On Thursday, NVUSD directors and school principals detailed the work completed and the tasks remaining to prepare school buildings – and those about to return to them – for the new realities of social distancing and constant sanitizing to prevent any viral outbreaks that could force a fresh shutdown.
Teachers and staff reported a busy sprint toward the reopening, largely occupied with refitting and rearranging schoolrooms, offices, hallways and bathrooms with protection in the form of wider-spaced desks, hand sanitizer pumps, Plexiglas shields and floor stickers marking 6-foot distances.
Despite the district’s earlier announcement it would maintain a 4-foot minimum gap between desks, a majority of desks will be spaced 6 feet apart, with all students facing the teacher, according to Pat Andry-Jennings, assistant superintendent of instructional services. With the new classroom layouts, principals said class sizes will top out at about 15 or 16 to a room, and Napa High principal Monica Ready expected an average of about eight to 10.
With classroom capacity reduced by the need for distancing, schools are taking different approaches to moving some teaching outdoors.
At Browns Valley Elementary, principal Frank Silva said teachers can decide whether to teach outside and have received guidelines on doing so in ways that avoid having cohorts of children mingle. (Face masks are mandatory for students from the third grade up, and recommended for younger pupils.) Napa High will offer physical education and some electives outside, but Silverado Middle School will keep all instruction indoors because of the technology needed to instruct in-person and remote students at the same time, according to principal Jennifer Kohl.