Union Public School District Re-Entry Plan
UPSD, Let's Go Back to School
The following return to school plan was developed using considerations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mississippi Department of Health, and the Mississippi Department of Education. Special guidance in the development of this plan was obtained from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A Hybrid Start (Aug. 5 - Aug. 28)
UPSD will host a Virtual Open House with videos posted to the school websites.
Students with last names beginning with A-I will attend on Wednesday, Aug. 5
Students with last names beginning with J-Z will attend on Thursday, Aug. 6
All students will have a virtual learning day on Friday, Aug. 7 and school staff will attend in person.
From August 10-28, students will either attend on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. All students will have remote learning on Fridays. Students will have assignments on their remote days during the week, as well. Attendance will be taken for on-campus days and remote days.
A survey will be deployed on Tuesday, July 28 for parents to give their preference for students attending on either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.
We may not be able to accommodate all requests in the interest of keeping numbers low and balanced. In this case, we will go on a first come, first serve basis.
Students whose parents do not respond to the survey will be placed on days in the interest of keeping numbers low and balanced.
Parents should complete the survey once for each child they have enrolled.
Students whose parents do not complete the survey will be placed on days based on numbers with an emphasis on creating low and balanced numbers in classes.
The district understands that many parents want to walk their pre-K and kindergarten students to class on the first day of school to help ease any first day anxiety the students may have. We are committed to helping with that, but safety must be a first priority. Starting at 8:30 a.m. and continuing until 9:30 a.m., one parent may walk PK and K students to class on the first day (August 5th for last names beginning with A-I or August 6th for last names beginning with J-Z). Parents choosing to do this will be required to wear a mask. Masks may be removed briefly for individual photo opportunities.
Extended Hybrid Model (Aug. 31 - Sept. 18)
All students return to classes on Monday, Aug. 31, as originally planned.
The classes in these grades are smaller with an average class size of roughly 20.
The classes are cohorted, meaning all of the same students stay together throughout the day. This means quarantines would not affect nearly as many students as in older grades.
Independent learning at home is more difficult for younger students.
Students in need of extra assistance and those without other childcare options will attend on Fridays until 12:30. Parents, if you need your child to attend on Friday, please contact their teachers. All other students will learn remotely on Fridays. Friday’s assignments will be checked on Monday and count toward attendance on the previous Friday. This will extend through September 18, but could be extended longer, based on data.
All 7-12 students will continue the hybrid model through September 18, 2020.
Students lacking reliable internet at home may attend daily with a letter from a parent certifying this.
Some students in need of special assistance will be requested by teachers to attend daily.
Any student in need of assistance may attend on Friday. Plans for Friday attendance should be made in advance with the student’s homeroom teacher to allow teachers adequate time for planning. School will be released at 12:30 each Friday.
Parents may change their child’s hybrid day choice one time by calling the school office, with a valid reason related to childcare or transportation.
Parents with true childcare issues may arrange for their child to attend daily by calling the school principal.
7th and 8th grade students who need a device to take home will be issued one. High school students have already been assigned devices.
Remote learning assignments are REQUIRED. They are counted in grades and attendance is reported based on completion of remote learning assignments.
NOTE: Any students who attend daily due to lack of internet or childcare issues will not be a distraction to others in classrooms or cause disciplinary concerns. Any who do will lose the privilege of attending each day at the discretion of the school principal. Additionally, students who attend each day for these reasons will not receive more instruction than other students. They will work on their remote learning assignments in the classrooms while other students learn new content.
Exposure to COVID-19
Any student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine at home for 14 days since symptoms first appeared and until fever free for 24 hours with no fever-reducing medication.
Parents should notify the school nurse and the school principal if their child tests positive for COVID-19.
When the school becomes aware that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, the parents of individuals in that student’s class will be notified WITHOUT identifying the affected student. All should then monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Those within 6 ft for 15 minutes or longer will be advised to quarantine for 14 days.
