We’ve had a great first semester to the school year and we’re excited to have started the second semester at the secondary level yesterday! We welcomed back around 10% more of our students to in-person learning. I’m so proud of all of our staff and students for each doing their essential part in making our school year so successful. Thank you to all for giving it your best, whether it is teaching and learning in-person or virtually. Parents, your support through this unprecedented time has been and continues to be so crucial as well. Here are some important things to remember as we focus on going strong, UNITED together.
Health Safety Protocols
Staff and students have done an amazing job with wearing masks/face coverings. Along with social distancing, wearing a mask/face covering is crucial to keeping our learning environment as safe and healthy as possible. We also can’t emphasize enough the importance of self checks/assessments (answering the health questions) BEFORE staff and students attend school each day AND during the first 15 minutes of each day as well. This is a very important part of keeping illness out of the buildings and/or isolated. Do NOT come to school if you feel sick in any way. If you or someone in your household is waiting on results from COVID-19 testing, the St. Charles County Health Department’s direction is to have all household members stay home from school or work until the results are received. If a family member in the household tests positive, other household members are at high risk of getting sick themselves.
Our quarantine protocol is at 14 days with the SCCDPH modification for mask to mask exposure. The following applies to a quarantine exception for a student or staff member to attend school during a 14 days exposure quarantine in St. Charles County:
- Mask mandate in place for ALL students, teachers, faculty/staff and visitors in schools and on school-supplied transportation. Protocols must be in place for constant and proper use of masks or cloth face coverings among staff and students.
- ONLY proper mask to mask exposure in a District classroom or bus will allow for the modification.
- The first day for the quarantine period begins the day AFTER the last contact. The modified quarantine protocol will be revoked, and standard quarantine protocols will be applied, if symptoms develop or if the individual tests positive for COVID-19.
- The modification does not include after school activities or athletics. Students will still be quarantined from activities/athletics even if the exposure occurred during school time and students were masked up. Also, anytime a staff member or student is exposed without a mask on (at lunch, outside of school, etc), it will result in a 14 day quarantine, without exception to attending school in-person.
During the pandemic, we continue to have 2 possible (temporary) strategic moves to switch to full virtual (on-line) learning if needed at any time. We have to be ready to switch to full virtual (on short notice) if the following occurs.
- A significant staffing shortage (due to quarantining) could force our high schools to go full virtual to allow K-8 to stay in-person (shifting support staff and subs).
- A school building would need to go full virtual for two weeks if the positive case percentage reaches/surpasses the 5% threshold in that specific building (to keep everyone safe and stop the spread).
Plans for Inclement Weather/Snow Days
As we’ve recently seen, winter weather is upon us. Please be ready for the following protocol of calling off in-person learning due to inclement weather.
- The Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) virtual learning days allow all students to participate in Zoom calls and Google Classroom content. AMI “snow days” will consist of 6.5 hours of instructional time. Please note that this does not mean 6.5 hours of screen time with the student’s teacher(s), but rather 6.5 hours of meaningful work accomplished through a combination of live and recorded lessons, online activities, and traditional independent work (ie reading, homework, projects, etc.). The new protocol allows for the District to call up to 5 AMI days in an effort to help prevent the current school year from dragging into June due to possible snow days.
- AMI days will be called in advance to inclement weather. This means that if a winter weather storm is expected to prevent the District from holding in-person learning, we will call for an AMI day as a substitute for a traditional snow day. Calling AMI days in advance will allow our students to take home the necessary technology (ie. Chromebook, hotspots, etc.) to facilitate these days and help our teachers prepare for them. However, there may be times when a storm cannot be predicted or an AMI day was not called for in advance. Should that happen, the District will call for a traditional snow day where no learning, in-person or virtual, will take place.
- If there is either an AMI day or a traditional snow day, students, parents and the community will be notified as they have been in the past. This means the District will send out phone calls, emails, social media updates, website alerts, and mobile app notifications to inform the public as to what type of snow day is being called. Please keep in mind that while we will be notifying local media outlets (TV and radio stations, newspaper), these outlets aren’t equipped to allow us to differentiate between specific types of snow days. So, while these outlets can be used to see if the District has called a snow day, please seek out one of the aforementioned District outlets of communication to see if it is an AMI or traditional snow day.
As we continue to maneuver through the pandemic, I want to remind you once again of the essential steps in keeping us all healthy and safe. Stay home if you're feeling ill or have any symptoms of COVID-19. Social distance (stay 6 ft.) as much as you can. Unfortunately, we can not guarantee 6ft distancing in all classrooms, and that is why there is contact tracing and quarantining taking place when there are positive cases. However, we must keep our distance as much as we can inside and outside of school. Wear masks at all times. Wash your hands and practice strict hygiene protocols. Stay engaged and positive in the learning process whether you’re in-person or at home learning. We need all students engaged and actively participating in lessons/learning activities. Let’s keep encouraging each other and stay strong.
Dr. Jason Sefrit
Superintendent of Schools