This summer Lake Mills Community School staff and school board created and implemented a return to learn plan to address the issues raised by the Covid 19 pandemic. The plan includes sanitizing, social distancing, wearing face covering, conducting remote learning, transporting students, contact tracing, hosting events, and quarantining positive contacts. This article is intended to describe how this plan has been implemented on a daily basis.
The entire plan can be found on the school website at this link: https://www.lake-mills.k12.ia.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Lake-Mills-Return-to-learn-plan.pdf.
The school is regularly cleaned and sanitized by our 5 custodians and staff. Alcohol wipes and other Covid 19 killing products are regularly used to clean surfaces. Students are also washing or sanitizing their hands when they enter any room in the morning, from another classroom, and from recess. Special’s teachers are continuously sanitizing in between classes and limiting material being shared with other students.
Where possible all students and staff are no closer than six feet to each other. Students keep most of their school supplies in backpacks to limit their time together during passing times and around lockers. The six feet distance also allows students to take mask breaks during the day. If social distancing is not able to be met, we have also purchased numerous acrylic shields to have in between students. In the elementary school, there are acrylic shields between students for small group instruction time when students are in close proximity to other students and the staff member. We are also keeping grade like groups together at recess by creating 3 zones. Students of the same grade level are staying within that zone for the entire recess. The recess zones rotate everyday so students are able to experience all areas of the playground.
Wearing Face Coverings and Mask
Lake Mills School requires all students, staff, and visitors to wear a face covering and strongly recommends masks. The Iowa Department of Public Health has recently changed guidance and it is no longer necessary to quarantine people who wear a mask properly unless the person is positive for Covid.
Due to Governor Reynolds state of emergency, parents may choose to have their student(s) be a remote learner. These students do not come to school but are learning from home using technology. This can also be used for quarantined students who may be absent from school for a shorter period of time. It is not designed to allow students to bounce in and out of school for other reasons. Students are allowed to participate in activities outside the school day.
In the elementary school, the staff is using the Google Classroom and Seesaw platforms to communicate and post learning material for their virtual learners. Elementary staff uses recorded videos and virtual meetings to communicate learning to the elementary virtual learners. On Wednesday, the elementary staff is currently meeting with their virtual learners to assess them on their previous weeks learning, progress monitor, or perform FAST screenings. If the students are not able to come in on Wednesday, they are meeting with them virtually to perform such screenings. Elementary staff also meet with their PLC (Professional Learning Communities) Wednesday morning from 7:15-7:45. The majority of this time is to create WIN (What I Need) groups for the upcoming week. The most needed item for elementary teachers is time. The Distance Education teacher proposal is a step we are taking to help relieve stress of our elementary teachers.
In the middle school and high school, the staff uses recorded videos, virtual meetings, and Google Classroom to post learning materials. Students are expected to virtually attend school for the entire day. The staff has also completed bi-weekly progress reports in an effort to keep students on pace. On Wednesdays, school is dismissed at 1 pm to allow remote learners and teachers to meet and complete assessments. This also gives staff planning time to meet the multiple needs of remote learners. This has been a very challenging process but students and staff have learned a great deal about remote learning and it has renewed our belief that in person learning gives students the best experience.
Students are required to wear masks while in school vehicles when they can not be socially distant. Busses and other vehicles are regularly cleaned and sanitized.
Contact Tracing and Quarantining
The school district assists Winnebago County Health with contact tracing using the parameters of within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes. Those students or staff that test positive for Covid 19 are quarantined. Students and staff who are considered a positive contact are also quarantined by the department of health. Joan Krull, LMCS school nurse, has worked diligently with county health and families when these steps are necessary.
We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and please continue to ask questions when you have concerns.