WSSD Reopening Questions and Answers - September 22, 2020
Health and Safety Q&A
Q: What guidelines will the District follow to make decisions about student and staff safety?
A: The WSSD will follow guidelines and considerations established by the numerous agencies and organizations, including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Chester County Health Department, the CDC, the World Health Organization, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Education Laboratory (REL) “Considerations for Reopening Pennsylvania Schools,: and our service provider Environmental Control Systems.
Q: What social distancing standard will the WSSD use for classrooms?
A: On July 16, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released new guidance that is comprehensive and definitive regarding physical distancing of at least six feet among students and staff. Fortunately, the WSSD was already planning to use a minimum distance of six feet from one another in classrooms. This is the generally accepted “gold standard” for social distancing.
Classroom space has been reorganized to provide the utmost space for students; individual student desks will be spaced accordingly with social distancing of six feet. Classroom spaces have been organized with student desks facing the same direction and students being assigned to a specific seat in the classroom. Unnecessary furnishings from classrooms have been removed to provide maximum space for social distancing. In small group instruction rooms where six foot distancing is not possible, additional PPE will be utilized.
Outdoor spaces have been explored to implement social distancing strategies for all areas. Weather permitting, teachers can utilize outdoor spaces in and around the building for instructional purposes. Designated areas will be identified for specific classrooms so as not to intrude on social distancing.
Student transitions and groupings of students will be developed in order to find ways to limit the number of individuals that students and staff come in contact with on a daily basis. Classes will be staggered to limit numbers in hallways at any time. Procedures will be developed in large common areas to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed and allow for students and staff to maintain a high degree of safety.
Q: What protocols will be used for buses?
A: The District will provide transportation with two students to a seat maximum in accordance with Chester County Health Department guidelines. Students will be assigned seats on the bus. Families and those who reside in the same household will be assigned to sit together. Drivers and student passengers will be required to wear face masks while on the bus in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings issued July 1, 2020.
Students exhibiting symptoms will not be allowed to board the bus or will be assigned to the first seat on the bus. Bus drivers will notify the WSSD Transportation Department to contact parents/guardians. Students who exhibit/express illness when en route will be moved to the first seat on the bus.
Frequently touched surfaces on buses will be disinfected between bus runs, and buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Hand sanitizer will be available on each bus. Windows will be open to allow for the circulation of air.
Students are required to wear a face mask while on the bus. Drivers are required to wear a face covering unless it impedes their vision, they have a medical condition, or it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or task.
Bus drivers should wear gloves when assisting students on and off the bus.
Q: Will all students and teachers be required to wear face coverings?
A: All staff will be required to wear face masks while on school property in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings issued July 1, 2020 unless they have a limited exception contained in Section 3 of the Order.
All students will be required to wear face masks while on school property in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings issued July 1, 2020 unless they have a medical or mental health condition or disability, documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA, that precludes the wearing of a face covering in school. Accommodations for such students will be made in partnership with the student’s health care provider, school nurse, and IEP/504 team.
Per PA Department of Health, staff and students with certain medical conditions are not expected to wear a mask but should social distance or use alternative PPE.
Masks will meet the following criteria:
- Should fit snugly, but comfortably, and should not have gaps around the sides of the mask
- Should cover the nose and mouth and go under the chin
- Should be made of more than one layer of fabric
- Cannot have vents or openings
- Cannot be a neck gaiter or bandana
Q: Will the WSSD provide face coverings for students?
A: We know many of our children will come to school with their own mask, however, we will have supplies of masks in school and on the bus for anyone who may have forgotten or lost their own mask.
Q: Will students be allowed to have mask breaks?
A: Students will be allowed to have mask breaks. These breaks should not be longer than 5-7 minutes and must occur when students are in their seats or outside and at least six feet apart. Additionally, these breaks should occur when the class is participating in individual activities that limit conversation and activity. The scheduling of breaks may be based on an individual student’s needs or as part of a scheduled time.
