Health and Safety Guidelines
Supports and Priorities for Reopening
Kalamazoo Public Schools has outlined a three-year Acceleration Plan in response to COVID-19. This plan prioritizes:
1) Student, family and educator well being, 2) Equity access and targeted instruction, 3) Assessing, monitoring and evaluating needs, and 4) Leveraging community partnerships. In order to bolster the Acceleration Plan and the added health and safety guidelines, the following supports have been added to meet the needs of our students:
- $25 per student was added to school budgets - in addition to standard allocations
- Additional devices, headphones, and Chromebooks for buildings
- Instructional technology coaches have been added to support schools
- Additional activity helper positions provided for schools
- Additional building guest teachers provided for schools
- Teacher mentor coaches
- Climate and culture coaches have been added in middle schools
- Additional climate and culture coaches to support elementary schools
- New districtwide social-emotional learning (SEL) Curriculum
- Invested in district wide SEL assessment tool, XSEL labs, to utilize in all schools
- Playworks, an SEL resource, will be utilized in all elementary schools
- Move This World, an SEL resource, will be utilized in all elementary schools
- Expanded partnership with Gryphon Place throughout the district
- Expanded the number of full-time Communities In Schools (CIS) coordinators
- Online academic software programs for all students
- Created an online enrollment option for families
- Created a virtual academy, hired an administrator for virtual programs and purchased site licenses
- Districtwide personal protective equipment provisions
2021-2022 Reopening Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommend in-person instruction for students in PK-12th grade during the 2021-2022 school year. It is recommended that children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place. The Kalamazoo Public Schools will be implementing a four-pronged approach to COVID-19 mitigation strategies: 1) Promoting Wellness, 2) Universal Masking, 3) Mitigating Illness, 4) Building Readiness. This layered approach will be implemented throughout the district.
The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school. In order to promote student, family and staff wellness, KPS is implementing the following proactive strategies in the schools. KPS will promote wellness through the following measures:1) Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care. 2) Implement hygiene protocols such as hand washing, hand sanitizer use, and respiratory etiquette. 3) Students will be in homerooms, assigned seats or socially distanced whenever possible. 4) Limit and monitor the number of visitors in KPS schools and require proof of vaccination and masking for all people visiting school buildings. The CDC and MDHHS list these as key mitigation strategies.
1) Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care. Each morning parents are expected to screen their children for illness. They should use this health screening tool to review whether it is appropriate to send their child to school. Parents will be required to sign this form acknowledging this expectation at the beginning of the school year. Remember, safety begins at home.
2) Rigorous hand sanitizing and hand washing protocols will be implemented:
- Students are expected to use hand sanitizer before getting on the bus, before entering their classroom, before meals, and after recess.
- Hand sanitizer or handwashing stations will be provided in classrooms and on buses for use by students and staff.
- Students will use soap and water during bathroom breaks and whenever possible in lieu of sanitizer.
3) In an attempt to limit and monitor the number of people that students are in close contact with (more than 15 minutes within 3 feet) protocols will be followed that allow for quick flow into classrooms, separation of pods when possible, and seating charts for students. Assemblies will be limited and the district will adjust its practices as state and federal guidelines on meeting size change.
- Open houses will remain virtual this year to maintain safety.
- Teacher professional development is created and led by various groups throughout the district. The leaders of the professional development will determine if it is in person or virtual based on the needs of the professional learning. When professional development takes place in person, staff will adhere to safety guidelines.
4) Volunteers, outside agencies, and vendors that are in the building working with students are expected to confirm they have been vaccinated. They will sign in and out to provide ease of contact tracing. Only essential visitors with an appointment will be allowed inschool buildings. If KPS requires a background check for services, then proof of vaccination is required.
Unvaccinated Student or Adult Travel
According to CDC and MDHHS guidance there are no quarantine requirements for those who have been vaccinated. However, international travelers should test negative for COVID-19 before traveling back to the states.
Unvaccinated international travelers should take a PCR test 3-5 days upon returning to the states or quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. Travel guidance, testing, and quarantine recommendations will continue to be updated based on MDHHS guidelines.
Each school building has a different school context and the implementation of our COVID-19 health guidelines will adjust based on the school setting. The following strategies are recommended protocols for schools.
Elementary School Strategies
- When appropriate instructionally, PK-5th grade students will remain with a pod of students all day. This pod is typically a homeroom. If students from homerooms are commingled this will be documented for contact tracing purposes. Pods or homerooms may travel between teachers. Seating charts will be used to facilitate contact tracing and reduce exposure.
