Staff Questions on the Reopening of Schools

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    HEALTH AND SAFETY
    COVID-19 TESTING
    POSITIVE CASE PROCEDURES
    DELIVERY OF INSTRUCTION
    LOGISTICS, TRANSPORTATION AND MOVEMENT AROUND SCHOOLS
    CHILD CARE

      

    HEALTH AND SAFETY 

    1. Has ACPS considered giving students and teachers the choice of either 100 percent virtual or 100 percent in person?

    ANSWER: ACPS recently asked staff in our reopening survey their likelihood or returning under each model. This will definitely be one factor when considering the model we adopt in the fall.

    However, the model that ACPS selects for the fall will be based on multiple factors. The model selected for the fall will depend on what is practical and the way in which we are feasibly able to deliver the services that our students need in order to continue to learn. This may not look the same for every student group. Equity has to be at the heart of our planning.

     

    1. Could vulnerable children be paired with vulnerable teachers, and lower-risk students paired with lower-risk and/or less concerned teachers, effectively creating two tracks of learning within the same school?

    ANSWER: ACPS is in the process of considering all scheduling options. Equity is at the heart of all our planning. This means that we are considering the needs of all our students and staff especially those who may be vulnerable or high risk. We are still at the stage where we are exploring all combinations of options for the fall - including models such as this. We will do our best to accommodate both our vulnerable staff and students in whichever model we opt to adopt in the fall.

     

    1. Will teachers and staff who are considered high-risk by the CDC including pregnant teachers be compelled to go into work if we decide on a hybrid?

    ANSWER: Employees will either need to work on-site or work remotely - depending on the model that is chosen for school in the fall. This is going to require flexibility from all of us and we will adhere to CDC guidelines. This situation is unprecedented and nothing about it is convenient for anyone - our staff, our students, our families or our community.

     

    1. What working conditions can be expected for staff with pre-existing conditions?

    ANSWER: The health and safety of our staff is a top priority when considering our options for the fall. The school division will follow the public health and CDC guidance for the workplace.  Our goal is to keep our staff and students and families as safe as possible while continuing to allow our students to learn.

    If an employee cannot work in the workplace due to a health or medical condition, the employee should see a medical care provider for evaluation and guidance. As always, please contact HR for assistance on individual questions.  

     

    1. Will staff preferences for work environments be honored?

    ANSWER: ACPS recently asked staff in our reopening survey their likelihood or returning under each model. This will definitely be one factor when considering the model we adopt in the fall.

     Under our contracts, ACPS employees will either be required to work on-site or work remotely - depending on the model that is chosen for school in the fall. This will be made clear after the final plan has been shared with the School Board on August 7. Details will be shared with staff about health and safety protocols and expectations shortly after that.

    This situation is unprecedented and is going to require flexibility from all of us and we will adhere to CDC guidelines. Our goal is to provide the services and meet the needs of our students as far as possible, given the circumstances with which we are presented.

    There may be some employees who cannot work due to multiple circumstances and they will need to  contact HR for questions.

     

    COVID-19 TESTING

    1. How often will the teachers, and staff be tested if we return to school?

    ANSWER: The Virginia Department of Health is not recommending that schools require testing of students or staff upon the resumption of in-person instruction at this time.

    However, the CDC and Virginia Department of Health do recommend daily health screenings of students and staff, along with procedures that address when students or staff arrive on site with symptoms or develop them during the course of the day.

    Health and safety is our top priority as we consider how to reopen our schools and we are reviewing all options to ensure that our staff, students and families remain safe when we reopen our buildings.

     

    1. Who will pay for the testing?

    ANSWER: The Virginia Department of Health is not recommending that schools require testing of students or staff upon the resumption of in-person instruction at this time, therefore ACPS staff would not require tests.

     

    1. Will school nurses have access to rapid COVID tests for students who come to school sick?

    ANSWER:  ACPS is very fortunate to have a qualified school nurse in every school. There are many divisions that do not have access to this staff resource. At present, all tests are carried out on the recommendation of a primary care physician. A school nurse could refer a student to their primary care physician.

