FAQ: Guidelines for Schools

 

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GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS

Q: What are the state and local guidelines for schools?

Q: How does the State's regional stay at home order impact schools?

A: (Source: ca.gov FAQ) The Order does not modify existing state guidance regarding K-12 schools.

Schools that are currently open are able to continue to provide in-person instruction on school sites.

  • Schools that are currently operating under an elementary school waiver are able to continue to provide instruction to students on school sites.
  • Schools that reopened while their county was in a less restrictive tier are able to continue to provide instruction to students on school sites.
  • All schools that have not yet reopened for in-person instruction are able to continue to serve small cohorts of students (e.g., students with disabilities) following CDPH Guidance.

Schools are still required to follow the Schools Guidance issued by CDPH which outlines requirements for safe conditions, testing and tracing. Schools may be required to close if certain percentages of staff and students are diagnosed with COVID-19. All existing guidance applicable to schools can be found on the CDPH website.

Q: Now that Orange County has Moved Back to the State's Purple Tier, Do IUSD and Orange County schools have to close?

A: No. Per the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency, "Schools that have opened for in-person instruction are not required to close if their county moves back to the Purple Tier." According to the California Department of Public Health and Dr. Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, schools are not the source of the recent COVID-19 surges, due to effective health and safety mitigation strategies, which include physical distancing, masks, ventilation enhancements, smaller cohorts, timely contact tracing and notifications, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols.  As a result of these effective efforts to combat COVID-19, schools can remain open for in-person instruction during the pandemic, according to Dr. Ghaly. 
 

Additionally, according to the Orange County Register, COVID-19 cases in Orange County schools (includes K-12 and colleges) “appears well shy of 1% of the county’s student enrollment figures from last year.”  The Orange County Department of Education, also confirmed that all 27 OC public school districts have a “low percentage of positive cases.” 
 

Dr. Ghaly stated, during the Governor's recent press briefing, that social gatherings have been a primary cause of increased COVID-19 cases.  At this time, due to safety and mitigation protocols in place, schools tend not to be the source of transmission. IUSD would like to remind our community to continue to do its part and to follow state and local guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19, which will help keep our schools safe and open.   
 

To learn more about IUSD's COVID-19 mitigation strategies and planning, including more than $21 million in planned safety investments, visit iusd.org/2020-21. Also, please continue to visit the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency websites.
 

Background:
As a reminder, the County of Orange moved to the second least restrictive tier – the Red Tier – on September 8, 2020. Under state guidelines, Orange County schools were permitted to reopen for in-person instruction once our county had been in the Red Tier for two consecutive weeks. IUSD continues to follow guidelines of expert health agencies, as we have done since the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis. The guidelines established by the California Department of Public Health, the OC Health Care Agency, and OC Department of Education inform all IUSD planning efforts and the design of each academic model for the 2020-21 school year. These guidelines outline important considerations and protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting, physical distancing, face coverings, handwashing, notification and reporting of positive cases, and grouping students into smaller cohorts, to the extent possible. For more information about these guidelines, click here.

Q: What guidelines is IUSD following for in-person instruction?

A: IUSD is following guidelines of expert health agencies, as we have done since the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis.  The guidelines established by the California Department of Public Health, the OC Health Care Agency, and OC Department of Education inform all IUSD planning and mitigation efforts.  These guidelines also informed the design of each academic model for the 2020-21 school year.  Given the fluid nature of COVID-19 and continually changing guidance from national, state and local agencies, IUSD continues to closely monitor the situation.  The health and safety of our students, staff and families is our priority.   
 

These guidelines outline important considerations and protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting, physical distancing, face coverings, hand washing, notification and reporting of positive cases, and grouping students into smaller cohorts, to the extent possible. For more information about these guidelines, click here.  

 

It is important to note:

  • There are dedicated guidelines for California schools and more specifically dedicated guidelines for Orange County schools from the California Department of Public Health, the Orange County Health Care Agency and the Orange County Department of Education.  These guidelines were developed specifically for schools, which as stated by these agencies, have unique considerations that vary from businesses, retail establishments and retail customers.  IUSD does not make up or determine these guidelines - we follow the guidelines established for all OC schools, provided by the agencies listed above. 
     

  • Guidelines for schools at the federal, state and local levels are continually evolving, which is beyond IUSD’s control.  IUSD continues to closely monitor the situation and changes to the guidelines.  We will pivot, as needed, to align our planning and practices.  Operating in this ever-changing environment means that our planning is also ever-changing and evolving.  We understand this can be a source of frustration but it is critical to have an understanding of this unprecedented environment we are navigating together.

