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School reopening FAQs
School reopening FAQs
Chris Myers
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Please see the following FAQ sheet in regards to our return to school.   The items within this document have been developed with the considerations and advice of 19 plus entities including Palo Alto County Public Health, our School Boards as well as the Teacher Leadership Committee group.  This document by no means covers all things related to returning to school, but covers some of the questions people may have right now.  A more in-depth document will be forthcoming after a special board meeting next week. 

We know that people are stressed and concerned about students starting back to school.  While we work to protect everyone as well as educate children, we will be working closely together to do the best job possible.  Thank you for your support in this endeavor.  


The following document is designed to be a quick reference to how Graettinger-Terril and Ruthven-Ayrshire will have students and staff return to school on 24 August 2020. Things WILL change as the Covid-19 pandemic is a very fluid situation.  The items within this document are accurate as of 23 July 2020.  
 Palo Alto County Public Health is our regular, contracted partner that provides recommendations and guidelines for all things related to health in our schools. Therefore, they will provide their expertise and guidance in any situation involving Covid response. 
 
How will students be taught this year? 

-GT and RA administrative intent is that all students and staff will be returning to the classroom in person with mitigation procedures in place. 
 
● What is the most recent guidance from the State on students and staff wearing a mask? 

-The most recent guidance given to schools recommends the wearing of masks in places where social distancing is limited. 

What are the district policies regarding masking?  

-When and where it is possible, social distancing will be our choice.  The wearing of a mask is an additional mitigation effort to assist in a social distancing setting as well as when the ability to social distance is limited. 

-All individuals shall wear a mask when utilizing district transportation. Staff will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask and/or face shield at all times and will be required to do so in any location students have limited social distancing. 

-Students will be highly encouraged to wear a mask where social distancing is limited in other places such as passing time in the hallways, or some classrooms. This mask encouragement will be for ages 7 and older.   

-If a individual does not have access to a mask, one will be provided 
 
 
If a student or staff person tests positive for Covid-19, how long will they need to stay home? 

-This will be determined by your healthcare provider and/or Public Health.  Once a healthcare provider or Public Health clears the student or staff member to come back to school through a doctor’s  note or Public Health recommendation, then they will be able to return to school. 
  
 
What is the definition of a “fever”?   

-For the purposes of our school districts, a fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above.  

 ● If my child is sent home for a fever, how long must they stay home? 

-The school districts follow the guidance of Public Health.  Public Health advises that AT LEAST 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.  The district will use AT LEAST 36 hours.  This would mean that if a child was sent home with a fever on Monday, they should not return until at least Wednesday. 
 
What is the definition of “Exposure”?   

-Exposure is defined as 15 minutes or longer, closer than 6 feet (such as a car, small room) or living in a household with a person that tests positive for Covid-19. 
 
How do the school districts of GT and RA define “recommendations”? 

-A recommendation is guidance given to us as something we MAY follow.  A recommendation is NOT a mandate.   
 
My child has health issues that make them high risk.  May I request to keep my child at home? 

-The family may request to have a student attend virtually through synchronous learning.  The student would be required to complete all work and attend the class virtually.  
 
What will the school buildings be doing to clean and sanitize? 

-All guidance from Public Health and the CDC will be taken into account, and cleaning/sanitizing will be greatly increased from any past years.  The numbers and times of cleaning will be increased.  

-High traffic and learning areas such as restrooms and classrooms will receive increased attention throughout the day.   
 
Where will students be eating breakfast and lunch and how will that be conducted? ○ Students will eat in the lunchroom.  

-At the Elementary level, students will sit with their designated classrooms when eating their lunch.  This means, we will not commingle classrooms.  At the MS/HS, we will take advantage of space and times to eat.   In addition, there will be an increased effort to socially distance students as soon as they are finished eating.  

-The districts are also looking at staggering lunches, by spacing out when groups of students arrive. 

-At breakfast time, we will put as much space between students as is possible yet allowing family members to eat together.  
 

 ● May I come to eat with my child at breakfast or lunch? 

-At this time, we will not be allowing any visiting individuals into the lunchroom areas.  This includes parents.    
 
May I come and visit my child’s classroom? 

-If you were to have a reason to meet with the teacher about some matter, you will be asked to call ahead to set an appointment.  While school is in session, we will be restricting visitors.  Education partners, such as AEA, will be allowed to enter to conduct their tasks but only by following our protocols.  
 
In the past, you have allowed parents (or the designated care provider) to walk children to their classrooms in the morning.  Will this still be allowed? 

-We will not be allowing people to walk their children to the classroom in the mornings.  This goes back to restricting access to the building.  
 
Will students be required to gather in large groups in the school building this fall such as pep rallies or assemblies? 

-At this time, we will be limiting full school gatherings of students in the gym or elsewhere during school hours.  
 
How will special classes take place? 

-All effort will be made to keep close contact with other students to a minimum. Specific Guidelines for PE, Music, Art, etc., are being developed with teacher input. 
 
If my child is exposed to Covid-19 at school or home, will they be required to stay home and not return to school for a certain amount of time? 

-Exposure* does not automatically equal exclusion.  If a person has been exposed AND exhibits symptoms, then the school district may require them to stay home until a doctor or Public Health clears them to return.  *(See definition of exposure above)    

Will there be a way to circulate the air to keep fresh air flowing and moving? 

-In all three buildings, there will be an effort to keep air moving through the building, pulling in fresh air to circulate.


 ● Will I be told if someone in the classroom tests positive for Covid-19? 

-Graettinger-Terril & Ruthven-Ayrshire School Districts will always protect the right of an individual to keep medical information private as well as any other personal details.  However, in the case that your child may have been exposed to a 
positive case, you will be notified as part of contact tracing.  We will look to Public Health to assist with any contact tracing that needs to take place.   
 
Will I be told if anyone in the building tests positive for Covid-19? 

-Only if there was a potential for exposure* will people be notified.  *(See definition of exposure)  
 
If a family has a member test positive for Covid-19, will all of the children in the family be required to quarantine?   

-Exposure does not equal exclusion.  One member of a family testing positive may not require the rest of the family to stay home from school.    

What will happen if there is a positive case of Covid-19 in the building?  

-Palo Alto Public Health, or the state public health system, would notify the school. One positive case may not mean that the school or building would close its doors and revert to virtual learning.  The current guideline from Public Health is that serious considerations for closing a building or classroom MAY not need to occur unless the positive rate hits a level of 10% or more.  HOWEVER, all positive cases of Covid-19 will be taken seriously and considered accordingly in consultation Public Health.   
 
 
What are the symptoms of Covid-19? 

-We follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Symptoms that indicate someone MAY have Covid-19 are experiencing 2 or more of the following: 

-Fever or chills  

-Cough  

-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing  

-Fatigue  

-Muscle or body aches  

-Headache  

-New loss of taste or smell  

-Sore throat  

-Congestion or runny nose  

-Nausea or vomiting  

-Diarrhea