The Henry County Board of Education announced its plans for the school year in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school year is expected to begin in early August under a “yellow phase,” which includes guidelines and procedures for conducting school under a low spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Yellow phase will see students attending school as normal, with safety precautions in place.

Hand sanitizer stations will be set up on buses, at school entrances, and in high traffic areas such as gyms and technology labs.

The schools will also maximize classroom space, spreading students out as much as possible. Students will be split up during lunch between the cafeteria and an alternate location.

No field trips will be taken out of town, and no big gatherings, like programs and assemblies, will take place.

Students will be in staggered seating on the bus, although siblings will be allowed to sit together.

Students will not be required to wear masks.

All of these guidelines are subject to change as new legislation, mandates and recommendations come from state and federal governments.

“Orange phase” will be put in place if there is a moderate spread in the community.

This will include mostly remote learning, as used in the spring, although some students, such as younger children and those who are not equipped for distance learning, will learn on campus.

“Red phase” will go into effect if the spread of COVID-19 in the community becomes severe.

No one will be on campus and online learning will be the only option under red phase.

“‘Monitor and adjust’ will be our mantra this year,” said Director of Schools Leah Watkins.

In other meeting business:

• The Henry County School System recognized staff and faculty members who are retiring ahead of the new school year.

These retirees include Charlotte King, Chris Lewis, Amy Veazey, Mary Ann Pugh, Mo Boyd, Patsy Barrow and Robin Dawson.

• Family Resource Center Director Becky Holland gave her annual report on how the center is doing.

She said “uncertainty” is a word the FRC and the school system heard constantly during the COVID-19 shutdown, and she got weary of hearing the word.

“But I’ve found the Family Resource Center staff thrives under uncertainty,” she said.

During the beginning of the pandemic, the FRC paid rent or electric bills for 42 different families.

There were two major donations to the FRC’s benevolence funds recently, including a $12,000 donation from an anonymous donor, and a $10,500 donation through a partnership among the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Paris Utility Authority and local businesses.

The FRC, with The Shed and Trinity United Methodist Church, will host a drive-through Back to School Bash this year, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 25 at the Henry County Fairgrounds.

With a child present, families can get free school supplies and backpacks for students.

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