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Palisades School District set to reopen Aug. 31 with social distancing

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With at least a 6-foot minimum social distancing established for all of the classrooms in its five school buildings, the Palisades School District is set to begin classes on Aug. 31, with the high school beginning only virtually until Sept. 16, and a full-virtual option remaining for all students.
 
As of now, there is no hybrid, or combination virtual and in-person, option. Getting to and from school, 70% of school bus routes are expected to have one student per seat, and the balance two per seat. Aug. 31 will be a half day for K-5, as well as for 6th and 9th grades.
 
Teachers may allow students to take mask breaks in all classes, provided students remain 6 feet apart. If a teacher is moving throughout the room, all students are to have their masks on. If students are moving throughout the room, or working in groups at a distance of less than 6 feet, students are to have their masks on. The duration of a mask break is based on how long students can remain 6 feet from one another.
 
At the Aug. 19 dial-in public school board meeting, school directors praised the district administration for its extraordinary efforts in getting the reopening together. When the board met publicly on July 22, minimum 6-foot distancing was only available in classrooms ranging from 55% to 91% in the five district buildings, with 100% available in the middle school only at 5 feet; at 4 feet in the three elementary schools; and at 3 feet for the high school.
 
Praise from directors included the district was “extremely lucky to have” its administration, “saluting the teachers coming back in greater numbers than surrounding districts,” “understanding we’re all in this together,” and “collaborating effectively with the community.” Also lauded was a pro-active effort to establish the availability of backup substitute nurses for all five school buildings, reflecting one of the many grim realities of the pandemic crisis.
 
Emphasizing that “remaining flexible and reactive to opening school in this current environment is imperative,” the district is continuing to regard the basic reopening plan adopted at its July 22 board meeting as open to change and adjustment. In particular, it may still shift to a hybrid plan, or all virtual, for one or more of its buildings.
 
Circumstances that would drive such changes include excess number of students who return face to face so that 6-foot distance cannot be maintained (change to hybrid); inability to staff a building due to staff leaves (change to virtual); or bad changes to community health data (switch to virtual).
 
Meal distribution will continue to be available for students participating remotely, via a 10-10:30 a.m. pick up at each school location, several days during the week. Families with multiple children in various buildings will receive more information regarding which building will be their pick up location, so they don’t have to travel to as many as three different locations.

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