Q: How will the District implement Symptom Monitoring
A: The District is implementing an online Symptom Monitoring Checklist. This process will include the questions outlined by the PA Department of Health and the Chester County Health Department. Parents and Staff will receive a daily e-mail link that is specific to themselves or their child. Once the survey is completed, they will receive a notification that they are either certified to attend school/work or that they need to speak to a school nurse or medical professional. Additional information will be provided to families regarding the Symptom Monitoring Checklist.
Q: Will there be temperature checks for students before they get on the bus and for students and staff each day?
A: All staff members and families will be requested to screen at home and inform the District of any present COVID-19 symptoms. Staff members and students will be monitored as they enter the building to ensure they are healthy and not exhibiting signs of illness. Staff members and students may have their temperature taken before entering the building and may be screened for signs or symptoms.
Q: How will lunch be served to maximize the safety of students and teachers?
A: Schools will avoid face-to-face seating while eating and allow for six feet social distancing. Lunch may be provided in any available space, including the cafeteria and classrooms, to achieve six foot distancing. Schools will use plated meals/box lunches and avoid buffet style meals.
Q: What protocols will be in place for recess and physical education classes?
A: The recess yard will be zoned with each class occupying a zone monitored by an adult. All students will distance from one another. A cohort rotating schedule for using the playground will be identified. Playground equipment will be separated by each cohort. In the event the playground equipment is used, all playground equipment and materials will be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff or contracted cleaning company with disinfectant supplies that meet EPA’s criteria for use against Covid-19.
Sporting equipment may be used for recess but only when used by a single cohort. Balls, frisbees, etc., will be disinfected daily.
Physical Education class will participate outside when feasible. Masks will be required to be worn during PE classes and recess.
Q: What cleaning protocols will be in place for buildings?
A:The custodians will increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning in common areas, restrooms, high-touch areas and items such as door handles, throughout the day, as staff and students enter and exit areas of use.
Daily disinfecting of all areas after students and staff exit the building will be completed. In addition, teachers, staff, and administrators will have access to face masks and shields, gloves, and disinfectant sprays in classrooms and office spaces to be able to additionally disinfect surfaces as used and in an ongoing effort to ensure student and staff safety.
To allow staff sufficient time to clean and sanitize, outside groups, visitors, and/or the public will not be permitted to utilize indoor facilities.
Custodial staff have been trained on the requirements for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, and ventilation protocols either by facilities management or by specific product vendors. All training has been completed and will continue on a regular/monthly/annually basis or as requirement changes are made. Training will be completed as a group and individually by demonstration and using other visual training tools and best practices. Staff responsible for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, and ventilation protocols will be monitored by facilities management and building administration ensuring guidelines are followed
Q: What other steps is the WSSD taking to minimize the transmission of COVID-19?
A: Non-essential visitors and volunteers are not allowed in school buildings. Activities that involve outside groups using District facilities are not allowed. Essential visitors will be limited and need an appointment. All essential visitors must complete and pass the Symptom Monitoring Checklist.
Virtual meetings by outside groups will be implemented (PTO, Home & School, Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools, etc.).
The District will create hygiene routines throughout the school day that will include handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer. Classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and wipes, and paper towels. Signage will be displayed reminding students of hygiene measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus (handwashing, sneezing into elbow/away from others, social distancing, etc.).
Q: How will the District determine if an individual should be excluded from or allowed to return to school/work?
The District will be collaborating and working with the Chester County Health Department to determine the need to exclude or ability to return. The District will utilize the Exclusion from and Return to Work guidance that has been provided by the Chester County Health Department. This guidance can be located on pages 19-22 via the included link. https://www.chesco.org/DocumentCenter/View/59143/School-Guidance-?bidId= .
Q: How will the WSSD notify families if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19? What guidelines will be followed to trigger notice?
A: The District will continue to work directly with the Chester County Health Department regarding potential and confirmed cases of COVID-19. Families who may have been exposed to a positive case will receive notification from the District. If, through contact tracing, they are deemed to have had a high risk exposure, the Chester County Health Department will reach out directly to the individual/family.
Q: If a student is sick, or exhibiting signs of COVID-19, what will you do? What will happen if a parent sends their child to school sick?
