Park City Schools Plan To Open In August: Preparations Continue Through The Summer

Jun 2, 2020

Credit PCSD

The Park City School District is preparing to bring students back to school in August. It’s a moving target due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of the disease will determine what the new school schedule will look like.

The standard class schedules may change this fall but for now, the Park City School District is planning to open as usual in August. Chief Operations Officer Mike Tanner says they’re following the Governor’s directive which allows schools to open August 20.  He says they hope to open with the normal bell schedule, but they’re prepared to handle other considerations should it be required.

“We’re also going to try to combine it with a little bit of blended learning. We’ll have some cameras in the classrooms where people who might not normally attend school or are still fearful to bring their students to school to look at some of the classwork. That’s kind of where we’re focused right now. Of course, we're looking at some other options. Possibly other schedules, possibly day on the day off, but those things are kind of distant considerations. But we will certainly have them in our playbook if we have to execute on those.”

The Governor’s plan is to accommodate social distancing in classrooms and Tanner thinks that should be feasible if student’s desks are arranged against walls. He says common areas in the schools can also be used if needed.

Early childhood learning has many tactile learning tools and Tanner says they’re developing sanitization protocols. They haven’t yet determined how playground areas will be handled.

“The devices that the children share, especially at that age. We all know what a nightmare that can cause from a biological perspective. I think we are really going to emphasize cleanliness across the entire district. Every surface that is touched will be cleaned nightly if not during the day by our custodians. We’ve got a lot of plans in place to insure sanitization and cleanliness. We’ll certainly have to concentrate in those tactile type situations with the youngest kids.”

Tanner admits maintaining six-foot social distancing on a school bus is a difficult and will reduce capacity to just one-third of the normal seating. Plexiglass barriers for the drivers will be installed.

“I think we’re going to go through a number of scenarios where we ask parents if they're comfortable driving their children to bring them to school. We might encourage the high school to have more children drive. We are just looking for a number of ways we can't best maintain that spacing. And if we can’t, perhaps there's a face mask scenario or parents can send their kids to school with a homemade mask to help keep that transmission to a minimum.”

It’s uncertain if teachers and students would wear face masks during the day. Tanner says they’ll follow the Governor’s guidelines. They have good supply chains of PPE and will have to increase supplies if they go to a one to one scenario.

“Plenty of masks, plenty of gloves, plent of hand sanitizer on hand right now at least for a couple of months. We’ve got enough stockpiled for a good early start. And we’ve got some solidity in our supply chain right now that makes us confident we’ll be able to procure it when needed.”

They are planning to retrofit all the bathrooms to no touch sinks and toilets. They anticipate about $150,000 in upgrades to be finished before school starts August 20.

“Based on roughly $300 per fixture and 500 fixtures that have to be replaced, we can help reduce transmission and we're going to focus on that over the course of the summer.”

Tanner says the front office personnel may be given N-95 masks to use during work hours. He says they’ll install plexiglass barriers for those in reception areas.

Park City schools plan to begin August 20 with students and teachers returning in person.