St. Mary’s School finalizes ‘Back to School Plan’
Classes will begin Sept. 8 with COVID-19 safety protocols in place
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – St. Mary’s School is set to have students and staff return to classrooms next month after finalizing its ‘Back to School Plan,’ which lays out safety protocols regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Principal Rita Lee said classes will begin on Sept. 8, the same day the School District of Tomahawk plans to start in-person classes.
“The week of Sept. 1-4 will be used for our Back to School Orientation,” Lee explained. “Families will sign up for a time to come in, fill out necessary paperwork in the office, and students will get to meet with their teacher. At this time, teachers will also be conducting simple assessments with the students so we are prepared to meet each student at their academic readiness level after last spring’s distance learning.”
A letter sent to parents and guardians says the school aims to “continue providing the academic excellence that has become a tradition of St. Mary’s School in a manner that is safe for both students and staff.”
“In creating our plan, St. Mary’s School used, and will continue to use, guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), State Department of Health Services, Lincoln County Health Department, and local community authorities,” the letter states. “Additionally, we have collaborated with the Diocese of Superior, the Tomahawk School District, and Tomahawk Bus Company. We recognize that no effort can completely eliminate the risk of exposure.”
The letter is broken down into four sections: “School Days,” “Classrooms,” “Safety,” and “Other.”
“All aspects of this plan are subject to change based on current health conditions and guidance from local health officials,” the letter notes.
The school currently plans to bring students and staff back to face-to-face instruction five days a week, but families will have the option to choose at-home learning. Homework packets will be available weekly with online options available.
“Families choosing this option who have limited internet availability should contact Mrs. Lee,” the letter notes.
Due to limited space on buses, the school will be conducting a survey of families to determine how many families will be able to provide transportation for their students rather than rely on buses.
“Lack of space on buses could influence our ability to go five days a week,” the letter says.
Seating in classrooms will be arranged to allow for “proper social distancing between students,” and dividers will be used to separate student workspaces “when space is more limited.”
“Physical interaction between classrooms will be limited in order to reduce exposure in case someone is infected but asymptomatic,” the letter explains.
Masks will be required to be worn “based on the State Emergency Health Order.”
“Start practicing mask wearing with your child early,” the letter says. “Staff will be wearing masks, so please get your child accustomed to seeing adults wearing masks so this is not scary for them.”
Frequently-touched surfaces will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day, and students showing signs of illness will be given a mask to wear until they are picked up, “regardless of age.” Those with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home, and individuals must be “temperature free (without temperature reducing medication)” for at least 72 hours before returning to school.
“Students will be dropped off and picked up at the school doors as we are limiting visitor access inside the building,” the letter states.
The letter reminds parents and guardians that the school “did not make these rules” and is “merely following the guidelines we have been given and have adapted them to our school environment to the best of our ability.”
“Please be patient as we navigate these new waters,” the letter notes. “A complete version of the Back to School Plan is available in the school office. If you would like to see it, please contact Mrs. Lee.”