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Health Protocols

Planning for School Year 2020-2021

 

As part of our planning for the fall semester, we have approached our return to in-person instruction with a bias toward caution for everyone who will be on campus. While there is no plan that will reduce our risk level to ‘zero’, we do want our approach to be balanced in order to care for all of our stakeholders. Our focus in light of the current health crises is to provide the safest and most healthy on-campus environment for our students and staff, in order to facilitate the education of our students. Without one, we won’t have the other.  If we can create an optimal environment where our teachers and staff members are able to remain healthy, and where they feel confident in returning to the classrooms, we can create an educational opportunity for our students that is second to none!

We continue to receive updates from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and public health officials that will mandate how we respond to the novel Coronavirus on campus.  We will then update our information as soon as possible and provide it to our parents. Some of the concerns that we are currently discussing will manifest into operational challenges:

 

  • maintaining the healthiest and safest environment for everyone who comes on campus;
  • providing a robust education that supports an IB educational opportunity;
  • supporting teachers in the digital classroom environment;
  • professional development and tools for teachers to deliver content and engage students; and
  • health protocols for our small, multi-grade/multi-age campus.
 

While these are not all of our concerns, we are keeping these foremost in our minds to ensure our students are prepared for whatever this year holds for us. Some of the topics we have had feedback on pertaining to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and how remote instruction will be conducted this fall.  Please know that we as educators, do not categorize the spring semester as analogous with the fall semester. We are planning a robust inquiry-based learning environment for students and will provide you with this plan in the coming days. We will be spending some of our back-to-school planning days with our teaching staff reviewing our online delivery methods and how we can use technology to best educate our students.  As to the use of PPE equipment, we are requiring the use of a face covering for everyone on campus. This decision is based on a variety of factors including student/staff safety, our ability to keep the campus open for in-person instruction, our limited ability to obtain substitute teachers should our teaching staff become infected, quarantine and campus closure requirements should we have an outbreak of the virus, the K-12 composition of the student body, the increasing transmission rate of the virus among children, the overall size of the Academy, and discussions we have had with our teaching staff. 

 

In social media posts and calls, we have been a part of this summer with superintendents and principals across the state, the primary concern of teachers is how school systems will mitigate their exposure to the virus while on campus.  Rather than risk our teachers, we have made this choice to practice social distancing where possible and ‘wear the mask’ to promote everyone’s safety.  We will be building breaks into the day for both students and staff to remove their masks and we will be reviewing medical exemptions on a case-by-case basis. We appreciate your continued support.

 

As part of our recommended plan to the Board of Trustees, we will be outlining a layered approach to health and wellness this fall.  This plan will require the cooperation of everyone who has a stake in Westlake Academy and supports our overall success. The factors associated with a shut-down of the campus should we have a spread of the virus among our students and staff and/or the quarantine and mitigation protocols we are required to follow would have a significant impact on us from both a personal and educational standpoint. The fact that we are a K-G12 campus, with limited abilities to social distance due to our building configurations, requires a unique approach for our school.  We all have a critical role in helping to reduce the risk to our community.

   August 3, 2020                   Board of Trustees virtual meeting at 5:00 p.m.

   August 24, 2020                 Remote Learning to begin for SY 20/21

   September 21, 2020           Earliest date for on-campus instruction (per current public health order)

 
  • Campus staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols
  • Approved CDC disinfectants will be used for deep cleaning campus.
  • Each classroom and front office will have its own cleaning supplies which include spray bottles and paper products. 
  • Students, teachers, staff, and essential campus visitors/volunteers will be encouraged to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located at each entrance to the buildings on campus, dining halls, and gymnasium/Multi-Purpose Hall (MPH).  
  • Each classroom and front office will be provided with additional hand sanitizer supplies. 
  • Tissues will be provided in classrooms and common areas to encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, to cover with their elbows. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Plexi-glass will be added to our front desk (public reception) areas. 
  • Social distancing and safety signage will be added and visible throughout our campus facilities.
  • Currently, all locker rooms and shower rooms are "CLOSED" per the Texas Education Agency. This could change by the opening of school.

