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Are your kids going in-person at PC Schools? Time to order a thermometer.

My six-year-old was standing in line this morning to get his temperature taken at today’s camp de jour. At every summer camp we have attended this year, all kids have their temperature taken each morning by the camp’s staff. That’s a good thing. It may not be perfect but it likely screens out some kids who have the flu, a cold, or Covid.

This fall, if your child is attending Park City Schools in-person, part of your responsibility in this grand-experiment is making sure your child isn’t sick when coming to school. We all need to do that, or this house of cards is going to come crashing down sooner than any of us want.

The lowest level test you can perform is ensuring your child’s temperature is normal. That means you should take your student’s temperature every day before they come to school.

I knew that, but hadn’t really mentally processed it until this morning. Then I realized, I am going to have to take temperatures five days a week, for two children, for months at end. While we have a good thermometer, it’s the in-ear style that can be very accurate but can be a pain in the butt to use.

So I ordered a touch-less thermometer that gets good ratings (and passes Fakespot) from Best Buy. It’s something that should be easy to use and something my kids should be used to thanks to this summer.

If you don’t have a good thermometer yet, now is the time to order. It can take a week to receive a decent thermometer at this point. I can only imagine what it will be like as schools begin to open. I know a post like this is in the weeds, but if your child is safer, then my child is safer. If our children are safe then our children’s teachers are safer.

As we approach the school year, it’s going to be harder to find the good thermometers. Please take the opportunity to order one if you haven’t. It will make things much less stressful and safer for everyone.

Some information on what Park City remote learning looks like for elementary schools

Every student in the Park City School District has two district-offered options this fall. Students can attend in-person school or students can attend remote school. If parents don’t choose an option, their students will be enrolled in in-person school. If parents choose the remote option, they need to declare that by August 7, using this form. If you can declare it earlier, that will help the district plan more effectively.

For elementary schools, remote learning will require a one-term commitment. A student can not vacillate between options. Classes will be taught by a Park City School District teacher, so your kid won’t be pawned off to Kahn Academy. That said, you still do have the option, like you always have, to use third-party, online educational services.

For remote elementary learning, we don’t know who a student’s teacher will be yet — and it is likely the school district doesn’t know yet either. Will it be one of the teachers that normally teaches your child’s grade at your school? That’s unlikely unless 25 children sign up for remote learning from one grade at one school. So, it will likely be a teacher teaching multiple grades that may come from your school, another school in PC, or at the district office. That likely all depends on how many children and the distribution of children that select remote learning by August 7.

If you select the remote option, it won’t be like the spring. There will be a schedule that your child must follow. The current plan is for live check-ins to be at 9 AM and 12:30 PM. So, your child must be there for those or they won’t be counted in attendance records. Then there in Math, Reading, Science/Social Studies, PE/Coding/Arts/Music, independent work, writing, and small group and one-on-one time. Recesses, breaks, and lunch happen throughout the day.

Through second-grade, remote education will be done through See-Saw. Canvas will be used for 3rd through fifth grade. By declaring which tools will be used, the district has answered one of its largest criticism form the spring: too many tools were used and parents often didn’t know what application to use. The downside of this is that elementary teachers, who haven’t used Canvas before, will have to learn it.

The district at least has a plan for the semester, which is good. There are a number of issues up in the air, but that’s to be expected. Plans also change, so things could look a little different in a month and we should know more as we get closer to August 20. That said, at least there is some information to choose whether you want your child to attend remotely or in-person.

Here is a sample First Grade schedule provided by the Park City School District.

My notes from Park City School Board meeting on reopening schools

If you have kids in Park City schools, you’ve probably been following the school reopening plans. School will go on — on August 20th. It sounds like schools will continue throughout the year over hell and high water. You have two options, in-person and online.

In-person will be a corona-ized version of what we are used to. Online will be taught by PCSD teachers. Buses will run on their normal routes. Before I get into thoughts on reopening, here is my bullet-point list of items I sent to a friend as meetings were going on.

