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SPS Continuity of Operations Plan

Summary: Read about data points that officials are monitoring and the district’s outbreak response plan.

Suspected or Confirmed Outbreak Response  

If COVID-19 rates significantly increase or there is a suspected outbreak, in consultation with Public Health, temporary required masking and testing will be used to sustain in-person learning while keeping our schools safe. This approach may apply to a classroom, school, cohort of students, or district.  

If Coordinated School Health, in consultation with Public Health, suspects or confirms an outbreak at an elementary school, the district will require testing and masking for the identified core group of students (e.g., 2nd grade class).  

  • Testing will be required twice in a 5-day period for all students in the exposed classroom. If consent is not provided, the student will need to quarantine for 5 full calendar days.  
  • Universal required masking will resume for the identified core group (e.g., 2nd grade class) for 5 calendar days or the testing cycle. Once the testing cycle is complete, masking will be required for another 5 full calendar days.   
  • If there are multiple suspected or confirmed outbreaks across classrooms, the district will recommend masking all students in the school for 10 days. 
  • Additional mitigations will be considered including increased physical distancing in consultation with Coordinated School Health.  

If required core group testing shows a significant increase in positive cases, Coordinated School Health/Operations may consider a school-wide mask requirement or shifting the classroom(s) to 100% remote model to stop transmission. 

For secondary schools, if an outbreak is suspected or confirmed by Coordinated School Health in consultation with Public Health, the following actions will take place:  

  • Universal required masking for all secondary students for 10 calendar days.  
  • Possible required testing of students in effected classrooms or cohorts (e.g., 9th grade English Language Arts class, sports team).  
    • Testing will be required twice in a 5-day period for all students in the exposed classroom or cohort.  
    • If consent is not provided, the student will need to quarantine for 5 full calendar days. 
    • Possible additional mitigations including physical distancing will be added.  

If required core group testing shows a significant increase in positive cases, Coordinated School Health/Operations may consider shifting the entire school to 100% remote model to stop transmission. 

Learn more about the Department of Health (DOH) definitions (page 16). 

Determining When Classrooms or Schools Switch to Remote Instruction

Shifting a classroom or school to 100% remote is the last step in our approach to minimizing the transmission of COVID-19. While SPS follows DOH and CDC direction on outbreaks(page 16) the district Continuity of Operations Plan identifies several interrelated factors that inform the decision to move a classroom or a school building to remote instruction as an additional mitigation. Those include student absenteeism due to COVID, COVID rates or school-based transmission, staff absences, substitute teacher availability, school leader coverage, and operations support in transportation, custodial, and culinary services.  

We are committed to providing in-school learning and to keeping our students and staff safe and healthy. We consult with public health, meticulously monitor data, and communicate regularly with school leaders when making the decision to shift classrooms or schools to the 100% remote model.  

Minimizing Transmission Through Mitigation Strategies

To minimize transmission in schools, SPS:  

  • mandate vaccination for SPS employees, partners, and vendors, 
  • enhance air circulation, including the incorporation of hospital grade (MERV13 filters) and free-standing HEPA filters. Air circulation is monitored consistently in SPS buildings in partnership with outside consultation. 
  • provides on-site protected health rooms, diagnostic testing, and a COVID site supervisor; and 
  • offers vaccine clinics and robust testing options for SPS students and staff. 

These mitigation strategies have allowed students to resume in-school learning this school year, in a safe environment. We will not compromise health, wellness, and safety, and recognize where and when necessary, some classrooms or schools may need to transition to remote instruction for brief periods. 

Monitoring Factors and Data Points

A transition to remote learning depends on several factors that are specific to each situation, including school based COVID rates and transmission, total staffing, specific staff absent, ability to maintain health protocols, student absence trends, community transmission rates, public health authority input, and various other factors.  It is important to emphasize that sustaining in-person learning while keeping learning environments safe is the goal. We have added an interim step before transitioning a classroom/school to remote. Instead of transitioning to remote, we first layer back in safety measures including required masking and required testing. This step allows us to understand what is happening, limit spread, and hopefully keep students learning in-person. 

Some of the factors we are closely monitoring and the data points at which consideration of a shift to remote learning becomes viable include: 

  • Elementary student absence rate is approaching 35% consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days 
  • K-5 and K-8 schools have 50% of their classrooms in remote, monitor for 2 to 3 consecutive days then consider full school remote 
  • 20% of core group of students and staff COVID positive, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days. It should be noted here that required testing and universal masking is an interim step prior to shifting a classroom or school to remote. See more information about the district’s outbreak plan above.  
  • An absentee rate of 30% of students in a secondary school, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days 
  • 15% of secondary students are COVID positive across multiple classrooms, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days. Required masking for all students is considered at 10% as part of the district’s outbreak response plan.  
  • 25% of all SPS schools are 100% remote, consider taking district remote 
  • Percent and mix of unfilled positions in a school creates unmanageable operational and/or safety risks. 
  • 50% to 100% school leader, 100% Covid Site Supervisor absence due to confirmed COVID case consider remote instruction 

Thank You for Helping Keep School Communities Safe

Thank you for all you are doing to keep our students in school and to keep our schools safe. 

Keep your student home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and report to your school any confirmed cases. Review the DOH symptoms flow chart for guidance on when your child should stay home from school and get tested for COVID-19.  

As a community, SPS and our students, families, and staff continue to follow public health guidance to minimize the spread of COVID-19, while centering a high quality, in-person learning experience. 

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