COVID-19 Health Precautions
Page Updated Aug. 18
Expand the sections below to review our COVID-19 precautions. 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 these precautions. 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.
Please keep in mind, these may change due to state and local guidance or an increase in area COVID-19 cases.
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 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 used within 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 3 feet apart from one another when feasible.
- Desks and seating areas will be arranged in classrooms to maximize space between students.
- Seating charts will be used in all classrooms, cafeterias, and on buses.
- When possible, students will be kept in small cohorts or groups during the day, and from day to day, to limit mixing.
- Students will eat all meals in classrooms, or classes will rotate through cafeterias in smaller groups.
- 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, based off school COVID-19 case and quarantine numbers.
- 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 before entering the building. 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.
- Visitors will be expected to wear a mask while in the buildings.
- Masks are required in our school clinics.
- Staff who are vaccinated but identified as a close contact should wear a mask for ten (10) days.
- There will be no restrictions on any outdoor events that have voluntary attendance.
Information updated on Aug. 18
UPDATE TO MASK PROTOCOLS STARTING SEPTEMBER 1, 2021
We will transition to a temporary system-wide indoor mask requirement beginning Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Click here for additional details on the decision.
This applies to all indoor areas of any BCSS facility and our school buses.
Any student with a valid note from a doctor, medical professional, or therapist confirming the student should not wear a mask will be excused from the requirement.
Doctors' notes for mask exemptions must be submitted to your child’s school. It will be reviewed and verified by the district. The child will be required to wear a mask until the note is verified. (9/2/21)
When the numbers of positive cases and related quarantines are at a manageable number system-wide, we will rescind the requirement.
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
Our staff systematically reviews 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.
- Student personal items (such as pens, crayons, and scissors) should be kept separately in individual lockers, cubbies, or containers.
- 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.
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.
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. To return to work/school, the ill or exposed individual must meet the requirements.
Please also keep in mind, 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 and has been fever-free for 24-hours.
Q&A to Help You
The COVID-19 virus is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever (100.4 or higher) or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported including nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. While symptoms in children are similar to adults, children may have milder symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough.
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.
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.
Need information about where to get a COVID-19 Vaccination for your student. We've compiled a list of local locations.
Students, teachers, and staff are encouraged to bring their own water bottles for personal use. Bottle fillers and gooseneck 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.
BCSS transportation is taking the following steps:
- All riders will be assigned seats on the bus.
- To maximize air circulation, roof hatches and windows will be opened.
- Children that become sick during the day may not ride the bus home.
As of our August 18 update, students will eat all meals in classrooms, or classes will rotate through cafeterias in smaller groups. Students are also encouraged to bring a water bottle to fill in our bottle filler stations.
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.
- Masks are required in our school clinics.
- 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 to the parents of any student who may have been in contact with the individual. The system will also report the number of positive cases of staff and students on a weekly basis on the district website.
- 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 guided on school work through the school or teachers.
- 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.
- 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.
There will be no restrictions on any outdoor events that have voluntary attendance.
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. 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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