Manual’s Virtual Town Hall reveals in-depth plan to return to in-person school


Manual releases the schedule for students returning to school after spring break. Graphic by Molly Gregory.

Isabella Bonilla

Principal Newman commenced Manual’s Virtual Town Hall on March 11, at 6:30 p.m. over a Youtube livestream, presenting how duPont Manual will reopen in-person and addressing student and parental concerns. The presentation was broken down into seven different sections that addressed the various aspects of school reopening, before transitioning into an open question session. 

The link to the livestream was sent out to Manual parents via the weekly email update. The link to the presentation shown and Google Form questionnaire also was and will continue to be sent out via this method, on a weekly basis. Students and parents can watch the recording of the livestream here.

The new schedule shows two possible learning experiences available for students: virtual or in-person. This new schedule will take effect after spring break, starting April 5. 

“No matter what you choose, know that I, along with the entire Crimson family, will respect your decisions,” Principal Newman said. 

The in-person master schedule was constructed to resemble Manual’s traditional block schedule, with students attending one White day and one Red day in-person per week. In-person students will be divided into two groups, either A or B, based on their last names. 

Group A will host those whose last names begin with A-K, and will go to school Monday and Tuesdays, with Thursdays and Fridays set as asynchronous work days. Group B will be students whose last names begin with L-Z and will attend school Thursdays and Fridays, with Mondays and Tuesdays set as asynchronous work days. Wednesday will be asynchronous for both in-person groups, as the school will be closed for deep cleaning. For those returning in-person, the school day will begin at 7:40am and end at 2:20pm. 

Unlike in-person students, those who select virtual will be able to meet with their teachers two times per week, although on a different timetable than those in-person. Virtual students will receive both asynchronous and synchronous instruction every day of the week except on Wednesdays, when they’ll only have synchronous instruction.  Those who chose virtual will attend class from 2:30-3:30 p.m., alternating White and Red days just like their in-person peers. Wednesdays will serve as both a combination of White and Red days. 

Teachers do have the opportunity to move their after school synchronous sessions to their planning period during school hours. Therefore, it’s possible that some virtual learners may have some synchronous class time during typical school hours. 

After revisiting the new schedule, Newman introduced the rest of the administrative team and the seven systems, or components, they will be focusing on for the return to school. The entire presentation can be viewed here

Counselor Amy Meeron discussed PPE and Sanitation Supply.

 “The district has provided to us adequate PPE…we have created  a system for students and staff members to request additional PPE as needed,” Meeron said. 

The school cleaning process was gone over by YPAS Productions and Admissions Associate Cayce Crowder, however, due to technical difficulties, Newman had to take over halfway through. 

“Just a recap everyone, all health and safety protocols from local and state protocols will be followed,” Newman said. 

This includes desks and other high touch areas being cleaned between each student, a deep cleaning of the school on Wednesdays and consistent sanitization of the lunch room areas. 

Those viewing also got to hear of a new chemical the school will be using for thorough cleaning purposes. Janitors will begin utilizing QT3, a hard surface disinfectant with a high efficiency for wiping out pathogens. Newman assured students and parents that it is a high quality chemical, although it won’t be used in the direct presence of students. 

Assistant Principal Greg Kuhn went over the daily expectations for students and faculty, starting with the arrival process. 

There will be four student ‘arrival ports’ at Manual and one at YPAS. Students will only be able to enter the building from one of these designated arrival ports, where their temperature will be taken and they will scan a QR code/sign in for the day. There are also new restrictions on where car poolers may be dropped off. There will no longer be drop-offs permitted from 2nd Street and for YPAS, drop-offs may only occur next to Rachel Baker Field. 

“Once students have had their temperatures taken and signed in, they will make their way to one of three student welcome centers. Students will be assigned to one of the welcome centers; the large gym, auditorium or YPAS Main Stage,” Kuhn said.

Students will have an assigned seat and practice social distancing in their welcome center, until dismissed to go to their first block class. 

ECE students will be assigned to and have breakfast in the freshman cafeteria.   

The daily expectations for during the school day were addressed next. 

Students will be asked to please adhere to the safety protocols, such as having their temperature taken, washing their hands and wearing their masks at required times. Students who do not have masks will be given one or should have a medical waiver giving them exemption. Social distancing is also a must, as is using the QR code/sign in sheet anytime a student enters the school, goes to the office or to the restroom. The QR code/sign in sheet method is to be used for contact tracing purposes. 

Class transitions will also look quite different for students. There will now be ten minutes allotted between classes, with hallways operating in two lanes with six foot distancing markers. All stairwells will operate as conducting only up or down traffic and there will be absolutely no lingering in the hallway. Staff will be stationed at transition points to make sure social distancing is enforced. Walkers from YPAS are also required to maintain social distancing.

Social distancing will be continued in the classroom environment and desks will be spaced six feet apart or as far as possible given the size of the classroom. No food or drink will be permitted in the classroom with the exception of water bottles that have straws.

“We want students and parents to know there will be assigned seats in every classroom…windows of course can be opened, weather permitted,” Kuhn said. 

