Dear Parents,

Our Task Force knows that parents have many questions about the reopening of school. Today we are going to offer an outline of several of our most frequently asked questions (FAQ). This FAQ series will continue over the next few weeks. The FAQ will cover three general areas:  

  • Health and Safety
  • Infection Protocols and Cleaning
  • Academics and Programming 

This week we will be addressing the most frequently asked questions regarding health and safety.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Q: What does “reopening our schools” really mean? 

A: Gathering as a school community is an integral part of Catholic education. Our plan is to reopen our school to students this fall. This means that all students are welcome to return to classes for in-person instruction five days a week. Our plan addresses numerous aspects of the reopening process, and how our school will function once reopened. Families who choose not to have their children return to school in person will have a HOME (remote) learning option. 

Q: Will students be safe when school is reopened?
 
A: Safety is always our top priority in Catholic education. In constructing this plan, we have closely studied guidance from federal, state and medical authorities and have determined that we can implement the requirements.  

Q: Who decides when a school has met the requirements to reopen?

A: Our plan includes specific requirements that schools must meet in order to reopen. Schools must complete a plan and submit it to the diocese for review. The diocese will give feedback as necessary. Our school must also follow any mandated orders from the State of Ohio or Health Department. Peggy Iannarino, school nurse, attends the weekly meeting for school nurses with the Franklin County Department of Health. Mrs. Iannarino is able to monitor our situation and receive guidance from the Health Department.   

Q: Will students need to wear face coverings at school? 

A: Yes. All individuals above the age of three will be required to wear face coverings while at school, with certain exceptions. Face coverings may be removed for brief periods of time under certain circumstances (such as during a mask break when a student is seated at their individual assigned desk, six feet apart from others, and during lunch). When face coverings are removed, students/adults must remain at least six feet apart. 

Q: Do I need to purchase face coverings for my child? 

A: Yes. Parents must send their children to school with face coverings. Face coverings should be cleaned after each use and parents should send an extra one or two face coverings to school in case there needs to be a change during the day. No requirements for colors. Please make sure designs are school appropriate.  

Q: Will teachers teach children how to use face coverings?

A: Yes. We know that students (especially young children) will need training to learn how to properly wear face coverings. We will spend time at the beginning of the year helping children learn how to safely keep face coverings in place. We encourage parents and families to spend time prior to the start of school, working with your children on wearing a face covering for longer periods of time.

Q: Will students be required to physically distance at school?

A: Our plan calls for each student to be part of a group of students called a “pod.” When students are with their pod, they will strive to remain 6 feet apart. Homeroom teachers are also part of the pod and can walk around their classroom to monitor student classwork. Special area teachers and specialized subject area teachers will also be considered a part of the pod while presenting their instruction/lessons. We believe the pod model provides for better containment should there be a positive case of COVID-19. 

Q: Will students have any additional layers of protection such as plexiglass shields?

A: We have purchased an individual clear plastic shield or “sneeze guard” for each student to keep on his/her desk. This will provide yet another layer of protection, especially during a mask break: for example at lunch. 

Q: Will students be required to stay in their pod all day?

A: We have purchased two large tents (30 X 40) that will be available for outdoor learning spaces. Pods will be encouraged to take turns in sharing these spaces to allow for an alternate learning experience. Physical education classes will take place in the gym. Outdoor recess will be available weather permitting. Our teachers will also be providing short brain breaks (movement breaks) and wellness breaks throughout the day.  

Q: Will parents/families be required to take their child’s temperature every day before coming to school? 

A: Yes. A fever is a key symptom of COVID-19. Parents will be required to take their child’s temperature every day before sending their child to school. If your child has had a fever of over 100.0°F within the last 24 hours, your child should be kept home from school. You should contact your child’s doctor and the school’s main office. Similarly, you should ask your child if he/she has any of the other symptoms of COVID-19, such as a headache, sore throat, congestion/ cough, stomach ache or nausea. If your child complains of these symptoms, you should keep him/her home and contact your doctor and the school office.
 
