Delaware's largest school district prepares for safe return of students

Students and staff will be masked, and classrooms are outfitted with sanitizing stations.
NEWPORT, Delaware (WPVI) -- Teachers and staff in the Red Clay Consolidated School District are making final preparations before all students return to the classroom for the first time during the pandemic.

The district previously had a hybrid learning program that was first introduced last October, but like many districts across the region, they're returning to in-person learning five days a week.

Many COVID-19 safety measures will carry over, but district leaders anticipate time for students to get accustomed to being back in the classroom full-time.

Richey Elementary School Principal Stephanie Armstrong knows every corner of the building. The longtime educator is asking parents to take some important steps before students walk through the doors.

"It is critical for parents to do some self-screening when children arrive home. Symptoms that look like colds - with it being allergy season - it's really time to be sensitive to that," Armstrong said.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia School Board votes to impose vaccine mandate for teachers, school staff

It's suggested that parents do temperature checks and sign up for the district's rapid testing program.

Measures will also be taken to help students keep a safe physical distance at school.

"What we've done, is we've placed markers on the floor as friendly reminders to our students to keep a safe distance from one another," Armstrong said.

Everyone must also wear a mask.

"Every classroom is outfitted with a hand sanitizing station, so that's really critical," Armstrong said. "And then, students will grab books, but once those books have been read and touched, they'll go into a bin that will sit for a period of time so the students won't be touching the same books."

After choosing a book, students will sit at the same desk every day.

"If there's a situation where there is a child who has had an issue, we do that for contact tracing purposes," Armstrong said.

SEE ALSO: For students in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, safety starts on the bus

Students will also be spaced out while sitting in the cafeteria.

"We'll have about one student per table in our cafeteria and we have approximately 75 to 80 students per lunch opportunity," Armstrong said.

Red Clay Superintendent Dorrell Green said they've invested in making sure every space is properly ventilated in buildings across Delaware's largest school district.

"How we circulate and cycle the air throughout our buildings has been a priority for all of our schools...28 buildings across the district," Green said.

Green added that every school will have what they call an "isolation room" for students who appear to be exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Parents have the opportunity to opt-in for students to receive a rapid test, according to Green.

"Having three children of my own, I know children are resilient. We know there's a lot of anxiety and a lot of worry, but we know that this is the best place for our students," Green said.

Students return to school on August 30 and 31.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.