Milton School District parents asked lots of questions during two virtual Q&A sessions Tuesday.
Superintendent Rich Dahman said some questions could not be answered because they depend on information the district receives from parents.
By Friday, parents are being asked to choose between virtual learning and onsite learning for grades 4K-6 or a hybrid model that has students in school every other day for grades 7-12.
Knowing how many students will be attending school in person, Dahman said the district will then establish small groups known as cohorts to minimize risk of spreading the coronavirus.
He said parents will have opportunities to change their minds during a week in mid-August and during the first week of school.
He also acknowledged situations can change from a societal or family viewpoint. Dahman said it’s easier for the district if students onsite switch to virtual learning because that doesn’t increase the size of the cohorts.
“Starting virtual then coming to school is trickier logistically,” he said, noting switching in that case would be allowed if space is available.
If students have been learning onsite but are quarantined or ill, he said they would be able to switch to virtual learning.
How many students will be in a cohort will depend on the size of a room and being able to establish 6 feet or more of social distancing. While a specific number of students has not been set, Dahman said about 15 is a general guideline.
Whether there will be a need to hire additional staff is not yet known.
“It is a possibility but it is also a significant cost,” Dahman said.
Face coverings will be required for students, staff and visitors. Dahman said face masks aren’t the only option, face shields, bandanas and gaiters are other options.
When students are more than 6 feet apart, they will be allowed to take their masks off for a “mask recess.” With social distancing and no one moving around the classroom, he said masks are “recommended” but not required.
Lunch, recess and phy ed will be done with physical distancing in mind, he said.
Students and staff are required to screen for COVID-19 at home. Screening includes not having a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher and one or more of the symptoms.
When students arrive at school, they will go to their classroom (not to the playground).
Lockers will not be used. Instead, Dahman said students will be allowed to bring backpacks into the classroom.
Dahman encouraged parents to ask questions of principals and administrators. He advised waiting to ask further questions about transportation (because the district doesn’t know how many students need transportation) and when students need to be quarantined (because the district is anticipating further guidance from the county by the end of the week).
Academically, he said: “The expectations for students when they’re not on site would be the same standards that students have when they’re on site. We decreased our expectations this spring because we’re jumping into virtual learning without time for staff to be prepared.”