Reopening DeKalb Central Schools

2020-21

Frequently Asked Questions

*Original Post July 21, 2020

Updates in Red, with Date

Please find below a list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the reopening of DeKalb Central Schools.  As you are aware the COVID-19 pandemic is a very fluid situation and you should expect changes and updates as we progress towards the start of the school year and as the school year gets underway.  DeKalb Central Schools will continue to update this FAQ as information becomes available and decisions are made regarding the upcoming school year.  Your continued patience and understanding are greatly appreciated as there are many details yet to be known but will continue to be explored and pursued for further clarification.

*With the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic the information provided is subject to change.

  1. When will school start?

We plan to open schools on our regularly scheduled start date of Monday, August 10, 2020.

 

  1. Will instruction be in person (school buildings) or virtual/remote?

We will offer face-to-face, in person instruction every day (Monday-Friday) for students who are able to return to school. Virtual/remote learning will be available for students with risk-factor health issues, those who have immediate family members with health issues, and those parents who do not feel comfortable sending their child(ren) to school at this time.  Each school will share additional information in the coming weeks.

  1. What will virtual/remote look like in the fall at DeKalb Central Schools?

Virtual/remote learning requirements will look different this school year than virtual learning this past Spring.  DeKalb Central defines virtual/remote learning as timely, active participation in the learning process via technology platforms such as Google Classroom and Google Meet/Hangout as well as other authorized means.  Individual situations may prevent a student from attending virtual/remote learning sessions and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the teacher and building administration.

Students in elementary, middle, and high school receive virtual/remote instruction from a DeKalb Central Schools teacher.  To every degree possible this option resembles a typical school day with daily instruction, engagements, and scheduled times.

 

This option is designed for families who would like to maintain their connection to school teachers and classes, but don’t yet feel comfortable sending their student(s) back to traditional school on August 10.  Students will attend school virtually/remotely, following a standard schedule.  Students will be expected to be engaged during all scheduled classes. Lessons may be recorded. Students who choose the virtual/remote option will be allowed to participate in extracurricular and co-curricular activities as long as all other eligibility requirements are met which are the same as in person attendees.

 

Based on feedback provided by students, staff, and parents after our virtual learning experience during the mandated school closure last spring, this instructional option will incorporate many of the features that parents and students valued, such as regular virtual real-time interaction with teachers each day.  Parents can rely on teachers to facilitate and guide student learning.

 

Students will have scheduled times, class meetings, and digital resources and assignments that can be completed virtually/remotely.  This learning option provides families the flexibility to choose an instructional option to meet their needs during these uncertain times, and reflects DeKalb Central’s commitment to providing a high-quality instructional experience, no matter what the setting.

 

Expectations for virtual/remote learning:

   

 

Summary:  Students receive virtual/remote instruction from a DeKalb Central Schools teacher during daily scheduled times.  When possible, this option will resemble a regular school day with class periods beginning and ending at designated times.  Some lessons may be recorded for student review at an alternate time.  DeKalb Central provides Chromebooks to all students with ongoing technical support.  While many courses will be available through virtual/remote learning, some courses, especially in 6-12, may only be available through the in person/ traditional option.  Every effort will be made to ensure high school students are provided the necessary courses that meet the requirements for high school graduation.

  1. What will in person look like in the fall? (Updated August 3, 2020)

Students return to school and their classrooms on August 10 and will follow a traditional school day schedule with face-to-face, in person instruction from their teachers.  Across DeKalb Central, enhanced safety and health precautions will be in place throughout the day.  This option is open to all grade levels, PreK-12.  DeKalb Central believes in person instruction is the best mode of instruction and strongly recommends it as a first choice, if possible.

 

Students will interact directly with their teacher(s) and classmates.  The school day will follow the regular bell times and standard schedule that includes all the core classes and other subject areas as well.  In short, it represents a return to the traditional school environment - with several significant changes involving enhanced health and safety precautions.

 

Attendance will be taken daily in each course and recorded for reporting purposes and student work/assignments will be graded regularly and feedback provided from teachers to students and parents.

 

Health precautions occurring throughout DeKalb Central Schools:

 

  1. What if I change my mind on the placement of my child for in person instruction or virtual/remote instruction?

DeKalb Central is asking for a 9 week (1st Grading Period) commitment to either in person      or virtual/remote.  The 1st 9 weeks ends at fall break which is scheduled for the week of October 12.  Parents/guardians with questions should contact their child(rens) school.

