Gilman looks at options for opening school year
Masks will be required, school will make accommodations for those medically unable to wear them
Gilman School District is still laying out the logistics of how to return to school safely.
People will have to wear masks in all district buildings. Anybody regularly in the school will require a medical excuse with a doctor’s note to excuse them from wearing a mask. If a student medically can’t wear a mask, several options were put forward by superintendent Wally Leipart such as face shields, and working in an independent room by themselves. If a teacher is medically exempt from wearing a mask, they would likely have to teach remotely. Contractors entering the building, such as plumbers, will have to wear a mask in the school, too.
The district will not be performing tests for COVID-19, saying it’s inefficient for the district. If an individual has two or more symptoms, the school will inform the Taylor County Health Department, and the department will likely require the sick person be tested.
“It’s just like doing a background check,” said Leipart. “I could do a background check today, and if someone gets in trouble tomorrow, it wouldn’t show up on that background check. So it’s only good for that moment, same with the Covid test.”
Remarkably, masks are still an issue for some, holding fast as a controversial subject. Leipart pointed out that masks are not necessarily to protect yourself, but agreement with Leipart, saying people are making it a way bigger deal than necessary.
“It’s not that difficult,” said Thompson. “This can be as routine as wearing your glasses. Sure, it may be uncomfortable for a bit, but you take it off for a little bit if you really need to and compose yourself and put it back on.”
Board president Bruce Ewings Sr. said he had his doubts on whether students would wear a mask, and believes kids will come to school even if they think they’re sick.
“No matter how you try and do everything right, people aren’t going to follow the rules,” said Ewings.
He noted the mild discomfort caused by face coverings as an issue. Ewings said when he donned a face shield, he had to take it off in “less than a minute” because he found it “too confining.”
As for transportation, siblings will be seated together on school buses, while students with no other siblings attending the same school will be seated solo.
If school does shut down, the district would consider picking up where they left off with their meal delivery operation. The bus drivers were divided between the effectiveness of the system, with some saying it worked and was welcomed, and others saying that some families didn’t want the meals and were only participating to help keep school aides at work. They said some students just threw the meals away, outside on the ground.
Additionally, Leipart plans on reworking bus driver contracts to include language relating to “doing other work related tasks” in case bus drivers don’t have to regularly drive students, in order to keep them reliably employed.
—Wally Leipart, administrator “O nce things down.”
to protect others. An individual not wearing a mask is, in part, protected from a possibly infected person who is wearing a mask, while the maskless individual could recklessly infect others if they are sick with COVID-19.
“It’s shortening the distance of the water droplets from when you’re talking. Like, literally your water droplets have passed me and are behind me now,” said Leipart to an individual at the meeting not wearing a mask, who was addressing the mask-wearing superintendent. “Whereas wearing a mask, that range drops signifi cantly... and [wearing a mask] is better than shutting the economy down.”
Leipart went on to say that if people choose not to wear masks it would actually make his job easier, because the infection rate would rise so rapidly among students that the district would be shut down within a week or two.
“Once we hit 10% [infection rate], we’re shutting down,” he explained. “It’s just that simple. If you are not willing to take the actions to reduce the risk, then the only option is to shut things down.”
District board member Darrell Thompson was in