Northwest Public Schools plans to return to 100% in-person school Aug. 13 with restrictions based on COVID-19 risk.
In a Facebook Live announcement Thursday evening, Northwest Superintendent Jeff Edwards revealed the plan, which has two scenarios:
A. School is in session for all students.
B, Northwest will go to remote learning.
Scenario B will be implemented only in a mandated school closure that lasts more than two weeks.
Edwards said the return to school is based on a four-tiered model that correlates with the Central District Health Department’s COVID-19 risk assessment dial.
The tiers are:
1 — No risk/low risk.
2 — Moderate risk.
3 — High risk.
4 — Severe risk.
Northwest said the school likely will move to remote learning if it reaches tier 4.
After the announcement, a parent asked in which tier Northwest will be Aug. 13, the first day of school. Edwards said that would be determined prior to that date and communicated to parents.
“The determination of what tier we are on is going to include a multitude of data sources,” he said. “It will include guidance from local public health officials, or the governor in the case of a directed health measure.”
Under tiers 1 and 2 of Northwest’s plan, students and staff are encouraged to practice social distancing if possible. In phase 3, the district said, social distancing scenarios likely will be incorporated into the school day.
In tiers 1 and 2, face coverings are optional for students and staff but are recommended. However, in tier 2, the district said, face coverings may be required on buses. In tier 3, masks may be required in classrooms and on buses.
Passing periods will stay the same under tiers 1 and 2, but may be altered in tier 3. In tiers 1 and 2, elementary recess will occur as usual, but in tier 3 it “may or may not occur,” the district said.
In all phases except tier 1, visitors will not be allowed in school buildings.
“We are doing that to contain who comes in and out of our buildings,” Edwards said. “If parents have to pick up your student for an appointment or something, we will ask them to contact the office and when they arrive at school, an adult will bring their student out to the parking lot.”
Edwards said that if a student is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 — a fever of 100 degrees or higher, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, unusual muscle aches and/or loss of taste and/or smell — the student needs to stay home from school. Edwards said parents and staff will be asked to self-screen at home. A symptom checklist will be mailed to staff members and students.
Edwards said that, while most COVID-19 guidelines say a 104.4-degree fever is a sign of COVID-19, Northwest has used a 100-degree fever as a benchmark for staying home and will continue to do so.
The plan states that students and staff will not be asked screening questions in tier 1, might be asked in tier 2 and will be asked in tier 3.
The full return to school plan can be viewed at bit.ly/30e9QEP.