DeKalb High School students who choose in person or virtual/remote are encouraged to commit to 1 semester as courses are based on credits earned towards graduation in 1 semester increments.   The 1st semester ends on Tuesday, December 22.

  1. When do I get to decide on in person instruction or virtual/remote instruction for my child(ren)?

Each parent/guardian will need to complete a form for each school aged child and indicate attending in person or virtual/remote.  The form will be sent to parents/guardians through email and posted on the district’s website and on social media platforms.  The form will be available beginning Wednesday, July 22 and will be due by Monday, July 27.  Each child must have a form submitted in order for the school to prepare for in person or virtual/remote.

  1. What courses will be unavailable if my child is a virtual/remote student?

The complete list of courses not available in the virtual/remote option is still being finalized.  Individual schools will communicate accordingly.  Every attempt will be made to offer as many courses as possible;  extra emphasis at the high school level for courses dependent upon graduation requirements.  Parents and students are encouraged to communicate with their counselors with specific questions relating to virtual/remote course offerings.

  1. Will social distancing be required?

We will practice social distancing when possible. Due to the size of our student body and our facilities it will not be possible at all times. In classrooms, student seating may be arranged to all face in the same direction, when possible, and will be spaced as far apart as possible. On buses, we will be placing one student per seat (siblings and those living within the same household may sit together). At lunch, we will maximize available spaces for distancing.

 

  1. Will masks be required for students? (Updated July 31, 2020)

Face masks/coverings are required for all students and adults on buses.

With the recent governor’s executive order, face masks/coverings are required for students in grades 3 - 12.  If parents need assistance obtaining masks, they should contact their child(rens) school.

Face masks/coverings are highly recommended and encouraged for students in PK - Grade 2.  

If you haven’t done so already, please view the informative video from the DeKalb County Health Department  and Dr. Mark Souder and the guidance to require masks for staff, optional for students and required for all on the bus:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=604515226873046 or https://youtu.be/RL5R7OqFDp8

  1. Do elementary students have to wear masks during recess?  (Updated July 31, 2020)

Students in grades 3-5 will be required to wear a mask (PreK - 2nd grade highly  recommended and encouraged) when in line going to and from recess.  If they are 3-6 ft apart they may remove their mask when playing.  If playing in close proximity to someone or if close to a supervisor, the mask should be put back on.  The exception to this would be during strenuous activity

  1. How do I know if I should keep my child(ren) home from school? (Updated July 31, 2020)

Parents/guardians should familiarize themselves with the following COVID-19-related symptoms:

 

Students should stay home from school if they test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit any combination of the symptoms of COVID-19 based on CDC Guidance that is not otherwise explained.  Parents/guardians should contact their health care provider for additional guidance.

  1. What about attendance?

Regardless of attending school in person or virtually/remotely, attendance will be taken each day and the compulsory attendance expectations are in place for all students.

Tardies, absences, and truancies will be recorded for virtual/remote learners in the same manner as in person school attendance.

  1. Will masks be required for staff?

Staff will need to wear masks when unable to properly social distance.

Staff will highly recommend and encourage students to wear masks when unable to properly social distance, especially when in the hallways, cafeterias, restrooms, and other areas where there is potential for students and staff sharing the same space.

If you haven’t done so already, please view the informative video from the DeKalb County Health Department  and Dr. Mark Souder and the guidance to require masks for staff, optional for students and required for all on the bus:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=604515226873046 or https://youtu.be/RL5R7OqFDp8

  1.  Will student face masks/coverings be provided?

We’re asking students to plan to have face masks or coverings as part of their school supplies.  The district is stockpiling masks and is working with local entities in order to acquire additional masks for students in need.  If students need assistance obtaining masks, they should contact their school.

 

  1. I don’t want to wear a mask.

We know that there are strong opinions about the use of masks. The Indiana State Department of Health cited a 40-60% reduction in COVID-19 transmission when masks are used by all.

This is especially important since some carriers of COVID-19 may not have any symptoms. Children, despite being generally less affected by COVID-19, expose school staff and adults at home who may be more at risk.

The DeKalb County Health Department has advised staff to wear masks and students to be highly recommended and encouraged to wear a mask.  Also, students and staff are required to wear a mask while on the bus.

 

  1. What will be different on school buses?

Transportation will look differently this year.

If you are planning to use bus transportation, please pay close attention to the information provided below.

