(by Mike Hutchens, Union City Schools Communications Director)
With those simple words, Union City Director of Schools Wes Kennedy has announced the parameters of reopening schools for the more than 1,600 UC School System students and the 2020-21 school year.
“I believe we’re at a point where moving forward to the resumption of classes and some sense of normalcy is best for everyone involved,” Kennedy said. “Quite obviously, we’re living in unprecedented times and there is no foolproof manual or how-to guide to refer to when making plans.
“That said, what’s best for our students is to be in school – not only for the learning and intellectual benefits — but also the socio-emotional aspect.
“The safety and health of our students, our faculty and administration will be priority No. 1 – as always. The guidelines and protocols that we’ll implement will reflect that. And we will be prepared to adapt and adjust when and where changes are needed in any original plan.”
Traditional classes will thus begin as scheduled on all three UC Schools campuses Aug. 10. There will initially be no distance learning provided except for students with special circumstances or health risks – although a back-up plan for such is in place.
Daily temperature checks and monitoring will be part of each morning, and social distancing will be practiced when possible in every facet of the school day. Both hand sanitizer and paper towels will be available and utilized in each classroom, and teachers will wipe down desks and computers between every class.
No masks will be required, but those students who wish to wear them will be allowed to do so.
Extra provisions will be provided for both cafeteria gatherings and for recess at younger levels and for physical education classes. There will be practices put in place for both entering and exiting buildings, as well as regulations for bus riders. School visitors must also adhere to any and all guidelines.
Kennedy — along with school administrators and other system personnel — teamed to put together an extensive regulation/protocol list (see attachment). The DOS said responses to a parent survey posted on the school system’s website was both beneficial and encouraging.
“We’re taking every precaution we can to promote healthy behavior that might reduce any potential risk to anyone who enters the doors of Union City Schools,” Kennedy said. “There are some things we can’t control, and, with those, we’ll simply adapt and do the very best we can.
“I can’t promise there won’t be additional issues to the ones we’ll initially address. What I can assure all our students, their parents and our personnel is that we will do everything within our power to both alleviate health concerns and provide for a good learning environment with limited worry.”
There have been no traditional classes in the Union City School System since March 19, when the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the nation forced the closure of UC Schools while altering the final two months of the 2019-20 school calendar.