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FAQ - Health and Safety

  • What is the district doing to keep children and staff safe at school? Face coverings required, district will provide extra masks to the buildings

    • Social distancing in place
    • Face coverings required, district will provide extra masks to the buildings
    • Tri-fold desk barriers purchased for use when needed
    • Hand sanitizer in classrooms and throughout the buildings
    • Desks have replaced tables in some classrooms
    • Frequently disinfect high touch areas
    • HVAC filters changed every two months instead of every 4 months
    • HVAC running longer hours each day to circulate air

    In the Back to School manual, it states that areas will be cleaned after eating.  How will this be done? 
    The procedure for cleaning after eating varies from building to building. In some buildings the custodians are cleaning desks and/or tables after students eat. In some buildings other staff members are assisting with this process. 

    What does social distancing look like during lunch for students?
    In each of our schools, students are at least 6 feet away from one another during lunch. 

    High School have been told it is best to eat in their classrooms. The rooms may be fogged at that same time. Is it safe to eat in the room while it is being fogged?  
    The district will not be fogging classrooms while anyone is eating. It has been decided to fog all of the classrooms after the school day is over. 

    Where can I find the number of staff and student case and quarantine counts in the WGSD?
    You can access the WGSD’s data dashboard, updated weekly, at the following web site:

    My child has an underlying health condition. Can my child attend school?
    If concern exists, families should consult with a physician prior to having their child attend school.

    Will new health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 impact electives and specials/resource course offerings for the 2020-2021 school year (electives such as chorus and band, which produce respiratory droplets, etc.)?
    We will ensure that all of our course offerings follow applicable health and safety guidelines.

    What is considered “exposure?”
    According to the CDC: “Based on what is currently known about COVID-19 and what is known about other coronaviruses, spread is thought to occur mostly from person-to- person via respiratory droplets among close contacts.”

    Close contact can occur while: 1) being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time, without a mask. Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case. 2) having direct contact with infectious secretions from a person with COVID-19. Infectious secretions may include sputum, serum, blood, and respiratory droplets.”

    How will you ensure proper cleaning and disinfecting of schools and classrooms?
    Schools will follow safety and disinfection guidelines developed by the CDC and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health for buses, classrooms, workspaces, outdoor spaces and playgrounds. At school, we will be cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces multiple times throughout the day. High-touch areas throughout the school building include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, toilets, faucets and sinks.

    We will adjust custodial staffing schedules, as needed, to allow for more custodial support during the day to clean and disinfect, while also supporting deeper cleaning at night.

    How many classrooms would not be able to practice safe social distancing measures such as being placed less than six feet apart?
    In the majority of classrooms, students will be three to six feet apart.

    Will staff members be provided transparent shields to use when closer than three feet?
    Yes, teachers will be provided with a transparent barrier or trifold desktop barrier.

    Will water fountains be turned off? If not, how will we make sure students aren't drinking from them? What about filling up water bottles?
    Schools will post signs on water fountains stating that they can only be used to fill up water bottles. Drinking from the fountains won't be allowed.

    What will the protocol be for students not following safety precautions (adequate distancing, proper mask wearing, etc)? Will there be a strict protocol and how will it be enforced consistently?
    It’s critically important that students and staff follow the required safety precautions.  Administrators must work with students, staff and families to ensure the safety precautions are followed.  If, following appropriate intervention, a student continues to disregard the required precautions, the student will be moved into a virtual learning program of the district’s choosing.  

    Is WGSD participating in the program to allow school nurses to administer COVID-19 tests?
    Due to a variety of concerns with the program, our school nurses will not be administering such tests at school.

    What happens if a student or staff member who has attended school is diagnosed with COVID-19?
    Parents and staff will be notified immediately if they have had close contact with anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. We will follow the guidance of public health authorities in making decisions to close classrooms or schools, or to quarantine specific groups of students or staff. Click here to see the school nurse algorithm

    School nurse algoithm

    Will students or staff who have been in contact need to quarantine? Will the school/classroom close?

    We will be in close consultation with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to make decisions about the need for individuals or groups of people to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19, depending on the exposure.

    Our response and subsequent immediate action steps will be dependent on the situation. For example, the Health Department might recommend a school closure for 2-5 days for cleaning, or they might recommend quarantine for 14 days for a small group of people who had close contact with an infected person. Close contact is defined by health officials as an individual who has been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes of time (cumulative) without wearing a face covering.

    • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
    • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
    • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
    • You shared eating or drinking utensils
    • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

    We will work with the County Health Department and err on the side of caution to decide when students/staff may need to quarantine and/or a classroom or school should be closed. Please click here to see the protocols for contact tracing.

    Student symptom tree

    Please read the current guidance for schools from the St. Louis County Department of Health (below):

    When a Case is Identified
    If an individual within a school building is tested positive for COVID-19, schools must work with their local health department but could expect some of these parameters to be put in place:

    • Identify who the individual was in contact with, within a 6-foot space, for at least 15 minutes. If specific contacts cannot be identified, quarantine everyone who was in the same room, bus or other areas.
    • The St. Louis County Health Department currently suggests that if over 5 percent of the student body in a building or district test positive any day, 4 percent test positive over 2 days in a row or 3 percent test positive for 3 days in a row, then that building or district closes for 10 days (percentages may change when more scientific data becomes available).
    • In the event a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is determined to have been in the building and poses a risk to the staff or students, a school may close for 1-2 days for cleaning and disinfection of that building or exposed area if unable to clean during the nighttime closing.

    If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 when can they return to school or work?
    If someone is a known close contact to someone with COVID-19, or if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, medical clearance would be required prior to returning to school or work. Quarantines can last 14 days or more, depending on the individual circumstances, and we will depend on current public health guidelines in each situation.

