Report: Lexington Two’s Return to In-Person Instruction for 2021-2022

Lexington Two’s Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan

 

2021-2022 School Year

__________________________

 

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plans (ARP) Act was signed into law. In it, the U.S. Department of Education is providing an additional $121.9 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III Fund). This legislation will award grants to state educational agencies (SEAs) for providing local educational agencies (LEAs) with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

                       

South Carolina will receive $2,112,051,487 in ESSER III funds from the Act, with 90 percent being awarded to school districts with amounts determined in proportion to the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in summer 2020 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The remaining funds will be used for state-level activities to address issues caused by COVID-19. 

                       

This plan describes how LEAs -- in this case, Lexington Two -- will provide the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. This report template complies with all reporting requirements of the ARP Act (Public Law 117-2), the ESSER III grant terms, conditions, and assurances (CFDA Number 84.425U), and the interim final rule established by the U.S. Department of Education, 86 FR 21195.    

__________________________

Maintaining Health and Safety

Overview

A district’s plan must include how it will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and LEA staff, and the extent to which it has adopted policies or practices and a description of any such policies or practices, on each of the CDC's safety recommendations including: universal and correct wearing of masks; modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding); handwashing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation; contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the state, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments; diagnostic and screening testing; efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible; appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies or practices; and coordination with state and local health officials.

 

Description of maintaining health and safety                 

Lexington Two will begin the 2021-2022 school year with five (5) day face-to-face instruction on school campuses for K-12 students, taking into account health guidelines recommended by the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention (CDC), SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the SC Department of Education (SDE) for a safe learning environment. Accordingly, the district will do the following:

 
  • Continue protocols for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing school facilities, buses and equipment. Each weekday, classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, hallways, offices and other spaces will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to the arrival of students and again with the departure of faculty and administrators at the end of the school day. 
  • Wipe down high-touch areas such as door knobs, sink handles, paper towel dispensers, light switches and commonly used equipment throughout the school day.
  • Use misting machines daily to disinfect high-traffic public areas in facilities, as well as buses.
  • Clean and disinfect playground and sports equipment. 
  • Provide cleaning and sanitizing products in classrooms.
  • Limit non-essential visitors and activities.
  • Provide sanitizing stations throughout school buildings.
  • Use signage to promote social distancing, frequent hand-washing and other healthy habits.
  • Monitor high-traffic areas, such as hallways and cafeterias, to avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Encourage the continued use of virtual events as an option for parent/family meetings, assemblies, and other large gatherings.
  • Encourage use of technology conferencing as an option for district and school staff meetings.
  • Offer on-site testing for COVID-19 for students and staff, as well as thermometers for temperature checks. (Proposed update, 10/6/21: Offer on-site testing for COVID-19 for students, as well as thermometers for temperature checks.)
  • Keep individuals exhibiting COVID symptoms in an isolated sick room until they are able to go home.
  • Offer masks and sanitizers to students, employees and visitors.
  • Offer bottle filling stations as an alternative to water fountains.
  • Maintain distancing to the greatest extent possible in classrooms, hallways and other public areas. 
  • Use safety glass/sneeze guards in high-traffic and select close-contact areas.
  • Monitor the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and review guidance from local, state and national sources.                        

__________________________

 

Policies/Practices Regarding CDC Recommendations 

 

Universal and correct wearing of masks

Lexington Two will monitor CDC and DHEC guidelines that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.  CDC currently recommends that all employees and students who have not been vaccinated wear a mask. Each school will continue to offer masks to students, employees and visitors.  Additionally, Lexington Two will continue to make available to parents/legal guardians the DHEC face covering opt-out form for students for the 2021-22 school year.  

(Proposed update, 7/14/21: Lexington Two will monitor CDC, DHEC and SDE guidelines that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.  CDC currently recommends that all employees and students who have not been vaccinated wear a mask. Masks will not be required on buses or in Lexington Two facilities in the 2021-2022 school year. However, each school will continue to offer masks to students, employees and visitors. In addition, DHEC no longer requires that parents/legal guardians sign an opt-out form for their child, as was the case in spring 2021.) 

