POTSDAM — The Potsdam Central School District has developed a plan to slowly and safely reopen its doors starting next month.
Superintendent Joann Chambers told board of education members Tuesday that the district is looking at bringing its 11- and 12-month employees back on a part-time basis beginning on June 1.
By the end of June, the 11- and 12-month employees would be brought back on a full-time basis.
Ms Chambers said a safety plan template was developed and made available to develop steps that would be used in reopening school, including using guidance from the Department of Health.
“We thought it was a good idea to complete that and begin planning for reopening with our 11- and 12-month employees,” Ms. Chambers said. “In order to (reopen the school), we’re putting a number of steps in place to ensure everyone’s safety.”
She said the district’s cleaning protocol has been in place for several months,
“(Patrick McLaughlin, supervisor of buildings and grounds) was very thorough in his research and understanding the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines. So we don’t think we’re going to have to make any changes to our cleaning protocol. They’re using the appropriate products. They’re keeping logs of those cleaning products. For the summer, we believe we’re in really good shape for that,” she said.
They are putting in guidance about the COVID-19 virus for the safety of employees.
“We’re going to be asking all of our employees upon returning to work to take their temperature. We’ve purchased scanning thermometers for each of the offices and we’ve provided each employee with a log,” Ms. Chambers said.
In addition to taking their temperatures, staff members will need to report if they’re experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus. They are told not to report to work if they display any of the symptoms.
“If they test with a high temperature when they report to work, they will be asked to leave work and seek testing” from a medical provider,” she said. “Those are new steps for us to keep everybody safe.”
They’ll be keeping the building locked during the summer, which Ms. Chambers said is “not unusual protocol in the summer.” Staff will be available in each office for visitors, who will need to stay in the foyer.
What will happen in September when school is set to reopen for the 2020-21 year is still up in the air.
“Unfortunately we don’t have all the answers yet in terms of school in September. A lot depends on guidance from the governor,” Ms. Chambers said.
At the direction of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, schools have been closed since mid-March as the coronavirus continued to spread.
The original plan was to return to schools on April 20. However, extensions continued to move that plan back and, at the end of April, Gov. Cuomo announced that schools across New York would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Students have continued classes through online distance learning since the closure, and a plan developed by regional superintendents spells out when each district has reached the required 180 days of school and can officially close for 2019-20 year.