The Ogden School District school board approved the district’s reopening plan during a special session Monday evening.
The general idea of OSD’s plan echoes the strategy released earlier this month by neighboring school districts: increased cleaning and facility sanitation, everyone must wear masks inside school buildings, physical distancing, online learning options, etc.
The district received 2,200 parent and student responses to a survey sent out earlier this summer.
During the meeting, district superintendent Rich Nye presented the results, which indicated 57% of respondents supported returning to the normal school day and schedule, while 24% were opposed and 19% were neutral.
The survey said 61% of parents are planning to send their children to school this fall, 34% will send their children depending on what precautions the district takes and 5% won’t send their kids to in-person school.
Nearly half, 48%, support “some type of hybrid component with a modified schedule and distance learning,” with 32% opposed.
Of the 942 responses OSD got to its employee survey, 58% support returning to a regular school day and 25% are opposed.
Sixty percent of the responses, however, support “some type of hybrid component with a modified schedule and distance learning” and 20% were opposed.
Whether or not a school will have a modified schedule available will depend on the school.
In the past, secondary school students have been able to have a “mixed” week with in-person classes for ‘A’ days (say Monday-Wednesday-Friday) and online classes for ‘B’ days (Tuesday-Thursday).
One thing the district stressed is asking families to talk to their kids, not just about what’s going on this school year, but why things are different.
“We really need parents to talk to their kids about these current conditions,” Nye said during the meeting.
The online learning element, should parents go that route — Ogden Online — won’t be the chaotic presentation that school districts only had two days to roll out in the spring.
Teachers won’t be required to teach, for example, a 20-person face-to-face class along with a 10-person online class for the same subject.
Most of the classroom cleaning will be handled by janitors, but teachers will have to clean tables and desks in their classroom during the day.
Each classroom will have hand sanitizer and the amount/frequency of cleaning will increase. Adults will help children 6 years old or younger with using hand sanitizer.
Each employee and student will get two reusable cloth face coverings. The state board of education is providing 11,500 masks to OSD.
Gov. Gary Herbert announced a K-12 public school mask mandate earlier this summer but that mandate has some leeway for younger kids and people with medical conditions who would be adversely impacted.
If parents wish, they can have their child’s physician fill out a “Student Mask Exemption Request” and send that request to the district.
There will be extra “adult supervision” in the buildings, especially during class transitions.
The district will “limit activities and audiences during the day and for extra-curricular activities (i.e. athletics, dances, recitals, etc.),” which indicates that if fall sports are played this school year, attendance will be limited.
The district, like others, wants to have extra curricular activities like dances and assemblies, but those things also might not happen.
“Assemblies, dances, literacy nights and other large gatherings which are not deemed essential will be conducted virtually or will not be allowed until further notice. Extracurricular activities such as sanctioned sports and other approved events and activities will follow guidelines in Keeping Ogden Healthy,” the district’s website read.
The district has spent the summer months bolstering its online schooling option, “Ogden Online.” If parents sign up their children for the online option, the district is asking the parents to commit to the full semester to reduce the amount of online/in-person transit.
Nye indicated during the meeting that if parents send their kids to in-person school, then want to go online before the semester break, the district will work with the parents on a “case-by-case” basis.
The first day of school in the district is Aug. 20. Schools were forced into “soft closure” in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More info about the plan can be found at the district’s website, https://www.ogdensd.org/community/keeping-ogden-healthy.