CARMI-WHITE COUNTY CUSD #5
Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services
August 6, 2021
The Carmi-White County CUSD #5 is excited to welcome students back for face-to-face learning! We are proud that we successfully navigated the 2020-2021 school year by having students in attendance 5 days a week with no interruptions during the year. This was accomplished through the use of layered mitigation strategies and was successful due to the support of staff, students, parents, community, and the Egyptian Health Department. The specific layered strategies will be discussed below. The Unit #5 board of education and administration asks for everyone’s assistance as we prepare for the upcoming year and adhere to the layered strategies that will allow us to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.
Maintaining the Health and Safety of Students, Educators, and Other Staff
In accordance with the Illinois State Superintendent of Schools, the Carmi-White County CUSD #5 schools will be open fully for in-person learning for all student attendance days for the 2021-22 school year. Remote instruction will only be made available for students who are under quarantine as directed by the local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health. On August 4, 2021, Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order requiring increased COVID-19 mitigation measures in public and non-public schools serving pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students. These measures include a requirement for students and staff to wear face masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Illinois State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Carmen I. Ayala has stated that the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education will be issuing updated guidance to reflect the requirements of the Governor’s Order. The Governor’s Order includes the following:
1. Mask Use
According to Governor Pritzker’s mask mandate for P-12 schools issued on August 4, 2021, masking is no longer a local decision. All persons entering our schools will be required to wear a mask and/or face covering that covers the persons’ nose and mouth indoors until the governor’s order is discontinued. This is regardless of vaccination status.
Mask use is also recommended outdoors during activities (e.g., participating in outdoor play, recess, physical education, sports, extracurriculars) that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
Passengers and drivers are currently mandated to wear a mask on all forms of school transportation per the CDC. Therefore, students riding school transportation will be required to wear a mask while inside the vehicle.
2. Close Contact and Quarantine
This layered prevention strategy has been altered due to the mask mandate. For COVID-19, close contact is anyone who was within 3 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (the 20-21 school year guidance was 6 feet). It is our hope that this will greatly reduce the number of quarantines required for the upcoming school year.
Quarantine lengths for close contacts who are masked (anyone within 3 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) will be determined by the local and state health departments. Vaccinated students and adults who were a close contact, but remain asymptomatic do not have to quarantine, upon proof of vaccination.
3. Physical Distancing
To the extent possible within school and classroom structures, school staff are to help students commit to physical distancing as much as possible by:
providing assigned seating for students and encouraging students to remain in these seats to the greatest extent possible (in classrooms & lunchroom)
developing marked paths of travel in classrooms and corridors
4. Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette
School staff will monitor and reinforce frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette by
continuing to teach handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
assisting young children with handwashing
reminding everyone in the facility to wash hands frequently
using hand sanitizer
providing adequate handwashing and hand sanitizer supplies
continuing to teach respiratory etiquette (e.g., covering coughs and sneezes)
5. Facility and Transportation Cleaning, Disinfection and Ventilation
School custodial staff and transportation staff will continue to clean surfaces daily. To further reduce the risk of spreading infection, these staff will also use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency COVID-19 “List N” disinfectants to disinfect spaces occupied by someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours. Buildings will be fogged and desks wiped down on a daily basis.
Maintenance staff will continue to regularly replace school ventilation system filters by using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters where applicable. When possible, staff will open doors and windows and have activities, classes, or lunches outdoors when circumstances allow.
When it does not pose a safety risk, transportation staff will keep vehicle windows open at least a few inches to improve air circulation.
6. Contact Tracing in Combination with Isolation and Quarantine
Students and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and contact their healthcare provider for testing and care.
Individuals in our school environments who show symptoms of COVID-19 are to immediately report to or be escorted to the school’s health care professional’s office to be either sent home or be quarantined in the school’s supervised safe area while awaiting pickup/evaluation. Students and staff are required to wear masks while in the safe area. Parents should ensure that ill students are picked up from school within 30 minutes of being notified. Students who are ill will not be allowed to utilize the school bus to return home.
Students and staff who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine after a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people who were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 but do NOT have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested. Quarantine decisions will be made and communicated by Egyptian Health Department officials and/or the state’s surge center.
