VAN ISD FALL PLANNING GUIDE 2020
The district will continually update this document when new guidance is released from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and state health experts regarding on-campus instruction this fall. All of the proposed protocols and procedures are subject to change based on state and county guidance for schools. VISD will follow the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Northeast Texas Public Health District guidelines for In-Person Instruction.
There will almost certainly be situations that necessitate temporary school closure due to positive COVID-19 cases in schools. Parents, educators, and school administrators should be prepared for this in the event that it occurs, while actively working to prevent it through prevention and mitigation practices.
A MESSAGE FROM VAN ISD’S ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM
The Van ISD Administrative Team is working diligently to prepare for a safe reopening for the 2020-2021 school year. Our goal is to offer On-Campus Instruction beginning on September 3, 2020; however, we have developed a contingency plan should we experience a resurgence of COVID-19 during the upcoming school year. Last spring, in response to the unprecedented worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19, teachers across Texas had to change instructional methods overnight. Van ISD staff provided parents with at-home remote learning resources, lesson links, optional packet activities, and occasional teleconference meetings with their students. Van ISD staff is now better prepared to pivot to virtual instruction should it become necessary.
As COVID-19 continues to change the way we live and operate as a society, Van ISD faculty and staff will work together to leverage resources, share best practices, and advocate for flexibility, including state and federal waivers to assist us as we provide the best possible programs and opportunities for all our students. This 2020 Planning Guide remains in DRAFT form as Van ISD collects staff and parent feedback.
There is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach to reopening schools across the state of Texas. Based on available information as of June 23, 2020, school districts in Texas will create local contingency plans for reopening based on general guidance from the Governor's Strike Force to Reopen Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health).
Van ISD's plans are subject to change as public health guidelines are updated and feedback is collected. Parents, students, and staff should be prepared for situations that may arise and necessitate a temporary school closure due to positive COVID-19 cases in schools. We ask that all Vandal families do their part by actively and continually taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following CDC guidelines and recommendations.
Virtual School Requirements
The Texas Education Agency has approved two different virtual school models in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for districts to utilize in addition to on-campus instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. Synchronous instruction (real-time/live, virtual instruction between teachers and students) and asynchronous instruction (teachers provide pre-recorded videos of instruction and guided support while students engage in learning materials on their own time and interact daily with the teacher). Van ISD will provide asynchronous instruction for students in grades PK-12. Van ISD will not provide synchronous instruction while On-Campus Instruction is taking place on district campuses.
Van ISD students participating in virtual instruction (asynchronous instruction) will be required to engage in learning activities on their own time during the school day, interacting daily with the teacher(s) via computer or other electronic devices, or over the phone. Teachers will post an assignment/activity each day and give guided support under this model of instruction. The student will be considered enrolled in Van ISD Virtual Instruction for attendance and funding purposes and will be eligible to participate in all extra-curricular activities and sports per UIL guidelines.
For students participating in asynchronous instruction to be counted for attendance purposes, they must be engaged in one of the following ways for each enrolled class during each school day:
- Daily progress in the Learning Management System (LMS) as defined in the Van ISD learning plan; or
- Daily progress via teacher-student interactions as defined in the Van ISD learning plan; or
- Completion/submission of assignments from student to teacher (potentially via email, online, or mail).
Per Texas Education Code (TEC) 25.092, students must attend 90 percent of a course (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. This requirement remains in effect during the 2020-2021 school year.
Van ISD students will have the option to either attend school in person or virtually during the 2020-2021 school year. Once an option is selected, students will not have the ability to change from Virtual Instruction to In-Person Instruction or vice-versa until the end of the current nine-week grading period. Choosing to be a virtual student is a nine-week commitment to this learning model. Parents and students must be fully aware of the requirements and expectations of this instructional model before selecting this mode of instruction.