Social distancing on the school bus is extremely difficult and not feasible in most cases.  The following guidelines will help mitigate potential COVID-19 exposure and assist the DeKalb County Health Department in contact tracing in order to minimize exposure opportunities.

Therefore, DeKalb Central is asking for help and cooperation from our families to reduce ridership to one student per seat (siblings and students from the same household may sit together) and masks will be required on buses.

Students will only be allowed one (1) pick up location in the morning and one (1) drop off location in the afternoon.  

Students should expect to be assigned to a seat.

Students will not be able to ride a friend’s bus home.

The self-transportation of students will be extremely helpful and appreciated by DeKalb Central Schools and will place less of a burden on the school transportation system.

Self-Transportation zones will be established around James R. Watson Elementary, McKenney-Harrison Elementary, and Waterloo Elementary in which parents/guardians will be responsible for transporting their child(ren) to these elementary schools.

Please contact the Transportation Department for specific questions you may have regarding transportation at 260-920-1171 or email transportation@dekalbcentral.net


James R. Watson Elementary: Self-Transportation Zone

        (Any address located within the Yellow Border)

        

McKenney-Harrison Elementary: Self-Transportation Zone

        (Any address located within the Yellow Border)

Waterloo Elementary: Self-Transportation Zone

        (Any address located within the Yellow Border)

 

  1. Will anything change for school drop off/pick up?

We anticipate an increase in parents/guardians dropping students off and picking students up to and from school. Some schools may need to assign staggered drop off times and/or change drop off and/or pick-up locations to accommodate this increase. Your school will provide more details.  

 

  1. What changes will students see in the cafeteria and at water fountains?

Students will have additional opportunities to wash their hands with soap and water and also have access to hand sanitizer.

Elementary students will eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms.

Secondary students may be assigned seating and will be spaced as far apart as possible and additional lunch periods may be added depending on the number of students choosing in person.

Students will be assisted by food service staff in the cafeteria line rather than picking up their own items. Food selections will be pre-wrapped and choices will be reduced.

All water fountains will be turned off and we will be using water bottle filling stations to provide students with access to water throughout the day.

  1. If my child is a virtual/remote student will they still be able to get a school breakfast and/or lunch?  (Updated August 3, 2020)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides guidance on what is allowable for schools regarding the breakfast and lunch programs.  Unfortunately, at this time DeKalb Central Schools will not be able to provide breakfast or lunch to virtual students.

 

  1. What changes will be implemented in school health clinics?

There will be separate areas created in our health clinics—one for regular care and an isolated area for anyone who presents signs or symptoms of illness.  

Parents will no longer be allowed to bring medications into clinics. If you need to provide medication for your child, a nurse will meet you in a designated area to handle this.  

You can also expect to see changes in how we administer stocked medicines, the suspension of nebulizer treatments, and new criteria for staying home from school/returning to school, based on CDC guidelines.

Please reach out to your school nurse if you have specific concerns regarding your child’s medical care.

 

  1. What changes will be Implemented on playgrounds and in PE classes?

Playground equipment use is being further evaluated for its potential safe use by our elementary students.  There will be more information shared by our schools once we have worked through a protocol with the local health department.  Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible not only during recess but also during regular class times.

PE classes are being evaluated and more information will be coming at a later date.

 

  1. Will staff & students be screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

You need to be attentive to your daily health and will be asked to self-screen each day before coming to school.  Below are the recognized symptoms of COVID-19 as indicated by the CDC and the Indiana State Health Department.  This includes being fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.

·       Congestion or runny nose;

·       A fever of 100.4° F or greater;

·       Cough;

·       Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;

·       Diarrhea;

·       Nausea;

·       Sore throat;

·       Headache;

·       Chills;

·       Muscle pain; and

·       New loss of taste or smell;

School staff will also be receiving professional development on how to recognize potential COVID-19 symptoms. No one should be in our buildings if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness.

 

  1. What Will Happen if Someone Tests Positive for COVID-19?

If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19, we will follow direction from the DeKalb County Health Department. This may include closing a classroom, school or schools for a period of time and shifting quickly to virtual/remote learning for students who are impacted. Many of our new procedures are designed to support contact tracing should a confirmed case occur. This will assist the Health Department with quickly identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed.  

