Welcome Back Letter
January 12, 2021
Hello Wolf Pup parents,
It is with great enthusiasm but also great anxiety that we look forward to the return of students to Woodriver on January 19th. The foundational job of any school is to create a safe and exciting learning environment for members of our school community. We have been asked to create this safe environment during a pandemic, and while we will do our very best, we need your help to maintain a healthy learning environment in order to keep our schools open and everyone safe. I am asking each family to be familiar with and follow these guidelines:
Each day that you send your student(s) to school you are accepting responsibility for monitoring their health and following the COVID-19 Daily Decision Tree for Students. Please do not send your child to school if they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness. If they arrive at school with symptoms, they will immediately be sent home. If your child has known pre-existing conditions that are non-COVID related, it is advisable to contact your medical provider and document these with the Chronic Symptom Exemption Form (Students). It will be very helpful to have this on file with the school nurse.
All students are expected to wear a mask to attend in person school. This begins with riding the bus, and extends throughout the day, except for designated breaks for breakfast and lunch. Please review all the Mask Requirements for Students and discuss these expectations with your child before they start back to school.
Our district has a complete and detailed mitigation plan and many safety protocols in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Still, it will be impossible to achieve a zero-risk environment. Therefore, contact tracing and quick follow through of self-quarantine when a known exposure has occurred is the next most effective strategy for reducing and controlling the spread of illness. It may help to understand ahead of time what steps will take place should your child be considered a “Close Contact” to someone who has tested positive. Right now there are no strict guidelines for when a classroom or school is closed for COVID. Each situation is unique, and if the need to shut down a classroom or our school occurs, I will communicate that with everyone using a wide variety of methods.
CDC and Alaska DHSS define close contact for COVID-19 as someone who has interacted with a case-positive person within 6ft for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes. Given the large numbers of students that are returning to in-person instruction, some of our classes will not be able to have 6ft of distance between desks. Additionally, the wearing of masks does not change this definition or the requirement to begin self-quarantine. Once a person has been notified that they are a close contact, they should return home and begin a 10-day self-quarantine. Students who are in a quarantine status will not be considered absent and will be able to continue their learning through remote learning options.
Like most everything, daily routines had to be changed to ensure student safety. When students return to physical in-person school, school will officially start at 8:10. Students can begin to enter the building at 8:00. For those students who need to eat breakfast, there will be a schedule of release for students to go and get their breakfast. Currently, I do not think we will be able to safely allow students to eat in our MPR. There is not enough room to ensure 6 feet of distancing for each student. For now, breakfast will be picked up from the MPR, and students will be eating in the classrooms. After we have a better idea of how many students will be coming for breakfast, we might change the schedule.
Student drop off should occur at 7:55, with students entering the building at 8:00, and school starting at 8:10. Once students are dropped off, they should walk to the entrance that is closest to their classroom. To help ensure student safety while entering the building, we will have ropes with attached cones for every class at different entrances to our building. Students will line up using those cones to keep physically distanced and there will be an adult at each door to supervise kids and let groups in one at a time. Students will use the same doors to exit the building. Please do not drop your students off in the back-parking lot as that area is used for our busses. Drop off should continue in the front drop off zone. You can also drop off your kids at the curb on Palo Verde. There is a sidewalk that is cleared regularly, and it is only a 15 second walk to the school. For all students who ride the bus, they will enter the building through the back door and wait in the gym until 8:00 am. Parents will not be allowed in the building except to drop off medication with our Nurse. Tardy students should come to the office through the front door after the second bell at 8:10. All other doors into the building will be locked after 8:10.
Breakfast will be served daily and is free to all families for the remainder of the year. All students will eat breakfast in their classrooms during COVID. Intermediate students (4-6) will go straight to the MPR when they enter the building at 8:00 to pick up their breakfast before going to their classrooms. At 8:10 primary students (K-3) will be released from their class to pick up their breakfast. By staggering the breakfast pick-up times, the primary students will have time to get their gear off and allow for the intermediate students to be out of the hallway. There should be minimal contact with others as they move through the halls and wait in line. Adults will be in the hallway to ensure students aren’t getting too close to each other during breakfast pick-up. All breakfast should be finished by 8:30.
Once students are in the building and done with breakfast, they will remain in their classrooms for the whole day (except to pick up lunch and use the bathroom). There will be no learning pods, as the board’s direction was that students be with their classroom teachers. Currently, students are scheduled to have one music, one PE, and one library class each week. Students will attend specials via zoom to limit student’s movement throughout the building and cut down on the possibility of close contact with others. Specials teachers have new Zoom links that will be used starting on January 19th. We may revisit this decision about specials if we see our numbers dip into the yellow zone. We will have a dismissal schedule for lunch that will limit classes mixing with each other and lunch will now be over a two-hour period of time starting around 10:30. Lunch is also free for all families for the remainder of the school year.
The end of the day will have a dismissal routine so that we can limit the amount of contact that students have with each other. At 1:00, all bus riders will be released. Most of them will use the doors they entered to get to the bus. Intermediate students whose classrooms are on the opposite side of the school from the busses will use our hallways to make it to the doors they have always used to exit the building and head to the bus. At 1:05, any students who are being picked up by their parents will use the exit closest to their classroom (the same one they used to enter the building) to then make their way to their rides. At 1:10, we will begin to release any students that walk home. This plan, while time consuming, will help us limit the risk of exposure and potential closing of classrooms.
Cleaning will be very important when students return. In addition to the nightly cleaning that takes place, classrooms and other high traffic areas are being wiped down several times per day. If students wipe down their desks throughout the day, they will be using soap and water to do so. These precautions, along with physically distancing and mask wearing, will help keep everyone safe here at Woodriver. Our staff have been practicing implementation of all these safety protocols and are ready and willing to teach students how to safely return to school. You can help us by sending your students with a mask to wear and the message that they must wear it all day. It will take all of us working together to ensure that our return to school is done right and that we can remain in school, learning and working together safely.
Thank you for your help and let’s have a great rest of the year!
Grant L. Guy