School Reopening Update July 29, 2020

School Reopening Update July 29, 2020
Uinta 4 Face CoveringsSuperintendent Newton’s Weekly School Reopening Update
July 29, 2020

On Tuesday night, the Board of Trustees approved the draft of Uinta 4’s Smart Start Reopening Plan for submittal to the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). One key requirement for this plan from the WDE is that school districts must adhere to local county health officers’ requirements and health orders.

In last Wednesday’s update, I mentioned that the language in the WDE’s Smart Start template indicated that face coverings would be required “to the greatest extent possible” if social distancing of six feet could not be maintained. However, I met with Uinta County health officers last Thursday and Dr. Adams stated that for all schools in Uinta County, face coverings will be required if social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. Subsequently, Governor Gordon issued new health orders yesterday that will be in place until August 15th. For K-12 schools, these new orders require that face coverings be worn by students and staff, inside and outside of a building, when social distancing of six feet isn't possible. This health order defines face covering as “a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face”. There are exceptions to the face coverings rule: Those younger than three years old, for instance, are exempt, as are those with preexisting conditions whose health would be affected by masks; those who speak to or are deaf and hard of hearing; those participating in athletics; or other special education students who can't wear a face covering. In anticipation of these decisions, we have already ordered two cloth face coverings for every student and staff member in the school district. Accompanying this article is an illustration of the design. Students and staff members can provide their own face coverings, if preferred, but the school district will also provide two.

As mentioned last week, one key component to successfully keeping our schools open will be to take preventative measures to keep the COVID-19 virus out of our buildings. It will be very important for students and staff members to stay home when ill. Parents will be asked to screen their children daily for symptoms of COVID-19, including performing a temperature check, before sending their children to school. We will also be screening students and staff members with temperature screening kiosks when they enter the buildings each morning. Any student showing symptoms of COVID-19 or registering a screening temperature over 100.4 degrees must remain home. Staff members will be held to the same standards. We know that this restrictive approach will have an impact on attendance. Student absences will be considered on an individual basis. Absences that are medically documented and related to COVID-19 symptoms or quarantines will be noted and will not negatively misrepresent a student’s attendance record.

This week the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA) announced that all fall sports will begin on time. Practices are scheduled to begin on Monday, August 17, 2020 for high school cross country, football, girls’ swimming and volleyball. Please visit the links on the WHSAA home page to learn more about the considerations for each specific sport and to view the WHSAA Smart Start Sports Guidelines. The WHSAA link is included here:

Fall sports for Mountain View Middle School will also begin on time. Middle school cross country will begin on August 17th and middle school football and volleyball will begin on August 24th. On-going guidance from Uinta County health officers will dictate how the fall sports season for the middle school and high school progresses. Uinta 4 Activities Director, Dustin Rees, will be meeting with all other high school directors in Casper on August 3rd and with middle school directors in Green River on August 5th to fine tune both the high school and middle school fall schedules.

The Uinta 4 Reopening Committee met for the eighth time on Wednesday for one final review of the Smart Start plan. Our plan was submitted to the WDE today and we are waiting on final approval. Once approved, the plan will be posted on the Uinta 4 district website.

Beginning in early August, you can expect to receive information via K12 Swift Alert from your child’s building principal regarding specific reopening information and beginning of the school year procedures.

As always, we will find success in meeting these challenges and solving our problems by working together for the benefit of our children!