Public Health Guidelines and Safety Measures Town Hall Recap

During+the+first+town+hall%2C+district+officials+covered+a+broad+range+of+topics.+These+included+how+areas+would+be+sanitized%2C+in+what+ways+schools+and+facilities+would+be+updated%2C+and+many+other+safety+subjects.

Photo By RRISD

During the first town hall, district officials covered a broad range of topics. These included how areas would be sanitized, in what ways schools and facilities would be updated, and many other safety subjects.

By Hannah Ashtari

District officials held a town hall meeting covering public health guidelines and safety measures for reopening schools on Monday, July 21. They discussed the actions that would be taken to keep students safe once in-person learning resumes in the fall. Safety measures included social distancing, contracting with the company GermBlast Sanitation, hands-free thermometers, hand sanitizer stations, and utilizing face coverings. 

“Currently in warehouse we have hundreds of thousands of styles of the face coverings [for students and teachers], and so our intention is to have enough to have an initial distribution when we come back to in-person learning,” said Chairman of the Safety and Facilities Committee Terry Worcester. 

After an overview of the Reimagining education plan, the panel answered questions from community members. They covered new rules concerning lunches which dictate that students should pick up a packaged meal in the cafeteria if necessary and eat in classrooms. They also spoke about the protocols for a confirmed case of COVID-19 on campus, (the whole school will be notified and shut down for five days, and those that were exposed will be excluded from campus for 14 days. Contact tracers will also be on each campus.). Panel members also talked about how RRISD plans to enforce mask-wearing with students. 

“We plan on asking our students to all wear their masks, and if they are not complying, rather than a punishment or a consequence, they will be asked to be picked up by a parent,” said Area Director of Academics Sharon Wilkes. “We are very reasonable, and we will work with the students, but if they absolutely refuse we will be contacting parents.”

The panel also shared that ‘professional development modules’ would be available to teach and emphasize the importance of wearing masks to students and parents.

“Our plan of action is not so much one of consequence, and we’re hoping with the seriousness of this, those things will be few and far between,” Stony Point Area Superintendent Natalie Nichols said.

Nichols also addressed some situations that would be specific to high school students, saying that currently, for the safety of students, off-campus lunch would not be allowed. Juniors and seniors would also be encouraged to drive to school to reduce the number of students using school buses. 

Other concerns submitted by parents included how transportation would be coordinated once in-person learning resumed. The district is currently following TEA guidelines, which include that  hand sanitizer be available when boarding and exiting the bus, and a face covering requirement for all bus occupants, but temperature checks will not be happening. 

“I can say that [the issue of transportation] is a very fluid situation right now. We will be always following the CDC and TEA guidelines along with the district decisions,” Tina Fausett, RRISD director of transportation said.

Two more town halls are scheduled to help parents navigate the unfamiliar waters of online schooling and education during the pandemic. An overview of  Elementary school practices is scheduled for  July 28, 5:30 p.m., as well as a Middle and High School Overview on July 30, 5:30. pm. The detailed plan for reopening schools can be found on the district website.