North Putnam board approves back-to-school plan
ROACHDALE -- With Putnam County schools anxiously on the cusp of coming back while looking to promote safety, North Putnam Schools now has its own plan for an uncertain 2020-21 school year.
During a special school board meeting held Thursday evening, Superintendent Nicole Singer outlined the broad points of a back-to-school plan for when students and staff are set to eventually return next month.
Singer first discussed taking students’ temperatures, and the “latitude” staff would have with recognizing potential COVID-19 symptoms. In this case, a student would be sent to the nurse while parents would be notified. A separate space in the clinic would be designated for students who may be symptomatic.
The plan also outlines administrators’ authority to look into how a student may be sick. The idea is that if a student is obviously ill, he or she will not be allowed in the building.
Singer emphasized that students, parents and staff have to screen themselves at home, and to know what to look for. A doctor’s determination would also guide further action.
With regard to masks, reusable cloth ones will be provided to students. Students themselves will be strongly encouraged to wear them. Teachers, however, would be generally required to in their classrooms, due to their close proximity with students.
Singer provided that student breakfasts across the board would be grab-and-go. With lunch periods, the goal for each building is for its students to be spread out as much as possible.
Operations Director Terry Tippin spoke on how classrooms and buses would be cleaned. Teachers and bus drivers will be provided with Diamond Disinfectant, which kills germs on contact then builds a layer with each use. Tippin said that about six wide bottle spays would cover these spaces. Effectively, less is more.
With “all kinds of sanitizing” taking place, the playgrounds at Bainbridge and Roachdale Elementary will be sprayed. Shared materials such as glue and scissors will also have to be kept to a minimum. Students will also be encouraged to bring their own water bottles, but signs of alcohol consumption will be monitored.
Concerning arrivals and dismissals, students will be released from buses in small segments. Visitors to the buildings will be generally limited, but parents are encouraged to drop them off or pick them up if at all possible.
Sports protocols will follow recommendations from the IHSAA. At this time, players are not required to wear masks; however, Singer stipulated that lockers are not currently being used. Principal Jason Chew said that a specific athletic plan had been devised and sent out to coaches and parents.
Should a positive COVID-19 case be determined, both the county health department and the Indiana Department of Education would be quickly contacted. The plan also allows for flexibility with specific grades not coming, or with a particular building shutting down due to exposure.
Again, Singer pointed to taking the lead from higher up, especially with the prospect of a closure. Should a positive test be called in, then the health department and the IDOE would be contacted. The main fear is that someone may be positive but not show symptoms, thus making illnesses difficult to track.
Ultimately, Singer stressed that communication between home and the schools will be crucial to ensure the safety of everyone inside the buildings. She met with teachers and administrators about the plan, and thus suggested that there was a consensus on it.
The board approved the back-to-school plan as presented.
The board also approved the following personnel report:
• New hires: Mildred Enicks - NPHS math teacher; Tom Hedrick, Kyla Dallacosta, Scott Troutman and Tyna Dillon - full-time bus drivers; Toby Braegger - NPMS assistant football coach; Bronwyn Spencer - eighth-grade assistant volleyball coach; Brandi Monnett - seventh-grade boys’ assistant basketball coach; and Earl Hall - NPHS girls’ head golf coach.
Board Secretary Darrell Wiatt was not present at the meeting.
The North Putnam School Board will have its regular monthly meeting this Thursday, July 16 at 7 p.m. in the North Putnam Middle School Media Center.