School Reopening Update July 15, 2020

School Reopening Update July 15, 2020
Posted on 07/15/2020
Superintendent Newton’s Weekly School Reopening Update
July 15, 2020

Last week, Governor Gordon extended the current health orders for two more weeks, so from a school district’s perspective, we didn’t gain or lose anything.

On Tuesday night with the Board of Trustees and then again on Wednesday morning with the Reopening Committee, we had great discussions about reopening our schools. These discussions focused both on strategies to safely reopen and strategies that would increase the likelihood of remaining open. Building sanitization, social distancing, wearing face coverings, public access to our buildings and survey results were some of the topics discussed. The foundation from which we will base all of our reopening decisions will continue to be the current health orders and requirements. Our reopening plan must be submitted to the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) by August 3rd. Uinta 4 is still planning to offer traditional in-person classroom education beginning on August 26th under the provisions of current health orders. We are very excited to have our students back in the building!

The response rate for the surveys sent out last week has been tremendous. We have begun to analyze the survey results and a very gratifying trend has emerged. In general, both parents and staff members are willing to do what it takes to keep our schools open beyond August 26th. For example, 75% of parents and 92% of staff members stated that they are willing to wear a face covering in order to keep schools open. Likewise, 91% of parents and 99% of staff members stated they are willing to do temperature and symptoms checks in order to remain open. 95% of parents and 100% of staff members are willing to immediately report COVID-19 symptoms and 80% of parents and 95% of staff members are willing to social distance in order to remain open. These results just validate what many of us already know. We live in a great community and we are willing to solve our problems by working together for the benefit of our children. The survey will remain open for at least one more week so please provide your input if you haven’t yet. Once the survey is closed, results will be shared with parents and staff members.

The WDE has submitted emergency Chapter 41 Virtual Education rules that, when approved, will provide school districts more options for the delivery of remote virtual education. What is really exciting is that these options fit perfectly with our summer project of installing classroom cameras and enhancing the sound systems in all classrooms in the school district. Specifically, “classroom based virtual education” will be very beneficial for a variety of situations. For example, if a student needs to stay home due to underlying health conditions or medical concerns, they will be able to stay enrolled as a student in Uinta 4 and receive their instruction either from a live feed from the classroom or by on-demand viewing of the instruction via a recording posted to Google Classroom. Similarly, the same scenario would apply for a student who is temporarily quarantined at home due to COVID -19. Students in these two scenarios would be able to move back and forth between virtual education and in-person classroom education, as needed. Also, if a student doesn’t have underlying health conditions or medical concerns but, instead, is just reluctant to attend school due to COVID-19, they could also remain enrolled in Uinta 4 and receive their education through the previously described “classroom based virtual education” option. However, their movement between virtual education and in-person classroom education would be much more limited. Training to teach our staff members how to effectively use the classroom cameras and how to successfully deliver virtual education has already been scheduled for August 20th, 21st and 25th.