COLUMBIANA CO., Ohio (WKBN) – Columbiana County Schools announced a common reopening agreement for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
School districts are planning to maintain their approved school calendars with additional employee professional development and requirements.
Although these guidelines are common to all districts in Columbiana County, specific guidance may be necessary to address the unique needs of each school district.
These general principles will guide each school district as they move forward with reopening school throughout Columbiana County.
School Districts will consult with the Columbiana County Department of Health and the Salem City and East Liverpool City Health Departments to establish health and safety protocols to reopen schools based on local data.
School districts will communicate with all stakeholders throughout the reopening process.
Each school district will strive to provide the appropriate face covering and physical distancing requirements based on classroom sizes, school facilities and building operations, while following the local Health Department recommendations.
The “Daily Precautions to Practice” include physical and social distancing, daily health checks, use of personal protective equipment (face coverings), daily hygiene habits, cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day and at the end of the day, and attendance policy related to coronavirus symptoms.
- Daily Health Assessments: School personnel shall monitor their own temperatures before reporting to school and to stay home (if above 100.0) or if experiencing other symptoms. Schools should encourage students to monitor their own temperatures before reporting to school and to stay home (if above 100.0) or if experiencing other symptoms. If a student does not have access to a thermometer but is experiencing symptoms, students may report to a designated area determined by the school for a temperature check.
- Personnel and students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must stay home from school and must be sent home if they become ill at school.
- Physical/Social Distancing: Recommend physical distancing (at least 3-6 feet apart based on the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines) among all persons on school grounds. Utilize visual cues (i.e. floor markings) and other strategies to reinforce spacing. Create transition schedules that minimize the number of students and staff in common spaces including hallways, cafeteria, etc. Schools should consider students and staff who cannot maintain physical distancing and provide alternate, equitable means for work and education.
- Face Coverings: Districts will follow the state mandate in terms of face coverings. These mandates supersede district plans.
- All staff on school grounds and utilizing school transportation will be required to wear face coverings.
- Based on the risk level charts, students in grades 3 and above will be required to wear face coverings. Flexibility on face covering requirements may be updated based on ODH recommendations.
- School nurses or personnel who care for sick persons should utilize appropriate PPE.
- School visitors are required to wear face coverings.
- Any student riding the bus will be required to wear a face covering.
- Good Hygiene Practices: Schools and districts should continue to reinforce good habits to stop the spread of germs, including covering sneezes and coughs and handwashing. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before eating and after using the restroom.
- Clean and Sanitize: Frequently clean surfaces paying particular attention to high-touch areas (stair handrails, door handles, counters, desks, tables, chairs, lavatories, computers, books, etc.). Cleaning and disinfection should be done after each cohort of students leaves a facility or classroom, including between class changes (if applicable), between groups in the cafeteria (when utilized), and after each school day. Limit sharing of supplies and equipment and sanitize between student use. Minimize the amount of materials in the classroom to items that are essential to meet student academic and social-emotional needs. Schools and districts need to consider the appropriate level of staffing to accommodate the cleaning/sanitizing schedule.
Student and Employee Learning About COVID-19 Health Practices
- Student Learning: It is important to note that expected health practices will require new learned behaviors. Implement age-appropriate learning about COVID-19 control strategies for students. This should be on-going to reinforce the importance of handwashing, physical distancing, appropriate use of face coverings, cough and sneeze etiquette, and the importance of staying home when sick or displaying symptoms. All schools and offices should display environmental print promoting infection control strategies (i.e. cough/sneeze etiquette, proper handwashing, appropriate use of face coverings, physical distancing, importance of staying home when sick, etc.). Incorporate behavior expectations into Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports Tier I instruction and teach behaviors often and consistently.
- Employee Training: Education and training for all employees must be provided on how to properly put on, use, take off, and dispose of PPE. Adequate education must be provided for all school personnel to know and recognize the most likely symptoms of COVID-19 and how to protect employees and students from transmissions. Staff must notify their supervisor if they have been exposed to COVID-19 and are quarantined.
Columbiana County schools will be providing a full range of educational opportunities in the
2020-2021 school year. Flexibility is critical in the current environment. Choices of educational
settings for a return to school buildings may include traditional learning, online learning, and
blended learning (a combination of in person and online).
Schools will need to differentiate instructional strategies to meet students where they are. This means addressing schedules and instructional time, diagnostics, curriculum, and accountability.
Schools should prepare for the various scenarios including possible intermittent closures next
year and plan for continuity of learning. Districts must ensure that there is equality in the access
to curriculum and instruction and that there is continuity and alignment of curriculum and
instruction when using face-to-face, remote, and/or blended learning. School districts must
ensure that children are provided with in-home technologies to bring the gap that
disproportionately affects low-income and disadvantaged learners.
Schools will collaborate with the local Health Department and Food Service directors to develop
guidelines for offering food service to all students. For students attending the traditional school
setting, the district will strive to provide for physical distancing and enhanced cleaning of
surfaces between service times.
This consideration will provide alternate approaches to breakfast/lunch service.
- No self-service
- Individual condiments and disposable utensils
- Optional grab and go lunch and breakfast
Transportation Health Concerns
The transportation of students in a manner which is safe for students and employees is of highest
importance. If possible, parents should be encouraged to transport students to and from
school each day. Implementing daily health routines for bus routines will require new practices
and protocols. Each bus will need to be analyzed for adherence to guidelines, keeping safety of
students and drivers foremost. This will result in difficult decisions as to who is transported and
how this works.
- Face Coverings: School bus drivers and adult staff on the bus are required to wear face coverings. It is required that students wear a face covering while riding the bus. Consider providing a mask dispenser on the bus.
- Limit riders based on the Risk Level Guidelines:
- Yellow and Orange (Low Exposure) – 2 students per seat
- Red (High Exposure) – 1 student per seat
- Purple (High Exposure) – No transportation
- Seating: To the extent possible, seating arrangement is designed in a way that prevents close contact between riders when loading/unloading.
- Load the bus back-to-front (first student picked up sits in back, seats are filled in order back-to-front, last student sits in front seats); upon arrival at school:
- Departing School: students load the bus in the order they will arrive at destination (students with longest route sit in the back, those with shortest route sit in front, etc.).
- Hand sanitizer: Recommended that every driver/rider apply hand sanitizer when boarding the bus.
- Practice maximizing ventilation. Travel with windows open at least 2 inches and front and rear roof vents open.
If the wave of COVID-19 continues to sweep through a community or if there is another
spike, schools may once again be closed and need to return to remote learning or even
choose to offer remote learning to meet the needs of all students and families.