Fulton Public Schools announce 'Return to Learn' plan

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FULTON - The Fulton Public School released its 'Return to Learn' plan on Friday morning. Its goal? Return to in-person learning as a district.

"The past several months have brought uncertainty and hardship for many of our families," the release said. "Throughout this next year, many things will remain uncertain but one thing remains the same, we will make all decisions with our student’s health, safety, and education in mind."

In-person classes start August 26, and virtual classes start August 24, according to the district's website.

Virtual education via Launch

Parents can enroll their students in virtual education if they don't feel comfortable sending them to in-person schooling. Families have to apply for Launch by August 10, according to the release.

Students that have been approved for Launch will begin on August 24 and will have until September 1 to transfer back to in-person classes.

"Otherwise, they must remain in the Launch program for the duration of the semester for which they were approved," the release said. And if a student is not successful with Launch, they will not be approved for the following semester.

The release said the school plan will likely evolve as health experts learn more about COVID-19.

"Beyond the educational impact, there has been substantial impact on social interactions, mental health, food security and physical activity for children and families," the release said. "Our goal is to return our students as close to a traditional educational setting as possible while putting in safeguards for their health and safety." 

Increased sanitation efforts

More custodial staff are being hired to disinfect the schools and increase sanitation.

Classrooms, common spaces and high touch surface areas will be regularly cleaned throughout the school day, according to the release.

"Hand washing stations with soap and/or hand sanitizer will be available in classrooms, commonly used areas, and at the entrances and exits of all buildings."

Along with increased sanitation by custodians, students and staff will have scheduled times throughout the day to wash hands and sanitize supplies.

Social distancing in school

Students will immediately go to designated classrooms and areas upon arriving at school to help maintain social distancing.

There will be assigned seating in classrooms, in common areas and when riding the bus, the release said.

Some students may eat meals in classrooms, while others may eat in common areas to help limit the number of students in the cafeteria.

Desks will also be spaced as far apart as possible in classrooms, according to the release. "Non-essential furniture and other soft surfaces such as carpets and seating will be removed for sanitation purposes."

Screening measures for students and staff

Perfect attendance will not be incentivized this school year, the release said. The preference is for anyone who is sick to stay home.

Thermal cameras will be installed at the entrance of every building to scan all who enter for elevated temperatures.

"Anyone experiencing a temperature at/above 100.4 will immediately be moved to a designated area and screened for additional symptoms to determine if they need to be sent home," the release said.

PPE

All students will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask or face covering in any instance where social distance cannot be maintained.

Staff members will be expected to wear a mask or face covering, including arrival and dismissal time.

Parents were just hoping for an option

According to previous KOMU 8 reporting, parents were just hoping to be able to choose the best option for them.

Sarah Sparks, a mother of a fifth grader at Bush Elementary School, said she hopes the district gives parents and students a choice of learning styles.

“I hope that the reopening plan gives us a choice," Sparks said. "The reason I feel that way is because I know it is a very divisive topic and people have very strong opinions one way or the other."

The plan was created with input from parent surveys, staff, the Callaway County Health Department, CDC and the Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education.

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