Superintendent discusses revisions to DASD Well being and Security Plan | Coronavirus

DuBOIS – DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton made a presentation on the revised health and safety plan at last Thursday’s board working session.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires that each school unit create appropriate health and safety plans to serve as local guidelines for all school and other school reopening activities. As with all emergency plans, the district will tailor its plans to its individual needs in collaboration and consultation with local health officials.

Benton said the revisions to the plan are very minor. Each board member received a copy of the plan, which is available for public inspection on the district website.

“On the first page of our plan, there are no changes at all,” Benton said. “This is just an overview of the nine categories where we need to develop a plan. And then on to page two. And then on page three is the introduction to our health and safety plan. And you will see that this was approved and came into effect on July 23, 2021. Since then there have only been a few changes that we would like to incorporate into our plan.”

Page four of the plan recalls the district’s symptom chart asking everyone to complete their children’s wellness assessments each day before arriving on campus, as well as a brief overview of some of the building-specific social emotional learning plans and COVID mitigation strategies, they have implemented so far, she said.

Page six is ​​the nine components of the plan, with the first item being masks.

“You will note that the only change we are proposing at this time is to the face covering that we strongly encourage individuals to wear a face covering as I have sent several letters home to families,” Benton said. “If, even if you don’t wear a mask regularly, you work in close proximity with someone, it would be beneficial for you to have a mask in your possession so you can put it on to reduce the likelihood of exposure and the need for quarantine . The only change in how consistently communicated is the heavily encouraged piece.”

The plan says face shield covers will not be required in school buildings unless mandated by the PDE, the Centers for Disease Control, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services or unless COVID outbreaks at the school result in multiple temporary building closures.

“When I wrote this plan, we weren’t sure if the Department of Health would require closures if you hit a certain case threshold in your building,” Benton said. “I recommend that we revise the renewal plan with several temporary building closures. We have the option to temporarily close our buildings for a deep clean. However, much less emphasis is placed on this and we believe we can adequately clean our buildings thoroughly on a daily basis. So that’s the only change there is, eliminating multiples.”

There are no changes in the plan regarding physical distancing, Category B, Benton said.

Category C, related to hand washing and breathing etiquette, there are no recommended changes.

“Point C for contact tracing with isolation and quarantine, since this criterion has changed since our original assumption, I propose that we add the following at the bottom of page eight: ‘In accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, the student or staff member should stay home when in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, unless, ‘and that’s where the change comes in, ‘is exempt by criteria established by the Pennsylvania Department of Health'”, she said.

There are several guidelines developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that would exempt an individual from quarantine, and as these continue to change and evolve, this would allow the district to follow these guidelines without revising the plan each month have to. said Benton.

“Then as we move to page nine and back to the quarantine guidelines, I’ll read ‘When a student or staff member has graduated’ and I’ll add ‘any recommended COVID-19 vaccines.’ Remove two weeks before last exposure. That is no longer the criterion, adding ‘and remaining symptom-free, or if the exposed person has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months or 90 days and has recovered, the student or staff member is released from quarantine.’ So that’s straight out of the guidance released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” Benton said.

Then there are no changes in relation to category F, i.e. the diagnostic and screening tests.

Category G, vaccination efforts for school communities, there are no changes.

Category H, adequate housing for students with disabilities in terms of health and safety guidelines, “we do not recommend any changes,” Benton said. “And Category I is coordination with state and local health authorities, where we don’t recommend changes there either.”

“We really think the health and safety plan has served us quite well,” Benton said. “We saw an increase in cases with the Delta and then the Omicron variant, but ultimately we came up with some really great strategies.”

Director Charlie Watt asked how the professional staff, the support staff, are responding to the current environment.

“I think everyone is concerned,” Benton said. “It is a tremendous burden on our staff to handle the cases. The quarantine in particular is incredibly time-consuming and would not be completed without our school staff. It is very difficult for the teachers to manage the face-to-face classes and offer the distance learning option through Google Classroom. We’ve had a shortage of replacements, which I’ve also shared and asked the community about if there’s any interest. On the other hand, the increase in our replacement tariffs has had a positive effect and we have fewer vacancies as a result.”

Watt also inquired about staff morale.

“I believe they are making the best of a very challenging situation. We’re all at our wit’s end,” Benton said. “This is our third year of school where we’ve tried to balance and really prioritize personal learning, keep our kids in school, prioritize everyone’s health and safety and really monitor the impact of some very important decisions and like that Impact on our community, our economy, the caregivers in our community. So it’s a balancing act that takes a toll on everyone, but I’m extraordinarily proud of how well we’ve responded to it and how resilient each individual is.”

“That’s good. I just wanted to make sure the people that are there every day are okay, that they’re okay with their stress levels…” Watt said.

“No, they’re stressed,” Benton said.

“Apparently there are no big red flags. That’s all I’m asking,” Watt said.

“I really think everyone just makes the most of each day and does their best to meet the needs of the students and keep everyone healthy and safe and learning personally if that’s their preference,” Benton said.

The revised health and safety plan will be on the board’s agenda for approval at its regular meeting Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Administration Center on Liberty Boulevard.

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