Monroe County Schools plan to return to school as normal when the year begins on Aug. 7.

According to the district guide to reopening schools, available on the Monroe County Schools website, the decision was made after “careful consideration” of all factors and with the input and guidance from the State Department of Education, local health department and advisory panels consisting of teachers, parents, students and community members.

“It is the recommendation of the Reopening Task Force that schools open on time and operate according to Yellow Level Guidelines until conditions warrant a change, while being prepared to flip the switch at any time,” according to the task force documents.

The level system is comprised of three color categories, with Green level being all clear, Yellow level to continue operations with precautions and Red Level to stop operations of the school in person.

“We looked at the plans from several different school districts to see what we needed in our plan or what we liked in other peoples’ plan,” said Monroe County Schools Director Dr. DeAnna McClendon. “The biggest thing that we did to get the most feedback was a community survey.”

According to McClendon, the survey resulted in 61% of those who filled out the survey wanting school to return to normal with 24% wanting a hybrid of returning to school and distance learning. The remaining 15% of participants wanted full virtual learning.

McClendon noted that any parent who does not feel comfortable sending their child back to school will have the option of virtual classes.

For those who will be attending in person, there will be numerous precautions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“One of the things that families wanted was regular disinfection of common areas,” said McClendon. “They also wanted us to perform temperature checks, not let students share supplies, limit visitors to the school and practice social distancing. So we will be doing all of that.”

A few of the common areas outside of the classroom consist of playgrounds, the cafeteria and buses.

“The playgrounds will be cleaned after one class is finished and before another one goes out,” McClendon stated. “The schools will be able to individualize their plans for the cafeteria that will vary on the size of the school.”

Students who ride the bus will be asked to wear a mask while in the vehicle.

Social distancing while on the bus will also be in practice with family members (siblings) sharing seats.

A quarantine area will also be established for students who may potentially be at risk.

“Students will have their temperature taken before entering the building,” McClendon said. “If a student who had just gotten off the bus (for example) had a high temperature then we will put that student in the ‘quarantine’ area until their parent can pick them up.”

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