School Starts Aug. 25

Masks and School Five Days a Week
Posted on 08/11/2020
Students will return to in-classroom learning five days a week at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools.

When all five schools start Tuesday, Aug. 25 all students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks or face coverings upon entering school buildings and throughout the day. Face coverings will not be required during lunch, recess and other breaks where students can distance or be outdoors.
Face shields are acceptable especially for lower elementary teachers and students.  

While parents will be responsible for providing their students with face masks or coverings, schools will have backup disposable masks for students who need them.

The mask policy will be reviewed regularly in conjunction with the CDC, Iowa Department of Health and Siouxland District Health Department recommendations, according to BHCS President Dr. John Flanery.

“We are cautiously optimistic about beginning the school year with on-site learning,” Flanery says. “To meet this goal, we have planned for additional cleaning, social distancing, training and health and safety initiatives.

“At Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools we are committed to offering the highest level of education possible to meet the intellectual social, emotional and faith needs of each child. Our teachers will interact every day with students through core classes, prayer and religion classes, weekly Mass and service opportunities.”

In addition to the face covering requirement and staying home if sick, the Bishop Heelan School System has issued the following procedures and protocols to ensure the health and safety of students and staff members.

Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing: All students and staff must engage in handwashing or sanitizing upon arrival, before and after meals, after bathroom use, after coughing or sneezing, and before dismissal.

Entry screening: Student and staff temperatures should be checked daily at home before leaving for school. Temperatures will not be taken at school.

Physical distancing: Students and staff will maintain a physical distance of 6 feet to the greatest extent possible. Desks/tables will be spaced 3-6 feet apart facing the same direction. Seating charts will be used and adhered to in all classrooms and areas to keep students in the same workspace each day. 

Isolation and discharge for ill students: There are protocols for isolation and discharge of students who become sick during the school day. A specific room will be maintained for students with COVID-19 symptoms that is separate from the nurse’s office or other space where other ailments are treated.

Arrival and dismissal to minimize crowding: Student pick-up and drop-off will occur outside the school building.

Visitors and Volunteers: Outside visitors and volunteers will not be permitted to enter school buildings. Parents are encouraged to enter a school only in emergency situations and must wear masks.

Large group gatherings: Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools prides itself on family connections and often holds large gatherings for prayer services, family nights and more. Many of these events might be done virtually.

Signage: Our Catholic schools will post signs reminding students and staff of physical distancing, indicating one-way routes in hallways, spacing out at sinks in restrooms, marking distancing on floors with tape and related measures.  

Cohorting: Staff and students will group in small units whenever possible. Class periods might be staggered by cohorts to limit numbers of students in hallways at one time. Recess can be scheduled by cohorts to limit the number of students interacting on a playground at any given time.

Bishop Heelan schools will follow one of three different learning models during the school year based on the threat of COVID-19: On-site learning with health and safety precautions in place, hybrid learning where services are offered both remotely and on-site and virtual online learning off-site when it’s not possible to receive instruction in school. With remote virtual learning, students will use Google Classroom for grades 3-12 and SeeSaw for PK-2nd grade.

BHCS will also undertake these new protocols and routines for cleaning and disinfecting:
- Students are asked to bring their own water bottles. Drinking fountains will not be used.
- Commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, handrails, sink and faucet handles, etc. will be cleaned frequently. 
- Outdoor play equipment with high-touch surfaces will be cleaned frequently.
-Bathrooms will receive frequent cleaning and disinfection
- Students will be asked to clean their own workspace at the end of the day with school provided wipes/spray bottles.

BHCS will provide frequent and timely communication with parents and families on changes in learning methods and models, Flanery says. If there is a confirmed case of a student or staff member, contact tracing will be used through the Siouxland District Health Department, while keeping names anonymous.

“Our school team continues to receive information almost daily from the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Health, CDC, Diocese of Sioux City Catholic Schools Office, and the Siouxland District Health Department. Our plans and guidance could change as more information is received.”

More complete info can be found HERE

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