(Proposed update 8/27/21: Lexington Two will monitor CDC, DHEC and SDE guidelines that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.  CDC currently recommends that all employees and students who have not been vaccinated wear a mask. The SC Department of Education, as of August 30, 2021, has resumed enforcement of the federal requirement of masks on school buses in the 2021-2022 school year. However, each school will continue to offer masks to students, employees and visitors. In addition, DHEC no longer requires that parents/legal guardians sign an opt-out form for their child, as was the case in spring 2021.) 

(Proposed update, 9/3/21: Lexington Two will monitor CDC, DHEC and SDE guidelines that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.  CDC currently recommends that all employees and students who have not been vaccinated wear a mask. The SC Department of Education, as of August 30, 2021, has resumed enforcement of the federal requirement of masks on school buses in the 2021-2022 school year. Lexington Two has passed a temporary mask requirement for students, staff and visitors through October 31, 2022, and each school will continue to offer masks to anyone in need of one.) 

(Proposed update, 10/20/21: Lexington Two will monitor CDC, DHEC and SDE guidelines that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.  CDC currently recommends that all employees and students who have not been vaccinated wear a mask. Lexington Two passed a temporary mask requirement for students, staff and visitors effective September 3-October 31, approved by the Board of Trustees. The requirement will be allowed to expire on October 31, by board vote, and the issue will be revisited as necessary should COVID cases spike again. However, masks will continue to be required on school buses per federal requirement for the 2021-2022 school year. The district will continue to provide a mask to anyone requesting one.)

                       

Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing 

Lexington Two has implemented a number of mitigation measures, including signs, floor decals, water bottle filling stations, plexiglass shields in close contact and high-exposure areas such as front offices, and socially distanced classrooms to the greatest extent possible.  Hand sanitizer stations are placed throughout schools and other district facilities.  School start and dismissal times have been modified to accommodate reduced student capacity on school buses, per federal requirements.  Transportation will continue to comply with CDC, DHEC and SDE guidelines regarding capacity and face coverings during the 2021-2022 school year. (Proposed addition, 7/14/21: Masks will not be required on buses in the 2021-2022 school year. We will continue to make masks available to students, employees and visitors who request them.) (Proposed update, 8/27/21: Masks will be required on buses in the 2021-2022 school year, effective August 30, 2021, per the SC Department of Education. We will continue to make masks available to students, employees and visitors who request them.) Modified meal service will continue to eliminate any self-service on food items. Socially distanced seating in the cafeteria, along with outdoor areas for meal consumption, will be offered as available at schools. The district has started the process to enhance existing HVAC units in schools to equip them with virus preventive filtration. 

 

Handwashing and respiratory etiquette 

Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick. Lexington Two will provide adequate supplies to support healthy hand and respiratory behaviors, including soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, and disinfecting wipes. Signs will share information on correct handwashing as well as covering nose and mouth while sneezing. Students will be reminded of these healthy hygiene measures.

 

Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation 

In addition to mitigation measures, Lexington Two will continue cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing protocols, to include:

  • Classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, hallways, offices and other spaces will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to the arrival of students and again with the departure of faculty and administrators at the end of each school day. 
  • High-touch areas such as door knobs, sink handles, paper towel dispensers, cafeteria tables, light switches and commonly used equipment will be cleaned throughout the school day.
  • Misting machines will be used daily to disinfect high-traffic public areas in facilities, as well as buses.
  • Playground and sports equipment will be cleaned and sanitized.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting products will be offered in classrooms and public areas.
  • Sanitizing stations are placed throughout school buildings. 

The district also has started the process to enhance existing HVAC units in schools to equip them with virus preventive filtration. Many of these HVAC units have been replaced, as part of the recent building construction projects.

                       

Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine 

Lexington Two does extensive contact tracing and has reports to stakeholders on its websites of the numbers of *new* positive COVID-19 cases, updated weekly. This will continue as necessary in the 2021-2022 school year. (Proposed update, 9/1/21: Lexington Two does extensive contact tracing and has reports to stakeholders on its websites of the numbers of active positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines, updated daily for students, with weekly totals posted for staff. This will continue as necessary in the 2021-2022 school year.)

