• *This is a DRAFT of the plan that will be presented to the Board of Trustees
    during the December 8, 2020 board meeting.

    West Ada School District Logo
    DRAFT - Pandemic Operating Plan

    SARS-CoV-2 Virus

    A Guide for Staff, Teachers & Parents/Guardians

Acknowledgement:

  • This plan was written in collaboration between West Ada School District Administration and Dr. David Pate.  His guidance and has been instrumental in this process.

    Additionally, this document was reviewed by Dr. James Souza, Dr. David Peterman, Dr. Mark Nassir and Dr. Steven Nemerson.

    The West Ada School District would like to formally thank all these individuals for their time, their guidance and assistance on this document.

Definitions of Pandemic Language

  • Close Contact: An encounter with a COVID-19 infected individual who was within 6-feet for longer than 15 cumulative minutes within a 24-hour period. Fifteen cumulative minutes is a measure to define more than casual contact. Could also include hugging, personal safety assist (MANDT) hold, sharing drinks/food. Note that wearing a mask, while important, does not remove someone from being identified as a close contact.

    Cluster: Two or more COVID-19 positive individuals within a defined group; classroom, pod, team, within a 14-day period. The cluster remains distinct (not creating additional spread outside the cluster).

    Contact Tracing:  Process of identification of persons who may have come into close contact with a COVID-19 infected person and subsequent information about these contacts.  Contact tracing helps protect the individuals, their family, the school community and the community at large by; letting people know they may be exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms, helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested, asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

    Mask/Face Covering: Proper face coverings can include cloth masks with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric, surgical masks, or gaiters with two fabric layers or that are folded over to make two layers. Masks with an exhalation valve or vent are not appropriate face coverings because they allow virus to escape through the mask. A face shield is not an acceptable face covering, except in very limited situations as approved by the building principal in collaboration with health services office and region director.

    Physical Distancing: Maintaining six (6) feet of distance from other individuals.

    Pod:  Independently spaced groups of students (ideally limited to 2-4 students) that are seated together in a classroom, not physically distanced from each other.  The goal of the pod is to keep each individual pod physically distanced from the other pods in the classroom to limit the number of students that must quarantine in the event of an infection.

    Quarantine/Isolation: A person testing positive for COVID-19 will isolate at home to avoid further exposure of others to the virus according to the CDC and public health guidelines. Close contacts will be instructed to quarantine at home and avoid contacts in the event they subsequently become infected over the virus’ 14-day incubation period.

    School Outbreak: Three or more clusters within a school within a 14-day period. The clusters remain distinct.  

    Widespread School Outbreak: Three or more clusters within a school within a 14-day period and in which the cases have merged to become indistinct and/or five percent or more unrelated staff, teachers and/or students within a school have confirmed COVID-19 who are close contacts within the school setting, with onset within 14 days of each other.  One key indicator of a widespread school outbreak is the inability to conduct contact tracing as cases and/or clusters become indistinct and begin to merge.

Introduction:

  • Throughout the plan you will consistently see the reference to three primary mitigating measures that are important to safely conducting in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures are maintaining six (6) feet of distance from one another, wearing proper face masks properly, and washing/sanitizing your hands frequently.

    As a school district, it is important to remember that our plan, while focused on the health and safety of everyone in our district community, it is ultimately the plan for operations in an educational setting and with education as the continued primary objective.

    We have asked building leadership teams to do the best they possibly can - this is not going to be perfect. Six (6) feet of physical distancing will continue to be the goal, but being very realistic, we are not going to solve that issue in every building, and every classroom, and in every situation.

    Wearing a proper face mask properly and washing or sanitizing your hands frequently is even more important when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Our district leadership and the building leadership teams at each school are committed to continuing to work toward solutions and areas of improvement in the implementation of the health and safety guidance. Our district is working with medical experts in the community to develop a robust process to audit our school building plans and processes to identify areas where implementation can be improved or become more consistent.

    The data in terms of virus transmission in our schools continue to show that the mitigating measures that have already been implemented are largely working and that our in-person learning operations are not consistently and significantly contributing to the spread of the virus in the community at large, but rather, the vast majority of cases we are identifying in our schools were staff, teachers and students infected in their homes by another family member or at gatherings outside of school.

    We encourage the staff throughout the district to do everything they can to physically distance themselves from other adults, and not just students, during the day. Six (6) feet of physical distancing between adults is something that can consistently be accomplished at all sites.

    As detailed below, unless there are school outbreaks throughout the school district, our response and decision to move to remote learning will be specific to the circumstances of the clusters and positive case information within the specific school, program, classroom and/or pod.

    The board of trustees has given the Superintendent the authority to make decisions regarding when an individual classroom, program or school may need to shut down and transition to remote learning. The length of the shut down and remote learning period will be determined based on the specific circumstances of the specific situation.

    In terms of daily in-person learning opportunities, our school board has approved the following:

    • Grades Preschool-5 School Operations:
      • Daily in-person instruction with early-release Mondays.
    • Grades 6-12 School Operations:
      • Hybrid/Alternating day in-person instruction with remote learning Mondays.
      • Team 1 and 2 – Participate in Remote Learning on Monday
      • Team 1 attends in-person on Tuesday and Thursday
        • Team 2 attends/engages in Remote Learning on Tuesday and Thursday
      • Team 2 attends in-person on Wednesday and Friday
        • Team 1 attends/engages in Remote Learning on Wednesday and Friday


    West Ada School District will begin the process of considering daily in-person learning in grades 6-12 when the following criteria have been met.

