Duluth Public Schools Academy, doing business as Duluth Edison Charter School (DECS) is committed to providing a safe and healthy school environment for all our staff and students. To ensure we have a safe and healthy environment, DECS has developed the following Safe Learning Plan and COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for the 2021-22 school year. Staff, caregivers and students are all responsible for helping to implement this plan. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our school and that requires full cooperation among all in our school community. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of all persons in our schools.
This Plan is administered by the Head of School, who maintains the overall authority and responsibility for the plan. However, all staff are equally responsible for supporting, implementing, complying with and providing recommendations to further improve all aspects of this plan.
This Plan follows the guidance developed by the state of Minnesota as of August 17, 2021. This is based upon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines for COVID-19 and schools. It addresses:
- social distancing
- COVID 19 screening and contact tracing
- vaccination efforts
- face coverings
- staff and student hygiene and source controls;
- school building and ventilation protocol;
- school cleaning and disinfection protocol;
- drop-off, pick-up and delivery practices and protocol;
- appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities
- continuity of services
- communications and training practices and protocol.
We will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC, MDH and MDE and adjust our plan to ensure we are following the most up to date guidance.
Social distancing –
Our transportation provider will follow all required CDC and MDH guidance for social distancing on buses.
In this COVID time, families and visitors will be discouraged from entering the building unless there is an urgent need.
Staff will ensure they follow MDH recommendations for social distancing for all in person meetings and are strongly encouraged to utilize technology for meetings as much as possible:
- additional protections and protocols for personal protective equipment (PPE); Our School Nurse and Special Education Coordinator will work with our Director of Business Services to procure needed PPE for the health office staff and specialized needs of staff working with high needs students.
- additional protections and protocol for access and assignment; Our Head of School and HR Generalist will review access and assignment requests related to COVID concerns and follow all legal guidance in responding to them.
- additional protections and protocol for distancing and barriers; All classrooms and offices will be set up following required and recommended CDC guidance. Bathrooms will have plexiglass dividers between sinks and offices will have the same protection for staff’s staff desks. Our Head of School and Facilities Manager will monitor all needs in this area.
- additional protections and protocols for managing occupancy: Students and staff will maintain as much distance as possible between each other. Breakfast and lunch will be divided between the cafeteria and/or classrooms for each grade level maintaining 3 feet of space between students. K-5 will have scheduled bathroom breaks throughout the day.
- K-5 classrooms will have scheduled recess and outdoor times
- 6-8 will have scheduled outdoor times
- additional protocols to limit face-to-face interaction; As much as is possible K-5 students will stay with the same teacher and students for the bulk of the day in the same space(s). For JA students protocols for entering and exiting classrooms will be established. Lockers will not be used.
- Protocols in place for entering and exiting classrooms
- In accordance with MDE and MDH recommendations changes will be made
- Masks will be required for all students and staff in school and on buses; masks will not be required outside
COVID 19 Screening, Contact Tracing
Staff are informed of and encouraged to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. We will follow CDC and MDH recommendations for both self screening guidance and any in school screenings. Such procedures and any updates are shared with families and staff.
DECS has implemented procedures that promote staff staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household per the provided CDC and MDH guidance.
Accommodations for staff with underlying medical conditions or who have household members with underlying health conditions will be implemented on a case by case basis in accordance with federal and state law and the DPSA Employee Handbook.
DECS has also implemented a procedure for informing staff and the families of students if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at school and requiring them to quarantine for the required amount of time. This plan, which includes contact tracing, will be implemented under the advice of the Minnesota Department of Health.
DECS will follow any MDH and MDE recommendations for COVID 19 testing for staff and students.
School administration will continue to work with the local health department and MDE to provide vaccination information and vaccination locations for students age 12 and older and share this with the school community. As vaccinations become available for younger students we will continue this work and also consider on site vaccination clinics in cooperation with local health officials.
All students, staff, and other people present in school buildings or riding on school transportation vehicles are required to wear a face covering. The school will provide masks and/or face shields to students and staff who need them.
DECS Policy on Face Coverings Face Covering Policy
Staff and student hygiene and source controls
Basic infection prevention measures are being implemented at our school at all times.
Hand hygiene is a term used to cover both hand washing using soap and water, and cleaning hands with waterless or alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Staff and students will be asked to perform hand hygiene frequently throughout the day, including but not limited to the following
- After arriving at school. Before being dismissed from school.
- After coughing or sneezing into a tissue or on your hands. (Preference is to cough/sneeze into your sleeve.)
- After blowing your nose.
- Before and after eating lunch.
- After using the bathroom.
- Before and after using playground equipment.
- After touching objects that have been handled by other people.
