2021-2022 COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What measures are being taken in the classroom to help reduce the spread of illness?
A: Schools in Houston County will be implementing the following actions to help reduce the spread of illness.
- Dividers will be added where possible when physical distancing is not possible.
- Student seating will be spread out to maximum distancing.
- Group carpet time will not take place in lower grades.
- Seating charts will be maintained by all teachers and will be utilized for contact tracing. Principals have access to all seating charts in their building.
- High-touch items will be disinfected frequently.
- Directional hallways will be encouraged.
- Students will be kept in cohorts when practicable.
- Lunchrooms will operate at a reduced capacity and will use strategic layouts to encourage physical distancing. Also, meals may be consumed in alternate locations such as classrooms.
- Shared items should be sanitized between groups and students should not share items in the classroom, such as scissors, crayons, glue, etc.
Q: How will shared items be sanitized?
A; Students should not share items in the classroom such as scissors, crayons, glue, etc. Technology and shared equipment (Chromebooks, keyboards, mouse, science lab equipment, PE equipment, instruments, etc.) will be sanitized between each group. Classrooms will be provided all necessary cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Additional supplies can be ordered at any time by schools through our district warehouse.
Q: I'm concerned about the large crowds at lunch. What steps are being taken to reduce exposure and protect my child during meals at school?
A: Cafeterias will operate at a reduced capacity. Tables will be split up so all students are facing one direction or students will sit on only one side of a table. Cohorts for the lunchroom will be utilized when practicable. Classrooms will also be used to maximize physical distancing.
Q: What is the policy for visitors entering the school?
A: At this time, guests are still by invitation only to reduce the number of visitors interacting with all students. Invited guests entering an area of the school besides the front office will be required to complete a health screener upon entry.
Q: Will students be allowed to use the water fountains?
A: Schools are encouraged to use bottle filling stations and not water fountains to reduce the spread of germs. Parents are encouraged to send their child with a water bottle every day.
Q: How will staff meetings be handled to ensure safety and exposure?
A: Schools will physically distance for staff meetings or host meetings via Zoom.
Q: Are schools encouraging frequent handwashing?
A; Teachers will maintain a handwashing schedule for their class. Every teacher will have hand sanitizer available and teachers can request more at any time from our district warehouse. Students may also bring their own individual bottle of hand sanitizer if they choose. Signage is posted throughout the building to remind students of good handwashing techniques.
Q: What are the sanitation procedures for custodians?
A: Custodians will be given a school-specific disinfection routine and schedule. CDC Guidance of safe storage and application of disinfectants will be ensured.
Q: Will the schools be holding any assemblies or large gatherings where physical distancing is a challenge?
A: At this time, school are not holding large group events, including Homecoming. When it is safe to resume events, our schools will reschedule if possible.
Q: I have children in two different schools. Each school is handling situations differently, such as lunchroom seating and activities. Why is this happening?
A: Each school building has a different layout, seating, equipment, activities, and unique needs. What works best for one school may not work in a different setting. Principals can adjust their procedures to meet the needs of their building and students.
A: Once a positive case is reported and confirmed, school administrators investigate to identify direct exposures and close contacts to provide the DPH with accurate information for contact tracing. Administrators will contact parents of children with direct and close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual.
Q: What is the difference between a direct exposure and close contact for tracing purposes?
A: Direct exposure is someone who has been in direct contact with the sweat, blood, saliva etc. of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, hugging, hitting during contact sports). Students identified as a direct exposure will be required to quarantine for 10 days from the date of last exposure. Any identified direct exposure who remains asymptomatic and provides proof of vaccination or has clinically recovered from COVID within the past three months may attend school, but will be required to wear a mask for the full 10 days while in the school setting, to include school events.
Close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of a positive person during the infectious period for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period. Students identified as a close contact may continue to attend school but will be required to wear a mask in the school setting for the full 10 days. Close contacts who choose not to wear a mask in the school setting will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days from the last exposure to the positive person.