The district, in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Education, will provide for more allowable parental excuses. This comes with the expectation that students will remain at home in the event they display any of the symptoms below, and that they will remain at home until they have been symptom free for 24 hours.
Parents and guardians should constantly monitor for signs and symptoms of any illness. If symptoms exist, please keep children home until they have been symptom free for 24 hours.
Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
Have you had a fever in the last 24 hours?
Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
It is the responsibility of all parents to work together in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of all students and staff.
Parents are strongly encouraged to bring their children to school or allow them to walk within one mile. The car-rider and bus drop off plan will be altered to accommodate the expected increase in parent drop-offs.
As social distancing on a bus will be challenging, we strongly encourage families to bring student(s) to school to help minimize numbers on the bus. When not possible, here are our bus guidelines:
Students will be separated on the bus where feasible. Siblings or children living in the same household will be seated together.
Stagger seating if the bus is not at full capacity.
Bus Drivers and any students who choose to utilize UPSD bus transportation will be required to wear masks for the duration of the route to school and back home. Wearing a mask while riding the bus is a safety expectation.
Buses will have hand sanitizer. Students will be expected to utilize hand sanitizer while entering and departing the bus at school.
Buses will be appropriately disinfected after each use.
Bus transportation WILL NOT be provided to students who live within 1 mile of the school in accordance with MS Code 37-41-3.
Bus drivers will wear face coverings.
Bus drivers who have health or vision conditions that may be exacerbated by a face covering may provide a letter from the healthcare provider stating such to the Director of Transportation.
Arrival at School
No student should arrive at school before 7:25.
PreK-12th students will report directly to their classroom teacher while wearing a mask. There will be no convening in one area until the bell rings for the safety of our students/staff.
Students will use hand sanitizer or hand washing upon arrival into classrooms.
Common areas will be restricted when feasible.
Students who sign in late should report to the office window.
Parents must use the car line for student pick-up.
All cars must have a student name tag or tag indicating a high school student.
Students will wear masks as they depart the classroom and move toward the car/bus line.
All students and staff will wear face coverings when entering and exiting the buildings, in times of transition, and in classrooms when 6 ft of social distancing is not possible.
Exceptions will be made based on medical documentation for some students.
Exceptions will be made for younger elementary students at the discretion of the teacher.
Teachers will greet students at classroom doors and check temperatures using touchless thermometers. Any student with a temperature above 100.4 will be sent to the school nurse for further evaluation. Parents will be contacted to pick up the student.
It is vital that parents check temperatures before students leave home to decrease the need for pick ups at school.
Hand sanitizer will be readily available in each classroom and in various places through the school.
Hand washing will be emphasized and students will be trained on proper hand washing techniques.
School staff will give multiple age appropriate daily reminders about personal hygiene and responsible behavior, including social distancing.
No field trips are permitted until further notice.
Cafeteria (Breakfast and Lunch)
Alternate serving methods will enable all students to have access to meals while complying with physical distancing guidelines. To achieve this goal, multiple meal service methods during a single meal service period may need to be utilized with different groups of children within the school building.
Pre-K and K will eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria daily.
(Sanitizer will be provided for cleaning tables and chairs after each meal and social distancing will be maintained.)
1st-4th grade will pick up a grab n go breakfast upon arriving to school from the cafeteria and will take it to their classroom to eat. They will come through the line in the cafeteria for a plate lunch with their class and take it back to the room to eat. (Social distancing will be maintained.)
5th-8th grade will pick up a grab n go breakfast upon arriving to school from the cafeteria and will take it to their classroom to eat. They will come through the line in the cafeteria for a plate lunch with their class and take it back to the room to eat. (Social distancing will be maintained.)
9th-12th grade old building will pick up a grab n go breakfast from 7:30-7:45 from the kiosk in the library and new building will pick up a grab n go breakfast from 7:45-8:00 from the kiosk in the library. 1st lunch will pick up a plate lunch from the cafeteria during their scheduled lunch period and then 2nd lunch will pick up a plate lunch from the cafeteria during their scheduled lunch time. (Social distancing will be maintained.)
