Schools across the United States canceled in-person classes in March 2020 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Across the state school leaders are making plans to reopen schools for the upcoming academic year.
In order to reopen schools safely and mitigate disease spread, Park Avenue Elementary principal Pam Dean along with the help of Denise Houghton and many others are improvising ways to keep their school safe with Do-It-Yourself projects.
Spending from their own pockets, they created plexiglass structures to be hung in the classrooms of the elementary school.
“Denise and I are trying to create a teaching guard that could possibly be used during instruction,” said Dean. “The hanging guard is a stationary structure that will allow the teacher to stand behind to use the board and be protected.”
Dean adds the mobile plexiglass structure could be used for instruction that would take place on the carpet, small group, etc.
“It will allow the teacher to be mobile for instruction,” said Dean.
Though Dean is unsure of what the Stuttgart School District will provide for the schools, a proactive approach is what she has taken, completing three projects so far which caught the attention of other school districts.
“We have more coming because three districts want to talk to us about what we are doing,” said assistant principal Meghan Ables.
The CDC released guidelines and as Arkansas prepares to get ready for back to school, school districts are still finalizing their plans.
According to CDC Face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.
Other suggestions by the CDC include:
Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible.
Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
Create distance between children on school buses (g., seat children one child per row, skip rows) when possible.
Physical Barriers and Guides
Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, particularly in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least 6 feet apart (e.g., reception desks).
Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to ensure that staff and children remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times (e.g. guides for creating “one-way routes” in hallways).
Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment if possible; otherwise, stagger use and clean and disinfect between use.
Add physical barriers, such as plastic flexible screens, between bathroom sinks especially when they cannot be at least 6 feet apart.
Have children bring their own meals as feasible, or serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria, while ensuring the safety of children with food allergies.pdf icon
Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. Individuals should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after directly handling used food service items.
If food is offered at any event, have pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal. Avoid sharing food and utensils and ensure the safety of children with food allergies.pdf icon
For more information go to www.cdc/gov/coronavirus