  • They are going to wash their hands a lot. Studies show that is important.
  • They will send home a magnet that tells people how they should check their kids for symptoms every day.
  • Every kid gets two CC, double-layer, microbial gators. A double layer has shown more effective.
  • Masks must be worn on buses
  • Teachers will get masks and can also wear a face shield
  • There will be a video with a calming voice, like when you get on a Delta Flight and they tell you what to do when the plane crashes, that will reassure children that everything is going to be OK.
  • Kids should be practicing wearing masks from August 1.
  • Hygiene posters will be in every class telling students (that are old enough to read) how to wash their hands.
  • PCSD decided on in-person because of social equity. This way can help equity.
  • In-person will be done by a PC school teacher
  • Remote will be done by a PC School Teacher “down the hall.” If a child needs to stop in-person because they get suck or their parents get sick they can go remote. [Note: this was somewhat contradicted in the PC Ed Foundation meeting because they said students would need to stay in-person or remote for a quarter. So not sure about this.]
  • Remote attendance will require remote students to be online at certain times.
  • June survey said five elementary kids per school would be remote.
  • Not doing a split schedule because we don’t have 38-40 kids per class like some places in Utah.
  • Teacher subs will be assigned to one school. They will not float.
  • Dual immersion students should attend in person (recommended).
  • Increasing fresh air to 50% in all schools… so dress accordingly. It may be COLD in the morning in schools.
  • Lunch will be grab-and-go. Assigned seats will happen at lunch. High school kids may get to pick the table they are assigned to.
  • A parent developed a new computer program called Health Attend. PCSD paying $1 a year for it. Parents will be able to look at how many people are sick in classes and make decisions on whether they should send their kids to school.
  • The school is responsible for contact tracing in the event of a coronavirus case.
  • The district is planning for intermittent attendance.
  • Encouraging kids not to use lockers.
  • PCSD is not using a purchased curriculum.
  • Teachers will come back two days early. Teachers can take a seminar on how to teach remotely. Teachers must rely on their Principals. Teachers are empowered to innovate.
  • K-2 will use See-Saw. 3rd grade through 12th will be Canvas. Teachers in 3rd to 5th grade need to learn Canvas.
  • DLI 1st-5th should be done in-person but can be done remotely but not as well.
  • Every school has an ionizer for air. They purchased those in March. Installed Merv 15 filters. Anything larger than 3 microns is filtered. Should help with mold, pollen, etc. as well as Corona.
  • There will be mask breaks for elementary. Playgrounds won’t require masks.
  • Schools will remain in-person full-time unless Summit County moves back to Orange and then schools will be a hybrid in-person/remote model. Red would mean fully remote.
  • You have until Agust 7th to register your child for remote learning. Otherwise, they will be in-person by default.

So, those were my notes from the school board meeting and parts of the PC ED Foundation meeting. I don’t guarantee that the district said everything correctly or I captured it correctly but it should be generally correct.

Opening Park City schools full-time is a polarizing issue

I’ve said before that I commend the Park City School District on giving people the heads up that schools will be open for business this fall. However, I am hearing from teachers with major concerns about safety. I also get that.

We won’t really know the details about how schools will operate until the Park City School District formalizes plans. Those will take time.

I don’t have answers, but the way I am starting to look at it is in the form of a question. Is in-person teaching an essential “business”?

I know the people working at most medical facilities are considered essential. I know that police and firefighters are essential personnel. I know that the people checking me out at the supermarket are considered essential.

Are teachers?

The argument could be made that at-home learning, with teacher assistance, fills the need. I think many of those who experienced it in the spring would say the quality was as good as could be expected given the circumstances, but it wasn’t up to normal standards. Yes, some teachers did a bang-up job. However, from many conversations I have had, at-home learning would have to be generally more effective this fall and MUCH more than a stop-gap measure to make it a viable alternative.

Frankly, from what I have heard around our community, the district was given a pass on education this spring from parents. It doesn’t sound like they will be as forgiving this fall if education is at-home. That could lead to a number of issues. I think the Administrators at the Park City School District know that.

All of that said, it doesn’t alleviate the fear of teachers. Above, I’ve written about parents’ expectations and learning. Teachers have to deal with that, but they also have to consider the their health and that of their families.

It’s not easy.

I’d bet we are about to hear from the Park City Education Association on the matter. Get ready to read a number of editorials in the Park Record. Of course, if you want to write something here on the Park Rag, please email us. I want to represent as many viewpoints as possible. We’ve had over 1500 views on our story about PC schools opening. So, you will have an audience.

My guess is that things are about to get more polarized across the community. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.

Park City Schools will be full-time and in-person as of August 20

I have been writing about what other school districts in Utah have been doing regarding their back-to-school measures. Today, I read what the Park City School District plans to do:

“As a result of our collaboration with health agencies and the hard work of our educational Return to School Task Force Teams, we are plan to open for full, in-person instruction for all Park City School District students. Our first day of the 2020/21 school year will be August 20, 2020 for K-12th grade students.”

So, Park City schools should be operating Monday-Friday in the normal manner from somewhere around 7 AM until 4 PM (or mid-day on Fridays). Likewise, there appears to be an online option, if families would prefer to go that route.

I had previously heard that Park City School District committees were to make recommendations on reopening by July 20th, and we would have to wait until after that to hear about plans for the fall.

I was concerned with that timeline, because the closer it gets to opening, the harder it is to make work-decisions based on childrens’ schedules. Kudos to the Park City Schools District, and all those involved, to provide parents with sufficient lead-time to make decisions.

