Superintendent says students will have “staggered start”
by KATE EVANS
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said last Friday the school system is planning to release a second version of the school reentry plan that will have individual school plans attached. This should answer many parent questions, Tuttle said.
School officials are also working on a list of frequently asked questions about school reopening with answers for parents. Both documents should be released this week.
Tuttle said that parents can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
School staff also answers daily questions by phone at the school board office.
Parent questions they’ve received are random and usually specific to their student, she noted. Right now parents and kids want to know about their teachers and schedules and similar things.
“We are still working on all that and will get it to them as soon as we can,” Tuttle said of those details.
No Back-To-School nights
Tuttle said staff discussed final plans and ideas for Back-To-School nights last Friday. They will not be having in-person Back-To-School nights.
“This is to limit the exposure to our buildings to students and staff only. The buildings are clean and we want to keep the building attendance to our core groups of students and staff only.
“However, school administration will be releasing videos discussing procedures, teachers will be recording videos and/or making phone calls to introduce themselves and let parents and students know about routines, expectations, supplies needed, etc.,” Tuttle stressed.
There will also be a staggered start to the school year. Tuttle didn’t elaborate on what that means, but said the public hasn’t been informed of this yet and the details will be in the new version of the reentry plan.
Student meals will be prepared and placed on biodegradable, disposable trays and sealed for delivery to school classrooms. Virtual school students will have meals available by pick-up.
No additional school staff is needed at this point due to the reentry plan or are being hired at this time, Tuttle said. Many of the details of how staff will be used are outlined in the plan.
Tuttle said that everything they know at present has been posted on the county website or on social media. Staff is working as hard as they can be on the final aspects of school reopening.
Morgan County School Board member Eric Lyda deferred to School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle on the logistics of communications and the platform of school reentry.
Lyda said he plans on sending his kids back to school, but they would be transporting their children to school instead of them riding the school bus as they normally did. His family is able to provide transportation for their kids, but he knows that many parents don’t have that option.
Lyda said he and his wife had spent a lot of time talking to their children about keeping their distance from others, washing their hands often and not having to touch everything to prepare them for returning to school.
Lyda admitted being a little nervous about sending his kids back to school and said it was a tough decision. He feels Morgan County has been marginally spared from the pandemic with a low number of cases. Lyda said he trusts the folks in charge with shutting schools down if county COVID-19 transmission levels become unsafe.
Lyda said that Back-To-School Nights for him have been mostly about getting to know his kids’ teachers and their expectations. He gave Tuttle and her team a lot of credit for all the hard work they’ve done on school reopening plans.
Teachers also did a great job with last year when schools were closed last year.
“I’m really optimistic that teachers are going to shine,” Lyda said of the new school year.
Lyda noted that one lesson learned from last year is to “expect the unexpected.”
School board vice-president Pete Gordon said it’s really valuable having school board president Aaron Close and board member Eric Lyda on the board with kids. Gordon said that he would be concerned about going back to school if he was still a teacher.
Everyone realizes it’s important to get students back in school, Gordon said. It’s their job to educate students, feed them, socialize them and impart values to them. The number one priority is the safety of students and staff.
Gordon said they couldn’t have a better team with School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle and the directors. They’re working all the time and pursuing every avenue to get kids back in school.
Gordon felt the only way to get beyond the pandemic is testing, face masks and a vaccine. It has to be based on science and common sense and can’t be political.
They’re watching the situation day by day but have to be careful. It’s been said that it’s a war on the pandemic, he said.
“There may be acceptable casualties in war, but there are no acceptable casualties in schools,” Gordon emphasized.