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Corvallis School administrators continuing to refine re-opening plans

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 09:20:23-04

Corvallis School administrators may have resolved the question of requiring masks for students but there are still dozens of details to figure out before classes resume.

Corvallis School leaders were among the first to commit to requiring older students to wear masks, but only recommend them for younger students. Even so, the district is still working out ways to give everyone mask breaks where possible.

"We have some strategies we're looking at putting in place where they can take them off for a while so they're not having to wear them all the time. But what we know from science is the fact that it does help slow down the transmission of COVID," said Corvallis School Superintendent Jon Konen.

But masks aren't the only measure. Konen says staff are still working out how to keep students in smaller groups, or "cohorts" for isolation and contact tracing, even in the younger grades where masks won't be required.

"And so we're looking at traffic patterns within our school," said Konen. "We're looking at cleaning and hand sanitizing and the ability to be in cohorts. And we also know from the science that youngest kids are some of the ones least contracting COVID right now."

The precautions will extend to the buses, limiting students in each seat, and giving drivers protective gear.

"We're going to ask everyone to wear masks though," said Konen. "They're going to be required K through 12 on our buses. Parents will have the option also of driving their kids to school like normal."

Foodservice staff has been following precautions throughout the summer meals program so they're prepared. Extra tables will be set up so kids can eat outside when the weather allows, and the high school campus will remain open, so students can disperse.

Administrators also say they're really depending on parents, and their cooperation, to help this safety plan work.

"Absolutely, it's going to take all of us," said Corvallis School Board Chair Becky Anderson. "It's a big task ahead of us to start school in the fall. And so we all need to work together, cooperate together so that we can get our students back in school and hopefully stay in school."

"Being able to team with parents this year is going to be more vital than ever before," said Konen.