Dora School releases COVID aware plans for Aug. 24 start date
By Sue Ann Jones
Like other Ozark County schools, Dora will begin its 2020-2021 year looking “a little different this fall,” superintendent Dr. Allen Woods said in a message posted on the school’s website recently. He called the past few months, when schools struggled to cope with the COVD-19 pandemic, “the most challenging period of my career.”
Dora will start classes Aug. 24 and will follow the plan that’s briefly summarized here; it was approved at the July 28 school board meeting after being developed by Dora faculty and administrators with the guidance of several state agencies and departments, as well as the Ozark County Health Department.
Woods cautioned that “the information being provided to us is changing daily” as the district responds to the challenge of keeping “students, teachers, and patrons safe while in the school environment” in what he called “this ever-changing time.”
– and risks
The reopening plan starts with a review of COVID-19 symptoms as described by the Centers for Disease Control: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell – and, less commonly, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The plan urges parents to keep their children at home if the students show any of these symptoms. Attendance policies for the 2020-2021 school year are being adjusted to remove incentives for students to attend school while sick, following Department of Elementary and Secondary Elementary guidance.
“Faculty and staff will be trained to recognize symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19. Training will include, but will not be limited to, online modules provided by the Missouri United School Insurance Council,” the plans says.
The school has purchased additional resources for the 2020-21 school year to enable increased cleaning, the plan says, adding that it “will make reasonable best efforts to minimize risk.” But it also warns that attending school in-person will introduce a greater risk of exposure.
An abbreviated summary of Dora’s reopening plan is shared here.
Three levels that
Following Missouri DESE guidelines, Dora has established three “levels of education” that will impact the school’s re-opening policy. Woods said they hope to continue in Level 1 but will also prepare to need “virtual learning throughout the school year.”
These levels have been established:
Level 1 (no district cases, no large spike in community cases)
• Regular classroom environment/in-person learning.
• All students who choose traditional learning may be present.
• Families may opt out for online learning due to safety concerns.
• Parents will have the option of changing their student’s learning status (opt-in or opt-out) one time during the semester.
• Masks are optional.
• Student and faculty temperatures will be checked upon arrival at school.
• Visitors are permitted after a temperature check.
Level 2 (COVID cases have been confirmed in the community and school)
• Students will report to a designated area upon arrival.
• Lunches will be served in the classrooms or in shifts in the cafeteria to follow social distancing guidelines.
• School-related events will be determined by the administration.
• Masks are optional.
• Student and faculty temperatures will be checked upon arrival at school.
• Only staff and students will be permitted into the school building.
• Limited movement will be allowed throughout the building.
Level 3 (Possible online, virtual learning with no on-site classes)
• Lessons may be delivered via packets or a flash drive if a student does not have internet access at home.
• If a parent chooses virtual learning for their child, that student will be prohibited from participating in any form of school-related sports or activities during that time.
• An alternative calendar may be adopted to get students in school for some days during the week.
Virtual learning –
notice needed by Aug. 14
Parents who don’t feel comfortable sending their child to school are asked to send an email to email@example.com by Friday, Aug. 14.
“The goal is to partner with families to develop the best possible educational delivery plan for students,” the guidelines say, while repeating the Level 3 warning that students enrolled in virtual learning “will not be eligible for any activities or athletics during this period of enrollment.”
The guidelines note the possibility “that the district may have to revert to virtual classes on short notice depending on the protocols we will have to follow.” State and local health department guidelines will govern how that is done.
Returning after a COVID case
• A student who has had “COVID-19 concerns” may return to school after 10 days have passed without symptoms, after 24 hours have passed with no fever and no medicine, and with written approval to return from a healthcare provider.
Visitors will be limited for the upcoming school year. Virtual meetings will be encouraged whenever possible. Engagement with parents and guardians will continue to be encouraged, “with the students’ education remaining the number one priority,” the plans says. If a virtual meeting is not possible, a visitor may be required to undergo a physical screening. The school district will make every effort to provide a designated visitor’s space.
