The Operations Department at Des Moines Public Schools oversees many support systems for schools, students and staff. This section highlights their work as DMPS prepares for a new school year.
Students arrive for school in a variety of ways. For those students that utilize District-provided transportation, DMPS will evaluate a number of steps to ensure that students arrive for school safely and ready to learn.
To promote safe distancing practices while on DMPS busses, students may be assigned seating (one child per bench or two children if living in the same household) and be instructed on safe practices for entering and exiting the bus. Additionally, modified route schedules may be implemented to reduce the number of students on buses at any given time. Enhanced cleaning will be utilized after the completion of each bus route to provide a safe environment for bus passengers.
Additional measures will be taken at school sites to help control the flow of students that may be transported by their families. Each building will evaluate their drop-off and pick-up procedures and will work to establish plans to address the increased volume of car traffic that is likely to exist at schools. Practices such as staggered drop-off and pick-up may be implemented to promote safe distancing during arrival and dismissal. Each building will also review the most effective, and safest, way to direct students into the building at the beginning of each school day.
Food and Nutrition
DMPS believes that student access to nutritious meals is critical to their education. As such, the District will continue to serve breakfast and lunch. Meals served in school will be done so in a way to maximize safe distancing and other good health measures. Students in an all-virtual learning environment will continue to have access to District-prepared meals. Additional details regarding the logistics of how this will be facilitated will be forthcoming.
Custodial Services and Cleaning Protocols
Daily cleaning protocols will be established that will ensure that classrooms and work areas are clean and safe. Emphasis will be placed on common touch points and those locations where there is a greater exposure potential for multiple building occupants. Cleaning procedures will be developed in accordance with applicable CDC guidance. Building furnishings and materials that cannot be readily cleaned, in accordance with applicable regulatory-agency guidance will be removed from occupied spaces.
DMPS recognizes that a key element of ensuring a safe learning and work environment is the presence of adequate air ventilation. All occupied building spaces will be fully ventilated to the allowable extent of the existing building’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Building HVAC systems will be operated daily from before staff and students arrive until after the end of normal daily educational activities. Building spaces used for after-hours childcare will be ventilated separately during scheduled program hours.
Classrooms will be reconfigured to maximize safe distancing between students and staff during face-to-face instruction. Student seating will be positioned with all students facing the same direction and with students spaced at distances greater than that recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. Classroom furnishings will be selected to maximize the effectiveness of scheduled cleaning activities.
Representative “before” and “after” classroom configurations are presented below. These are to help convey the safe distancing that will take place in classroom spaces. [Click here or on the image to enlarge]
Administrative and Common-Use Areas
Libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and other multifunctional areas will be evaluated for potential utilization as supplemental classroom spaces, for administrative functions, or other purposes deemed necessary and appropriate. Reception and administrative office areas will be reviewed to identify ways to minimize the number of people present within those spaces at any given time. Clear dividing walls or partitions may be utilized to separate building staff and visitors in administrative areas.
Some restroom fixtures will be removed from service to maximize safe distancing and additional monitoring of restroom facilities by building staff will be performed. Similarly, some water coolers in each building will be removed from service or replaced with bottle filling stations, where appropriate.