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County Office of Education releases planning resources for reopening schools

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The El Dorado County Office of Education has released planning resources for school districts as they make plans for the fall.

The Office of Education has worked together with County Health Officer Nancy Williams and representatives from the 15 school districts in developing recommendations for reopening, said a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Each independent school district will decide how it will reopen schools while working closely with local public health officials and community stakeholders,” said County Superintendent Dr. Ed Manansala. “Implementation should be tailored to the setting of each district and school, including consideration of the unique needs of their students, families, and staff.”

The county health department recommends physical distancing and offered strategies for shared spaces including:

  • Keep students in the same space and in groups as small and consistent as practicable.
  • Consider outdoor options and provide fresh air circulation indoors, if possible.
  • Minimize the movement of students and staff as much as practicable.
  • Maximize space between student seating and desks.
  • Maximize the distance between staff desks and student desks.
  • Meals preferably will be served in classrooms (with students remaining in their assigned seats) or outdoors, or if not feasible in cafeterias or group dining rooms, with physical distancing requirements applied regardless of setting.
  • Minimize congregate movement through hallways as much as practicable.
  • Consider holding recess in separated areas designated by class.
  • Avoid large gatherings such as assemblies and dances.
  • Identify an isolation room for students who are not feeling well to minimize contact with others until they can be transported home or to a healthcare facility.
  • Limit nonessential visitors on campus.

Before students and staff come to school if that is in the district’s plans, they should conduct a self-screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Parents/guardians must assist children with daily screening. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher must not board a bus or go to a school site.

Anyone who has been exposed to the virus within 14 days or has symptoms must stay home. At school, staff and students should be monitored throughout the day for signs of illness and sent home immediately.

Getting to school, kids must use face coverings if they cannot stay 6 feet apart from each other.

On the school bus, windows will be opened when possible and the space should be maximized between students and the driver. And all must wear face coverings. Siblings should sit together.

Buses should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily.

Some of the general measures recommended include having a staff member monitor the local COVID-19 situation and each school should establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas and work tasks, and designate a person at each school to implement and monitor the plan.

Recommended general safety precautions include:

  • Schools should teach and reinforce among students and staff washing hands, avoiding contact with one’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Students and staff should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap, rubbing thoroughly
    after application, and use paper towels (or single-use cloth towels) to dry hands thoroughly.
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol should be used when hand washing is not practicable.
  • Portable handwashing stations throughout a site and near classrooms should be considered to minimize movement and congregations in bathrooms to the extent practicable.
  • Schools should limit sharing, including by ensuring adequate supplies to minimize the sharing of high-touch materials to the extent practicable or limit use of supplies and equipment to one group of children at a time, with cleaning and disinfection between uses.
  • Schools must incorporate face-covering use for students and workers into their COVID-19 prevention plan.
  • Some flexibility may be needed for younger children consistent with child development recommendations. 
  • Students and staff should be frequently reminded not to touch their face coverings and to wash their hands frequently.
  • Food service workers, custodial staff, and health/ office staff will use facial coverings and should wear gloves.

Going away from a traditional daily schedule is another option, including a half day option where half the students attend class in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.

Or schools can stagger start and end times within the day, modify recess schedules and lunch periods, and stagger breakfast/lunch schedules or breakfast/lunch in-classroom options.

Dividing classes into smaller groups that stays together for all activities and avoids contact with others is another option. Different groups could attend class on different days.

The Lake Tahoe Unified District is offering students in kindergarten through eight grade instruction delivered entirely online through Elevated, a digital learning academy it launched this year.

The instruction is live with teachers and with pre-recorded lessons. The curriculum is adjusted to state standards and the content is the same as in the classroom, said a press release.

Pre-registration goes through July 31 and open enrollment begins in August. 

For more information, email elevated@ltusd.org.

LTUSD will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss plans for the school year.

View the entire Office of Education’s recommendations here.

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct time of the LTUSD board meeting. Incorrect information was published in the original post.


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