Aardvark back to school plan

Dear Irving Families,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year.  I hope this email finds you all well.  As you all know, the upcoming school year will present unique challenges for us to overcome.  I want you to know that I hear the concerns regarding Covid-19, and I understand the concern many of you are feeling.  We will do everything we can to ensure our students and staff are protected at Irving.  I continue to have conversations with district officials, our staff, and our community in order to create the best protocols that align with the LPS Covid-19 Return to School plan.  While we know that no plan can eliminate 100% of the risk, we will do everything we can to make attending Irving as safe as possible. Meanwhile, our staff continues to remain focused on instruction with safety being our number one priority.

It is my hope that you have been able to read and process the plan and documentation provided by Lincoln Public Schools.  At Irving, like all schools across the district, we will follow the risk dial and guidelines provided by Lincoln Public Schools and the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department.  These guidelines will take a collaborative effort on the part of our community, starting with the Covid-19 self-screening at home.  In an effort not to inundate you with information, I am going to present what Irving will do in the yellow/orange color status of the risk dial. 

Wednesday, August 12, will be the first day of school for 6th grade.  Thursday, August 13, will be the first day of school for 7th and 8th grade.  All three days in the first week of school will be a shortened schedule concluding at 1:40 p.m.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are required for staff, students, and all visitors.  LPS will provide two cloth face coverings to each student and staff member. Families are responsible for laundering them.  Students may bring and wear their own multilayer cloth face covering. Face shields are not allowed as a replacement.  There will be face covering breaks built into the day when physical distancing can be achieved. Additionally, face coverings can be removed while eating, during outdoor P.E. and recess activities when physical distancing can be maintained.  We recommend putting your student’s name on their face coverings in case they are misplaced.  Face covering expectations will be enforced, with possible disciplinary action if not followed.  We ask you to please work with your student to understand the importance of keeping their face covering on at school. 

Arrival/Dismissal

In an effort to reduce crowds at points of entrance, students will enter the school at specific doorways throughout the building.  Sixth grade students will enter at door 19, (team 6A and 6B), and door 20 (team 6C).  Seventh grade students will enter the building through door 1.  Eighth grade students with Health and P.E. first period will enter the building through doors 4 and 5.  All other eighth grade students will enter the building through door 2.

Supervision will be provided outside beginning at 7:30. Students who are eating breakfast at school may enter the building through door 1 starting at 7:30.  All other students may enter the building through their assigned doors at 7:45.  Students entering the building will be asked to sit in assigned and supervised hallways socially distanced from each other until the bell rings at 7:52 signaling the start of the day.  Upon dismissal, we will ask students to wear their face coverings until they step off of school grounds.  Students remaining at school after 3:15 will be brought back into the building so supervision can be provided while we assist with any necessary arrangements to get home.  Please make prior arrangements with your child about their after-school plan, as we are encouraging students to safely exit the school at the conclusion of the day.

Locker Use

All middle schools, including Irving, will be limiting the use of student lockers this year.  This means students will only access their lockers at the beginning of the school day and at the end of the school day.  Students will also be able to access their lockers during lunch if they have cold lunch or need their coats in the winter.  We understand there may be situations that arise throughout the day where a student may need to access their locker. We will work with students on an individual basis as needs arise.  We ask that your student only bring the necessities this year and not a lot of extra decorations and items for their locker. 

Hallways

Students at Irving are assigned hallways by grade level.  This greatly reduces student traffic and undue congestion.  This year we are implementing one-way hallways and stairwells.  Students will be taught to remain “tight and to the right” while walking through the hallways. These lanes in conjunction with the reduction of locker use will limit time spent in the hallways during passing periods.

Restrooms/Drinking Fountains

Restrooms will be used as usual and may have a limit of students at any particular time.  We will encourage students to move along quickly and there will be signage reminding students to wash their hands.  The drinking fountains will be turned off at school but the bottle filling stations will remain open.  We will provide a clear Irving water bottle to each student on the first day of school.  Students may fill these through the day.  Please note that the first Irving water bottle is free.  Replacement bottles will be charged a fee of $3 and can be purchased from the main office.

It may be helpful to know that these bottles are hand wash only and do not stand up to the heat of dishwashers.

The use of water bottles in any classroom is at the discretion of the teacher.  Students may bring an outside drink in their sack lunch to drink with their lunch.

Lunch/Recess

This year students will be provided student ID’s with a lanyard.  The student ID’s will have the student’s name and lunch barcode on them.  This will allow our students to go through the lunch line relatively quickly and touchless.  It is very important that your student does not lose this ID.  We are working on ways to remind students so that this does not happen.  Students will wear face coverings in line and then can take them off as they eat.  They will put them back on when they are done eating.  Students will get hand sanitizer before entering the serving area.  Hot lunch will essentially function the same but with limited options.  As of now, we will have limited snacks as well.  All fruits/vegetables as well as condiments, will already be pre-served into cups and silverware will be put on the trays for our students.  There will only be six chairs per table and we will use the entire cafeteria for each lunch session.  We will clean all tables between sessions.  Students with a cold lunch will be provided the opportunity to eat outside or in the gym.  This is voluntary; however, it will reduce the volume of students in the cafeteria during lunch.

For outdoor recess students are able to remove face coverings while practicing safe social distancing.  We will not be able to play soccer or basketball.  However, we will be able to play four square and knock out.  Students will once again get hand sanitizer as they come back inside the building.  We will disinfect all of the sports equipment that are used in between groups.  If we are doing indoor recess, we will be spread out in the gym and auditorium while wearing face coverings.  We are looking at ways to provide students a face covering break during this time if needed.

