Two Potter County, Pa. school districts are focusing on hygiene and use of technology to increase student safety in fall 2020.

Both Oswayo Valley and Northern Potter school districts have released their Phased School Reopening Health and Safety plans.

These plans were created as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and outline the various plans that have been created for the districts, based on current green or yellow status for the area.

While Oswayo Valley has not yet set a firm date for the first day of school, Northern Potter listed Aug. 26 as the first day. This date is based on green status in the county. Meanwhile, Oswayo Valley officials noted that green status would mean the majority of students would return for the first day, while yellow status would see the district’s students divided into two groups, with the first date for school attendance assigned accordingly.

BUILDING SANITATIONOswayo Valley has noted that in terms of building sanitation efforts, each building will be sanitized with a backpack room sprayer, with attention paid to each room where students and staff are in attendance each day school is in session.

Various cleaning, disinfection and ventilation procedures are being created that will be used on a daily basis and when students change classrooms. Common areas will be wiped down on an hourly basis, and all staff, teachers and support staff will be properly trained in disinfecting procedures.

Northern Potter’s plan states that building cleaning efforts will involve disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, with specific attention to door handles, sink handles and drinking fountains twice a day.

Meanwhile, officials will ensure ventilation systems work properly and also open doors and windows whenever possible to facilitate air flow of outdoor air. There will be an air purifier in every room and UV cleaning technology used throughout the building.

Oswayo Valley’s plan states that seating arrangements will be shifted for social distancing where applicable, with special attention to the elementary and secondary grade levels in an effort to reduce combinations in student populations across grade levels. The community will only be allowed to use school facilities if there is an agreement made to fund the disinfecting of each room that is in use outside of the school day. No community organizations will be able to use the building during the school day.

Oswayo Valley plans to offer grab-and-go options for both breakfast and lunch.

For both Oswayo Valley and Northern Potter, the plans state that outdoor space will be utilized when available. OV’s plan does not provide specifics. Instead, it notes that this measure is weather dependent.

The Northern Potter plan states that student seating will be arranged to facilitate social distancing to the “maximum extent feasible”; the multi-purpose room at the elementary school will be used to serve meals with 100 students max in the room at one time. At the high school, the gym also will be used for lunch seating. All tables and seats will be wiped down between lunch periods. Breakfast will be served in each classroom.

In terms of outdoor spaces, lunch tables will be set up outdoors when weather permits. Northern Potter officials and staff will make sure playground areas are clearly marked with the maximum number of participants per play area, and outdoor gym classes will be held when possible. Otherwise, physical education will focus on activities and games where social distancing is possible.

STUDENT HYGIENEBoth plans outline efforts to make sure that hand washing procedures and cough/sneeze cover will be taught to all students.

TRANSPORTATIONFor Oswayo Valley, the cost of adjusting transportation is prohibitive. Therefore, current transportation plans will remain in effect. The plan states that there will not be a difference in plans based on the ages of the students.

VISITORSOswayo Valley’s plan states that visitors for IEP meetings and educational needs will only be permitted; other visitors will be maintained in each building entrance way to maintain social distancing.

Northern Potter will provide protective face masks to adults and will require face coverings for visitors. Visitors will also have temperatures taken via the school’s thermal scan technology.

ENTERING BUILDINGSAt Oswayo Valley, each student will have their temperature taken as they enter the building. Any student showing symptoms will be sent to a quarantine room for examination by the nurse. The school nurse and building level administrator will be responsible for making the decision of quarantine. Students or staff will need to be released by a doctor to return to school if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 and documentation will need to be provided prior to their return.

For Northern Potter, the plan is for the school nurse to evaluate students, staff and visitors for symptoms and determine if they need to be quarantined. The nurse also will determine those students and staff at high risk and create individualized plan for those people

Thermal scan technology will be used to take temperatures of students, staff and visitors to the school.

Individual pencil boxes and material caddies issued for each student, and the plan states that in order to minimize traffic in hallways, one class of students will move between locations at a time.

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