The plan for our new school year
Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! Whether you are returning or new to our District, we are so happy to have you with us. It has been too long since we had joyful, inquisitive and creative students filling our classrooms. We look forward to seeing those smiling faces back in our schools this fall. We expect this year will look different, but it’s an opportunity for us to chart a new course for success when it comes to education.
Our proposed plan for this school year will take effect August 24, pending the approval of the Board of Trustees. In the plan, the health and safety of our students and employees, and all of their families, take precedence. We will have safeguards in place to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission. When we learn of positive cases in our student or adult populations, we will work quickly to identify and isolate anyone who may have been exposed. We will work closely with health care and public health professionals in our community to make timely and appropriate decisions on behalf of all for whom we are responsible. Our plan is centered on the needs of all students. To ensure they are learning at a high level and engaged with their teachers and peers, we must provide a safe, healthy and welcoming environment. That includes their social and emotional well-being as well as their physical health.
We believe all students can excel in any type of learning environment. Our first choice is to have all students attending school in person every day of the school year. So long as that can happen with reasonable precautions in place, that is what we will do. As we have seen over the past five months, this pandemic is fluid and fickle. We may have times when the COVID-19 activity in our community makes it too risky to have everyone at school at the same time. That is when we will switch to blended learning, a mix of classroom and distance learning. During this phase, students will be in classrooms two days a week (Monday and Tuesday, or Thursday and Friday, if approved by the Board) and use our technology at home to continue their learning the other three days. With only half our students in our buildings at a time, it will be easier to spread out and lessen the risk of virus transmission.
If our community is experiencing a high level of coronavirus activity that makes it too risky to have students attending school in person, we will activate distance learning, including fulltime online instruction, for the duration of heightened risk.
Having routines you can depend on is important for your home life and the success of your children, and we hope to curtail disruptions and change our operations only when absolutely necessary. When plans do need to change, we will let you know right away and explain what it means for your family.
We recognize that for some of you, attending school in person at this time is not realistic. Some teachers also are concerned what in-person instruction might mean for their own health or the health of a loved one at home. We will have a fully online learning option called CdA eSchool this year. If interested, you may register your student beginning today. You can learn more about eSchool later in this update.
Please know that whatever this year brings, your students are surrounded by people who deeply care about them, are guided by a passion for helping them reach their potential, and recognize their value to our future and the strength of our community.
Illness prevention and protective measures
The following is a summary of proposed measures and is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.
- Daily health screenings for employees, volunteers and visitors.
- Encourage parents to screen students every morning before attending school (taking temperature, assessing for symptoms)
- Screen students and staff who feel ill or experience symptoms when at school.
- Isolate and send home students/staff who show symptoms.
- Send ill students home as soon as possible to avoid spread of infection.
- Encourage staff and families to self-report to the school if they or their student have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
- Advise sick staff or students not to return until they have met CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation.
- Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use before cleaning and disinfection.
- All students and adults will be required to wear face covering or masks at school when the District is in the Yellow (moderate risk) or Orange (critical risk) stages.
- Instruct staff, students and families on use of personal protective equipment with guidance from Panhandle Health District.
- Identify sources and availability of personal protective equipment.
- Educate and give direction on cleaning cloth face coverings.
- When teaching students school routines at beginning of the year, include routines for wearing cloth face coverings, washing hands, using hand sanitizer and physical distancing.
- Consider additional protection for medically vulnerable staff and students as well as students with special needs.
- Post signs to communicate about symptoms, preventive measures, good hygiene, and protocols, including staying home when sick.
- Provide hand soap or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, and no-touch trash cans in all bathrooms, classrooms, and frequently trafficked areas.
- Clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily, shared objects after each use.
- Take steps to ensure all water systems and features are safe.
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, as long as this does not pose a safety or health risk.
- Conduct deep cleaning of schools prior to students/staff returning; schedule periodic cleanings on weekends, holidays, breaks.
- Establish health office with a separate isolation area for effective infection controlmanagement for students and staff exhibiting signs and symptoms of infection.
- Mark spaced lines to enter the building and designate entrance and exit flow paths.
- Remove unused desks and furniture in classrooms, maximize social distancing to the extent practicable.
- Limit physical interaction through partner or group work.
- Establish distance between teacher’s desk/board and student desks.
- Use large spaces such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, outside spaces as weather permits
- Consider allowing priority intervention students to continue in-person instruction as these students often rely on daily routines and social interactions to address their individual learning needs.
- Have students wash hands before and after meal service.
- Provide hand sanitizer for students and staff.
- Spaced serving lines and eating areas.
- Serve meals in classrooms using disposable supplies.
