This Safe Return to School Plan will be reviewed and updated as required throughout the school year and necessary changes will be discussed at regularly scheduled monthly board meetings. These meetings are open to the public and participants will have the opportunity to provide comments during the Hearing of Visitors.
TSD’s goal is to safely provide in person instruction throughout the school year. At the present time, all COVID-19 health emergencies have been lifted at the local, state, and federal levels. Should those emergency conditions be re-instated the following procedures and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) for schools related to mask use, quarantine requirements, COVID testing, and vaccinations will be considered for re-adoption.
TSD will continue to work with San Miguel County Public Health (SMCPH) to interpret these guidelines and evaluate the risk of transmission as we make decisions on school operation. The number of COVID-19 cases amongst students, teachers and staff and levels of community transmission will all help to inform the District’s decision making. Because local conditions and relevant guidance continue to be dynamic, all of these plans are subject to change.
TSD will follow all County, State, and Federal public health orders for indoor mask requirements. At present, all health orders requiring indoor mask use at school and on buses for individuals two years of age and older have been lifted. In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, TSD may reconsider the use of masks for students and staff:
Grades 7-12: As this age group is eligible for vaccination, and our county vaccination rate is high (approaching 90%), masks may not be required at school for this grade span. Masks may be required for indoor athletics for this grade span. Masks will not be required for outdoor athletics unless CHSAA, CDC, or CDPHE requirements change.
Grades K-6: As this age group is eligible for vaccination, we may consider a mask requirement taking into consideration transmission rates among this age group.
Pre-K: This age group is now eligible for vaccination. Masks may continue to be required.
On Buses: The District will follow federal requirements regarding mask use on buses. Effective May 11, 2023 Mask use is not currently required.
Masks will be available and encouraged for students who are more comfortable wearing them, as well as for those students who are not vaccinated. This is aligned with CDC and CDPHE guidance.
Students, teachers, and staff with symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and see their healthcare provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of schools and prevent spreading to others. If a student becomes sick, the school nurse will screen the student or staff member for COVID-19 systems using these flowcharts.
Parents must keep children home if they show signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and get them tested. Getting tested for COVID-19 when symptoms are compatible with COVID-19 will help with rapid contact tracing and prevent possible spread at school.
Per the recent CDPHE guidance, Colorado is taking the position that if a community has a high vaccination rate (which San Miguel County does), quarantines will not be required for typical classroom exposures. Like last year, we will work with SMCPH to interpret this guidance on a case-by-case basis. The District will work closely with SMCPH to help identify contact tracing of students and staff based on seating charts and other known in-school activities.
You can get a COVID-19 test:
If you don’t have health insurance, you can get a COVID-19 test at no cost if you have symptoms or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. Use the CDC’s no-cost COVID-19 testing locator to find a free test near you. Please understand that a negative rapid test alone does not mean a symptomatic person can return to school, as rapid tests are antigen tests, not PCR tests. Please get in touch with your school nurse with any questions.
Visit the San Miguel County Website for a current list of vaccine clinics, testing options, and what to do if you are sick or exposed.
There is currently no federal or state guidance which requires COVID vaccination for school attendance, nor is there federal or state guidance which requires us to collect information on which students have been vaccinated for COVID (or not). Based on that, we have no plans to monitor the vaccination status of students. If SMCPH requires this information as part of contact tracing they might request it, and if state or federal guidelines change to require COVID vaccinations or to require vaccination status then we will comply as required.
Based on studies from 2020-2021 school year, CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing to reduce transmission risk. The District has configured its classes, common areas and cafeterias so that whenever possible we maintain a physical distance of 3 feet.
A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated. Mask use by all students, teachers, staff, and visitors is particularly important when physical distance cannot be maintained.
In addition, the District layers multiple other prevention strategies, such as cohorting, improved ventilation, handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick with symptoms of infectious illness including COVID-19, and regular cleaning to help reduce transmission risk.
Students in Pre- k through Grade 5 are maintained in cohorts, which means keeping people together in a small group and having each group stay together throughout an entire day. Cohorts can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, and particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. The use of cohorts can limit the spread of COVID-19 between cohorts but should not replace other prevention measures within each group. Cohorting people who are fully vaccinated and people who are not fully vaccinated into separate cohorts is not recommended. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that cohorts are established in an equitable manner that does not perpetuate academic, racial, or other tracking.
Improving ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. TSD regularly purchases and replaces air filters used in its HVAC and air filtration systems. We have installed air purifiers within each enclosed classroom and area. We have previously engaged a consultant to review indoor air quality and have implemented recommendations on how to improve indoor air quality.
During transportation, open or crack windows in buses and other vehicles, if doing so does not pose a safety risk. Keeping windows open a few inches improves air circulation.
In general, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that may be on surfaces. Disinfecting (using disinfectants on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency COVID-19 list) removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
In the event that we identify someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, we will clean AND disinfect the space impacted.
Students and staff should practice handwashing and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) to keep from getting and spreading infectious illnesses including COVID-19. The school will monitor and reinforce these behaviors and provide adequate handwashing supplies, training and opportunities.
If handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol may be used (for teachers, staff, and older students who can safely use hand sanitizer). Hand sanitizers are available throughout the school and with adult supervision for children under 6 years of age.
In the event a student is absent as a result of COVID-19 or any illness, the District encourages the student to take this time to restore their health. Please refer to Board Policy JH regarding Student Absences.