GCSD 21-22 Reopening Plan Summary

GCSD 21-22 Reopening Plan Summary
Posted on 08/05/2021

GCSD 2021-22 Reopening Plan Summary

Message from the Superintendent

The Number One priority of the Georgetown County School District is to safely restart education for the 2021-22 school year using the best and most appropriate models for learning.  The plan described in this document is the result of a collaboration of staff, stakeholders and health and safety professionals.  Local, state and national resources were consulted, including the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Surveys were conducted to solicit input from parents, students and staff about the use of plexiglass barriers and the schools’ bell schedule.  The options offered were developed with the goals of meeting students’ academic, social and emotional needs without compromising the health and safety of students and staff.  As with the previous school year, we will remain flexible and make adjustments as required by changes in health and medical conditions and guidelines.

I would like to express my appreciation to all of our stakeholders for their contributions in crafting this plan.  I would also like to thank our Board of Education for their support and guidance throughout this process.  Working together, I am confident there is no challenge we can’t meet.

STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

The State Department of Education required all school districts in South Carolina to submit a written plan detailing how reopening for 2021-22 would take place.  GCSD’s Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan included the following:

  1. Use of masks
  2. Modifying facilities for physical distancing
  3. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
  4. Contact tracing
  5. Accommodations for children with disabilities
  6. Public input

The complete plan, which is revised regularly to comply with the latest directives and guidelines, can be found on the GCSD website at www.gcsd.k12.sc.us.

 

2021-2022 SCHOOL CALENDAR

The 2020-2021 School Calendar is located at the end of this document and can also be found on the GCSD website at www.gcsd.k12.sc.us.

2021-2022 BELL SCHEDULE

Elementary Schools instructional time will run from 7:30 am – 2:00 pm.  Waccamaw Intermediate School’s instructional time will be 7:30 am – 2:15 pm.  All Elementary/Intermediate schools will open for student drop off at 7:00 am, and will remain open after school until 3:00 pm for student pickup.

Middle and High Schools instructional time will be 8:30 am – 3:30 pm.  These schools will open at 7:30 am for student drop off and remain open until 4:00 pm for student pickup.

HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS

GCSD will follow DHEC guidance that is based on what is currently known about COVID-19.

Facilities

  • Exterior and interior signage guidelines will be posted throughout the building that clearly display DHEC and CDC specific protocols.
  • Increase signage will be posted regarding hygiene and social distancing.
  • Floor markings with directional traffic flow arrows and spacing will be clearly displayed.
  • Approximate Classroom Dimensions: (32’x 24.5’) – 784 Square Feet
  • Classrooms will maintain at least three feet of distance to the extent possible between each person depending on the layout and design of the classroom.
  • Plexiglass barriers will be available for students upon parent request.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms.
  • Use of Clorox 360 Machine (Electrostatic Sprayer) to disinfect classrooms, restrooms, and other high traffic areas daily.
  • Water fountains are disabled and are supplemented with hydration (bottle filling) stations.

Students or staff with symptoms of COVID-19

Students and staff should be excluded from school if they have any one of the following with or without fever:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – or –
  • Loss of taste or smell – or –
  • New or worsening cough

If these symptoms are explainable by an underlying condition (such as shortness of breath for an individual with asthma) exclusion may not be necessary.

Schools will have a room identified to isolate students or staff with symptoms of COVID-19 identified during the school day.

  • Students and staff should be moved safely and respectfully, as well as in accordance with any applicable privacy laws or regulations, to the isolation room for evaluation. The individual will be provided a mask if he or she is able to use one, and students should be supervised by a staff member who maintains at least six feet of distance and uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) if available.
  • School nurses and other healthcare providers should use Standard and Transmission- Based Precautions when caring for sick people.

Return to school

• Advise sick staff members and children not to return until they have met criteria for return.

• Students or staff excluded for these symptoms can return if: 

o They either test negative for COVID-19 using an antigen test or PCR test (mouth or nose swab or saliva test) or similar test that directly detects the virus    - or - 

o A medical evaluation determines that their symptoms were more likely due to another cause (e.g. asthma exacerbation, strep throat, etc.). In this latter case, the individual can return when they meet criteria for that condition. A doctor’s note should be provided that asserts the individual is clear to return to school based on a more likely diagnosis that requires no further exclusion or states the return criteria based on some other exclusion. – or –

o Students or staff with the above excludable symptoms who do not have a negative antigen, PCR or similar test or do not have a more likely cause for their symptoms, must complete the current isolation criteria for COVID-19 to return to school.

• Current isolation criteria for COVID-19 (for those who test positive for the COVID19 virus or have excludable symptoms but no testing or more likely cause):

o Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 (PCR or antigen test) and persons with symptoms of COVID-19 (see list above) who do not get tested, should isolate until:

▪ Ten (10) days* have passed since symptoms started - and –

▪ Twenty-four (24) hours have passed since last fever without taking medicine to reduce fever - and –

▪ Overall improvement in symptoms.

o Those who test positive by an antigen, PCR (mouth or throat swab) or similar viral test but do not have symptoms will be required to stay out of school until ten (10) days* after the specimen was collected.

▪ *Note: some people may be required to extend the isolation period to twenty (20) days. Their doctor will need to determine if this is necessary.

o The criteria above should be used to determine eligibility to return to school. Negative PCR test results are not required nor recommended after meeting these criteria.

Cases in classroom

Students or staff members who test positive could have been contagious with the virus up to 48 hours before their symptoms began. Staff will work to ensure maximum distancing between students and other staff to the extent possible while in the classroom and throughout the day to limit the possibility of transmission. Mask usage among students and staff is not mandated, but encouraged. Routinely using these precautions will help avoid needing to quarantine all classroom contacts of persons with COVID-19.

