by Terry Rogers
Approximately 60 Milford School District students returned to the classroom on July 13 in order to attend summer school sessions which will last through August 6. The students qualify for 12-Month Program Entitlement Services and began attending classes at Milford Central Academy and Morris Early Childhood Center. In addition to the students, 19 teachers and paraprofessionals along with 14 related services staff are providing support for the program.
“Our team did a great job preparing for on-site services,” Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, said. “Once we were provided guidance in late May from the state in regards to summer programming and were encouraged by the state to begin on-site services for our entitlement students upon the state entering Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, our team began putting in much work for a plan to best service our students this summer. I am very proud of our staff for engaging in this important work.”
Procedures and protocols were developed by a district team following guidance from the state in regard to the health and safety of the students and staff, Dickerson explained. The district used protocols from the Delaware Department of Education’s Summer School Guidance for Summer Schools and the COVID Transportation Guidance Document. In addition, Delaware Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and school nurse recommendations were used to ensure the safety of students and staff. In addition to classroom learning, Extended School Year and credit recovery opportunities are offered remotely for students as well.
“Certain students are required by regulation to be given the opportunity to participate in a 12-month educational program,” Laura Manges, Director of Special Services, said. “Families were given the option to participate in direct or remote programming. Many parents requested direct services for their child and have been very supportive and thankful for the range of unique programs that the district has attempted to customize to meet the needs of each child. Programming has been in collaboration with families of our eligible students both in-person and remotely this summer. We want to stress that we are following all state guidance and were encouraged by Delaware Department of Education and State officials to provide these students with in-school service opportunities.”
Some of the protocols in place to protect staff and students include sanitizing bathrooms hourly, including wiping down all surfaces, door handles, commodes, sinks, etc. and only one bathroom per gender are utilized. At the end of each day, custodians sanitize all classrooms. Three times each day, custodians sanitize the entry and exit doors as well as the main office and common areas. Trash is removed from each classroom as soon as lunch is over.
Bus drivers and aides separate students with two seats and provide instruction for all students to remain in their seats. Students are required to wear masks on the bus at all times. Handrails and seats must be sanitized three times each day and school officials are notified by drivers or aides if any child on the bus appears to be sick or refuses to follow protocol.
There is only one point of entry and exit used at each school building. Before entering the school, nurses evaluate each student and any child who shows symptoms is quarantined in a designated area until parents can pick them up. Teachers provide students with information on the proper safety protocols and practices, demonstrating those practices themselves. All teachers must wear a face covering. Desks must face in the same direction and classroom doors must be closed at all times. Hand sanitizer is administered as students enter the classroom and as they leave. Small groups are permitted as long as social distancing is possible and the groups are no more than five students. In addition, students may not share materials and are not permitted to use the water fountains. Lunch is held in the classroom and students may not share food or utensils. Teachers must wear gloves if they need to assist students with personal hygiene.
“We are excited that we are serving and educating students again in person,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We believe this experience will be highly beneficial for our students participating. We are fortunate to have a staff enthusiastic and ready to educate and support our students with in-person services and thankful for the support of our families. The present on-site programming is provided each summer. The programming was planned to best provide services for students with intensive needs, and from the state recommendation to begin servicing these students in-person if able. We have stayed in contact with DPH and DOE regarding the on-site services, and both continue to provide their support from health, safety and education standpoints. Though not a test for the school year, we do expect the present onsite experiences to help us with planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year.”
On Monday, July 20 Milford School District families received a notice from school officials stating that they became aware that an adult who was inside the Morris Early Childhood Center tested positive for COVID-19.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Morris school building will be closed tomorrow so that we can begin a deep cleaning. There will be no summer school at Morris until further notice,” stated school officials.
In addition, Morris Early Childhood Center was one of two voting sites for tomorrow’s School Board election. The Morris site will be moved to Mispillion Elementary School located at 311 Lovers Lane Milford, DE. Voting will therefore take place at two locations: Milford High School and Mispillion Elementary from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.