Updated Back to School Plan for DCS – Masks Required

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Decatur Christian School

Revised Plan To Support In-Person Learning For All Students

August 17, 2021

  1. Decatur Christian School wants to inform all staff and students of the availability of COVID-19 immunization through vaccine.  Executive Order Number 18 – (COVID-19 EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 85)  from Governor Pritzker of August 4, 2021, the CDC, IDPH, and ISBE all strongly recommend vaccination for members of school communities, including students under 12 years old as they become eligible for vaccination in their jurisdictions.
  • All teachers, staff, students (2 years of age and upwards), and visitors to Decatur Christian School are required to wear a mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.  All persons, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask at all time on school buses unless a specific exemption applies.
    • Exceptions to universal consistent use of face masks include the following limited situations:
      • When eating.
      • If using a face shield when other methods of protection are not available or appropriate.
      • For children while they are napping with close monitoring to ensure no child leaves their designated area alone in classrooms or office with the door closed.
      • For staff when alone in classrooms or offices with the door closed.
      • For individuals who have trouble breathing; or those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
      • For persons with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.), including: 
        • A person with a disability who, for reasons related to the disability, would be physically unable to remove a mask without assistance if breathing becomes obstructed. Examples might include a person with impaired motor skills, quadriplegia, or limb restrictions.
        • A person with an intellectual, developmental, cognitive, or psychiatric disability that affects the person’s ability to understand the need to remove a mask if breathing becomes obstructed.
      • For individuals who have a condition or medical contraindication (e.g., difficulty breathing) that prevents them from wearing a face mask.
      • For fully vaccinated staff when meeting with other fully vaccinated staff outside of settings where unvaccinated persons are present.
      • For staff and students when they are outdoors. However, particularly in areas of substantial to high transmission, staff and students who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
    • Face shields do not provide adequate source control because respiratory droplets may be expelled from the sides and bottom. They may only be used as a substitute for face masks in the following limited circumstances:
      • Individuals who are under the age of 2.
      • Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face mask without assistance.
      • Students and staff who provide a health care provider’s note as documentation that they have a medical contraindication (a condition that makes masking absolutely inadvisable) to wearing a face mask.
      • Teachers needing to show facial expressions where it is important for students to see how a teacher pronounces words (e.g., English Learners, early childhood, world language, etc.). However, teachers will be required to resume wearing face masks as soon as possible. Preferred alternatives to teachers wearing face shields include clear face masks or video instruction. There must be strict adherence to physical distancing when a face shield is utilized in lieu of a face mask.
  • Decatur Christian School will facilitate physical distancing according to the CDC recommendation of 3 feet of physical distance if possible between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.  In classroom or learning spaces where more room is available, the teacher will direct the students to space out further apart from each other.
    • The Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools (Part 5 – Supporting the Full Return of In-Person Learning for All Students – August 2021)  directs that physical distance should be measured as the distance between persons (i.e., “mouth to mouth”) rather than between furniture (e.g., desk to desk). A distance of at least 3 feet is recommended between unvaccinated students, but not required. A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between unvaccinated adults or between unvaccinated adults and students, but not required. When unvaccinated persons cannot maintain recommended physical distancing, strict adherence to masking is especially important.
  • Decatur Christian School requires contact tracing in combination with isolation of those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and quarantine of close contacts, in collaboration with the local health department.
    • All contact tracing will be conducted by the Macon County Health Department, and Decatur Christian School will cooperate to help facilitate contact tracing of infectious students, teachers, and staff and consistent implementation regarding isolation of cases and quarantine of close contacts.
    • In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (cases) and individuals with whom they came in contact (close contacts) and working with such individuals to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
    • Students and staff who are fully vaccinated with no COVID-19-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from school or extracurricular activities. CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals test three to five days after a close contact exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
    • Decatur Christian School logs ongoing monitoring of individuals excluded from school because they have COVID-19-like symptoms, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are in quarantine. Tracking ensures CDC and local health department criteria for discontinuing home isolation or quarantine are met before a student or staff member returns to school. Tracking methods include checking in with the school health personnel upon return to school to verify resolution of symptoms and that any other criteria for discontinuation of quarantine have been met. Tracking will take place prior to a return to the classroom. Decatur Christian hereby declares this process to all members of the school community prior to the resumption of in-person learning.
    • Definition of a Close Contact
      •  For all individuals where exposure occurred outside of the classroom setting and for adults in the indoor P-12 classroom setting, CDC defines a close contact as an individual not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. For students in the classroom setting, contacts who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student do not require quarantine as long as both the case and the contact were consistently masked. If they were not consistently masked, then close contacts are classroom students who were within 6 feet of the infected student for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
      • In general, individuals who are solely exposed to a confirmed case while outdoors should not be considered close contacts.
      • The longer a person is exposed to an infected person, the higher the risk of exposure or transmission. The infectious period of close contact begins two calendar days before the onset of symptoms (for a symptomatic person) or two calendar days before the positive sample was obtained (for an asymptomatic person). If the case was symptomatic (e.g., coughing, sneezing), persons with briefer periods of exposure may also be considered contacts, as determined by local health departments. Persons who have had lab-confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days or those fully vaccinated, according to CDC guidelines, are not required to quarantine if identified as a close contact to a confirmed case.  Local health departments are the final authority on identifying close contacts. 

