OGDEN — Plans for reopening schools in Utah this fall aren't finalized yet, but those plans are at least starting to take shape.
Ogden School District Superintendent Rich Nye shared a look at what those plans will consider, specific to OSD, during a presentation at Thursday's board of education meeting.
"We will mitigate risk and against risk, but we cannot eliminate risk. I want to be clear. Anytime we bring people into a space there is an element of risk with this virus," Nye told the board.
Among the many considerations and moving variables, the district is looking at what sort of protocols it will put in place as far as social (physical) distancing in schools — where it's difficult to achieve a 6-foot space between people in most cases.
The plan, given the name "Keeping Ogden Healthy," will also address the use of face masks for situations where physical distancing can't be met.
The plan's five key components: Sanitation and Hygiene, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Social/Physical Distancing, Student Engagement, and Student and Staff Well Being.
Nye told the board he anticipates the district rolling out the plan — which will be school-specific, given the different school layouts in the district — sometime next week.
OSD and other school districts are going through this same process.
The Weber School District sent a letter to parents last week advising them that it's preparing to open in-person school this fall and is preparing a reopening plan titled "Safe Weber."
In the WSD letter, Superintendent Jeff Stephens outlined the plan's five components: Facility Cleanliness and Sanitation, Personal Protection and Hygiene, Reasonable Distancing Measures and Guidance on Social Gatherings, Recognizing and Completing Unfinished Learning, and Digital Instruction Design.
"With each component, there are three levels of intervention: Moderate Precautions; Enhanced Precautions; and, Intense Precautions. The level of intervention will be determined by health conditions at the time," Stephens wrote.
The Ogden School District has sent surveys to its teachers and parents to gauge their feelings on returning to school this fall.
One board member said she's heard responses on both ends of the spectrum from her constituents: "Yes, they're sending their kids back to school no matter what," or, "No way is my child going back to school this fall."
OSD's plan is also looking at other things that Nye's presentation defined as non-essential activities, including school assemblies and dances, as well as determining what sort of "non-essential" furniture could be taken out of classrooms in order to achieve physical distancing.
Under the "Student and Staff Well Being" part of OSD's plan are considerations such as developing strategies for meeting emotional and social needs that arise from the workloads of educators and students.
But as the COVID-19 situation evolves, so do the questions parents and students have.
How will the district screen students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms? What sort of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings, will it provide?
What happens if — Nye termed it as what happens when — a student or staff member tests positive for the virus? Would the whole school be shut down? Or, through contact tracing, would a shutdown be limited to one class or one grade level?
And what happens if Utah goes through a repeat of this spring, where all school districts go on soft closure?
Those are just some of the questions the district is trying to answer.