A: The District will follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation if a staff member or a student is confirmed to be positive for COVID-19, has had an exposure with an individual who is positive for COVID-19, or is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. They will be sent to the isolation room for the safety of others and sent home as soon as possible under the District COVID-19 Response Protocols and CDC guidelines. The WSSD nursing department will monitor classrooms with staff or students who are at high risk. This monitoring will occur at least one time per day.
If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19, Chester County Health Department health officials will be notified. These officials will help administrators determine a course of action for our School District. The Pandemic Crisis Response Team of administrators and school nurses will make decisions on a case by case basis. The team may consult with medical providers on best practices related to specific cases. Presumptive symptomatic / asymptomatic persons can return to the building according to the WSSD Staff and Student COVID-19 Response Protocols that were developed using CDC and PA Department of Health guidance. The District will follow the guidance from the Chester County Health Department regarding exclusion from and return to work/school. If a staff member is unable or uncomfortable to return to work, they will need to contact the Human Resources Department.
The WSSD nursing department will provide additional monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms in classes with high risk staff and students. Staff and students identified with high risk may also utilize additional PPE.
Q: What will happen if the school learns that a staff or student has been in close contact to an individual confirmed positive for COVID-19?
A: The Chester County Health Department completes all contact tracing of individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19. If the individual is in school, they will be isolated immediately and the parent/guardian will be contacted to pick them up. Staff will leave immediately or be isolated in the nurse’s office until someone can pick them up, if need be. Decisions regarding isolation requirements of staff or students while in school will be made by the school nurse in the building, who will then notify the administrator and the Chester County Health Department alth. The guidelines provided by the Chester County Health Department will be followed. The District will also follow the Chester County Health Department guidance related to exclusion from and return to work/school. The District has been assigned an investigator from the Chester County Health Department and will follow their recommended process for reporting potential COVID-19 exposure/illness. The Chester County Health Department will conduct all contact tracing with cooperation from the District for names, addresses, and phone numbers of potentially exposed students/staff.
Q: If there is a diagnosis of COVID-19 in a school building, what will happen?
A: The District will work closely with the Chester County Health Department to determine the appropriate next steps if there is a COVID-19 diagnosis in a school. The response to an individual case will depend largely on the circumstances surrounding the case and contact(s) the individual had within the school setting. The District has been assigned an investigator from the Chester County Health Department and will follow their recommended process for reporting potential COVID-19 exposure/illness. The Chester County Health Department will conduct all contact tracing with cooperation from the District for names, addresses, and phone numbers of potentially exposed students/staff.
Q: I am worried about the emotional state of my students. How will that be addressed?
A: Mental health resources continue to be updated and posted on the District’s website. School counselors will serve as the single point of contact for reporting social/emotional concerns. They are positioned to assess student needs and provide supports and/or make a referral for a more specialized level of support. This could include a referral to a school counselor, behavioral health counselor, trauma coach consultation, or community-based services.
Currently, there is a Student & Staff Wellness Committee working on the best ways to 1) identify a student in need, and 2) embed social emotional learning within instruction.
Q: If the conditions in our community or our schools worsen, how will things change?
A: Students may have to move from in-person learning to virtual learning at some point during the year if health data and/or recommendations from the Chester County Health Department, PA Department of Health, Delaware County Emergency Management, or the Governor’s Office necessitate closing schools.
Q: If the conditions in our community improve, how will things change?
A: The PA Department of Health and the Chester County Health Department will inform future modifications that allow for changes in health and safety protocols in symptom screening, social distancing, and face coverings. Procedures such as frequent handwashing and staying home from school if you are sick are best practices that should remain across the School District. Other restrictions could possibly be eased depending upon relevant data and guidance at the time.
A/B Cohort Schedule Q&A
Q: Distance learning did not work well for my student last spring. What improvements have been made?
A: The Fall 2020 version of online learning has been improved by the addition of synchronous learning over four days each week, rather than the Spring model which was largely reliant on asynchronous learning. Students will attend 2 days synchronously, 2 days via Zoom, and have 1 Asynchronous day of learning. Teachers will rely on Zoom, Seesaw and Google Classroom for the Learning Management Systems. As always, teachers are available for additional help, and Clubs, which had not been a part of the Spring online learning, will begin again for students to have social outlets around topics of interest.
