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Safe Return to School and Continuity of Services Plan 2021

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:

  1. Can someone spread the disease without showing symptoms?
  2. What are the ways in which the disease can be transmitted to/between persons?
  3. What is the incubation period for the disease?
  4. Is there a vaccine available for the disease?
  5. 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:

  1. Wipe down all hard surfaces with a disinfectant solution and disposable towels. This includes, but may not be limited to: desktops, tabletops, and chairs.
  2. Mist the room with a disinfectant spray as a final step before leaving the room.
  3. 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).

 

Infection Control Guidelines and Procedures

Coronavirus (COVID -19)

Locally, the St. Louis City Health Department has been working closely with school organizations and other large organizations to guide and advise.  The virus is being transmitted from person-to-person and can be transmitted from an individual who is non-symptomatic. 

Health experts advise that the best course of action is to practice good handwashing skills; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth; practice distancing yourselves from others and avoid large groups.  The first two points are certainly the easiest to control.

Confluence Academies is engaged in efforts to provide for and promote personal hygiene practices among students and teachers. We have secured supply lines and additional orders of soap and hand sanitizer.  Adjustments are being made to ensure that students have more personal space in classrooms and in cafeterias. In addition, we are enlisting parents in the effort to promote good handwashing at home and to keep lines of communication open with their child’s school.

Prevention

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Viruses can remain on frequently touched objects such as doorknobs and cell phones for quite some time.  If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face, you can transfer the germs, which can lead to illness.
  • Stay home if you are sick, especially if you have a fever.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Block the spread of germs by using a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Do not use your bare hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Staff Vaccinations

Confluence Academies supports its staff members seeking to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Confluence frequently shared information regarding mass vaccination events for its staff in March, April, and May of 2021.

Confluence Academies supports students who are eligible (over age 12) to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  As vaccinations become more readily available for students of all ages, Confluence will provide detailed information to its community about vaccination access.

Accommodations for Children with Disabilities

All students attending Confluence Academies have access to a certified nurse throughout the day.  Students with identified health needs have written plans (i.e. Section 504, Health Plans, or IEPs) which address the specific needs of the child in order for them to participate and have access to the general education classroom.

Attendance/Testing of Students and Staff

At the beginning of each workday, Confluence will require employees, before they enter the workplace, to complete a standardized questionnaire that lists symptoms of COVID-19. If an employee answers “YES” to any of the questions, they will not be permitted to work. Employees who do not answer “Yes” to any of the questions asked will proceed to having their temperatures checked. Any employee having a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or above will not be permitted to work.

Students at the beginning of the day will have their temperatures taken before entering the school building. Additionally, parents are encouraged to ask their child(ren) about symptoms of illness and take their temperature before sending them to school. 

Face Coverings/Masks

Staff and students in the 4th grade and above must wear a face covering when in the school building. Face coverings will not be required when outdoor instruction/activities allow for recommended feet of social distancing. Moreover, face coverings may be removed during meal/snack times.

Confluence will maintain a supply of face coverings to be distributed accordingly. Confluence will provide training to all staff and students on the proper use of face coverings and the purpose for wearing them as required. 

Social distancing

        At a minimum, students will maintain a three (3) foot radius around each student’s desk in the classroom.  Confluence will minimize contact and social mixing during school hours.  We will consult with and obtain approval from the City of St. Louis Department of Health prior to planning any school assemblies.  Signage to encourage social distancing will be properly displayed throughout all schools and buildings to educate students, staff, parents, and visitors regarding our expectations.

Hand washing

Hand washing is the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infection. Hand washing procedures should be followed even if gloves have been worn.   If an emergency situation precludes proper hand washing, the hands should be washed as soon as possible after exposure.

