ST CHARLES, Mo. — The Fort Zumwalt School District plans to return to in-person classes this year and is also offering a virtual option for parents who want their children to stay home.
On Aug. 10, the school board voted to push the start of school from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31, pending an agreement between the board and Fort Zumwalt Education Association.
The district released its plans on July 28.
The district is located in St. Charles County, where cases are on the rise. O'Fallon has been identified by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force as a hot spot.
Superintendent Dr. Bernie DuBray said the Fort Zumwalt School District Return to School Plan was created in collaboration with the St. Charles County Department of Public Health using CDC recommendations for best health practices.
The district said plans may be modified as public health guidelines are updated.
DuBray said the district conducted two surveys with parents and staff. The surveys indicated 88% of parents wanted to return to school in person and 90% of staff wanted to return to work.
“Our No. 1 priority is to keep our students and staff safe while providing the best education. In order to better ensure these goals, our plan includes a requirement for staff and students above third grade to wear masks in the school buildings. Students below third grade will be encouraged, but not mandated,” DuBray said in a letter on the district’s website.
The district will begin with its plan ‘Level A’ which is full-in person instruction five days a week.
“If Fort Zumwalt School District is informed that we are to reduce the number of students in buildings or that we are to close buildings due to COVID-19, all in-person learners will move to Level B or Level C. Decisions to move to Level B or C will be made in conjunction with the St. Charles County Department of Public Health.”
Face masks will be required for students in third through 12th grade. Parents are asked to provide face masks, but there will be a limited supply if needed, the district plan said.
Social distancing measures at the schools include: no classroom parties, no field trips, no parents visiting the building for lunches, no visitors at all, no congregation of students in parking lots and common areas, discouraging unnecessary physical contact such as handshakes, high fives and hugs.
5 On Your Side's Justina Coronel talked to a student and parent in the Fort Zumwalt District.
"I am definitely excited to go back but I am definitely worried though. Being a senior and it being an important year of high school, I think it’s important for me to go back," Fort Zumwalt West Senior, Ella Brown said.
"I was happy to have a choice. I am sending my kids in person, I think it’s important to have that interaction. I know there is no right answer but that’s the decision my husband and I made." Michelle Buckley who has two daughters at Westhoff Elementary said.
Preventative measures for cleaning & sanitizing
1. Every door handle should be sanitized by a custodian at least twice in a day.
2. Classrooms will be provided with sanitation materials for spot cleaning and to assist with hand hygiene.
3. The use of shared objects and materials will be minimized to the greatest extent possible.
Cleaning & sanitizing during the school day
1. Custodians will clean and sanitize all high-contact areas by schedule.
2. Restrooms will be temporarily shut down on a rotating schedule to allow deep cleaning.
3. Lunch room and serving areas will be cleaned and sanitized between student groups.
4. Staff will monitor physical traffic in the buildings and spot clean as necessary.
Cleaning & sanitizing outside the regular day
1. Each evening custodians will complete deep cleaning as much as is practical.
2. The Clorox 360 machines will be used to assist in deep cleaning and sanitizing surface areas.
3. Schools will limit access to the building outside of school hours and school activities in order to assist with the proper cleaning.
Riding the bus in the Fort Zumwalt School District
The plan says, transportation is a necessary and important operation of any school system. The St. Charles County Department of Public Health has indicated certain steps that could be taken to help ensure the health and safety of Fort Zumwalt School District staff and students who use school transportation. The following considerations will be implemented as appropriate.
1. Require social distancing at bus stops to the greatest extent possible.
2. Bus drivers are required to wear masks unless wearing a mask creates a vision impairment.
3. Students grades 3-12 are required to wear masks. Students K-2 are encouraged.
4. Bus capacities will be limited to no more than two per seat. Social distancing will be practiced wherever possible.
5. Have assigned seating on all buses. This will ensure easier contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.
6. Siblings will sit together whenever possible.
7. Have hand sanitizer readily available.
8. Educate students on proper cough etiquette.
9. Once the student is established as a rider on a given bus, changes will be severely limited in the future.
10. Bus drivers will maintain open air flow during routes as much as possible.
11. Bus drivers will clean and sanitize using appropriate products in between routes.
12. When routes are complete and bus has returned to the Transportation Center, staff will complete the disinfecting procedures by wiping down the high- and low-touch points using approved materials.
St. Charles County reported 75 new cases and two new deaths Tuesday, bringing the county's totals to 3,258 cases and 92 deaths.