- Establish alternative eating areas, such as outside as weather permits, along with multipurpose rooms and gyms.
- Mark spaced lines to enter cafeteria and serving lines; designate entrances and exit flow paths; stagger use.
- Sanitize eating spaces between groups using approved food-grade sanitizers
- Conduct cleaning of cafeterias and high-touch surfaces throughout school day.
- Provide waste receptacles in alternate areas where students are eating.
- Provide grab-and-go lunches, pre-ordered lunches, take-home meals, and pick-up or distribution sites for students not at school.
- Help ensure riders are spaced 6 feet apart while waiting to board buses.
- Providing hand sanitizer for students and drivers
- Space students by family groups
- All students and adults will be required to wear face covering or masks on buses when the District is in the Yellow (moderate risk) or Orange (critical risk) stages.
- Run fans and have windows down as environmental conditions allow.
- Limit field trips to areas with no community transmission
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on buses at least daily
- Air out and deep clean buses when not in use.
Our Fall Athletics and Extracurricular Plan was developed in conjunction with Idaho High School Athletics Association guidelines and Panhandle Health District recommendations.
- All students and adults should wear face covering or masks when the District is in the Yellow (moderate risk) or Orange (critical risk) stages.
- Divide students and coaches/advisers into distinct groups (pods) that stay together throughout a practice, rehearsal or meeting.
- Follow 6-foot distancing.
- Restrict locker and equipment access.
- Limit spectators.
- All activities will be suspended in the Red (critical risk) stage.
When the District learns of a student or adult who has tested positive for COVID-19, has had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, or is showing symptoms of COVID-19:
- The Health Services team will respond and determine appropriate course of action.
- Ill students or staff will be isolated and sent home.
- Determine if building closure needed.
- Communicate with all affected individuals.
- Initiate cleaning procedures.
- Disease surveillance and contact tracing will be initiated to identify those at risk.
- Issue notices for self-isolation or quarantine.
- Implement reopening or return-to-school dates.
- Monitor confirmed cases and those who have been excluded.
- Coordinate with Panhandle Health District.
DELAYED START: The first day of school will be Monday, September 14.
School had been scheduled to begin September 8, but the Board of Trustees voted August 17 to reschedule the first day for September 14. The new starting date gives us a few more days to prepare everyone for how the school year will begin, and how it will continue during this pandemic.
The current COVID-19 risk level is ORANGE (moderate risk). We are experiencing high but controlled community transmission of the virus, including confirmed exposure within communal settings. There is a potential for a rapid increase in suspected cases.
BLENDED LEARNING is in effect for the first week of school. Students will attend class in person 2 days a week, and participate in online learning the other 3 days a week. In order to improve the effectiveness of social distancing, this reduces by half the number of students in buildings at any given time.
Students attend in person according to this schedule:
Monday and Tuesday: Those whose last name begins with A-K attend in person.
Thursday and Friday: Those whose last name begins with L-Z will attend in person.
We will accommodate families with children who have different last names so they may remain on the same schedule. We will share more information soon on the process for families to request that all of their children remain on the same schedule.
Students will be engaged in remote/online learning during the three days they are not attending class in person.
HOW WE DETERMINE CURRENT RISK LEVEL
This decision is supported by the latest data and trends for tracking the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in Kootenai County, along with short-term projections from our partners at Panhandle Health District and Kootenai Health.
The criteria we use to determine risk category include these metrics:
- The incidence of COVID-19 in Kootenai County
- The positivity rate, or percentage of positive cases among the tests processed
- Hospitalizations, including intensive care unit admissions, at Kootenai Health
From this, we are able to determine which of 4 risk levels we are in: GREEN (slight), YELLOW (minimal), ORANGE (moderate), or RED (substantial). The risk level determines the learning model our students and teachers will be in:
- In-person (students are in class every day)
- Blended (students attend in person 2 days a week, and participate remotely 3 days a week)
- Distance (students participate remotely every day)
We are hopeful that we will be able to recommend a shift from Orange to Yellow as soon as the community risk level supports that change.
The following documents comprise our school year operations plan for managing the coronavirus pandemic. These were approved by the Board of Trustees on August 24, 2020.Board Summary of Reopening Plan (Aug. 24, 2020, Board meeting)Idaho Back to School Framework (state guidelines and practices)Staff Collaboration (Late-Start Wednesdays)Levels of Community Spread (Idaho Department of Health & Welfare)COVID-19 Guidance for Schools (Idaho public health districts)Return to School and Activities Form (after COVID-19 infection)Infection Control Plan (District and school levels)
PoliciesCommunicable and Infectious Diseases (Policy 3520)Telecommuting (Policy 5215)Personal Sick Leave (Policy 5405)