Any skin surface that comes into contact with blood or other body fluids should be cleansed using the same procedures used for hands. Hands should be washed:

  • Before and after touching open wounds (even if gloves are worn)
  • Before eating
  • After any direct exposure to blood or other body fluids.
  • After removing gloves
  • After handling soiled or contaminated items and equipment
  • After using the toilet

 

The correct method used for hand cleaning and decontamination is with soap and water:

  • Wet hands
  • Lather hands with either bar soap or liquid soap
  • Rub repeatedly for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse
  • Turn faucets off using a dry paper towel.
  • Dry hands properly and dispose of used paper towel in plastic bag

In areas where running water is not readily available:

  • Remove obvious soil with a wet towelette
  • Use waterless foams or rinses to clean skin

 

Staff Reporting of Health Status

  • Staff will observe for flu-like symptoms and refer students to the school nurse for assessment
  • Staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms will report to the school nurse’s office after notifying school administration of the need for assessment
  • School administration will follow school policy regarding staff illness and prevention; school administration may contact the Human Resources department for guidance and support (see attached flowchart)

 

Student Temperature Checks

  • Temperature of students may be checked by the school nurse upon recommendation of school personnel when exiting the bus and/or during the school day
  • Students with elevated temperatures or flu-like symptoms will be referred to the school nurse for assessment
  • Nursing staff will follow protocol for students that exhibit fevers and notify parent/guardian for pick up, if needed

 

Quarantine and Contact Tracing

The following steps will be taken in case of a confirmed positive case:

  • The Health Department of St. Louis City will be notified immediately in the case of a confirmed positive case and will provide detailed information on quarantine requirements and return to school or work dates.

 

  1. Positive case identified (usually occurs several days after direct contact)
  2. Contact administrators (immediately contact the nurse, principal, and Resource Office)
  3. Clarify who is impacted
    a. Work with nurse to confirm that the student or staff member impacted did indeed have close contact with Confluence staff or students
    b.Work with nurse and any necessary staff members to identify close contacts (if any) and develop a lis
    4. Contact those impacted
    a.Work with the nurse to create a contact list with phone numbers and ensure each family receives a phone call describing the situation and next steps
    b.Use the class letter template to communicate with any full class of students who must quarantine
            i.This can be emailed to parent email addresses
            ii. If it’s individuals only who must be quarantined (not an entire class), a phone call is enough and no                    class letter is necessary. If this is the case use the individual quarantine letter instead.

Other Details:

  • Confluence Academies notifies those directly impacted who must quarantine.
  • A positive case of COVID-19 is a medical Therefore, the patient in question has a right to privacy that must be protected. As such, CA can never disclose who has the positive case.
  •  

Cleaning Protocols

Staff to follow guidelines set forth by WFF, our custodial vendor, and the CDC regarding cleaning and disinfecting buildings, and will be trained by corporate on how to safely execute and complete their daily duties to minimize risk while cleaning and using disinfectant.

Recommendations to follow:

  • Staff to wear rubber gloves when cleaning
  • Wash hands often
  • While face shields are not required, custodial staff is encouraged to wear face shields
  • Wipe down of hard surfaces with Oxivar wipes following the manufacturer’s directions
  • All classrooms will be treated with disinfectant spray in the evening. Again, following the manufacturer’s directions
  • All towels and rags to be washed overnight utilizing the warmest possible setting

WFF and Confluence has added an extra staff member in each building for the sole purpose of rotating and disinfecting the most frequently used areas and touchpoints within the building.  This includes:

  • Entryway doors – push bars, glass, door frames, door handles
  • Handrails
  • Elevator buttons – Interior and Exterior (where applicable)
  • Restrooms – Door handles, locks, light switches, fixtures, paper dispensers, soap dispensers, floors
  • Vending machines

 

Additional cleaning of all surfaces and items that have frequent hand contact (like doorknobs, desks, faucets, handrails and cell phones) are being managed, particularly areas that are visibly soiled.  Custodial and cafeteria staff have access to cleaning agents that all staff can use in between regular cleanings as needed.

School Operations

Confluence Academies contracts with two main vendors to provide food service and custodial/maintenance services.  Both Chartwells and WFF, CA’s food service and custodial/maintenance vendors, have protocols in place to daily “self-check” staff prior to each day’s work.  Each staff member will be temperature checked and health screened via a questionnaire prior to staff clocking in for work.