     

    Criteria for middle school students to return for full, in-person classes:

    1. 4th and 5th grades have been successfully returned for full, in-person classes for one month with successful physical distancing verified on walk-throughs, and no clusters or outbreaks have occurred in 30 days.
    2. No history of outbreaks at any middle school while in hybrid.
    3. No history of clusters at any middle school while in hybrid, or if there have been clusters, the operating plan has been adjusted to mitigate any future risk, or the activity associated with causing the cluster has been paused.
    4. All middle school classes at all middle schools have been able to demonstrate successful physical distancing while in hybrid for all activities, including meals, and this has been confirmed on walk-throughs.
    5. Principals have reviewed with each teacher the incremental numbers of students that would be present with a return of all students for full, daily in-person classes, and the teacher can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the principal, a plan that allows for physical distancing at all times during the school day.

    Criteria for high school students to return for full, in-person classes:

    1. Middle Schools have been successfully returned for full, in-person classes for one month with successful physical distancing verified on walk-throughs, and no clusters or outbreaks have occurred in 30 days.
    2. No history of outbreaks at any high school while in hybrid.
    3. No history of clusters at any high school while in hybrid, or if there have been clusters, the operating plan has been adjusted to mitigate any future risk, or the activity associated with causing the cluster has been paused.
    4. All high school classes at all high schools have been able to demonstrate successful physical distancing while in hybrid for all activities, including meals, and this has been confirmed on walk-throughs.
    5. Principals have reviewed with each teacher the incremental numbers of students that would be present with a return of all students for full, daily in-person classes, and the teacher can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the principal, a plan that allows for physical distancing at all times during the school day.

Framework for Decision Making

  • Our decision-making process utilizes information from the Idaho Back to School Framework and Central District Health Guidance for Schools.

    Additionally, and most importantly our decision-making framework is based on what is happening in our individual schools in terms of virus transmission, positive cases, quarantine/isolation, student and staff absences, and an ongoing and regular audit of our individual schools compliance with operational health and safety plans. The West Ada School District data dashboard provides stakeholders with school specific information and will assist district administration in decision making

    Considerations:

    • As professional educators, we know the importance of in-person learning, especially for our younger students and for those with special needs.
    • We believe the objective of our operational and safety plans should be the continued provision of in-person classes when safe for those parents who desire their children to receive in-person education.
    • Central District Health and several medical experts are pleased there is no consistent and significant evidence of infections being transmitted in schools that are requiring universal masking contributing to the level of community spread at this time. Rather, it is the community spread that is contributing to isolated and distinct cases of infection being identified in schools.
    • Our criteria require flexibility because transmission of this infection is not uniform throughout our schools.
    • It is inappropriate to have a criterion that may require the closure of all schools if some are operating safely and not contributing to community spread.
    • Individual schools, programs or classrooms may experience outbreaks requiring a pause for in-person instruction and a temporary move to remote learning.
    • Until the threat is better controlled, there will be isolated cases of COVID-19 in schools.
    • Criteria based on having zero cases is unreasonable.

    Decision Making Process:

    Key to continued operational success and safety for our staff, teachers and students is the ability to recognize COVID-19 cases promptly, isolate them, conduct contact tracing to identify others who may have been in close contact, and ensure the person who is infected remains isolated, and close contacts quarantined, until it is safe for these persons to return to school based on the current public health guidelines.

    All schools, programs and classrooms will continue utilizing health and safety protocols and mitigating measures. Our focus will be on hand washing, physical distancing and wearing proper face masks properly. We are aware that some classes in some schools are challenged with implementing effective distancing. Our focus will be on identifying those classrooms that are unable to physically distance and problem-solve as to how to achieve adequate distancing.

    • Use positive case and cluster data within individual schools, programs, and classrooms to inform operational response and update or revise our pandemic operations plan.
    • Unless there are school outbreaks throughout the school district, our response will be specific to the circumstances of the clusters within the specific school, program, classroom and/or pod.
      • Program or classroom clusters are investigated by the school district in partnership with Central District Health. The investigation may result in a recommendation to pause the program or quarantine the classroom and move the program or classroom to remote learning.
      • A school outbreak is investigated by the school district in partnership with Central District Health. The investigation may result in a temporary pause of in-person classes and a move to remote learning for the school.
    • A widespread school outbreak is investigated by the school district in partnership with Central District Health. Specifically, an examination of clusters and/or outbreaks at other schools of the same level, with the same programs and/or in the same geographic area to determine whether steps need to be taken at those schools to avoid the development of a widespread outbreak. The investigation may result in a temporary pause of in-person classes and a move to remote learning for those schools.
    • Conduct contact tracing investigations to determine close contacts that need to quarantine/isolate.
    • Clusters and/or outbreaks in a school, program or classroom will be handled for that individual situation.
      • Investigation may result in a recommendation to quarantine/isolate the school, program or classroom and move to remote learning.
      • Outbreaks would precipitate an investigation by school district in partnership with Central District Health.
      • School outbreak would likely lead to a temporary pause of in-person learning and the transition to remote learning for that school.
    • District and building leadership conduct pandemic response collaborative investigations of recent positive tests, exposures, and close contacts of students and staff members. The investigation includes analyzing health and safety data commonality and trends at individual schools. The investigation also determines the ability of a school to safely continue operations. Safely continuing operations at a school includes but not limited to, staffing availability, student transportation, student supervision, and instructional viability. Individual school operational data may precipitate further steps including placing students/staff in isolation, additional communication with staff/parents and moving to remote only learning. These decisions may be at the classroom, department, team, activity, or entire school level.