Q: Will the District organize the A/B Cohorts so that siblings attend school in-person on the same day?
A: Yes. The District has organized the cohorts so that siblings can attend school in-person on the same days.
Q: Do students in the A/B cohorts attend school in-person for a full-day or half-day?
A: Varies by grade level
Kindergarten: Students attend school in-person for their normal half-day, two days a week.. AM students will follow the standard AM Kindergarten schedule. PM students follow their normal PM schedule.
Grades 1-5: Students attend school in-person for full days on their assigned days.
Middle School: Students attend school in-person for full days on their assigned days.
High School: Students will attend school in-person for two half-days per week. One half-day will be in the AM and the other half-day will be in the PM.
Q: Will clubs be offered at the Middle School and High School?
A: Yes. Clubs will meet virtually on Wednesday afternoons. High School band, orchestra and chorus will meet during 5th block. Middle School music will meet before school with details to follow.
Q: When will students who are in the A/B Cohort Model receive synchronous instruction?
A: ELEMENTARY: Students receive synchronous instruction in-person two full days a week and via Zoom for direct instruction in ELA and Math for 120 minutes total each week. All students will have the opportunity to participate in the daily morning meeting sessions in-person or from home.
MIDDLE SCHOOL: All students will be receiving synchronous instruction, either in-person or virtually, periods 1 through 8, four days per week. In-Person Cohort (A or B) students will receive synchronous instruction during their in-person attendance twice per week on their designated days of attendance, in addition to virtual synchronous instruction during their “at home days,” through a Zoom connection to their classrooms. Online academy students will attend all synchronous instructional periods alongside their in class peers through Zoom meetings four days per week (M, T, TH, F).
HIGH SCHOOL: Students will receive synchronous instruction on the two days when their cohort does not report in-person to school and during the remainder of the half-day of in-person attendance.
Q: Can students select to participate in some classes via the A/B Cohort model and participate in the remaining courses using the WSSD Online Academy?
A: No, students must select either the A/B Cohort model or the WSSD Online Academy.
Q: How will students in the A/B Cohort model receive instruction if they are sick or need to stay home for an extended period of time?
A: Varies by grade level.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: The Zoom sessions will not be recorded; however, students who are unable to attend on a given day or series of days will be supported through plans coordinated between the teacher and the parent. Students will be able to join their classmates via Zoom for the first 30 minutes of ELA and Math. Teachers will contact families to discuss learning options such as video lessons and/or asynchronous assignments..
MIDDLE SCHOOL: Students who are sick or need to stay home for an extended period of time can attend their classes virtually through the use of Zoom. If they are unable to attend the classes virtually, students and families should reach out to their teachers for missed assignments, and for direction to receive the essential learning.
HIGH SCHOOL: Students who are sick or need to stay home for an extended period of time may attend the synchronous virtual sessions. If they are unable to attend the classes virtually, students and families should reach out to their teachers for missed assignments, and for direction to receive the essential learning.
Online Academy Q&A
Q: Will students who participate in the WSSD Online Academy receive instruction from the WSSD teachers?
A: Yes. All courses will be taught by the WSSD teachers.
Q: Will students who select the WSSD Online Academy be able to switch to the A/B Cohort model at any time?
A: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: All WSSD parents have been asked to enroll in the WSSD Online Academy by midnight on August 3rd. Students who participate in the WSSD Online Academy will complete their education from home. Once enrolled in the WSSD Online Academy, students remain until the end of the semester or year.
MIDDLE SCHOOL: Middle school parents should reach out their grade level administrator to request a move from the Online Academy to the In-Person A/B Cohort model. The middle school may need up to 5 days of time to properly plan and transition for the return of students.
HIGH SCHOOL: High school parents should reach out their grade level administrator to request a move from the Online Academy to the In-Person A/B Cohort model. The High school may need up to 5 days of time to properly plan and transition for the return of students.
Students With Special Needs Q&A
Q: What services will be in place to support students with special needs?
