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St. Louis Public Schools wants feedback on plan to return to school during COVID-19 pandemic

Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the plan will follow guidelines set by the St. Louis Department of Health, but details have not been finalized

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Public Schools released the first draft of its plan to return to school during the coronavirus pandemic, and leaders are looking for feedback.

SLPS said its plan will follow the guidelines released by the St. Louis Department of Health last week, but most other decisions on the plan have not been finalized.

"I want to be really clear here, that this is changing on a daily basis," SLPS Superintendent Kelvin Adams said during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday. "What I'm telling you tonight might change before the 20th, that's how fast information is coming in."

City of St. Louis academic leaders, public health leaders and government officials have been meeting to create re-entry guidance for primary and secondary schools.

RELATED: These are the guidelines for schools in St. Louis to follow this fall

In the Tuesday night meeting, Adams said two-thirds of families that responded to the district's call for feedback said they wanted in-person learning. In order to make that happen the district has purchased hundreds of IR thermometers, installed 300 handwashing stations and put together plans for deep cleaning.

In the plan laid out Tuesday, Adams said parents could be asked to sign a contract indicating what type of school program they want for their children — in person, virtual learning with a teacher or self-guided online learning. Once the contract is signed, the student would be required to stick with that decision through the first quarter of the year.

Other changes could include shortening the school day to accommodate the deep cleaning necessary, Adams said.

If schools do need to go to online-only learning, the district will be able to provide students the technology they need for schooling, including wireless internet hotspots if necessary. Adams said it will cost the district about $4 million.

To read the full draft, click here. You can watch the Board of Education in the player below or by clicking here.

To leave feedback, visit the St. Louis Public Schools website. Comments will be accepted until July 17.

Guidelines for schools in St. Louis:

Click here for the full guidelines

Requirements of schools 

To protect the health of students and staff, each school district must

• Have an infectious disease plan

• Establish a process by which each school in your jurisdiction keeps and maintains accurate records of anyone who has been inside a building

• Comply with the Missouri Revised Statute Section 167.181 and 19 CSR 19c-20-28 which govern immunization of students

• At a minimum, maintain a 3-feet radius around each student’s desk in the classroom

• Conduct daily health and temperature screening for students and staff at the beginning of the school day

• Minimize contact and social mixing during school hours

• Consult and obtain approval from the City of St. Louis Department of Health prior to planning any school assemblies

• Work with the City of St. Louis Department of Health to ensure COVID-19 testing is available and required for all staff prior to returning to work

• Require face coverings for all staff and students in the 4th grade and above while in the school building, and all students when riding school buses;

Note: Students with medical conditions that prohibit them from being able to wear a face covering will be exempt as long as they have a document from their medical provider.

• Establish an isolation area within each school which will be used to remove the ill person from the school’s general population

• Require temperature and health screenings and wearing of face coverings for all essential visitors (e.g. parents/guardians, health officials, business officials, vendors that provide essential services for the school)

• Prohibit visitation of nonessential visitors

• Not hold any in-person field trips during the Fall semester of the 2020/2021 school year

• Comply with the Missouri statutes (19 CSR 20-20.020) governing communicable disease reporting requirements

• Establish protocols for loading and unloading buses to minimize person to person contact

Social distancing

Consider the following social distancing strategies: 

• Class size – modify class sizes as required to comply with social distancing requirements. 

• Cafeteria – staggering lunch periods and using alternative locations for lunch to ensure social distancing can occur during lunch periods. 

• Checking in/out-parents or others should remain in a contained area (such as a vestibule) when checking students in/out during the school day. If others are waiting to check their student in/out, it is best if they are able to wait outside so there is a limited number of individuals in the contained area. 

Face coverings

Staff and students must be instructed on the proper manner in which a face covering should be worn. Efforts should be made to destigmatize the wearing of face coverings. 

Staff members and students in the 4th grade and above must wear a face covering when in the school building. 

Face coverings are not required when providing outdoor instruction and students and staff are able to maintain the recommended physical distance of 6-feet between others. Face coverings may be removed during lunch, so individuals can complete their meals. 

Three reusable face coverings must be made available for all students and staff. Extra face coverings should be kept on site to replace face coverings that may become soiled during the school day. 

The wearing of gloves is necessary for health care workers, such as school nurses, who will be working with sick or suspected sick individuals. In addition, as a safety precaution, facility management and cleaning staff should use gloves when using cleaning products. A fresh pair of gloves should be worn when working with each new individual. An individual should use hand sanitizer before putting on gloves and then once again after removing gloves. 

Hand washing

Hands should be washed before eating, after eating, before and after group activities. Ideally, hands should be washed any time the face/mouth are touched (which would not be practical, especially for younger students)

Restroom usage

Limit the number of students in the restroom. Try to implement scheduled restroom breaks so each grade/class can go at a specific time and avoid mixing classes. 

Mark spaces outside restrooms to provide visual cues to ensure social distancing while waiting. 

School transportation

When possible, assign seats by cohort (same students sit together each day) which will help with contact tracing. However, all students must wear a face covering while riding transportation provided by the school to reduce the potential for COVID-19 transmission. 

Recess

Recess activities must be limited to activities that permit social distancing.

Students temperatures/ staff screening

Taking temperatures of students at the beginning of the school day is required. All staff must complete a standardized self-assessment screening before reporting to work.

The guidelines noted 'perfect attendance' awards should be eliminated from schools. It also suggests human resource policies should be reviewed to make them less punitive for persons who develop illness and are not able to perform their job duties.

Here's what happens if someone is identified with symptoms of COVID-19

When a staff person is identified with symptoms: 

• Remove the individual from the general population immediately. If they are medically stable, send that person home immediately. If they are not stable, please call 911. 

• The staff must be advised to contact their health care provider if they exhibit symptoms or answered YES to any screening question. The health care provider will be able to determine whether the symptoms are a result of COVID-19 infection or if there are other health issues. 

When a student is identified with symptoms: 

• Remove the individual from the general population immediately. 

• If the student is not medically stable, a staff person or school health official should call 911. Only trained staff should provide lifesaving care (e.g., CPR). 

• The school nurse or health official must contact the student’s parents as soon as possible. If medically stable, the student must be monitored while in isolation until their parent/guardian is able to pick them up.

OTHER REOPENING PLANS 

RELATED: Edwardsville school district announces reopening plans

RELATED: CDC: Guidelines for reopening schools aren't being rewritten

RELATED: Here are the guidelines St. Louis County schools should follow this fall