• Parents are encouraged to drop off students at school instead of using bus service when possible. Drop-off and pickup systems will be organized to ensure the greatest social distancing possible.
• Dora’s before- and after-school (“GATE”) program will continue, with drop-off no earlier than 7 a.m. and pickup no later than 5 p.m.
• Assigned bus seating will be strictly enforced, and students from the same household will be required to sit together.
• Buses will be sanitized multiple times per day, and hand sanitizer will be available.
• It’s strongly recommended that all students age 10 and older wear a face covering at all times while on the bus.
• Buses will be loaded from back to front and unloaded from front to back.
• Windows will remain open to increase air flow, weather permitting.
• Bus drivers will check students’ temperatures before entering the bus.
Arrival at school and breakfast
• All students will have their temperature checked before they come into the building, even if it was checked when loading a bus.
• K-4 students will go directly to classrooms upon arrival. Breakfast may be served in the classroom, depending on school’s designated reopening level.
• Grades 5-12 students may go through the breakfast and lunch line using appropriate social distancing. Students must spread out in the cafeteria to maintain social distancing.
• Grades 5-12 students will report directly to their designated areas after finishing breakfast. Students will not be allowed to congregate in hallways or other areas.
• Parents and visitors will be permitted to visit the school office but will not have access to any other areas in the building.
During the school day
• Grades k-4 students will remain with their class all day to the extent possible with limited interaction during recess, where feasible.
• Chromebooks will be assigned to students on a 1:1 basis during the school day.
• Sharing of art and other supplies will be minimized and/or eliminated, and equipment used by more than one student will be sanitized between uses.
• Locker use may be restricted or prohibited.
• Assigned seating will be used in all grade levels to assist in contract tracing in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
• To the extent possible, all desks will face forward with no students sitting face-to-face.
• Physical distancing cues and markers will be placed throughout the district.
• Schedules are being constructed to minimize the mixing of students.
• Staggered class transition times may be implemented to reduce the number of students in the hallways at one time.
• Lunch shifts at all grade levels will be staggered as much as possible.
• All lunches will be plated or boxed. Self-serve options will not be available.
• Students will sit with their classes in assigned seating.
• All tables will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly between uses.
Sanitation and custodial concerns
• The district will make PPE, soap and hand sanitizer available throughout the school.
• All methods of disinfecting will be used for frequently touched surfaces and objects.
• In the event of a positive COVID test, the affected area will be cleaned to meet standards before re-opening.
• Bottle-filling stations will be used for drinking water during the day. All students are encouraged to bring their own bottles for refilling.
Athletics and activities
Dora School officials said they “do not know what the fall sports season holds” but added that they are working with Missouri State High School Athletic Association and local and state authorities to determine the “best way forward.” Partial or full cancellation of sports and activities is possible, perhaps with limited spectators (for example, family only), the plan says, adding, “Some sports may be approved and others canceled.” To see the current MSHSAA guidelines, visit dora.org, click on “Covid info” and scroll down to the “Athletics & Activities” section.
• At its July 28 meeting, the Dora School board decided face masks would be optional at school. Parents who want their child to wear a mask are asked to notify the office. Students are strongly encouraged to wear a mask on any bus.
• Large gatherings and assemblies may be minimized or restricted, depending on local health circumstances.
• Weather permitting, students may go outside for all physical education and/or choir and band classroom activities. A larger space will be considered to accommodate for physical distancing if designated classrooms are too small to allow for appropriate student numbers and/or spacing.
• Faculty and staff members are encouraged to do daily self-checks and stay home if they have had any of the possible COVID symptoms within the last 14 days, or if they have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed or presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19. If symptoms are experienced, the employee should contact their healthcare provider for a COVID test. If the test is positive, Ozark County Health Department will provide further instructions.
Employees with a positive COVID test may use paid time off or may request, in writing, extended FMLA leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.