     

    1. Since so many carriers of COVID-19 do not have symptoms, how can ACPS keep staff and students safe?

    ANSWER: ACPS will adhere to the public health and CDC guidelines for our schools and offices. The CDC and Virginia Department of Health recommend daily health screenings of students and staff, along with procedures that address when students or staff arrive on site with symptoms or develop them during the course of the day. We will continue to adhere to such measures to mitigate the risks for staff.

     

    1. How can you ensure that parents are sending their kids to school healthy when we all have had kids sent to school with Tylenol to hide the fever from the night before. How are we going to tell the difference between a cold and Covid?

    ANSWER: ACPS always requests that parents adhere closely to health and safety guidelines and this will be reinforced should we adopt a hybrid model in the fall. Policy GBE outlines the guidelines for staff around illness.

    The CDC and Virginia Department of Health recommend daily health screenings of students and staff, along with procedures that address when students or staff arrive on site with symptoms or develop them during the course of the day. We are considering such measures to ensure the health and safety of our staff.

     

    1. How are we going to make sure children keep face masks on (especially children with autism and younger elementary children)?

    ANSWER: In general terms, teachers and staff will be responsible to correct mask wearing by students as needed. For unique needs of students, this support would be handled on a case-by-case basis. Our goal is to work collaboratively and engage with parents, students and staff to encourage adherence to all established protocols using the guidelines from the VDOE and CDC. Proactive intervention and support, rather than discipline, will be the focus as we understand this will be an adjustment for all.

     

    1. What actions will be taken when students refuse to wear a mask or social distance?

    ANSWER: Our goal is to work collaboratively and engage with parents, students and staff to encourage adherence to all established protocols using the guidelines from the VDOE and CDC. Proactive intervention and support, rather than discipline, will be the focus as we understand this will be an adjustment for all.

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    1. Will you enforce rules for wearing face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks?

    ANSWER: If ACPS reopens under a hybrid model, students, staff and visitors would be expected to follow all safety guidelines by the CDC to include wearing the appropriate PPE, maintaining social distance and complying with our screening procedures.

     

    1. Will there be a specific type of face covering required for teachers - cloth, paper, N-95?

    ANSWER: This is still under discussion and depends on the model that ACPS decides to adopt. ACPS is working on a plan to provide the necessary PPE for students and staff if a hybrid model is chosen. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that all staff and students and their families are safe and healthy and our requirements or provision of PPE would be based on this premise.

     

    1. What PPE is being provided to teachers and students by the District?

    ANSWER: This is under discussion and depends on the model the ACPS decides to adopt. ACPS is working on a plan to provide the necessary PPE based on various scenarios. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that all staff and students and their families are safe and healthy and our requirements or provision of PPE would be based on this premise.

     

    1. Who is going to be conducting the sanitizing of classrooms?

    ANSWER: Our Cross-Functional Planning Teams are working on these logistics and expectations. Ultimately, our goal is the health and safety of our students and staff. The CDC and VDOE have provided guidelines that we will adhere to.

     

    1. What extra cleaning materials and procedures will happen in classrooms as well as bathrooms?

    ANSWER: Our Cross-Functional Planning Teams are working on these logistics and expectations. Ultimately, our goal is the health and safety of our students and staff. The CDC and VDOE have provided guidelines that we will adhere to.

     

    1. What are we doing to ensure our classrooms are safe?

    ANSWER: The division will follow public health and CDC guidelines to ensure a safe teaching and learning environment for schools and offices. We will only be asking staff and students to return to classrooms once we have procedures in place to help ensure their health and safety.

     

    1. If substitutes are in the physical classroom, will they be trained on classroom and building protocols?

    ANSWER: Although the specific content has yet to be determined, we expect to train substitutes on classroom and building protocols to comply with health and safety guidelines.