Students (or Parents), Teachers, and Staff are expected to take their own temperatures daily before arriving at school. Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher must NOT come to school.  The following protocols also apply: 

  • Prescreen themselves for any of the following symptoms prior to coming to school:
    • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit;
    • Loss of taste or smell;
    • Cough;
    • Difficulty breathing;
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Headache;
    • Chills;
    • Sore throat;
    • Shaking or exaggerated shivering; 
    • Significant muscle pain or ache; and
    • Diarrhea. 
  • Everyone on campus may be subject to periodic temperature checks for verification, especially if they are feeling ill or suspected of having a fever during the school day.
  • Touch-free forehead thermometers will be in the PYP and secondary front offices, as well as touch-free forehead thermometer at the nurse’s station, to check/verify temperatures.  
  • Parents, students, and staff will be required to report to the administration if 
    • a) they have come into close contact (see the close contact definition below) with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19; or 
    • b) they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Westlake Academy will be pre-screening and checking the temperatures of all contract workers, substitute teachers, and essential volunteers before they are allowed entrance on campus. Pre-screening will be done by front office personnel. 
  • Front office and attendance personnel will also be trained to ask questions to screen students/staff who are absent for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Registered and substitute nurses will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Minor health needs will be handled by classroom teachers, administration or school office personnel to manage the nurse’s clinic (PYP building) space for students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • An additional area will be identified for a second quarantine station to accommodate COVID-19 symptomatic individuals in an alternate location.
  • The PYP building nurse’s office will use the two adjoining rooms to meet the needs of students.
  • A nurse’s table will be placed outside the main door to interact with and treat students without students entering the clinic space.
  • Medications will be dispensed by the nurses according to coordinated times.  
  • Students who are either sent or self-report to the nurse’s office showing symptoms and receive a recommendation by the nurse to go home will need to be picked up from school within one hour.
  • The Nurse’s office will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Any individual (including teachers, staff, students, or other campus visitors/volunteers) who are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 or experience symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home throughout the duration of the infection period.  They cannot return to the campus until Westlake Academy screens the individual to determine if conditions for campus re-entry (shown below) have been met:

In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:

1) at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);

2) the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and

3) at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. 

In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.

If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay-at-home period, the individual must either:

  1. a) obtain a medical professional's note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis; or 
  2. b) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID-19 via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.

Individuals - including students, teachers, staff, or other campus visitors/volunteers - who have had close contact with someone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, as narrowly defined below should stay at home through the 14-day incubation period and should not be allowed on campus.

Any student or staff member who displays symptoms of the virus will be isolated from those in the classroom or work environment. For students, the school nurse will provide a clinical assessment to determine if the student should be sent home. Any student who receives a recommendation to go home must be picked up within one hour from the time the school contacts the student’s parent/guardian. 

Staff members who display symptoms will isolate themselves from students and staff and immediately remove themselves from campus until they can either be evaluated by a medical professional or meet the criteria for returning to campus. 

Westlake Academy registered school nurses will screen individuals after the incubation period has concluded, and if the individual did not experience COVID-19 symptoms during that period, the individual can be allowed back on campus. If the individual experienced symptoms, they must stay at home until the conditions outlined above have been met.

Close Contact Definition

The Texas Education Agency defines ‘close contact’ as: 

  1. being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g. being coughed on while not wearing a

mask or face shield); or 

  1. being within six (6) feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a mask

or face shield;

if either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious. 

Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test. (Source: TEA SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance document)

As part of our planning for the fall, we have approached our return to in-person instruction with a bias toward caution for everyone who will be on campus. There is no plan that will reduce our risk level to ‘zero’; however, we believe our approach is a balanced option to care for all of our stakeholders. We acknowledge that there are differing medical and personal views toward the use of face coverings and that this portion of our plan will not appeal to every family. 

With that said, it is important to know that we will be utilizing a layered approach to promote health and wellness on our campus. This plan will require the cooperation of everyone who has a stake in Westlake Academy and supports our overall success. The factors associated with a shut-down of the campus should we have a spread of the virus among our students and staff and/or the quarantine and mitigation protocols we are required to follow would have a significant impact on us from both a personal and educational standpoint. The fact that we are a K-G12 campus, with limited abilities to social distance due to our building configurations, requires a unique approach for our school.  We all have a critical role in helping to reduce the risk to our community. 

