Back to School 2020-2021
Commonly Asked Questions
7/16/2020-This document will be updated as needed to help parents with any questions they may have concerning back to school for the upcoming year.
When will the new school year begin?
We plan to open on our regularly scheduled start date of Friday, August 7th, 2020. There have been no changes to the school year calendar at this time. However, there will be no Early Release Wednesdays for the 2020-2021 school year.
Will instruction be in school buildings or online?
We plan to begin the school year in-person in our schools, however, we will offer an online option. Please note the online curriculum is limited and cannot mirror the full curriculum and experience of in-person instruction. Families will be screened for eligibility. There will be a semester-long time commitment, and students who participate in the online option will not be eligible to participate in after-school programs and athletics.
How will the Online Option work?
The Virtual Learning Option will be offered through a digital curriculum company called Edmentum. Students who need a device may check out a Washington Community School device to participate. A Washington Community School teacher will monitor student work and assist students as needed. A student choosing to begin the school year in the Hatchet COVID Online Academy, and meets other criteria for this program, will commit to virtual education for the first semester of the school year. At the completion of the first semester (January 2021), the student may elect to transfer back to our in-person setting.
The following criteria must be met for a student to participate in the Hatchet COVID Online Academy:
The student or family member has a health issue that puts the student/family member in the high-risk category as related to COVID19.
The parent/guardian is committed and capable of supporting their child’s education from home.
The family has access to reliable Internet access to fully participate and complete virtual education.
The family has a designated workspace for the student at home to fully participate and complete virtual education.
The student’s learning style allows for success in an online, digital environment.
The student (with parent/guardian support) will be motivated to work independently and self-monitor growth in a virtual education setting.
Please read our Elementary Virtual Academy FAQ to help answer any questions you may have. .
How will teaching and learning be different next school year?
Aside from enhanced health and hygiene practices, the courses and classes that are available to in-class students will be largely the same as in past years. Our teachers and administrators will work hard to ensure that students will be prepared in case of another school closure. Teachers will establish an academic baseline of returning students and adjust the curriculum as needed. At-risk students will be provided with interventions and support as always. At the elementary school level, students will stay in their classroom groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with. At the Junior High and High School level, attempts will be made to limit the number of students in the hallways.
What enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures are being implemented?
Providing an environment that is as sanitary as possible is important to preserving everyone’s health. The following enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures will be implemented.
- Hand sanitation dispensers will be installed throughout all of our schools so students and staff members can frequently sanitize their hands. Students will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing, and before eating. Signs will be posted throughout the buildings to remind everyone of good hygiene practices.
Safe, effective, cleaning products will be used throughout the day, several times as day, on high touch point areas. Staff will have access to disinfectant cleaners in the classrooms as well.
- Plexiglass barriers have been installed between the secretaries and public areas to minimize contact.
- Minimize the sharing of supplies and other student items when possible.
- Water fountains will be used as water bottle fill-up stations only.
- Students will sit in assigned seats facing forward when possible.
- Student belongings will be labeled and separated as much as possible.
- Contact between students, such as handshakes and high fives, will be discouraged.
- At this time, visitors will not be permitted.
Please explain the mask policy.
To comply with Governor Holcomb's Face Covering Mandate for schools, we are requiring all students and staff to have a mask with them at school every day. Washington Community Schools will provide students and staff with one cloth mask.
I drop my child off at school. Will anything change?
Like many other schools, we anticipate an increase in parents dropping students off at school. In order to alleviate overcrowding, buildings will not be accessible before 7:45 am. Once students enter the building at 7:45, they will need to go directly to their designated area.
What will be different on the bus?
Parents are encouraged to drive their children to school if possible to reduce the number of students on the buses. Buses will be cleaned between routes and aired out when not in use. Students will sit in assigned seats and family members will sit together. Masks are strongly encouraged on the bus since students will be in close proximity to one another. Parents are encouraged to instruct students to practice social distancing at bus stops. Field trips are not permitted at this time.
What changes will there be in the cafeteria?
Class schedules will be adjusted to provide ample time for students to wash hands prior to eating and hand sanitizer will be available for students and staff. Cafeteria staff will be required to wear a mask or face shield. Masks are strongly encouraged by students while in the lunch line. When possible, seating will be changed to allow for smaller groups in the cafeteria, and in some cases, students may eat in their classrooms. Students will sit in assigned seats. The cafeteria surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day. There will be no buffet-style service, and students will be served by food service staff rather than picking up their own items. There will be no cash transfer in the lunch line, cash will be accepted for pre-payments.
What about athletics and after school clubs?
The district will follow the guidance of the IHSAA for Junior High and High School Athletics. The status of all other athletics and extracurricular activities will be determined within the coming weeks based upon guidance from state and local authorities.
What about drinking fountains?
Students are encouraged to bring a labeled water bottle with them to school. Clear water bottles are preferred. All water fountains will be used for water bottle fill-up only.
Will elementary students have recess?
Yes. To limit exposure, classroom groups will play at recess within playground zones and will rotate through different play zones throughout the week.
What about children with special needs?
Special education services will continue as stated in a student’s Individual Education Plan for students who attend in-person. If you have specific questions, please contact your child’s teacher about any COVID-19 protocols.
Will students be screened for COVID-19?
Parents need to be attentive to the daily health of their children and monitor them for signs of a fever and/or other symptoms. We ask that parents complete this COVID-19 Parent Assessment Tool daily before sending students to school, and keep children home when they are sick.
Students and staff who enter the school building after the start of the school day will have their temperature screened.
Students and staff should remain at home if they have been in close contact with someone in their household that has COVID-19 symptoms, are being tested for COVID-19, have a fever of 100° or more, and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
What Happens when a student or staff member becomes sick at school?
Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be given a mask to put on immediately. The person will then be isolated and the school nurse notified. Parents picking up sick students will be asked to call the school when they arrive. Students who are ill will then be escorted out to the parents. Staff members and children who are sick will be excluded from school until they have met ISDH criteria for returning to school.
What will happen if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, he/she must remain home in isolation for at least ten days from the date symptoms began AND be fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND with the improvement of respiratory symptoms. The school should be notified, and contact tracing will be conducted by the Daviess County Health Department.
When can a student or staff member return to school after an illness?
Please see When Can a Student or Staff Member Return to School from the Indiana State Department of Health.
Will the Attendance Policy Change?
It is important that students who are feeling sick stay home. For that reason, we will not have any perfect attendance incentives. All other attendance policies will follow state attendance requirements. We want all in-class students who are healthy to be in school, on time, each day.
How long will the new procedures be in place?
All of the measures in this document will take place until further notice. Changes will be made in accordance with the latest information from federal, state, and local officials.
Will Back to School Nights still happen?
Back to School nights will not be held as usual. However, the elementary schools are planning a “Drive Through Back to School Night”, more details to follow. The Junior High will be announcing times for incoming 7th graders to participate in small group school tours.
What can parents do now to ensure a smooth start to school?
We encourage parents to talk with, reassure, and support their children about these changes, especially the importance of limiting contact with others, good hygiene practices, and wearing masks. Please see Face Covering Guidance for Families (English) (Spanish) from the Indiana Department of Education for tips to help your child adjust to wearing a face covering at school. Please see the additional Resources for Hatchet Families.
Help students get back into a normal schedule at least a week before school begins, such as re-establishing bedtime and wake up routines.
Be sure your child’s immunizations are up to date.
Stay in close contact with your child’s school should situations change. Make sure your contact information in Skyward is up to date.
Do you have questions that are not answered here? Please contact your child’s school or email email@example.com and your email will be directed to the appropriate person.