Healthy Campus Plan for 2021-2022 School Year

Westlake Academy remains committed to maintaining a healthy campus for our students, staff, and visitors and has planned extensively for this next school year. We will continue to respond to on-campus issues related to COVID-19 concerns, as well as, infections from what is predicted to be a more extensive than normal flu season. While we anticipate that the majority of our operations will follow traditional school protocols this year, Staff will continue to monitor directives from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Governor’s office, and other public health officials for any mandated changes in our on-campus procedures. We understand that local conditions for COVID-19 continue to evolve and changes may be necessary based on those circumstances. We will update our students, staff, and parents should our processes change throughout the year.

As you know, the virus that causes COVID-19 affects people of all ages, and we are all striving to keep students, teachers, staff, and our communities as safe as reasonably possible.  On-going research has found that while children do get infected with COVID-19, and some severe outcomes have been reported in children, a small percentage are hospitalized or have severe symptoms. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that COVID-19 risks must be balanced with the need for children to attend school in person, given that lack of physical access to school leads to a number of negative consequences, including a feeling of isolation, a lack of progress in their education, and may place “children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity, and in some extreme cases, mortality.  Thus, we are very pleased to have the option to attend school in person and continue with a more traditional school year.

The Healthy Campus Plan is designed to reduce the likelihood that a coronavirus outbreak, as well as other virus-based infections, occur on campus.  Healthy students and staff are critical to educational success and affect everyone’s ability to be on-campus and learn. Our plan this year continues to follow the four (4) themes outlined in the TEA guidelines and is designed to accomplish the following:

  1. PROVIDE NOTICE to our parents in order to share information; and,
  2. PREVENT viruses from entering the campus by following the appropriate hygiene steps and screening staff/students for illness prior to arriving on campus; and,
  3. RESPOND to test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and other viruses in the school to help maintain a healthy campus; and,
  4. MITIGATE the spread of viruses and other communicable infections inside the school.

PROVIDE NOTICE: Healthy Campus Plan and Updates

Staff will continue to monitor any directives given by either TEA, public health officials, or the Governor’s office for relevant updates on on-campus operations.  We will also communicate any changes from TEA to our parents and staff members. Notifications will be sent via the Communique, through direct emails, and/or social media for Westlake Academy. 

We will also continue the use of the dedicated email address covidquestions@westlakeacademy.org for any questions.

PREVENTION:  Student and Visitor - Daily Screening and Reporting

We are asking that parents help us prevent illnesses on campus by keeping students at home who are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19, strep throat, flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), stomach viruses, and the common cold.  All of these are easily transmitted from person to person and will result in an increase in absences and infections.  Throughout last year, we continued to see a number of students arrive at school not feeling well.

Further, we understand that the best place for students to learn is in the classroom, and keeping a student home, even with mild symptoms, can cause disruption for parents and students. Our goal is to limit the spread of illness on campus and we are asking you to partner with us in this endeavor.

  • All students and visitors must self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms, flu, or other viral-based symptoms before coming to school each day. The self-screening should include parents taking their students' temperature and visitors screening themselves for an elevated temperature.
  • All students and visitors must practice appropriate hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distancing where feasible.
  • Parents must report to the school if their student(s) has flu or COVID-19 symptoms or are test-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, the student must remain off campus until they meet the Return to Campus criteria.

PREVENTION:  Staff - Daily Screening and Reporting

  • Each staff member must self-screen for COVID-19, flu, or other viral-based symptoms before coming to school each day. The self-screening should include taking their temperature.
  • All staff members should wash their hands frequently, wear a face covering if they choose to do so, and practice social distancing when possible.
  • Staff must report to the school if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are test-confirmed with COVID-19. In either case, the staff member must remain off campus until they meet the Return to Campus criteria.
  • Please contact Carl Tippen, COVID Response Team Member, at ctippen@westlakeacademy.org or Noah Simon, Deputy Town Manager, at nsimon@westlake-tx.org should you need to report a positive COVID-19 test result.  Staff will then be notified of a return to campus date based on each specific set of circumstances. 

PREVENTION:  Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Illness

In order for our prevention measures to be successful, we are asking our parents to be very attentive to screening your child at home for any sign of illness prior to arriving at school.  Your child learns best when they are well-rested and engaged in their learning. Children with fever, diarrhea, sore throats, headaches, etc., find the learning environment overwhelming and often ask to go to the nurse’s office for care. Last year, we had a number of students come to school who reported having a variety of symptoms consistent with COVID-19, flu-like symptoms, or other viruses that are transmitted around campus. We have listed the common symptoms that we are asking you to screen for below:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms and both viruses share the symptoms indicated above.  

