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RCS releases updates for coming year

With the upcoming school year approaching, Russellville City Schools has released more details about what the “roadmap to reopening” will look like.

More detailed plans will be released in the upcoming weeks, but a letter sent recently to parents and students addresses several frequently asked questions regarding reopening.

“This will not be an easy road to travel, and it will require a good deal of patience and understanding from all involved,” said RCS Superintendent Heath Grimes in the letter. “We are beyond optimistic that we can execute our plans and keep our RCS campus safe, while still providing a quality educational experience for our students, faculty and staff.

The first few days back to school will be staggered, with new grades being added each day until all students are back.

The first day will begin Aug. 12 with second, fifth, eighth and 12th grades and select kindergartners returning, Grimes explained. Five additional grades will return Thursday, and the final grades will return Friday.

Grimes said students and teachers are encouraged to wear masks but will not be required to wear masks all day. They will only be required to wear masks in classrooms where social distancing is not possible and at any time on the bus.

Bus routes will be altered to include two routes for morning and afternoon to ensure buses are at half capacity.

The school day will begin and end at different times to accommodate the split bus routes, and those details are currently being worked out for each school by the respective principals.

Grimes said social distancing will be practiced with schedule changes to limit the number of students in the hall at one time and cut down on large group gatherings.

Students will eat lunch in their classrooms – with the only exception being PE students, who will eat in the cafeteria.

Each area of school will be cleaned thoroughly at the end of each day, with custodial staff receiving training on additional sanitation protocols.

Grimes said there will also be student sanitation stations placed throughout the school, and areas that are frequently used will be sanitized multiple times a day.

Teachers will be monitoring students for symptoms, but parents are expected to screen children before sending them to school. Any child with a 100.4 temperature or above will be taken to the school nurse and quarantined until a guardian can pick them up.

Sick students are to remain home and use virtual learning until they receive negative test results or until they have completely recovered.

Visitors are only allowed inside the school when absolutely necessary, and there are currently no plans to allow any field trips.

Virtual learning will be offered for those who choose, with those students remaining virtual for the entire semester. Students who will be participating in virtual learning have until July 20 to complete a survey so the appropriate teacher can contact them with more details.

Devices can be checked out from each school if there is a determined need, and free Wi-fi will be available in all school parking lots and parks and recreation facilities.

Students who choose virtual learning are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.

Of course, all the changes will take some time for parents and students to absorb.

RHS parent Nancy Harrison said she knows the schools are trying to do everything they can to give students a normal school year among the pandemic.

“I have a senior this year, and it’s going to be really tough because we know there is a lot of her senior year that won’t be normal because of the virus,” Harrison said. “We are just doing what everyone else is and remaining optimistic and trying to make the best out of everything.”