TEA Requirement: Prevent and Mitigate
Poth ISD will work diligently to mitigate or reduce the likely spread inside our school. Therefore, district practices and guidelines have been established for various areas noted below:
Health and Safety Guidance
Pre-Screening – Before coming onto campus, each day, students and staff will self-screen for COVID-19. Parents and staff will be provided with a reusable reminder of pre-screening questions. Likewise, all visitors (who have essential business on campus) must be screened before being allowed on campuses. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) guidelines, initial monitoring of symptoms begins at home. Individuals who are feeling ill, including symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, or headache, should stay at home and consult with a medical professional regarding school participation.
TEA Guidance is as follows for students:
“Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the below conditions for re-entry are met. Parents may also opt to have their students receive remote instruction if their child has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the 14-day incubation period has passed. School systems may consider screening students for COVID-19 as well. Screening is accomplished by asking questions by phone or other electronic methods and/or in person. The screening questions should also be asked of a student’s parent if that parent will be dropping off or picking up their child from inside the school.”
Handwashing/Sanitizing - Students and staff are required to use hand sanitizer when entering a school bus, building, classroom, and/or office. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing will also be incorporated in the daily schedules. Campuses will have hand sanitizer available and require students, teachers, and staff to use it whenever they are in the building. Students will be instructed in good handwashing techniques and given frequent opportunities to wash their hands, in addition to being encouraged to wash hands after using the restroom and before eating. Students and staff will also use hand sanitizer prior to entering our school buses.
Physical Distancing – Staff and students will maintain six feet of physical distance in indoor and outdoor settings, to the extent possible. Classrooms will be arranged to allow for six feet of space between seating areas, as feasible, and transitions will be limited in the elementary campuses. At the elementary campuses, students will be assigned to classroom homerooms to minimize the potential for spread or transmission. The nurse will monitor health clinic traffic and designate alternate areas to maintain physical distancing in the clinic.
Masks – TEA mandates that schools are expected to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order for wearing masks, or face shields. This requires, with specific exceptions, that all persons aged 10 and older must “wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet” of physical distancing. Therefore, to maintain a consistent environment for students and staff all employees, visitors to campus for necessary business, and students will wear masks or face shields. All students, regardless of age, will wear masks or face shields when riding the bus and upon arrival to and dismissal from campus given the inability to maintain physical distance during these times.
It is not developmentally appropriate for students younger than fourth grade (and for some students with disabilities) to wear masks at all times. We will work to provide these younger students with opportunities in the classroom to socially distance so that the face covering can be removed for a period of time. We recognize that these younger students will be challenged with rigid physical distancing throughout the day, and know that this will help create more natural interactions.
Students and staff will not wear masks or face shields during lunch breaks and times throughout the day where appropriate social distancing can be ensured. It is recommended that masks be rotated and thoroughly cleaned daily. Sharing of masks with other family members is extremely risky and discouraged.
Campuses and Classrooms
Homerooms – In elementary schools, students and staff will be assigned to cohorts or groups that will stay together for defined periods of time. Each cohort will use common areas, such as cafeterias, gyms, playgrounds, etc., together as a group. This concept is intended to minimize the widespread opportunity for potential virus spread or transmission.
Visitors, Drop-off, and Pick-Up – Campuses will plan for entry, exit, and transition procedures that reduce large group gatherings (of students and/or adults) in close proximity. We will ask that parents remain outside during drop-off and pick-up. To the degree feasible, during arrival and dismissal, we will prop open doors to limit touching doorknobs and doors.
At this time, schools will restrict visits to campuses to only those essential to school operations. All campus visits must be scheduled via an appointment. Sanitizing will occur before and after each campus visit and any visitor must follow the same protocols outlined here for staff. The number of visitors in the school will be limited to ensure that students are safe; therefore, alternative meeting options may be scheduled, including virtual meetings, when appropriate. Each school will have procedures in place for daily drop-off and pick-up. This information will be communicated prior to the first day of school.
Poth ISD parents and guardians play a crucial role in facilitating our campus environments. At this time, we are still considering how best to balance parent involvement on our campuses with the health concerns for all. Traditional campus events such as Open House, Parent Nights, etc., have been temporarily suspended and campuses will use other means to keep parents and families up-to-date and engaged in their child’s learning, including through the use of live online platforms.
