PCS students adjusting to Covid routine
“All in all, it’s going as well as we could hope,” Perkins County Schools Superintendent Philip Picquet said Tuesday after the first 10 days of the school year.
It’s great having kids back in the building like it’s supposed to be, he added.
Students in all grades are having to adjust to new routines in the halls, classrooms, buses and lunch room, thanks to the coronavirus.
The 2019-20 school year ended in mid-March when schools nationwide closed facilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not knowing how the virus might attack students, schools shifted to an online learning environment for the remainder of the year.
Many schools in southwest Nebraska have returned to in-person school.
Picquet said they developed a number of protocols to make the school environment as safe as possible.
He said they’ve worked closely with the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department to develop plans to deal with a variety of situations that could develop.
They encourage use of hand sanitizer after changing classes, frequent hand washing and social distancing to keep the virus in check as much as possible.
Students sit in assigned desks, in assigned seats on the bus, and even assigned order for elementary students going to lunch, just in case contact tracing is needed.
Picquet said the biggest challenge has been lunch at the elementary level.
Putting several classes in the same lunch room at the same time while trying to keep social distancing has been a challenge, he said.
To make some room, second graders are picking up lunch and eating in their rooms.
Picquet said that social time during lunch is key to developing social skills.
They are taking custodial precautions as well, with extra cleaning, especially high-contact surfaces, such as door knobs, handrails, etc.
Wipes and spray are available in classrooms and students are using them to clean desks, he added.
Some students are wearing masks, some aren’t, he said. Students in activities appear to be wearing masks more frequently than others.
The health department said wearing a mask can reduce the need for quarantining if a student is exposed to another student infected with Covid.
Plus, an infected student will reduce exposure to others if they too are wearing a mask, the health department has told Picquet.
Feeder bus routes
Picquet said early indications show the feeder bus routes are working out well.
Due to a shortage of drivers, the school is running three feeder bus routes—one with pickups in Venango and Brandon, another with pickups in Madrid and Elsie and another with a pickup at Trinity Lutheran Church north of Grant.
Picquet said he realizes it’s not as convenient for some families but it was a move they needed to make.