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There is a lot planning being done by the Arcola School District personnel to create a safe and effective learning environment for the return of students for the 2020-2021 School Year.  The following document is the comprehensive draft plan for the Arcola School District that is being considered for approval at the special board meeting on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.  The final plan for reopening school will be approved on August 12, 2020

Draft Back To School Plan for 2020-2021

The following is a question/answer document that will be updated with new information as items change or as new items are added.

The document was last updated on 7/24/2020.  The updated information is below the line later in the document.  If there are any changes to information already on the document, it will have the message "Updated Date" next to the item.  

If you would like to view the question/answer document in Spanish, please click this Translated Copy

Arcola School District

Return to School

Question-Answer Document

General Items

1. When will the district release the final plans for back to school for 2020-2021?

The district provided a general template for returning to school last week (https://www.arcola.k12.il.us/article/269304?org=arcola-cusd). This question/answer document is intended to add details to the plan as they are discussed. There is a special board meeting currently set for Wednesday, July 29 at 7:00 pm with the intention of the board considering approval of the back to school plan.

2. Could the plans change between now and the 29th or even after the plans are approved after the 29th?

Yes. Unfortunately, this is a very fluid time. Guidance seems to change daily. As a result, everyone needs to be open to plans changing on a quick basis.

3. What if the region that Arcola is in goes back to Phase 3 of Illinois’ re-opening plan?

If the region is taken back to Phase 3 in Illinois’ Re-Opening Plan, the majority of the Arcola School District will transition to a full remote learning plan. We will then work with some students and families to try and provide some in person instruction for specialized services such as special education, response to intervention, English Language services, etc.

Face Covering

1. Are all individuals in a school building required to wear a face covering at all times?

Yes. As required by IDPH, except while eating and during band, face coverings must be worn at all times in school buildings, even when social distance is maintained. All individuals in a school building must wear a face covering unless they have a medical contraindication, are under 2 years of age, have trouble breathing, or are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the face covering without assistance.

2. Are face coverings required when individuals are outside?

Face coverings are not required outside if social distance is maintained (if individuals remain 6 feet apart from each other). This will allow for teachers and students to take breaks from wearing their masks but going outside for short periods during the day.

3. Can face shields be used in lieu of face coverings (e.g. masks)?

Generally, no. Face shields are not effective protection against coronavirus and should only be used in situations when other methods of protection are not available. IDPH also appreciates that there may be a small minority of individuals who have a medical contraindication to using face coverings. If face shields can be tolerated, face shields might be utilized in these situations, understanding their limitations and the heightened need for strict adherence to social distancing. ISBE recommends that schools review information such as a physician’s note documenting the medical contraindication for any individual who is not able to wear a face covering.

4. What process should a student/family follow to request a medical exemption from being required to wear a mask at school?

The request for a medical exemption for wearing a facemask will be treated as an accommodation as part of a 504 Plan.

The following is the process that will be followed by each student requesting a medical exemption to face coverings:

504 Accommodations Plan:

  1. Talk with your doctor and obtain a medical diagnosis with an explanation as to the nature of the condition and how it affects the student in the current school situation. (ie. wearing a mask.)
  2. Reach out to Special Service Director, Cathy Brimner cbrimner@arcolaschools.com to set up a time to discuss the concern by phone.
  3. A 504 meeting will be conducted to discuss the collection of information needed to determine eligibility.
  4. The evaluation will then be completed by gathering additional information. If no additional information is needed, the team will determine eligibility for a 504 plan.
  5. If the student is eligible for a 504 plan, the team will determine the accommodations needed for the student.

*Parents will be given a copy and explanation of their rights. Parents can also obtain a copy of those rights on the District website.

This note was recently provided by Sarah Bush to the school district to share with parents Note

Back to School Plan and Schedule

1. What will the schedule be like when we start school?

School will start with teacher institute days on Monday and Tuesday (17th and 18th). No students will be in attendance on those days. August 19 through September 3 will be a blended learning approach

  • All students will attend school from 8 am to 12:30 pm. After lunch, all students will be dismissed.
  • Elementary students (Grades K-6) will have their core instruction in class in the morning and will be assigned at home remote assignments for specials (art, music, PE) in the afternoon.
  • Junior high and high school students will alternate periods 1-4 on one day and then 6-9 on the second day (Period 5 is lunch). They will then be assigned homework/remote assignments for the remaining part of the day.
  • The elementary staff are working on a transition schedule for the district’s preschool students. This plan will have a smaller number of students attending daily. The district will slowly transition to more students in a daily basis after we can ensure the safety of students and staff.

2. How long will the district stay with half days?

If things go well the first few weeks, we plan to use September 4 as a remote planning day for district staff to plan. No students will be in attendance on this day. From September 8 through October 2, students will attend school from 8 am to 2 pm. Hopefully, we will be able to move to full days starting October 5. Obviously, this timeline will need to be flexible as we are unsure exactly how things will go once we get students and staff back in the building.

