SJS COVID GUIDELINES: ANSWERS TO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
St. John’s Catholic School will follow the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidelines and the Arkansas Ready for Learning report issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as the diocesan guidance in planning for re-opening in the fall. We hope the following information helps answer many of the questions you may have about returning to school.
Our goal is to provide as safe an educational environment as possible that includes a rich educational experience, with opportunities for social interaction while adhering to physical distancing protocols when feasible and practical.
I. GENERAL & DAY-TO-DAY INFORMATION FOR BUILDING ATTENDANCE
When is the first day of school? School will begin on August 13, 2020 as originally planned. This date will only change if ADH or the diocese sends updated guidance with this requirement but this is not anticipated.
Who will be required to wear face coverings? According to the Diocese of Little Rock Return to School Guidance, all adults must wear face coverings when 6 feet of physical distancing is not able to be attained. All students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when entering the building, during bathroom breaks and during transition times. Examples: lining up to go to recess, moving in the hallways. However, once a student is seated at their desk and socially distanced, they may remove their face covering.
Do we need to provide face coverings for our student or will one be provided? Parents need to provide students with their own individual face coverings. It is recommended that a student have a minimum of three face coverings. We suggest you purchase the ones that hang on their necks and can be easily put on and taken off.
Will our students have the same arrival and dismissal times? Morning arrival and drop off routines will be changed to allow for health monitoring to occur without backing up our traffic lines. We will begin unloading and checking temperatures at 7:30 at all drop off locations. If it is necessary for you to drop your child off before 7:30 please call the office so we can make arrangements. This should be done ASAP before school starts on August 13th.
PreK3 and PreK4 will enter through Murray street and park in the gym parking lot. Adults must wear a mask when escorting and signing their child into their respective classrooms.
K-2nd will come in through School Street. These students will have their temperature taken in between the Parish Hall and the office gate while they are sitting in their car and then directly proceed to their classroom.
3-8th will come through Linwood Drive (our usual drop off), have their temperatures taken immediately after exiting vehicle, and proceed to their homeroom. Parents are asked to NOT drive away until they are sure their child does not register with a temperature.
Except for PreK students, no one will be permitted to park and walk their child to the gate.
Afternoon Pick Up – The children will be waiting in rooms that are spaced to help them socially distance while waiting for their rides. Please pick up your child at the same place that you dropped them off that morning. When you pull up to pick up your child, he or she will be called out to the loading zones.
Will students eat lunch in the cafeteria? Yes. However, for the safety of others, parents and visitors will not be allowed to eat lunch with their children. Parents are encouraged to send a labeled water bottle with their students, as water fountains will not be operational. No food can be brought to the office to give to your child. If they bring their lunch they should have it upon arrival. If the lunch is forgotten they will be given a cafeteria lunch and fees will apply.
Will students still have extra classes like PE, Art, Music, Spanish and Computer? Each homeroom teacher will be responsible for incorporating PE, Art, and Music into their curriculum. Aunty Bluebell will bring books available for check out to each classroom. Unfortunately, Prek3 – 4th grade may not take books home at this time. Children will have special book bags in which to keep their library books. All books will be collected each Friday and kept in quarantine over the weekend.
Will students have recess? Yes. Elementary students will have outdoor play time, weather permitting, with restrictions that limit the number of students they come in contact with. For example: first graders will only play with other first graders. Students will not be required to wear masks at recess.
Will social distancing guidelines be observed? Social distancing will be observed as much as feasibly possible but at times, students will be closer than the recommended 6 ft. apart. When social distancing requirements cannot be maintained such as arrival and dismissal times, etc., it is strongly recommended that all students wear face coverings when practical and feasible. We will redesign classrooms to increase the space between students but cannot always guarantee it will be 6 ft.
What special precautions will be implemented in regard to cleaning and sanitizing? Sanitation and cleanliness will be a high priority. We will be cleaning high touch surfaces (door knobs, light switches, etc.) on a continuous basis throughout the day. We have also purchased disinfectant sprays to quickly sanitize rooms between usage. We will also provide time for hand washing and hand sanitizer throughout our campus. Students will be asked to sanitize their hands each time they leave and enter a new space.