The following guidelines are either paraphrased or directly excerpted from the TEA SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance of July 17, 2020. 

  • Westlake Academy is required to follow the Governor’s executive orders regarding the wearing of face coverings/masks. 
  • Furthermore, all schools are given additional flexibility to require the use of masks or face coverings (where developmentally appropriate) dependent on the level of community spread in their area and the unique situations that face each campus. 
  • It may not be practical for the use of face coverings/masks during some non-UIL athletic or other extracurricular activities. In this event, we are required to have students, teachers, staff, and visitors wear face shields/masks when entering or exiting our facilities and athletic fields and when not actively participating in those activities. 
  • For example, the Academy may allow students who are actively exercising to remove their face covering/masks, as long as they are at least six (6) feet apart from other students, teachers, and staff who are not wearing face coverings/masks. 

Westlake Academy Campus Requirements 

  • All students (K-12), teachers, and staff are required to wear face coverings while on campus until further notice. The decision to discontinue the use of face coverings will be based on public health recommendations and other indicators related to the spread of COVID-19. 
    • Information will be forthcoming as to the type of face coverings that will be allowed. 
    • Staff will also be creating the ‘layers of protection’ discussed above, which will allow for times when face coverings may be removed during the school day.   
    • Individual needs and exceptions to this policy will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 
    • Requests for accommodations (medical needs, special needs diagnosis, sensory concerns) should be submitted to the programme principal for consideration.
  • Desk dividers shields will be utilized in classrooms, lunchrooms and other close contact spaces to protect/divide students in close proximity to other students.
  • Additionally, in our layered approach of health and safety protocols, staff continues to explore additional options that will mitigate community transmission on campus. Including but not limited to, the use of air purifiers and other like equipment for various rooms on campus.
  • TEA has announced that schools will receive an allocation of PPE for campus use this year. We will use these materials, along with others we purchase, in our layered health and safety plan for the school.  Our allotment includes the following approximate numbers: 
    • Disposable Masks – 8,000 for students and staff
    • Reusable Masks – 2,000 for students and staff 
    • Gloves – 3,200 
    • Touchless Thermometers – 6 
    • Hand sanitizer – 93 gallons 
    • Adult face shields – 96
  • We will also be looking at options for additional face shields that allow for full-face viewing for our staff teams to facilitate student/teacher interactions and promote educational success. 
  • Students and staff will be trained in proper handwashing protocols to prevent COVID-19 and the spread of germs.
  • Primary teachers will be encouraged to supervise student handwashing for 20 seconds at least two times each day, in addition, all students will be encouraged to wash hands after using the restroom and before/after eating.
  • Hand Sanitizer stations will be available at restrooms, entrances, hallways, and common areas.
  • Touchless paper towel dispensers will be used and provided in restrooms and tri-fold tissue in classrooms.
  • Students and staff will be trained in proper social distancing methods. 
  • Signage will be provided to help assist students and staff with social distancing in common spaces and hallways.
  • Social distancing becomes a personal responsibility of each individual attending school or entering Westlake Academy buildings.
  • Classroom table pods will have screen dividers for protection of spread of COVID-19. 
  • Whenever possible students and staff will remain six feet apart. 

In reference to the section ‘Protocols for Individuals Confirmed, Suspected, or Exposed to COVID-19’ if the assumption by the school nurse that an individual has COVID-19 and sent home, contact tracing will be implemented by administration and the immediate classroom, grade area, building or office(s) will be vacated, cleaned, and disinfected. 

  • Approved CDC disinfectants will be used for deep cleaning campus.
  • Additional cleaning and disinfecting will occur nightly in every classroom, commons area, and on high-touch surfaces.
  • An electrostatic sprayer will be used to help facilitate the disinfecting of surfaces. 
  • Classroom materials used by students will be personalized (writing materials, manipulatives) to avoid the spread of germs.
  • Our Day Porter will be cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout the school day.