Overview of Nevada school’s Return to Learn plan shared with board members

Kiley Wellendorf
Ames Tribune
The Nevada school district's 'three-layered' Return to Learn plan was shared during Monday's virtual school board meeting, and the overview is now available on for families on the district's official website. File Photo.

The Nevada school district’s “three-layered” Return to Learn plan was shared during Monday’s virtual school board meeting, and the overview is available for families on the district’s official website.

“As indicated in our update to the community last week, the ‘Return to Learn Plan’ that was due July 1 to the Department of Education was essentially a list of assurances that the District would have plans for various areas,” the district wrote online in an update on Tuesday. “The details of how the District will meet those assurances are what we are busy finalizing now.”

Adding, “The variables involved with those details continue to be very dynamic and fluid in nature.”

On Monday, Nevada Superintendent Steve Gray shared mitigation efforts with board officials, which include the possibility of looking into requiring masks for specific scenarios at the district. Later, a full overview of the plan will be part of discussion during the next school board meeting now scheduled for July 20.

The Nevada school district will look into the following three options for students and staff this fall:

  • On-site learning. Students and staff will be onsite for education.
  • Hybrid learning. Students would be assigned to A-Day or B-Day (by household so siblings attend on the same day), with online education during days the students are not physically at school.
  • Required continuous online learning.

“Our starting point assumption is preparing for students and staff to return on site,” Gray said. “Parents can be assured that we will have an online option for them if they are not comfortable sending their children to school.”

This week, families anticipate a survey sent by the district to help finalize those plans, Gray told school board members on Monday.

Mitigation strategies at Nevada schools

In anticipating an in-person return, Gray noted while the Ames school district is the only Story County school district requiring masks for all students and staff, the Nevada school district is “preparing for any mask scenario,” Gray said.

“We have nearly 2,000 cloth masks on site, we also have several thousand disposal masks, both regular sizes and the pediatric sizes ordered, and they are arriving soon,” Gray told school board members.

Gray said the other districts are looking at possibly requiring masks for certain situations, and those details are still being discussed.

One situation could include requiring masks while riding on buses, Gray said. Other factors include having associates “ride buses to assist with seating charts and temperature checks.”

“The seating charts will become more important this year than ever before,” Gray said. “The reason is for contact tracing; Story County Public Health is defining exposure to a positive case as being with a person who has identified as being positive for 15 minutes and being within six feet. We will need those seating charts in the event that we’re notified that we had a student or staff member with a positive case.”

Gray said another example of requiring masks would be for trips to the nurses office. Adding, “we’re working through a number of scenarios right now for that in our plan.”

The Nevada school district has also introduced plexiglass at the school’s offices, Gray said, and the school is developing procedures to limit the number of visitors to buildings. Social distancing strategies will also be in place at the district.

“We’ll have staggered passing times for hallways,” Gray said. “Staggered recess times, staggered lunch times and locations to limit group size are all things that we’re working on.”

Gray said staff will be required to complete online health and safety trainings, which will later be shared and taught to students. Those lessons include frequent hand-washing, proper cough and sneeze covering, and use of hand sanitizer.

Additional mitigation efforts outlined by the district include turning off bubblers from drinking fountains and leaving bottle fillers on, as well as increased sanitization efforts and supplies to disinfect the school:

  • Ionizers to spray rooms, halls, lockers, etc.
  • Backpacks for disinfectant spray: playground equipment, restrooms, railings, door handles, etc.
  • Large quantities of hand sanitizer for all areas.

During the July 20 meeting, school board and district officials will review a more detailed plan that will be communicated out to the public “more than a month before the start of school (August 24, 2020),” according to Tuesday’s online release. If the decision is not finalized, an additional meeting may take place on July 27.

The online release notes that online registration is scheduled to open the week of July 27.

The District understands that many parents wish to know our approach prior to registering as they will have onsite and online options to choose from,” according to Tuesday’s release. “Nevada CSD continues to appreciate the patience and understanding provided by our community as we develop plans and gain a more accurate understanding of what school will look like in the fall.”