  • Classroom contacts with a known COVID-19 case should remain together in the same cohort to the extent possible. They should receive screening for fever and symptoms (see above) each morning until 14 days after last contact with the case.
  • Anyone identified as a classroom contact of a case who has symptoms of COVID-19 should be sent home and will be required to be tested and cleared before returning to school.
  • The classroom will be closed for cleaning and disinfection before being reoccupied.

Quarantine

Some students or staff may have been told they were a close contact to a known (confirmed/probable) case of COVID-19 and have to complete a quarantine period. This means they are required to be excluded from school and stay home so they do not risk exposing others to COVID-19 if they become sick. For students or staff identified as close contacts, DHEC staff will work with schools to provide information on when the quarantine period for these individuals will end. 

CDC and DHEC provide guidance on quarantine recommendations. The standard quarantine period remains up to fourteen (14) days after last contact with the person while they were contagious with COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people and people verified to have been infected with COVID-19 within the previous 90 days and do not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms.

• Household contact: If the child or staff member lives in the same household as a known case, their quarantine period begins on the date their household member has been cleared from their isolation period. If they are not a caretaker of the household member who is sick and can separate themselves into their own space in the home, their quarantine period begins the day that they had their last close contact with the ill person. 

• Other close contact: If a child or staff member has been told they are a close contact to a known case of COVID-19, their quarantine period begins the day they had their last close contact with the case. If they have an additional close contact during their quarantine period (such as another household member gets sick), they must begin another quarantine period.

• Quarantine period: The standard quarantine period after close contact with someone contagious with COVID-19 is up to fourteen (14) days.

Guidelines for families, teachers, staff, and students

Screening at Home

  • Families are recommended to take temperatures daily before going to school. Anyone with a fever of 100 F or higher should not go to a school site.
  • Students and adults should also screen themselves for respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath prior to coming to school each day. Students and adults experiencing those symptoms should not attend school.

Physical Distancing

To maintain physical distance, schools will have a different appearance.  Classrooms will maintain at least three feet of distance to the extent possible between each person depending on the layout and design of the classroom.  Plexiglass barriers will be available upon parental request.   Some activities may be modified, and parent/visitor access may be limited dependent on current public health guidance and local conditions.

Cloth Face Coverings (Masks)

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended universal masking for all individuals in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.  The South Carolina General Assembly has adopted a budget measure that prevents school districts from requiring face coverings in educational facilities.  The State Department of Education has provided guidance that states while the use of face coverings may be encouraged in accordance with public health recommendations, S.C. public schools will not be adopting the CDC’s recommendations for required mask use.  SCDE has stated districts may decide on mask use on buses.  GCSD will encourage the use of masks in its facilities and on buses, but will not mandate use. Masks will be available for students and staff upon request.

Plexiglass barriers

The CDC and DHEC have removed references to the use of plexiglass barriers from its guidance, however GCSD recognizes some parents may still prefer this option for their student.  GCSD will have plexiglass barriers available at all schools for use upon receipt of written parental requests.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL HEALTH

Meeting the social-emotional and mental health needs of students and staff returning to school (whether face-to-face or virtual) must be addressed. Training and support will be provided to teachers so that we can effectively create learning centered and culturally responsive classrooms that build relationships and create foundations for academic learning to take place.

TRANSPORTATION

  • School Bus Procedures
    • Buses are filled up to 67% capacity for each route.
    • Drivers will be given a diagram of the seating chart as recommended by the CDC guidelines.
    • Social distancing guidelines will be followed to the extent possible for loading and unloading procedures.
    • Students will not be allowed to sit in the first row on each side for driver safety.
    • Seating family members together will be acceptable.
    • Bus monitors will be used to the extent possible to assist with social distancing recommendations.
    • Buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily between routes.
  • Establish a staggered two tier schedule.
    • Arrival
      • First tier – Elementary (7 AM – 7:20 AM) Start time 7:30 AM
      • Second tier – Middle / High (8:00 AM – 8:20 AM) Start time 8:30 AM
    • Dismissal
      • First tier – Elementary (2:00 PM)
      • Second tier – Middle / High (3:30 PM)

FOOD SERVICE  Students in school will have meals served either in the cafeteria, in the classroom, or on a rotating schedule between the two locations dependent upon the enrollment of the school and the cafeteria seating available while observing social distancing requirements to the extent possible.

 

ATHLETICS  School athletic programs are governed by the South Carolina High School League along with guidelines and restrictions as set forth by the National Federation of High Schools, the CDC and DHEC. 

  • All athletes must have a completed GCSD pre-participation packet on file.
  • Coaches and athletic staff will participate in training on health and safety procedures and guidelines.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained to the extent possible.
  • Individuals should bring a personal water bottle to each workout.
  • Frequent washing of hands and practicing good hygiene will be stressed, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces.
  • Times for starting and ending workouts may be staggered among multiple sports teams to avoid having large numbers of athletes in the same location at the same time.
  • Facilities and shared equipment will be sanitized frequently during each event.
  • Additional guidelines specific for each sport will be implemented as new or updated guidance from public health authorities is received.

STATE MANDATED TESTING The state of South Carolina has mandated that certain assessments and tests be given to all students in a face-to-face format and be proctored by teachers or other GCSD employees.  Some pre-assessments for K-9 students must be conducted during the first 10 days of school. Health and safety measures will be in place at each testing site and on buses for those requiring transportation.

COMMUNICATION  GCSD will use multiple platforms to communicate with parents and students prior to the beginning of, and throughout the new school year.  These include letters, email, social media, calendars, Back to School events and the district website.

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