    If a student at a school gets COVID, what would happen to their class, their sibling, their sibling’s class, etc?
    We will follow the direction from St. Louis County of Health in terms of which students will need to quarantine.  If a sibling of a quarantined student has not been instructed to do so as well, then they will be able to attend school.

    What allowances will be made for staff needing to remain home with a child who has mild symptoms of an illness (congestion, headache, lethargy, etc.) as this is likely to exceed the 5 family illness days allotted to staff members?

    Through the Families First Coronavirus Act, staff have ten (10) paid emergency sick days to utilize first should their child be impacted by the COVID-19 virus.  We would encourage staff to utilize these days first or concurrently with their personal leave banks.  These ten (10) paid emergency sick days are paid at ⅔ salary.  Staff may utilize their family illness days in order to create a balance in their salary.

    What is the rationale for not requiring a full 14 day quarantine after a known exposure?
    Exposure can be defined in a variety of ways.  There are levels of exposure that the infectious disease experts and local health professionals will consider when determining who quarantines.  For example, if a person was in direct contact with someone with COVID-19, within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period of time, then this person is a direct contact and would quarantine.  If a person comes in contact with a person who has come in contact with a person who was exposed to COVID-19, then this is considered a contact of a contact.  This person would not need to quarantine.  Rest assured that when there is a person who has been defined as a direct contact with the COVID-19 virus, they will automatically go under quarantine.

    How does contact tracing work?
    When a staff member or student is found to have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19, a WGSD nurse or central office staff member will contact the individuals impacted and begin to ask them scripted questions regarding the exposure.  The questions askedThose questions will center on at least the past 48 hours with whom the person had contact and describing that contact.  Based upon their responses, we will notify the St. Louis County Health Department for guidance. 

    What health screenings are in place for students and staff?
    Staff are required to complete a daily health screening prior to coming to work.
    Parents are asked to screen their child(ren) before they leave for school. We ask that parents check them for fever, a sense of having a fever, chills, a cough, sore throat, headache, new loss of smell or taste, or new muscle aches. Not all children who have COVID-19 will have a fever, so parents should check their children closely for any of the other symptoms. 

    A student should not to report to school if he or she is exhibiting symptoms that are not attributed to a preexisting health condition and/or has been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone, staff or student, with a fever of 100.4º F or higher or any COVID-19 symptoms should call a health care provider and not come to school. Parents should notify the administrative assistant at their student's school(s).

    We will not take students’ temperatures when they arrive at school. Taking temperatures at school would be challenging to complete in a safe and timely manner, given the number of students and supervision that would need to be in place. The most effective, evidence-based strategies to prevent the spread of illness are hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing.

    If a student is coughing and sneezing, would he or she be sent to the nurse no matter what?
    Coughing is a high-risk symptom and that student should be sent to the nurse for assessment. Sneezing would not require further assessment unless other symptoms are present.

    If a child in the in-person or hybrid format has symptoms of illness and stays home, would that child join the virtual program?
    No. This situation would be the same as during a normal year. That child's teacher would provide whatever is needed for that child to continue his or her studies.

    How will students be allowed to catch up if sick and/or unable to attend virtually? Will students be allowed “grading grace” if quarantined for 2 weeks? 
    Students will not be penalized for a period of time when they are in quarantine.  Especially at the High School level, since passing grades are tied to credit, assignment requirements still need to be met. If a student or family are concerned, they should reach out to their grade-level principal or counselor to determine a plan to catch up or determine additional support.  

    If multiple students have symptoms, will they all be in the precaution room waiting to be picked up?
    No, we will have multiple locations and will also use outside spaces.

    Do you plan to hire more custodians to help with cleaning and sanitizing?
    We are looking at how we can best support custodians with these duties.

    If we go out of town, will my child have to quarantine before coming to school?
    No, that isn't required.

    Will parents be allowed in the building?
    We will not routinely let people in who aren't students or staff members. Parents who need to come to school will be asked to make an appointment.

    Will the district take the temperatures of students and staff before they enter the buildings?
    Our plan currently doesn't call for that. We will talk about that and seek expert advice.

    If the district moves to in-person classes, will each student have his/her own desk?  Will you keep upholstered couches and chairs that are hard to clean?
    Many of our classrooms have tables.  We will arrange seating so that students are appropriately social distanced at the tables. If that is not possible, we may bring in desks in order to have enough spacing between students.  We are going to minimize fabric furniture where possible.  If upholstered furniture remains in the classroom, our plan is to disinfect it with a sprayer eah evening.

    How will changing classes happen at both Hixson and WGHS, and how will they affect contact tracing? 
    At each school, there will be a structured transition between classes.  Given the structures that will be in place and the limited amount of time students will be in hallways, transitions from one class to the next shouldn’t have a big impact on contact tracing.

    If a student at a school gets COVID, what would happen to their class, their sibling, their sibling’s class, etc?
    We will follow the direction from St. Louis County of Health in terms of which students will need to quarantine.  If a sibling of a quarantined student has not been instructed to do so as well, then they will be able to attend school.

    How many students or staff must test positive before you close a classroom or school?
    We are determining that based on health guidelines.

    Are the state requirements for attendance flexible at all this school year? How does quarantine affect student attendance & grades? 
    Under DESE guidance each district was asked to complete an Alternative Methods of Instruction Plan that included transitions between a virtual setting, hybrid and full in person.  It also includes the need for quarantine.  Students will not be penalized attendance wise or grade wise during a time of quarantine.  For state purposes, when students are in person (either hybrid or full in person) and have to quarantine, the attendance calculations for the term are based on the days when a student is in school, which excludes the days they are in quarantine.  


Last Modified on November 24, 2020