Lunch will take place in various places on a rotating basis to reduce group size, but be sensitive to students’ need to move and not be stationary in a classroom.
Classroom seating arrangements and activities will emphasize social distancing to the greatest degree possible.
PreK-6th students will remain with their cohort throughout the day.
Group work among students will be limited. Masks are required for group work.
Face coverings are required for use in students and staff as much as practical (in transitions and when social distancing isn’t possible). It is understood that face coverings will not be practical for every student all day, especially younger students. Parents should provide face coverings.
Face coverings are required during times of transition in the hallways for all students in grades K-12. Parents should provide face coverings.
Staff members will wear a face covering or face shield when 6 ft of physical distancing is not possible between themselves and students.
Recess and PE will take place.
Social distancing practices will be discussed with students often.
Group size will be reduced to the greatest degree possible.
Students will use hand sanitizer before going to recess and PE.
Students will wash hands with soap and water upon return.
Standard cleaning will continue.
Students who change classes will clean desktops before exiting the classrooms.
Targeted cleaning of high touch areas will take place during the school day.
EPA-approved, low-odor disinfectants will be used at the end of each day to disinfect yet avoid airway irritation of higher risk staff and students.
Buses will be cleaned with EPA-approved, low-odor disinfectants after each route.
Face coverings are required for all students K-12 while in motion (arrival, dismissal, to and from the cafeteria, and class changes).
Face coverings are required in classrooms when 6 ft of social distancing isn’t possible.
Exceptions may be made for younger elementary students.
Teachers will have training on this and discretion.
Mask breaks will be given.
Face coverings are NOT required during recess and PE.
All masks must be viewpoint neutral and school appropriate if they have pictures and/or logos. In all instances, the appropriateness or inappropriateness of school dress will be determined by principals.
Each school is staffed by a full time registered nurse.
School nurses will provide COVID safety training/materials to faculty and staff.
Encourage parents to give student medications at home. If medication at school is necessary for students, please schedule a time with the school nurse to drop it off.
Staff will conduct personal daily self-screening.
Encourage parents to screen students at home prior to sending to school.
Students/adults who are symptomatic will be issued a mask to wear until they are picked up by a parent or leave the building.
Nonessential visitors will be limited and seen by appointment only.
Parents should call the school office to check out students.
Elementary students will be walked out to vehicles.
All visitors must wear face coverings.
Per the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) on July 14th, the start of the Fall Sports season is delayed two weeks. Practice for volleyball, cross country, and swim starts Aug. 10 with first meets/matches Aug. 24. Football practice begins Aug. 17. Opening games for football start Sept. 4.
What if we have to close school?
The district will ensure that each student has an internet capable device.
The district cannot provide internet to each student.
Families who already have internet capable devices are encouraged to use those and communicate that to teachers.
The district may be able to provide Wi-Fi access in the school parking lots. We are working with our technology department and internet service provider right now on this.
Teachers will continue holding classes online using video conferencing tools, Canvas, and Google Classroom.
For students without internet access, the video conferences will be recorded and loaded onto thumb drives so students without internet receive the same instruction as those who have internet. Paper-based materials will also be available.
Any needed paper materials or books will be available for pickup.
Conditions of public health may necessitate a plan to have only half of the enrolled students on campus at a time. Should this occur, parents will be asked their preference for students attending on either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays will be virtual except for selected students in order to meet the requirements of IEPs or other educational needs.
Optional Early Pick-Up for preK and K
preK and Kindergarten students may be picked up each day at 1:30 P.M.
Parents choosing to do this must communicate their plan to do this to their child’s teacher.
Once a parent opts to participate in the early pick up, the decision may only be changed through the principal’s office and requires 1 week’s notice.
Early Dismissal on Fridays
School will dismiss at 12:30 P.M. on each Friday.
This will allow for teachers to aid students in make up work from time they may have been quarantined or absent due to sickness.
