Final District Reopening Plan - 2021

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    Greater Fall River Vocational School District
    Final District Reopening Plan
    August 2021

    Executive Summary

    Since March 17, 2020, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District and Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School have been working with students, parents, staff, and community stakeholders to identify, prepare, and deliver effective instructional methods. As members of the Greater Fall River Vocational School District (Diman Regional High School and Diman Practical Nursing Program), we have spent the last seventeen months planning and developing appropriate action steps to ensure engaged in person learning come September 2021.

    Understanding the importance of safety for all, the district and school administration, as well as the school committee, have prepared steps to appropriately, and adequately, deliver instruction. The information provided in this document will describe the thoughts, ideals, and concerns connected with a full return to in person learning.

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School In-person model

    The school environment will be appropriately modified to ensure safety for all and proper protocols at all times. Sanitizing and hygiene standards proposed by DESE will be enforced and carefully monitored. Masks will be required by all, with periodic breaks during the day. Transportation on buses will be closely monitored.

    Attendance will be taken in traditional methods. Instructors will grade using the approved district policies. Lunches will take place in the student cafeteria and school auditorium. Diman’s School of Practical Nursing and the Diman Division of Continuing Education will both follow similar models for the in-person option.

    Out-of-school Time Plan

    Using its federal Title I status as a School Wide Program, Diman Regional will have programs available for students who need assistance with instruction and education. All programs will be monitored by licensed instructors who will be able to assist students with questions or concerns.

    Student Support and Professional Learning

    Greater Fall River will utilize state grant funds to make counselors available to students after school hours. This program will allow students to virtually communicate with counselors if they need social or emotional support. Additionally, the district’s professional development plan focuses on topics which will assist with the improvement of social wellness and mental health.

    Greater Fall River Vocational School District 2022 Calendars

    The district calendars can be found on our website, www.dimanregional.org.

    Additional Resources and Planning

    HEALTH AND SAFETY

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Preparedness

    On March 13, 2020, all schools in the Commonwealth closed for a two-week period, which was extended twice by Governor Baker and eventually through the end of the 2019 - 2020 school year. Since the closure in March of 2020, Greater Fall River has secured electrostatic sprayers (and a significant stock of PPE and sanitizer to address needs heading into the 2020-2021 school year. Supplies purchased to date include the following:

    • Gloves
    • Electrostatic Sprayers
    • Masks
    • Face Shields
    • Containers for disposal
    • Scrub tops for designated personnel
    • Hand Sanitizer & Dispensers
    • Sanitizer Wipes
    • Eye Goggles

    School Safety Protocols

    The Administrative Team has established protocols to keep our students and staff safe. Walkthroughs of the facilities are being conducted in collaboration with the Fall River Board of Health. Greater Fall River staff members will meet for professional development prior to the start of school to learn and review safety protocols, ensuring that we create the safest return to school possible. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety protocols are being developed to address the following:

    • Protocols for responding to COVID-19
    • Handwashing and proper respiratory hygiene;
    • Instruction on masks/face coverings (how to do, wear, remove, and store);
    • Student transportation options and capacities;
    • Safe ways for students to enter and exit the school building and classrooms;
    • Safe ways for students to eat lunch (most likely in distanced areas outside, gymnasium, or cafeteria);
    • Plans to monitor bathrooms, disable air dryers, water fountains, provide paper towels;
    • Administrator safety protocols and/or procedures - what to do if they are not followed;
    • Frequent risk assessment checks by Administrators to ensure that all safety measures are being followed and supplies are in stock.

    School Attendance Guidelines

    • Face masks will be required at all times (including on buses and in school). “Mask breaks” will be provided for students and staff in accordance with guidelines.
    • Students and staff must stay home if they do not feel well. This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Attendance policies will be review to avoid placing an undue burden on families to have their children report to school when sick. The State may release guidance on attendance requirements in the future.
    • Students and staff with a temperature above 100 degrees should not attend school until they have been fever-free (under 100 degrees) for three (3) days and without the use of antipyretic medication, such as Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, or Ibuprofen.
    • Students and sick staff members should not return to school until they have met the criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Health (MPDH) to Discontinue Home Isolation and Quarantine. Students and staff will check with the school nurse prior to returning as well. A safe return to school is based on symptoms, duration of symptoms, test results from your health provider, and clearance by the districts nursing staff. Please see the full guidance document from DESE on Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios.
    • Greater Fall River will have a designated “sick area” located in the nursing suite where staff and/or students will be triaged and assessed for an appropriate disposition. Sick students and staff will be separated immediately to avoid cross contamination. Students will remain in this unit until a guardian dismisses them.
    • School nurses will use Standard and Transmission- Based Precautions when caring for sick people.
    • If the nurse/school personnel are calling an ambulance to bring someone to the hospital in the event of an emergency, they will alert the dispatcher that the person may have COVID-19.
    • Families need to provide the school nurse various emergency contacts, indicating individuals who will be able to come to the school and pick up their child if they become sick during the school day. Dismissing sick children (and staff) in a timely manner is imperative for the safety of all.

    Extenuating Circumstances Impacting Students and Staff

    • Staff members with concerns relative to the preceding issues should contact administration within each program (high school, practical nursing, continuing education). Additional information is provided in our COVID 19 Support Section of our website.