 

Lexington Two believes that proper contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people who may have been exposed, asking them to monitor their health, and asking them to quarantine. Lexington Two follows the CDC definition of a “close contact” as anyone who was within six feet of a positive COVID-19 individual for a total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours (with or without a mask). For example, if a student comes into contact with a sick classmate three times during a school day, for five minutes each time, he/she would be asked to stay home and isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.  Students and adults in schools would need to quarantine if they had close contact from two days before the infected person showed symptoms (or within two days of being tested, if the person had no symptoms) until the infected person started quarantine.  If an exposed student identified as a close contact experiences no symptoms during daily monitoring, and the exposure occurred at school, the exclusion/quarantine from school can end after 10 days. If the exposure occurred with someone in the household, the exclusion/quarantine from school can end after 14 days. Those not identified as close contacts to a positive individual do not need to quarantine.

(Proposed update, 9/2/21: Lexington Two believes that proper contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people who may have been exposed, asking them to monitor their health, and asking them to quarantine. Lexington Two follows the CDC definition of a “close contact” as anyone who was within six feet of a positive COVID-19 individual for a total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours (with or without a mask). For example, if a student comes into contact with a sick classmate three times during a school day, for five minutes each time, he/she would be asked to stay home and isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. However, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of  a positive COVID-19 student (laboratory confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) wore masks during the exposure time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. Students and adults in schools would need to quarantine if they had close contact from 48 hours before the infected person showed symptoms (or within 48 hours of being tested, if the person had no symptoms) until the infected person’s isolation period ends.   If a person identified as a close contact experiences no symptoms during daily monitoring,  the exclusion/quarantine from school can end after 10 days.  Those not identified as close contacts to a positive individual do not need to quarantine.)

 

(Proposed update, 10/20/21:  Lexington Two believes that proper contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people who may have been exposed, asking them to monitor their health, and asking them to quarantine. Lexington Two follows the CDC definition of a “close contact” as anyone who was within six feet of a positive COVID-19 individual for a total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours (with or without a mask) from 48 hours prior to symptom onset (or specimen collection for an asymptomatic infected person) of the positive individual. It should be noted that the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if the exposed student(s) wore mask(s) during the exposure time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.) For example, if a student comes into contact with a sick classmate three times during a school day, for five minutes each time, he/she would be asked to stay home and isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.  Students and adults in schools would need to quarantine if they had close contact from two days before the infected person showed symptoms (or within two days of being tested, if the person had no symptoms) until the infected person started quarantine.  If an exposed student identified as a close contact experiences no symptoms during daily monitoring, and the exposure occurred at school, the exclusion/quarantine from school can end after 10 days. If the exposure occurred with someone in the household, the exclusion/quarantine from school can end after 14 days. Those not identified as close contacts to a positive individual do not need to quarantine.)

 

Students who display COVID-19 symptoms or who have received a DHEC confirmed positive COVID-19 test result will be asked to quarantine for DHEC’s recommended period of time. 

 

Lexington Two will continue to provide updated protocols to parents/legal guardians on contact tracing, quarantine and other COVID matters on its websites, through the schools, (Proposed addition, 10/20/21: on Lex2.0,) and through other communications channels.  Lexington Two also will continue to follow the 2020-2021 plan for assisting students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms during the school day, to include isolating such individuals in a designated health room space. 

 

Diagnostic and screening testing 

Lexington Two will continue to offer on-site testing at schools and in other district facilities in the 2021-2022 school year. The purpose of school-based testing is to help reduce absenteeism by facilitating rapid testing of students (Proposed update, 10/20/21: and staff) with excludable symptoms of COVID-19. Testing should be reserved for students (Proposed update, 10/20/21: and staff) who would otherwise be excluded based on symptoms related to COVID-19.  (Proposed addition, 10/20/21: Testing for staff has been arranged at an offsite location during school hours). It does not replace other protective measures schools have in place as a way to potentially identify individuals with symptoms, and testing will not prevent all contagious individuals from entering the school. Testing symptomatic individuals is only one aspect of controlling the spread of the virus in schools. All of the district’s nurses have been properly trained to administer the test and properly dispose of all infectious waste from the testing.  DHEC provides the permission forms for parents/legal guardians to sign giving the school nurse permission to conduct the tests.  A swab sample may be self-collected while supervised by the school nurse or an adult staff member, or by a child who is deemed able to follow the directions while supervised by an adult. Young children or those with certain disabilities may require assistance from their parent/legal guardian to collect the specimen. Results are made known to the parent/legal guardian and DHEC as required by law.  

                       

Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible 

During the 2020-2021 school year, Lexington Two worked in partnership with Lexington Medical Center to provide vaccination clinics for staff and for students (age appropriate) and parents/legal guardians.  The district's nurses were involved with staff clinics, and Lexington Medical Center staff handled the student/parent clinic using one of our school facilities.  