A: Students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) will continue to receive supports and services in accordance with the IEP. Special Education Case Managers have provided notices of implementation to describe how services are offered (frequency, platform used, etc.) and how some strategies used in-person translate to a virtual or hybrid model.
School teams will identify students with complex needs who may be offered additional supports; extra synchronous sessions, small group interventions, adult support in the home or inclusion in the Complex Needs Cohort. This small cohort of students may return to in-person instruction prior to their grade level and will receive four days of in-person instruction when schools are in the hybrid model. Special Education Case Managers will contact families of students recommended for this cohort and then provide a revised notice of implementation documenting the inclusion in this cohort.
Info about Out-of-District students is the same.
Cleaning, Sanitization, Disinfection, and Ventilation Q&A
Q. How will the building be cleaned and disinfected when schools reopen?
A. The buildings will be cleaned and disinfected daily with a full disinfection between cohorts on Wednesday and after Friday. Throughout the day, custodians will be disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. During the evenings and the time between cohorts, cleaning staff will use electrostatic sprayers to apply the disinfectant. These sprayers allow the staff to fully disinfect an area in a relatively short time. Approved EPA disinfectants will be used in all areas.
All rooms will be equipped with disinfectant spray, wipes, and hand sanitizer.
Q. What is the WSSD doing to ensure proper air circulation in buildings?
A. The WSSD will be implementing a variety of strategies to improve air circulation, as guided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). To begin with, we will increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows and by adjusting the fresh air intake of our ventilation systems from 10% to 25%. Next, redundant ventilation systems that have not been used fully in the past will be operated throughout the day, beginning well before the start and well after the end of each day. All ventilation systems will run longer each day. For our central ventilation systems, we are changing the filters so that more airborne particles are captured. Additionally, each area has been reviewed and any area in need of additional ventilation will receive a HEPA filter.
Q: Is the WSSD providing all students with a District-issued device to participate in online education?
A: Yes. The WSSD is issuing iPads to students in grades K-2 and Chromebooks to students in grades 3-12.
Q: What technology platforms will the WSSD use in the 2020-2021 school year?
A: Students in grades K-2 will use Seesaw. Students in grades 3-12 will use Google Classroom.
Q: I do not have internet access in my home. Will the WSSD provide assistance with internet access?
A: If you do not have internet access in your home, you can borrow an internet HOTSPOT from the WSSD during online learning.
Comcast is also offering internet essentials for 9.95 Per Month + Tax (25 Mbps, No Term Contract, No Credit Check, In-Home WiFi). This is not a WSSD affiliated program. For more details, go to https://www.internetessentials.com/
Q: How does the WSSD ensure that students are not able to access inappropriate content through their District-issued devices?
A: All District-issued devices are filtered the same whether they are in District or at home. The filter the District uses has flexible policies to ensure safety, CIPA compliance, and policy enforcement on networked and mobile devices—on and off-campus.
Q: My student is unable to locate his/her District-issued device/charger. What should I do?
A: Students/families should contact the WSSD Technology Department via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as they notice that the device is missing. The email should include as much information as possible including the student’s name, grade, school, and the last time they had the device.
While in the school, if a student’s assigned device is lost or stolen, they should go to the library or other designated location. An incident report will be filled out and given to a building principal who will investigate the situation.
Students are responsible for the replacement of lost/damaged Chromebook charging plugs. Replacement chargers can be purchased from the district for $60. Compatible or refurbished replacement charger cannot be accepted and may not be safe. Please reach out to the helpdesk (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) to purchase the replacement charger.
Q: Our District-issued device is not working. Who should I contact for support?
A: You can always reach the WSSD Technology Department via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have access to email, you can leave a message at 610-892-3470 x5100. If you are a student using your WSSDGMAIL.org Gmail address, you can only email email@example.com.
Q: How can I access general technology support?
A: If your general question is related to the platform your child is using (Seesaw and/or Google classroom), you should reach out directly to your child’s teacher. For all other support, you can always reach the WSSD Technology Department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you do not have access to email, you can leave a message at 610-892-3470 x5100. If you are a student using your WSSDGMAIL.org Gmail address, you can only email firstname.lastname@example.org.