 

Q: What is the status of youth sports?

A:  The California Department of Public Health released guidelines for youth sports on August 3. IUSD resumed youth sports after school started on August 20 and has been following all guidelines, including physical distancing of six feet and no contact conditioning and skill building activities only. Coaches and schools continue to provide more information to athletes and their families as it is available. Click here to read more about the California Department of Public Health guidelines.

 

Q: How are CDC, California Department of Public Health and Orange County guidelines connected?

A: The CDC drafts guidelines for the nation.  Those guidelines are then provided to states, which develop their own guidelines based on their unique needs and conditions.  States then provide guidelines to counties, which further tailor them to meet the unique needs and conditions within their respective counties.  Cities may develop ordinances for business, retail establishments and retail customers based on these guidelines.

 

IUSD follows guidelines for Orange County Schools, which are aligned to the federal, state and local guidelines and process listed above.

 

Q: Why do state and local guidelines allow for flexibility?

A: As we have seen throughout this pandemic, there are regional and local variances and unique needs, which require flexibility.  The same holds true for Orange County School Districts and for IUSD schools and facilities, which have different features and varying needs.  Flexibility will enable each school to meet the unique needs of its facility and community to help ensure they can mitigate and reduce risk students and staff.

 

Q: How is IUSD implementing health and safety guidelines at each school site or District facility?

A: IUSD’s practices and protocols are informed by the guidelines for Orange County Schools, and consider the unique features and needs of each school and facility to the fullest extent possible. Each school has developed a site plan to meet the requirements established by the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency for opening.  Principals provide information to their school communities.  If you have a question about your student(s) school, please contact the school directly.  Click here to read the guidelines for Orange County schools.   To read more about IUSD Opening and Safety Planning, visit iusd.org/2020-21.  

 

Q: What is the Orange County Health Care Agency Attestation?

A: It is the document that verifies IUSD and all other OC schools open their facilities in accordance with guidelines and mandates.  Click here to view the attestation form all OC school districts must certify to be in compliance.  Each school has post the attestation form for their site and communicated its location to the school community. 

 

 

FACE COVERINGS

During the July 14, 2020 IUSD Board of Education Meeting, the Board voted to require face coverings on IUSD campuses and in classrooms for all staff, students and visitors. Persons with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering are exempt per state guidelines.

For all questions related to face coverings, please review IUSD's policy on face coverings, which is aligned to the California Department of Public Health guidelines.  Information provided includes implementation of the policy, types of face coverings, access to face coverings for students and staff, exemptions and more.  

 

response to positive covid-19 cases

Q: What are the protocols if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

A: Click here to read more about protocols for all OC schools, should students or staff exhibit signs or receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.  Protocols include reporting to the Orange County Health Care Agency, notifications to impacted families and staff, notifications to the school community, posting of positive confirmed cases on IUSD's COVID-19 dashboard, maintaining student and staff confidentiality, cleaning procedures and more.

Q: Does IUSD Close a School When a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19? 

A: No.  IUSD follows all state and local guidelines and works closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency on contact tracing, assessing each case, cleaning and disinfecting  protocols and all other appropriate guidelines.   Click here to read more about the COVID-19 protocols for reporting to the Orange County Health Care Agency and considerations for full or partial closures of school facilities.   

 

Q: Do students or staff need to self-quarantine if they are exposed to or living with someone who is positive for COVID-19?

A: Orange County Health Care Agency guidelines require individuals exposed to or living with someone who is positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days from the last unprotected exposure. Click here to read more about Orange County Health Care Agency COVID-19 protocols.

Q: If a student shows signs of COVID-19 while at school, how is that handled?

A: IUSD follows the protocols for OC schools related to sick individuals, which includes working with school nurses, administrators and health providers to separate anyone showing signs of COVID-19 until they can be transported home or to a healthcare facility, notifications to those impacted, cleaning protocols and more.  Click here to read more detailed information about protocols for OC schools if someone is sick or exhibits signs of COVID-19.

Q: If a student is sent home with COVID-19 symptoms, will the school notify families?

A: IUSD notifies families and staff when there is a confirmed positive case.  We work directly in consultation with the Orange County Health Care Agency and follow protocols for all OC schools, which includes notifications to impacted staff and families when someone is confirmed to have COVID-19, while maintaining student or staff confidentiality.  Click here to read more about protocols for OC schools if someone is sick or exhibits signs of COVID-19.  Click here for the IUSD COVID-19 Dashboard.

