Alberto Gonzalez, security specialist for Fort Campbell High School, hangs posters, Aug. 18, reminding students and staff to social distance in preparation for Aug. 24, the first day of school. (Emily Laforme, Fort Campbell Courier)
Alberto Gonzalez, security specialist for Fort Campbell High School, hangs posters, Aug. 18, reminding students and staff to social distance in preparation for Aug. 24, the first day of school. (Emily Laforme, Fort Campbell Courier) (Photo Credit: Emily LaForme) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Campbell’s Department of Defense Education Activity school staff and teachers are preparing for the first day of school, Aug. 24, with plans in place to protect both students and staff members from COVID-19.

Elementary schools

Jenaya Parris, Barkley Elementary School principal, shared some of the school’s COVID-19 safety pre-cautions that are similar to the other elementary schools on the installation.

When students arrive at school, they will be expected to go straight to their classrooms. Students will enter and exit the school through different marked doorways based on their grade level.

“Parents have been asked to do a pre-screening of their students at least two hours before school, and we provided an acknowledgement form for parents to sign with screening questions to use,” Par-ris said. “This is their promise in supporting us by doing prescreening every day and promising to keep them home if their children show any symptoms. We also ask the same of our staff.”

Parents also are asked to not come inside the building when dropping off or picking up their students. Students should have all of their personal belongings labeled with their names so the items can be easily returned if lost, as the schools will not keep a lost and found. Students will be provided with large zip lock bags to store their personal items, Parris said.

Two cloth face coverings will be provided to every student, and extra masks will be available in the personal protective equipment caddies in each classroom. The PPE caddies also contain disinfecting spray, wipes and gloves.

“For the staff we have purchased personal protective equipment and created PPE caddies for each of the classrooms,” Parris said. “We have the options for teachers to wear a face shield or a face mask and provided them with both.”

A few Families have chosen the virtual learning option that has allowed classroom sizes to decrease, she said.

“This will help ensure we are able to practice social distancing in the classroom,” Parris said. “Teachers have been asked to move furniture to make sure students are at a safe distance. Any porous materi-als, such as rugs, that cannot be easily sanitized have been removed from the classroom.”

To enforce social distancing in the hallways, pawprint stickers have been placed on the floors to help guide students as they travel to and from classrooms and other areas in the school, she said. Recess and eating together in the lunchroom are still available for students.

“We have processes in place for students to wash their hands before and after recess,” Parris said. “They will be social distancing during lunch. Only two students will be sitting at each table, and we have spread out the lunchroom so we can add more tables and spread out the students. We have tried to create a touchless environment as much as possible at lunch.”

Lunches will be prepackaged to minimize the touching of food items. Students will be issued lanyards with their student ID numbers and can use those to pay for lunch from an account attached to that number.

Physical education classes will be outside as much as possible, and social distancing will be strictly en-forced.

Students attending after-school clubs and programs will either practice COVID-19 safety measures or will meet virtually, Parris said. At the end of the day, students will not be permitted to linger in the school unless they are attending a club or program, or there is an unforeseen circumstance.

“We have procedures in place for students who refuse to wear a mask or who cannot wear aa mask due to chronic medical issues,” Parris said. “We also have a room set aside for isolation should students become sick at school to keep them separated from the rest of the school until a parent comes.”

Mahaffey Middle School

Parents may drop off their middle school student starting at 7 a.m. at the main entrance of Mahaffey Middle School. Buses will drop of students beginning at 7 a.m., and bus riders will enter and exit through the side of the school. The official start time of school is 7:25 a.m. Students may pick up break-fast in the cafeteria and take it to their classrooms to eat.

Two masks will be provided to each student. Face coverings are required at school when social distanc-ing cannot be achieved. A prescreening protocol agreement will be sent to parents, staff and teachers, who are required to sign it and return the agreement as the school year starts. Parents will be required to perform the prescreening questions in the protocol agreement prior to school each day and before every school function. School staff and teachers also are required to prescreen themselves daily.

