A plan is in place for students to finally be due back in the hallways of the Laurel School District.
The plan was announced and discussed at Wednesday’s school board workshop and by the district’s pandemic committee on Thursday.
The staggered plan begins with kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in the elementary school as well as seventh- and eighth-graders returning to the classroom on Jan. 19.
Two days later on Jan. 21, third- through sixth-graders will have the option to return. The two-day stagger is set up because the return to school for the youngest students will be like “day one all over again” in regard to establishing rituals, learning where the restrooms are and separation anxiety, according to Superintendent Leonard Rich
“For all those things, we’re doing two days of priority for K-2 because it may require some additional staff to be pulled to help navigate those first two days with those younger grades,” Rich said.
Also on Jan. 21, seventh- and eighth-graders will return to the classroom. All students will continue to have virtual options if they opt to not return in person.
The welcoming back for high school students will be on Jan. 25. The delay in making the oldest students return last is not coincidental. They are what Rich described as having the most freedom and likely to be gathering in larger groups.
“We are separating them from the holidays as much as we can and any potential surge prior to their return,” Rich said.
Their return also gives a chance “to enforce a stricter masking policy on a more compliant population,” according to the return to school plan.
“Our mask policy will be robust. Masks must be worn by students entering the building, while in the building, during class, exiting the building, etc.”
The plan also says that progressive discipline will be utilized if a student is noncompliant with this policy.