Salem School administration unveils fall school plans

The Salem School District Board got a look at its administration’s plans for conducting school in the 2020-21 with anticipation of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan presented at a special board meeting Wednesday is just proposed at this point, said district administrator Connie Valenza. The board is expected to approve a plan at its regular meeting next week.

Specific details differ some by grade level, but parents will be asked to select a mode of learning for their children: Traditional face-to-face, virtual or blended.

Under the full-time face to face option, students will attend school four days a week with a virtual day on Wednesdays. Teachers will be using these Wayfaring Wednesdays for planning and prep. Traditional prep time is expected to be taken up for teachers by additional duties during arrival and dismissal periods and by having students in their rooms more.

Blended program students will have two days of in-person learning and three virtual.

Students in traditional classrooms will be required to wear masks, with some exceptions for 4k and 5k students. Students in blended classrooms may have more flexibility on mask wearing due to anticipated fewer students in classrooms.

Medical exemptions to mask wearing will be granted.

All staff will wear face coverings and some may also wear shields.

Students will be staying with their homeroom as much as possible. Special classes lessons like art and music will be livestreamed into the classroom. Physical education will be conducted outside when possible, and be less strenuous to facilitate social distancing when it must be indoors.

Band and choir will still be available for at least sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Those classes will be conducted outside when possible.

School lunches will be available or students can bring their own lunch. Lunch will be eaten with the student’s homeroom. Recess also will be conducted with the student’s homeroom.

Until further notice, all after-school activities have been cancelled. The Westosha Conference Fall Sports Season has been cancelled.

Bus service will still be available. Almost all Salem students qualify to be bused and the school uses about 18 buses, many in the past near capacity, Valenza said. The buses are operated by Dousman Transportation.

But Valenza said providing social distancing on school buses has proved to be difficult.

“The bus is a huge issue,” Valenza said.

Dousman is not able to provide the flexibility necessary to create distancing, Valenza said. The school is asking Dousman to sanitize the buses daily before Salem students board. Salem buses first are used to transport Bristol School or Central High School students earlier in the day in both the morning and afternoon.

Students will be loaded onto the bus in order of the route, with first students going to the back.

“We highly recommend that you provide your child transportation to school (via car),” Valenza said. “We recognize that’s just not gong to be an option for some. I can honestly say that we can’t provide a bus situation that provides social distancing.”

Valenza also briefed the board on financial impacts of the 2020-21 plan. New spending includes:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (touchless faucets, towel dispensers, masks, face shields, desk shields, cleaning supplies, touchless thermometers, pouches) — $60,000.
  • Computer device purchase for One-To-One Down Through 4th Grade
    (Taken from last year’s Budget) — $75,000.
  • Technology Peripherals (Webcams, amplification devices, dual screen, monitors, etc.) — $30,000.
  • Addtional Health Office Staff — $120,000
  • Limited Term Teachers one section per grade level to add $140,000-$280,000

The plan was circulated to school families this week and the district is accepting comments.

The board is expected to finalize a plan at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

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