2020-2021 Covid-19 Protocols
Southwest Christian School Covid-19 Protocols The following practices are being implemented in response to the prolific spread of COVID-19 throughout the world, and more specifically in the Fort Worth area. As a school, we’re determined to enact a proactive approach to responding to this virus, opting to keep our teachers and families safe, rather than simply hoping for the best. With this said, some of our practices could be considered overly cautious, but again, that guarded approach is in an effort to maximize safety for both our staff and the families we serve. It may be difficult to process these changes, as we’ve grown accustomed to living most of our lives without the presence of a pandemic. We would implore you to consider the needs of aging staff, those who are immunocompromised, and the many families associated with SCS who have grandparents who live close or in their homes. Today, these are the least of these, and we intend to offer a safe environment for our families (Matthew 25:40). There is a great conundrum that exists between the competing interests of educating children and keeping people safe in the midst of an airborne viral pandemic. Our campus nurses stand on the precipice of this conundrum. We know that clear communication regarding our practices, prior to implementing such practices, can help families process the steps we must take to keep our community safe. Therefore, we would like to walk you through how we will handle symptomatic students at SCS until the current situation is resolved. Our main goal is to reduce the possibility of viral transmission on either campus. You’ve read about our increased cleaning, social distancing, face covering, and hand washing/sanitizing plans. These measures are in place to minimize transmission on campus. In the event a student begins to develop any COVID-19-related symptoms while on campus, we will make every effort to minimize transmission. Let’s go over a potential scenario: ● A student is sent to, or requests to make a trip to, the nurse’s office on either campus with a new, yet persistent cough. ● The nurse will give the student a chance to sit for a few minutes, in order to observe the student and monitor symptoms. ● If the observed symptom(s) are on the C DC list of COVID-19 symptoms, the nurse will call and ask for parents to come retrieve the student. While waiting, the student will go outdoors (weather depending) with a staff member until parents are able to make it to the school. There are alternate indoor locations on both campuses, however, research says it is a best practice to wait outside.
● In order to return to school, we will need to have a note from the student's doctor that associates the concerning symptom(s) with a diagnosis other than COVID-19. This note should be shared digitally with the school nurse as soon as it is received. The nurse will need to see and approve the note prior to the student being allowed to come back to campus. ● Of course, parents may independently choose to have their children tested for COVID-19, due to symptoms. SCS has arranged for SCS families to have access to discounted rapid antigen testing through the office of Dr. Luis Vargas. However, a negative result does not give a student re-entry to the school, as current testing procedures do have a margin for error (specifically in the area of false negatives). The rapidity of transmission is too great from both asymptomatic and symptomatic carriers to risk a false negative ending with an outbreak in a classroom, and potentially within the families that each student represents. Thus, a student must produce a negative PCR test in order to be readmitted to campus, or wait 10 days before returning to school when sent home for symptoms associated with COVID-19. ● If a student is sent home due to COVID-19 symptoms, he or she will be screened by the nurse prior to being allowed re-entry into the school. Of course, students will be able to join their courses remotely during this period, if symptoms allow. The day before re-entry to school, the campus nurse will initiate a Zoom call with the family to evaluate the student. Once approval is received, the nurse will communicate with appropriate staff about the student’s return to school. In summary: A student or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to school when a ll three of the following criteria are met: 1) At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. 2) At least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications). 3) The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath). A student or staff member who has symptoms, but does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, must meet the same three criteria list above before returning to school. A student or staff member who has symptoms that could be COVID-19, but wants to return to school before meeting the three criteria above must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) obtain a COVID molecular test that comes back negative (a rapid antigen test will not suffice for entry back to school).
There are a couple of notes to add in light of our new medical protocols. The school nurses will not be able to treat headaches with over-the-counter medications, as headaches are regularly associated with COVID-19. A student who goes to the nurse with a headache or any other COVID-19 symptom will more than likely be headed home, and will need a note from a doctor associating the concerning symptom(s) with a diagnosis other than COVID-19. Otherwise, the student may not return to campus for a minimum of 10 days. Siblings of the ailing student will need to go home as well. It is important that we treat each symptomatic student as if he or she has contracted the virus, and as such, the student’s siblings are a “close contact” and will need to sit out while the symptoms are being resolved. If the student ends up positive for COVID-19, asymptomatic siblings become close contacts, and will follow the guidelines below. A close contact is anyone who has been closer than six feet to an individual who has COVID-19, for more than 15 minutes, during the time the student was contagious. An individual is contagious for 48 hours prior to the first sign of symptoms. Anyone who has been notified, or has personally discovered that he or she is a close contact of an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, must report this information to the school nurse, and may not return to school until cleared by the school nurse. Close contacts must remain in quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the infected individual, or 14 days from the last day the infected individual was symptomatic, if they were not able to implement social distance from the infected individual. This information is important for SCS students to understand, as our athletic teams and performing arts groups may meet the definition of close contacts, which could end in an entire team having to quarantine for a single member with a COVID-19 infection. To be clear, only the close contacts of an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 must quarantine. A close contact of a close contact does not have to be quarantined. Also, a student with symptoms or a positive diagnosis could come back as early as 10 days if he or she goes through the 3-step return to school protocol above, however, a close contact has a mandatory 14-day quarantine (due to the 2 - 14 day incubation period for the virus). If a student has tested positive, we will ask the family to fill out a contact tracing worksheet, as quickly as possible, and report back to the school so we may alert close contacts. Of course, this is one of the many reasons why our students are attending class at social distance, and should be keeping close contacts to an absolute minimum during this time. Pandemics cause a paradigm shift. Parents of children in grades Pre-K - 3rd Grade should be made aware that due to the lack of regular mask wearing and difficulties associated with maintaining social distance, entire cohorts may go into quarantine based on a positive COVID-19 test by one member of the class. Again, the quarantine period is 14 days from the last day of exposure to the COVID-positive carrier.
We feel confident that measures taken regarding the increased cleaning, diligent use of face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing/sanitizing measures will especially help students in grades 4 - 12 avoid missing face-to-face class opportunities due to positive COVID-19 tests by their peers. However, this assumption also depends on the safety measures and close contact exposure students experience outside of school. We are asking parents to be diligent in picking up students in a timely manner after school is dismissed, as we know that students who are left waiting for a ride home often congregate. Ideally, arrangements should be made with employers based on this information to allow working parents to retrieve children from school at pickup time. Please also know that our two campus nurses (Lakeside Campus - Carrie Auten, Chisholm Trail Campus - Sara Stokes) will be tracking attendance and monitoring our population for absence trends. In addition, they will be tracking the symptoms of staff and students who are out sick, consulting with families on the opportunity to return to school, and even meeting over Zoom with students and staff who have been out so they can inspect symptoms prior to granting access to campus. Lastly, in the event we have members of our community contract COVID-19, we should all exercise compassion. What a great opportunity for us all to practice the golden rule. As you well know, this is a first for all of us. The school’s main desire is to keep the students who have been entrusted to our care safe. In order to do this, the best thing we can do is stay current with the information that is available from the T exas Education Agency a nd the C enter for Disease Control. With regard to SCS’ health policy and practices, we will continue to follow both organizations’ guidance. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to have a school environment that takes family and safety seriously, while not sacrificing academic rigor and spiritual growth.
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2020-2021 Covid-19 Protocols