The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Chinook School Board Holds Special Meeting


August 18, 2021

On August 9, the Chinook School Board held a special meeting to focus on their back to school plan as it relates to coronavirus. Despite the late summer surge in coronavirus (COVID) cases, the school is planning to return to in-person instruction.

According to Superintendent, Fred Hofman, the school year will look similar to how last year ended, rather than how last year began. “Chinook Public School will open and have school in full capacity for this upcoming school year. We are not using a phased system for our plan in light of our intention of reviewing the plan monthly.”

The Board did revise some of their temporary COVID policies, removing a few of the purely procedural ones and making some minor wording adjustments in others. For example, they changed “The Board of Trustees shall suspend community use of District facilities” to “The Board of Trustees may suspend community use of District facilities.” All references to six feet of physical or social distancing were changed to either three feet or “a reasonable distance,” based upon the circumstances or situation.

Masks will continue to remain optional at Chinook schools, with the sole exception of district buses where mask-wearing will be required. “The same legal order mandated by the CDC that requires masks for airlines, train travel, subways, and other forms of public transportation and that has been in place since February of 2021, currently applies to all school buses in the United States, whether privately owned, school owned, or used for activities or bussing to and from school. This will also include transporting students in vehicles like an E-bus, van, or Expedition. In the event the CDC mandate is determined to no longer apply to school buses, then this requirement will automatically terminate,” Hofman reported.

Another notable difference will occur in efforts to clean the classroom and cafeteria air. Air purifiers with high capacity air filters have already been installed in many classrooms. These will be cleaning the air four times per hour in an effort to mitigate one of the ways this virus spreads. In spaces which get more use, such as hallways, the air will be cleaned once every 40-45 minutes, while the air in the cafeteria will get cleaned approximately five times per hour.

Last year, at Meadowlark Elementary, the students ate lunch in three shifts. In each shift, one class ate in the cafeteria and the other two had to eat in their classrooms. Although the procedure of eating in shifts will continue, two classes will have lunch in the cafeteria to reduce the overall number of students in the room at one time and to allow for some spacing. The third class will eat in an adjacent room.

“We are converting the Title I room into a second cafeteria seating area and are connecting the two rooms with a doorway so that we can avoid any students eating in their classrooms. The old Title room has tile floors which are easier to clean,” Hofman explained. Mrs. Paulsen’s former fifth/sixth grade classroom will become the new Title I room.

Other changes will include the addition of electrostatic sprayers to the disinfecting arsenal at both schools. This equipment will enable maintenance staff to more quickly and frequently disinfect such locations as the gym, hallway lockers, door handles, and other common areas. It will even allow elementary playground structures to be disinfected in mere minutes when the weather is suitable for doing so. Later this fall, a number of other commonly touched surfaces will also see upgrades. For example, automated flushers, faucets, and dispensers will be installed in restrooms, and automated hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout both facilities.

Chinook’s Return to School Plan and Chinook’s 1900 policy series (temporary COVID policies) are on the school’s website for community viewing.


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