2021-22 Keeping Schools Open Plan

2021-22 Keeping Schools Open Plan
Posted on 01/01/2022
back pack illustration with the words, "welcome back to school"

The health and safety of our students, staff, and families is our top priority. The 2021–22 District 51 “Keeping Schools Open Plan” was developed with guidance from Mesa County Public Health, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Governor’s office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education, and with input from families and staff members of the Mesa County Valley School District, local hospitals, Colorado Mesa University, and our community. 
With the guidance and support from the individuals and groups listed above, we were able to successfully open schools to in-person learning during the 2020–21 school year. The leadership and hard work displayed by our D51 staff, students, and families enabled us to be the largest district in the state of Colorado to open, and remain open, to in-person learning last year. Our main goal last year was to reopen schools to in-person learning in a safe way. This year, our main goals are to keep our schools open to in-person learning, continue to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff, and return to as much of a “normal” school year as possible.
Based on the above-mentioned guidance and feedback, D51 students in grades PreK-12 will continue with in-person learning five days a week with revised COVID-19 protocols in place. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our county on a regular basis and make changes where needed. D51 leadership is in constant communication with MCPH, and we will make adjustments to the “Keeping Schools Open Plan,” if needed. Depending on various factors surrounding COVID-19 in our community, this could mean reducing protocols/procedures or reintroducing protocols/procedures that were suspended. Some of the protocols/procedures that could be introduced/reinstated include requiring masks, routine testing of unvaccinated staff, previous quarantine measures for students and staff, amongst others.
We know that the pandemic is not over, especially in Mesa County. Our COVID-19 cases have risen in our county over the late spring and summer months, and the Delta Variant is very present in our community. That, coupled with lower vaccination rates in our county, require us to remain vigilant in our attempts to keep COVID-19 out of our schools and to prevent it from spreading when it is present. For the latest information on COVID-19 in Mesa County, please visit the MCPH COVID-19 Dashboard.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is completely voluntary for staff and students, data shows that fully vaccinated individuals are at a much lower risk of getting COVID-19, and the low number of vaccinated individuals who do contract COVID-19 usually have very mild symptoms. We are highly encouraging eligible staff and students to take advantage of receiving this free, safe vaccine. You can visit the MCPH vaccine site to sign up for a vaccine today. No appointment needed. Walk-ins accepted. The site also provides information on where the mobile vaccine clinics will be located. Not only does the vaccine help protect you and those around you, it can also keep you from potentially being quarantined throughout the school year.
We will continue to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites to our staff, students, families, and the community. You can find up-to-date information on where to get tested here. We will also partner with MCPH to offer mobile vaccine clinics throughout the district. Once again, the vaccine is totally voluntary, and children cannot receive a vaccine without parent/guardian permission.

2021–22 District 51 “Keeping Schools Open Plan” Protocols/Procedures
Face Coverings:

* CDC, CDPHE, and AAP recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to Pre-K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. District 51 highly recommends and strongly encourages all students and staff (regardless of vaccination status) to wear masks in our schools and facilities.

Staff may request students to wear a mask for short periods of time during the school day depending on the circumstance. Examples of this include if a teacher is working with students in a small group setting that doesn’t allow for proper distancing, in an office space that doesn’t allow for proper distancing, symptomatic students visiting the nurses office, etc.

* Harassment, shaming, or bullying of students for wearing or for not wearing masks will not be tolerated.

* Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose will be required on all Student Transportation of America buses, as required by federal order.

Quarantining (household contact, non-symptomatic):
* We will not be quarantining fully vaccinated, non-symptomatic students and staff.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the unvaccinated members of their household will be quarantined.
Isolation/Potential Isolation (symptomatic):
* Students or staff members who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked by MCPH to isolate for 5 days.

  • If symptoms are gone or are resolving, you may return to school on day 6.
  • You should continue wearing a mask for 5 additional days.
  • If feverish on day 5, you must stay home until symptom resolution

* In the event of receiving a subsequent negative test result after receiving a positive test result, students or staff will still be asked to isolate out of an abundance of caution. Negative results don't negate a positive test.
Regardless of vaccination status, students or staff who show symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 will be sent home for 5 days, but can return earlier with a resolution of symptoms and a negative COVID-19 test. 
Please click here for procedures to address positive cases, reduce the spread of the virus within our schools, testing and quarantines.
* Please click here for the flowchart that shows what happens when an individual displays at least one COVID-like symptom.
* We are evaluating classrooms serving severe needs (medically fragile) students & sending them to quarantine/remote learning after 1 case in the classroom, if needed.
If a classroom is required to wear masks due to a case in the classroom (elementary) or due to the school reaching 2% positivity (Pre-K-12), face coverings over the nose and mouth are required for students unless they cannot medically tolerate a face covering (a medical exemption required). Students who have a medical exemption, a return to school will be determined by a conversation between the parent/guardian and the school nurse to explore the level of risk.

