Safe School Learning Plan

Safe School Learning Plan 2021-22
Posted on 08/18/2021
Safe School Learning Plan 2021-22

COVID 19 placed schools, like all public sectors, during the 2020-2021 school year into a position not experienced before.  The district staff and administration worked hard to discern proper action that would result in a safe and effective educational environment, implement that plan, and remain flexible to respond as information and guidance changed.  While the plan was not perfect, innovative ideas did surface that allowed staff and students to make the best out of a difficult situation. 

Fast forward one year, where we now move into the 2021-2022 school year with a different approach.  The district staff and administration have once again worked to create a plan that is based upon the foundation of re-establishing a new norm for our students.  This plan acknowledges that COVID 19 and its variants have not gone away, while at the same time realizing that the best place for students is in the classroom, learning in person from their teachers and with their fellow students. Our district has learned many positives from reinventing education during the pandemic, we have also learned practices that did not help us to achieve our mission of “…providing all students with a world class educational foundation.”  In discerning the details of our Safe School Learning Plan we have moved forward with some basic underlying principles:

  1. Provide an environment in which students and staff are safe.
  2. Provide a learning environment that is most effective for the most students; in-person school.
  3. Provide a leadership model that allows for current information to be accessed, assessed, and utilized in making district wide decisions, is flexible enough to address change needs quickly, and is rooted in a “Students First” thought process.
  4. Apply a layered approach to virus protection that is effective while the least restrictive as possible.
  5. Aligns with requirements and recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
  6. Allows for as much parental decision making as possible in regards to their children’s health and education.

While no plan is perfect, we believe that the following plan addresses the current state of our schools and utilizes public feedback, in order to provide the best possible education for our students while adhering to the above planning principles.

2021-2022 Safe School Learning Plan

The Learning Model:

Montevideo Public Schools will be returning to school in 2021-2022 with full-time in-person instruction for all students.  This model does not provide for an online learning option with Montevideo Public School staff , however families that are in need of an “online learning” option due to health concerns/needs should contact their child’s building principal regarding the option of utilizing a district contracted service; STARRS Online Academy.  This online program is a minimum of one semester program provided through our regional Southwest West Central Service Cooperative member schools. 

District Strategies, Procedures, and Communication:

The district’s  layered approach to providing a safe school learning environment includes:

  • Increased classroom and building ventilation
  • Utilizing proper handwashing and/or hand sanitizer
  • Teaching and utilizing proper sneeze/cough etiquette
  • Implementing voluntary screening/testing
  • Maintaining 3 feet of distancing when feasible
  • Utilizing outdoor spaces when activity and weather allow
  • Contact tracing and communication by/from the district’s Community COVID Liaison.Communication tools include School Messenger, Email, Phone Calls, Social Media, and the Montevideo Public Schools website, as well as the local media to keep families informed.

Recommendations and Requirements:

The Minnesota Department of Health and Montevideo Public School District requires:

  • All riders on school buses wear properly fitted face coverings.

The Minnesota Department of Health and Montevideo Public School District recommends:

  • That all people ages 12 years and older, when possible, get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to in-person school, sports, or other activities.
  • Face coverings be utilized by all people over the age of 2 years of age present in a school building unless a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability prevent it.
  • A minimum of 3 feet of social distancing whenever possible.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home if they feel sick and should contact a healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated and returning to in-person school, sports, or extracurricular activities (and their families) should get tested regularly for COVID-19 according to CDC guidance.
  • Schools to increase ventilation, complete contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, handwashing, respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfection as important layers of prevention.

A Closer Look At:

Child Nutrition-Meals:

Meals will be available at school.  Students may also bring their lunches as in the past.  Meal services will be provided daily for students.  Where students eat will be determined at the building level, however most sites will be utilizing the cafeteria while trying to maintain the minimum social distancing recommendation.

Cleaning and Maintaining Healthy Facilities and Effective Use of HVAC:

The school district will use high air flow in classrooms to ensure high air quality through running HVAC systems at the maximum settings feasible.  Daily cleaning procedures, that allow for safe facilities, will be implemented. 

Quarantine Instruction:

Students who are in quarantine due to testing positive for COVID 19 or due to close contact with a positive case will have their educational program altered during the quarantine period.  The alternative delivery method will vary based upon learning level and teacher.  Once a student has been identified to enter into quarantine they and/or their parents will be contacted to be made aware of the delivery system.  This type of instruction is only available to students who are in quarantine processes.

Face Coverings:

While optional, wearing a face covering is recommended when in a Montevideo Public School facility.  Face coverings are required while on a school bus.

Please note, this recommendation does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to people with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering.

Field Trips:

Field trips may be scheduled throughout the school year where applicable.

Health Screening:

Daily health screenings are recommended.  Prior to coming to school each day a basic health screen of school age children is a practice that keeps everyone safe.  If students or staff don’t feel well, they should stay home until symptoms have subsided.  A health screening should answer the following questions:

1. Do you have ONE OR MORE of these symptoms?

☐ Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, ☐ Difficulty/hard time breathing,  ☐ New cough or a cough that gets worse, ☐ New loss of taste or smell

2. Do you have AT LEAST TWO of these symptoms?

☐ Sore throat,  ☐ Nausea, ☐ Vomiting,  ☐ Diarrhea, ☐ Chills, ☐ Muscle pain, ☐ Excessive fatigue/feels very tired, ☐ New severe/very bad headache, ☐ New nasal congestion/stuffy or runny nose

If the answer to either question is yes, students or staff should stay home until symptoms subside.  It is also recommended a COVID 19 test be completed prior to returning to school.  As in the past, children who are experiencing symptoms of an illness; whether it is flu, STREP, or COVID will be sent home.  Each building will maintain an isolation area for this purpose from where parents will pick up their child.

Quarantine, and Isolation:

The process for positive cases and close contacts are:

  • If a child or staff member tests positive for COVID, they will be expected to stay in isolation for 10 days.Household members identified as close contacts will be expected to quarantine for 10 days from point of last contact with the positive case OR 7 days if a test is completed between day 3-5 and the results of the test are negative.
  • Non-household member students identified as close contacts will be notified of potential exposure and informed of quarantine recommendations.
  • Close contacts who are fully vaccinated or have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days do not need to quarantine or test unless symptoms appear.

Vaccines:

While the determination on whether or not to get vaccinated for COVID 19 completely rests with the individual, Montevideo Public School’s administration recommends all staff and students ages 12 and up be vaccinated.

Visitors/Volunteers:

Visitors and volunteers must complete a health screening upon entrance of a school facility and should not come to a school facility if they are ill. 

Review of Plan

The Montevideo Public School District will continue to work with local public health to monitor our school health data and to make Safe School Learning Plan adjustments as necessary.

In closing, Montevideo Public School staff and administration are committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students.  COVID 19 and issues surrounding the virus have been exceptionally polarizing, therefore we are working hard to keep political and activist perspectives out of our decision making process.  We believe that it is important to acknowledge each individual’s right to hold a belief or perception and we ask everyone to respect the decisions and actions of others while together we strive to provide a safe environment in school for our students and staff.