Blue Valley hopes to implement changes to some COVID-19 protocols next semester — here’s how

The Blue Valley School District is making changes to their COVID-19 protocols and practices beginning next semester. Starting in early January, the district will gradually reintroduce parent volunteers, school field trips and end-of-year events. When and how the changes will take place will be decided on a building by building basis. File photo.

The Blue Valley School District is planning to roll back some of its current COVID-19 rules and regulations that it has had in place since the start of the school year.

Gradual changes to the district’s COVID protocols and practices are set to take place when students return for the new semester in early January.

“What we anticipate is actually a conducting of practices in schools that will begin to appear more normal or familiar to families,” Blue Valley deputy superintendent Katie Collier said.

Parents volunteering at school

As part of that return to normalcy, schools will start to work with parents to invite them back into the buildings for volunteer opportunities, something that has been limited over the past year-and-a-half.

Who can volunteer and for what purpose, Collier said, will all be decided on an individual basis by each school’s principal.

She said parents will have to make appointments in order to volunteer. Also, if the school has a mask policy, they are expected to follow it while in the building.

Field trips

In addition to allowing parent volunteers, Blue Valley is also looking to incorporate educational field trips into the curriculum once more.

“The success or reality of those field trips will really depend on the availability of transportation we have,” Collier said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Blue Valley, like many other schools across the country, has experienced a shortage of bus drivers, which could impact whether field trips can occur.

Due to the shortage, Collier said students and their parents should prepare for the fact that some field trips could be adjusted or canceled if there are not enough bus drivers for the day.

“Ensuring that students arrive to and from school will always be our first priority,” Collier said.

End-of-year events

Another change that the district is anticipating happening in the second semester is the reintroduction of end-of-year events.

These activities include things like students traveling between schools to perform for one another or when the district’s 8th graders take a trip to the high schools to prepare them for the transition from middle to high school.

“I would like to stress that this return to former practices will be gradual, so when we return to school that first week in January we are not opening up broadly,” Collier said.

While these changes are expected to take place districtwide, when and how they will occur will be decided on a building by building basis.

Therefore, Collier said she recommends parents reach out to principals first if they have any questions about the new procedures.

Mask policy remains the same for now

Masks have been optional for high schoolers in Blue Valley since the return from Thanksgiving break.

That will remain the policy going into the second semester, but other changes could be afoot too.

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners in early January is set to discuss the county’s current public health order mandating universal masking in grade schools and most middle schools.

If that countywide policy changes, districts could then roll back mask rules for younger students.