R-I district adopts back- to-school plan

Palmyra R-I School is planning to open as usual this fall, but there will be new guidelines while the COVID-19 pandemic is still underway.

Superintendent Kirt Malone discussed the district’s back to school plan with the R-I Board of Education during their meeting last week, at which they also set the date for the tax rate hearing, heard an update on construction work and approved various back to school items, including an increase to breakfast and lunch prices.

According to information sent to parents last Friday, Palmyra R-I students, staff and parents will follow one of three scenarios, depending on the situation on Aug. 24, the scheduled first day of school.

Scenario 1) Green: All staff/students will return to school starting Aug. 24. Staff and students will start the school year using the regular school-year calendar continuing to follow public health guidelines by implementing social distancing practices and implementing other safety measures. 

Under the green plan, the district believes it will be able to effectively manage any new cases of COVID-19 and the risk to staff and students remains low.

Scenario 2) Yellow: Low infection rates and lifted mitigation strategies would allow the district to go back to school for in-person learning in August, but a higher infection rate forces the district into a combination of in-person and virtual learning environment during the school year. 

In this scenario, some students would remain in school, while others would stay at home and receive lessons remotely. This scenario will look different depending on the range and rate of infection.

Scenario 3) Red: No students are on campus. Staff may or may not be required to be on campus.

Should the students be allowed on campus, there will be new guidelines for them to follow to help slow the spread. 

While masks will not be mandatory for students, teachers will be required to wear them when in close contact with students.

Social distancing will be required as much as possible as will proper hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t possible.

Doors will be open in classrooms and desks will be spread out to accommodate social distancing guidelines. In addition, lockers will not be used until social distancing guidelines are relaxed, according to the information.

Lunch will also be different as meals will be served in the classrooms although meals may still be brought from home.

Restrictions will also be placed on restroom usage as well as indoor and outdoor activities and riding the buses.

The information sent to parents also includes a list of recommendations parents take each day before sending their student to school, including taking temperatures and being aware of COVID-19 symptoms and/or changes in their child’s health.

Malone also noted visitors will be restricted, except for special IEP meetings. Masks will be required for any visitors.

As far as athletics are concerned, the information refers to the MSHSAA link.

The district also adopted more cleaning and sanitizing practices in the buildings, buses and playground areas.

In other business, Malone updated the board on construction at Palmyra High School. Work on the athletic complex is on schedule and expected to be completed in August. 

“The bricklayers finished the entry columns this (past) week,” Malone said. “Whiston Construction is working on the inside of the concession stand, running electric, plumbing and some finish work. They continue to build sidewalks this week. 

“The scoreboard is nearly complete with just a few items left to install while waiting for the press box installation,” he added. “Play clocks were installed last week, and the bleachers are scheduled to be installed this week.”

The press box is behind schedule as the factory was shut down for a time this spring. It will be a modular unit being built in Michigan, and is scheduled to go out the door on Aug. 11, according to the bleacher company, Malone added. When it arrives, the scoreboard, electric, cameras and wifi will begin installation in time for the fall season.

The board set the annual tax rate hearing for Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 6:30 p.m.

The board also approved an increase in meal prices of 15 cents for student breakfast, 5 cents for student lunch, and 5 cent increase for adult breakfast and lunch for the 2020-2021 school year.

Elementary and middle school breakfasts will be $1.75, and high school breakfast will be $1.90. Adult breakfasts will be $2.55. 

Elementary lunches will be $2.30, and middle and high school lunches will be $2.55. Adult lunches will be $3.05.

The board hired James Renot as an elementary paraprofessional. At this point, all vacancies are filled, Malone said.

The board also:

• approved the 2020-2021 Free and Reduced application forms;

• reviewed and approved the iPad Handbook, the athletic/activities handbook, coaches and sponsors handbook, student and administrative handbooks and the transportation handbook for the 2020-2021 school year; and

• set the annual board picnic for April 6, 2021.

Under old business the board discussed the upcoming Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) Fall Conference.