3. Will parents have a choice on whether or not to send their student to in person learning or can they choose a full-time remote learning plan

All students, unless they have specific medical documentation (details and procedures on this will be communicated), will be required to attend school in the same manner as other students. If the district chooses a blended approach, then all students are blended. If the district chooses and all “in person” approach, then all students are “in person”, etc.

Since the district has chosen a blended learning approach where all students attend school from 8 – 12:30 pm each day with remote learning assignments to be completed later that day/evening, all students are expected to attend school and complete remote learning assignments as assigned.

4. What medical documentation is needed to request home instruction rather than needing to attend in person?

Home/Hospital Plan:

Students may need to be educated temporarily away from the school building due to a medical condition (physical or mental). When a student needs to be away from school for a minimum of two or more consecutive weeks of school or ongoing intermittent absences totaling 10 or more school days, the student may be eligible for instruction at home or in a hospital (or other setting) by a qualified teacher. (34 CFR 300.39 and 300.115 and Section 14-13.01 of the school code [105 ILCS 5/14-13.01(a)] and ISBE Rule 226.300). It is not necessary for the student to have an IEP or 504 plan to qualify, although either may be created depending on student need and school procedures. The following steps will need to be followed:

  • Reach out to Special Service Director, Cathy Brimner at cbrimner@arcolaschools.com to set up a time to discuss the concern by phone.
  • You will receive a form to be completed by your doctor.
  • A team of school personnel and the parents will meet to determine eligibility and/or develop a Health Care Plan for your child.

*It should be noted that a child receiving homebound services is not eligible to participate in or attend extra-curricular activities as defined in the parent/student handbook.

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The information below is new information updated on 7/24/2020

Preschool

1. What has the school decided about preschool? The plan is for each class to be divided into A and B classes so there are 10 students in each class. The students will alternate each day with Class A attending one day and then Class B attending the next day.

2. How will we know what group (A or B) our student is in? The school staff will be contacting each family in early August to set up individual family meetings on August 19 – August 21. When you are contacted, you will be notified if your student(s) is in Section A and B and whether attendance will be afternoon or morning.

3. Will the time of day students attend be adjusted? Yes, morning classes will attend from 8 – 10 am and the afternoon will attend from 12 – 2 pm.

4. How long will the classes be split into A and B? If things go well, we will transition to full classes on October 5, which is the same day the district hopes to transition to full day sessions. But this is subject to change.

Health Protocols

1. How will the school handle the required temperature and symptom check certification for students? The school will provide all families/students with certification stickers. Parents are required to conduct the temperature check and symptom screening before the student leaves the house for school. If the student is symptom free, the parent will sign and date the sticker then put the sticker on the front right shoulder of the student to signify they have been checked and are symptom free.

2. What symptoms should parents to screening for? The following is the certification that parents/guardians are agreeing to when they put a sticker on their student and send them to school:

By using Arcola School District #306 school’s transportation and/or entering school facilities and/or grounds, I certify that my student is free of any of the following symptoms of COVID at the time I sign this form:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty
  • Breathing Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • To my knowledge, my students has had no close contact (15 minutes within 6 feet) with any individual who tested positive for or is suspected of having COVID-19 within the last 14 days

3. With many schools using school staff to certify students, why is Arcola allowing parents to self-certify? The district feels that the students’ parents/guardians know their children the best. If a student has a history of getting sore throats in the fall due to drainage from allergies, the parent is in the best position to know that the sore throat is due to the child’s history with allergies and not the coronavirus. School staff will not know that kind of medical information and history on the child. It is critical that we all work together to make decisions about student symptoms to make sure everyone is protected.

4. Will the student(s)’ temperature and symptoms be checked again by staff? Staff members will only check students that are not wearing a signed sticker.

5. How will the bus drivers handle screening? The bus driver will check students getting on the bus for a sticker. If the student has a sticker, they will be allowed on the bus. If they do not have a sticker, the driver will conduct the temperature and symptom check. Students exhibiting symptoms will be sent back into the house. Students that are symptom free will get a sticker from the bus driver.

6. What if a student gets to school without a sticker? All students entering the building will be checked for a sticker. Students with a sticker will be allowed in the building. Students that do not have a sticker will receive a temperature and symptom check by a staff member before entering the building. If the student is symptom free, they will be allowed in the building.

7. What will happen if a student does not pass the temperature and symptom check at school? If a student does not pass the symptom screening at school, he/she will be escorted to the nurse’s office where he/she will be secluded but under supervision of the nurse. The nurse will make contact with the parent and explain the exclusion protocols that apply. Parents will be asked to come to the bus parking area where the student will be escorted to the car.

8. Will staff and visitors be screened? All staff members and visitors will be required to self-certify they are temperature and symptom free before entering the building in a daily basis.

