First of all, one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing of at least six (6) feet or more. In every way practicable, we have tried to ensure this social distancing. New protocols and procedures have been developed for buses, for arrival and dismissal to school, for transitions between classes, for lunches, for athletics and activities, and pretty much every other part of the school day. Non-essential furniture has been removed from classrooms, and the locations of some classes have been moved. Those are just a few examples of how administrators have tried to maximize social distancing. However, it is not always possible to continue to provide all our courses and have at least some semblance of a normal school day and remain socially distanced at all times. When students and staff cannot be at least six (6) feet apart, face coverings must be worn.
Second, we have implemented enhanced cleaning measures throughout the district and our staff have had training in ways to mitigate the chances of spreading COVID-19. Not only have we ensured that all the appropriate cleaning supplies and chemicals are being used in the appropriate ways, but we have also enhanced the numbers of times high-touch surfaces and occupied areas of our buildings are being cleaned. Schools are limiting the sharing of equipment and materials and cleaning anything that is shared. We have also purchased foggers to make certain entire rooms, enclosed areas, and buses can be thoroughly disinfected.
Third, enhanced hygiene practices will be trained and encouraged. All staff and students will receive training on how to practice safety measures that help slow the spread of the virus. Signage will be displayed to remind everyone to wash hands frequently, refrain from touching the face, sneeze and cough into your elbow or a tissue that is immediately thrown away, wear a face covering when six feet of social distancing is not possible, and be sure and stay home when sick.
We are learning more all the time about how this virus behaves, and we are constantly updating our protocols when new information becomes available. We consider and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Wyoming Department of Health.
Recall that we are asking parents to screen their children every morning before getting on district transportation or before entering a school building. Last week we shared the screening tool for parents to use at home. One thing that’s required is to check temperatures. If you don’t have a thermometer at home, it’s recommended you purchase one. If that’s not possible or you don’t want to buy a thermometer, staff at school are happy to check temps upon arrival, just let your school know. But it’s imperative that if staff or students are not feeling well, they stay at home. Remember students can log in to adaptive learning from home; so if they feel well enough, they can access their classes online.
No matter how diligent we are at school and at home about taking precautions, it’s likely we are going to see positive cases of COVID-19. You might be wondering what will happen if we do have positive cases associated with our students or staff.
Originally, the requirement was that if there is a positive case, the school would be closed for 2-5 days. But we are getting a little bit different guidance on that now. Each case will be considered individually. The factors that will be part of making a school closure determination are number of cases, exposure to other students or staff, the amount of community spread in Douglas, and the extent to which the school is taking appropriate precautions. Keep in mind that if a school has to close, that school will change to adaptive learning and still deliver instruction to students. Also, if students or staff are isolated or quarantined and feel well, they can access adaptive learning and keep up with their classes.
If a positive case is identified in one of our schools, it will be reported to public health. In many cases, public health will know about the case before the schools, in which case they will contact the district to begin the process of contact tracing. In the process of contact tracing, they will try to determine the people the positive person has been in close contact with. Prolonged contact is defined as within six feet for more than 10 minutes. Those who are determined to have COVID-19 will receive an isolation order to stay home until they meet the criteria for release.
Those who have been in contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19 will be asked to stay home for 14 days, monitor symptoms, and seek testing.
Once the student or staff member has met the criteria for release from isolation—at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medication, and respiratory symptoms have diminished—they can return to school. Those under quarantine must stay home for the full 14 days, be symptom free, and not test positive for COVID-19 before they can return to school.
Know that if and when students or staff test positive, we will protect their privacy and comply with all related FERPA requirements.
Attached is a really handy guidance sheet for parents, and here is a “what to expect if a student or staff tests positive” flier, and the guidance for school districts put out by the Wyoming Department of Health.