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PAISD outlines student reopening plan, including limited visitation policies

The Port Arthur Independent School District was amongst one of the first districts in the Golden Triangle to announce a re-opening plan for the upcoming school year. Now, changes are being made.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie released the Reopening Redesign Plan Thursday, addressing the most critical needs of students, staff and community.

“With the start of the 2020-2021 school year fast approaching, the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘What will school look like in August?’” Porterie said. “We understood that there would be changes as we moved closer to reopening, but we had no idea there would be major conflicts among our leaders who we look to for guidance.

“However, we have managed to gather enough information to create a draft for the return to the 2020-2021 school year.”

The re-opening draft includes a safety first, COVID-19 specific workplace plan.

The How to Guide for Re-opening Our Schools outlines strategies and tactics to combat and minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

New school policies and practices include heath measures including self-screenings, temperature checks and a mask mandate, as well as extensive social distancing measures and plans.

Health safety guidelines include:

  • Staff, parents and guardians are expected to screen themselves and any children for COVID-19 symptoms before reporting to work or school.
  • Anyone with a fever of 100.0 degrees or higher should not go to a school site.
  • Hand sanitizers are placed at each entrance to be used when entering the building.
  • Limited visitation policies are in place at each facility.
  • All staff, students and visitors are required to wear a mask before entering any campus.
  • Non-essential travel, field trips, assemblies and dances are not permitted at this time.
  • Students and staff will frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer after they have touched something another person recently touched.

Social distancing guidelines include:

  • All individuals must maintain six feet of distance from each other at all times while on campus including during arrival and dismissal.
  • The movement of students within buildings will be limited and minimized.
  • Group activities such as athletics, extracurricular and after-school tutoring will follow all CDC guidelines and state recommendations.
  • Students will arrive on buses with fewer students.
  • Each campus will reduce classroom capacities to allow for social distancing to the maximum extent possible.

The plan also calls for restricting the number of accessible entrances, no sharing of school supplies and leaving all lights on and doors open to minimize touching of high-risk locations.

“As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and how we can attack this virus in an effort to win, there may be changes to the plan,” Porterie said. “The fight against COVID-19 may be one of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced. However, I am convinced that together we can overcome this challenge and the PAISD will be stronger at the end.”

Anyone who comes in contact with a confirmed COVID-19-positive patient or contracts the virus must quarantine for 14 days.

If the infected person previously attended school, health officials recommend the entire class to stay at home for 14 days. Should the infection rate spread at a substantial rate, a short two- to five-day building dismissal will be ordered to clean and disinfect in consultation with local health officials.

Those returning to school must be fever-free for 72 hours or provide a written note from a medical official.

Students on quarantine can continue lessons via synchronous learning.