General Health & Safety Protocols (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
- Campus staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Beginning the first day any student begins on-campus learning, campuses will provide instruction to students on appropriate hygiene practices and other mitigation practices adopted by the district to mitigate the likelihood of COVID-19 spread inside the school. Instruction and reminders will continue throughout the year.
- Disinfectants will be used for deep cleaning campuses.
- Students, teachers, staff and essential campus visitors will be encouraged to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently.
- Tissues will be provided in classrooms and common areas to encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, to cover with their elbows. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer should be used.
- Sneeze Guards and Plexiglass will be added to public reception desks.
- Social distancing and safety signage will be added and visible throughout school facilities.
- No outside visitors or parents will be allowed to enter the student areas of the school buildings at least during the fall semester.
- Main school entrances will be locked immediately after arrival times and remain that way throughout the day to help ensure effective management and safe screening of visitors.
- Van ISD is permitted to prevent any individual who fails the health screening criteria from being admitted to the campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry to the campus.
- Students will utilize backpacks instead of hallway lockers and cubbies, at least during the fall semester, to help ensure social distancing/space between students.
- Currently, all locker rooms and shower rooms are "CLOSED" per the Texas Education Agency. This could change by the opening of school in September.
- On the first day a student attends school on campus, Van ISD will provide instruction to students on appropriate hygiene practices and other mitigation practices.
Health Pre-Screening for Staff & Students (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
- Students and staff are expected to take their own temperatures daily before arriving at school. Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher should not come to school or any VISD facility. Additionally, Van ISD will perform temperature checks of all employees and students upon arrival.
- Students and staff should also prescreen themselves for any of the following symptoms prior to coming to school:
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
- Staff will complete a digital self-screening form each day before arrival at any Van ISD campus.
- Students and staff may be subject to periodic temperature checks for verification, especially if they are feeling ill or suspected of having a fever during the school day.
- Teachers will have access to a thermometer in their grade level or department to check/verify temperatures throughout the day as needed and will immediately send anyone with a 100 or higher temperature to the school health clinic for a temperature verification and symptom check by the school nurse.
- Van ISD will be pre-screening and checking the temperatures of all contracted workers and essential volunteers before they are allowed entrance on campus.
Health Pre-Screening for Visitors (DRAFT) (UPDATE 8-26-20)
- Visitors and volunteers will be limited to only those activities essential to school operations. Visitors will be limited during the 2020-2021 school year and must have an appointment before arriving on any Van ISD campus.
- For all campuses, visitors must pre-screen themselves for any COVID19 symptoms using a form provided by the district.
- Visitors must have their temperature taken at the campus receptionist window before gaining admission to any campus.
Arriving at School (DRAFT)
- Students will have their temperature checked each morning by a Van ISD staff member upon arrival at school.
- Students arriving at school will be allowed to social distance and spread out in larger common spaces (pre-designated by the campus, like the gym, library and cafeteria) until the bell rings to report to class.
- Parents are encouraged to drop their child off at school to reduce possible virus exposure.
- Students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer immediately upon entering the building.
School Health Clinic Procedures (DRAFT)
- School Nurses and substitute nurses will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Minor health needs will be handled in the classrooms to reserve the health clinic space for students experiencing symptoms or fever.
- Attendance clerks will be trained to ask questions to screen students/staff who are absent for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Students who come to the school health clinic showing symptoms will be required to put on a face-covering/mask until their parent arrives to take them home.
- School Health Clinics will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Protocols for Individuals Confirmed, Suspected or Exposed to COVID-19 (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19
- Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
- at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
- at least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
- In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
- If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) obtain an Acute Infection Test at an approved COVID-19 testing location that comes back negative for COVID-19. COVID-19 testing locations found at https://bit.ly/2YAxNVH.
- In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:
Identifying Possible COVID-19 Cases on Campus
- Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
- Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible.
- Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.
Required Actions if Individuals with Lab-Confirmed Cases Have Been in a School
- If an individual who has been in a school is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, Van ISD Health Services will notify NETHealth, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Schools must close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, unless more than 3 days have already passed since that person was on campus.
- Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, Van ISD will notify all teachers, staff, and families if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any on-campus activities.
Individuals, including students, teachers, staff or other campus visitors/volunteers, who have had close contact with someone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, as narrowly defined in this document as determined by the appropriate public health agency through the 10-day incubation period, and should not be allowed on campus.
Van ISD school nurses will screen individuals after the incubation period has concluded, and if the individual did not experience COVID-19 symptoms during that period, the individual can be allowed back on campus. If the individual experienced symptoms, they must stay at home until the conditions outlined above have been met.
Close contact is defined as:
- being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on); or
- being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes; however, additional factors like case/contact masking (i.e., both the infectious individual and the potential close contact have been consistently and properly masked), ventilation, presence of dividers, and case symptomology may affect this determination.
Either (a) or (b) defines close contact if it occurred during the infectious period of the case, defined as two days prior to symptom onset to 10 days after symptom onset. In the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, the infectious period is defined as two days prior to the confirming lab test and continuing for 10 days following the confirming lab test.
In the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, the infectious period is defined as two days prior to the confirming lab test and continuing for 10 days following the confirming lab test.
Current COVID-19 Symptoms for Screening As of 8/4/20
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
- Nausea or vomiting
Bus Transportation Protocols (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
- Van ISD will provide bus transportation.
- Face coverings/masks will be required for all people regardless of age when riding on a Van ISD bus or vehicle while Governor Abbott’s mask order remains in place.
- Bus Drivers will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Bus riders will be encouraged to social distance as much as possible.
- Bus riders will be taught to space themselves out from others as they exit the bus and walk into the school building.
- Hand sanitizers have been installed on all buses and are to be used by all persons when entering and exiting the bus.
- Buses will be thoroughly cleaned after each bus route by the bus driver and shop personnel. Extra attention will be given to seats, handles, knobs, steering wheels, and other high-touch areas.
- When possible, bus windows will be opened to allow outside air to circulate in the bus.
Lunchroom Safety (DRAFT)
- Van ISD plans to utilize the school cafeteria for student meals. NOTE: No parents/visitors during lunch at least for the fall semester.
- Cafeteria staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Classes will go to lunch on a staggered schedule to minimize the number of students in the cafeteria each period.
- All cafeteria staff will be wearing masks and gloves while serving students.
- Students will verbally provide the cafeteria staff their individual account number as part of the "no-touch" lunch purchase process.
- Seats, tables, door handles, and high-touch areas will be disinfected between service periods/use.
- When possible, food items will be pre-packaged and boxed to minimize face-to-face contact in the cafeteria line.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Masks (DRAFT)
The Texas Education Agency recently announced that PPE would be purchased and provided to each district for use as needed. From the state, Van ISD will receive:
- 21,656 disposable masks
- 5,414 reusable masks
- 10,608 gloves
- 18 thermometers
- 254 gallons of hand sanitizer
- 312 adult face shields
Masks (UPDATED 8-26-20)
- For the purposes of this document, masks include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth. Face shields may be superior to cloth face coverings in many circumstances, given improved ability to see mouth movements and improved air circulation.
- Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks.
- Governor Abbott’s mask order applies to children ages 10 and up; therefore, masks are required for all students attending Van Middle School, Van Junior High, and Van High School. Students at JE Rhodes Elementary and Van Intermediate School are not required to wear a mask, but may if they wish.
- In addition to the executive order, school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate.
- It may be impractical for students to wear masks or face shields while participating in some non-UIL athletic or other extracurricular activities. When it is impractical for students to wear masks or face shields during those activities, schools must require students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear masks or face shields when entering and exiting facilities and practice areas and when not actively engaging in those activities. Schools may, for example, allow students who are actively exercising to remove masks or face shields, as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from other students, teachers, and staff who are not wearing masks or face shields. However, schools must require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks or face shields as they arrange themselves in positions that will allow them to maintain safe distancing.
