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The News Tribune is offering this article free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

The Jamestown C-1 School District will return to in-person learning Aug. 24, leaning on a number of upgrades and improvements implemented over the summer.

To ensure student and faculty safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, some guidelines have been set for the 2020-21 school year.

The school has installed 16 air sterilizers in all HVAC units in the building, added hand sanitizer stations and dispensers throughout, and replaced water fountains with bottle fillers to reduce sharing of germs. Timed faucets are being installed in students' bathrooms for proper hand-washing.

The school has also purchased contactless thermometers to check temperatures.

Masks and Plexiglas shields have been obtained for use if needed, though face coverings are not required for students and staff but will be allowed. Visitors will be asked to wear masks, to complete a health questionnaire and to have their temperature checked upon arrival, and access will be allowed only if necessary.

Playground upgrades have been completed with anticipation of classes and lunch being held outside when weather permits.

For daily operations, the school is doing everything possible to proceed as normally as possible while also adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's public health guidelines, according to a letter from Superintendent Gretchen Guitard.

School officials discussed school arrival, lunch, passing time, recess and school dismissal procedures during their back-to-school meeting.

Elementary students will remain in their home classrooms, with teachers rotating to the appropriate classroom. Lunch will remain in the cafeteria with staggered lunch times and additional tables, inside and outside. Bus transportation and routes will be developed after survey results from parents are finalized. School dismissal protocols, such as car riders, parent pick-up and walkers, will be staggered and supervised to allow for proper social distancing. There will also be assigned seating on school buses, in classrooms, at lunch and at staff meetings to provide an avenue for contact tracing when or if necessary.

Along with these measures, the school will be following health protocols from the CDC as well as the Moniteau County Health Department. The school will be communicating with parents to keep them updated on information about the spread of COVID-19 in the county. This communication will take place through phone messages, email, text and/or social media posts when a case is confirmed in the community, if a significant number of students are found ill and if school needs to close due to COVID-19.

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Students and staff will continue to engage in health-promoting behaviors such as washing hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds, not sharing food or drinks, giving elbow bumps instead of handshakes, encouraging parents to temperature screen students at home each morning and staying home if sick. If students or staff present one or more symptoms of COVID-19 or if they test positive, they will be excluded from school.

If the district has to shut down due to a positive COVID-19 exposure, classwork will move to a virtual instructional environment immediately. The Jamestown C-1 Leadership Team will regularly update the plan for the essential operations of academic programming and staff expectations if COVID-19 further affects the school.

A letter with all of this information was sent to parents in July.

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