The Ralston Public Schools will reopen next month in a more restrictive status than originally hoped in order to provide for greater social distancing, officials said Thursday.
Superintendent Mark Adler in a letter told parents that schools will reopen with students divided into two groups that will alternate days attending school.
Half the students will be present in buildings on any given day.
That arrangement represents the yellow, or middle, level of Ralston’s three-tiered green-yellow-red plan.
District officials had originally intended to reopen Aug. 11 in the green level, with all students attending in person.
Adler wrote that opening in the yellow would make it easier to social distance, provide students with more one-on-one attention and give educators more planning time for in-person and at-home learning.
He said it also provides for earlier daily dismissal times, giving staff and custodians more time to disinfect and clean each night.
“By moving to the yellow instructional level, I feel we can execute the extra safety and health precautions needed to help keep everyone as safe as possible,” he said.
Ralston’s move comes as other districts are adjusting and rewriting portions of the reopening plans in response to parent demands and to the daily reports gauging the spread of COVID-19.
The district adopted the color-coded plan earlier this month. The red level has the most severe restrictions. If officials put the district in the red level, students would be issued a computer device, and all instruction would be delivered virtually through Zoom or Google Classroom.
Opening in the yellow level means students are divided into two groups that alternate days attending school — an A/B type arrangement. The days they are not in school they will do independent learning from home.
In addition to requiring masks for students and staff, in the yellow level there will be random temperature checks, students will have lunch in classrooms or limited groups in cafeterias and arrival and dismissal times will be staggered. No visitors will be allowed in school buildings, and student movement through hallways will be staggered.
Adler said he knows the decision to move into the yellow level will be inconvenient for some families.
“There has never been an easy decision throughout this entire pandemic,” he wrote. “As a Ram Family, we will continue to respond with flexibility, patience, partnership, care, compassion, grit and gratitude.”
He said parents must remain as flexible as possible to deal with unpredictability of the virus.
Officials will continue meetings with local health officials and other public school leaders to obtain updates on the health status of the community, he said. He said he would let parents know of any future changes in the plan level.
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