Support staff crucial for successful school reopening

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As the start of school gets underway, the role of support staff has become more important than ever during the age of coronavirus.

“It was all hands on deck for our support staff,” said Thomas Palmer, superintendent of Peru Central Schools. “Our bus drivers, our monitors, our aides, our cafeteria staff.”

He says support staff haven’t stopped working since March, whether it’s delivering food to students on a daily basis throughout the spring semester or the custodial staff rearranging furniture to ensure social distancing in the classroom. Their efforts will only continue as students return, beginning when they step on the school bus on the first day.

“Our bus drivers will be equipped with 10 extra masks in case a student forgot one,” Palmer said. “They will be required to disinfect the buses between runs.”

In Vermont, some districts are taking on more personnel to accommodate the changes.

“Districts are ramping up staffing to implement guidance,” said Dan French, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education. “I think in some cases it’s around implementing the daily health checks, I know districts have hired bus monitors and additional nursing staff and so forth.”

“It’s hard to know what my day’s going to look like,” said Elizabeth Wirth, COVID-19 Coordinator for Washington Central Unified Union Schools. “I’ll be flexible and I’ll be in many different places.”

Wirth has been a nurse for more than 40 years and will be supporting nurses in each of the schools.

“We have a full-time nurse in every one of the schools,” she said. “I’ll be supporting them in what they need to do, just watching and screening and making sure that students are safe and staff is safe.”

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