9. What if a parent is not sure about their child’s symptoms? The best decision is to (error on the side of caution and) keep the student home until you have more information. Parents can contact the school nurse and the Douglas County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at 1-801-997-0019 for assistance.

10. What will happen if my student tests positive for Covid-19? Students that have tested positive for COVID – 19 should notify the school and the Douglas County Health Department. They will be excluded from school until at least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first started; at least 3 days with no fever without use of fever reducing medication; and they have received 2 negative COVID tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart or a doctor’s note authorizing safe return to school.

11. What will happen if a parent calls a student in sick? The parent will be asked two questions: Question #1 - Is the student missing school because they have a fever above 100.4 Degrees and Question #2 - Is the student missing school because you feel this could be a covid related illness (are they experiencing symptoms)

  • If the answer to questions 1 and 2 are no, the student may return to school the following day or when they are feeling better.
  • If the parent answers yes to question #1 but no to #2 (meaning they have a fever but no covid symptoms), the parent will be told that the student should only return to school after being temperature free without fever reducing medication for at least a 72-hour period.
  • If the parent answers yes to question #2, office staff will recommend that the person remain home from school for a period of 10 days after the symptoms begin or unless the student receives two (2) negative tests in a row at least 24 hours apart, or a doctor’s note authorizing safe return to school.

12. Will parents be notified if there is a positive case within the school? The district will notify all parents and families if and when there is a confirmed case if COVID-19 among the staff or students. This will be done in a manner that protects the privacy of the individual(s).

13. What happens if my student gets sick at school? The student will be sent to the nurse who will do a covid screening. If the nurse suspects a student has covid-symptoms, that student will be isolated and sent home. The school will shut down the area of the school where the student had been for cleaning and disinfection procedures.

14. What is contact tracing? Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and people who the infected person came in contact with (contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. If the school district experiences a positive COVID-19 case, the district will work cooperatively with the Douglas County Health Department to assist them with the process of contact tracing.

15. What will happen if a student or staff member has been determined to be in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19 infection? The individual will be required to isolate at home and monitor for symptoms for 14 days. Individuals who did not have close contact can remain in school.

16. How is close contact defined? Close contact means the individual was within 6 feet of the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19 infection for more than 15 consecutive minutes. It does not matter is the person was wearing a mask or not.

17. What will happen if a student or staff member in the school district is confirmed to be positive with COVID-19?

  • 1)The district will immediately contact the Douglas County Health Department, who will lead the contact tracing process.
  • 2)The individual that has a confirmed case will be excluded from school until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and, at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • 3)Any individual that has been deemed to be in close contact with the confirmed individual will be excluded from school for a period of 14 days. The student/family will be notified of the return date.

Cleaning Protocols

1. What are some of the cleaning protocols that will be used by the school? The following are some of the protocols that will be used:

  • The district will increase the custodial staff during the school day to assist with additional cleaning requirements
  • All cloth furniture toys should be removed from the classrooms because they cannot be disinfected. Toys cannot be brought to school until further notice.
  • Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles/knobs, desktops/tabletops, countertops, light switches, pencil sharpeners, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, phones, toys, cubbies/coat and backpack areas, sinks and faucets, buses/vans) will be cleaned multiple times a day.
  • Classroom desks will be disinfected between each period in the junior high and high school classrooms.
  • Bathrooms will be cleaned throughout the day on a regular schedule by custodians
  • All classrooms will be deep cleaned after students are dismissed from school by the district custodial staff.

2. What about cleaning all the technology that is used by students? Cleaning technology throughout the day will be required after each student use. The only shared technology is in the media center, business classroom, and journalism classrooms. The cleaning product will be bleach free but include alcohol and be safe for students. The school will provide the families with a written procedure and instructional video on how to clean the iPad devices at home on a daily basis.

3. What will the district use for cleaning? Only EPA-approved disinfectants will be used against the coronavirus. All the products that are used will be safe for students.

4. Will the buses be cleaned? Gould Bus Service will disinfect bus seats after each route

Infection Control Procedures for Specific Areas

1. Will hallway lockers be used? Hallway lockers will not be used in the JH-HS to start the school year. Students will need to carry all their materials in their book bags from class to class.

2. How will the school handle the use of water fountains? Students will be encouraged to bring their own individual water bottle for use with drinking water. All water fountains in the district will now have the touch-less fill option where students can fill their water bottle by simply pushing the bottle into the fountain. Cups will be provided for students that do not have a water bottle. Students will not be allowed to drink directly from any water fountain. Water bottles should be taken home and washed daily

3. Will bus service be offered? Yes, The school will work with Gould Transportation and families to determine the number of students that will be riding on a regular basis prior to school. Routes may need to be adjusted to ensure that no more than 50 individuals will be on any one bus. Students will be required to wear masks when on the bus.