Facilities:

  • Face coverings will be supplied to all staff
  • Buildings will be limited to “essential visitors” within the building. When entering, visitors will be temperature checked and asked a minimum of three (3) health screening questions
  • While in the building, visitors will be required to wear a face covering (one will be provided if they do not have one)
  • All buildings will have hand sanitizer stations placed at the security desk, main office and main hallway
  • Classrooms will have disinfectant wipes to utilize throughout the day for wipe downs of desks and frequently touched surfaces
  • Common drinking fountains will be turned off and not for use
  • Teaching respiratory etiquette to students to help stop the spread of germs and minimize the likelihood of an outbreak

Cafeterias:

  • Chartwells, our food service vendor in consultation with Confluence Academies, will implement the following:
  • Each cafeteria will have a hand sanitizer station located at the entry point
  • All staff will wear face coverings and gloves
  • Only pre-packaged salads and food items will be available. (No public salad bars / food selections)
  • Lunch times will be staggered to limit the number of students in the café serving, eating areas
  • Students will have assigned seats so physical distancing guidelines can be followed

 

School Transportation:

Confluence has consulted with First Student transportation to implement the following guidelines:

  • All First Student staff will be temperature checked and participate in daily health screening each morning
  • Drivers and bus monitors will be required to wear face coverings at all times on the bus while students are present
  • All students will be required to wear a mask while riding the bus to and from school
  • Students will be assigned to a seat while on the bus. Families will be required to sit together.  These will be the same seats for students to sit in daily.
  • Confluence Academies, after consultation with First Student, agree to have the full bus fleet treated and disinfected on a monthly basis with Zoono-Z71.
  • First Student, follows Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for ensuring bus surfaces are cleaned and sanitized regularly.

 

Health Room Procedures

  • School nurses are required to wear a face shield with a mask
  • Staff are required to complete a school nurse referral form before sending students to their office
  • Staff are required to notify the school nurse’s office before sending student to ensure social distancing
  • In case of emergencies, staff will contact the nurse immediately and students will return to their assigned classroom
  • Students will practice social distancing while in the school nurse’s office
  • School Nurses will take temperature of students referred with a no-touch/infrared thermometer
  • The school nurse or designee will contact parent/guardian of the student for pick-up if symptoms warrant the student be removed from school
  • School nurses have access to antigen testing and may consider providing testing upon consent of staff or student requesting such and experiencing symptoms

 

Communication

  • Confluence Academies will ensure that students, staff, parents, community and media receive information, tips and updates on district procedures (including dismissal of classes or schools) in accordance with health guidelines. Information sources include, among others, the St. Louis City Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization.  We also work with other public school organizations to share best practices.
  • The Confluence Academies website, confluenceacademy.org, includes dedicated health information for community viewing. When community health concerns are amplified, information is highlighted on the website and through social media, as updates are made available
  • Communication policies and procedures are in place, STANDPOINT and/or the CEO is the designated individual to issue information and updates on school dismissals to staff, parents and community (media).

 

Health Emergency Procedures

  • Confluence Academies will verify that staff and parent emergency contact lists are up-to-date.
  • The school principal and school nurse will inform staff to observe for signs and symptoms of flu.
  • The school nurse implements protocols for managing students who fall ill at school and track and report information to St. Louis City Department of Health.
  • The school nurse will report daily to the school leader the percentage of enrolled students who are absent. Same report required for staff absences.
  • The school nurse/attendance secretary will keep record of students and staff who leave school due to illness. (As standard protocol, nursing staff regularly file reports with the St. Louis City Health Department.)
  • The school has identified an area to temporarily hold students suspected of having influenza and/or a respiratory illness until parents arrive. This same space or another, will be used in the event large numbers of students or staff become ill.
  • Counselors/Social Workers will develop specific strategies and share calming techniques with students, staff, and parents coping with fear and anxiety about current health events.

