Recommendations offer guidance on state’s plan to reopen schools

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 9:11 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Less than one week out from the state board of education releasing its plans for reopening Kansas schools, we’re learning about recommendations providing guidance on how to bring Kansas students back to school safely.

The recommendations from the Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids are detailed in a document endorsed by pediatric health organizations including the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Among the recommendations in the more-than-20-page document is a longer winter break, stretching from the usually shorter Thanksgiving break (Nov. 25 this year) through Jan. 11, as well as longer fall and spring breaks, depending on COVID-19 transmission at those times.

It’s recommended that schools should have a full-time, in-house nurse with adequate personal protection equipment that includes disposable gowns, gloves, N-95 masks, surgical masks, and face shields. Schools should screen students and staff for any signs of sickness.

The workgroup’s document recommends limiting non-essential visitors and limiting parents coming into school buildings by staggering drop-off and pick-up times. Masks would be required for students who are 12 and older, as well as staff. Students younger than 12 would not be required to wear masks.

When it comes to social distancing, recommendations call for teachers working at least six feet from students and spreading students’ desks three to six feet apart when possible.

Instead of water fountains, the recommendations call for using water botters with refillable stations. With sports and activities, the document recommends against certain high-risk transmission activities such as football, basketball, competitive cheer, and wrestling.

Prior to entering schools, it’s recommended that students have temperature screenings. With meals, a consideration of having students eat in classrooms is recommended. Buffet-style serving including salad bars and “grab-and-go” snack and beverage coolers would not be an option.

With busing, the guidance says districts should continue to provide transportation to and from school, although parents should be encouraged to transport their children when possible.

“This may reduce the number of students on each bus route and help physical distancing on buses,” the document outlining school-reopening recommendations says.

One consideration is assigning students to specific buses “in order to limit the number of people with whom each student comes in contact.”

We’ll know next week how closely the state’s official, comprehensive plan for reopening schools follows the recommendations from the Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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