    Clean and Sanitized Restrooms

    We continue to follow the guidance below from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which includes the ongoing maintenance of restrooms, ensuring they have functional toilets, clean and disinfected surfaces, and handwashing supplies. We will continue to take the following precautions:

    • Ensure we operate with functional toilets.
    • Clean and disinfect regularly using EPA-registered disinfectants that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches.
    • Clean, and disinfect restrooms daily or more often if possible.
    • Instructions for proper hand washing will be posted in restrooms.
    • Follow the Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting to develop, implement, and maintain a plan to perform regular cleanings to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    • Regularly stock with supplies for handwashing, including soap and paper towels for drying hands or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and no touch trash cans.

    Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts

    • In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, the school nurse/administrators should notify the Fall River Office of Public Health, staff, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    • The school nurse will work collaboratively with the Fall River Office of Public Health to identify individuals who have tested positive and/or who had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Individuals and families will be instructed to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, following CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
    • The school nurses will work closely with the Administrative Team to identify any COVID-19 cases and any necessary actions.

    Symptom screening

    Checking for symptoms each morning by families and caregivers, before students arrive at the bus stop, is critical and will serve as the primary screening mechanism for COVID-19 symptoms.

    • If a student who may be symptomatic must board the vehicle, they should be spaced at least six feet from other students as feasible. Close off areas used by the student, and do not use those areas again until after cleaning and disinfecting
    • Signs will be posted at entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness or fever.
    • If students become sick during the day, they will not be permitted to travel home via school bus.

    Masks

    Everyone on the bus must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth at all times.

    • Adults, including drivers and other transportation staff (e.g., bus monitors), are required to wear masks.
    • Students are required to wear masks when on the bus.
    • Exceptions to masks for students: Face shields may be an option for students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks. Please see the “physical distancing” section for protocols for families of students who cannot wear masks due to medical, behavioral, or other challenges.
    • Masks should be provided by the student/family, but districts must ensure that sufficient extra disposable masks are made available on all buses for any student who needs them.

    Hand sanitizing

    Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed on buses for students and drivers to clean hands as they board and exit. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or at least 70 percent isopropanol content can be used.

    Hand sanitizer should be applied to all surfaces of the hands in sufficient quantity that it takes 20 seconds of rubbing hands together for the sanitizer to dry.

    • Hand sanitizer dispensers should be placed only at the entrance of school buses within view of the bus driver or monitor to ensure appropriate use. Students and staff are required to exercise hand hygiene (handwashing or sanitizing) upon arrival to school.
    • During winter months, students wearing gloves upon entry should be encouraged to keep gloves on at all times during transit to the extent possible. If the student wishes to remove the gloves, they should follow the hand sanitizing protocols outlined above upon entry and exit.

    Ventilation

    Buses will mitigate airborne transmission by increasing outdoor air ventilation. Doing so helps dilute the concentration or displace the presence of an airborne virus. Opening windows can greatly increase the level of ventilation within a school bus and therefore reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.

    • Keep windows open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions. Even in cold or rainy weather, bus windows should be kept open at least partially (a couple of inches), if possible.
    • Consider keeping roof hatches open on buses during operation for further ventilation.

    FOOD SERVICE

    We are prepared to serve breakfast and lunch five days a week. The food service team is ready to provide a combination of grab and go and on-site food delivery, dependent upon the needs of our families. Modifications will be required from an operational standpoint to ensure safety.

    Hot, Humid Days, Windows, and Fan Use

    There are concerns about being able to teach and learn effectively in school buildings when temperatures are extreme. The concern is greater now than in the past in light of the face-mask requirement. We will implement the following practices in the upcoming school year:

    • Fans may be placed in strategic locations to maximize air flow and minimize potential for virus circulation.
    • Dampers will be opened to 100%
    • We will use the heat index, which takes into consideration both the temperature and relative humidity, as a metric to determine where and how we will teach and learn.
    • If the heat index is in the “Caution” zone, educators will be encouraged to teach in a shaded outdoor environment as space allows.
    • If the heat index is expected to be in the “Extreme Caution” zone or higher, the Superintendent will call a “Heat Day” and notify the school community that teaching and learning will happen remotely on that day.

     

    SPECIAL EDUCATION AND HIGH NEEDS

    Overview of Special Education Supports

    Special Education instructors often have particularly close connections with their students; therefore, ongoing communication and meaningful partnerships with families continue to be of paramount importance to us. As we move into the start of the new school year, special educators will be collaborating with related service providers, instructional assistants, general educators, and others who support students in Special Education, ensuring that recommendations for activities are appropriate and accessible.

    The District is dedicated to providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to our students, consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services. Transition planning and services will continue. Specialized PPE will be provided when the instructional needs require closer proximity. The District will continue to work with families to meet timelines or agree to extensions for Initial Evaluations, Reevaluations, and IEP Team Meetings.

    Students with disabilities, along with their peers in general education, will be assessed to evaluate skill gaps. In addition, special education progress reports and data on levels of performance towards goals prior to closure will be reviewed for progress and regression post-closure.

    Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact Ms. Debbie Pacheco, Director of Special Education, at dspacheco@dimanregional.org with any questions or concerns.

    PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

    The district is committed to continuous improvements aligned with the 2021-2023 District Improvement Plan. All professional development will serve as a complement and in alignment to the pre-established action items identified within the plan. There will be a specific focus on curriculum development and social emotional well-being of our entire school community.

    Questions and Answers:

    If you are a parent or caregiver with questions regarding your child’s education, our best advice is to first talk with your child’s teacher or special education liaison. If you have additional inquiries that do not fall under the category of education or instruction, or require additional assistance, please consider the following contacts: