Priority Charter Schools is prepared to meet the needs of students through face-to-face instruction on campuses for the 2020-2021 school year with enhanced safety and health protocols to address the realities of living during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the following outlines a high-level, general plan, campus leaders are empowered to customize their response based on the specifics of their student population size and facility constraints. Priority Charter Schools recognizes it is important for its communities to work together – each member doing his or her part – to make an in-person school year safe and possible.
- Parents/guardians are expected to screen their students for COVID-19 symptoms each day before arriving at school and keep their child at home if they are ill or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
- Staff are expected to screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms each day before arriving at a PCS school.
Students and staff who have been tested for COVID-19 must remain home while waiting for their results even if they have no symptoms.
Priority Charter Schools will focus on health education and daily self-screening reminders that will occur every day in every student’s first class before instruction begins. These age-appropriate self-screening reminders will teach students what to watch out for and how they can report when they are feeling ill when at home or at school.
Priority Charter Schools will perform daily temperature checks on pre-kindergarten students and students in our vulnerable populations who may not be able to verbalize when they are ill.
Students with a temp over 100 degrees or reporting other illness symptoms will be escorted to trained personnel for further evaluation. The student will be allowed to wait at least 20 minutes between readings away from the initial screening and then their temperature will be re-taken. If the temperature is confirmed, the student will be excluded from school and parents will be given instructions on when the student can return to school. The student will be provided classroom instruction as an intermittent remote learner until they are able to return to school.
Teachers and staff will be trained to recognize symptoms of illness and will have thermometers available so they can respond rapidly to any student who is feeling ill.
Students showing signs and symptoms of illness will be isolated and assessed by the school trained personnel to determine if they need to go home.
Visitors will be screened at each campus reception area. Only visitors essential to school operations will be allowed on campus. Essential visitors include guest educators, contractors, emergency and security personnel, mail deliveries and others determined by the campus administration.
Parent/teacher meetings should be held virtually, when possible. When in-person meetings are essential, visitors must complete the screening tool, wear masks and adhere to physical distancing requests.
Masks, covering the nose and mouth, or full face shields are required for staff, students and visitors to PCS facilities or those utilizing district transportation. The mask must cover the nose and mouth.
Students, staff and visitors should have a mask or face shield when they arrive each day. The district will have a limited supply of disposable and reusable masks for those who do not have their own.
Teachers will present wearing masks and face shields as part of their classroom expectations and incorporate non-punitive strategies to encourage students to properly wear them. Parents are expected to support this requirement.
When students cannot wear a mask or face shield due to documented health or developmental reasons, teachers will be trained in using other mitigating measures such as maximizing the space between desks and more frequent hand washing. Staff will collaborate with parents on a plan that considers the health and safety needs of the student, their classmates and staff.
Students and staff are expected to wash hands according to CDC guidelines and with greater frequency. Staff will provide age-appropriate training on proper handwashing technique and will ensure more opportunities to do so. The district will also provide portable hand washing stations at all campuses to facilitate handwashing opportunities. Handwashing is expected after recess, before eating and following restroom use.
Students and staff are expected to use hand sanitizer upon entry to the classroom and periodically during the day. To facilitate this, hand sanitizer will be available at main entrances and exits, in each classroom, at cafeteria entrances, and common spaces.
Staff will be trained on appropriate use of classroom sanitizing and disinfecting products. These products will be available in classrooms and common learning spaces so that staff can frequently clean surfaces and shared objects
Campus staff will provide age-appropriate training at the beginning of school and on an ongoing basis to students on the following:
- Importance of staying home when sick
- Proper way to wash hands
- Proper way to use hand sanitizer
- Procedures for sanitizing student devices, mobile phones and shared items
- Proper ways to contain sneezes and coughs
- Proper use of face coverings and importance of not touching your face
“Stop The Spread” and “Do Your Part” materials will be displayed in classrooms and common campus areas.
Custodial staff will continue to receive specialized training to ensure a full understanding of best practices for sanitization and disinfection. Additional cleaning efforts include:
- Each classroom and common area will be disinfected daily or as needed.
- Restrooms, clinics and athletic areas will be disinfected twice or more times per day.
- Areas impacted by illness will be immediately disinfected before students and staff are allowed to return.
- The cafeteria and all areas used for dining will be disinfected between each use and at the end of the last dining period.
- Disinfecting misters and foggers will be used by custodial and other trained staff at appropriate times and locations.
Each campus will provide additional health and safety measures customized to their student population and facility. Individualized, campus specific measures may include:
- Encouraging students to bring refillable water bottles to use throughout the day.
- Placing floor markers to designate 6 feet distancing.
- Staggering arrival and dismissal when possible.
- Removing non-essential furniture from classrooms to provide more space.
- Facing desks in the same direction.
- Reducing the use of shared supplies and sanitizing them between use if unavoidable.
- Propping doors open for no-touch entry between classes.
- Utilizing outside space for instruction when appropriate and possible.
- Reimagining assemblies and large group gatherings.
Teachers will be assigned exclusively to At-School Learning classrooms to help streamline their planning and relationship-building with students and families.
It is our intention students will stay with this teacher through any COVID-related changes during the school year. For example, we anticipate At-School learners could experience short-term learning at home due to illness, quarantine or temporary school closure. During these times, At-School learners will temporarily shift to remote learning using online learning platforms while remaining with their assigned At-School teacher and schedule. Teachers will be available to answer questions and provide feedback to these intermittent remote learners.
Attendance for At-School learners will remain an expectation to support exceptional learning goals, in accordance with state compulsory attendance policies. For At-School learners who shift into intermittent remote learning due to illness, quarantine or temporary building closure, attendance will be calculated based on daily engagement and/or contact with campus administration and teaching staff. Providing appropriate documentation of a verified absence will be required for state attendance and truancy compliance.
Revised procedures for arrival and dismissal will be determined and communicated by each campus. The campus administration teams are best suited to evaluate and execute plans that enhance established traffic flow safety patterns with physical distancing and other prevention and mitigation strategies. Parents should be prepared for possible delays or adjustments to previously established procedures.
Pending individual school schedules, after-school childcare programs are slated to resume and be open for in-person learning.
Additional cleaning measures and procedures will be implemented on buses to ensure safety for students and staff. These include:
- Face coverings are required when on the bus.
- Students will sit in assigned seats.
- Hand sanitizer will be available upon boarding and unboarding the bus.
- Staff will have access to disinfectant to clean as needed.
- Commonly touched surfaces will be sanitized between groups of bus riders.
- Buses will be disinfected at the end of each day.
Campuses will be able to customize their approach to meal service based on their total student population and available space with the goal to limit cafeteria capacity using alternate schedules or dispersed seating. Other safety measures that will be implemented include:
- Cafeteria staff will wear face coverings and gloves.
- Meals will be distributed in disposable containers.
- No a la carte items will be available until further notice.
- Staff will distribute all food items.
- Payment can be made into student accounts online, by mail or in person on campus at designated times.
- Point of Sale for each meal at each campus will be scanned and hands free.
Priority Charter School’s COVID-19 protocols follow guidance from TEA, the CDC and the Bell County Public Health District. All practices are implemented with the intention of creating the safest learning possible for students and staff and the expectation that families will support and adhere to these guidelines.
In addition to their responsibilities to screen students daily before arrival, families must immediately notify the school in these situations:
- if the student has a lab-confirmed positive test for COVID-19
- if the student has COVID-19 symptoms
- if the student has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19
If a student meets the above criteria, families should notify their campus nurse.
Students who report a COVID-19 lab-confirmed positive test, symptoms or close contact will not be allowed on campus until criteria for returning to school is met (see Criteria for Returning to School). While at home, the student may continue learning with the assigned teachers/classes as an intermittent remote learner.
Priority Charter Schools is following guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine who is infectious and what deems a “close contact” encounter for exposure purposes.
Individuals are presumed infectious at least 48 hours prior to the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19 are presumed infectious two days prior to the confirming lab test.
Close contact is defined as:
- Being directly exposed to infectious secretions; or
- Being within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes; however, if additional prevention and mitigation measures such as proper face coverings are in place this could affect the determination.
When a lab-confirmed positive case is reported, trained campus staff will conduct investigations to determine who is a close contact. To best support these investigations, the campus may need to be closed for a short period of time to ensure all close contacts are identified.
When this happens, students will receive instruction in an intermittent remote learning environment.
The campus will notify all close contacts of a lab-confirmed positive case by phone. Parents are expected to pick up their child within 30 minutes and will receive additional instructions on criteria for returning to school.
All teachers, staff and families of all students in a school who participate in any on campus activity will be notified of a lab-confirmed positive test by email at regular intervals.
The district will notify the respective County Health District of any reported case.
When a student at school displays symptoms of COVID-19, a clinical assessment will be administered to determine if and when a student needs to be sent home. Students who are deemed ill will be separated from their peers as they wait to be picked up. Other students will be removed from the classroom and taken to an alternate location on campus so that the classroom can be disinfected.
Please reference the following information to know when a student or staff member will be allowed to return to face-to-face At-School Learning.
Must stay home until ALL of the following criteria are met:
- 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
- Patient sees improvement in symptoms
24 hours have passed with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication
Must stay home until one of the following criteria are met:
- 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and patient sees improvement in symptoms and 24 hours have passed with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication
- Obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis.
- Obtain an acute infection test at an approved testing location that comes back negative for COVID-19.
Must self-isolate for 14 days from the last day of exposure.