- Hand sanitizer or hand washing will be used upon entering the classroom. Any shared hard surface materials will be sanitized between classes by students and teachers. Breakfast will be served in the classrooms at the students’ desks when possible. No food will be shared and tables will be wiped by students. In order to mitigate exposure during lunch time students will remain with homeroom classmates, facing in a similar direction and spaced at least three feet apart, if possible.
- Students will have assigned Chromebook devices for in-school use in 3rd-5th grade. K-2 student devices will be wiped down with sanitizing wipes if the device was used by another student in the previous 24 hours.
Secondary School Strategies
- Hand sanitizer will be used before and after eating. Breakfast will take place in the cafeteria for those who elect to have breakfast. Students are responsible for their own trash and no sharing of food. Lunch will be served in the cafeteria. Students are encouraged to eat meals with the same group of people to reduce exposure and to limit the number of students at a table. If students eat lunch in a teacher’s classroom, students and teachers will remain 3 feet apart, windows will be cracked, and it will be documented to assist with contact tracing.
- Students will be seated in the same direction in classrooms with at least 3 feet social distance when possible. Seating charts will be maintained for classes. Hard surface materials and equipment that are shared will be disinfected between classes.
In April, KPS committed to mask wearing for everyone in all district buildings and on district buses until at least the end of first trimester. The CDC and MDHSS recommend indoor face masks for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor masking for all in preK-12 schools aims to reduce transmission of COVID-19, prevent student and employee absenteeism due to illness, and promote a healthy, in-person learning environment.
Students and staff are encouraged to wear and bring their own additional masks if able. Disposable masks will be made available for all students and staff that need one. Students who are medically unable to wear a mask must submit a physician's note for review by the school nurse. This will be an extremely limited group of students.
Students who refuse to wear a mask will be offered a mask and reminded of the districtwide mandate. If they continue to refuse, students will be removed from the classroom and a parent meeting will be held. Students should not be removed be initially suspended from school for refusing to wear a mask. Principals will outline the mask protocols with their school community. Principals should use the KPS Code of Conduct to respond to repeated incidents of student mask refusal.
If the student consistently refuses, options may include moving the student to an alternate learning setting in the school to:
- Work independently by getting assignments from Google Classroom
- Watch pre-recorded lessons or access other online instructional content
- Any other strategies deemed fit by school principal
All KPS employees are required to wear a mask in KPS buildings and on KPS buses. Employees who refuse to wear a mask will be subject to disciplinary procedures.
Currently, all athletes and spectators will be required to wear masks in KPS buildings. The MDHHS and MHSAA do not currently have a cap on spectators at either indoors or outside events. KPS will continue to monitor public health guidance and adjust protocols accordingly.
The CDC states that as part of a layered mitigation strategy, adults and students should stay home when sick and get tested. Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care. For students that become ill during the school day, principals and teachers will follow these symptom guidelines when sending students to the Care Room. The comprehensive list of symptoms has been provided from the CDC.
Care Room Protocol
- When students are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 they will be sent to the care room. Each school will have a designated area with a staff member available to monitor them.
- Care rooms will be in close proximity to an exit door, have a window that can open and be set up to accommodate multiple students with at least six feet of space between them.
- Students will receive a clean mask when they enter the room and have their temperature taken with a touchless or forehead thermometer upon entering.
- Students that are sent to the care room with a mild stomach ache or headache and NO FEVER will be offered water and monitored for 30 minutes. If they do not improve then parents will be called to pick the student up from school immediately. Sick students CANNOT ride the bus.
- Students with fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms will have parents called to pick the student up from school immediately.
- The desks of students that are sent home will be disinfected.
Return to School requirements:
In order for a student to return to school after exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms, they must either quarantine for 10 days, have a doctor’s note with a different diagnosis, or test negative for COVID-19.
- This form will be sent home with students who are sent home with symptoms. The form must be completed by the student’s doctor or the student must test negative for COVID-19 before returning. Free testing is available at: K Med, Walgreens Pharmacy, OptiMed and Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Airport.
- Students without a different diagnosis or negative test must quarantine for 10 days from exposure and onset of symptoms.
- Students with pending COVID-19 tests will not be in school buildings until they receive negative test results.
- Notes will be submitted to the school principal and the school nurse.
