Officials with the Madison Central School District released Monday afternoon emails to students and parents about plans for starting classes and reopening school buildings for the fall semester.

The MCSD emails directed the message recipients to read the draft documents for a "Back to School Plan" on the school district's website, www.madison.k12.sd.us.

The email, signed by Superintendent Joel Jorgenson, stated, "This plan will continue to be an ongoing work in progress as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year."

The Madison School Board scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the high school gym to review the school district's school reopening plan, hear comments from the public and consider giving its approval.

Madison Central and other South Dakota public schools closed their buildings in March due to the health threat caused by the COVID-19 virus. During this summer, school staffs have worked on plans to reopen school buildings this fall and hold in-person classes. In introducing Madison's back-to-school plan, school officials stated, "This plan has been developed over the last couple months of many meetings of committees to create the following guidelines for this school year." They also noted that school officials will make changes to the plan "as needed."

The website message directs readers to five linked documents that are titled the reopening framework document, reopening color chart, mitigation in schools flow chart, case-investigation document and student symptom-screening checklist.

Within the reopening framework document, responsibilities are outlined for the school staff and parents or guardians. The school staffs are expected to encourage proper distancing between persons, increase sanitation efforts and follow other prevention efforts. The schools are also expected to offer distance-learning to students who can't attend in-person classes. The parents or guardians are expected to plan for keeping a child at home or collecting a child who is sent home from school. The students will also need to adjust to changes in school-bus transportation and cafeteria-meal service.

The reopening color chart organizes the actions that Madison school staffs will take depending on whether there exists a low to moderate risk, increased risk, high risk or declining risk of contracting COVID-19 in the community.

The mitigation in schools flow chart is a flow chart created by state education and health officials that shows steps school officials can take in response to no COVID-19 cases in their schools, isolated cases in a school building and substantial cases in a school building.

The case-investigation document is a flow chart provided by the S.D. Department of Health outlining the steps that state health officials will move through if a positive COVID-19 case is discovered. The flow chart shows the contact-tracing steps health officials will take to find and contact persons who came into close contact with the infected coronavirus patient.

Screening checklist

In performing the symptom-screening checklist, the parents and guardians of students are expected to run through a set of 10 questions for each child each class day before sending a student to school. The questions are:

-- Has the child had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

-- Is the child experiencing chills or a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher?

-- Does the child have any shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?

-- Is the child experiencing fatigue?

-- Does the child have muscle or body aches?

-- Does the child have a headache that is not associated with another medical condition such as migraines?

-- Does the child have a sore throat?

-- Does the child have congestion or a runny nose?

-- Is the child experiencing diarrhea?

-- Is the child experiencing nausea or vomiting?

If the parents or guardians have a "yes" answer to any of the checklist questions, they are directed not to send the child to school and to contact their medical provider. The parents are also advised that they can contact state health officials at 1-800-592-1861.

If the parents check off "no" answers to the 10 questions, they are given the green light to send the student to class.

District-wide registration canceled

Madison school officials placed an announcement on the district's website late last week that the district-wide student registration event, scheduled on Aug. 4-5, was canceled.

Instead of the typical registration process, school staff will mail packets with forms and instruction papers to all families with children who will attend Madison's public schools.