“We’ve moved our front office to right inside the front entrance to mitigate visitors traveling within the school,” said Linda Haberman, principal of Mahaffey Middle School. “We’ve marked the floors in the hallways to help navigate students and staff as they travel throughout the building.”

Students are not permitted to drink from water fountains but can instead fill up water bottles at the fountains. Students will not use lockers because of COVID-19 distancing limitations. There will be two rooms for the school nurse to use so any sick student or staff member can be isolated.

Classroom sizes have decreased because some parents have selected the virtual option for their stu-dents. This allows desks and tables in classrooms to be spread out to promote proper social distancing. The relocatable classroom building at the rear of the school will also be open and will be home to some eighth-grade classes and AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, classes.

“We are working on a system where students will stay within a classroom as much as possible and teachers will be traveling to each class as much as possible,” Haberman said. “We will still have PE, but of course it will be held outside as much as possible. I’ve asked students not to use regular backpacks, instead they should use cloth bags or cinch backpacks. Teachers will be providing textbooks to them.”

Students will eat lunch in the school cafeteria. Additional tables have been brought in and marked with tape for social distancing. Additional tables can be added to the school gym if needed.

Parent pick up begins at 2:35 p.m. There will be two grade specific pick up areas. Sixth and seventh grade pick up lanes will be on the road outside the main entrance. Eighth grade students and their sib-lings in lower grades will be picked up in the staff parking lot outside the main entrance.

“We are still hoping to offer some after school activities,” Haberman said. “We might have to wait on some activities where they would have to touch or social distancing would be harder to do. I’d like to offer the clubs and activities that we can still safely have as quickly as possible.”

Haberman said she and her staff are excited for the upcoming school year and feel prepared to face any creative challenge they come across.

Fort Campbell High School

Parents of Fort Campbell High School students are asked to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and use the questionnaire provided by the school to prescreen their students each morning.

“We are opening the school, but we are doing so in a safe manner,” said Thomas Whittle, FCHS princi-pal. “We are following all of the CDC and DoDEA guidelines. We are working to make sure each school day goes by as smooth and as safe as possible.”

Student parking is in the rear parking lot behind the school. Faculty will be posted around the back of the school to help students find the right door they need to enter. On the first day of school, freshman will report to the school gym where staff will help them find their homeroom. All sophomores, juniors and seniors will go straight to their Blue Day First Block class.

“We have created a script to follow for the first week,” Whittle said. “We’ve walked through the school and designated the different places for students to enter and navigate to their classrooms. Face coverings are mandatory when entering the school and traveling through the hallways and at their locker. We have designed the classrooms where desks are 6 feet apart so they do not have to wear face coverings.”

Classrooms sizes have decreased because some parents selected the virtual option for their students. This allows desks and tables in classrooms to be spread out. Signs and floor decals are posted around the school to remind students to social distance and wear face coverings in the hallways. Students traveling through the hallways in either direction will keep to the right side of the hallway. Gathering in groups at lockers is not permitted.

With the exception of PE and lunch, freshman and sophomores will attend classes on the first floor, while juniors’ and seniors’ classes will be on the second floor. PE will be offered in the gym or outside when weather permits.

“When weather permits, we are allowing students to eat lunch outside on the terrace,” Whittle said. “Inside, we’ve placed square tables where students can sit 6 feet apart. All vending machines and mi-crowaves have been removed from the cafeteria. Water fountains will only be used to fill up personal water bottles to drink from. Students who want breakfast can grab it and take it with them to eat in their classrooms.”

FCHS has a system in place to keep track of where students are at all times so a site of contamination can immediately be identified, he said. Cellphones must be kept in lockers to mitigate physical contact between students and possible hand contamination during the school day. High-touch areas and desks will be wiped down and disinfected throughout the day. Each student will be provided a mask and there are extra masks available. Should a student or staff member become sick during the day an isola-tion room is available.

Dismissal at the end of school each day will be by bus number and will be announced over the inter-com and students will be directed to the appropriate exit. Walkers will be dismissed next, followed by students who drive or for parent pick up.