GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County School District No. 2 is preparing to welcome students back to in-person learning on Aug. 19 while following public health guidelines and offering a distance learning option.
The district has compiled a 36-page “Smart Start” guide outlining education plans and modifications designed to address COVID-19 concerns. It features a three-tiered learning model based on local and state health department decisions. At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Board of Trustees approved the plan to be submitted to the Wyoming Department of Education.
Originally, the district intended to recommend rather than require masks. Due to current state and federal guidelines, however, the plan has been changed to say that face coverings will be required when social distancing (6 feet apart for more than 15 minutes) isn’t possible. Exceptions will be made in certain circumstances. Students are encouraged to provide their own masks.
School is set to begin under tier one, traditional learning, with in-person classes and activities for most students at the same time. A number of health modifications will be in place. Two other tiers are listed as options in case public heath guidelines change. Tier two, a hybrid learning model, features a rotating schedule in case not all students and staff are allowed in buildings at the same time. Tier three is the virtual instruction model that the district followed in the spring when schools were closed down.
County health officials will provide contact tracing and recommend quarantines for COVID-19 cases and exposures among students. Sweetwater No. 2, in collaboration with and guidance from state and local health officials, may decide to close parts of schools, specific schools, or the district to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Random temperature checks and screenings may be conducted, and everyone is encouraged to do a self-check health screening before coming to school each day. Students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees will be sent home.
Schools may consider staggering recess times and implement sanitizing routines. Lunchrooms will be open, and schools may modify schedules, seating, and serving lines for social distancing and sanitizing needs. Students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles from home with their names on them. Buses will run regular routes with additional safety procedures in place.
At his first board meeting as the new superintendent of schools on Tuesday, Craig Barringer spoke about the district’s ongoing efforts to come up with a comprehensive plan. To discover how families were feeling about the upcoming school year in light of COVID-19, he said the district sent out surveys. Out of 950 respondents, 82% said they want their kids back in school. Barringer said there are other options available for the other 18%.
Distance learning provided by School District No. 2 is one of those options. Those who would prefer to use the distance learning model should fill out an application by Aug. 1. Online applications are available on the district website at swcsd2.org.
Students in grades K-5 will be assigned to a teacher for distance learning provided by the district. Select teachers will have cameras in their classrooms. Students will log in and begin watching at the start of each school day. Google Classroom will be used as the primary learning management system. Middle and high school students will use Edmentum Courseware. If there is not an equivalent online course, the student will participate in remote and/or classroom-based distance education.
Other options include home school or attending a virtual school outside of the district such as the Wyoming Virtual Academy. Students who home-school or are enrolled in distance learning provided by Sweetwater No. 2 can participate in extracurricular activities.
Prior to the first day of school, staff will be required to complete online courses including coronavirus awareness;cleaning and disinfecting your workplace; coronavirus — managing stress and anxiety; coronavirus — preparing your household; coronavirus — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to making and using cloth face coverings; and common illness prevention.