By Beka Compton
The Times 

Waitsburg School District prepares for in-person instruction

Things will look different, but Waitsburg students will return to the classroom on Monday


October 1, 2020

Things will look different, but Waitsburg students will return to the classroom on Monday

WAITSBURG—Starting October 5, the hallways at Waitsburg schools will be full of students again, actually half of them at a time.

Students will return to class two days a week, in ‘A’ or ‘B’ groups. On Monday and Tuesday, group A will attend classes at their respective school. Group B is scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is reserved for independent work and targeted assistance, as well as deep cleaning throughout the schools. Students are still expected to participate in their appropriate online classes when they are learning from home.

Students are not to arrive before 8 a.m, at any school. Upon arrival, students will go through a COVID-19 symptom screening. Once the screening is complete and approved, students, will receive color-coded wristbands, so teachers and staff will know students have been screened, even as they move between buildings.

Classes are scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m. for all grades. The building will remain closed to the general public for the foreseeable future. If a student needs to be picked up for an appointment, parents will need to call the appropriate school office to make arrangements.

Students are expected to follow ‘normal’ school rules. Cell phones will need to be turned off and put away during class. Students should be aware that water fountains are disconnected, and disposable water bottles are available. There is a bottle-filling station located inside the high school gym.

All students will be required to wear a face-covering while attending in-person instruction. Mask breaks are an option. Students will just need to communicate the need for a break with their teacher. If students cannot, or will not, wear a face covering, they can continue full-time online instruction.

Social distancing, at least six feet apart, will be required. Superintendent Mark Pickel asked that students be kept home if they are sick and remain home until the student is symptom-free for at least 24 hours. A COVID-19 outbreak at the school is defined as ‘two or more unrelated COVID-19 positive cases.’ It only takes two positive cases to close the school again.

“The biggest thing, for us, is everyone’s safety,” Pickel said. “There are three big things: Make sure you wear your facemask, make sure you wash your hands and make sure you stay six feet apart. If we can do that, I think we will be just fine.”

Breakfast will be available, like always. The school is asking that students not participating in breakfast arrive at 8:15 a.m. Elementary students will eat breakfast in the Multipurpose room. Middle and high school students will eat in their classrooms.

Sign-up sheets for lunch will be available for middle and high school students. Middle school students will be allowed to go home for lunch, with notes from a parent, or walk to the multipurpose room. High school students may eat lunch in the ‘Cage,’ or outside on the grass, honoring social distancing rules. High school students are also permitted to go home for lunch.

A school bus will be running for students who need transportation. Superintendent Pickel said that the district hopes to contact families they expect will use the bus services by Thursday, October 1. If your child needs to ride the bus and you have not heard from the school, please contact your child’s school office. Face coverings will be required for the bus. Transportation details are still being finalized as of Tuesday.

The Waitsburg Elementary School Office can be reached at (509) 337-6301

Preston Hall Middle School Office can be reached at (509) 337-9474

Waitsburg High School Office can be reached at (509) 337-6351.

The district’s website,, will have detailed information. Information has also been sent out to families.

“We are so excited to have students back,” Pickel said. “We are going to work our darndest to make the best of the situation we’ve been given. We want to make sure that staff and students are safe, and that we maintain that safety.”


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