The Big Walnut Local School District continues to refine safety procedures due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For example, it is reminding parents the state mandates that face shields may not be worn instead of masks by students.
In a letter to Big Walnut families, Superintendent Angie Hamberg wrote, “The Delaware General Health District already told us previously that shields were not a comparable substitution. They may be used in certain circumstances, including lessons such as primary literacy, where it is essential to see mouth formations and for people with certain health conditions.”
Another requirement is that students must wear masks outside unless they are 6 feet apart. For that reason, elementary students will have two recesses — one without masks but doing socially-distanced structured activities; and a more typical recess where masks must be worn. Intermediate students during recess will be masked on the blacktop and unmasked in the grass.
“We will be providing teachers with resources for both the structured recesses and mask breaks to make sure we have clear, safe ways to give students breaks from their masks,” Hamberg said.
She also updated families about fall sports for grades 7-12. The good news is that all fall teams are permitted to compete. The bad news is that only 15% of spectator seating will be allowed in facilities. That means home and visitor parents may attend, and for football, band and cheerleading parents as well.
“Unfortunately, it does not look as though we will be able to allow others to attend,” Hamberg said. “While this is very unfortunate for our community, and especially for our other students who want to support their friends, we are glad that our student-athletes are able to compete. With the anticipated loss of gate revenue, we will also have serious financial challenges in our athletic programs, as gate revenue pays for umpires, golf green fees, swimming facility rental, referees, equipment, and many other expenses.”
Last week, the district’s staff returned to their buildings. According to the district’s reopening plans document, this week was a staggered start for all grades, but full-day learning for K-12 starts next Monday. Some elementary students will be the first to attend the district’s newest school, Prairie Run Elementary.
For Big Walnut parents who have questions about the new school year, please call the district’s central office at 740-965-3010.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.