District to implement preventive measures


Classrooms to be outfitted with sanitation kits


North Hopkins ISD is still looking at an Aug. 19 start for on-campus instruction, but there will be several sanitation and protective measures in place to mitigate COVID-19, according to superintendent Dr. Darin Jolly at the Thursday night board meeting.

“We’re hoping to build some confidence,” Jolly said. “We’re hoping that as many students we can get here will be for the better.”

The district’s remote learning will also start the same day and will offer synchronous instruction, like video calls into classrooms, and asynchronous instruction, such as online classes. During the meeting, Jolly presented new classroom technology to aid in the synchronous approach that records a class in session.

“For any device that is being utilized in that live classroom, it [the new technology] puts it all together for an at-home broadcast for live-streaming,” Jolly said. “We don’t look for extra work for our teachers, and they’ll be able to do all this while they’re teaching kids in the classroom.”

For on-campus students, Jolly said classrooms would be open earlier so students could arrive earlier, and lunches might be split between the cafeteria and classrooms. Secondary principal Brian Lowe said he is trying to split the senior class, the largest high school class, into three groups. The fifth and sixth grades, which are also large classes, will also be split into smaller groups.

Along with the personal protection equipment and sanitation tools given by the state, the district purchased plexiglass shields for classroom desks and more efficient disinfectants. Masks will be required for students 10 and up, especially in small groups or close proximity, and Jolly said the district is making every effort to shield students and will be providing masks on request.

“We will still wear masks when barriers aren’t able to be there,” Jolly said. “A lot of our teachers know I expect them to wear those, but they also have shields. If they’re in an area to be able to teach behind a shield, I’m not going to expect them to wear a mask at that point.”

A sanitation kit will be present in every classroom, and the kit is outfitted with disposable masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, sanitizer and disinfectant spray.

“Every teacher will have access to that so that at any time they think they need to sanitize something, we want them to have that peace of mind,” Jolly said.

The finer details of North Hopkins’ plan are still being hammered out, but Jolly said students’ temperatures should be checked three times a day. As for where to keep feverish students until they are picked up, an area away from the main campus, such as the administration building, would be ideal. Finalized plans should be released a week before the school year starts.

“It’s our thought that if we can take temperatures all day long, it’s math, it’s science. We can talk about numbers,” Jolly said. “We can constantly do that.”

Jolly also mentioned a few teachers who teach the same grades in adjacent rooms could rotate instead of the students. An example he gave was of the fifth and sixth grade teachers who all teach in the same hallway, and instead of students moving from room to room, the teachers could take carts with their instructional material to each room.

“We’re going to save some time in sanitizing by having those teachers move a cart to each group of kids so that we’re not having to constantly sanitize,” Jolly said.

According to a survey done by North Hopkins ISD, about 86% of families were comfortable with their children returning to on-campus learning, and with the district announcing more of their preventive measures, Jolly hopes more parents will send their children back to school.

“We’ve always focused on test scores, learning and achievement, and, yes, we always will,” Jolly said. “But we’re going to kill a lot of germs this year, and we’re going to be a safe school.”

Despite the lingering uncertainty surrounding the coming school year, Jolly said he was “excited” about how the district would take on the challenge.

“What we’re doing is trying to lead with confidence and to know this is our mission. This is what we do,” Jolly said. “And we’re going to do it safely, and we’re going to do it well.”