Handwashing & Hand Sanitizers (DRAFT)
- Students and staff will be trained in proper hand washing protocols to prevent COVID-19 and the spread of germs.
- Elementary and Intermediate teachers (PK-3) will teach and supervise proper student hand washing each day.
- Hand sanitizer stations have been added in each classroom and commons areas.
Social Distancing Protocols (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
- Students and staff will be trained in proper social distancing.
- Signage will be used as a reminder to help assist students and staff with social distancing in common spaces and hallways.
- Social Distancing becomes a personal responsibility of each individual attending school or coming to a VISD facility.
- Whenever possible throughout the day, students and staff will remain six feet apart. NOTE: it isn't realistic that staff and students can maintain six feet of social distancing at all times, especially in classrooms.
- In classrooms where students are regularly within six feet of one another, campuses will plan for more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing and will increase airflow from outside when possible.
- Campuses will plan for entry, exit, and transition procedures that reduce large group gatherings with close proximity.
- Large group gatherings and assemblies will not occur while social distancing restrictions are in place.
- Campuses will have plans in place to reduce the likelihood that students meet the definition of ‘close contact’ while at breakfast and lunch.
Cleaning & Disinfectant Protocols (DRAFT)
- VISD custodial employees have been trained on COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Cleaning and disinfecting will occur daily in every classroom, common areas, and on high-touch surfaces.
- Every classroom and office area will have disinfectant wipes and or disinfectant in a spray bottle with cleaning cloths provided for employees to use in high-touch areas throughout the school day.
- Cleaning supplies will be stored safely where children cannot access them to ensure harmful cleaning products are not used near children.
- Restrooms, cafeterias, playgrounds, and computer labs will undergo extensive cleaning after each day's use.
Instructional Delivery Options (DRAFT)
Student grading policies under both fall planning models must be consistent with the grading policies used before COVID-19 for on-campus assignments. Therefore the district will not be using pass/fail this fall.
- Van ISD intends to begin On-Campus Instruction on the first day of school for students, September 3, 2020.
- On-Campus Instruction is traditional at-school learning.
- Additional safety protocols and social distancing will be implemented as recommended for on-campus learning.
- If a student participating in On-Campus Instruction is diagnosed with COVID-19, that student will immediately be transitioned to Virtual Instruction until all reinstatement requirements are fulfilled, and they are released to come back to school.
- Under the Virtual Instruction (asynchronous) model, Van ISD will provide virtual instruction for students in grades PK-12 where students engage in the learning materials and teacher recorded videos on their own time and interact daily with the teacher. Teachers will give guided support under this model of instruction.
- The student will be considered enrolled in Van ISD Virtual Instruction for attendance and funding purposes and will be eligible to participate in all extra-curricular activities and sports per UIL guidelines.
- In the event that VISD is forced to close down campuses for an extended period of time, the district will utilize the Virtual Instruction (asynchronous) model.
- VISD will not provide synchronous instruction where all participants are present at the same time, virtually. However, at the discretion of the teacher, some live instruction may be provided via video conferencing.
- Van ISD will give parents the choice to select Virtual Instruction (even if school facilities are open) by signing up before an announced deadline yet to be determined. Under VISD's proposed plan, parents will have to decide to use Virtual Instruction for the entire nine-week grading period if they select this choice of instruction.
Attendance and Enrollment (DRAFT) (UPDATED 8-26-20)
PARENT NOTIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT & ATTENDANCE RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC PER TEA: https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/SY-2020-21-Attendance-and-Enrollment.pdf
- Van ISD will be required to take DAILY attendance under all learning models. This means students will have to be present on-campus or engaged online in their Learning Management System (LMS) each day to be counted present for credit purposes.