Staff will be monitoring students who have the above symptomology, isolating them from the common areas and classroom environment, and will require the parents to pick up their student no later than 1-hour from notification.  WITH NO EXCEPTIONS.  We love all of our students and ask that you support us in pre-screening and NOT sending sick students to school until they are fever or symptom-free for the required period of time.

PREVENT:  Identifying Possible COVID-19 and Flu Cases on Campus

  • Staff will immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 or flu symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
  • We will clean the areas used by the individual who exhibits COVID-19 or flu symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as possible.
  • Students or staff members who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check by the school nurse to determine if they may be symptomatic for COVID-19.   

PREVENTION:  Use of Face Coverings (Masks), Shields, and other PPE Measures

The Academy will comply with the guidelines from TEA and any applicable Executive Orders issued by the Governor of Texas with respect to the wearing of face coverings at school or during school activities. Westlake Academy will also support and respect the individual choices that families make regarding the use of face coverings while on campus. We encourage you to discuss this matter with your own personal health provider who may help you make the determination based on your own unique needs and health factors. Parents will be notified of any changes in these directives. 

  • As directed by Governor Abbott in Executive Order - GA 38, “no governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering…”.
  • Staff recommends the wearing of face coverings at school events where large numbers of community members are gathered.
  • Desk shields are available if a student, parent, or staff member requests one for individual use.
  • If a mask is worn while on campus, it should be either solid in color or patterned, either disposable or cloth material, or clear face masks.  Logos, college or university symbols, or school-appropriate sports team logos are also acceptable.  Masks may not have other slogans, images, or phrases on them except for manufacturing marks required by regulation. No offensive statements or photos.

PREVENTION:  Large Group Gatherings and Special Events

We plan to hold gatherings this school year, such as Back-to-School Night (B2SN), athletic events, dances, pizza day, Curriculum Nights, Danish and Dialogue, college recruitment fairs, etc. in an effort to provide our students and families with the more traditional school year experiences. Where appropriate we will schedule events outdoors and/or stagger or limit student attendance to minimize the number of individuals in one area.  We would recommend that you wear a face-covering when you are in large group settings where safe distancing cannot be achieved.  

RESPOND:  Confirmed Case of COVID -19 and Return to Campus Guidelines

All public schools have been given guidance that we “must exclude students from attending school in person who are actively sick with COVID-19 or who have received a positive test result for COVID-19.” (TEA Public Health Guidance, Aug. 5, 2021)

Stay-at-Home Period

Students who have received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, and ARE SYMPTOMATIC, may return to campus under the following parameters (Department of State Health Services website):

  • At least 10-days has elapsed since symptom onset, and
  • Fever free*,
  • And other symptoms of the virus have improved.

Students who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and are NOT SYMPTOMATIC, may return to campus under the following parameters:

  • Must remain at home until at least 10 days after they were tested.

* Fever free for 24-hours without the use of fever suppressing medications. Fever is a temperature of 100° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius) or higher.

When a family or staff member contacts Westlake Academy about a positive diagnosis, the nurse and/or designated staff contact will provide an initial return to campus date based on the onset of symptoms or the date of the COVID-19 positive test result. The date may change based on symptomology and the duration of the virus.

RESPOND:  Close Contact with COVID-19

Westlake Academy has received new information from TEA for this school year regarding our protocols in this area. Staff, students, and visitors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and are exposed to someone with a positive case of the virus are NOT considered to be a close contact at this time (direction from TEA may change).  The additional guidance is shown below:

 

·     “Schools are not required to contact trace on campus; however, we should notify a student’s parent if we are made aware that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case.” (TEA Public Health Guidance, Aug. 5, 2021)

·     Once we receive notification of a confirmed positive case, we will notify the families who have students within the same classroom. Due to personal medical information laws, we will not release the name of the student or staff member who has tested positive for the virus. 

·        It will then be up to the parent of the student(s) who has been in close contact to make their own individual determination to keep their student home during the recommended stay-at-home period. 

MITIGATE:  Actions if Individuals with Test-Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 Have Been on Campus

  • If an individual has been in school and is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student, or visitor at a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must submit a report to the Texas Department of State Health Services via an online form. The report must be submitted each Monday for the prior seven days (Monday-Sunday).

MITIGATE: Health and Hygiene Practices: General

  • Westlake Academy will continue to make available hand sanitizer across the campus, including, in each classroom.
  • Students, teachers, staff, and campus visitors are encouraged to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently.
  • Students are encouraged to engage in handwashing for at least 20 seconds at least two times each day, in addition to being encouraged to wash hands after using the restroom and before eating.
  • Students, teachers, staff, and campus visitors should be encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, covered in their elbows. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash, hands should be washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Increasingly, evidence suggests that COVID-19 does not easily spread on surfaces and that increased cleaning practices may not be beneficial in reducing spread. Given this, we will adjust our cleaning practices as necessary.