Boonville school district nears final decision for reopening

Charles Dunlap

The Boonville R-1 School District still is working on its tentative plans for reopening schools Aug. 24. The district board will decide on more definitive plans at the July 27 meeting.

The board met July 15 to hear initial plans from the various reopening committees. This includes sanitation, student and faculty safety and instruction.

Superintendent Sarah Marriott explained some of what was discussed at the meeting in a phone call with Boonville Daily News on Friday.

Considerations are underway for certain sanitation equipment for buses, classrooms and playground equipment. Like other districts, staff are looking at the possibility of installing body-heat cameras to gauge student temperatures as they enter buildings. That sort of equipment presents difficulties apart from cost, Marriott said.

“No decisions have been made. There are a variety of factors that have to be considered,” she said. “[Including] effectiveness of installation and whether that will be of assistance or that will not be beneficial.”

The sanitation subcommittee has met several times to review recommendations and guidelines. The committee also has met with the district’s supply distributor to develop a sanitation plan. This includes a list of cleaning supplies and equipment useful to the district to maintain health and safety for students, Marriott said.

“Our maintenance and custodial staff are working on that along with training,” she said.

Students will have to supply their own labeled and reusable water bottles as drinking fountains will be turned off. The district will provide bottle fillers, though. At the most basic level, school buildings will have hand sanitizing stations.

The board still has to make decisions with regard to classroom instruction and how it will look, Marriott said. Current recommendations are the district will offer in-person instruction with the implementation of health and safety precautions or parents can select a virtual instruction option.

The district sent out surveys to parents, faculty and staff and students to help gauge comfort levels of those groups for returning to in-person instruction. The district relied on the state’s health guidance to determine best options, Marriott said.

The Missouri departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Health and Senior Services on Thursday issued updated reopening guidelines for school districts in the state. District reopening committees have not yet had a chance to review the updated guidance as of Friday, Marriott said.

“We will review those and see if there is anything we need to add into our plan or consider,” she said.

In case a student or faculty member does test positive for COVID-19, isolation and quarantine procedures would be instituted. The entire class would not be allowed at school for at least two weeks and learning for that class would revert to remote learning, much like in the spring when all schools closed.

“We are going to follow the department of health guidelines on that,” Marriott said.

A decision is not yet made on mask requirements for students and staff. At this point the recommendation is staff and students are strongly encouraged to wear masks, but currently are not required.

“That is not a final decision at this time,” Marriott said, adding this could change after the next school board meeting.