Covid Protocols for 2021-22 SY

Covid Protocols for 2021-22 SY
Posted on 07/21/2021

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July 21, 2021

Dear DCSD Families and Staff,

I hope you are enjoying your summer and some relaxation with family and friends! I am looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year and am excited to see our students and staff in person.

As we shared earlier this summer, DCSD is planning to return to as normal as possible learning environments this school year (more details below). DCSD will also welcome back parents and visitors into our schools this year! I am thrilled to kick off the new school year and look forward to our community staying healthy and well.

The COVID pandemic impacted all of us in many different ways. Our students may be experiencing heightened anxiety and trauma as they transition back to a more stable learning environment and reconnect with peers and educators. Our families and staff are also recovering from the disruption to their lives that was caused by the COVID pandemic which may result in stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and feeling overwhelmed. Our DCSD team will prioritize the social-emotional and mental health needs of all students and staff. We want to help our students transition out of a pandemic and into a successful school year. The beginning of the school year is a time to connect and build students into learning, activities, and athletics, while creating pride in their school experience. This connection is more critical than ever, and we have a commitment to build belonging and a systemic approach to monitor and support each and every student.

For example, kindergarten students will take part in the Balanced Beginnings program. This allows our young students to slowly transition into the classroom, while meeting other students and their teacher. Additionally, some middle and high schools have dedicated days for new students to visit the school, find their classroom and meet new friends. Your child’s school will provide more details about these opportunities.

In compliance with DCSD Board of Education policies, and ongoing collaboration with our partners at the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), here is what the Douglas County School District is planning for the 2021-2022 school year.

Our COVID health and safety protocols will be in alignment with guidance from state and local health agencies. We recognize that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released guidance highly encouraging students over the age of two to wear face coverings at school. These guidelines have been carefully considered in our collaborative decision making with the Tri-County Health Department. However, in light of strong vaccination rates in our state and county (71% in Douglas County to date), we feel confident moving forward with the following protocols. We will work with families to accommodate their students’ needs and comfort levels so that every student has an enjoyable and safe learning environment.

Strong plans are able to adjust to changes while providing a framework that is defined, yet flexible. We will continue to monitor COVID data throughout the year and will adjust as needed should transmission rates increase in our schools, and/or public health orders change.

Face Coverings

  • For students ages 11 and under: in alignment with local and state guidance, face coverings will be strongly encouraged while learning indoors, but will not be required.

  • For students ages 12 and over: in alignment with local and state guidance, face coverings will be strongly encouraged for anyone who is 12+ years and not fully vaccinated, but will not be required.

We will honor the decision of parents when it comes to their children wearing or not wearing a face covering in school. We will use our space in schools, classrooms and other areas to support each and every student with safe learning environments. Behavior such as “mask shaming” will not be tolerated.

  • CDPHE guidance states: The state recommends local public health agencies and school districts consider mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals, particularly in higher-risk environments. In addition, even when not required by local public health or a school district, unvaccinated and vaccinated staff and students may choose to wear masks. Schools and school districts should ensure that every classroom is a welcome environment for students and staff who choose to protect themselves in this manner.

Students or staff members who test positive for COVID will be required to isolate via past COVID practices.  
Isolated students will be provided with learning opportunities until they are able to return to the classroom.
Our partners at Tri-County Health Department will continue contact tracing positive cases and advise on next steps when an exposure occurs.

  • CDPHE guidance states: Colorado will move from an individual case-based response strategy to a transmission mitigation strategy, where instead of quarantining students and staff after individual exposures, the risk of the whole school community, including the risk of interruptions to learning, is considered. Because in-person learning is essential for communities and students to thrive, CDPHE is recommending reduced incidents of quarantine in schools and child care specifically.

Physical Distancing
Schools will continue to implement physical distancing where possible, and make available additional physical space for those who want/need more distance while learning.

DCSD will continue with disinfection and ventilation protocols as follows:

  • Touchpoints (i.e. doorknobs, light switches, etc.) will continue to be disinfected throughout all buildings on a daily basis.

  • School buses will continue to be disinfected twice daily.

  • Teachers and staff will continue to have access to disinfectant supplies, including disinfecting spray, to clean high-touch areas regularly if desired.

  • The circulation of outdoor air within district buildings, via mechanical systems, will continue to be increased.

COVID Vaccination
The COVID vaccination is free to those 12+ years. Families may visit our website for location and registration information. We will continue to provide information to our community about COVID immunization opportunities as a courtesy for those who wish to access the vaccine. The COVID vaccine is not required for staff or students, however it creates more predictability and stability in our schools, activities and athletics. The higher the percentage of vaccinated students and staff, the better we can prepare for the school year and reduce the need for isolations. See current vaccination data for Douglas County.

In addition to the protocols listed above, DCSD will continue to encourage families to keep students at home when showing symptoms of illness.

I am eager to begin the new school year. One of my favorite sounds is that of a busy school, filled with students who are excited to learn!

Proud to be your superintendent!

Corey Wise
Douglas County School District

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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado,, 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.