All visitors to the school are required to wash or sanitize their hands prior to or immediately upon entering the facility. Hand-sanitizer dispensers (that use sanitizers of greater than 60% alcohol) are at entrances and locations in the school, including each classroom, so they can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water, as long as hands are not visibly soiled
Staff and students are being instructed to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and to avoid touching their face, particularly their mouth, nose and eyes, with their hands. Clean masks will be available for staff and students who may sneeze or cough during the school day. Staff and students are expected to dispose of tissues in provided trash receptacles and wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward. Respiratory etiquette will be demonstrated on posters and supported by making tissues and trash receptacles available to all workers and other persons entering the workplace.
Technology and Classroom Materials : All students and staff members will be assigned their own device. Protocol is for individuals to use only their device and materials and not to share.
Kindergarten Only: Kindergarten students will participate in learning labs with the tracking of students within individual learning labs each day in case of contract tracing. Cleaning protocols will be followed for supplies within stations.
School building and ventilation protocol
In light of COVID concerns in the 2020-21 school year we increased the air flow by 50 percent in both of our buildings. Our facilities staff works closely with the company UHL to monitor air flow and ventilation on a daily basis. During the summer of 2021 we installed the Trio Plus air purifier into each classroom at both buildings. The airflow of this three stage portable system boasts a remarkable Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 295 CFM, True HEPA filtration, high intensity UVC germicidal sterilization and PRO-CELL toxic gas reduction technologies.
School cleaning and disinfection protocol
Regular practices of cleaning and disinfecting have been implemented in our buildings by our custodial staff. Staff will use gloves, masks, and when necessary goggles while cleaning. They will maintain social distancing. Practices include:
Deep cleaning– Wiping down tables, chairs, doors and other handles, light switches, phones, keyboards, railings and all other items frequently touched with recommended cleaning products. Disinfecting foggers will be used nightly in rooms that have been used.
Classrooms – Wiping down tables, chairs, door and other handles, all other items frequently touched with recommended cleaning products. Disinfecting foggers will be used nightly in rooms that have been used. Sweep and mop
Offices of Deans, Social Workers, Counselor, Principals and Health Office – Wiping down tables, chairs, door and other handles, all other items frequently touched with recommended cleaning products. Disinfecting fogger will be used nightly in rooms that have been used. Sweep and mop
Cafeteria – tables will be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Floors will be swept and scrubbed daily.
Bathrooms Restrooms are wiped down with recommended cleaning products, floor to all reachable areas every 2 hours to include all toilets and sinks. Sweep and mop restroom floors with sanitizer cleaner soap and disinfected each night
Gym – Wipe down walls as high as can be reached with recommended cleaning products daily, spray equipment with sanitizing spray after each class, sweep and scrub the floor daily.
Kitchen – wipe down all surfaces with recommended cleaning products, sweep and mop floors dial, wash floor mats and spray with disinfectant
Playgrounds.- Wipe down all touchable surfaces with recommended cleaning products daily. Spray sanitizer on areas hard to wipe down after frequent use (chains, small grab hold etc..)
Appropriate and effective cleaning and disinfecting supplies have been purchased and are available for use in accordance with product labels, safety data sheets and manufacturer specifications, and are being used with required personal protective equipment for the product.
Drop-off, pick-up and delivery practices and protocol
We will have a wider window of time for dropping off and picking up students as well as bus arrival and departure. Specifics of this protocol will be developed by building principals.
Bus drop off/pick up: drop off and pick up will be at the cafeteria doors (North Star) and students will be walked to buses(Raleigh). Caution will be taken as to the number of students walking through these areas.
Parent Drop off and Pick Up will be spread out through each building to avoid congestion in those areas.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities in respect to the health and safety policies outlined above are considered and resolved by the students IEP Team.
Continuity of Services
During the 2021-22 school year our school staff will follow state and federal guidance to ensure continuity of services. Food security for our students and families is of top priority. Our food service department will continue to provide students who requested them breakfast and lunch options and access to the P-EBT benefits.
Technology — The school has provided chromebooks to all students, we became a one to one device school. We will continue to refresh and replace student chromebooks. We will continue to work with families to provide internet access for any who did not have it and to the best of our knowledge achieved 100 percent accessibility.
Student Services Staff delivered services via technology or home visits when necessary.
Communications and training practices and protocol
This document is an update of the August 2020 COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that was approved by our DPSA Board.
Information will continue to be communicated to all staff and families, about protections and protocols, including: 1) social distancing protocols and practices; 2) drop-off, pick-up, and delivery of items to the school and general delivery of materials; 3) practices for hygiene and respiratory etiquette; 4) recommendations or requirements regarding the use of masks, face-coverings and/or face-shields by staff and students. All staff and students will also be advised not to enter the workplace if they are experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19.
Monitoring the Plan
The all school lead team monitors how effectively the plan is being implemented. This includes periodic in-house observations of expected protocol, surveys to staff, students and families, and open communication with the Head of School and other members of the lead team. All staff are to take an active role and collaborate in carrying out the various aspects of this plan, and update the protections, protocols, work-practices and training as necessary.
It will be updated as necessary by the Head of Schools or HOS designee at least every six months thereafter as required by state and federal departments of education.