Safe Return to School and Continuity of Services Plan 2021
Confluence Academies Safe Return to School and Continuity of Services Plan is a companion document to the City of St. Louis Public Schools Infectious Disease Control Administrative Guidelines and Procedures.
The spreading of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19 could necessitate the closing of schools to help break the spread of disease. The nature of the disease will be important to a decision that schools be closed and the following questions should be considered:
- Can someone spread the disease without showing symptoms?
- What are the ways in which the disease can be transmitted to/between persons?
- What is the incubation period for the disease?
- Is there a vaccine available for the disease?
- Are the numbers of students and staff getting sick increasing day-to-day?
In addition, the local health authority or the Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) (or their designated representative) are empowered to close schools in order to protect the public health (19CSR 20-20.050). If the Director of DHSS determines that the local health authority does not take adequate control measures to protect public health, including the closure of schools, the Director may do so [19CSR 20-20.040 (2) (J) and (3) (C)].
Confluence Academies will continue to consult with local health officials to answer the above questions before advising our Board on the decision to close, or subsequently, reopen schools. Confluence Academies will also seek guidance from the local health authority of other recommended measures leading up to the decision to close. Measures will include (but not be limited to) increased hygiene and social distancing.
In addition to daily general cleaning for classrooms, custodial staff will immediately institute the additional sanitation measures outlined in the City of St. Louis Public Schools Infectious Disease Control Administrative Guidelines and Procedures including:
- Wipe down all hard surfaces with a disinfectant solution and disposable towels. This includes, but may not be limited to: desktops, tabletops, and chairs.
- Mist the room with a disinfectant spray as a final step before leaving the room.
- Dispose of all towels used to disinfect a room. Disposable towels will not be used to disinfect more than one room.
Custodians are to ensure there are tissues available in all instructional areas. Teachers will instruct students on the use and disposal of tissues when sneezing or coughing.
Custodians are to make sure soap is available in all restrooms. Teachers will supervise students in frequent and thorough hand washing and hand drying.
Confluence Academies will advise all students and staff to be particularly mindful of eating well, drinking plenty of liquids, and getting adequate sleep.
Part of the problem associated with developing immunity to a new strain of virus is that the markings by which the immune system recognizes the virus (called antigens) are not yet recognizable. Just as the virus is mutating, the antigens associated with the virus are changing (a process referred to as antigen drift). After a new strain of influenza has been acquired, specialized white cells (called 'memory T cells') and antibodies that bind to the antigen remain in the body. If an invader carrying the same antigen attacks again, the immune system responds far more quickly than the first time, but when antigen drift occurs, the virus can gain a foothold even in people whose immune system has loaded itself with antibodies that bind to the older shapes. (p. 109, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, by John M. Barry, 2005). Confluence Academies offers antigen testing onsite for persons seeking testing and experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19.
It is because of the continued mutation of the influenza virus and the antigen drift that pandemic influenza strikes in waves. The same areas that experienced the influenza several weeks to several months earlier will experience it again in the new form. Fortunately, this succession of mutations tends to result in less virulent strains, but not always. People who had gotten sick in a previous wave may have a fair amount of immunity to another attack, but it may have mutated enough, its antigens drifted enough, to rekindle the epidemic. The 1918 influenza pandemic resulted in wave after wave, finally fading away after January 1922 (Barry, p. 391).