Board approves Return to Learn plan: Face masks required for grades 5th-12th and all staff



On Monday, Aug. 10 the Lennox School District 41-1 Board of Education held their monthly meeting.

The meeting opened with the seating of board members Yvette Christion and Melissa Daugherty.

The board was presented with a Return to Learn Plan which was heavily discussed at the Aug. 4 special board meeting.

Specifics in the plan include the screening of students and staff for symptoms prior to entering buildings. A non-contact thermometer will be used. Parents are also expected to screen their children prior to sending them to school.

Face masks will be required for students in grades 5-12 when a 6 foot distance cannot be maintained from other students and staff. This includes hallways, classrooms, and other spaces preventing the student from social distancing. Students in grades PK-4 will be required to wear face masks in hallways and close group work. Superintendent Chad Conaway noted that plexiglass structures will be used for the younger students as well.

Students in all grades will not be required to wear a mask while outdoors or during the lunch period while eating.

Conaway noted that he polled the staff in the District and the majority of them were in favor of masks.

“I know we have folks who don’t want to wear masks,” said Conaway. “But it is what medical professionals are asking us to do to keep our schools open and keep our kids healthy.”

The District plans to work with the students to help them take care of their masks during the day.

Consistent scheduled times and procedures will be established throughout the day, as well, to promote hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and not sharing personal belongings.

The plan also talks about transportation and states that all riding school buses or other district transportation will be required to utilize a face mask. Students will be directed to use hand sanitizer upon boarding district transportation and the use of an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer will be used on all transportation vehicles prior to each route.

The plan goes into specifics for special education, food service and Totally Kids as well.

Also addressed in the Return to Learn plan was a virtual learning model the school is offering for all K-12 students who do not feel comfortable coming back to school for on-campus instruction.

The program is approved through the South Dakota Department of Education and provided by the Black Hills Online Learning Community (BHOLC).

Students who participate in the virtual option will remain a student in the Lennox School District. Registration is now open for the virtual option and can be completed at https://www.bholc.org. Registration is open until Aug. 21. Students in K-8 must commit to the virtual option for one quarter and students 9-12 must commit to one semester.

The Return to Learning plan also discusses Distance Learning Model. This is not the same as the virtual learning option. This option will be used for the those students who chose on-campus learning and when an entire class, section, building or district is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 spread, they will switch to Distance Learning. The classroom teacher or substitute teacher will provide instruction remotely utilizing Microsoft Office Teams, teacher websites and the Remind app.

Procedures and precautions are outlined at each building level. During Phase I, no confirmed cases in the building, school will remain open with proper protocols set in place, including screening of students and staff and mask wearing. During the day in each building, Elementary, Intermediate, and Junior High/High School, there will be staggered dismissal as designed by building principals.

Additional lunch times will be added to provide social distancing for all buildings. Recess in the Elementary will be by grade level cohort and students will wash/sanitize hands before and after.

In Phase II, a confirmed positive case in the building, school will remain open with increased precautions and procedures. Individual classrooms, sections, and activities may be closed and moved to distance learning temporarily. Screenings and mask wearing will continue.

In Phase III, substantial spread within communities and within the building resulting in a loss of adequate staffing levels to main operations, will result in the building being closed and all students will move to distance learning. This will also be the case if a State or local ordinance mandates closure.

Other items of importance at the meeting included the approval of the resignations of Patricia Buechler, Kindergarten and Tracie Moeller, Lennox Elementary Title I education assistant and SPED aide.

The board approved Carlos Barreda as assistant wrestling coach.

The board also approved the following policies: 400.17a, 507.2, and 507.5.

Policy 400.17a, Employee Communicable Diseases, was added to include that regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, all Lennox School District employees will be classified as essential workers. If the employee is identified as a close contact, they do not need to automatically self-quarantine for 14 days providing the employee has no signs or symptoms relating to COVID-19. If the employee does begin to show signs or symptoms relating to COVID-19, they must quarantine for 14 days from the date of last exposure. If the employee tests positive for COVID-19, they may return to work if they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication and there is an improvement of all symptoms and ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Policy 507.2, Student Health and Immunization Certificates, has been amended to include sixth graders must also have vaccination records for Tdap and MCV4 (meningitis).

Policy 507.5, Student Illness or Injury at School, was amended to include COVID-19 exposures and positive cases will be handled in accordance with the Return to Learn plan regarding COVID-19 pandemic.

Committee member appointments were also made with the following board members assigned: Long range planning—Renae Buehner, Clayton Wuf, Scott Sandal; Policy review—Sandal, Buehner, Daugherty; Finance—Christion, Heidi Bowers, Daugherty; and Negotiations—Christion, Alan Rops, Bowers.

The school district’s attorney, Tyler Coverdale was also present to discuss Title XI changes. The board heard the first reading of the new policy.

Conaway also spoke to the board about the school projects, noting most are completed. He is most concerned about the Lennox Elementary.

“We are going to be right up against the deadline but I think we will have everything done,” said Conaway. “It looks like a mess, but it should go pretty quick.”

Open houses were also discussed. For the Lennox Elementary and Intermediate, Principal Darin Eich noted that they will have a sign-up for four families per classroom to come in and see the room, see the building and then exit. The Open House is planned for Monday, Aug. 24. They will require all in attendance to wear a mask. The plan is to keep it short and sweet; 10 minute time frames is their goal. For intermediate students, they will go over lockers and orientation on the first day of school. Worthing Elementary Principal, Kim Poppenga, said Worthing is planning an Open House and will follow the same plan.

Junior High/High School principal, Chad Allison, said the Open House planned on Aug. 24 would be limited to seventh graders and new students. More information will be released from the school regarding specifics.

The District’s Return to Activities plan was approved Monday night as well. Details about the plan are featured at left. Complete Return to Activities plan and Return to Learn plan for the Lennox School District will be placed on their website: https://www.lennox.k12.sd.us/

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