If a student needs to use the restroom during class, they must wait until after the first ten minutes of instruction and must use the QR code/sign in sheet. Teachers may only send one student at a time. Restrooms will be locked during class transitions, although administrators may give access in need of emergency. 

The departure process is also going to help maintain social distancing and other safety measures.

“We have a plan for students to depart quickly and safely,” Kuhn said. 

There will be a staggered release, with ECE kids first at 2 p.m.  Bus riders will follow, releasing one floor at a time. Next will be car riders at 2:20 p.m., also released one floor at a time. Finally, student drivers will depart at 2:25pm. Students are expected to leave in a timely manner and exit campus unless going to a specific event. 

“We do expect compliance with safety rules at all times,” Kuhn said.

Students returning in person will be required to sign a safety pledge saying they will adhere to and comply with the rules. Refusal to comply and breaking the safety pledge will result in a referral. 

All students will receive free meals per KDE for this year only and will have assigned seats in designated breakfast and lunch rooms.  Lunch will be served from the cafeteria, but breakfast will be served in a grab and go style from kiosks in the student welcome centers. Lunch will remain 20 minutes long, however, there will now only be four instead of five lunch times. 

Upon entering and leaving the cafeteria, students will be required to use hand sanitizer. Social distancing will continue to be enforced during lunch time, with assigned seats spaced six feet apart. Masks will also be enforced during this time, unless a student is seated/actively eating or drinking. Masks must be put back on before getting up to leave. 

Much to the dismay of many students, Manual’s courtyard will be closed. Students are unable to take lunch or hang out in the courtyard as it currently stands, although that status is subject to change later on.

“As of right now, the courtyard is going to be closed for man power and cleaning protocols and contract tracing,” Assistant Principal Klingenfus said. 

After discussing the nutritional standpoint, Assistant Principal Paula Boggs went over the mental health aspects of starting this new schedule. 

“The resounding message from Dr. Polio is one that mirrors ours as well,” Boggs said, referencing the emphasis on both student and teacher social, mental and emotional health during these times.  

The Culture and Climate Committee is working with Student Senate and others to develop methods to help reorient students upon returning. The freshman in particular will be focused on, as they’ve never even been in the building before or experienced a ‘normal’ school day.  There are plans to have a video tour of the building, a student friendly orientation map with the bell schedule and an opening day orientation full of  activities and resources for freshmen. 

“They won’t just be fending for themselves,” Boggs said.

In addition, there is an activities calendar for students and faculty composed of both in-person and virtual activity opportunities. Counselor support will also be available for all students. 

The last part of the presentation dealt with the safety protocols regarding sick students. 

Students must attest that they are healthy before coming to school. However, if a student gets sick at any time during the school day, they will be assisted to a designated health room. A faculty member will notify parents for pickup, but JCPS will provide a transport bus home for those unable to pick up their child. The QT3 solution will be used to clean the health room after a sick individual leaves and the contact tracing team will identify every area the student accessed using seating charts and the QR code/sign in sheet. Quarantine requests will be sent promptly following identification of those who had interaction with the COVID positive student. 

Principal Newman wanted to make very clear that the names of COVID positive students will not be released and that anyone in quarantine will efficiently be transitioned to the virtual schedule. 

After the presentation concluded, Principal Newman took a few minutes to discuss communication. 

“I greatly value communication,” Newman said. 

He will continue to send out a weekly Manual parent email, which students also receive via their student emails. These emails will have links to new resources and materials for families, as well as carry the links for Town Hall meetings, the Q&A Google Sheet and to a Google Form questionnaire. This Google Form serves as a way for parents and students to send in their questions to the admin team.  

Secretaries Ms. Meng and Ms. Leveque began to read off questions from the Google Form questionnaire following the presentation.

During this session, those viewing learned that the admin team is working on a plan to distribute IDs for students on the first day back, and also plan on taking photos for freshmen IDs. Those who struggle academically with the transition back to in-person can continue to access the MAC and receive support, although the MAC will remain virtual.

One question many students continue to inquire about is whether or not standardized testing will be administered upon return. Currently, the administration is unsure what both AP and standardized testing will look like, as they’re awaiting further guidance from the district. 

“As I get more guidance on testing, I will make sure to communicate that to you,” Newman said.

Another hot topic from the community regards spring break. One parent asked whether students who go out of state for spring break will be allowed to attend in person that first week back. 

“I know that is a point of anxiety for many families at this point,” Newman said. 

Principal Newman responded that families should monitor advice from the governor and district, leaning more towards that students should be honest and respectful to their peers. Manual will rely on the integrity of its students and will send any student who shows symptoms of, has tested positive for or has been around anyone who has COVID-19 home.

The Town Hall ended at 7:33pm, after the Q&A session. Principal Newman will continue to update the Manual specific Q&A Google Sheet as the administration receives more questions and information. 

The next Virtual Town Hall will be held on Thursday, March 18 and will be for covering the individualized support students can expect during in-person learning.