     

    1. Will teachers be held liable if one of their students contracts Covid while at school?

    ANSWER: Absolutely not. No teacher will be held responsible if a child in their classroom contracts COVID-19.

     

    1. Will ACPS be increasing staff life insurance policies?

    ANSWER: ACPS already has sound life insurance policies for staff and these are sufficient to cover any situation. Staff have the option to increase coverage at their individual discretion.

     

    POSITIVE CASE PROCEDURES

    1. What is the procedure if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID?

    ANSWER: A student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 would need to isolate at home for the period of time indicated in the VDOE guidelines.

    Per VDOE guidance, letters will be sent to the entire school community outlining a situation and explaining the actions a school is taking and that parents/staff should take when:

    • A symptomatic individual is sent home for COVID like illness
    • There is a positive case with no exposure in a school
    • There is a positive case with exposure in a school
    • There is a laboratory confirmed case of COVD-19 associated with the school

    NOTE: The confidentiality and identity of that individual will be protected at all times in all communications.

    ACPS will also work with the Alexandria Health Department to plan more detailed personal communication needed for parents whose children have been identified as being a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

     

    1. Will teachers with positive COVID-19 tests have to quarantine for 2-3 weeks?

    The VDOE and the Virginia Department of Health recommend that a teacher who has a positive test result self-isolate for at least ten days after the date of the first positive test and continue to have no symptoms (no cough or shortness of breath) since the test.

     

    1. Will staff have to use their sick leave for quarantine (including multiple quarantines)?

    ANSWER:  An employee who is directed by medical authority to quarantine may qualify for leave benefits under Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements (FFCRA). Please contact HR for assistance.

     

    1. If someone living in the same house as a teacher/staff tests positive does that teacher/staff need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine and is that time off paid?

    ANSWER: Each situation will be different. The school division follows public health and CDC guidelines and will collaborate with the Alexandria Health Department for each individual situation. The Virginia Department of Health provides guidelines on this.

     

    1. What is the definition of exposure in a school setting?

    ANSWER: The definition of exposure is the same for every setting and every type of classroom. When assessing a person’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, close contact means being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 while not wearing adequate personal protective equipment for ≥15 minutes. If someone is within six feet of a person with lab-confirmed COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more at a time, that person is considered to have been exposed.  

     

    1. If a staff member is out sick with COVID or other issues, will the class get a substitute teacher?

    ANSWER: The use of substitutes is a decision for each school principal. However there is no change in the current process to request substitutes at this time.

     

    1. If a teacher or substitute holds 5 classes a day with 30 students in each, do all 150 students have to quarantine at home for 14 days?

    ANSWER: If we moved to a hybrid model, we would do our best to ensure that students and staff remained separated as far as possible to avoid this situation. If this did occur - or any positive diagnosis occurred - we would contact the Alexandria Health Department and work closely with them to follow their guidance. The Virginia department of Health provides guidelines on quarantine times.

     

    1. Who will be responsible for watching a sick student whose parent is not able to pick them up right away?

    ANSWER:  Every ACPS school has a trained nurse who is able to work with the school principal to help guide the process in each school. It would be important to have a seperate room designated for any child who had potential symptoms so that they could be kept separate from others while they waited for their parents to pick them up.

     

    1. How will you communicate a student or staff positive test?

    ANSWER: Per VDOE guidance, letters will be sent to the entire school community outlining a situation and explaining the actions a school is taking and that parents/staff should take when:

    • A symptomatic individual is sent home for COVID like illness
    • There is a positive case with no exposure in a school
    • There is a positive case with exposure in a school
    • There is a laboratory confirmed case of COVD-19 associated with the school

    NOTE: The confidentiality and identity of that individual will be protected at all times in all communications.

    ACPS will also work with the Alexandria Health Department to plan more detailed personal communication needed for parents whose children have been identified as being a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

     

    1. Are there plans in place in case a staff member dies from COVID?

    ANSWER: ACPS would follow all the communication processes outlined above, while protecting the confidentiality of the staff member according to the family’s request.

