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St. Anthony sets school reopening plans

Plans are in place for the 27 elementary students at St. Anthony Catholic School in Loyal to return to class on Sept. 1. Like the other schools that are planning on re-opening on that date, the St. Anthony School will be relying on masks, deep cleaning practices and social distancing to mitigate the chances of disease spread.

The school released a plan late last week on the steps it will take to protect its students and staff during the various activities of the school day. The plan is based on guidelines for Catholic schools issued by the La Crosse Catholic Diocese and local guidelines from the Clark County Health Department.

“We are scheduled to begin classes on Tuesday, Sept.1 with the students attending five days per week in person,” said principal Barb Kingsbury. “We have been doing a deep cleaning of the school building during the summer months and have done some painting. We are rearranging the classrooms to allow for social distancing.”

The social distancing guidelines that will be practiced at St. Anthony School will keep students and staff six feet apart as much as possible. This includes areas such as bathrooms, where a maximum of two people will be allowed in at a time. Items and equipment, such as sports equipment, are discouraged from being handled by more than one person at a time. If such items are shared, they are to undergo a deep cleaning after their use.

Social distancing is just one of the measures that will be taken by students and staff as the school reopens. In line with the governor’s mask mandate, all students over five years of age and staff will also be wearing cloth masks that will be provided and cleaned by the school, and any visitors to the school will likewise be instructed to don a mask and sanitize their hands before entering the building. Besides cloth masks, the school will also be providing students with water bottles to use during the school day, as water fountains in the building will be turned off. Like the masks, the bottles will be cleaned regularly by the school.

Hand washing will also become a regular habit for students and staff. According to the plan, students will wash their hands with soap and water every time they enter the classroom and before lunch during the day. Staff will wash their hands even more frequently, at least once an hour. At the end of the school day, all frequently touched surfaces, including playground equipment, will be cleaned by custodians and staff.

As for the school day itself, teachers will be in communication with each other to discuss lessons that students may have been unable to learn properly at the end of the 2019-20 school year. A combination of in-person lessons and online resources will be used to instruct the students, and any in-person work is encouraged to be completed before the end of the school day.

In the event a child does get sick, the plan outlines the parents’ responsibility to keep the child at home until they are symptom-free, and student instruction will resume after that. If a child or staff member has a positive test for COVID-19, they are to remain home and in quarantine for 14 days along with anyone else that was in close contact with them.

Cases of sickness at the school are expected to be handled on an individual basis unless more than 40 percent of the students and/or staff is sick or absent or there is a widespread outbreak in the state, county or community. The school will be monitoring its neighboring districts and notices from the Clark County Health Department to determine whether or not it is necessary to close the school for an extended period.