eat lunch in the cafeteria, which can safely hold 30 students. Pre-K students will eat lunch in their classrooms. There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and students will be regularly reminded to wash their hands throughout the day.
Rock Cave Elementary Principal Amanda Craig walked the board through a typical day at her school. On average, there will be around 50 students in the building each day. The largest class size is 10 students, while the smallest will only see three students at a time. The students will be in, and traveling with, their “cohorts” throughout the day. The school has implemented social distance markers to ensure safe distances are maintained between students. They have also created an extra lunch shift for social distancing. The custodians will be cleaning the bathrooms and classrooms, both hourly and after each use. The school will have a drive-through open house and supply students with an at-home set of supplies to avoid transporting back and forth.
French Creek Elementary Principal Kasey Baisden also walked the board through a typical day. Each day will have an average of 85 to 90 kids from Pre-K to fifth grade. Students will enter, either from the buses at the front entrance or at the parent drop off section in the cafeteria, one bus at a time. The students will receive breakfast in the hallway, then go straight to their classroom. The school will stagger locker visits in order to reduce cluttered hallways. Students will be spaced out enough in all classrooms to not have to wear face masks, but they will face the same direction. Children will each have their own set of supplies and will not share in the classroom. PE and Music teachers will come to the classrooms to escort their classes, thereby eliminating excessive traffic in the hallways. Teachers have been working to declutter classrooms, in order to make it easier to clean. Teachers will also be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing their areas, as well as the school’s two full-time custodians.
French Creek purchased new lunch tables that are able to break apart, allowing for social distancing. Water fountains are turned off and each student will receive a water bottle to keep and refill at the filling stations. The school also divided the playground into eight sections that will accommodate different grade levels. Nurses will deliver students’ medications to their classrooms. Students displaying symptoms will use the conference room across from the Principal’s office, in addition to utilizing nursing and Community Care areas. The school will also continue to use the parent pick-up loop. They will not continue to the bus room, but instead call students down one bus at a time. Parents will pick up the QR codes or use a sign out sheet if not at the designated time.
Buckhannon Academy Elementary Principal Susanne Britton and Assistant Principal Eric Brand also walked the board through what a typical day will look like. They explained that around 220 students will be at the school each day. Around 7:15 a.m., there will be a bus and parent drop off with people taking temperatures. There will be three separate stations for breakfast. Teachers will designate time for students to go to lockers to minimize traffic in hallways. All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings inside throughout the day, and each will be provided a lanyard. Because of limited numbers, Pre-k through second graders will be able to maintain distancing in the classrooms without face coverings. If they work in groups, the students will wear them. Third through fifth graders will wear face coverings when social distance cannot be maintained. Everyone will be required to wear face coverings in hallways.
The music and art teachers will go to classrooms and kids will have gym class outside if weather permits. For lunch, Pre-K and kindergarten will eat their lunch in the classrooms, while first through fifth graders can eat in the cafeteria. The cafeteria can hold 45 kids at a time. After-school snacks will be delivered to classrooms. For recess, the kids will have scheduled spaces based on grade level and will rotate around each day. The school has purchased disinfecting equipment, and they have also requested extra custodial help to clean during scheduled bathroom times. Any kids showing symptoms will be kept in the area behind the nurse’s station until a parent or guardian can pick them up.
Washington District Elementary Principal Gabrielle Rhodes explained that as the smallest school in the county, devising a re-entry plan was a relatively easy task to handle. On an average day, there will be around 50 students in the building. The average class size will be seven, but some are even smaller.
The school will use floor stickers to mark appropriate distances of six feet apart or more. The students will be provided a lanyard and their own face covering, made by the mother of one of the third-grade teachers. She said classrooms have plenty of space to maintain safe distancing. There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the school and only one class will be in the hallway at a time.
Rhodes explained she will encourage teachers to utilize the school’s outside space and pavilion for learning as much as possible. Physical education, art and music teachers will have 10 minutes to sanitize their areas between classes. Art and music will use the cafeteria, as it is a better place to stay socially distant. Special education and Title 1 teachers will “push in” classrooms.
There will be no more than 25 people in the cafeteria at a time, but tables are able to break apart. The students are only to sit with their assigned “cohort”. The school has split the playground into sections, so no groups will mix during recess.
Parents can use touchless QR codes to sign their children out before the end of the day, or they may also be provided the pen and paper method if preferred. Parents have also been issued car tags at the open house.
Tennerton Elementary Principal Tristen Gray walked through a typical day at his school. He explained that the number of kids using the bus and those who get dropped off will be about even. Parents will drop kids off at the cafeteria entrance and buses will drop kids off at the front. When the students enter, they will be given breakfast.
Gray explained that the buildings have been split into two sections. Bathroom and locker schedules will be created, so students will not be intermingling. Grades three and up will be required to wear face coverings in all common spaces, but they can be taken off in classrooms if safe distances can be maintained. There will be a bathroom schedule, so the custodian can sanitize after each use.
Art and music will be taught in their classrooms. For PE, Special Education, Title 1, Speech and other like classes, the teacher will come to collect students and take them back to their classroom after sanitizing areas. Students will receive their own supplies to avoid sharing. Lunches will be eaten in the classrooms at the beginning, and Gray said they will look into utilizing the cafeteria once school has started. The water fountains will be turned off, but filling stations for water bottles will be used.
At the end of the day, students will be dismissed by the announced parent pick-up and bus schedules. Students will load the bus or be picked up one at a time to ensure social distancing. Grey shared he is looking into also using a QR code for parent pick-up options.
The administration and staff of each school is excited to welcome students back for a safe and successful year. If you have any questions about your student’s re-entry plan, please contact your school.