Q. My child has symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?
A. Symptomatic students who are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test should isolate until test results are received. Household members should monitor themselves for symptoms and quarantine until test results are received. Any household member who remains asymptomatic and meets the current definition of fully vaccinated (defined below) and provides proof of vaccination or has tested positive via a viral test (i.e. antigen, PCR, NAAT tests that includes self tests but not antibody tests) within the last 90 days, may attend school, but will be required to wear a mask for the full 10 days while in the school setting, including school events.
Q: My child has received a positive COVID-19 test result. What should I do?
A; The positive student will be required to isolate for 5 days from the start of symptoms or test date. They may return to school on day 6 if symptoms have improved and no fever for 24 hours without medication prior to return. The positive student will need to wear a mask for 10 days from the start of symptoms or test date. All household members of a positive student will be considered a direct exposure and shall be required to quarantine for 5 days from the last exposure. If the household member remain asymptomatic and return to school on day 6, they must wear a mask for the remainder of the 10 day isolation period. Any household member who remains asymptomatic and meets the current definition of fully vaccinated may attend school, but will be required to wear a mask for 10 full days while in the school setting, to include school events. This should be communicated with that child’s school.
Test results should be emailed directly to your school’s Med Tech or hand delivered to the front office prior to sending your student to school. Please do not send in any results with students to give to the teacher.
Q: If my child is tested using a rapid test and receives a negative result, may he/she return to school?
A: If your child tests negative for COVID-19, the test must be a PCR administered by a medical professional. Test results should be sent to the office of the child's school.
Q: Are all of my children required to quarantine if only one sibling has tested positive in our household?
A: Please keep all siblings home and communicate with the school where the student who has tested or is being tested attends. That school will help communicate information to the other schools as needed.Household members should quarantine until results are received UNLESS that household member remains asymptomatic and meets the current definition of fully vaccinated.
Q. If one of my children is quarantined due to a direct exposure to COVID-19, do I need to keep all my children home?
A. When you have a child on quarantine due to exposure, your other children may attend school as long as they are fever free and do not have COVID-19 symptoms. If your quarantined child begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your medical provider and child's school.
Q. If my child has been on quarantine due to a possible exposure, is a COVD-19 negative test required to come back to school?
A. A negative test is not required to return to school. Your child may return once the quarantine is completed, unless they have symptoms.
Q: Someone my child has been around is now quarantined. What should I do?
A: If you hear that someone has been quarantined, this means that they have been identified as direct exposure of someone with COVID-19. This does not mean that person has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you have not been contacted by the school or by someone from the Department of Public Health, then your child does not need to quarantine.
Reporting and Notifications
Q. What parents will be notified of COVID cases in the school?
A. Parents/guardians of direct exposures and close contacts will be notified.
Q. I got a call about a case at my child’s school but I don’t see it listed on the weekly report. How long before a case is added?
A. Reports will be released by the end of every Friday throughout the school year on our 2021-2022 Illness Protocol webpage. The reports cover data from Friday of the week prior through Thursday of the current week.
Q. What individuals are included in the weekly COVID cases report?
A. The report includes all school-based students and personnel, as well as employees who are not assigned to a school. This includes not only teachers, but also paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians, front office staff, administrators, ASP workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers, etc.
Q. I know someone who has been absent for more than a week. Is this a positive case of which we’ve not been informed?
A. All extended absences are not COVID-19 positive cases. Many situations, such as another illness, an injury, staying home with a quarantined family member, family emergency, etc., could cause an absence of multiple days.
Q: I am concerned that I am not receiving phone calls and notifications from my school. What can I do?
A: Please check Infinite Campus to ensure your contact information is current and not checked as private. Also, make sure that you have not blocked the school phone number through your provider. If everything is accurate, please call your school's ATS Clerk for assistance.
Q: If I have additional questions and concerns, who should I contact?
A; Please contact your child's school. A list of schools with phone numbers can be found here.