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Answers to Parent Questions 7.22

Dear South Middle community:

In an effort to provide you with the most up to date answers to your questions, please see below.  The questions increased dramatically from yesterday.  That's great news!  Please keep them coming.  It is very important to me that you are able to make the very best decision for your child and your family.  

Please note that I will reply to questions about band, choir, orchestra, and gifted tomorrow as I hope to have accurate information to pass along for you then.

Thanks for all you do!



What will arrival and departure look like each day that students are in school?

School will still start at 8:20 and end at 3:15. At 8 am, students will be allowed to begin entering the building. Students riding a bus will be dismissed from their buses (one bus at a time) and all students will enter the building through the door designated for their grade level. Students who are dropped off will also be able to enter the building starting at 8 am. We are asking that students not be let out of their cars until 8 am so that we can avoid a line of students standing together in front of the building.

Signs will be posted and administrators will be outside to direct students to the following entrances:

Grade 6 will use Door 11
Grade 7 will use Door 1 (right side of the four-door entry)
Grade 8 will use Door 1 (left side of the four-door entry)
Once entering the building, students will be expected to go directly to their first class of the day. If a student is getting breakfast, he/she would grab the breakfast and take it to eat in the classroom. Once students arrive at their first class, they are expected to remain there until the end of the period. All students will have a scheduled break during each period of the day.

Students will be dismissed by grade and team at the end of the day in order to limit the number of students dismissed at a time.

I need more information about school supplies and backpacks.

School supplies will be purchased by Parkway, but parents will be asked to pay a supply fee of $33.  More information about how to pay that fee will be coming.

Included with the supplies is a large bag with a handle that students will be able to carry all their supplies for all their classes with them from class to class. We are still working on the details for where students will leave and pick up their supply bags. 

There is not a back to school supply list. Students will have all their supplies when they arrive on the first day of school. If you have already purchased school supplies, just keep them for assignments that students would complete on the days they are at home.  Again, parents will be asked to pay a $33 fee.

Our reasoning for not allowing backpacks is to limit the amount of unnecessary materials that students may bring back and forth from school. There are very few items that students will need to bring to school on a daily basis under our current plan. Their Chromebook will fit in the Chromebook case, and that case also has the capacity to hold a personal phone and a few personal items in its front pocket such as an inhaler or personal medical needs. Students may need a lunch bag and a water bottle. We believe that it is feasible for students to carry these items, especially since they are only transitioning 4 times during the day and mostly within their teaming area. The student's school supplies bag will stay at school and not be transported home. Students should use their own school supplies at home when needed. We will also be encouraging teachers to use online and virtual methods for homework so that in most cases no materials are going home with students on a daily basis. In situations where students have taken notes or written something on paper that they may need at home, they can either take the note out of the notebook or take a picture with their Chromebook. This will be new for all of us and we may need to reevaluate as we move through the year.

We want to start the school year with as many precautions in place as possible. We will reevaluate our practices once the year starts, and if we find it necessary to allow backpacks, we will make that change. We are hopeful that by the time coats and other larger items are necessary to be brought to school, we may be able to re institute lockers or we will reconsider backpacks at that time.

Will the kids rotate to each class with the same group or will each class have different groups of kids. So basically how many kids will our child interact with (in close quarters such as a classroom) in a day?

Students in middle school are grouped together on teams. The exception to this is in PE and elective classes. The average class size will be 10 students, made up mostly of students on that student’s team.

When will schedules be available, including for students with an IEP?

We typically have schedules available the second week of August. This will be a challenge this year because we will not be able to create a schedule until we know how many students will be attending in person. We hope to have schedules for students and families a week before school starts.

How are the logistics with the school opening in conjunction with the VICC program?

There will not be a difference between opening of school for students in the VICC program and for those who are not.

During the cooler months, will students have to take their coat with them to each classroom?

Yes. Students will be able to take their coats with them from class to class.

Will there be an orientation day before school starts for 6th graders?

There will be an orientation, but it will be virtual. In early August, we will be creating and sharing with you videos that show what the day in the life a student will be like. We know that this can never replicate the experience of an in-person orientation, but we will do our very best to make them feel comfortable prior to coming to school. We will exceed all your expectations in how we welcome them and comfort them during the first few weeks of school and beyond. We promise you that we will not allow a student to become lost and we will not count them tardy while they are trying to find their way around the school. The biggest source of anxiety for an incoming 6th grade student is usually trying to get his or her locker open. Students will not have to worry about that this year as we will not have lockers (at least during the first part of the year).