Q: when there is a positive COvid-19 case, what are the disinfecting and health procedures followed to ensure it is safe for students and staff?

A: IUSD works directly in consultation with the Orange County Health Care Agency and follows protocols for all OC schools, which includes cleaning and disinfecting, contact tracing, notifications and more.  IUSD custodial staff has been trained in accordance with CDC and California Department of Education guidelines.   Click here to read more about COVID-19 protocols for OC schools for cleaning and disinfecting.

 

enhanced cleaning and hygiene

Q: does IUSD custodial staff use enhanced cleaning procedures at IUSD schools and facilities?

A: Yes.  IUSD follows cleaning and disinfecting protocols established for all OC schools, which can be found by clicking here.  This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and limiting shared resources and materials.  IUSD custodial  staff has been trained in accordance with CDC and California Department of Education guidelines. 

Q: Are classrooms, labs and other shared spaces cleaned between periods/classes?

A: IUSD follows cleaning and disinfecting protocols established for all OC schools, which can be found by clicking here.  This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and limiting shared resources and materials. Additionally, IUSD students and staff are trained to support wiping down spaces and materials after each use.

Q: does IUSD provide additional hand sanitizer in common areas that are not near sinks, such as front offices and lunch areas?

A: Yes.  IUSD has purchased additional hand sanitizer dispensers and has made them available in areas without sinks to the fullest extent possible.

Q: has IUSD provided students and staff with healthy habits education and training for how they can keep their areas clean?

A: Yes. In accordance with guidelines established for all OC schools, IUSD continues to provide information to students, staff and families about healthy practices and protocols, including hand washing, face coverings, cleaning, reducing use of shared objects and materials, sneezing and coughing etiquette, and more.  To read more about these protocols for OC schools, click here.

Q: are students reminded of sneeze and cough etiquette?

A: Yes, along with other health and safety protocols to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.  These measures and reminders are provided to students, staff and families  in accordance with guidelines established for all OC schools.  They also include what to do if they are sick or exhibit signs of COVID-19.  Click here for more information.

Q: How are schools keeping frequently touched surfaces clean?

A: IUSD follows cleaning and disinfecting protocols established for all OC schools, which can be found by clicking here.  This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and limiting shared resources and materials.  Additionally, IUSD students and staff are trained to support wiping down spaces and materials after each use.

Q: are lunch tables cleaned before and after eating?

A: Yes. School custodial staff clean lunch tables and areas between uses.   IUSD custodial  staff has been trained in accordance with CDC and California Department of Education guidelines.   Schools can also provide more information about their health and safety practices.  For questions about your student's school please contact the school directly.  

 

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

Q: are students physically distanced 6 feet apart?

A:  IUSD follows the guidelines and protocols established for OC schools.  To the extent possible, students will be physically distanced and schools will maximize available space to support small cohorts when possible.  Click here for more information about IUSD's health and safety protocols and mitigation strategies.  

Q: are there smaller class sizes to reduce the number of students in one space together?

A: Yes. IUSD’s academic models were designed to help create smaller cohorts of students.   See academic models for additional information.

Q: For students who ride buses, how are they cleaned and how are students physically distanced?

A: IUSD follows the guidelines and protocols established for all OC schools, which includes cleaning and disinfecting for both facilities and buses.

Q: How are transitions between class periods and activities handled?

A: IUSD follows the guidelines and protocols established for all OC schools, which includes minimizing individuals congregating in hallways and other common areas.  Given that each IUSD school is unique, school staff will inform families about specific protocols for their campuses.

Q: are schools utilizing outdoor and other spaces to spread students out?

A: As outlined in the academic models, schools use outdoor and other spaces on campuses to help decrease the number of students in one location to the fullest extent possible.  Each IUSD school is unique and school staff will inform families about specific protocols for their campuses.

Q: What are the protocols when entering school front offices to protect the staff?

A: IUSD schools follow the guidelines for all OC schools, which include screening and other procedures.  Click here to read the guidelines.  School staff will continue to inform families about specific protocols for their campuses.

Q: are there protocols for shared items in classroom?

A: IUSD follows cleaning and disinfecting protocols established for all OC schools, which can be found by clicking here.  This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and limiting shared resources and materials.

Q: are students allowed to go to camps, field trips, athletic competitions and other school related activities?

A: Given the nature of this fluid situation and recent guidelines from the California Department of Public Health  all OC school districts await further guidance from state and local agencies related to athletics and other activities.  When we have more information, our District and/or schools will keep our community informed.

 

 

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