DPSA/DECS Safe Learning Plan and statement

As of June 21, no public comment has been received about the DPSA/DECS Safe Learning Plan. We are accepting comment through July 1, 2021.

Updated 6/15/21

NOTE:  This updated plan is being shared for public comment as part of the requirements for receipt of funding from the State American Rescue Plan Educational Funds.  Public comment will be received through July 1, 2021.  This plan reflects the practices of DPSA/DECS during the 2020-21 school year and plans for 2021 summer programming.  An updated plan will be posted and shared in August 2021 for the 2021-22 school year.  We are anticipating further guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) over the summer. 

Introduction

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 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 June 1, 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 who have shared offices will be encouraged to work at home as much as possible and develop rotating schedules with colleagues.  We are working to identify additional space for staff to work in the buildings when needed.

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;  Per MDH guidance during the 2020-21 school year and as we move into special education and other summer programming the following guidance is in effect. 

—  Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits during the 2020-21 school year, the year just completed:.  Our grades K-5 students will attend in person classes, with a social distance of three feet between students and six feet among adults, as much as possible.  Due to the volume of teachers who were also doing distance learning and the requirement per Governor’s order to provide additional prep time for staff, Wednesdays were a distance learning half day and teacher work time the second half of the day. 

Our Junior Academy, grades 6-8, worked with a social distancing of six feet between students and adults.  This means a Group A and a Group B.  Each group had two days of in person learning and three days of distance learning in their week.  Wednesdays were distance learning half days also to allow for teacher work time in the second half of the day.

  • Distance learning continued to be an option for all K-8 students during the 2020-21 school year.  With the expiration of the Governor’s order allowing distance learning on July 1, 2021, distance learning will no longer be an option UNLESS the Minnesota Legislature acts to allow this to continue.  No action has been taken by the Legislature as of this date. 
  • additional protocols to limit face-to-face interaction;  As much as is possible students will stay with the same teacher and students for the bulk of the day in the same space(s). Mixing of cohorts is avoided. 

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 protocol 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 if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at their workplace 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.

COVID 19 testing for staff and students was implemented during the 2020-21 school year.  On site staff testing took place every other week.  Zoom enabled covid tests were sent home with students in grades 6 – 8 every other week.

Vaccination Efforts

School administration worked with the local health department and MDE to make vaccinations available to all interested staff as soon as this was an option in the 2020-21 school year.  In May, the school nurse and administration gathered information about vaccination locations for students age 12 and older and shared 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.  

Face coverings

All students, staff, and other people present in school buildings during school’s instructional time, including summer programming 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 

http://www.duluthedison.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/200-6-COVID-Face-Coverings.pdf

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.   

School building and ventilation protocol

In light of COVID concerns 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.  We are also looking into other best practices in this area including consideration of air filters. .  

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.  Note:  We anticipate breakfast and lunch being eaten in classrooms not the cafeteria. 

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. 

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 2020-21 school year when students were in distance learning our school staff followed all state and federal guidance to ensure continuity of services.  Our food service department did extensive work to provide students who requested them breakfast and lunch options and access to the P-EBT  benefits.  Food security for our families is a top priority.  During the summer of 2021 our families have access to ISD 709 summer meals programs. 

Technology — The school provided chromebooks to all students, we became a one to one device school.  We also worked 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.  

Compensatory services are being provided to some special education students in the summer of 2021 and we will look to the needs of others in the coming school year. 

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.  The plan is being reposted for public comment as required to receive funding from the federal State American Rescue Plan Funds. 

Instructions 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 prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year and every six months thereafter as required by state and federal departments of education.