Classroom Configurations – To the extent possible, student learning spaces will be arranged to provide spacing between students. In some instances, plexiglass dividers may be provided and common areas may be used for instruction with similar distancing practices.
Restrooms and Water Fountains – Students’ physical needs are extremely important. Physical distancing and hand washing will remain the priorities during restroom breaks. Because water dispensers have shared surfaces, these will not be able to be utilized. Students should bring water bottles to school. Further information will be communicated prior to the start of the school year.
Materials and Supplies – We will limit the sharing of materials and devices. Students will be expected to use their own materials and supplies. In instances where technology, books, calculators, etc., are used with multiple students, proper sanitation protocols will be followed.
Backpacks and Other Personal Items –Guidance will be provided regarding Junior High and High School students prior to the start of the school year.
Additional Instructors in Classrooms – In certain instances, additional staff members may be assigned to classrooms to instruct specific students. These individuals will sanitize prior to entering and exiting the classroom, and masks will be required as they interact with students using physical distancing.
Class Transitions for Secondary Campuses – We are currently developing recommendations for traffic patterns and timing of transitions to provide for physical distancing in hallways as feasible.
Outdoor Spaces– When feasible, safe, and appropriate, it is preferable for students to gather outside rather than inside, because of likely reduced risk of virus spread outdoors.
Transportation – Poth ISD will reduce the number of students on a bus route by encouraging families to drop students off, carpool, or walk with their student to school to reduce possible virus exposure on buses. Students and staff using school transportation will be expected to use hand sanitizer when entering the bus, and to wear appropriate face coverings. When possible, we will keep the windows open to circulate air on the bus.
Buses will be thoroughly cleaned after each bus trip, particularly high-touch surfaces such as bus seats, steering wheels, knobs, and door handles.
Cleaning of Facilities
Frequency – Poth ISD custodial staff will provide frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces that are touched in common throughout the day. This would include objects such as door handles, common tables/desks, and high touch devices such as shared laptops or tablets. Campuses will arrange for cleaning of classrooms between different class groups if the same room will be used by multiple class groups.
Classroom Supplies - Campuses will have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap in classrooms where there are sinks, and hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trashcans. Classrooms will provide the opportunity for children to clean their own spaces before and after they are used, in ways that are safe and developmentally appropriate, such as using a disinfectant wipe to wipe off their desk and putting individual school supplies in plastic bags.
TEA Requirement: Respond
Poth ISD must identify and implement responsive actions to address the situation if there are lab-confirmed cases in a school.
Staff Positive Screening – The self-screening will include staff taking their own temperature. Staff must report to the school system if they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below. Additionally, teachers must report to the school system if they have had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, must remain off campus until the 14-day incubation period has passed.
Student Positive Screening – Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the below conditions for re-entry are met. Parents may also opt to have their students receive remote instruction if their child has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the 14-day incubation period has passed.
Communication – Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students on a school campus if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any campus activities.
Separation of Individuals Exhibiting COVID-Like symptoms – TEA requires schools to “immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.” Consequently, each campus will identify a separate room or area by which to separate any student who exhibits COVID-like symptoms until that student is able to leave campus. Any staff member who begins to experience COVID-like symptoms while on campus will follow a similar protocol.
Re-Entry Conditions – Any teacher, staff member, or student who experiences any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed on the final page of this document) should self-isolate until the below conditions have been met.
In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return when all three of the following criteria are met:
- at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
- and the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath);
- and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, the individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to work until the individual has completed the same three-step criteria listed above; or
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to work before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis.
TEA Guidance on 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:
o 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:
- at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
- the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
- at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
o 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.
o 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) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/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, the school must notify its local health department, 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). 5
- 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, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any on campus activities.
In evaluating whether an individual has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, consider the following questions:
Has the individual recently begun experiencing any of the following in a way that is not normal for them?
Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
Loss of taste or smell
Shortness of breath
Shaking or exaggerated shivering
Significant muscle pain
Definition of Close Contact
As referenced in the TEA Guidelines: For clarity, close contact is defined as:
(a) being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a mask or face shield); or
(b) being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a mask or face shield; if either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious.
Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test.