Will classrooms be arranged differently to protect students? Yes, classrooms will be arranged to provide more space between students. That might mean all desks are arranged in rows facing in a single direction. It might result in reading areas with bean bags, couches or comfy chairs being removed. It might include dividers between students who are seated at a table. We will make every effort to provide distance but not limit students’ ability to interact and communicate with others in their classroom. Additionally, supplies and materials will not be shared by students.
Will students attend school every day or will we have some type of alternative schedule? We plan for students to attend school daily following a very similar schedule to the traditional school day.
Will students be allowed to go on field trips? At this time, field trips during the school day will not be allowed. Parents will be notified when field trips are reinstated.
Will students and adults be screened daily? Students and staff will be screened daily. They will be monitored by daily temperature checks and by answering the following questions: 1) Have you had a fever of 100.0°F or greater in the last 2 days? 2) Have you had a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell? 3) Have you been in contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days? Students and adults who answer yes to any of these questions should not report to school. Entry to buildings will be limited to those who need to conduct essential school business and all will be required to wear a mask upon entering the school premises. Any visitor entering the building may be asked to complete an ADH screening form.
Will parent volunteers be allowed in the school for things such as PTO meetings? Visitors to the school will be allowed for school business only. A final decision on how PTO meetings will be conducted has not been made, but virtual meetings could be an option.
If a student becomes sick during the school day, what will happen? If a student becomes sick during the school day, Patty will screen the student and check their temperature. If temperature is over the ADH guidance, the student will be sent home and will need to be fever free for 48 hours without medication before returning to school. Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 could result in brief closures of school to provide time for additional cleaning and sanitizing.
If an individual (student or staff member) tests positive for COVID-19, what will happen? Will I be notified? In the event an individual tests positive, we will follow the latest guidance from the ADH. We will be in direct contact with ADH for contact tracing and providing information, including making decisions about who needs to be informed, and/or if necessary, a brief closure of school to provide time for additional cleaning and sanitation.
What happens if we have school closures again? We learned much from our unexpected closure in the spring and that informs our plans for the fall. The school is making plans to train and prepare teachers to deliver all instruction in a blended format that involves face-to-face and digital learning on a daily basis. This will enhance our ability to offer uninterrupted instruction in new learning should the school need to close. In this manner, we are planning to continue to move students forward in their mastery of the standards and learning expectations. If schools close again, a plan for at home digital learning has been developed. This plan will include using Google Classroom for grades K-8 to post lessons and submit assignments. Teachers will utilize Google Meet or Zoom to deliver lessons. Students will learn how to use these systems while at school.
If the school building closes and my child needs to switch to virtual learning for a period of time, will he/she be receiving video instruction from her teacher? Or will he/she just be given a list of AMI-style activities to do? New learning will continue whether we are in the building or the students are at home. There will be a blended format for learning that will include the teacher meeting with the students virtually on predetermined schedules and lessons that will have video, Google Slides or PowerPoints with voice over to provide instruction. It will be very different than what we had in the spring. Students would return to the building after a short period of time once a deep cleansing of the building has occurred. All ADH guidelines will be followed before students would be allowed to return to the building or face to face instruction.
How will you help fill any learning gaps my student has from the previous year? Our staff has identified missed standards and learning expectations from previous grade levels or courses. The missing standards will be taught at appropriate times. Students in kindergarten through 8th grade will be assessed to determine individual strengths and deficits with the NWEA Map Testing, and additional support will be provided based on student needs.
What about weekly school Mass? We will try to get back to Mass in September. There will be no school masses in August.
In the event of an extended Virtual Learning period, what about tuition? We know that you have options and we are committed in our preparations to continue to provide high academic standards as well as focus on faith that you have depended on at St. John’s School. We also recognize that an extended virtual learning period may cause additional financial hardship and stress for some of our families. We are committed to keeping our SJS students. During this pandemic, our children are under much uncertainty and stress. We are a family at SJS and we know that it is in our child’s best interest to keep them in a familiar environment. Please be assured it is our highest priority to work with our families as needed to ensure that their children remain at SJS.
II. Virtual Learning
Alternative Methods of Learning will NOT be available at this time.