- For a student participating in Virtual Instruction (asynchronous instruction) to be counted for attendance, they must be engaged in one of the following three ways in each class daily:
- Daily progress in the Learning Management System (LMS), as defined in the approved learning plan; or
- Daily progress via teacher-student interactions, as defined in the approved learning plan; or
- Completion/Submission of assignments from student to teacher (potentially via email, on-line, or mail).
- Per Texas Education Code (TEC) 25.092, students must attend 90 percent of a course (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. This requirement remains in force during the 2020-2021 school year.
- Student attendance may be earned through the delivery of virtual instruction.
- School systems are required to provide parents a notice of their public education enrollment and attendance rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic using a document published by TEA.
Special Programs (DRAFT)
- Special Programs staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Instruction - Special education and 504 students will receive instruction and related services in accordance with their individualized education/accommodation plan. Virtual learners will receive services remotely rather than on campus.
- Related and/or other services (speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, direct psychological services, and/or vision services) will be provided by the same service provider when possible through various digital platforms (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) for virtual learners. Some related and/or other services such as vision, orientation and mobility, and adapted physical education may be provided via consultation and not as a direct service.
- Students with disabilities whose needs pose additional challenges to learning in a virtual environment are encouraged to attend On-Campus Instruction.
- Therapy services will continue for students receiving those services within both learning platforms. Virtual students will receive these services through an electronic digital platform provided by the district. Students attending school on campus will receive these services face to face while at school.
- Regression will be addressed in an ARD/504 committee meeting.
- Special education transportation services will be provided as written in the ARD paperwork for on-campus learners.
- Additional PPE for staff and additional sanitization procedures will be practiced in special education classrooms.
- Evaluations for special education/504 eligibility will vary on a case by case basis. Van ISD will encourage on-site/in-person evaluations in order to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the evaluation. In the event that an evaluation is needed and an in-person or on-campus accommodation cannot be made, the evaluation will be conducted remotely when possible.
Technology Support (DRAFT)
- All Pre-K through 12th Grade Van ISD students will have access to a district-issued 4G LTE personal device for on-campus and Virtual learning.
- Technology staff will be available in all instructional models to assist students and staff with technology support.
Playgrounds & Outdoor Spaces (DRAFT)
- Playgrounds will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
- When feasible and appropriate, students will gather outside (for instance, during physical education class), rather than inside due to the reduced risk of spreading the virus outdoors.
Extracurricular Participation (DRAFT)
- Students and staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- All participants, coaches, and directors will follow rules established by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
- UIL guidance can be found on the UIL Website.
- In response to healthcare providers' focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the UIL recently waived the required pre-participation physical examination for students involved in band/athletics who already have a physical on file for the 2019-2020 school year. Those students who are new or do not have a physical already on file will be required to get a physical and complete the pre-participation physical examination form BEFORE participating in band/athletics for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Locker rooms and showers are currently ordered "CLOSED" by the Texas Education Agency.
Facility Rentals & After-School Events (DRAFT)
- Due to COVID-19 and the impact on facility management, Van ISD will not be renting school facilities.
Large-Group Gatherings & Special Event Announcements (DRAFT)
- VISD will avoid scheduling non-essential large group gatherings and events where adults and students must commingle or where students would be unnecessarily exposed to the virus in public places such as field trips, assemblies, dances, pep rallies, etc.
Social-Emotional Support/Mental Wellness (DRAFT)
- Van ISD counselors will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Counselors will develop strategies and support for students, families, and staff members.
- Counselors will develop a referral system for individuals who need targeted support as well as access to school-employed and community mental health professionals.
- Students in need of social-emotional support will be provided tiered interventions which could involve referral for additional school-based services or referral for outside mental health support.
- Van ISD will continue to inform key stakeholders regularly while offering opportunities for feedback to help shape Van ISD’s plan moving forward.
- The district and campuses will communicate official VISD news using Skyward Family Access for phone calls, text messages, emails, and will also post updates on the district website, e-newsletters, and social media accounts.