Families and students should use this action plan to understand what health practices will be in place when students return to school. Each of our 19 schools and programs are different; different ages of students, different building layouts, different technology devices, different daily schedules. Therefore, each school will have a slightly different approach to implementing the district’s action plan. Individual schools may provide additional information about steps they are taking for their students and staff. Regardless of location, however, student and staff safety is our number one priority.
Physical distancing is a key tool to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing (“social distancing”) means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.
The following steps will be implemented in schools to provide physical distancing where ever possible.
- Schools will work with their specific layouts to structure crowd flow and reduce clustering or crowding in hallways during transitions and in morning/afternoon release.
- Directional signage to control the flow of foot traffic in buildings will be developed and applied within the schools.
- Staff will be present to monitor arrival and dismissal to discourage congregating and ensure students go straight from a vehicle to their classrooms and vice-versa.
- Schools will provide frequent reminders for students and staff to stay at least 6 feet apart from one another when feasible.
- Desks and seating areas will be arranged in classrooms to maximize space between students. Students will also face the same direction as much as possible.
- When possible, students will be kept in small cohorts or groups during the day, and from day to day, to limit mixing.
- Recess will be provided as it is important for student health. Outdoor spread of COVID-19 is also less common than indoor spread. Schools may modify recess in some ways to reduce mixing of classes and during rainy weather. Items, such as balls, will not be shared at recess.
- Schools may place physical barriers such as plexiglass for protection at reception desks, cafeteria kiosks, and similar areas.
- Virtual events, such as field trips, meetings, assemblies, and performances will be utilized when possible.
- School assemblies and other events involving large numbers of students, staff, or visitors will be heavily modified, or potentially cancelled if deemed non-essential, when at Status Green Preventive Measures. At Status Yellow Enhanced Mitigation Measures, such events should not be held except in exceptional circumstances.
- All meetings with parents (Student Support Team, Section 504, Individualized Education Plan) will be conducted virtually, when possible. Those that must be in-person will be scheduled and planned on an appointment basis.
- Outside visitors to schools (parents, district office staff, etc.) will need to make appointments and abide by provided guidelines (wear a mask that covers both nose and mouth, complete a symptom checklist, and submit to a temperature screening) before entering the building. During Status Yellow Enhanced Mitigation Measures, such visitors must be pre-approved by the building Principal. Parents coming to check out their children from school early do not need an appointment, but will need to wait outside the building and their child will come out to meet them.
Due to the increasing scientific evidence, masks will be required to be worn by all students and staff when in-person learning resumes. This includes on buses, in common areas of schools, and in classrooms.
Periodic mask breaks may be coordinated by teachers for their students in a safe, physically distanced manner.
Students and staff with documented medical conditions that prevent the ability to wear a mask should speak with their school administration.
Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not yet have symptoms. Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks, respirators or other medical personal protective equipment. Masks should cover both the nose and mouth when worn. Face shields may be worn in addition to masks, but not in place of masks.
Individuals should be reminded frequently not to touch the face covering and to wash their hands.
Individuals who are considered high-risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 include people who:
- Are 65 years of age or older
- Have a high-risk condition, such as
- Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Heart disease with complications
- Compromised immune system
- Severe obesity with a body mass index of 40 or higher
- Other underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
We recognize that in-person school may not be feasible for staff and students that have high-risk vulnerability due to preexisting medical issues. As such, Barrow County School System will provide ongoing Distance Learning throughout the school year. More details about Distance Learning can be found in section 2.
In addition, our staff is systematically reviewing all current plans (Individualized Education Plans, 504 plans, and Individual Healthcare plans) to accommodate students with special healthcare needs and reduce their exposure risk.
We are working with staff that have self-identified as high-risk to accommodate their individual situation and needs.
Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol reduces the spread of disease.
- Adequate supplies will be provided to support healthy hygiene behaviors throughout the day (ex. hand soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, disinfecting wipes). Parents may also send in donations of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfecting wipes, and facial tissues for their child’s classroom.
- Staff will review with students proper handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and allow for regular handwashing breaks throughout the school day.
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be provided at building entrances, in the cafeteria, and in classrooms. These will be systematically checked and refilled. Children will be supervised in the use of these products.
- Staff and students will be encouraged to cough and sneeze into their elbows or to cover with a tissue.
- Barrow County custodial staff will clean and disinfect on a regular basis to ensure viral spread via surfaces are minimized. Our custodians use an extra strength cleaner and Mark 11 (hospital grade disinfectant on the EPA’s N list) to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in common areas during the day and throughout the building at night.
- Shared items that cannot be consistently disinfected will be discouraged (manipulatives, stuffed toys, balls, etc.)
- Student personal items (such as pens, crayons, and scissors) should be kept separately in individual lockers, cubbies, or containers.
