Wheaton school district returning to the books

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

School year to start Aug. 25

Students and staff alike are equally ready to see each other as the 2020-2021 school year inches into realization.

In an announcement to parents and staff of the Wheaton school district, administrators listed their first priority as the health and safety of every student and staff member.

They went on to say they believe that students should receive the best education possible, while still maintaining a safe environment.

While focusing on their main priority, they move toward options for education while setting up guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), all while understanding there is no guarantee at this time.

Providing an environment that is safe, as well as an environment that offers the best opportunity for education, are both focal points.

The re-entry plan will remain extremely fluid, and changes will be made according to guidelines received by the CDC and local health departments. The district will make reasonable best efforts to minimize risks, however, attending school in-person will introduce a greater risk of exposure, the district said.


There will be three options to the 2020-2021 school year in reference to education.

The first is traditional education, or seated school, with health precautions. Second is in-school education with technology support, meaning students will be provided services and accommodations according to their plan with safety measures in place. Finally, the third option is online with alternative methods of instruction. This includes virtual programming or distance services not located on campus.

Health and safety

The Wheaton school district will encourage “Wash-in/wash-out” with both students and staff. This includes their arrival at school and before leaving for the day, and breaks will be provided throughout the day to enforce the habit.

Barry, Newton and McDonald counties’ health departments will all guide the Wheaton school district on students and staff who are direct contacts or suspected of being COVID-19 positive.

Social distancing practices will be followed as much as possible in classrooms.

Students and staff will be randomly screened with no-touch thermometers, and those with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will immediately be sent home.

Outside visitors, including volunteers and parents, will have limited access to the buildings, meaning they can only access the foyers, and masks will be required for those individuals.

Parents needed to have a meeting with teachers may do so virtually.

Water fountain access will be limited. Students are encouraged to bring water bottles or containers to fill.

Students in seventh through twelfth grades and staff members will be required to wear masks or PPE when social distancing is not an option.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grades are strongly recommended to wear masks or PPE when social distancing is not an option, but will be required to wear masks on district transportation.


Masks will be required for all students on district transportation. If a student refuses to wear a mask, it will immediately be brought to the district administrators’ attention.

It is highly recommended that students and families provide their own transportation if possible.

Bus drivers will sanitize frequently and also be required to wear a mask. Buses will load back to front and all riders will have assigned seating.

Students within the same household will be assigned to sit together, and students will be limited to four per row.

Additionally, when possible, windows will be lowered to increase airflow.

Requests to ride an alternate bus route must be submitted no later than 2 p.m.

Breakfast and lunch

Elementary breakfast will be in the form of grab-and-go bags that will be eaten in the classrooms, but high school students can eat breakfast in the courtyard or classrooms.

Lunch will be served in plastic containers and there will be no self serve options.

In the elementary, schedules are being worked out to allow social distancing for lunch periods so students can eat in the cafeteria, but if it doesn’t allow social distancing in the cafeteria, lunch will be eaten in the classrooms.

In the high school, students can eat lunch in the courtyard, student center or vo-ag classrooms. At this time, options are still being considered.

Possibility of school closure

The decision to close Wheaton school is possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 or due to student or staff absenteeism.

In the event of another “wellness break” the decision will be made with consultation from the Barry, Newton and McDonald counties’ health departments, as well as from other area superintendents and the CDC guidelines.

Trigger points for school closure include:

• Students or staff absenteeism (in the range of 30-40 percent for two consecutive days)

• Confirmed case(s) of COVID-19

• If advised by the governor or state and local health authorities

• All activities may be canceled by the superintendent even if other area districts remain open

Early childhood and ELL

ELL students will continue to receive online support from their ELL teachers if the school closes.

Early childhood and pre-k students will be attending half-day programs and classes will not exceed 20 students per classroom.

Pre-k students will remain in one classroom for learning in order to offer the stable grouping.

Classrooms will have assigned seating to minimize contact.

Elementary — kindergarten through sixth grade

In the event of a wellness break, student education will be offered via online technology and Google Classroom, which will be taught by teachers.

Those with no access to internet will be eligible for offline lessons.

This means it is extremely important for the district to have current contact information for students.

Large gatherings will be limited, which may mean cancelation or modification of events like assemblies and celebrations.

Recess times will be staggered, and students will wash their hands before and after. Additionally, playground equipment will be sanitized regularly.

Special classes like P.E., art, music, library and special education will be accessible to students no matter the circumstances. However, teachers may come to the classrooms rather than have students traveling through campus to access the classes.

Junior high and high school

In-person education will mirror teachers’ Google Classroom and virtual platforms.

In the event of a district closure, instruction will transition to virtual immediately.

Interactions outside of the classroom may be limited and in transition between classes students will be required to wear a mask.

Groups will remain consistent of 25-30 peers, and assigned seating will be implemented.

Virtual option

Students will be expected and responsible for completing all coursework through the virtual option.

Seventh- through twelfth-grade students will receive feedback on their work on the traditional A-F grading scale.

Pre-k through sixth-grade students will receive feedback through standards based grading.

If students select LAUNCH/Edgenuity, they are still eligible for MSHSAA Sports and Activities.

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