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School Safety Guidance for the 2021-22 School Year

Public Health Guidance Gives Schools More Flexibility

 

Last year, we provided families extensive details on reopening in order to meet the strict and prescriptive health and safety requirements in place at that time. This year, the most recent Department of Health (DoH) Guidance for Schools gives schools much more flexibility to meet the requirement that we bring all students back to school for full-time in-person learning and keep students in school. As a result, the guidance is much less specific so that individual schools can develop procedures that fit their specific buildings, circumstances and students.

 

For additional guidance, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions, regarding COVID-19 Health & Safety.

 

WHAT’S THE SAME THIS YEAR?

  • Masking: Universal masking is required indoors. (See below for what’s different.)
  • Staying Home When Sick: Students and staff will still be expected to stay home when they are sick.
  • Vaccination: We are continuing to promote COVID vaccination for eligible individuals.
  • Hand Washing: We are continuing to teach, promote and expect regular hand washing/sanitizing. Hand sanitizer will still be readily available.
  • Ventilation: We are maximizing the ventilation in our schools after making significant upgrades and improvements last year.
  • Isolation: COVID-positive individuals will still be required to quarantine.
  • Notification: All close contacts (parents for students) of a COVID-positive individual will be contacted.
  • Transportation: Students will be spread out when seated to the extent possible. Windows will be open, weather dependent. Masks are still required.
  • Free Meals: All students are eligible to receive free lunch and breakfast at school.
  • Technology: Each student in our district will still have access to their own Chromebook or laptop. At elementary, these devices will normally remain at school. 

 

WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?

 

Topic

What’s different

What does this mean?

Physical Distancing in Classrooms

“Physical distancing requirements should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in person learning to all students/families in the fall. Maintain physical distance of three feet or more between students in classroom settings to the degree possible and reasonable, that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students. A school’s ability to do so will depend on students’ ages, developmental and physical abilities, and available space.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

We will be spacing students out to the degree possible and reasonable, which will depend on the size of each classroom and number of students. We have hired a number of additional teachers to help reduce class size, especially K-6 where the vaccine is currently unavailable to most students. 

Physical Distancing at Lunch

“Maximize distance between students to the degree possible for the following circumstances: For all students when masks cannot be worn, such as when eating lunch.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Each of our schools are developing a plan, based on their building layout and spaces, to maximize the space between students at lunch. To the degree possible, students may be spread out using gymnasiums or outdoor spaces. Alternative scheduling for lunch may also be used to reduce the number of students eating lunch in a given space.

Masking

“Per the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order, face coverings are not required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Masks are no longer required for students, staff or visitors when outdoors, however they are welcome to wear them if they choose. However, indoors, masks are still required for everyone. Adults do not have to wear masks when alone in their offices, but our labor groups agreed that adults should be required to wear masks in common areas and group settings, such as meetings and professional development as recommended by Public Health.

Cleaning

“Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces each night after students leave...Do not use ionization, fogging, fumigation, or wide-area spraying to control the spread of COVID-19.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Our classrooms and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected nightly. Teachers will spray down tables with disinfectant at the end of the day and custodians will disinfect frequently touched surfaces. We will not be using “foggers” or area-wide spraying.

Close Contact

“In a K-12 indoor classroom, the close contact definition [least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period] excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks and (b) other prevention strategies were in place.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Since we have other mitigation strategies in place (improved ventilation, hand sanitizing, promoting vaccination, etc.), if students are at least 3 feet apart, they are not considered a close contact. They are only a close contact if they are less than 3 feet apart for a cumulative 15 min or more in 24 hours.

Quarantine

“Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine but should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in all public indoor spaces for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Vaccinated students and staff will not need to quarantine if they are a close contact and asymptomatic. We will offer free onsite testing so they can be tested 3-5 days after exposure as a preventative measure.

Testing

“Schools must ensure access to timely diagnostic testing among students with symptoms or who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

We are offering free onsite rapid COVID testing for all students and staff with symptoms or who are close contacts. The tests are self administered, but supervised by a trained individual (does not have to be a nurse). All staff will also have access to weekly asymptomatic COVID screening tests.

Vaccination Verification

“Schools should begin verifying student and staff vaccinations...Schools must verify the vaccination status of staff and faculty as required by L&I.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

We are collecting from all staff information about their vaccination status as required and offering families the option of sharing with us the vaccination status of their children.

Fine Arts

“Ensure that all students have access to their chosen performing arts course. Space constraints should not limit access to these classes. Distancing should be at least 3 feet, if possible, and more if space permits...Universal masking with appropriate material [3-layer medical]...is required by all students and staff in performing arts classes and while participating in performing arts activities [including elementary music classrooms when singing]...Bell covers are required...when indoors.” (DoH Guidance, 8-10-21)

Students in performing arts classes will be spaced at least three feet apart, as space permits, and provided 3-layer medical masks each day in class if they don’t have one already. Wind and brass instrument students will be provided bell covers, if they don’t have them already.

Full-time Remote Learning

Districts are no longer required to provide a distance learning option for families.

SVSD has chosen to offer a K-12 distance-only option through our Parent Partner Program.

Safety Plans

The requirement for formal, approved safety plans has been removed.

Schools will follow DoH guidance and develop procedures accordingly.

Attestations 

This requirement is no longer in the guidance.

These will not be required.

Vaccines  required for school staff

All school employees must be fully vaccinated by October 18.(Governor's order, 8-20-21)

This includes all school employees, contractors, substitutes, coaches, and on-site volunteers. All who work in a school setting must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to the school district (HR) before Oct. 18. (The mandate allows workers to apply for medical disability or religious exemptions.) 

Visitor & Volunteer Protocols

Volunteers and visitors to SVSD schools must provide proof of full vaccination to be on campus.(Governor's order, 8-20-21)

Volunteers and visitors to SVSD  schools must provide proof of vaccination to be on campus. Until October 18, they may alternatively provide verification of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of visiting/volunteering. This information will not be stored and will need to be presented at each visit. In general, visitors should be kept to a minimum unless it is needed for school to run or programming.

 

We are excited to welcome students back to school safely on August 31. The Washington Department of Health (DoH) advised us to expect ongoing updates to the guidance throughout the fall. We will continue to monitor for changes issued by the Governor and DoH and will adjust accordingly. We will keep you apprised of any impacts.  Thank you for your support of these safety measures.

 

Updated September 1, 2021