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    Pandemic Operating Plan

    SARS-CoV-2 Virus (COVID-19)

    A Guide for Staff, Teachers & Parents/Guardians

    UPDATE:
    On May 11, 2021, the West Ada Board of Trustees voted to make face coverings (masks) optional for outdoor activities (before school, after school, recess, lunch, physical education, outdoor classroom activities, etc.).
    The board also approved that, during the summer months, face coverings (masks) will be optional for all school district activities, including summer school, summer intervention programs, and extra- curricular activities.
    The West Ada School District Administration and Trustees will determine mask requirements/expectations for the 2021-2022 school year during a board meeting prior to the new school year. It is the intent of the District to be mask optional for the 21-22 school year, as long as student safety can be met.
    The action on May 11 means that any references to outdoor mask wearing protocol referenced in this plan are no longer in effect.

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.

     

    West Ada School District Board of Trustees 

    • Ed Klopfenstein – Trustee – Zone 1 
    • Amy Johnson – Trustee – Zone 2 
    • Sheena Buffi – Trustee – Zone 3 
    • Rene Ozuna – Trustee – Zone 5 

    West Ada School District Executive Team 

    • Superintendent – Dr. MaryAnn Ranells 
    • Assistant Superintendent of Operations – Joe Yochum 
    • Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning – Bret Heller 
    • North Region Director – Geoff Stands 
    • South Region Director – Dr. Mandy White 
    • East Region Director – Marcus Myers 
    • West Region Director – David Moser 
    • Director of Curriculum & Instruction – Dr. Dustin Barrett 
    • Chief Human Resources Officer – David Roberts 
    • Chief Financial Officer – Jonathan Gillen 
    • Chief Technology Officer – Devan Delashmutt 
    • Chief Communication Officer – Char Jackson 

    West Ada School District COVID-19 Task Force 

    • West Ada School District Executive Team 
    • Tracey Garner – Health Services Supervisor 
    • Staci Low – Director of Career & Technical Education 
    • Cara Hinkson – Coordinator of Gifted & Talented, World Language and Fine Arts 
    • Ian Updike – Transportation Liaison 
    • Jeff Dodds – Data System Administrator 
    • Eric Thies – West Ada Education Association President 
    • Jason Warr – District Activities Director 
    • Ramona Lee – Director of Special Services 
    • Denise Shumway – Director of Federal Programs 
    • Jessica Hild – Supervisor - School Nutrition Services 
    • Spencer Mclean – Administrator of Buildings & Grounds 
    • Cheri Newbold – Clerk of the Board 
    • Cliff Rice – Principal 
    • Kacey Schneidt – Principal 
    • Jill Lilienkamp – Principal 
    • Kevin Leishman – Principal 
    • Susan McInerney – Principal 
    • Buffy Roberts – Principal 
    • James Buschine – Principal 
    • Derek Bub – Principal 
    • Scot Montoya – Principal 
    • John Labbe – Principal 
    • Matt Genetti – Principal 
    • Kelly Davies – Principal 
    • Rhonda Mcdonough – Principal 
    • Amy Senethavilay – Principal 

     

Pandemic Operating Plan - Section 1

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: and asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

    Mask/Face CoveringProper 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 alone 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. During quarantine students may be able to attend school. This only applies if your child is identified as a close contact to a positive individual and it happened in the classroom setting and your child and the positive case were consistently wearing a mask covering the nose and mouth. If this option is available your child’s school will give you further information on eating lunch, and any other safety protocols your student may need to follow while at school.  https://cdhd.idaho.gov/pdfs/cd/Coronavirus/Resource%20Docs/schools/2021/School-Quarantine-CDH-Position.pdf

    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:

  • The West Ada School District and the Board of Trustees want all students to return to full-time, in-person learning as soon as we can operationally do so safely.  The pandemic operation plan sets some very high standards that we know we may not be able to consistently reach, but we will always seek ways to meet those expectations.  Additionally, this plan will inevitably change as we continue to learn more about the virus or when a vaccine becomes readily available.

    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 corrctly, 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.

    However, in situations where six (6) feet of physical distancing is not possible, other mitigating measures are being used including but not limited to:   

    • use of pods within the classroom at elementary.  
    • plexiglass barriers on desks.  
    • mandatory seating charts.  
    • modified pod concept at secondary schools to minimize close contacts.  
    • Creating designated teacher “protected spaces” within the classroom. 
    • Additionally, all buildings have implemented increased focus on handwashing and hand sanitizing, enhanced cleaning, and disinfecting, required face masks. 

