Polk County schools are planning now for a fall reopening.
Over 30,000 parents responded to a Polk County survey to integrate with the district’s task force.
“We see a strong sense for students to return to some sense of normalcy,” said Michelle Townley, interim assistant superintendent of curriculum. “This has obviously weighed heavily on our students. School is a safe place for them and a part of their normal routine and so we’re seeing quite a few parents wanting their kids to return to school in the fall.”
Tonwley said they are considering a combination of in-person and online learning.
She said 50 percent of the students might be on campus Monday and Wednesday, the other half on Tuesday and Thursday, and then do all online learning on Friday while schools are cleaned.
Of course, many questions remain, particularly the wearing of masks and more hand washing stations.
“So we’re leaning on medical experts in that regard,” she said, adding that she and district leaders have a weekly task force meeting, which includes different department heads, school principals, parents, pediatricians, health department officials and medical experts.
“We’re beginning our work to try to figure all this out in unprecedented times,” she said, adding that it my be left to parents as to whether their child would wear a mask.
Rob Davis, assistant superintendent for support services, addressed the concerns about busing, which transports over 100,000 students.
“It’s almost impossible to do social distancing on a school bus,” said Rob Davis, assistant superintendent for support services.
Davis said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with guidelines that said there should be one student per seat and then a row between them.
“For us that would be 13 students per bus. We would need 1,328 school buses and drivers to accomplish getting students to school,” he said.
Currently the district has about 500 buses.
Davis said they will be taking extra precautions.
“We’ve installed hand sanitizers on every bus, so if a student rode the bus, they would use it when they got on and also use it when they got off,” he said, explaining that they’re also focusing on employees.
“Our drivers and attendants would have masks, their temperatures would be taken before they got on the school bus and they would clean that bus post and pre-trip at least twice, if not multiple times a day,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s a safe environment.”
Expect more information as the school year draws closer.