     

    1. How will the division communicate/mandate parents and families on following appropriate travel guidelines and protocols before sending students to school?

    ANSWER: Families will be informed of safety protocols via website, school newsletters and other message systems. In addition, school staff can keep a close eye on absences from school and check a student’s situation when they return.

     

    1. How will the division know that staff and families have been self isolated after seeing and visiting families during the holidays?

    ANSWER: Families will be informed of safety protocols via website, school newsletters and other message systems. In addition, school staff can keep a close eye on absences from school and check a student’s situation when they return.This situation is unprecedented and is going to take collaboration to overcome.

     

    1. How many positive tests in a school before the school shuts down?

    ANSWER: Should ACPS have a single positive case, we will notify the Alexandria Health Department and work closely with them to follow their guidelines. They would provide a recommendation regarding the need to close a school or school facility.

    The extent of the school facility and teaching staff affected by these factors will be a factor in determining whether educational services can continue to be provided in-person should this situation occur.

    The VDOE guidance states that sections of a school could be closed instead of the entire school depending on the number of ill persons who have been sent home for a period of isolation and the number of exposed contacts who have been identified and placed into quarantine.

     

    1. What mental health supports will the school district offer to support staff/teachers?

    ANSWER:  All ACPS staff have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). They can access counseling and mental supports through that program.

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    1. How will teachers be compensated extra via hazard pay?

    ANSWER: There is no hazard pay at this time.  

       

    DELIVERY OF INSTRUCTION

    1. Will teachers be expected to create, plan, and provide both in-person instruction and asynchronous learning?

    ANSWER: Teachers will receive professional learning around providing both asynchronous and synchronous learning for their students.

    ACPS will provide professional learning so that teachers are trained in the skills needed to adapt their teaching to either a virtual or hybrid model. We are aware that this situation requires great creativity from our teachers/staff.

     

    1. Will teachers receive overtime pay for the extra amount of planning of both online and in person instruction?

    ANSWER: As teachers are salaried employees they are not eligible for overtime pay. We will work with our staff to ensure that we are balancing the workload for staff.

     

    1. How do we teach reading if we can’t be within six feet or three feet of a student?

    ANSWER: This is something that our principals and Cross-Functional Planning Teams are exploring.This is a great question and shows us that teaching virtually or with social distancing will require innovation and creativity. Questions such as this will be addressed in training sessions prior to the fall.

     

    1. Will ACPS provide teachers with professional training to teach 100% online?

    ANSWER: Yes, regardless of the instructional model, ACPS will provide professional learning for staff. It is our responsibility as a school division to make sure staff has the appropriate professional development and support, needed to feel confident to work in either model.

     

    1. How will we support students with disabilities so they can access and complete material while in their home environment?

    ANSWER: Every student with a disability or an IEP will have their needs addressed. The Specialized Instructional team is working to ensure that any model can be modified to work for all students with IEPs.

    You can join the Specialized Instruction chat at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday) for more on this topic.

     

    1. If students are required to learn from home, how will ACPS ensure students receive a quality education?

    ANSWER: We will need to adapt how we monitor students and ensure they have the supports needed to engage in a high quality of teaching and learning. Our Student Support Team worked tirelessly to ensure students were supported in the spring, and they will be reviewing, adjusting and adapting that model to ensure we continue to serve our students’ needs in the fall.

     

    1. Will there be tutoring offered via Zoom?

    ANSWER: Yes, tutoring services will be provided for students.

     

    1. How will we support students' mental health and social emotional health as they cannot interact with each other in school?

    ANSWER: Our Student Support Teams will monitor students and help ensure their physical and emotional needs are met.

     

    1. What resources are being provided for elementary - in particular grades 3-5 - as we teach?

    ANSWER: We know we can improve on the learning model from the spring. We were required to think on our feet and put a model in place quickly when we closed on March 13. We know there needs to be improvement in the teaching and learning model and supports provided this fall. Our Teaching, Learning and Leadership team is working on this. Any model we adopt in the fall will include resources to meet the needs of all elementary students.

