When: Ephrata Area school board meeting, July 7.
What happened: The board voted 9-0 to approve a state-required health and safety plan that calls for the reopening of in-person classes for all grades, starting Aug. 24. During a meeting in the middle school’s media center, the board decided on a total reopen for all students and staff, but some students and their families can opt for distance learning out of safety and health concerns. Seven parents were in attendance and asked questions about the restart.
Key points: Superintendent Brian Troop said face coverings will be worn by staff and students during small-group and individualized instruction when the legally required amount of social distance is not achievable. The plan calls for maintaining 6 feet among students and staff in classroom space throughout the day. Parents will check the temperature of students prior to coming to school. Lockers will only be used in special circumstances.
Disinfect and ventilate: Buses will be cleaned between each run. Schools will be disinfected by using electrostatic sprayers in all classrooms Monday through Friday nights and on weekends as needed. Bathrooms will be cleaned twice during each school day. Bottle-filler water fountains will be installed. Outside air dampers in occupied areas of buildings will be opened to bring in fresh air while still being able to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Hygiene practices: Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in classrooms in fifth through 12th grade. Teachers in kindergarten through fourth grade will administer the use of hand sanitizer, plus sinks are in classrooms in the lower grades. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade stay in the same classroom for their coursework whenever possible. During the last five minutes of class, time will be allotted for hand washing for any student or staff member that must change classrooms.
Mealtime: There will be restrictions on the use of the cafeteria with plans to serve meals in classrooms.
Choices to make: The district will offer two or three learning options for students, and parents will need to indicate which option they want to start the year for their son or daughter. Parents will also need to confirm a transportation option. Troop said the administration wants at least a commitment for the first month or two to see how things are going, but the administration understands that certain situations change.