- Cloth covered items, such as drapes, pillows, cushions, furniture, area rugs, and all other items not essential to learning, should be removed from classrooms.
- Teachers and students will help to frequently clean touched surfaces multiple times during the day in classrooms. Tersano is used for this purpose. Tersano has been tested against an approved surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, which is MHV-3 until such time as testing on the actual SARS-CoV-2 is available. Currently, many products including Tersano are in line to be tested against the actual virus. This is a food safe product (important when we are eating in classrooms) that can be handled by adults and children without gloves or other PPE. Tersano is Green Seal Certified and is used by many entities across the globe.
- Schools may ask for disinfecting wipes on supply lists as these can be used by teachers and staff to clean the frequently touched surfaces noted above. Store bought disinfecting wipes should be kept out of the reach of children.
- Teachers and students will be expected to pick up all items from the floor and clear desktops and tabletops at the end of each day to allow for more thorough cleaning each evening.
- Doors at main entrances to schools will be held open at the start and finish of each school day to limit touching door handles.
- Under status 2, custodial staff will also isolate impacted classrooms, bus routes, and hallways or school will be closed as needed and receive a deep cleaning. Bioesque is a disinfectant product on the N list and is applied as a mist on surfaces in rooms where a positive case or suspected positive case is identified. This product is applied after surfaces have first been cleaned. If multiple schools are affected, this may lead to a system wide return to distance learning for at least 14 days. In the event of Status Red Targeted Closures, facilities will be closed for an extended 14 days and all areas will receive a deep cleaning.
Conducting regular screening for symptoms and ongoing self-monitoring throughout each school day can help reduce exposure. Staff and students are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If a student develops symptoms throughout the day, they must notify an adult immediately.
Periodic health screenings, including temperature checks, may be applied as directed by the principal and school nurse.
The most critical tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is any student or staff who is ill or has been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 not attending work/school. Thus, no staff or student who has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, is COVID-19 positive, or has been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 within the previous 14 days* will be allowed to be in school. To return to work/school the ill or exposed individual must meet requirements outlined in the Return to School Guidance – see image below.
Please also keep in mind that children will still get sick with illnesses that are not COVID-19. To err on the side of caution, additional safety measures will be taken regarding all health issues. All students who are out sick with a fever will be required to be fever-free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
By sending your child to school, you are attesting that your child is healthy, has been fever-free for 24-hours, and has met these requirements in the Return to School Guidance.
During this time, limited visitors will be allowed into the schools. If it is deemed necessary to access the building, outside visitors to schools (parents, district office staff, vendors, etc.) will need to make appointments and abide by the following guidelines: wear a mask covering both nose and mouth, complete a symptom checklist, and submit to a temperature screening before entering the building.
We understand that many parents were hesitant to take their child(ren) to their doctor or health departments during the height of the pandemic due to concern about viral transmission. While that is understandable, Barrow County School System cannot waive state and federal requirements that students be up-to-date on immunizations. Students must be up-to-date on vaccinations to prevent the recurrence of diseases as bad as, or worse than, COVID-19.
Barrow County School System is working with the local Health Department to try to offer opportunities for parents to catch their children up on vaccinations in a safe environment. More information on that will be shared as it develops.
Students can be provisionally enrolled at the beginning of the year if they do not have required vaccinations, but only for 30 calendar days. After that, students will be withdrawn until they are in compliance with requirements.
Please note the state has delayed the Meningococcal booster shot for 16-year-olds, which was scheduled to go into effect this year, until the 2021-2022 school year. Other required immunizations remain in place and should be reviewed by parents.
For the reopening of school, water fountains will be turned off. Students, teachers, and staff are encouraged to bring their own water bottles for personal use. Bottle fillers and goose neck faucets should be used to refill water bottles throughout the day.
It is also important that ventilation systems operate properly to maintain appropriate circulation of outdoor air. BCSS monitors units to ensure air exchanges occur according to design and industry standards.
Physical distancing is most challenging on a school bus due to the limited space available. Strict physical distancing between riders of 6 feet is not practical as it would require as few as 12 riders per bus. It is required that all students wear a cloth face covering while riding the bus to and from school. BCSS transportation is also taking the following steps:
- All riders will be assigned seats on the bus.
- Buses will be cleaned between morning and afternoon routes each day. As much as possible, buses will also be wiped down with disinfecting wipes between routes (MS/HS and ES).
- Masks will be required on the bus for students and drivers. As such, wearing masks will be enforced like other bus rules, and it will be a discipline infraction if not followed.
- For confirmed COVID cases, buses will be taken out of service to be disinfected.
- To maximize air circulation, roof hatches and windows will be opened.
- Response protocols are being developed for how to handle sick students at a stop location, and for identifiable illness while students are on the bus.
- Children that become sick during the day may not ride the bus home.