Research shows that face to face instruction is the most effective means of learning for nearly all students. This is also asserted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the district understands individual families may have students or adults living in their homes who are medically fragile. The district wants to accommodate those particular situations to the greatest extent possible.
To qualify for online learning, the parent should submit the following to the school principal by July 17, 2020:
A letter from a licensed medical provider stating that the student, or a family member living in the home, is medically fragile and that online learning is the best option for that student.
A letter from the parent certifying the following:
The student has an internet capable device with a keyboard.
The student has high-speed internet with unlimited data.
The parent, or a responsible adult will be home all day to supervise learning.
They understand that the student must come to school on Friday afternoons, as needed, to take major assessments.
They understand that the student will be ineligible for extra-curricular activities, including band and athletics.
They understand that the student will be ineligible for academic awards in grades 9-12.
Students may not participate in career and technical education (CTE) classes.
They are committed to online learning for at least one semester.
The district is evaluating whether it will host its own online learning or contract with a 3rd party vendor for any who choose online learning and meet the requirements above. That decision will be made coming in the coming weeks.
If you have questions regarding re-entry or your student, please contact your school principal.
UES: Dr. Lori Wilcher, email@example.com
UMS: Dr. Steven Holifield, firstname.lastname@example.org
UHS: Mr. Zach Robinson, email@example.com
Frequently Asked/Submitted Questions (FAQ)
What time will car riders be able to be dropped off in the mornings?
We are asking that students not arrive at school before 7:25. Any students who arrive before then will need to wear a mask and physically distance in the cafeteria until 7:25.
If we choose the option to pick up our child from pre-K or K at 1:30, will they be finished with school work or will they have extra work to take home besides homework to complete?
School work for K and preK will be finished by 1:30. Those in kindergarten who remain will go to activity time at 1:30 and then return to the room for a tutorial time. That time will be used for teachers and assistants to work with kindergarten students who may need additional assistance meeting the grade level standards. Other kindergarten students not needing additional assistance will work on enrichment activities. PreK students will go to activity time and then have an afternoon quiet or rest time before packing up. (A quiet or rest time is a required element by the state department of education for all preK classrooms.)
How are seating charts going to look in classrooms?
Students will be physically distanced to the greatest degree possible in classrooms. Unnecessary furniture will be removed to allow for more distancing.
Can you provide a floor plan/classroom layout for incoming freshmen who are nervous about finding their classes, and may not be able to attend an open house?
School safety protocols don’t recommend sharing floor plans publicly, but acclimation and familiarization with buildings and school procedures will be a priority for the first day(s) of school.
UHS will communicate a time that students can take a guided tour of campus via email to students and Remind texting.
Why isn’t online virtual learning an option for families who don’t want to take the risk sending their child to school?
The research and evidence on online learning indicates that it is not nearly as effective as in person learning for the overwhelming majority of students, especially younger students. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that students attend school as normal unless there is a health condition that dictates otherwise. We understand that some families may have these health situations. Therefore, we have provided a path to online learning as part of the posted plan, though it has several requirements.
What will happen if we don’t send our child to school?
The Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance law requires all students to be enrolled in a public or private school or participate in a homeschool program. If the child doesn’t enroll in school, the parent will need to register the child as homeschooled with the school attendance officer. Be sure to consider the online option with UPSD before making the decision to homeschool.
When does school start?
School will begin on August 5th for students whose last name begins with A-I. Those students will not attend on August 6th. School will begin for students whose last name begins with J-Z on August 6. All students will have a virtual day on August 7. No students will be in the buildings on August 7.
Are kids required to wear masks?
Students will wear masks entering and exiting the buildings, in times of transition, and in classrooms when social distancing isn’t possible. In the classrooms, mask breaks will be given. Staff will wear masks when 6 ft of social distancing isn’t possible.
How many will be allowed in each classroom?
Student counts in classrooms will vary based on scheduling. Multiple variables on scheduling in grades 7-12 create some classes that are smaller and some that are larger.