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MADISON TOWNSHIP -- The Madison Local School district has released its reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Superintendent Robert Peterson reviewed the plan at a July 29 meeting.

“All risk cannot be eliminated. However, I think the procedures we have in place will mitigate that risk extensively," Peterson said.

The plan was developed in collaboration with the Richland County Health Department and other Richland County School Districts. It will be updated regularly in accordance with state and local guidance and is subject to change at any time.

Like many surrounding districts, families can choose either a traditional, in-person option or an online only academy option.

Below are some of the highlights of the district’s plan, which can be accessed here

When is the first day of school?

The first day of school for grades 1 to 10 is Aug. 26. Students in grades 11 and 12 will begin Aug. 27. Kindergarten and preschool will commence Sept. 8.

Will there be in-person classes?

Yes. Madison’s reopening plan will correlate to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Five day per week in-person classes will be held for all students under Levels 1, 2 and 3. At Level 4, schools will close and the district will implement remote learning.

What if schools shut down again?

If Richland County reaches Level 4, the district will transition to remote learning. According to the district’s reopening plan, “remote learning will be much more effective and regimented, and expectations will be much higher than they were during the spring closure.”

If schools close, students will have scheduled virtual sessions with teachers. Teachers will set lesson and assignment timelines. Teachers will also be available for office hours, grade work in a timely manner and provide feedback to students.

The plan states that each family will be provided with a device and, if necessary, a wireless hotspot.

What are the rules regarding facial coverings?

All students, Pre-K through 12th grade, will be required to wear masks on the bus, while in line in the cafeteria, during arrival and dismissal and during class changes and transitions. Parents are responsible for providing their child with a mask.

At Levels 1 and 2, students in grades 3 through 12 will be required to wear a mask at all times during the school day, except for during mask breaks. 

Students in Pre-K through 2nd grade are encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings while at their desks in the classroom. These students will be required to wear a mask when working in close contact with a teacher or participating in an activity where social distancing is not possible. 

At Level 3, all students will be required to wear a mask at all times. 

If a parent or guardian has a child with a documented medical issue that prohibits them from being able to comply with face covering rules, they should contact their building principal and the district will make accommodations.

All staff members will be required to wear a mask while at work. Staff members may remove their mask only when they are working in an isolated setting. If a mask is not medically appropriate for a staff member, or makes performing their contracted work impossible, a face shield may be substituted; examples of this would include staff in the primary grades, speech pathologists and foreign language instructors. 

All meetings with parents and caregivers will take place via phone or a virtual platform unless in person meetings are absolutely necessary. In person meetings will follow physical distancing protocols. Visitors will be required to wear a mask while entering, exiting and moving around the building.

What about the bus?

Students will have assigned seats by sibling or family groups on the bus. Students will be required to wear masks. Windows will be open whenever weather permits.

What happens if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

If an elementary staff member or students tests positive, all families with a student in that classroom would be notified.

If a middle or high school student or staff member tests positive, all families with a student in that building would be notified.

Richland Public Health will handle all contact tracing.

Peterson said the district will respect the privacy of the person who tests positive. 

“We will not release any information as to which student or staff member, we would just say ‘A student or staff member in this room tested positive,’” Peterson said at the July 29 school board meeting.

The district asks families of students who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms to contact their local medical professional.

If my child has to quarantine, will they be penalized if they go over their sick day limit?

No. COVID-19 sick days will not count against a student’s number of allowed absences. Students will be able to have work sent home.

What basic safety measures will the school be taking?

Below are some of the sanitation and safety protocols that Madison Schools will be implementing. For a full list, please see the district reopening plan.

  • Social distancing reminders and traffic patterns will be placed throughout the schools

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located in each classroom, all offices and at entrances to the building

  • Student’s temperatures will be taken when they report to school using a touchless thermometer. Any student who has a temperature above 100°F will be sent to the office to be re-evaluated with an oral thermometer. Students that have a temperature of 100°F or above may not return to school for 10 days and until they have been fever-free for 48 hours.

  • Students and staff will wear face coverings to maximize protection

  • Everyone will be asked to practice social distancing, face covering and hand washing and sanitation guidelines to protect students and staff.

  • Teachers will be arranging desks to ensure physical distancing as much as possible and eliminating shared classroom materials as much as possible.

  • The lunch room will be disinfected between lunch periods and grade levels.

  • Classrooms will be disinfected as frequently as possible.

  • Parents should also provide their child with a water bottle, as drinking fountains will not be available for use.

  • Students will have designated seats in the cafeteria.

I don’t want my child returning to in-person classes. What options do I have?

Students can enroll in the Madison Online Academy through Aug. 7. The district will ensure each student has a device and internet access at home.

Students participating in the MOA will work independently using an online curriculum and platform.

Teachers will monitor student progress and be available for help, check-ins and office hours; however, parents are also expected to help set at home routines for students.

Supt. Peterson stated that the program has academically rigorous curriculum and attendance will be taken based on students’ progress.

Students will have access to all core areas (English Language Arts, math, science and social studies). There will be limited access to specials (K-5) and electives (6-12). Students in grades 6-12 will not have access to their full schedule as planned this past spring. 

MOA students may continue to participate in after-school activities and extracurriculars.

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