Even though community spread is high, we are confident in our mitigation strategies to bring additional students and staff back into our buildings in a small, incremental, and controlled way.
Since July, our district and school leaders have been working tirelessly to implement mitigation strategies and engage community members in this implementation. As our ability to implement mitigation effectively improves, we feel confident that we can increase the number of students returning to in-person learning while maintaining a safe learning environment.
Mitigation refers to the specific actions we can take in our schools to reduce or prevent the spread of COVID-19. The mitigation subcommittee of the CSPC studied our mitigation efforts already in place in our buildings and made recommendations for enhancements. The main strategies recommended by the committee and the CDC include:
- Use of mask and personal protection equipment (PPE)
- Physical distancing: 6 feet between individuals
- Increase ventilation
- Enhanced hygiene and disinfection procedures
- Contract tracing
- Quarantine/isolation procedures
- Strict restriction of visitors to schools and administrative sites
- Tool to measure and monitor mitigation via building checklists
According to the subcommittee, “Each strategy used on its own reduces the spread of COVID-19. No strategy used on its own is perfect, but when all strategies are used together, they may be thought of like a stack of slices of Swiss Cheese. Each slice of cheese has holes, representing possible virus transmission, but when stacked together, the holes are covered.”
Cohorting is the practice of keeping the same students and teachers in the same small group at all times during the school day. Cohorting helps lower the number of contacts each person has. This means fewer people will need to stay home because of a possible exposure, resulting in fewer disruptions to in-person learning. Cohorting is an important mitigation strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Cohorting is an important component in planning for return to in-person instruction at all school levels.
We have set our in-person cohorts to no more than 15 students. Cohorts may be smaller depending on the size and square footage of each classroom. Cohorting in group sizes of 15 or less at the middle school and high school levels is not feasible. As community spread decreases, we can increase our cohort sizes to allow for a gradual return to in-person learning for our secondary students.
Employees and students must wear an appropriate mask or face covering while inside or outside a CSD building. Face coverings are required on CSD transportation. The student dress code has been modified to include this requirement.
The Facilities Department implemented new technology to prepare classrooms for face to face learning. The improvements are as follow:
- Electrostatic Fogger Machines are available in all schools and inside each bus.
- Hand Sanitizer, disinfecting sprays, paper towels, and disposable face coverings are available in all schools and classrooms.
- Increased disinfection frequency in high touch areas.
- Installed water sensor drinking stations in all schools.
- Scheduled daily circulation of water in unoccupied buildings.
- HVAC units were adjusted to increase outside air and run continuously during occupancy.
- GPS HVAC Ionizers were installed in all schools.
- UV lights and air purifiers in some classrooms.
- Physical barriers, such as sneeze guards/shields, were installed.
- School public health signage placed throughout each school
School nurses will lead the contact tracing process with the support of school administrative assistants. Nurses have completed the John Hopkins contract tracing training. Administrative Assistants will have completed contact tracing prior to winter break. Contact tracing training will cover confidentiality and privacy concerns, rapport building, and interviewing to identify cases, contacts, and to provide information to reduce transmission. In addition to current staff members, we are currently hiring School Health Aides to support DHS, RMS, Talley, and F.AVE.
Quarantine and Isolation
CDC has issued new options for 7- or 10-day quarantine after meeting specific criteria. These options are not without risk, and both CDC and DPH continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine period for individuals who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. During the next phase of in-person learning, CSD will adhere to the 14-day guidance for quarantine and 10-day isolation requirements and symptoms-based criteria outlined in the CSD COVID-19 Safety, Facilities, and Healthy Schools Manual. We will reassess the quarantine guidance prior to expanding the number of students learning in person.
Instruction During Quarantine or Isolation