Student absences related to a COVID-19 isolation or quarantine will be recorded as excused. To ensure continuity of services, school work missed during such an absence can be requested and made up in accordance with the school’s policy (refer to student handbook); social, emotional, mental health, or other needs will be provided in accordance with a student’s IEP or 504 Plan. Parents of students who have social, emotional, mental health, or other needs outside of an IEP or 504 Plan should contact their child’s principal to discuss needs. Remote instruction will only be made available for non-vaccinated or vaccine ineligible students who are under quarantine as directed by the local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Absent COVID-related leave days previously provided by Federal law and staff absences related to a COVID-19 isolation or quarantine will be recorded in accordance with the district’s sick leave policy. To ensure continuity of services, staff members should contact their principals to discuss support for social, emotional, mental health, or other needs.
To the extent allowable by privacy laws and other applicable laws, school health care professionals will continue to collaborate with the Egyptian Health Department officials to confidentially provide information about people diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, including making notifications to staff and parents as soon as possible regarding those who were in close contact of someone in the school who tested positive for COVID-19.
The school’s health care professional will inform the school community of outbreaks while maintaining student and staff confidentiality rights.
Students and staff suspected of having COVID-19, whether they were tested or not, are to follow the CDC guidelines to determine when they can return to school.
7. Symptom Screening
Students will be symptom and temperature checked each morning upon entering the buildings. Symptomatic students will need to stay home for 48 hours without fever-reducing medication.
8. Vaccination Information
Respecting peoples’ varying levels of vaccine confidence, those who want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 can visit the Egyptian Health Department’s website at egyptian.org or vaccines.gov to find out where they can get vaccinated. You may want to first consult with your medical provider.
9. Disabilities or Other Health Care Needs
Parents of students who need accommodations, modifications, or assistance related to COVID-19 safety protocols, disabilities, underlying medical conditions, or weakened immune systems should contact their student’s principal and/or special education coordinator to discuss the need(s).
Staff members who need accommodations, modifications, or assistance related to COVID-19 safety protocols, disabilities, underlying medical conditions, weakened immune systems, or a sincerely held religious belief or practice (covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) should contact their school’s principal to discuss the need(s). Staff members with weakened immune systems are advised to contact their healthcare professional about the need for continued personal protective measures after vaccination.
Nonessential visitors and volunteers are discouraged from visiting schools.
11. Collaboration with Public Health Officials
District officials will continue to collaborate and consult with the Egyptian Health Department officials throughout the pandemic on various logistics and decision-making including, but not limited to, quarantines, school health and safety protocols, screening testing, contact tracing, vaccine clinics, layered prevention strategies, transmission rates, and emergency school closings.
12. Co-curricular/Extra-curricular Activities
At this time, all events and activities will follow their normal schedule. Indoor activities will require masking by participants and spectators, regardless of vaccination status.
13. COVID-19 Testing
If and when the school offers COVID-19 testing for students and staff, testing would not occur without parental consent.
14. Plan Review
Through September 30, 2023, this plan will be reviewed no less frequently than every six months and revised as appropriate after seeking and considering public input. Revisions will address the most recently updated safety recommendations by the CDC, provided in an alternative format accessible to parents who are individuals with a disability as defined by the ADA, and made publicly available on the district’s website.
Funds available through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act are provided to assist schools in reacting to the effects of COVID-19. The ARP requires that school districts develop a Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services. As such, this plan is being developed in accordance with the ARP Act and the Illinois State Superintendent of Education declaration of July 9, 2021; is aligned with guidance provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and addresses adjustments needed in response to evolving COVID-19 pandemic circumstances. Taking the public’s input into account, this plan will be finalized through meaningful consultation with a collaboration of students, parents, school and district administrators (including special education administrators), teachers, school staff, food service staff, transportation service staff, labor association leaders, and county health department officials. The opportunity for the public to provide input was provided from August 6-9 through a web-based comment platform. Upon request, this plan will be provided in an alternative format accessible to parents with disabilities as defined by the ADA. This plan will also be made publicly available on the district’s website. School strategies in this plan may be altered or removed based upon further requirements, local conditions, levels of community transmission (i.e., low, moderate, substantial, or high), local vaccine coverage, use of screening testing to detect cases in K-12 schools, and consultation with local public health officials to determine the prevention strategies needed. School officials will communicate any changes in plans to staff members, students, and parents through the district’s regular communication platforms.
It is our hope that this health crisis will subside and our students can return to a more normal school experience soon. Until then, we are excited to welcome them back and are looking forward to a great school year!
To Comment On This Plan