2021-22 Back to School COVID Safety

This article was updated at 12:45 p.m. on August 13, 2021.

 

As DeSoto ISD prepares to reopen for the 2021-2022 school year, the district wishes to encourage families’ emphasis on proactively participating in protecting the health and safety of students and staff.

 

As related to the changing science and data reported from organizations charged with monitoring shifts resulting from the impact of COVID-19, changes to COVID safety regulations are under constant and regular review and assessment by DeSoto ISD’s COVID-19 Task Force.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all individuals over the age of two wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

 

On Wednesday, Aug 10, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an order mandating the use of masks for students, staff and visitors for schools in Dallas County which includes DeSoto ISD; therefore, DeSoto ISD will require mask-wearing while visiting or frequenting district campuses and facilities.

 

In addition, DeSoto ISD has set protocols for the safety of students, staff members and families including:

  • the regular cleaning and sanitization of common areas,
  • efforts to increase hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day,
  • the use of partitions in certain spaces,
  • and continued efforts to carry out contact tracing and notification of both confirmed cases and close contact as a result of a confirmed case.

     

    Air Quality and Ventilation:

  • Air filters are removed and disinfected every 30 days to ensure optimal performance.
  • All classrooms have upgraded ventilation systems which circulate fresh air every 10 minutes.
  • Teachers are encouraged to keep classroom doors open in order to enhance functionality of the ventilation systems.

     

    Facial Coverings:

  • On Wednesday, Aug 10, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an order mandating the use of masks for students, staff and visitors for schools in Dallas County which includes DeSoto ISD; therefore, DeSoto ISD will require mask-wearing while visiting or frequenting district campuses and facilities.
  • The district has an allotment of personal protective equipment including masks available for distribution to students and staff for use this school year.
  • According to the CDC, even those who are vaccinated and immunocompromised are encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces.

     

    Meetings:

  • Campuses may have in-person meetings and are encouraged to host such meetings in a large, well-ventilated space while social distancing.
  • Meeting attendees are encouraged to wear masks while indoors.
  • Meetings should be limited to smaller groups.
  • Larger meetings or those with potential for greater capacity are encouraged to be facilitated virtually.
  • Please note virtual meetings are still allowable and recommended when possible.
  • Student award programs and parent meetings may take place in person during the 2021-2022 school year pending further guidance from the CDC and local health officials.

     

    School Closure Review Process:

  • We do have a process in place to consider school closures.
  • Capture a range of data points including confirmed cases, viral impact as a result of contact tracing, and impact to efficiency of campus operations.
  • Consideration of school closures will be assessed by a review committee and then presented to Dallas County health officials for guidance and additional review.
  • Upon the decision to close a campus due to COVID concerns, the campus will be physically closed and students and staff will engage in virtual learning.

     

    Social Distancing:

  • The district cannot guarantee social distance in classrooms, cafeterias, and other high-capacity spaces but will do our best to ensure students and staff maintain a reasonable distance from others.
  • The CDC recommends three feet of personal space for adequate social distancing where possible.
  • The district will make concerted efforts to level class sizes to balance our ability to socially distance classrooms. 
  • All staff are expected to work onsite daily.
  • Exceptions for medical needs or COVID-19 quarantine or treatment must be communicated to and approved by Human Resources.
  • Staff requiring quarantine or a period of isolation will utilize personal time off and must submit medical documentation from a healthcare professional to Human Resources.
  • Upon return from quarantine, staff must present a negative test result to Human Resources.
  • For information or support, email HR@DeSotoISD.org .

     

    Student Attendance and Quarantine Reporting:

  • All students will attend classes in-person, on campus daily.
  • Exceptions for medical needs or COVID-19 quarantine or treatment must be communicated to the campus principal.
  • Parents and campus will collaborate on student assignments.
  • COVID-related absences and attendance protocols will follow the guidelines set forth in the student compulsory attendance regulations.
  • Quarantine needs will be determined by contact tracing and should be supported by medical documentation of a positive test result.
  • Students must submit a negative test result to the school nurse before being permitted to return from quarantine status.
  • For information or support, contact your child’s campus or email Info@DeSotoISD.org.

     

    Transportation:

  • DeSoto ISD will offer transportation for all students in grades K through 12 including those students assigned to Katherine Johnson and Ruby Young.
  • Students are encouraged to wear a mask at all times while riding the bus.
  • Buses will be cleaned before and after each route.
  • Windows will remain open while students are aboard buses.
  • While the district cannot guarantee social distancing aboard school buses, students are asked to maintain a reasonable distance from peers while riding the bus.

     

    Travel:

  • Students and staff will not be required to quarantine following travel but should continue to monitor symptoms and any changes to health and wellness.
  • Students and staff returning from travel are encouraged to take a COVID test upon return.

     

    Virtual Learning:

  • Virtual learning is not normally funded by the state.
  • An emergency order by the Commissioner of Education made it possible during the 2020-21 school year.
  • The virtual learning bill did not pass during the state legislature, therefore, like many districts, DeSoto ISD is unable to offer online learning options at this time.
  • In the event of a school closure due to COVID-19, the district will engage students in virtual learning per TEA guidelines.
  • TEA has created an emergency funding source to partially support a limited number of days for school closures as a result of COVID-19.
  • In the event virtual instruction is engaged as a result of a campus closure, TEA requires instruction to be live and synchronous, and not in combination with teaching in-person students.

     

    Visitors:

  • DeSoto ISD district campuses will be open to visitors.
  • Visitors to district facilities MUST wear a mask while indoors.
  • Visitors may frequent campuses after checking in to each campus’ Raptor system and completing any other required check in procedures.
  • At this time, the district will not allow visitors to lunchrooms and classrooms.
  • Visitors will be permitted to attend Board meetings but are encouraged to view meetings online. Public Comments may be submitted via the Board of Trustees' web page on the district's website.

 

For your safety and that of our school community, please do your part to keep everyone safe by continuing to monitor your health and wellness, wash hands frequently and wipe down surfaces and high-touch areas in shared spaces.

 

Parents and staff are encouraged to create a personal safety kit as part of your back-to-school supplies which may include a personal water bottle, masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for desks, chairs, computers and writing utensils.

 

We thank you for working alongside DeSoto ISD to stop the spread of COVID-19 as we prepare for a safe reopening. The district is hopeful for as normal a school year as possible and looks forward to welcoming our students and staff back for another great year of learning in DeSoto ISD.

 

For more information, contact DeSoto ISD Student Support Services.