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Newport Independent Schools reopen in-person classroom instruction Sept. 29; fall sports to proceed

The Newport Independent Schools will reopen in-person classroom instruction on Sept. 29 and proceed with the district’s fall sports schedule, which begins Friday night with the Newport Wildcats football team playing at Bishop Brossart in Alexandria.

“Our Board of Education and our administration are trying to get back to some normalcy for the students, teachers, staff and families in our district,” said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Tony Watts. “Our number one focus is keeping everyone safe. We will be cleaning, sanitizing and social distancing as much as possible. Anytime a surface is used, we are going to clean it.”

Newport will be using the hybrid model the district originally announced earlier this summer using the 
choice the parents made for their child at that time, virtual or in-person.  

“We will have one group of students in on Monday and Tuesday, everyone home on Wednesday, and the other group will be in school on Thursday and Friday,” Watts said. “We will do a deep cleaning of the building while everyone is home on Wednesday. “ 

Tony Watts

School building surfaces and other areas will be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Students, teachers, and staff will be required to wear masks.

The district will also proceed with allowing all fall sports teams to play their seasons. Attendance at Newport home games will be limited to two tickets per player.

“I’ve wrestled and struggled with this a bit,” said Watts, who played collegiate basketball at Mississippi State. “But I met with some of our parents, and I realize that sports are an opportunity for some kids to go to college. And as an athlete, knowing I could not play my junior or senior year of high school would have been tough to handle.

“So, we are going to make it as safe as possible, but we decided it’s time to let the kids get back to playing.”

Other school building safety measures will include:

• Students entering school buildings will have their temperatures taken and recorded.

• Students, teachers, and staff will continually be reminded and given opportunities to wash and sanitize their hands.

• Breakfast will be served in bags, “grab-and-go” style, with students taking their breakfast to the classroom. Lunches will be pre-ordered by students and served in classrooms.

• Unless seated, masks must be worn.

• As students enter and leave school, teachers will monitor hallways to maintain social distancing.

• To reduce the amount of movement in hallways, students will remain in classrooms and teachers will change classrooms each period.

• Water foundations will be shut off. Students will receive water bottles for drinking.

• Teachers will go through enhanced technology training.

Watts said the reopening plan will be closely monitored and, if necessary, altered to ensure safety.

“We are going to give this a try so we can get the kids back in the classroom,” Watts said. “If we start getting positive cases of the virus, then we may have to shut down again. We certainly don’t want that to be the case, but we are also going to make sure our schools are operating in safe environment.”

From Newport Independent Schools

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