Schools prepare for opening

Rhea County School System teachers and administrators review the school safety plan and school schedule at a meeting at Rhea County High School on Monday. County schools have their first full day of class on Friday, Aug. 7.

Dayton City School is set to hold its first full day of classes on Monday, Aug. 17, with students in third-grade through eighth-grade required to wear a mask while in classrooms after the Dayton City School Board approved the measure on Monday.

Dayton City School Superintendent Trish Newsom said school officials have divided students up into Group A and Group B. She said that students in Group A will physically attend school on Monday and Tuesday, while students in Group B will physically attend school on Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, Newsom said, will be devoted to cleaning the school thoroughly. That plan will remain in place for nine weeks, after which, school officials will reevaluate the number of active COVID-19 cases in the county and determine if all students can return to school and resume a somewhat normal schedule.

Also on Monday, the school board approved a measure that will require students in third-grade through eighth-grade to wear masks while in the classroom and other areas of the school. Students will not be required to wear masks while eating, at recess or in areas of the school where social distancing is possible.

Dayton City School Board Member Steve Randolph made the motion, citing student safety, and said that while children are less vulnerable to COVID-19, school officials did not want students taking the virus home to parents or grandparents who would be more susceptible to the virus.

School officials said that with nearly 25 percent of students opting for virtual learning, and with the staggered school attendance schedule, measures have been put in place that could aid in helping slow the spread of the virus among the Dayton City School population.

The Rhea County School System will hold its first day of classes on Friday, Aug. 7, and school system officials said at a teacher and administrator meeting on Monday that measures will be put into place in efforts to protect students and staff from COVID-19.

Officials said the following protocols will be implemented:

• Hand sanitizer stations will be in all classrooms and common spaces.

• Intensive cleaning throughout the building during and after school hours. Electrostatic foggers will be used to disinfect, with each school receiving a electrostatic fogger.

• Masks will be the option of the parent and student. Masks will not be mandatory for students or teachers.

• Signage will be posted in all buildings encouraging frequent hand washing and social distancing.

• Students and staff should remain at home if they are sick.

• Parents are requested to complete temperature checks prior to sending children to school. Temperature checks will be conducted at all schools.

• All staff will log their temperature daily. If a temperature exceeds 100.4, the employee will be sent home and required to stay home until they maintain a regular temperature for 24 hours immediately prior to returning to work.

County school officials are also prepared in the event that a case of COVID-19 does appear at the schools.

“If a positive test for COVID-19 occurs in a school building with a student or a staff member, district and school administrators will work with the regional health department who will take the lead on notifications and contact tracing,” officials said. “Potential school closures will be based upon the risk levels determined by the Rhea County Department of Education and the Rhea County Health Department. If school is closed due to COVID-19, virtual classes will begin. The trigger to begin discussion with the Rhea County Health Department will be when the positive COVID-19 cases exceeds 1 per 100 students. Rhea County Schools will have the ability to close individual schools or the entire system.”