Safety protocols implemented for preschool, kindergarten screenings

Thursday, July 9, 2020
Shanley Clark, 4, points to the number 7 for Kelly Murphy during the preschool screening conducted Wednesday at New Madrid Elementary School in New Madrid, Mo. The screenings provided school officials with information about a child's readiness to attend school.
Jill Bock/Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — While much remains uncertain about the upcoming school year, local school districts continue to move forward with plans to start the new year.

Part of those plans include enrollments and screenings for incoming preschool and kindergarten students. Typically, these procedures take place in the spring, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most school districts were forced to cancel and reschedule for the summer.

Enrollment and screening for 2020-2021 kindergarten students in the Sikeston R-6 School District will be July 13-16 at the Kindergarten Center. Kindergarten students must be 5 years old by July 31.

Sikeston Kindergarten Center Principal Jenny Hobeck said the district is taking precautions to exercise social distancing and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All adults and children entering screening will be greeted on our porch outside. They will have their temperatures taken, as well as asked a list of health questions,” Hobeck said.

Online enrollment, which started July 1, is also encouraged, Hobeck said, adding it will save time at the screening.

Parents should call the Sikeston Kindergarten Center at 471-0653 to make an appointment as appointments will be taken ahead of walk-ins. The enrollment and screening process will take about two hours, and the child must be present.

“In order to be in compliance with both state and local requirements, parents need to provide the school with the child’s state issued birth certificate, immunization record, social security card, Medicaid card (if applicable) and proof of residency,” Hobeck said. “Children should be enrolled even if all of these documents are not available, however, these records must be provided before the child begins class on the first day of school.”

Several social distancing measures will be in place for the enrollment and screening at the kindergarten center.

“At enrollment area, staff will help families fill out their information using a laptop. Only staff will touch the laptop,” Hobeck said. “Families are encouraged to bring in documents ahead of time for our staff to copy. This will save time the day of screening and cause less congestion in our office on the screening day.”

Testing will be divided into two rooms in order to spread out testers and children, and there will be only four stations per room, Hobeck said.

School nurses will be set up in a full-size room, allowing more room and space, and they will see only one child at a time, she said.

“In our cafeteria, our enrollment and counselors’ tables will be placed 6 feet apart, allowing for distancing,” Hobeck said, adding staff will have masks available to wear.

Sanitizer will be readily available in all areas, and the waiting chairs for families will be spread out and allow for distancing, the principal said.

“In each area — enrollment, health, hearing and speech, testing and counselor — we will sanitize after each family/child leaves that area,” Hobeck said. “The floors will have appropriate arrows letting families know which way to enter and exit properly.”

The make-up day for Sikeston R-6 preschool screening will be July 15; this screening is for children who will be 4 by July 31, according to Hobeck.

Scott County Central Elementary held its prekindergarten and kindergarten screenings June 9-10 and individuals were asked to bring masks.

Scott Central Elementary Principal Stacey Pullen said the school had a great turnout for screenings.

“I’m sure there will be a few students who still need to register in August, as there always are,” Pullen said “Parents respected our request to send only one adult per student. We provided very few masks because they came prepared and brought their own. We put both adults and students through a brief health screening and everyone complied willingly.”

Adults were allowed in the building and were seated more than 6 feet apart while they waited and completed the necessary enrollment forms, Pullen said.

“We did not require our teachers who were conducting the screenings to wear the masks, but some chose to anyway. This was the same for students. We felt like we couldn’t accurately assess their performance while wearing the masks,” Pullen said.

Overall, the screenings were a great experiences, she said.

“We met some new faces and learned a little bit about the new preschool and kindergarten students for the fall,” Pullen said. “We are looking forward to having these new faces in our building in August.”

For those who still need to enroll or register for the upcoming school year, they can pick up enrollment packets Aug. 12 -14.

Scott County R-4 “Kelly” School District held its preschool and kindergarten screenings in May and will have open enrollment from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 4 and by appointment only from Aug. 10-14.

“Everything went well. We had appointment times and everything was spread out to help with social distancing,” said Kelly Elementary Principal Dr. Shawn Nix.

New Madrid County R-1 elementary schools conducted preschool screenings Tuesday in Lilbourn, Wednesday in New Madrid and Thursday in Matthews.

“We had 17 children who attended the screening (in New Madrid), and our screening was supposed to have been back in April so we were amazed that we had that many show up,” said New Madrid Elementary Principal Toni Taylor-Lawfield.

Taylor-Lawfield said the school scheduled each child’s screening 45 minutes apart and different tables and student stations were set up with social distancing in place. The principal noted the school doesn’t host a kindergarten screening since most of its kindergarten students come from the prekindergarten program.

New Madrid County R-1 usually has open enrollment for new kindergarten students after the third week of July, but the dates for the upcoming school year have not yet been established, Taylor-Lawfield said.

Charleston R-1 kindergarten screenings were previously scheduled for July 14, but due to a potential COVID-19 exposure on June 30, Charleston R-1 buildings and offices are closed through July 14 at the recommendation of the Mississippi County Health Department. All building offices are set to reopen on July 15. Information on screenings was unavailable at this time.

East Prairie R-2 preschool/kindergarten screenings will take place in August by appointment only. Time, date and location will be provided in the coming weeks as well as details regarding making appointments, the district’s Facebook page said on July 1.

Oran Elementary hosted its kindergarten screenings in May, and Portageville Elementary was able to have its screenings in March just before the COVID-19 closures.

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