 

  1. Will Schools be Open All Year? Will These Procedures be in Place All Year?

The pandemic shifts rapidly and we don’t know what the rest of the school year may bring. If cases surge, schools may be ordered to close again, requiring all students to shift to virtual/remote learning. If the situation improves, we may be able to abandon some elements of this plan and return to more normal operating conditions.  DeKalb Central will remain in close contact with the DeKalb County Health Department as this pandemic progresses.

 

  1. What Cleaning Enhancements are Being Implemented in Buildings?

We’ve stocked up on personal protective equipment, hand washing materials and cleaning supplies.

In addition to our regular cleaning, we’ll be disinfecting more often in common areas like hallways, cafeterias, bathrooms, playgrounds and buses, as well as high-touch surfaces like door handles and desks.

We’re already meeting the Indiana State Department of Health’s recommended environmental steps to reduce indoor COVID-19 transmission through humidity, air-conditioning, air filters, etc.

DeKalb Central uses cleaners and disinfectants approved by the CDC.

 

  1. What Social and Emotional Resources Will Be In Place as Students Return?

We recognize the importance of providing students and staff with extra social and emotional support as they return to school this year. Expect to see special welcome activities, extra time for building relationships and establishing new routines, and focus on coping strategies.

Teachers will be supported with professional social emotional resources, for themselves and their students.  

Our counselors and mental health partners will be ready to assist students and staff in need of support.

 

  1. Will back to school events still be happening?

Our annual open houses and back to school events have been cancelled.  However, each school will communicate options available in which to engage with students and families.  Many of these activities may take place virtually through live or recorded content.  DeKalb Central will evaluate as the year progresses which may allow for more in person activities for our school community to be involved in.

*DMS note for incoming 6th graders: At the middle school and in addition to several virtual activities for incoming 6th graders, every attempt will be made to provide times for small groups of 6th grade students (8-10) to sign up for a 30-minute time slot to enter the building prior to the start of school to walk their schedule, find their classes, and try their lockers. Information on this opportunity will be shared with incoming 6th grade families soon.

  1. When is registration and enrollment?

Registration and enrollment will be online this year and will open on Monday, July 27 for each school.  Information will be shared through email, text messaging, and social media platforms.

  1. Will there be an open house scheduled for the elementary schools?

Open houses will not take place as they have done so in the past due to COVID-19 but schools will communicate with parents to provide for the needs of students and familiarity of the school environment.

  1.  Will there be anything special planned for incoming kindergarten students?

Each elementary school will be contacting parents of kindergarteners regarding the opportunity to attend an evening gathering to meet their teacher, visit the classroom, get their child's device, receive instructions on operating the device (along with google classroom, powerschool, lunch accounts, etc), and show their child where to go when they arrive to school. Any adult attending will need to wear a mask and it is recommended for students to wear one as well.

  1. What will 6th grade orientation look like and when will it take place?

DMS will be creating a virtual orientation which will include an introduction to our teachers, a presentation to help students prepare for the first day of school, and a video tutorial on how to open a locker. Finally, students will be provided with a map of the school building with teacher names located on them so they can begin reviewing their schedules and classroom locations. Once school begins, teachers will continue the orientation process throughout the first week of school with in-person instruction and prepared orientation activities to ensure student questions and concerns are addressed.

  1. What will 9th grade orientation look like and when will it take place?

DHS Freshman Orientation will be a virtual experience for our incoming freshman to view prior to the start of the school year.  All incoming 9th grade students who sign up for in person learning will be able to walk their schedule prior to the first day of school.  More information on how to sign up for a schedule walk will be sent to our families in the upcoming weeks.  If you have any questions regarding freshman orientation, please contact Marcus Wagner, DHS Principal (mwagner@dekalbcentral.net).

  1. Will there be Activity Buses after middle school and high school activities?

There will be no activity bus routes to begin the year for afterschool activities at the middle school and high school.  

 

  1. What can we do as parents/guardians in order to ensure a smooth start to the school year?

Please talk with, reassure and support your children about these changes, and the importance of social distancing and encourage wearing masks when appropriate.

 

  1. What other changes can I expect?

We will restrict all school visitors to promote health, safety and social distancing.

Any adults entering any school building will need to wear a mask.

Students and staff should not be in buildings if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness.

We’ll be reviewing our overall attendance policies for staff and students, as well as eliminating any attendance recognitions that could encourage attending school when not feeling well.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifts rapidly and we don’t know what the rest of the school year may bring. Other changes could certainly be implemented and we will be in close communication with staff and families as future decisions are made.