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County school reopening plan unveiled

LISBON — After working for months to create a unified plan to reopen the schools after coronavirus closed them on March 16, Columbiana County school districts unveiled their plan this week.

Although each school will be personalizing the plan for their own school district, the common plan was created during weekly meetings of the superintendents, county Health Commissioner Wes Vins and the county Educational Service Center.

Some of the common general principals in the plans for all the schools include consulting with the county, Salem and East Liverpool health departments regarding the local data for reopening.

Additionally, the schools have agreed to communicate with their students, parents, staff and others involved to educate everyone on the procedures and protocols that will be used to reduce the risk to children and employees while at school.

The schools are striving to provide appropriate face coverings and physical distancing requirements based on the classroom sizes, school facilities and building operations.

While staff will be given additional professional development, the schools plan to maintain their approved calendars.

The plan also addresses what will happen if Columbiana County were to move into different levels on the Ohio Department of Health risk level guidelines. Columbiana County is currently a level two with 1,582 cases, 171 hospitalizations and 60 deaths. Both level one, which is yellow, and level two, orange, call for options to include traditional learning, face-to-face five days a week, remote learning options and online learning options.

It’s not until level three, red, when the traditional learning should become more flexible with hybrid learning, remote learning and online learning. Schools may change their plan based on the level in their part of the county by zip code, information which will be provided to the school by the local health departments.

At level four, purple, which is severe exposure and spread, the plan calls for all students to return to remote learning and online learning.

The plans also require face coverings for all staff and students in grades three and above, including on buses.

Students and staff with temperatures above 100 degrees or experiencing coronavirus symptoms should stay home. A student sent home with a fever needs to be fever free, lower than 100 degrees without medication for 24 hours, improvement of all other symptoms for 24 hours and at least 10 days have passed since the start of symptoms.

The student must be transported to school by a parent or caregiver and be checked by the school nurse before returning to school.

Those testing positive for COVID-19 will be isolated by the local health department and contract tracing will be completed by school personnel.

The plan includes a flowchart regarding what will happen if a confirmed case of COVID-19 is in the building, including assessing risk, cleaning and possible building dismissal for a few days while the building is disinfected and tracing is conducted.

Additional steps are listed for informing parents about which classroom had the case, quarantining the student and those with exposure and possibly canceling events.

The plan also includes steps to make recesses, food service and bus rides safer. For instance, recesses may be more structured to limit contact with others. Parents who can transport their students should consider it to reduce the number of students on the buses. Buses may be loaded and unloaded to limit exposure caused by students walking past each other and sitting in close proximity.

While the general plan is agreed upon by all the superintendents at the 11 local school districts, the ESC, the county Career and Technical Center and the county Board of Developmental Disabilities, each school has the flexibility to adjust the plan to their own needs.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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