 

Before the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the district will again partner with Lexington Medical Center to provide vaccinations to staff, students (age appropriate) and parents/legal guardians who want to be vaccinated.  

 

(Proposed update, 10/5/21: The district will offer a one-time incentive of $500 to all part- and full-time Lexington Two employees who provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 by November 30, 2021. The incentive will be paid using federal COVID relief funds.)

 

The district anticipates that (Proposed update, 10/20/21: during the first semester of the school year,) a vaccine protocol will open up for students’ ages 6 months to 11 years old.  At that time, the district will work hand in hand with DHEC and Lexington Medical Center to host a vaccination site to expedite vaccine distribution to those who desire it, following CDC and DHEC protocols.  

 

Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies and practices

When circumstances require specific policies or practices designed to protect the health and safety of Lexington Two students, 504 and IEP teams will determine whether modifications and/or reasonable accommodations are needed for individual students with disability-related issues. 

                   

Coordination with state and local health officials 

Lexington Two continues to monitor and implement guidance from the CDC and DHEC to provide a safe school environment for full-time in-person learning, which first returned to five (5) days a week in Lexington Two in late 2020.  In addition, Lexington Two has partnered with a number of other organizations and agencies, among them Lexington Medical Center, on vaccination clinics for employees, students and parents; the SC Department of Education on academic, health, safety and federal standards and initiatives; the SC High School League on athletics; and a number of community organizations, such as churches and food pantries, to help with needs for students and their families amid the challenges of COVID-19.  Lexington Two also continues and maintains a partnership with Lexington County Mental Health to provide mental health counselors in the schools for direct services to our students.  The district expects to maintain these kinds of important partnerships in the 2021-2022 school year.        __________________________

 

Continuity of Services Overview

                   

Districts must describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staffs’ social, emotional, mental health and other needs, which may include student health and food services.              

                       

District response on continuity of services 

Lexington Two will begin the 2021-2022 school year with five (5) days a week of face-to-face instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grades. 

 

Spring and fall 2021 data will be used as baseline measures to determine academic gaps in reading and math. This information will be used to identify learning loss and skill identification to employ additional interventions in reading and math including, but not limited to, tutorials before and after school, as well as reading and math interventions during the school day. Literacy academic growth and progress for students in K-2 will be assessed via the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), STAR Early Literacy assessment and/or the STAR assessment in fall, winter, and spring. Literacy and math academic growth and progress for students in K-8 will be assessed via STAR assessments in fall, winter, and spring. 

 

In grades 9-12, schools will use state-provided strand data, as well as the state data review, to provide professional development for teachers who teach courses for which the state requires an end-of-course assessment (EOC). Lexington Two common-assessment data will be utilized to monitor growth and progress in EOC courses throughout the year. Schools will provide ongoing support for academically at-risk students who have demonstrated learning loss, as a result of the pandemic, through credit recovery, interventions during the school day, as well as tutoring before and after school. All high schools will continue to strive to increase the number of students who are deemed college- or career-ready and to increase the number of students who are on-time graduates. In addition, schools will continue to develop and implement strategies to improve all state report card measures.

 

(Proposed addition, 10/20/21: A key offering in 2021-2022 at all grade levels is Lex2.5, a structured after-school program that focuses on academic acceleration but also includes behavioral support, recreational opportunities, snacks, and transportation. It is available to K5-12, though the way it's structured is different at each level. Several sessions are offered throughout the year to offer flexibility for student activities and family schedules.)

 

A continuum of interventions will be provided that supports Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Instructional staff will participate in professional learning opportunities to ensure compliance with ACT 213, which requires all district and charter schools to report data on the implementation of MTSS and universal screening procedures for students in kindergarten through second grades. (Proposed addition, 7/14/21: The MTSS process includes establishing and expanding upon the achievement team model throughout all grade levels, providing a central continuum of primary learning and additional supports for bilingual/ESOL students and families to improve upon classroom and community engagement, building upon Tier I capacity of educators to address immediate needs of students in the classroom, creating effective Tier II and III programs that detail specific entry and exit criteria, and expanding upon special education programming, services and resource).

