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Back to School: Planning Continues

August 13th, 2020

While we are planning to open for in-person instruction, we are also preparing to offer remote instruction for students that may require extended absences. Along with this, we are exploring the possibility of offering a fully remote option for families as an alternative to on-campus instruction. In all of our planning, we are seeking ways to provide the best of a Trinitas education for students, teachers, and families in the midst of an ever-changing environment.

Our COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan for the coming year has been submitted to the state. As mentioned in earlier communications, this plan is based on guidance available from federal, state, and local agencies at the time of the filing. As guidance changes and best practices emerge, we will update our plan and keep you informed.

In the last communication, I addressed the use of face masks, the PE change, outdoor lunch, and the absence of microwaves. This week, I want to clarify a point and call attention to our more enhanced illness policy and how we will handle screening for students and staff.

Face Masks – A Clarification for K-6

If we are on campus in Phase 4, students in kindergarten through sixth grade will generally not be required to wear face masks in their classrooms when they are seated at their desks. Based on what we know now, they will need to wear a mask in the hallway (e.g., upon arrival) and in other shared spaces, and when moving in the classroom and in closer proximity to others. The phrase to remember is “If you move, you mask.”

Illness

Students who develop a fever of 100.4 F or greater or become ill with any COVID-19 symptoms at school will need to be picked up from school as soon as possible. Because guidance is likely to change throughout the year, office staff will communicate the requirements that need to be met before a student can safely return to school.

What if a student has an illness that is not COVID-19, like a cold? If a student is experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms, he or she might actually have COVID-19 and should not attend school. Parents should contact their regular medical provider and, with the provider, determine if the student should be tested for COVID-19. If a student does not have COVID-19 but is still experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, he or she may return to school upon feeling better and being fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

Screening

Teachers don’t want to miss class. They love interacting with our students, and they also know that it is more work to prepare for a substitute than to teach the class themselves. Students (and their parents) are similarly disposed. Students genuinely enjoy the classroom and school experience, and they know that it isn’t always easy to catch up on missed work and classroom discussion. In past years, most of us have tended to “suck it up” and go to school even if we were feeling under the weather.

For everyone’s sake, our mindset has to be different this year.

In order to maximize the possibility of in-person instruction, we are asking everyone to self-assess before coming to school and to do so more carefully than in the past. To hold ourselves accountable, teachers and staff are going to complete a health questionnaire (including a temperature check) prior to coming to school every day. Although we won’t ask families for documentation, we are also going to encourage a temperature check of each student at home every morning.

Trinitas will continue to work with Kent County Health Department regarding up-to-date protocols for screening students and staff, but the presence of any unexplained COVID-19 symptoms should prompt us each to stay home and to follow up with a primary care provider.

You won’t see us standing at the door with thermometers or installing thermal imaging video feed to the office, but we will ask everyone to take extra precautions this year. It is another simple way for us to love our neighbor and to preserve in-person instruction.

If you have concerns or questions about any of the above or about other matters related to COVID-19 and school, please contact me or a dean of students.

I pray that you and your loved ones are well, and I look forward to seeing you at our back-to-school events!

Regards,

Peter Marth