Jason Groendyke speaks to school board

East Elementary School principal Jason Groendyke gives his administrative report to the Sheldon School District Board of Education during the board’s meeting Tuesday, July 14. The elementary school will have several sanitation and social distancing measures in place for the 2020-21 academic year.

SHELDON—The three buildings in Sheldon School District are gearing up for a fall semester that will be overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The principals at each building updated the board of education on their in-person Return-to-Learn plans during its monthly meeting Tuesday, July 14.

One main difference between each building will be how students use their lockers.

At the high school, for instance, students will share lockers with their siblings unless they have permission from parents to share with another student of their choice. High school principal Sherrie Zeutenhorst said there aren’t enough lockers in the building for each student to have their own, so this was the next-best option.

“We were about 100 short,” Zeutenhorst said. “I did price lockers and they’re just very expensive.”

She said she would rather have money to spare for any software needs that arise should the school need to rely on online learning during the academic year.

High school students will be asked to carry their materials in backpacks in between classes to reduce trips to their lockers. They will, however, place their backpacks in lockers before going to lunch.

Board member Jessica Brink asked middle school principal Cindy Barwick how the locker situation was in that building.

Barwick said she has been purchasing extra lockers over the past three years, so the middle school will have sufficient locker space for the academic year.

Middle school students will be asked to carry their class materials with them in the mornings to reduce the amount of hallway congestion. If they need to, individual students can request to visit their lockers during class. They can also visit their lockers if needed during lunch to get their afternoon class materials and again at the end of the day.

At East Elementary, third- and fourth-graders will have one locker per student.

Aside from locker use, the schools’ Return-to-Learn plans for on-site learning share several similarities.

For instance, wearing face masks will be optional at each building, but all students will be expected to either wash or sanitize their hands before their first class.

Drinking fountains will not be used in any of the buildings except for East Elementary’s fountains that have bottle filling stations. Students will be encouraged to bring clear bottles with lids to drink water from throughout the day.

No large-group assemblies will take place inside any of the buildings. Two grade levels will be able to meet in the gyms at East Elementary and the middle school provided everyone is spaced out from one another. One grade level at a time will be able to meet in similar fashion in the high school gym.

All desks in all classrooms will be positioned to face one direction, with social distancing measures to be followed as best as possible for small-group activities. At the end of each class, teachers will spray down the desks and students will wipe them down using paper towels.

Students will wash or sanitize their hands before lunch and will be spaced apart while waiting in the lunch lines.

At East Elementary, students will eat at tables set up in the gym to allow for social distancing. At the middle school, no more than four people will sit at tables and one chair will be in between each person. The high school will divide lunch into three waves, with tables designated for students according to their wave.

The restrooms in each building will be cleaned throughout the day, and the schools will dismiss students at the end of the day in ways that allow for social distancing and reduce congestion at the exits.

Superintendent Cory Myer told the school board the district will spend significantly more money on cleaning supplies this academic year.

“Just when you start talking about soap and paper towels and disinfectant and all those things that are just going to be significantly higher than we’ve ever used before,” Myer said.

To help with those expenses, the Sheldon Pizza Ranch held a fundraiser the week of July 12-18 in which the restaurant would donate 10 percent of proceeds it received to the school district.

Myer said the district placed a couple of large orders for cleaning supplies and, for the time being, the schools should have a sufficient quantity.