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Face coverings required for Washington students when they return

WASHINGTON — The Washington Community Schools is looking at returning to classes with on-site learning for the 2020-21 school year, plus an option for students to go virtual.

During a work session Thursday, the Washington school board went over plans for restarting school, which will include a face mask requirement.

Superintendent Willie Stone said the meeting was a work session because he didn’t want any decisions made at the meeting. Stone said he wanted to present the plan and allow time for people to ask questions and have a discussion.

The meeting was livestreamed with about 80 people watching.

Stone said any questions emailed to him will be compiled into a frequently asked question page.

“As everyone knows, things are very fluid,” Stone said. “If things change next week, we’ll have to reevaluate our plan.”

Even though the district is looking at returning in-person, Stone discussed different options for students, as well as a virtual option for students who are not comfortable returning.

The virtual programs will not be taught by teachers within the school.

“With all the pressure teachers have this year, we just think it’s best we hire this out,” Stone said.

State-approved companies will offer instruction for students online, taught by certified teachers.

Next Thursday at 6:30 p.m., there will be a virtual presentation for parents by Edmentum, one of the two companies that will provide virtual learning.

For those returning to class, face coverings will be required.

Face shields will be provided to all students. Shields and masks will be provided to teachers.

“It’s important to protect our staff members, this is going to help us be able to stay in session, face-to-face longer,” Stone said.

Preschoolers will not be required to wear face coverings all day but will wear them periodically and when walking through the building.

All the information on the return-to-learn will be posted on the district’s website, and letters have been sent to families.

The next meeting will be 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.