Cafeteria service will be handled differently at BCSS schools. Children’s age, cafeteria size, and staffing will influence the plan implemented at each school. The following practices will be implemented across the district:
- Schools will provide the opportunity for handwashing before and after eating. Hand sanitizer will also be available at eating locations and proper use will be encouraged.
- Various mitigation measures will be used as much as possible, including:
- Physical distancing at tables between students
- Classes eating together with distance between classes
- Sitting on one side of the table, with students all facing the same direction
- Staggered meal times to allow more time between groups
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing of tables and trays between groups
- No self-serve for any items (including condiments) will be permitted. Cafeteria staff will place all items on serving trays.
- During serving times, lines will have additional servers to help students move faster through the line.
- Students will continue to have food choices, but they will be limited.
- Students will pick up breakfast or lunch and return to classroom or other specified areas.
- All food from breakfast and lunch eaten in classrooms will be placed in heavy duty trash bags and put in hallway after each meal.
- Breakfast kiosks will be set up in hallways for students to grab-and-go and take food to classrooms to eliminate large gatherings in the cafeteria.
- At Status Yellow Enhanced Mitigation Measures, schools will consider the following: required eating in classrooms, spaced serving lines, disposable plates and utensils, etc.
- We are exploring alternatives to using the pin pad for students to enter their personal ID number.
Clinics at our schools are being outfitted with additional resources. The following steps will also be taken in our school clinics:
- Students who are sick at school will be sent to school nurse clinic. They will be isolated from other students in the clinic for routine reasons (e.g. medication, first aid, or other regular treatments) either in a separate section of the clinic or in another isolation room, depending on the school and clinic size. Students who are sick must be promptly picked up and are subject to the Return to School Guidelines (see image in Monitoring for Symptoms section above).
- Students and staff who become ill are encouraged to seek treatment and consultation with their personal healthcare provider or the local health department. If warranted, a COVID-19 test is also recommended. Staff and parents can self-report positive tests or potential exposure using firstname.lastname@example.org email.
- When cases of COVID-19, either for students or staff, are confirmed, the system will work with local health authorities to respond rapidly. Response will be dictated by the nature of each case.
- This can include quarantine of the individual, quarantine of a specific classroom or grade level, and in extreme circumstances may result in the entire school returning to Distance Learning for some period depending on the number of cases and nature of exposure.
- The system will report potential cases first to the parents of any student who may have been in contact with the individual and then to the entire school community so parents may take desired action.
- Barrow County School System will follow all relevant student and health privacy laws when making this disclosure.
- Students and classes that are quarantined due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure will be able to continue instruction through the Barrow County Distance Learning Program.
- In the clinics, nurses will wear medical grade personal protective equipment and change as needed between students.
- Temporal or touchless thermometers will be used in schools when taking student or staff temperatures. Temporal thermometers will be disinfected between uses.
The outbreak of COVID-19 can be stressful for many. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Schools plan an important role in helping students and staff cope and build resilience to support the well-being of the school community.
- BCSS staff will participate in training to ensure they are prepared to support students’ social emotional learning. Counselors and social workers will also be on hand to support students as needed.
- We encourage staff, students and families to talk with others they trust about their concerns about COVID-19 and how they are feeling.
- Additional behavioral health services are available for students, families, and staff. Please contact your school’s counselor for more information.
We are very focused on communicating as clearly and thoroughly as possible during these times. We do our best to share decisions as they are made and additional information about what to expect for the next school year.
- Please ensure that your contact information is up to date for your child(ren). Visit our Family Update website to update email, phone numbers, and mailing addresses. You can conveniently do it for every child in one location.
- Along with email, we will share updates on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Signs will be posted throughout all school buildings reminding students and staff of recommended healthy hygiene practices. Students will be reminded of proper hand washing and covering techniques for coughs and sneezes.
- Once school starts, there may be situations where a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. Each case will be evaluated individually. Schools will communicate with the involved students and families as needed. Due to HIPPA and privacy requirements, we will not be identifying individuals with COVID-19, and we ask that others do not speculate about such instances.
The school district’s ability to continue its sports programs will be determined in large part by Georgia High School Association (GHSA) rules and regulations, along with guidance from health officials. Each local school will determine which extracurricular activities students will be able to participate in. Both in-person and Distance Learners will be able to participate. The school system reserves the prerogative to enforce more stringent guidelines than GHSA.
In order to avoid creating any incentives for ill individuals to attend school/work, all perfect attendance awards, school monthly attendance awards, and all other attendance incentives will be waived for the 2020-2021 school year. Barrow County School System cannot completely waive truancy requirements in Georgia law, but will reduce some of the letters/paperwork sent home due to absences. Schools will work with parents to resolve attendance issues related to illness.
BCSS policies and procedures are intended to mitigate not eliminate risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate risk of COVID-19 transmission, but implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk.
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