  • Quarantine Procedures

The local health department will make the final determination on who is to be quarantined and for how long. They also may determine that a close contact is not a candidate for modified quarantine due to a high-risk exposure (e.g., sustained close contact without masking).   The CDC describes three options for quarantine:

Option 1: Quarantine at home for 14 calendar days. Date of last exposure is considered day 0.

Option 2: Quarantine for 10 calendar days after the close contact’s last exposure to the COVID-19 case. Date of last exposure is considered day 0.

o The individual may end quarantine after day 10 if no symptoms of COVID-19 developed during daily monitoring.

o SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing is recommended and may be required by the local health department.

o The individual can maintain physical distancing and masking at all times when returning to school; for classrooms where masking is strictly adhered to as required, physical distance of 3 to 6 feet is acceptable for return.

Option 3: Quarantine period is for seven calendar days after the last exposure if:

o No symptoms developed during daily monitoring AND the individual has a negative SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test (PCR) that was collected within 48 hours of exposure day 7 (starting on day 6 or after).  NOTE: The individual is responsible for obtaining a copy of the negative results for documentation purposes.

o The individual can maintain physical distancing and masking at all times when returning to school; for classrooms where masking is strictly adhered to as required, physical distance of 3 to 6 feet is acceptable for return.

Regardless of when an individual ends quarantine, daily symptom monitoring should continue through calendar day 14 after the exposure. If any symptoms develop during or after ending quarantine, the individual should immediately self-isolate and contact their local health department or healthcare provider to report their symptoms. The health department can provide guidance on how to safely quarantine and isolate within the household.

  • Clean air:  Decatur Christian School does not have central air units, but each classroom does have an air conditioner unit that brings air in from outside.  There is no risk of transfer of air from classroom to classroom based upon air exchange units.  We also recommend that when the weather is conducive to an outdoor learning environment, that teachers take their classes outside into the open air for education and teaching.
  • Maintaining a clean school environment, and promoting personal hygiene are required at Decatur Christian.  Decatur Christian School promotes frequent and proper handwashing.  There is also hand sanitizer available in the classrooms.  Daily thorough cleaning of surface areas, door handles, desks, drinking fountains, and tables is done by teachers and housekeeping staff and students.
  • Individuals who are sick with COVID-19-like symptoms must stay home and get tested for COVID-19.  Both the CDC operational guidance for K-12 schools and this joint guidance no longer recommend fever and symptom screening by school staff upon arrival at school. Instead, self-screening for COVID-19-like symptoms, as well as any other symptoms of common respiratory viruses and ailments, prior to arriving on school grounds or boarding school transportation continues to be recommended.   Individuals who have or self-report a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or currently have known symptoms of COVID-19 may not enter school buildings. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle and body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting, or diarrhea. Individuals who exhibit or self-report symptoms should be referred to a medical provider for evaluation, testing, treatment, and information about when they can return to school.

This document supercedes and updates the Decatur Christian School back to school learning plan effective August 17, 2021 and forward until further modified when necessary.  Much of this material is cited from or gleaned from the Illinois State Board of Education (IDPH) Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools – Part 5 – Supporting the Full Return to In-Person Learning for All Students – August 2021.

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