So, it looks like the schedule will be business as usual. The district said that more details will be provided within the next few weeks. I assume that will include how buses will work, what the school-day will look like, what social distancing measures will entail, etc. I understand that details take time.

I don’t think any of us are prepared for the reality of business-as-somewhat-usual for our schools. Hopefully, we can work together as a community to keep teachers, students, and everyone else in our schools as safe as possible. However, I do think that providing a semi-normal school day has numerous benefits ranging from mental health, to easier access to school lunches, to fundamental learning, to allowing parents to earn a living. There are downsides, of course, but hopefully, we can mitigate those as much as possible.

I appreciate that the school district has given us a broad outline, so at least we can make plans. This school year isn’t going to be easy. However, having a plan makes it far better for working parents. Good job Park City School District.

Update on school reopenings: Wasatch County School District provides options

Well, our friends in Heber have made a decision on schools for next year. Their decision could be described as “whatever you want, you got it.”

According to a Facebook post from the School District, “Wasatch County School District plans to bring students back for a traditional school schedule as our primary model. This model will be available to all families who desire it. In addition, we are planning to offer a half-day model with increased social distancing, as well as a District-sponsored fully online option. Regardless of what model you choose to be best for your student(s), Wasatch County School District is prepared to provide engaging learning opportunities for all students.”

So, from Jordan school district we have four days, with Friday being at-home schooling. From SLC School District we have a two-day a week, in-person schedule. From Wasatch School District (Heber and if you live between PC and Kamas) it is a “whatever you want” model.

We still haven’t heard from Park City and won’t probably for a couple of weeks. Not today, but at some point, our district will seem dawdling and out of touch on this decision. The clock is ticking. Sometimes when you speak last you have a moment of brilliance. If you don’t, you may look like you don’t know what you are doing.

I personally think Wasatch will be in trouble. My day job is designing software and it provides a view into the real world. Everyone wants options, but delivering those options in a way that actually works effectively is really hard. How will teachers practically provide an at-home model, a hybrid model, and an all in-person model? To me, if they do it, it sounds like the worst of all worlds.

Wasatch says it will provide a completely online model. Will they subscribe to online learning services on behalf of the students? Will they be creating every hour of learning themselves? Will they be accounting for DLI? Will teachers record themselves giving a lecture to kids from some telephoto camera and then that goes out the next day to students?

Wasatch also says it will provide a half-day in-person model. How does that mesh with the online version of teaching? How does a teacher ensure that both whatever is happening online and in-person coalesces? How does a teacher have time to prep for both in-person and remote learning?

With the 100% in-person model, that would likely be easiest (except for the masks) because it’s what teachers are used to doing. However, they also have to account for the other two models, at the same time.

Perhaps I’m not giving the Wasatch School District enough credit. Maybe they will be the model district for handling fall 2020. Likewise, since some kids will decide to stay home in every district, a complete online learning model will need to be developed anyhow. It’s complicated.

That said, I wouldn’t look forward to being a teacher or a student in the Wasatch County School District this fall. It’s going to be tough. It’s probably going to be tough everywhere.

An update on schools: SLC School District fires a shot across the bow

Thursday, the Salt Lake City School District announced their plans for reopening In a Covid-19 world. If Salt Lake City is at the Orange level (or above) of Governor Herbert’s reopening plans, schools will be completely remote. Better said, parents will be trying to teach kids with some help from teachers. This flies in the face of the the Governor saying that all schools will be in-person [in some form] next year.

However, if they achieve the low risk phase of Yellow, students will attend in-person school two days a week. It appears to be a Monday/Wednesday versus a Tuesday/Thursday in person schedule. High school students would have a similar but slightly different schedule.

It’s important to note, that they don’t provide any option better than that. They don’t talk about a green level where kids go to school five days a week for the normal amount of hours.

I don’t know where Park City schools stand. I have heard that there are groups looking at various options and they have to report by July 20. Then, we have to submit our reopening plans by August 1 to the state.

I had hoped things would be relatively normal. I had resigned myself to a four-day, in-person, school week, like Jordan School District says they are doing. That would be workable at least for our working family. However, if Park City adopts three days of at-home learning like SLC, that is going to be a real problem. How far behind are the kids going to fall?

God help us all.

Here is the letter from the Interim-Superintendent of SLC schools describing what they are planning.

School districts start laying out plans for the fall

We’re about a month out from Park City schools starting the fall semester. This year will obviously function differently, given Covid-19. We’d expect the school district to come out with plans soon, so we parents know what to expect. However, we know the school district likes to wait and be told what to do from the Governor and Utah State Board of Education.

So, we thought we would present you with what other school districts have decided so far.

So, in NYC, ABC is reporting , “New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a hybrid back-to-school plan Wednesday with most students inside their physical schools just two or three days a week, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it’s up to him to decide whether schools can open at all.”