* Classroom teachers will continue to have access to district-approved disinfectant supplies but will not be required to disinfect between classes.
Students and staff will continue to have access to hand sanitizer.
Regular, daily disinfection of schools and other district facilities by custodial staff will continue. * In the event of a COVID-19-positive individual entering a classroom or district facility, disinfecting machines will be used to ensure the space is safe for use.
* We will continue to increase the amount of outdoor air being pumped into district facilities and will continue to run ventilation systems longer than normal to produce increased amounts of fresh air within buildings.
Hand Hygiene:
* We will continue to encourage proper and frequent hand washing and disinfection throughout the school day.
* Visitors will continue to be allowed in district facilities.
Visitors to schools during school hours must wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status.
* CHSAA sponsored events will continue to follow CHSAA safety guidelines.
All non-CHSAA sponsored events will follow D51 and MCPH event guidelines.

What Happens When There's A Positive Case?
Elementary (including preschools):
Indoor classroom cohorts required.
When a student or staff member within a cohort tests positive for COVID, the COVID-positive individual will be isolated for 5 days.
After 1 positive case in a classroom cohort, other members of the classroom cohort will receive an exposure letter, we will monitor for symptoms, and all members of the classroom cohort (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will need to wear a mask for 10 days from the last day of contact with the positive case to avoid potential spread. Students and staff will not be quarantined.
After 5 positive cases within 14 days in a classroom cohort, the classroom cohort will be declared an outbreak, and all members of the classroom cohort will be quarantined. Fully vaccinated students and staff members will not have to quarantine and can teach remotely from their classroom. If the school reaches 2% student positivity that requires universal masking, this step will be suspended during the universal masking period after universal masking has begun.
Secondary (Middle/High School):
* When a student or staff member within a class tests positive for COVID, the COVID-positive individual will be isolated for 5 days.

* After 1 positive case in a class, other members of the class will receive an exposure letter and we will monitor for symptoms, but students and staff will not be quarantined.
* After 5 positive cases within 14 calendar days in a class, the class will be declared an outbreak, and all members of the class will be quarantined. Non-symptomatic, fully vaccinated students and staff will not be required to quarantine. If the school reaches 2% student positivity that requires universal masking, this step will be suspended during the universal masking period after universal masking has begun.

Additional Details of the 2021–22 District 51 “Keeping Schools Open Plan”

* Symptomatic students, staff, and families should not enter any D51 school or facility.
While the Daily Symptom Tracker will not return this school year, students, staff, and families are still encouraged to monitor their symptoms daily.
Whenever physical distancing is possible, it is still encouraged...especially if you are not fully vaccinated.
Cohorting at the elementary level will still be required.
Contact tracing will still occur throughout the district, and families of students who were in a classroom with an individual who was COVID-19-positive will be notified.
COVID attendance codes will still be entered daily as this data is valuable for us to be able to monitor COVID-19 levels throughout the district.
D51 employees will continue to have up to 2 weeks (80 hours for 40 hour/week employees) of leave if they must isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 as long as they have not used COVID Leave so far in 2021. To see full COVID Leave guidance for District 51 employees, click here. Employees can also avoid quarantine even if a member of their household tests positive for COVID-19 if they have proof of vaccination.
Remember, while the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t required for students or staff, FULLY VACCINATED STUDENTS AND STAFF WILL NOT HAVE TO QUARANTINE.

Online Learning Option
We highly encourage families to enroll their students in a D51 school for in-person learning as we know this is the most effective model for delivery of instruction for the majority of our students. But, we realize that in-person learning might not be the best option for your child. We have taken the D51 Online program from last year, reduced the size, and placed it under the umbrella of the Grand River Academy (GRA). If you are interested in having your child in GRA please visit the website for more information on how to enroll them.

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