August 18, 2021
GBSD Return to Learn Health and Safety Plan for Schools
Dear GBSD Families,
We are excited to welcome students and staff back to school this fall and want to share some updates about what to expect.
GBSD Offering Full-Time, Five-Days-Per Week, In-person Instruction
As we shared with you in June, the Gresham-Barlow School District will offer full-time, in-person instruction, five days per week in the 2021-22 school year. We will provide remote learning for students who may need to quarantine.
Health & Safety in Our Schools
As our schools plan for the fall 2021 in-person school year, it is important to remember our communities will be living with the virus until there is widespread immunity. COVID-19 continues to change with new variants, our knowledge of mitigation efforts grows over time.
Right now, the best tools to protect ourselves and one another are vaccination for those eligible, face coverings, physical distancing, ventilation and airflow, hand hygiene, and staying home if you feel sick or you know you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) shared guidance this summer that empowers school district leaders - in partnership with local public health - to make decisions about how to implement health and safety protocols.
We want to share the health and safety protocols we will have in place in our schools, along with steps we plan to take in response to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, should they occur.
We encourage you to review the information below and talk with your student(s) about what to expect. The transition back to school may prompt a range of emotions for you and/or your child - from anxiety and uncertainty to excitement and opportunity. We want you to know we are focused on providing a learning space where your child feels safe, cared for, and has a sense of connection.
We look forward to working with our students, staff, and families, to rekindle joy and learning throughout our schools this fall.
After reviewing the information below, if you have questions about GBSD’s plans for the 2021-22 school year, please submit them to the District’s online listening system “Let’s Talk” for a prompt response.
Gresham-Barlow School District
These protocols were developed by following guidance in the state’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year (RSSL)
The vast majority of health and safety protocols in the RSSL are advisory for the 2021-22 school year. The switch to advisory means school districts and public charter schools will have the option to implement. The GBSD will implement these to the extent possible.
Key measures that are required include: The wearing of face coverings inside school buildings, maintaining a communicable disease plan, maintaining an isolation space in schools and submitting a plan for operation.
The Oregon Health Authority/Oregon Department of Education has made It is mandatory for students and staff to wear face coverings when inside a school building. The goal of requiring face coverings is to ensure students are able to safely return to full-time, in-person learning this fall, five days per week and with minimal disruptions.
Face coverings are required on public transit, including school buses, for passengers and drivers until lifted by the federal government. The CDC order for mandatory use of face coverings on public transit cannot be waived by state or local authorities. The CDC guidance is available on the CDC website.
COVID-19 Vaccinations are not required in order to attend school, volunteer, or be employed by the Gresham-Barlow School District.
Currently, everyone age 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination supports a student’s access to in-person learning, sports and extracurricular activities.
Fully vaccinated individuals who are exposed to COVID-19 are not required to quarantine unless they develop symptoms which ensures continuity of in-person instruction. When as many eligible students and staff are vaccinated as possible, our school is better able to serve students and families without interruption.
The RSSL document recommends 3 feet of physical distancing when possible as guidance.
The District asks employees, visitors, and students to be mindful of this guidance but also acknowledges that situations will occur during best practice teaching that makes physical distancing difficult to consistently maintain.
Face coverings are required in our buildings to provide additional protection.
We will also encourage frequent hand washing, and covering mouths and noses when sneezing and coughing. Physical contact such as fist bumping, high fives, and hugs are strongly discouraged.
Elementary schools will continue to use classroom cohorts for students to the extent possible.
Class cohorting will not be implemented for middle or high schools. Student contact tracing will be completed via attendance for each time a student moves to another class.
To promote a healthy learning environment, ventilation is another tool we use to reduce viral spread indoors.
GBSD has always been committed to maintaining appropriate indoor air quality.
We are enhancing airflow and circulation by:
-Continuing to bring 100% fresh outside air into the system.
-Exhausting air from the indoors to the outdoors for extended periods of the morning and afternoon.
-Using MERV-13 filters in systems that are capable.
-More frequent replacement of all filters in all buildings.
Hand washing will be taught and encouraged. Students and staff will have access to soap and water and 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer throughout the school building.
Responding to COVID-19 Cases or Outbreaks:
We want you to know it is a priority for our school district to create a learning environment where your child feels safe, cared for, and connected to peers and school staff.
When staff and students show symptoms of being ill: if the student or staff member feels ill prior to coming to school, they should stay home. If a student or staff member becomes ill at school, we will have a designated location to separate people who have symptoms of COVID-19 from people who are not sick. We have enhanced the health and safety support by increasing the amount of time health assistants and nurses are on site at our schools.
When a staff member or a student tests positive for COVID-19: our school district will work with our local public health authority to take next steps. This will include communicating to our school community and contacting those who may have been exposed.
Attendance: If a student is placed under quarantine/isolation we are planning to provide the opportunity to attend school virtually, and the district will provide electronic or paper lessons and assignments for students to utilize in order to continue to access their learning. Upon return from quarantine/isolation, students will be provided with opportunities to complete any missed assignments and learning.
CDC guidance states that people who are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to quarantine or get tested after an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
If you have additional questions, please submit them through our “Let’s Talk” online listening system for a prompt response.