Positive COVID-19 Case Protocol
In the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a school setting, it is important to determine the direct close contacts and the date of the onset of symptoms. Consultation with the health department is required. They have published this information about COVID-19 in schools. In the event that the positive case is a vaccinated person, the quarantine requirements may be different. If the individual was in the building in the previous 24 hours, special attention will be given to disinfecting the affected areas.
Reporting and Contact Tracing
As soon as a case is confirmed (via PCR positive test), the principal will contact their building nurse who will update Student Services and consult with the Kalamazoo County Health Department. The nurse will ensure the school secretary has the appropriate information to update the infectious disease record with the local health department. It is important that the principal have the following information and complete the form before making contact with the nurse:
- Date of onset of symptoms
- List of current symptoms
- Vaccination status
- Who they have been within 3 feet of for more than 15 minutes in the school (regardless of mask wearing)
- If they are aware of exposure to someone who has recently had COVID-19
The hope is to limit the amount of time students are away from in-person instruction. To that end, an exposed unvaccinated person should quarantine for 10 days from the date of contact with the positive case. If the person is vaccinated and has no symptoms, there is currently no need to quarantine. The CDC currently recommends testing 3-5 days after exposure, even for vaccinated individuals. Every case (student or staff) is individual and will be carefully reviewed.
Notifications of Positive COVID Case in School Community
Once a positive case has been identified in the classroom, the KPS Communications Department will provide the principal with communication to be shared with families. The following protocols will be implemented:
- Close contacts receive specific communication with care instructions or guidance from the local health department.
- Communications will provide language to the principal that should be sent to the affected classroom and/or school community.
- Staff is all informed by the principal and the entire school community is notified to ensure they are aware.
- Communications will update the centralized COVID dashboard
- KPS Human Resources will be notified about the impact on staff and staff attendance.
- Transportation will be notified if bus routes were impacted.
Students that are required to quarantine will have access to asynchronous learning activities consistent with previous sick protocols. These will be excused absences. Consistent with previous sick protocols, all assignments, links, materials, and due dates should be available to students and families throughout their quarantine (i.e. Google Classroom). 6th-12th grade students should all have district-issued Chromebook devices. K-5 students that do not have a KPS device at home can request one from their school's “To Go” cart.
- Upon return to the classroom, students should be given time to demonstrate the proficiency of the work that was missed while they were quarantined. Teachers may also excuse assignments, provide extensions, or delay assessments in order to promote student success. The extension of time for work to be completed also applies to the end of the trimester.
- Attempts will be made to provide remote tutoring services to support students.
- When a group of students (typically a homeroom in a K-5 building) has to be sent home for remote instruction, the school will issue Chromebooks to each student. The teacher will log in at the typical start of the school day and discuss the calendar and timelines for instruction. Teachers are expected to have a Google Classroom with a meeting link readily available for families and students so they can quickly convert to remote instruction if need be. Each elementary school will have “To Go” Chromebook carts available to distribute Chromebooks to students in K-5th grade if their classroom is converted to remote learning.
The threshold for shutting down a school to all remote instruction
The health department has determined that even one case should be investigated to determine the contact tracing and threat. We will work in close consultation with the Health Department to determine when classrooms, schools, or the district need to convert to remote instruction.
Building and Facility Readiness
A Tower Pinkster report from March of 2020 assessed each KPS facility and made recommendations to reduce possible COVID 19 transmission inside KPS facilities. After that report, bipolar ionization systems were installed in all schools and on buses in order to filter the air. Schools will be ventilated 3 hours before and after school. All schools and buses are encouraged to open/crack windows to increase fresh airflow when possible.
The district has made additional improvements to all buildings to improve student health and wellness. A designated Care Room has been established in every school. All classrooms have wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations or soap dispensers with a sink. The district has provided PPE for schools, including masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes.
There are no restrictions on drinking fountains at this time. However, students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles if drinking from the fountain is not desired.
Bus Requirements and Transportation Guidelines
Many students are transported on buses each day. Masks are required at all times for students and staff on school buses. Students will be assigned to seats when possible. Bus drivers have a cleaning protocol to disinfect buses between routes and other times when possible.
In the morning, students who board the bus and refuse to wear a mask should be offered a mask once and if they continue to refuse they should sit in a single seat at the front of the bus. The principal will set up a meeting with the student and his or her parent. The student will be prohibited from riding the bus until they agree to comply with masking protocols.
At dismissal, students should leave the building wearing a mask before they board the bus home. Young students who aren’t picked up at their bus stop will be returned to the school building they attend to reduce exposure.