Ottawa schools COVID protocols in place for now

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The lingering pandemic has school districts locking in protocols to combat the coronavirus for the upcoming school year.

Ottawa school district has a plan, Superintendent Ryan Cobbs said.

The Ottawa school district is laying out plans to combat the virus. Those protocols include high level cleaning in all buildings, have masks and hand sanitizer available and at the moment masks are voluntary and not mandatory.

“Last year we had great success mitigating the transmission of COVID due to the tremendous support of our parents, staff, and students in following the guidelines allowing us to continue in person schooling without a widespread loss of time due to the COVID virus,” Cobbs said. “I also recognize that there are a great number of questions still lingering around COVID 19 and how school might look this year.

“As with everything that COVID has created, many of these will be subject to change based upon a number of variables.”

The following are the mitigation measures that USD 290 intends to implement for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year:

• Masks will be highly recommended for all persons entering the building, but not required.

• Masks will be highly recommended for all students riding the bus, but not required.

• Students will continue to sanitize or wash their hands regularly.

• Students and staff will continue to disinfect student spaces and work areas.

• Staff will be cognizant of grouping and will try to keep students three-feet apart when possible. Students will be in mixed grade levels at times, including recess.

• Lunch and breakfast will take place in large gathering spaces.  Food will be provided in singular containers, not buffet style.

• The district will continue to provide masks and sanitizer for students as needed.

• The district will continue to host a high level cleaning protocol for all buildings each evening.

Cobbs said the protocols could change at a moments notice if different circumstances arise.

“These processes and procedures will continue to be monitored for effectiveness,” he said. “We will also be working with our staff, the Franklin County Health Department, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas State Department of Education to ensure that we are creating a safe learning environment for our students and our staff throughout the year.”

The Ottawa school board will review those strategies and make any changes, if necessary, at the Aug. 9 meeting.

The 2021-22 school year begins Aug. 16.

“We look forward to having everyone back and getting started with a new year,” Cobbs.