The business of educating students is our primary mission and has been the focus of our efforts as we anticipate restarting learning in our district. Rightfully so, much work has gone into planning for a return to learn and making up for lost instructional time. However, the fact of the matter is that unless you feel safe and your child feels safe, learning will take a backseat.
This document is designed to outline our procedures for cleaning and disinfecting our school buildings in an effort to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Keep in mind that mitigation efforts will not eliminate the risk. They simply reduce the chances someone will become ill.
This plan further describes additional safety procedures the district is undertaking as it relates to facemasks, activities, and other actions we are using to help you and your child feel safe when they are in our care. The recommendations included are based on guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
This document will be updated as conditions change and we learn more. We will continue to communicate these changes to our families as needed.
Daily screening of all students and staff is not considered feasible or recommended. Staff members who report a cough, shortness of breath, or fever greater than 100.4 degrees should remain home and call their medical provider.
Parents should not send children to school if they report a cough, shortness of breath, or fever (either measured or subjective). Children who report COVID-19 symptoms should be excluded from school and parents should call their medical provider.
It is important to note that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is for students and staff who are feeling sick to stay home. We ask parents to keep their children home from school when they are ill — especially if their symptoms are consistent with those of COVID-19.
CLEANING & DISINFECTING
We continue to use products that are COVID-19 compliant and have the COVID claim.
Because hand washing has been deemed a high priority, we have provided hand sanitizer to each classroom and instructional space of our buildings. At the same time, each classroom and instructional space has been equipped with supplies to wipe down desks and instructional tools with greater frequency.
SYMPTOMATIC STUDENTS AND/OR ADULTS
Any student or adult who becomes ill will be isolated to identified areas in each of our buildings and screened using the protocol and known symptoms, as outlined by the local health department. The area where the student or adult was present will be cleaned and disinfected in the same manner that has been our practice in previous years, as quickly as practically possible. If they are running a fever, we will call the parent or guardian (in the case of a student) and have them come pick the student up from school and encourage them to call their primary care physician for advice on how best to proceed.
Please note that students and adults who present symptoms may very well be ill with an entire host of common ailments. Parents and the community should not expect notification each and every time a student becomes sick while at school (except, of course, the parent of the child who is sick). Those communications will be reserved for confirmation of positive cases of COVID-19 in our schools. For health concerns or questions, please contact your school nurse.
In conjunction with Buena Vista County Public Health, we will make COVID-19 tests available to parents at no cost, as long as tests remain available.
EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL
Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate at home until 10 days have passed since their symptoms started, they have been fever free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medication), and all other symptoms have improved.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic should self-isolate at home until at least 10 days have passed since they were tested and they have had no symptoms since the day of testing.
Anyone who is being tested for COVID-19 should self-isolate at home while awaiting their test results.
COMMUNICATION OF COMMUNICABLE
On any given day, we have many students who are absent from school due to illness. That stated, not every student who is ill from school will ultimately be diagnosed with COVID-19. Likewise, we must rely on the health department and individual families to communicate with the district if a positive case has been diagnosed within our school(s).
The district will monitor the schools where there is virus activity and determine if there is community spread in a classroom or area of a building. If so, we will let parents know without identifying specific individuals who have tested positive or who have been exposed.
Please note: One should not assume that a single case of COVID-19 will result in a school closure. Our communication protocol and instructions for dealing with COVID-19 in the school will follow the direction of the local health department. You should expect the district to follow the advice of our health professionals in a precise and exacting manner.
At this time, there are no set criteria for when a school should be closed due to COVID-19. Whether or not a grade level cohort, school, or the entire district closes, the duration of the closure will depend on the circumstances surrounding the case and exposure, the ability of the school to safely mitigate the impacted area, and the advice of the health department.
It will be considered an outbreak if the district hits an absenteeism rate of 10%. In this scenario, we will work with local public health officials to make the best decisions for our district and the community.
The decision to close a school ultimately lies with the school district working in consultation and collaboration with our local health department. Please note that the Iowa Department of Education has made clear that no hybrid learning models will be allowed during the 2021-22 school year. If a classroom or area of a building needs to be shut down, the entire school will need to close.
Per state law, we cannot require masks. Therefore, masks will be optional for all students and staff. We will maintain a supportive environment in which anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel completely comfortable doing so.
The district strongly recommends that anyone who has not been vaccinated wear a mask whenever they cannot engage in social distancing. Masks will be provided to anyone who would like one, but did not bring one to school.
IN THE CLASSROOM
We will do the very best we can to maximize the instructional space we have available in the district by evaluating all our spaces to ensure we can maintain as much physical distance between students as possible. However, we will likely be unable to maintain a 6-foot “bubble” between all individuals in our schools.
We will, to the best of our ability and without identifying specific individuals, communicate with families if an outbreak occurs in a classroom or area of a school.
ESSER SPENDING SUMMARY
When stakeholders responded to a survey regarding the biggest needs in the Storm Lake CSD, mental health support, increased supports for students that are at-risk and addressing unfinished learning were the top three categories of need. Additionally, supporting technology and extracurricular supports to get students involved and structured again were also seen as the next priorities.