Here in Utah, Governor Herbert has announced school will be in person this fall. However, that could be a half day a week or some portion of six days a week. We know how politicians like to parse words.

It’s instructive to look at what the Jordan School District down in SLC announced this week. They are one of the first districts to announce their plans and are about ten times larger than Park City with about 55,000 students. They are going with four days of in-person school and one in-home school. According to KSL, “The Jordan School Board unanimously approved a motion Monday that would bring students back to school for in-person classes Monday through Thursday, with each Friday being used for online classwork, small-group learning, and additional teacher consultation.”

What strikes me as interesting with Jordan is that they surveyed teachers and parents on how they wanted the schools to work. The school board went with the option that was chosen the most by teachers and second-most by parents. They deciced on four days of in-person school per week.

It should be interesting to see what the Park City School District does with regard to in-person school. It’s closing in on the time that they should let us know. Are kids going to attend four days a week? Will it be normal with a full four and a half days a week? Will they go half days, with specialists online? Can families opt out of in-person school?

Odds are, they know what they are going to do. Now we are just waiting.

The financial costs of reopening schools

Over the weekend a friend sent me an infographic describing the financial costs of re-opening schools. It shows the estimated additional costs that a school district with 8 schools and 3,700 students will need to account for this year. The additional cost is about $1.8 million. The Park City School District has a similar number of schools but about 900 more kids. So, we’re likely looking at over $2 million in additional costs. It’s mind-blowing.

Perhaps my favorite piece of this infographic is in the fine print. “Model assumes 25% transportation capacity to adhere to social distancing guidelines (Bus fleets would need to quadruple in size to safely transport 100% of students… which is financially unfeasible for districts).” That should make traffic interesting this Fall.

I’m assuming schools will open this Fall. I think it would take a real act of god to get our legislators from Southern Utah Governor to close schools again. That said, I don’t know how a district absorbs these costs. Rainy day funds only go so far.

I’ve assumed school may look different. Perhaps there will be odd-even days. Perhaps days will be split in two (an 8 AM -11 AM group of kids and 1 PM to 4 PM group) with specialists handled remotely. Lunch may be in the classroom. For younger kids, recess may be limited. Yet I’m not sure how much any of that impacts cost.

This is the time that makes you glad you didn’t run for the school board. For the current board members, I say THANKS. This isn’t going to be easy.

Cost of opening schools

Click here to download a larger PDF version of this document.

Note: Thanks to Shannon who asked me to check on activities funds and whether they were typically paid by the district. It appears they are a pass through item and I have updated the story accordingly.

Businesses are supposed to enforce Summit County’s mask requirement?

Summit County enacted its Covid-19 mask requirement Saturday morning at midnight. On Friday afternoon, The Summit County Council met in an emergency session to discuss the measure and vote it into place. During the public comment, I asked how local businesses should handle those people not wearing masks. The answer wasn’t what I expected.

I expected the County Council to say that ultimately people are responsible for their own actions, that they hoped all people would comply, and they are trying to communicate a “message” to the public to reduce the spiking Coronavirus numbers. That’s not the message I received.

Instead, Summit County Council Chair Doug Clyde said, “You [the business] are obviously going to be required to inform that person that their entrance to your business without a mask is not possible. That will be a requirement. You can’t be a business owner and decide that you are going to ignore this rule. This rule is real.”

What? So Fresh Market should have someone stationed at the door blocking people from entry if they aren’t wearing a mask? Same with Walmart, Smiths, etc.? You want them to enforce your order? It sounds like the County Council does.

That’s an unreasonable suggestion and not what the order appears to say. It says people are liable for not wearing a mask. My personal opinion is that masks should be mandatory statewide. Since the Governor’s decisions control the Park City School District, and I need school to happen this fall, I will do anything to make sure in-person school goes on. Since I live in Park City, and many friends would be financially crushed by no winter, I will do anything to make sure winter isn’t canceled. Masks make sense to me.

And please don’t say masks tread on your freedom. I learned in Civics in 9th grade that “the right to swing your fist stops at the next man’s nose.” There are speed limits. There are DUI laws. You have to wear shoes in a restaurant. I get your personal freedom thoughts (because I am often in your camp), but save them for a better argument.

However, if the County Council says that they expect businesses to enforce their law when it doesn’t seem it’s not actually part of the law, that goes too far. It’s the ammunition that gives people who hate masks ammunition. They say, “The County Council doesn’t even know what it is suggesting.”

So, Summit County businesses, I guess you may be responsible for stopping people from entering without a mask according to our legislative branch — but maybe not the actual ordinance. Are you going to turn people away? What are you going to do?

I get that the Coronavirus response is fluid, but it needs to be better than this.