Q: How will drop-off and pick-up at school be handled? 

A: We are carefully evaluating drop-off and pick-up procedures. We will use various entrances and exits to minimize contact between student pods. We will communicate exact procedures once they are fully developed.  

Q: What does the plan require regarding safety and cleaning of school buildings? 

A: Our plan includes specific requirements for the ongoing cleaning and sanitizing of all school/parish buildings. Buildings will be cleaned frequently, focusing on high traffic areas and common surfaces. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in main office areas. Our plan includes instructions for managing and cleaning shared areas such as hallways, gymnasiums, cafeterias and bathrooms. 

Q: How will lunch take place when school reopens? 

A: Schools must think differently about lunchtime. Our students will eat in their pods. The cafeteria staff will prepare individually packaged lunches available for purchase and deliver them to students. A menu will be provided.  

Q: What about recess?

A: Pods will participate in outdoor recess weather permitting and will follow safety requirements. For example, pods must be physically distant from each other. Depending on the activity, face coverings may be removed if students stay at least six feet apart. The Task Force is currently developing a plan for providing a safe environment with choices for students and a process for sanitizing and cleaning toys, playground equipment, etc. 

Q: Can parents/family members come into the schools to drop off and/or pick up their child?

A: Parents will not be able to enter the building for drop-off or pick-up. Staff will supervise children outside the building. 

Q: Can parents/family members still volunteer at school?

A: In general, at this time we are not allowing volunteers.

Q: Will extended care (before and after care) be available this year? 

A: Yes. We are planning to offer extended care. Specific details will be released in the near future. 

Q: My child and/or another member of my household is in an at-risk group for COVID-19. Should I send my child to school?

A: The CDC has defined conditions in which certain people may be more at risk for severe illness through COVID-19. If your child or another member of your household is at-risk, we encourage you to speak to your doctor. Ultimately, you must decide whether you believe it is safe for your child to attend school. Our HOME learning option will be available for families who decide that their children will not return to school in person (see next question). 

Q: What do I do if I do not feel safe sending my child back to school? 

A: We are carefully preparing for our students’ safe return to school this fall. However, we understand that some families still may not wish to return. Some families may include individuals in at-risk groups for COVID-19, while others may feel more general concern. As such, we have developed a remote HOME learning option that will be available to any family that does not wish to return. The family will remain enrolled in the school and will continue to pay tuition. Deadline for registering for this option is August 4th in order to allow us time to plan.  

Q: Is it okay for my family to travel out of town during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: We recommend that you do not travel out of town during the current pandemic. However, if you or a member of your household travels to another country or to a state identified by the State of Ohio guidelines as having a surge in COVID-19 cases, we ask you to contact the Franklin County Health Department Hotline for guidance. https://covid-19.myfcph.org/  

Q: What happens if there is a COVID-19 surge (Purple) in Ohio for Franklin County and the state imposes more restrictions on schools?

A: If a COVID-19 surge occurs, we will work closely with state officials to determine whether we can continue in-person instruction. We are prepared to switch from in-person to remote HOME learning immediately should the governor of Ohio issue a Stay at Home order.

NEXT WEEK

Next week our FAQ will address Infection and Cleaning Protocols. I hope that you find this FAQ format helpful. Please also remember to refer to our website on the “Reopening Safely Plan” page to find this information and all previous communications. 

Thank you for your confidence in our task force as we plan our 25th year of learning at Saint Brigid of Kildare School. We will continue to communicate regularly and in more detail as our plans continue to develop. Msgr. Hendricks and the school staff are committed to hold true to the mission of the Church to fully support families in caring for their children and in educating them in the Catholic faith while providing academic excellence and social and emotional support.  

Please continue to pray for our school community and for each other.  
 
Kathy O'Reilly