 

Professional Development

Opportunities will be provided to facilitate collaboration and professional development that safely supports the professional growth and development of all staff. Educators will receive ongoing professional learning related to the pedagogy and strategies to promote student learning, social-emotional wellness, and success. Professional development support for the implementation of instructional standards and priorities and updated curriculum maps will be customized for educators based on their grade-level assignments and/or specific content areas. 

 

Professional learning communities within and across schools will be utilized in an ongoing effort to discuss best practices, utilize resources, as well as problem-solving challenges and needs of students and staff.

 

Social/Emotional Health (May Include Food Services)

In the 2021-2022 school year, Lexington Two is implementing several new initiatives to meet the increasingly diverse and significant needs of our students by adding social workers; implementing curriculum programs including Second Step and The Core Project; and partnering with the nationally recognized CASEL on meeting needs to students, families and staff in terms of resources, training and other measures. These latest initiatives are in addition to our partnership with Lexington County Mental Health, which provides mental health counselors in schools for direct services to our students. Staff also are an integral part of efforts to support students on social/emotional/mental health wellness.   Each Lexington Two school also has an on-site nurse. (Proposed change, 7/14/21: In the 2021-2022 school year, Lexington Two is implementing several new initiatives to meet the increasingly diverse and significant needs of our students by adding social workers; implementing curriculum programs including Second Step and The Core Project; and partnering with local, state, and national organizations and groups to be responsive to the needs of our students, families and staff in terms of resources, training and other measures. These latest initiatives are in addition to our partnership with Lexington County Mental Health, which provides mental health counselors in schools for direct services to our students. Staff also are an integral part of efforts to support students on social/emotional/mental health wellness. Each Lexington Two school also has an on-site nurse.)

 

In 2021-2022, Food Services will offer breakfast in the classroom to qualifying schools, and traditional cafeteria breakfast for all other district schools. Lunch service will be offered through the traditional food line in the cafeteria for all grade levels, with Food Services team members dishing up and distributing the meals.  Students will have the option of eating in the cafeteria, with social distancing measures in place, and in designated outdoor areas at middle and high schools where such areas are available. (Proposed change on 9/1/21: Modifications may be made as necessary.)                       

__________________________

 

Periodic Review 

Overview

                   

Districts are required to review and, as appropriate, revise their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan at least every six months through September 30, 2023, including seeking public input and taking such input into account in determining whether to revise the plan and, if revisions are determined necessary, on the revisions it makes to its plan.

                   

If a district developed a plan prior to enactment of the ARP Act that was made publicly available and was developed with public comment, but does not address each of the required aspects of safety established in the ARP Act, the district must, as part of the required periodic review, revise its plan consistent with the ARP Act requirements no later than six months after it last reviewed its plan.                        

           

District response on ensuring periodic updates to its plan 

Lexington Two continues weekly reviews of its COVID-19 case numbers, health protocols and safety plans, even during school breaks. The district will continue its 5% protocol in the 2021-2022 school year, which calls for a temporary move to virtual learning for two weeks when the number of active cases in a school hits 5% or more.   

 

During the period of the ARP ESSER award, through September 2023,  Lexington Two will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every six months, and the district will seek public input during the review process through surveys and other measures. Plan revisions will take into consideration any updated guidance from the CDC, DHEC and SDE. Lexington Two also will continue to monitor guidance from the five municipalities within district boundaries, as well as the county and state, when reviewing plans.  

__________________________

                       

Public Input 

Overview

                   

The ARP Act requires that school districts make their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan available to the public online and that the plans be in an understandable and uniform format; to the extent practicable, are written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable, orally translated; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability, provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent.

                   

Before making its plan publicly available, school districts must seek public comment on the plan and develop the plan after taking into account public comment. 

                       

District response on public input in development of its plan 

Lexington Two sent a survey to a variety of stakeholders as part of its work to write its Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan. Stakeholder groups included parents/legal guardians, students, teachers, staff and administrators.

 

With the finalization of its plan, Lexington Two is taking the following steps to make its plan available to the public:

  • The plan is posted on our district website, lex2.org, and school websites.
  • The plan is available in nearly 100 different languages through the use of our web provider powered by Google Translate.
  • The plan will be sent to parents, students, and employees via our messaging systems.
  • The plan will be shared at the Lexington Two Board of Trustees’ Back to School meeting on August 5, 2021. 
  • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting Lexington Two’s District Family Services Coordinator at (803) 796-4708.