P.E. / Band

P.E. students will not have a locker this year and will not dress out.  However, there will be more guidelines on appropriate clothing from your student’s teacher.  P.E. will attempt to go outside as much as possible.  When outside for P.E., students will not need to wear a face covering if social distancing (6 feet).  When inside a face covering will be required and the activity will not be strenuous.  There is a water filling station near the gymnasium area. There will be more information from P.E. teachers as the year begins.

LPS is currently working on ways to provide “covers” for wind instruments as well as shields when necessary.  Percussion can play with a face covering on.  Orchestra and vocal music can perform with face coverings on.  There will be more information on vocal and instrumental music teachers as the school year begins. 

Classroom Setup/Sanitation

In classrooms desks will be situated in ways allowing for students to sit facing a single direction instead of facing each other.

Every student will receive hand sanitizer as they enter and exit the classroom. The classroom tables, desks, chairs, and instructional materials used during the period will be disinfected between classes. 

Taking Temperatures

Following the LLCHD requirements, random temperatures will be taken in classrooms each day by administrators.  The temperature checks will occur in the least disruptive manner possible so that instruction can continue. 

School Supplies


This year, we are recommending that your student brings a pack of colored pencils and two dry erase markers in addition to the typical recommended supplies of pens, pencils, and notebooks.  Since we are not allowed to share materials in the classroom, we are asking for these additional supplies to make white board work and collaborative learning a bit easier.  If this request is financially not possible, please reach out to me so that we may assist.

Necessary items for remote students will be communicated from individual teachers.  We will have a specified time on August 11 for these items to be picked up in a drive through fashion.

More information will be communicated about this process as the date draws near.

Remote Learning

Students that are Zooming into the classroom will join their classes using links provided to them by their teachers.  In the first week of school, teachers and counselors will schedule times to meet with their students remotely via Zoom.  In these initial meetings, teachers and students will review classroom protocols and procedures as well as take the opportunity to do some team building activities.  It is important to us that our remote students still feel connected to the school community.  Additionally, the district has determined that a few of our courses are not able to be provided both remotely and in-person in a conducive fashion.  These include Publications, Drama, all S.T.S. courses, and Designed Thinking.  6th Grade Advisory will also not be supported remotely.  These classes will remain on a student’s schedule however they will not receive a grade and attendance will not be collected on remote learners with these courses.  They simply will not Zoom into these classes if they are on their schedule.

There will be more information for our students and families utilizing the remote option as the first day of the school draws near.

Transportation

Students and staff will wear a face covering while on all LPS buses.  Students will apply hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the bus.  Students will have assigned seats with a maximum of two students per seat.  Households will be seated together and windows will be down as much as possible.  Star Tran will have their own guidelines to follow.  Please visit their website for information.

Visiting the School

In order to maintain a safe learning environment, visitors are not allowed to enter the school building until further notice.  Please contact the main office with any questions or needs and we will be happy to assist.

Intramurals/ After School Clubs

We are still waiting to hear whether intramurals will happen this year.  As soon as we find out more information, I will let you know.  Clubs will be limited to the clubs ran by Irving staff as outside personnel are not allowed in the building. As we get more information on what this will look like, I will update accordingly. 

Virtual Open House

This year our staff have created videos introducing themselves and the courses they teach.  On Monday, August 10, I will be sending out a virtual open house which will include these videos. Your student can check their schedule online via Synergy (StudentVUE/ParentVUE) and watch the videos that pertain to them. 

Pictures

Student pictures are early this year!  Friday, August 21 is school picture day.  Packets will be sent home as in years past but there will also be an online method.  We are working with Lifetouch to ensure their process is easy and safety precautions are being taken.

Athletic Passes

Lincoln Public Schools is working with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department on developing protocols around athletic events. Part of those protocols include possibly reducing the number of spectators at events or restricting them all together. Due to the uncertainty of spectators being allowed or contests being canceled due to health risks, Lincoln Public Schools Athletic Department has decided they will not sell Adult Athletic Passes this school year. Admission can be paid in cash at the gate by spectators wanting to attend sporting events where spectators are allowed.

For elementary and middle school students, Lincoln Public Schools will have $20 punch cards available at each high school. There will not be refunds given for events that are canceled or where spectators are restricted.

ParentVUE Enrollment

Parents and guardians please verify your child’s enrollment information through the online parent portal, ParentVUE. This annual process was formerly completed on a paper census form that parents/guardians had to review, update, and return to the school office.

The first step is for you to activate your LPS ParentVUE account. You should have received an activation letter, but if you need another copy, please contact the Irving main office. The letter allows you to activate your ParentVUE account, which will be used for the duration of the time that you have a student in LPS. Note that you will need a valid email address to create your ParentVUE account. If you do not have one, you may obtain a free email account through services such as Google.

If you already use ParentVUE, you are able to complete the annual Online Registration Verification process. If you have previously activated your ParentVUE account, but can’t remember your password, you can reset it online at https://synergyvue.lps.org/

I know that this is a lot of information to digest.  It is also subject to change as our district, in collaboration with the LLCHD, may provide additional information and guidance.  I will continue to communicate changes as they occur.  I will also be communicating first day protocol information with parents prior to the start of the school year.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support of Irving Middle School. These are challenging and unprecedented times, but I have faith in the strength of the Irving community. As always, please let us know what we can do to collaborate with you in your child’s education.

Take care,

Jason Shanahan – Principal

Irving Middle School