Page Unified School District schools moved to hybrid learning on October 12th, which saw some students returning to in-class learning, while some of their classmates remained home and attended classes virtually. In preparing for students return to schools, the district created and trained a Covid Response Team at each school. The District also has a District-level Covid Response team.
The District Covid Response Team is headed by Security Coordinator, Josh Malnack, and Special Education RN, Pat St. Germain, with support from Human Resources Director Terry Maurer, Student Support Services Coordinator, Tashina Williams and Maintenance Director, Cody Chischilly.
The District derived its safety protocols from the CDC, Coconino County Health Dept., and Tuba City Regional Health Care.
In addition to the District Covid Response Team, each school has its own Covid Response Team. The principals from each school selected between five and ten of its teachers, parapros and administrators to serve on each school’s team.
The week before Page school’s moved to the hybrid learning model, the District’s Covid Response Team spent part of a day training the teams from each school how to use the equipment they’ll be using – such as forehead temperature scanners, and the proper wearing of Personal Protective Equipment.
Members of the response teams also learned how to identify a student or adult who is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms and the protocols to follow if they are.
When a student arrives at school, they are met by a screener who takes their temperature with a forehead scanner and visually examines them to see if they appear healthy. The student is given breakfast in a sack as they enter the school building. Inside the school, students are met by nurses, or parapros who lead the children to their classroom and help them stay six feet apart as they walk down the hall. In the weeks prior to students return to in-school curriculum, staff placed tape of the floors spaced six feet apart. Inside their classrooms, the student will sit at a desk that is spaced away from other desks. Masks are required anytime a student or adult is on campus.
If a student arrives on campus with Covid-19 symptoms, or if they exhibit symptoms during the day, the student will be taken to an isolation room. A Certified Nurse Assistant will stay with any student or students in the isolation room. If necessary, each school will open additional isolation rooms. The school will contact the student’s parent, and, if possible, the parent will pick up their child and take them home.
If a student or staff member shows symptoms of Covid-19, the school’s Covid Response Team will then contact the District’s Covid Response Team, and Peter Johnson, the District’s Medical Covid Coordinator. The Coconino County Health Dept. will be informed, and if the student lives on the Navajo Reservation, the Tuba City Regional Healthcare Center will also be informed. The Covid Response team will also initiate contact tracing, identifying all persons the symptomatic student or adult had interacted with that day.
“We’ll stay transparent,” said Josh Malnack. “We’ll report any Corona cases that occur at the school.”
“I think we can handle it and handle it well,” said St. Germain. “We’ve had several weeks experience with the Onsite Support Services that allowed us to identify and work through any problems and that has given us a great head start to more students returning to school.”
The District has been working toward students returning to in-school instruction for months.
PUSD’s Maintenance Director, Cody Chischilly, and his team spent a great deal of the summer and early fall preparing for the day when students would return to school.
They installed plexi-glass shields in places where students and parents come into contact with school staff. Desks in classroom and lunch rooms are spaced out, and in many cases divided with plexi-glass shields.
The schools are taking additional precautions throughout their classrooms and halls. In an effort to prevent students from gathering together too closely, students will not be allowed to use lockers, and all drinking fountains have been fitted with coverings. During lunch, students will no longer congregate in groups at a table, but instead they’ll sit at a student desk, which have been spaced out to meet social distancing regulations.
PUSD Hires Medical Covid Specialist
As part of its effort to safely return to in-person learning, the Page Unified School District has hired Peter Jones as its Medical Covid-19 Specialist.
Jones will head the district’s Covid Response Team, and coordinate the efforts of each schools’ Covid Response Team. In addition, he will work with state, county and local health organizations to bring new information and guidelines to the district and he’ll report back to the health agencies any covid-related occurrences in the district.
Jones says one of his main objectives is to maintain trust and transparency with Page families and community. “If anyone on campus – student, teacher or staff—tests positive for Covid-19, we will immediately communicate this with all our stakeholders,” said Jones.
One of Jones’ primary responsibilities is conducting checks to ensure that the schools and the Covid Response Teams are practicing the safety and mitigation protocols.
Jones analyzes Covid case numbers occurring in Page, in the county, the state and the Navajo Reservation on a daily basis.
“The idea is to keep everyone informed and up to date,” said Jones.
Jones says he and the Covid Response Teams will be pro-active and do all they can to prevent Covid from arriving at our schools. “The one action that will help us the most is good parental involvement,” he said. “If your kid is displaying symptoms, please keep them home for a while until they can be checked.”
Jones is confident that if the community takes necessary precautions we can prevent any large Covid outbreaks from reaching our schools. “We’re all in this together. Let’s work together and help each other out. It’s up to us to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Jones, a native of Galveston, Texas, has lived in Page for four years, employed as a physical therapist assistant at Lake Powell Physical Therapy, and Zion’s Way. He is married to Page native, Lynny Pearce Jones. They have two kids, ages four and two.
Jones first came Page in 2007 while serving his LDS mission. “It was then that I first got to know the area,” he said. “I loved it here then, and still do.”
Jones first met his wife during his mission. Years later he ran into her again while attending Brigham Young University and, because of their prior acquaintance, they made an easy connection, said Jones.
Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science and physiology. He’s licensed to practice physical therapy in Utah and Arizona.
After graduating from BYU, Jones and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas. It was not a good fit, Jones recalls. “The congestion of the city was pretty terrible. What should have been a 20-minute drive took an hour. That’s when we took a longer look at Page. Both my wife and I like page’s small-town feel and its strong community bond. I really like the friendly, supportive nature of Page.”
Jones and his family are involved with their church, and Lynny is also active in a mother’s group.