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Elementary Parent Update Letter
Brian Hilton
Friday, August 28, 2020

August 28th, 2020

Re:  First Day of School August 31st/Mitigation Strategies

Dear Parents/Guardians of Ennis Elementary students,

On behalf of the Ennis School District, I’d like to welcome you and your child to another school year here at Ennis Elementary.  For those of you who are new to Ennis, we welcome you to our school and community!  School begins Monday, August 31st for 1st-12th grade students and Wednesday, Sept. 2nd for Kindergarten students.  Our school team is chomping at the bit to see our Little Mustangs come through our doors again! 

The challenges Covid-19 presented to our school and community at the end of the school year last spring was very difficult, and those challenges obviously still remain, but the staff is excited for the 2020-2021 school year and has been working extremely hard preparing for students for both onsite and remote learning.  We are very grateful to be going back to school on site five days a week, but with the reality of the challenges Covid-19 has presented for schools reopening, our district has had to put some precautionary measures in place to increase our chances of preventing another school closure.  

Many of these measures are in the form of mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of illnesses such as Covid-19.  A full copy of our updated reopening plan that includes a detailed list of mitigation strategies is posted on the Ennis School Website along with other Covid-related resources, but here are just a few to be aware of that impact elementary students/parents:

  • This First Day of School on August 31st:

    • Students may begin arriving at 7:45 a.m. on the first day of school.  This will be 7:50 a.m. on other school days and the doors will not open until this time to help prevent the mixing of cohort groups before school.

    • We ask that parents say their goodbyes outside to help keep our numbers down inside the building.  School staff will be available to help direct students to their classrooms.  We will make exceptions for students who are having a difficult time coming through the doors and for parents who have brought in a lot of supplies to drop off.   The first bell rings at 7:55.

    • Students will go to their assigned classrooms with help from staff.  6th graders will go straight to the elementary gym.

    • Students who are eating breakfast may go through the lunchroom and grab a breakfast bag and head to class.

    • The end of the school day for elementary students is still 3:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 2:00 p.m. on Friday.  Please have your students meet you outside to limit the number of people in the school building.

    • Kindergarten:  School begins Wed., Sept. 2nd.  We are allowing parents who are wearing masks to bring in their students to the kindergarten classroom the first day.

  • Parent and Visitor masks:  All persons entering the elementary school during school hours will need to wear masks until further notice regardless of the current level of active cases in the county. 

  • Student masks:

    • Students will be expected to wear their masks into the building and to their classrooms each day to help avoid the mixing of cohort groups and help mitigate an outbreak should one occur.  They should have their masks with them at all times - if a student loses or forgets their mask, the school will provide one for them.  Teachers will work with students on when they need to be worn and how they should be worn correctly.  

    • Even when under the strictest mask policy, students will be given frequent mask breaks and will not be required to wear them when eating or during physical activity.  More in depth information on the mask requirements can be found on the school website in the updated reopening plan and 1900 series emergency policies that the school board adopted.

  • Drop off/pick up - as mentioned earlier in the first day section please drop off and pick up your children outside the school doors to help keep our numbers down and avoid bottleneck areas in the building.  School staff will be available to help direct students where they need to go before and after school.  

  • Please limit the number of parents in the front office - if you need to speak with D’awn in the front office and see more than a few parents already in the office, please wait outside until it clears out a little.

  • Meetings:  Parents may schedule individual meetings with their child’s teacher, but will be expected to wear a mask.  If it’s not an emergency, please don’t schedule these meetings the first week of school.

  • When the doors will open:  This is a significant change to be aware of that will last until we are able to operate school on a more normal routine.  Other than the first day of school, the doors to the school currently will not open until 7:50 a.m. at this time.  Those students who want breakfast may pick up a grab and go and head to their classroom.  The first school bell will ring at 7:55 a.m. as it has in years past

  • Buses:  Buses will arrive between 7:45 and 7:50 and students may come into the school building through the corner cafeteria doors.  A staff member will be outside to direct them.

  • Remote Learning:  those families who have signed up for remote learning should have been contacted by our point of contact for remote learning, Mrs. Swanson.  If you haven’t been contacted yet, please reach out to the school.

  • School Nurse Whitney Marsh:  The school nurse is now available all day every day and is a great resource for Covid-related questions!  She has resources and checklists to screen students who are exhibiting symptoms.

Why are we doing this with only one confirmed case in our county at the time of this letter?  These mitigation strategies have been put in place to help keep our doors open for students and to help keep our teachers healthy and teaching.  Although there is only one confirmed active case in our county at this time, we are next to counties with many more.  It only takes one cluster of cases to significantly disrupt our school.  These strategies and the others put in place will hopefully help us stay at that low number and keep our doors open at this time.  We’ve seen what other schools have had to do because of significant rises in cases in their communities and we are trying to avoid that with these precautionary measures.  

We appreciate the patience and support so many of you have given regardless of your thoughts/views of the Covid-19 pandemic.  We also thank families who have been cautious in their activities outside the school day, as these may very well directly impact our ability to keep school doors open as well.

Thanks again for all of your support and help in opening schools this fall.  We are thankful for the opportunity to teach your children and are so excited to get them back on August 31st!  We are looking forward to the 2020-2021 school year!

Sincerely,

Brian Hilton

Elementary Principal