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Local News

Yorkville school officials detail plans to operate schools, bus service amid pandemic

Stepped up cleaning, distance markers and bus capacity limit all in plans

File photo: Heather DiVerde, facility operations director for Yorkville School District 115, listens during an Aug. 19, 2019 Board of Education meeting at the Yorkville High School library on Game Farm Road in Yorkville.
File photo: Heather DiVerde, facility operations director for Yorkville School District 115, listens during an Aug. 19, 2019 Board of Education meeting at the Yorkville High School library on Game Farm Road in Yorkville.

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YORKVILLE – Yorkville school officials discussed how schools and bus service will operate if Kendall County remains in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan and in-person instruction is permitted in any capacity amid the novel coronavirus pandemic during a July 14 meeting with district parents.

Heather DiVerde, facility operations director for Yorkville School District 115, said there will be social distancing markers placed throughout elementary and grade school buildings. She said hybrid learning students would share classrooms and seats with others but frequently touched surfaces – including door handles, desk tops, chairs, lockers and tablets – will be of high cleaning and sanitizing priority.

DiVerde said there also will be regular cleaning and disinfecting occurring during the day while students are present and deep cleaning happening every night. She said high touch areas on playgrounds – like handrails, seats and swings – also will be disinfected, soft surfaces like furniture or rugs will be cleaned with a fabric disinfectant spray and vacuuming with high efficiency filters will happen daily in the buildings.

“Students also will have assigned seating for contact tracing purposes,” DiVerde said.

DiVerde said there will be designated safe or quarantine areas in each school if a student or staff experiences COVID-19 symptoms. Once a case is confirmed, she said, staff will close off selected areas of the school, waiting 24 hours before cleaning or disinfecting it whenever possible per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The affected areas would then be cleaned and disinfected. She also said HVAC systems and fans will be turned off for affected spaces so particles that escape while vacuuming don’t travel throughout the facility.

DiVerde said middle school and high school students would still be moving from classroom to classroom as normal. She said hall traffic flow will be a lot more regulated, including directional arrows on either side of the hallways and social distancing markers throughout those buildings as well.

DiVerde said schools will require building visitors to be pre-approved and also will be subject to symptom and temperature checks. She said those visitors must wear masks and there will be no in-class volunteer visitors allowed in the building to limit the number of visitors.

DiVerde said elementary school students will be dismissed in groups based on locker locations. For high school, she said, lockers will be issued by request only and then locker locations will be based on social distancing guidelines.

School officials also said personal protective equipment, or PPE, will be available, including adult disposable masks and spare child size masks if students forget to bring their own. They also said students will get their own school supplies that may have been communal previously and that they will work with families that may struggle to afford individual higher-cost supplies, like wireless mouses for technology devices.

Mindy Bradford, executive director of finance and operations for the school district, said school lunches would be delivered by meal provider Aramark to elementary school classrooms and those students would eat in the classrooms. She said there will be designated areas at Yorkville Middle School and Yorkville High School for students to sit and eat and they will be cleaned in between periods.

“And that will be whether or not they’re bringing home food or not, if they’re eating food that’s purchased via Aramark,” Bradford said.

Bradford said bus drivers, monitors and students will be required to wear face masks, there will be no more than 50 people per bus including drivers and aides, symptoms will be checked before anyone boards the bus and drivers and monitors will be required to clean seats and railings frequently. She said district officials will want family members to sit together, as opposed to students sitting by their friends, to help reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19.

“So that is something we are looking at when we are building our routes,” Bradford said.

District officials said Septran, the district's transportation provider, has the capacity to add more buses if need be and routes will be made appropriately for students.

Bradford said workers for Aramark and Septran will be subject to the same health questionnaires regarding symptom and temperature checks as district employees upon building entry.

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