Return to the 2021-22 School Year: Updated November 30, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued through the summer of 2020, the Northwest R-1 School District worked to create a “Return to School Plan” for 2020 that would allow students to physically and safely return to in-person learning while also offering a virtual option for families. The District created a Return to School Task Forces made up of over 150 staff members and received public input through stakeholder surveys from both staff and families. COVID-19 updates were also included in every public Board of Education meeting from March, 2020 to present day.
To accommodate social distancing, the 2020 plan included starting the year hybrid for secondary students and essentially creating an on-line school for elementary students that would help keep class sizes low enough to physically distance. The plan continued to be reviewed and adjusted throughout the school year based on current data, federal and local health guidance, as well as staff and community input. In addition, district administrators held staff ”listening sessions” at each school building multiple times throughout the school year. Based on the latest information available at the time, adjustments were made throughout the year to allow for more students to return in person each quarter and we began reducing mitigation strategies in the latter part of the school year. Any adjustments to the original plan were communicated with monthly letters and social media.
The Northwest R-1 School District and school districts around the country learned throughout the pandemic that every plan needed to be flexible and adjusted throughout the year. Based on what we have learned with our current local and national trends, and most importantly, what is happening in our school community, the Northwest R-1 School District plans to begin the 2021-22 school year as normal as possible with a traditional five day week and the following updated guidance and mitigation strategies:
- FACE COVERINGS:
- While optional, masks are highly recommended for staff and students not fully vaccinated.
- Masks will be made available to all students and staff.
- There may be a possible return to a mask requirement if high levels of transmission are identified in a school/classroom setting.
- Masks are required while on school buses per a federal order:
“School Buses – Masks Required per CDC Order Per a federal order issued by the CDC, masks are required on public and private school buses and other forms of public transportation for both passengers and drivers.Learn more here, including the applicable exclusions and exemptions. Per this CDC order, if a student attends a school where mask use is not required due to vaccination status (e.g., a high school with a high rate of vaccination), the student is still required to wear a mask on the school bus. Schools should provide masks to those students who need them (including on buses), such as students who forgot to bring their mask or whose families are unable to afford them. Neither LEAs nor LPHAs have discretion regarding this federal order.”
- “Missouri School Reopening & Operating Guidance” published by the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education & the Department of Health and Senior Services
- Why wear a mask?
- Reduce quarantines.
- Reduce transmission rates.
- Reduce days of missed school for students.
- Reduce days of missed work for parents and staff.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC agree that masks are essential in combating transmission of the virus.
- PHYSICAL DISTANCING, QUARANTINING & ISOLATING/EXCLUSION:
- Social distance to the extent possible with barriers or re-routing when applicable or necessary.
- Exclude students and/or employees who are “liable to transmit a contagious or infectious disease” in accordance with the Board of Education Policy 2860: Students with Communicable Diseases. Northwest employees will be subject to Section 4000 Policy 4820, Employees with Communicable Disease.
- Communicate quarantine guidelines provided by the Jefferson County Health Department. See (CDC Quarantine and Isolation Guidance and Jefferson County Health Dept. Guidance for K-12 Schools) Adjustments in quarantine requirements will be made for individuals if the current quarantine recommendations are not safe for students with disabilities. (CDC - Additional Considerations for K-12 Schools)
- HEALTH MONITORING AND HYGIENE PRACTICES:
- Ask staff, students and families to perform a symptoms checklist daily. If an individual is sick or demonstrating symptoms, he/she will be asked to stay home. Antigen testing will not be provided or available at schools.
- Continued education and practice of good hygiene, frequent hand washing and teaching respiratory etiquette that is consistent with CDC guidelines. (CDC Hand Washing and Respiratory Etiquette)
- Santizer and other supplies will be provided to staff and students.
- UNIVERSAL CLEANING AND MAINTAINING HEALTHY FACILITIES:
- Continued efforts to increase sanitization practices consistent with CDC guidelines.
- Continued efforts to convert all water fountains to bottle fillers.
- VACCINATION EFFORTS:
- Vaccines are the highest mitigation strategy available.
- The district has provided a Public Service Announcement for receiving the vaccine, provided vaccination clinics, and informed the community of regional vaccination opportunities.
- Vaccinated individuals not showing symptoms will not have to quarantine if exposed or if identified as a close contact.
- CONTINUITY of EDUCATIONAL SERVICES:
- A virtual school option available for all students.
- An alternative method of learning plan in place in the case of a building or classroom closure.
- An alternative method of learning plan in place for students who are required to isolate or quarantine. This may include virtually connecting to a classroom or homebound instruction.
- Accommodations as necessary or as mandated by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
The plan and procedures listed above will be periodically reviewed and revised when necessary. Updates will be provided to the community via letters, social media, and public Board of Education meetings throughout the school year.
Supporting Students through the Use of Additional Federal Funds:
During the 2020-2021 school year, the availability of Federal CARES Act and ESSER funds provided budget stability and covered $2.8 million of expenses for additional staff, supplies, technology and programs related to COVID-19.
Recognizing that more federal funds may become available, district administration engaged in a process of “listening sessions” with school staff to discuss future needs regarding COVID-19 and unfinished learning to support staff and students. Through this process, there have been several instructional and support positions identified for the 2021-2022 school year.
The positions include:
- additional teachers for class size management.
- math and reading instructional coaches.
- math and reading interventionist.
- elementary administrative interns.
Additionally, there were new programs and additional professional development needs identified. While iReady assessments will be used as a diagnostic tool for monitoring student growth and learning, additional instructional components will be added such as Standards Mastery, MyPath, and a Teacher’s Toolbox. These add-on components will assist teachers in responding to students' academic needs. Because these new positions, programs, and professional development will initially be supported by $3.5 million in Federal ESSER funds, they will need to be assessed and monitored yearly for impact and sustainability.
In addition to the initial support from federal funds, it is anticipated that a third round of federal funds, the American Rescue Act, will be provided to schools to assist with COVID related expenses and address learning loss or other student related needs. The Northwest R-1 School District will continue to allocate these resources for additional staffing and learning tools to support its students and staff. We will continue to monitor and review the progress and periodically adjust resource allocation as needed.
If you would like to provide any comments or feedback regarding the “Return to School 2021-22” information, please email comments to email@example.com.