    Wearing a proper face mask correctly 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 transition to remote learning. The length of the 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:
      • Daily in-person instruction with remote learning Mondays.

     

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 are 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 correctly. 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.
      • Impact of virus on community – Idaho Health and Welfare cases per 100,000 and impact on local resources
      • Overall impact of virus on West Ada – cases per 100,000 by district/level
      • Number of positive cases - student and staff
      • Impact on Students - quarantines due to COVID-19 and overall student absences
      • Impact on Staff - quarantines due to COVID-19 and overall staff absences
      • Extent of the exposure risk
      • Case surveillance - distinct/cluster/outbreakDistrict 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.  

        Process

        The information detailed below is the general process that is used when making decisions regarding the potential transition of a classroom/program/school to remote learning.  Each decision is situationally specific and the process and conversations that lead to the decision may deviate from this general process.  Ultimately, the superintendent has the authority to transition a school/classroom/program to remote.

        School operation decisions will be based upon an in-depth review of the school’s last 14 days positive cases in conjunction with a review of the data provided on the West Ada School District COVID-19 Leadership Dashboard.  The West Ada School District COVID-19 Leadership Dashboard includes 7 data points that are used for decision making:

      The general process that will be used when there is a concern regarding a school/classroom/program will be as follows:

      1. A meeting to determine if there is a need for an operational response is initiated (there are two scenarios in which this happens):

    a. There are three identified positive cases at elementary or five identified positive cases at middle/high school in which contact tracing is becoming difficult. In this situation, building principal will be contacted directly by health services to schedule a meeting. Health services supervisor will also contact building principal directly should a ‘red’ level of concern be identified on the data dashboard (Items 2-7). The Team also considers the trend (upward or downward) of positive cases within the past week.

    b. Building Principal can initiate a meeting based on concerns and current information by contacting their region director (i.e., Principal/Admin Team are concerned about the number of unfilled subs and are not able to operate school safely).

      1. Team for the initial meeting includes (building principal, asst. principals if applicable, Health Services Supervisor, Chief Communication Officer, specific region director, and the school nurse.)
      2. Meeting is collaborative investigation of recent positive tests, exposures, and close contacts.
        • The team is looking for commonality and trends to identify numbers of staff/students who need to be quarantined. 
        • These numbers may precipitate further steps including placing students/staff in isolation, communication with staff/parents, or transitioning a classroom/department/school to remote. 
        • 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.
      1. If the data and investigation conclude that the school may need to transition to remote learning, an additional meeting will be conducted that includes the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning and superintendent.
      2. The timeline for the process to complete will vary based on level of severity and complexity of the investigation. The level of severity also determines the amount of time it takes to schedule the initial meeting. Typically, meetings are scheduled less than one school day from the time of request. The meeting itself can range from 20 mins to 60 minutes.  Follow up meetings are typically shorter.  
      3. When a decision has been made to transition an entire school to remote, the following communication process will be followed (individual identified in parentheses is responsible for sending that communication):
      • Notify the Chairman of the Board and Trustees (Superintendent)
      • Principal and Region Director will Coordinate communication with Communication Department.
      • Communication at a minimum will be sent to:
        • Building Staff (Building Principal) sent simultaneously with parent communication
        • Parents and Students (Black Board via Communication Department)
        • Transportation/Ian Updike (Region Director)
        • Food Services/Jessica Hild (Region Director)
        • CTE/Staci Low (Region Director)
        • District AD/Jason Warr (Region Director)
        • Region Schools (Region Director)
        • SRO Supervisor (Region Director)
      • Items to include in communication:
        • Include specific reason for moving to remote, i.e. outbreak of virus, operational stress, etc.
        • Specific timeline for closure
        • Impact on extracurricular and co-curricular activities
        • Impact on traveling students (specific instructions for bussing and shuttles)
      1. When a decision has been made to transition an individual classroom or program to remote, the following communication process will be followed (individual identified in parentheses is responsible for sending that communication):
      • Communication will need to be sent to:
        • Building Staff (principal sends communication) send simultaneously with parent communication to those specific parents impacted by the decision.
        • Parents and Students in the affected classroom or program (Building Principal)
        • Transportation/Ian Updike (Region Director)
      • Items to include in communication:
        • Include specific reason for moving to remote, i.e. outbreak of virus, operational stress, etc.
        • Specific timeline for remote learning
        • Impact on extracurricular and co-curricular activities
        • Impact on traveling students (specific instructions for bussing and shuttles)

       

      See Reference VII on Page 28-29 for additional detail.

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