By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
With a new school year set to begin under unusual circumstances, Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education has adopted several new policies.
One policy describes how YPS will offer online instructional programs under the school board’s supervision.
YPS will begin the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 24 with an all-online Continuous Learning Plan with YPS teachers instructing classes to students in all grade levels. Meanwhile, Yukon Virtual School will start Aug. 26 with curriculum provided by outside companies.
The school district’s online instruction policy allows YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth to determine dates for the virtual instruction and continuous learning programs.
“This power shall be provided by the board of education so that the students of the district may be allowed to continue instruction in the event of a school closure for an emergency,” the policy reads.
“Students and staff will be expected to participate, and attendance shall be taken in accordance with district attendance policies and procedures for students and employees.
The school district will provide resources to ensure that all students have access to virtual or the continuous learning program.”
The Yukon school district closed in mid-March and sites remained closed for the rest of 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School buildings will remain closed for the start of the 2020-21 due to ongoing virus-related health concerns, although YPS teachers and staff have returned to the sites to prepare their classrooms.
YPS officials will reevaluate the online learning plan at October’s board of education meeting to decide whether to extend it or allow students to return to school sites.
The original plan called for Yukon’s new school year to start Aug. 20 with schools opening to students and staff.
FACE COVERING REGULATION
A separate school policy requires anyone entering a YPS site to wear a face mask.
The purpose of the Face Covering Regulation is, “To protect the health and safety of the Yukon Public Schools’ community by reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission or other pandemic health-related concerns.”
This new policy applies to all YPS employees, students, visitors, and third-party business entities authorized to enter YPS buildings.
The school district is implementing health and safety requirements based on guidance from the Oklahoma State Department Education and state and local health agencies.
Requirements will be updated weekly.
“Face covering guidance will be used in addition to encouraging the (minimum) 6 feet of physical distancing, routine hand washing and an increase in cleaning protocols,” the policy reads.
Anyone accessing YPS facilities and worksites must comply with the new policy.
Exceptions may be made for those with medical conditions, babies and toddlers and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The Yukon school district’s attendance policy has been updated in response to COVID-19.
The policy requires that students enrolled in the Continuous Learning Plan and Yukon Virtual School “complete instructional activities for no less than 80% of the time each week to be counted ‘present’ for that week.”
Instructional activities may include “online logins to curriculum or programs, offline activities, completed assignments, testing, face-to-face communications or meetings with school personnel via teleconference, video-conference, email, text, or phone.”
The revised attendance policy indicates that students who are ill should stay home and not be at school or school activities if they have a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
The policy also describes chronic absenteeism, referring to a student absent eight or more days per semester without having a significant medical condition.
“A significant medical condition means a severe, chronic or life-threatening physical or mental illness, infection, injury, disease, or emotional trauma,” new policy language reads.
“Any COVID-19-related absences due to a child’s medical needs will be considered a significant medical condition.”
The Yukon school district has purchased “neck gaiters” for students and staff to use as face coverings once the traditional school setting returns.
The new policies were approved unanimously during the YPS board’s Aug. 4 meeting.