August 28, 2020
Dear ACSD Community,
School is a little over a week away, and ACSD staff are very excited to welcome students back after such a long break from in-person learning. ACSD educators continue to prepare for all phases of learning we may confront this year, including hybrid, remote, and in-person learning. The extension of the start of the school year to September 8 has been really helpful for districts across the state to come together and be sure that we are ready for the challenges ahead.
ACSD Town Hall Meeting on Reentry
On Monday, August 31, ACSD will be holding a virtual town hall meeting to answer questions about school reentry and ACSD Board work. The meeting will be from 6:00-7:30, and will be virtual. A moderator will be collecting and compiling questions and ACSD staff will be present on the webinar to discuss our work to date. A link to the webinar can be found on our ACSD calendar on the ACSD website.
DRAFT ACSD 20-21 Academic Year Calendar
Vermont school districts are still awaiting formal approval from the legislature to finalize our calendars as a result of the statewide mandatory school start of September 8. In the meantime, we've decided to send out a DRAFT calendar to give everyone a sense of what we expect the calendar to look like to help with planning. I'll follow up once it has been confirmed or if there are other changes.
ACSD Health and Safety Information
A message from ACSD Lead Nurse and COVID-19 Coordinator, Kelly Landwehr, MSN, RN
Everyone in ACSD is working hard to prepare our schools to welcome students in a manner that keeps them as safe as possible. I realize that returning to school brings a level of anxiety and fear for us all, but we will have several infection control and mitigation strategies in place to do our best to protect everyone including performing hand hygiene, wearing facial coverings, physical distancing, thorough cleaning practices, maintaining pods/cohorts, limiting sharing of materials, daily screening for symptoms and respiratory hygiene. More details on these strategies can be found in the ACSD Health and Safety Guidelines. You may also receive some health and safety guidelines from your school nurse and principals that are specific to your student’s school and further describe the procedures that will be in place to reduce the risk of infection. Our health and safety goals as we open school on September 8th are as follows:
Decrease the risk of individuals infected with COVID-19 from entering school buildings through effective public health education and prevention.
Decrease the transmission of COVID-19 among staff members and students through effective public health education and prevention measures.
Quickly identifying individuals infected with COVID-19 and putting containment procedures in place to minimize the impact on students, staff, and the educational process.
The following are some of the ways we will work to keep COVID-19 out of our schools and how we will minimize the spread if it does get in:
- Health screening questions will be completed at home before sending students to school and all students will have their temperature checked as they enter the school building. All adults will complete health screenings before entering the building as well. Those with possible COVID exposure or symptoms will stay home.
- All students and staff will clean their hands throughout the day. In addition, there will be frequent cleaning of the building throughout the day.
- All staff and students will wear a facial covering while inside the building and when outside and unable to maintain physical distancing.
- Physical distancing will be maintained. This strategy is less crucial with younger students who do not spread COVID at the same rate as older students and adults, but all efforts will be made to keep students safe while meeting the needs of socialization and learning through organic play.
- Sharing of materials will be minimized. When materials are shared, students will thoroughly clean their hands before use and the items will be cleaned after use.
- Elementary students will remain in pods or cohorts and will not intermingle with other pods.
- Staff and students will be sent home if they have onset of any symptoms that are possibly COVID-related while at school. Students will be separated from other students and staff and monitored by the nurse or health assistant in a CARE (Covid Assessment Response and Evaluation) room while waiting to be picked up to go home.
- Each school has two separate health office spaces this year - one space to triage and treat students with possible COVID-related symptoms and another space for medication administration and all other types of first aid, illness treatment, and student health needs.
- Respiratory hygiene - coughing and sneezing into a tissue and if no tissue, into your elbow and cleaning hands afterwards
No single mitigation and infection control strategy will ever be perfect, but all of these strategies combined will significantly help to reduce risk and all of our staff will be working diligently to help students learn and follow these new “rules." We have discussed the importance of creating a culture where we all hold each other accountable for following these guidelines and rules and commit to keeping ourselves and each other safe.
When the ACSD Reentry Plan and ACSD Health and Safety Guidelines were first shared with families, we were awaiting further guidance on what to do next when staff or students stay home or go home with a symptom or symptoms potentially related to COVID-19. School nurses, Vermont Pediatric Providers, Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, and the Vermont Department of Health have been working together to create guidance that minimizes the time that students and staff are absent from in-person learning and work, yet assures individuals don’t return to school buildings while still contagious. An algorithm has been created that school nurses and health care providers will utilize to guide families when your student is home sick with possible COVID-related symptoms. Any time a student stays home or is sent home with these symptoms, families will receive this letter that outlines this guidance.
We so look forward to welcoming students back to school soon. Your school nurses and principals are here for you and your student and ready to help if you have questions about the health and safety guidance.