Task force begins planning for school year, new guidelines

By Dave Taylor

The 13-member New Normal Task Force began meeting this week to determine how the district’s schools will be able to return to the classroom, amid guidance from the state that as of now will require all students in first grade and above to wear masks, among other stipulations the state Department of Education says “must be implemented.”
Hancock County schools are starting on August 26, and the task force is spending most of July and the first part of August figuring out which rules the state will stick with and how to go about following them.
The initial phase of planning will begin on July 6 and run through July 27, where the members will decide what will be done and finalize plan that will become the basis of training in August and for the daily operations of each school.
The members are: Nick Boling, Ashley Gorman, Brice Duncan, Jennifer Howe, Carrie Kimbrel, Amy Carman, Michelle Smith, Su Fen Howell, Traci Sanders, Laura Szefi, Carrie Smith, Kelly Moore and Lacey Mosby.
State guidance as of late June included the requirement that masks be worn by all students in first grade and above, and that if students can’t be a minimum of six feet apart in the classroom they must be worn all day.
In classrooms where students can maintain that distance, masks can be lowered, the state says, as long as no one is walking around.
Those masks must also be worn while on the bus, where students must sit with family members and will have been instructed by the school to keep their hands to themselves “…unless need to touch seat backs for balance…”
All field trips and assemblies must be canceled, and many other changes must be made to class sizes, staggering arrival and dismissal times and much more.
All students and staff must also have their temperatures checked at the point of entry at the school and parents must attest that their student’s temperature wasn’t above 100.4 at the time they boarded.
Those rules and more are what the task force must learn and determine how to implement, which will be done in meetings from July 28 to August 10, when they figure out how to actually put into place the regulations they have finalized.
August 12 through August 24 is scheduled for training the district’s staff, in order to be ready for the August 26 opening day.

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