 

School Closure

  • The school leader will work closely with the St. Louis City Health Department in deciding on a school closure(s) due to a health threat. Such decisions will vary depending upon the number of absences, severity of cases and risk factors.
  • In Missouri, local public health agencies (LPHA’s) or, the Department of Health and Senior Services have the authority to close and/or open schools for public health reason(s). In the event of a serious health situation, schools may be closed and/or opened only by order of the director of Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) designee. (See19 CSR 20-20.050 (3).)
  • Due to the need for consistency throughout the state, school closures and/or openings to protect the public health and safety may be directed at the state level.
  • In the face of a health crisis, or heavy absenteeism, the school leader has the authority to cancel ALL activities scheduled on school property including those of outside groups.
  • In most instances, closed schools can be reopened by the school leader/superintendent. However, in cases where schools were closed by DHSS or an LPHA, only the director of DHSS, his/her designee, or the LPHA may authorize the reopening of schools. Schools will be reopened only when the situation that caused the schools to be closed has sufficiently abated.

 

Academics

  • In the event a school is temporarily closed due to a health emergency, teachers will use the network’s Remote Learning Plan (AMI and AMI-X) to communicate class assignments to students (see attached). The Remote Learning Plan meets the state requirements of 1044 hours of instruction with the first day of school in August 23, 2021 per the approved Board of Directors’ adopted school calendar.  Virtual and in-person instructional options are available for families.  If a parent/guardian opts for a fully virtual classroom, students will be assigned classes via the Acellus learning platform (acellus.com).  A teacher will be assigned to a cohort of students to monitor progress, serve as a resource, and a coach toward completion of assignments.  If a parent/guardian opts for the traditional/in-person classroom setting, their student(s) will attend school daily at the campus in which they are enrolled.
  • The Remote Learning Plan for 2021-22 is designed for those situations in which all, or parts, of any school building has to pivot from an in-person approach to instruction to a remote learning approach to instruction. The plan is divided into sections and based on staff function and needs of students. 
  • Learning loss from prior year’s academic plan are being addressed through small group instruction with tutors and learning specialists, personalized learning, and implemented research-based instructional strategies. We are expanding our after school tutoring options and enrichment opportunities for all students including students with special needs.

 

Stakeholder Feedback and Inclusion

Stakeholder feedback from parents/guardians was sought in the form of a survey.  Below are results that indicate support for a safe return to school and continuity of services that began in the fall of 2020 and remain consistent with more recent survey results gathered in May 2021. 

Options given for the above survey:

Indoor air quality upgrades; Development of procedures and systems to prepare for long-term school closures; Development of preparedness and response procedures and systems; Addressing learning loss in students; Facility improvements to reduce risk of student/staff exposure to viruses and environmental hazards; Educational technology for students; Providing principals resources for school-specific needs; Summer learning and supplemental afterschool programming; Mental health services and support; Staff training on minimizing the spread of infectious disease; Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and foster care youth.

 

What was your primary reason for choosing Confluence Academies for your child's education?

Academic opportunities (in-person learning)

29%

Better supports and services than other schools

16%

Location

14%

Confluence Academies' "whole child" approach

12%

Extracurricular opportunities (e.g. clubs, sports, etc.)

6%

No other neighborhood school option

4%

Reputation

3%

Other

17%

 

How do you define academic excellence for your child?

What are your hopes and dreams for your child's education?

Mention Frequency

College preparation, earning scholarship, pursue additional education

30

Learn life skills that will lead to career success and quality of life

69

Quality education that is responsive to individual children's needs, differentiation, one-on-one attention

13

Leadership skill, students will become leaders

1

Success in the arts, pursue performance opportunities

21

We want our children to be challenged, challenges are how young people grow

8

Test scores at or exceeding grade level

4

Achieving success in Pre-K, learning in elementary, and graduating from high school

71

Youth need critical thinking skills to be successful, they should be applying what they learn

5

I want my child to have opportunities beyond high school, I want my child to fulfill their dreams

12

I want my child be safe — physically and psychologically/emotionally—while at school

6

Quality education is holistic, addresses the whole child, creates well-rounded adults

16

I want my child to develop a love of learning that lasts a lifetime

10

Building relationships is important so that children know they are supported

3