Knox County Schools unveil plan to return to school
Knox County Schools has released its plan to return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Schools has released its plan to return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
According to the plan, school will be delayed until August 17. “This will require the district to use five inclement weather days, with five inclement weather days remaining,” the school system said. Teachers will be reporting to work August 3.
The school system said its plan was created “based on the current public health information available and valuable feedback from our stakeholders, especially our families and staff.”
The plan has three “primary models,” which include:
1. On-campus learning with standard operating protocols (Green)
2. On-campus learning with increased COVID-19 safety protocols (Yellow)
3. Virtual/remote learning only (Red)
Superintendent Bob Thomas said that the plans will be revisited throughout the year “and any changes--including a shift between green, yellow and red models--will be communicated.” KCS will start out the year in yellow mode. He added during a school board meeting Wednesday that schools could be on different models, depending on their COVID-19 status.
Throughout the year, the school system said it will go through a “daily decision” process that includes student and teacher attendance rate as well as consultation with the health department.
What happens if there is a positive COVID-19 case?
The school system has a protocol:
● If the district is made aware that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, district officials will immediately notify local health officials.
● The KCS Health Services Department will work with KCHD to initiate contact tracing protocols to determine how widespread the potential exposure is and notify families and staff members impacted.
● If the student or staff member is on a school campus, he or she will be isolated until they can be transported off campus.
● If there is an incident on campus that might pose a threat of exposure to COVID-19, families and staff will be notified while maintaining confidentiality.
● A decision will be made in consultation with the KCHD regarding a school(s) closure to allow for additional measures to clean and sanitize the facility, based on the information provided by the reporting party.
● Depending on the nature of the exposure, a recommendation could be limited to specific classrooms or groups.
● If a school(s) is closed, families and staff will be notified through the KCS phone/email notification system.
● If a school(s) is closed, students and staff will immediately move to online instruction via Canvas and Microsoft Teams.
● Any student who must be quarantined due to COVID-19 at the direction of the Health Department, or a physician, will be given the opportunity to move to the virtual learning program and return to school upon meeting the required criteria.
● Any employee who must be quarantined due to COVID-19 at the direction of the Health Department, or a physician, may use 10 days of emergency sick leave pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Under the yellow model, staff arrival policy will follow:
● Principals at each school will set an equitable duty schedule for their staff to the extent possible.
● Employees will have their temperature checked each day upon arrival.
● Each employee should self-screen before reporting for work.
○ Ask, have you within the last 14 days:
1. Been told to quarantine or isolate by a medical provider or health department
2. Had close contact with someone who has COVID-19
3. Experienced any COVID-19 symptoms? a. Fever/chills b. Cough c. Shortness of breath d. Difficulty breathing e. Fatigue f. Muscle or body aches g. Headache h. New loss of taste or smell i. Sore throat j. Congestion or runny nose k. Nausea or vomiting l. Diarrhea
● Families should drop students off and pick them up through the car rider line or drop off at the front door if walking. No families will be allowed to escort their child inside the school building
● Students will have their temperatures checked each day upon arrival. Students with temperatures of 100.4 or above will be isolated from other students.
● Schools will have plans in place to limit students congregating in large groups while waiting for screenings and to be dismissed from class.
● An increase in traffic is expected at all campuses. Schools will be providing additional support to car rider lines to expedite the flow of traffic.
Under the yellow model, bus transportation will be as follows:
● Bus contractors will be responsible for implementing a pre-route driver temperature check to ensure no driver has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.
● Bus and shuttle drivers will be required to wear an appropriate mask at all times while operating a vehicle.
● Students will be required to wear an appropriate mask while in transit.
● Students should wash their hands with soap and water prior to getting on the bus.
● Recognizing that it is not always feasible to physically distance on a school bus, riders should put as much space as possible between others to the extent possible.
● Siblings are encouraged to sit together when possible.
● Weather and other conditions permitting, all windows on non-air conditioned buses will be open and air conditioning systems on so-equipped buses will not be operated in the re circulation mode.
● Buses will be disinfected following morning and evening runs with a COVID-effective agent provided to contractors by KCS. KCS will also provide training in the proper use of the disinfectant.
Visitor access will be restricted to essential personnel and those who have scheduled appointments for school business that cannot be conducted over the phone or by email.
○ All visitors will be required to wear an appropriate mask.
○ All visitors will be expected to adhere to physical distancing requirements.
○ All visitors will be subject to temperature checks. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or greater must reschedule.
● All staff will be required to wear an appropriate mask while on campus when physical distancing isn’t possible and unless there is a medical condition preventing it.
● All students will be required to wear an appropriate mask while on campus when physical distancing isn’t possible unless a student is unable to remove a mask/face covering without assistance or has a medical condition or other need preventing it.
● Face masks will be provided to staff and students if needed.
● School administration reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of a mask.
According to the plan, classroom sizes will be “structured to facilitate physical distancing of six feet to the extent possible.”
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