As the first day of school draws near, it’s clear we’re dealing with a significant amount of change in the 2020-21 school year. Trying to offer the best possible experience for our students while also working to offer flexibility and choice for families has been a monumental undertaking.
In order to most effectively navigate and communicate all the changes, while also wanting to provide the best possible back-to-school experience for everyone involved, we’re planning to start the 2020-21 school year in a conference schedule.
We’ve pulled our fall conference days from November into the first week of school to provide teachers/school staff with an opportunity to connect with families, distribute resources and materials, and ensure that the first day with students back in buildings (and the first day for “fully remote” students connecting with teachers online) is a fantastic experience for everyone involved!
Staff from each building will be reaching out to families in order to schedule conferences starting the week of August 24th. This means that rather than sending children to school September 2 -4, families will be meeting with teachers (mostly in-person, but online conferences are certainly an option) to learn more about changes for this fall, get all the necessary resources, and better understand what their child’s educational experience will look like in the weeks ahead. THE FIRST OFFICIAL STUDENT DAY IN DEER PARK IS NOW SEPTEMBER 8.
These revisions to the school calendar, as well as helpful color-coding to more easily track the Gold & Blue split/rotation schedule for students attending in person, have been added to the 2020-21 school calendar, which is available for download below. Of course, we hope we don’t need to use the split/rotating schedule for the entire school year, but the calendar below provides an easy to follow guide…just in case.
IN-PERSON REQUIREMENTS – PPE, PHYSICAL DISTANCING, AND SCREENING (SYMPTOM CHECKING):
As we’ve communicated previously, the Washington State Department of Health is requiring that schools choosing to offer in-person instruction this fall must ensure compliance with three specific requirements: PPE (face coverings), physical distancing, and health screening/symptom checking.
- PPE: While we strongly encourage families to provide cloth face coverings for their children, our schools are ready to provide PPE for any child who does not have a mask or shield. It’s also vitally important for parents to know that children cannot ride the school bus without a face covering. Drivers will have an adequate supply of masks for children boarding the bus who may not have a face covering, but in order to board and ride, children must wear a mask or shield. The Secretary of Health Order (20-03) clearly defines face-covering exemptions as follows: Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes, but is not limited to, persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face-covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance. Building principals must have medical documentation (or documentation from an IEP team) prior to allowing any exemption from face-covering on a bus or at school. While still attending to physical distancing requirements, masks may be removed during outdoor activities.
- Physical distancing: The core premise of the district’s split/rotating schedule is the need to reduce the number of students on buses and in school each day to allow compliance with 6ft. distancing requirements. We understand that in the context of a school day, there will be times when physical distancing parameters may be compromised, but it’s important to be reminded that the CDC defines a potential “COVID transmission event” as 15 minutes of exposure within 6 feet without the benefit of masks. Thus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not transmitted by individuals crossing paths in the hallway, a quick interaction on a piece of playground equipment, or across a classroom – especially when masks are worn and hand hygiene is observed.
- Health Screening/Symptom Checking: Districts are being asked to ensure that daily symptom checks are done before students participate in school; unfortunately, the logistics of having school personnel perform a symptom check on every person (adult and student) entering the building each day are impractical, if not impossible. So, we need as many families as possible to do these symptom checks each morning prior to sending children to school. All schools will be using a process we’re calling the “ORANGE PASS” system. Each family will be provided with a supply of “ORANGE PASSES” before the start of the school year and will be expected to send their children to school each day with a completed pass. Students that do not have a completed and signed “ORANGE PASS” will be sent to a building-based screening station before going to class.
A team of DPSD employees is working with Spokane Regional Health (SRHD) in the week to come to finalize guidance that will provide very specific protocols related to isolation and quarantine expectations in the event of COVID-like symptoms or COVID exposure. Initial documentation on these topics can be found using the following two documents: COVID Concerned – COVID Exposed
We will publish further guidance after conferring with SRHD.