A color-coded system will help guide schools in Thayer County for the 2020-2021 academic year with green as the “low/no spread,” yellow, “moderate spread,” and red for “substantial spread of Covid-19.” The colors coordinate to the risk dial of Public Health Solutions and other health districts, and are similar to re-opening plans across the nation.
It’s not a one-size fits all, however, especially since Thayer is among four other counties in the Public Health Solutions district — Fillmore, Jefferson, Saline and Gage. If Covid-19 cases see a rise in Saline, for example, it may affect Thayer.
“We would have loved to have a system that could have been broken down by county,” Bruning-Davenport Superintendent Kolin Haecker said.
Public Health Solutions has also identified “presumptive positive” cases based on two of the following symptoms — fever, chills, cold/shivering, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea or at least one of the following symptoms — new cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and loss of taste and smell.
If a student or staff member tests positive, they must stay home for 10 days and will be allowed to return 24 hours after their fever has subsided and respiratory symptoms have improved. The same rules apply for those not tested. If a student or staff member tests negative, they must stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication.
“There is no reason for a student or staff member to get a “negative test” to be cleared for the return of school. A Covid-19 positive individual does not need a repeat Covid-19 test or a doctor’s note in order to return,” the recommendations, adopted from the Douglas County Health Department, state.
All three superintendents in the county are excited to welcome students back despite the ever-changing situation.
“Everyone has a good starting point, and we’ll hope for the best,” Haecker said.
Superintendent Randy Page said masks are highly encouraged when students can’t social distance, such as entering the buildings, in the hallways or the buses.
“In my opinion, schools can open as long as they can safely,” Page said. “It’s good to have kids in the traditional setting. We all need some normalcy back. I like our chances of being able to open and keep our kids safe.”
“We’re all on the same page, and that’s good,” Dr. Damon McDonald of Deshler Public School said. “We’re taking into consideration wearing masks when going from classroom to classroom, using their own water bottles, and checking for symptoms. We’re doing our due diligence, so we don’t have to quarantine.”
McDonald said he’s looking forward to having staff and students in the building.
“It will be exciting to hear voices,” he said.
A handful of parents at Thayer Central are homeschooling this year, Page said.
“Some people have more involved health concerns and situations that dictate a different path than others,” he said. “We’re willing to work with everyone and create the best and safest opportunity.”
Thayer Central distributed a survey to parents and staff for the school’s reopening.
“I think it was obvious we open back up in a traditional sense,” Page said about the survey’s results.
The reopening plan includes mandatory temperature checks and screenings for students and staff, and guests. Cleaning and disinfecting will be a priority at all times, aloing with hand santizing stations.
The color-coded plan is divided into categories — calendar, hand sanitizing, masks, meals, classroom, busing, cleaning, student drop-off, response to illnesses, screening, school activities and visitors.
A substantial spread will result in remote learning, meals delivered to specific sites so students can eat at home, and health checks as directed by Public Health Solutions.