     

    1. How can we get materials (whiteboards, notebooks, pencils, paper, books, etc) to our students to use during these times?

    ANSWER: We are always able to purchase supplies for elementary students and mail them home during any closure. If there are additional needs, please contact your school principal for guidance.

     

    1. How will substitute teachers be used if instruction is virtual?

    ANSWER: Substitute teachers may be required to work in a remote teaching environment.

    There is no change expected in regards to the substitute process. Substitutes may still cover for long term vacancies such as maternity leave for example. However, we expect fewer substitutes to be available due to impacts of the public health situation. Demand for substitutes may greatly exceed the supply of substitutes.

     

    1. Will substitute teachers have particular connectivity requirements or training for virtual instruction?

    ANSWER: Substitutes will have the same connectivity requirements as any teacher. The Human Resources substitute staff will coordinate with the Department of Technology Services and Department of Teaching, Learning and Leadership (formerly Curriculum & Instruction) to ensure that substitute teachers have connectivity and training for virtual instruction.

     

    1. Will related service employees (OT, PT, SLP, etc.) be able to continue with telehealth?  

    ANSWER: Our Cross-Functional Planning Teams are working on refinement of this service.

      

    LOGISTICS, TRANSPORTATION AND MOVEMENT AROUND SCHOOLS

    1. How are staff breaks and duty free lunch going to be conducted - especially if students are required to eat in classrooms?

    ANSWER: ACPS will adhere to current teacher contracts and provide the breaks stipulated in that contract. These are the kinds of details that our Cross-Functional Planning Teams are working through. This situation is unprecedented and is going to require flexibility from all of us.

     

    1. How will students social distance for fire, active shooter, bus evacuation or tornado drills?

    ANSWER: These are all details that we will continue to refine should ACPS adopt a hybrid model. Our Cross-Functional Planning Teams are working on resolving these kinds of details.

     

    1. Can we login using time clock plus on our computer instead of using the touchpad that many other staff will be using to limit interactions in the office?

    ANSWER: At present, your supervisor clocks you in and out. This is a process that may continue, if deemed necessary by the Cross-Functional Planning Teams.

     

    1. How will we test the air ventilation systems to see if they are appropriately filtering the virus? Many classrooms have windows that only crack six inches and have window ventilation units that are broken.

    ANSWER: The ability to provide good air quality in all of our facilities is an area that the Cross-Functional Planning Teams are aware of and are working on these logistics for any model for the fall. This is already part of the discussion and their work.

     

    CHILD CARE

    1. If an ACPS employee has a student who is participating in an all virtual school schedule, will ACPS leadership/supervisors allow a flexible work schedule that includes remote work?  

    ANSWER: Under our contracts, ACPS employees will either be required to work on-site or work remotely - depending on the model that is chosen for school in the fall. This will be made clear after the final plan has been shared with the School Board on August 7. Details will be shared with staff about health and safety protocols and expectations shortly after that.

    This is going to require flexibility from all of us and we will adhere to CDC guidelines. This situation is unprecedented and nothing about it is convenient for anyone - our staff, our students and community.

    There may be some employees who cannot work for several circumstances and will need to contact HR for assistance.

     

    1. Will Central Office staff be offered the opportunity to continue to work remotely? Especially, if they have children with conflicting school schedules. What happens if I am teaching in school, but my kids are learning online at home?

    ANSWER: ACPS is not changing the requirements for work. Employees will either work on-site or work remotely - depending on the model that is chosen for school in the fall. If an employee cannot work for a particular circumstance; then the employee will need to contact HR for questions and assistance.

    In regards to options for childcare, we are working with the City’s Recreation Department and Campagna Center to determine what can be offered by way of childcare for essential workers. Some childcare for ACPS essential workers is already in place. We will keep you informed and please monitor the City’s website for other options.