Fairbanks school officials are asking parents to assess the health of their children before sending them to school.
At Monday’s meeting of the Fairbanks Board of Education, the board approved the purchase and use of a software program to help the district monitor the health of students.
Superintendent Adham Schirg has said one key to successfully reopening schools is “rigorous symptom assessment.”
He said the district does not have enough staff to assess each student as they enter the building, so officials are asking parents for help.
Each school day, parents will be asked to assess the health of their child. The parent will then log onto an app or the district website. They will enter results from the assessment and notify the district whether the student will or will not be attending school that day, based on the assessment.
Those students who do not complete the assessment online will be checked at the building, Schirg said.
“The hope for us is going through the daily assessment, we aren’t doing 1,100 symptom assessments when kids get to school,” Schirg said. “We would not be able to staff that in an efficient manner, getting kids in and out through the buildings. So, our hope is, asking parents to do a symptoms assessment, check it there and we can get kids in. Then if we had 25 or 30 kids, we can go around, check those temperatures and do whatever we need to do to do these symptom assessments.”
He added that the system will also help office workers as well as the district nurses, who in the past have needed to manually enter health information each year.
Board member Brent Nicol said he wants to make sure the process is “streamlined.”
Board member Brian Phelps said he hopes it will be easy because parents already have, “enough to log on and do.”
Schirg said the district wants to make sure the process is not “cumbersome” for parents.
Schirg said the system will cost $4,250 a year with a one-time, $2,550 setup fee. He said the cost will be paid through funding the district received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The district will receive $58,804, to be used to help the district deal with the pandemic, as part of the CARES Act
The board also approved a mask policy for the upcoming school year. According to the school plan, all teachers and staff will be required to wear cloth face coverings or face shields.
Additionally, all students will be required to wear facial coverings on the bus.
The requirement for masks while students are in the building will depend on how many students are in the building. According to the approved plan, if the building is at or near 100% student population, elementary students will be required to wear masks while in hallways or classrooms and older students will be required to wear a mask anytime they are inside a building. Specific mask breaks will be provided.
As the learning levels change and there are less students in the building, students will have more flexibility in when and how to wear masks.
The district will work with healthcare professionals and the Union County Health Department on a face mask exception policy.
Schirg said the district is working on a detailed report that will be shared with families Wednesday.
In other business:
Treasurer Aaron Johnson said the district ended the 2020 fiscal year, “in good shape moving forward.”
He said the district ended the year with a $156,000 surplus which was, “a little higher than projected.”
He said he is less optimistic about next year.
“It is going to be an interesting year with how this goes with the shutdown,” Johnson said.
The treasurer said he expects funding cuts from the state, “are going to stay in place.”
Johnson said he is projecting this year to have between $600,000 and $700,000 less revenue than last year. He said that with cost cutting measures already in place, the deficit for the year will be between $400,000 and $500,000.
Even so, Johnson said the district is, “still in pretty good shape over all.”
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