Will students be able to bring water bottles? If so, how can they be carried?

Yes, students can bring a water bottle. We request that they do so. They will have regular opportunities throughout the day to fill these up at one of our bottle-filling stations. Students should not have too much difficulty carrying their belongings throughout the day (chromebook case, supply bag, and water bottle). Additionally, their daily transitions have been reduced from 7 to 3. We also will not simply sit and watch a student struggle. You can count on us to always be willing to help.

Are there team A and team B teachers, or will all the teachers be teaching Tuesday through Friday?

It will be the same teachers Tuesday through Friday.

We can do a carpool with 4 families and reduce traffic at school and open up spaces on the bus. Can we request the kids go to school on the same days to make this happen?

Students will be assigned a group based on their last name. At this point, I do not know where the split will take place between the two groups. Unfortunately, we would not take a request to switch groups for carpooling purposes.

If we choose virtual learning, will my daughter have teachers from South Middle? Or would she have teachers from anywhere in Parkway?

Students in the virtual campus could have a teacher from Parkway South Middle or from another Parkway Middle School. It is completely dependent upon the number of students and teachers in the virtual campus.

My child will be new to the district and entering 6th grade. You mentioned Chromebooks and cases. Was I supposed to pick this up already?

Sixth grade students will receive a new Chromebook and case. That process has not begun yet and you have not missed an email :) Incoming 7th and 8th grade students will use the same Chromebook that they had last year.

How will social distancing be monitored outside at recess and lunch? Who will be monitoring?

We have three administrators, an SRO, and counseling staff that assist with lunch and recess supervision. Our responsibilities are to ensure that students are adequately distanced, while still maintaining some semblance of socializing (which is why they really want to come to school).

Will any of the supplies be needed or allowed to come home, thinking about notes taken in class?

Supplies should not be needed at home as most work at home and at school will be done using digital tools.

What will happen if a student or staff member is exposed to covid-19?

Below is the answer to this and related questions from Parkway’s FAQ:

What happens if a student or staff member who has attended school is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Parents and staff will be notified immediately if they have had close contact with anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. We will follow the guidance of public health authorities in making decisions to close classrooms or schools, or to quarantine specific groups of students or staff.

Will students or staff who have been in contact need to quarantine? Will the school/classroom close?

We will be in close consultation with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to make decisions about the need for individuals or groups of people to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19, depending on the exposure. The Parkway Health Services team will take responsibility for surveillance and follow-up with parents and staff.

Our response and subsequent immediate action steps will be dependent on the situation. For example, the Health Department might recommend a school closure for 2-5 days for cleaning, or they might recommend quarantine for 14 days for a small group of people who had close contact with an infected person. Close contact is defined by health officials as an individual who has been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes of time (cumulative) without wearing a face covering.

We will work with the County Health Department and err on the side of caution to decide when students/staff may need to quarantine and/or a classroom or school should be closed.

Please read the current guidance for schools from the St. Louis County Department of Health (below):

When a Case is Identified

If an individual within a school building is tested positive for COVID-19, schools must work with their local health department but could expect some of these parameters to be put in place:

Identify who the individual was in contact with, within a 6-foot space, for at least 15 minutes. If specific contacts cannot be identified, quarantine everyone who was in the same room, bus or other areas. Schools will need to keep room/bus logs in order to assist with contact tracing.

The St. Louis County Health Department suggests that if over 5 percent of the student body in a building or district test positive any day, 4 percent test positive over 2 days in a row or 3 percent test positive for 3 days in a row, then that building or district closes for 10 days (percentages may change when more scientific data becomes available).

In the event a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is determined to have been in the building and poses a risk to the staff or students, a school may close for 1-2 days for cleaning and disinfection of that building or exposed area if unable to clean during the nighttime closing.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 when can they return to school or work?

If someone is a known close contact to someone with COVID-19, or if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, medical clearance would be required prior to returning to school or work. Quarantines can last 14 days or more, depending on the individual circumstances, and we will be depending on current public health guidelines in each situation.