DARKE COUNTY — The Darke County Educational Service Center (DCESC) has announced its reopening agreements for the county’s eight public school systems.
All Ohio schools were closed for the remainder of the school calendar beginning on March 17, 2020, by order of the Governor and the Director of the Ohio Department of Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 2, 2020 guidelines were released. School district superintendents from each public school district in Darke County, along with the Darke County Educational Service Center, and Darke County Health Department met on July 6, 2020, to identify common practices for school reopening in Darke County. These schools include Ansonia Local, Arcanum-Butler Local, Bradford Exempted Village, Franklin Monroe Local, Greenville City, Mississinawa Valley Local, and Tri-Village Local.
As stated by DCESC, these general principles will guide each school district as they move forward with reopening schools throughout Darke County:
1. Each school district will implement recommended safety protocols to the highest degree possible;
2. Each school district will work closely with the Darke County Health Department (DCHD) to promote safety in each school building;
3. Each school district will be transparent with all stakeholders that some level of risk will always be present when children and school district employees occupy school district facilities.
4. School districts recognize the need for consistency in areas of operations while recognizing that individual differences in classroom sizes, school facilities, and building operations may lead to some inconsistencies.
5. School districts are planning to maintain their previously approved school calendars with some possible front-loading of employee professional development or waiver days.
These principles will be common to all Darke County public school districts:
-Families and students are responsible for monitoring temperatures and students’ health on a daily basis before coming to school.
-Any student with a fever over 100.0 F should stay home.
-Any student that has the following symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home from school and should see their primary care provider to be assessed for COVID-19:
- Any of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
- Two of the following symptoms: fever (measured or subjective), chills, rigors, muscle soreness, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, GI issues (nausea and vomiting or diarrhea).
- Any of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, fever (measured or subjective), chills, rigors, muscle soreness, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, GI issues (nausea and vomiting or diarrhea) AND an epidemiological link to a case of COVID-19.
Returning to School after Illness
-If a student is diagnosed as having COVID-19, they must meet the following criteria to return to school:
- 3 days with no fever (without using fever reducing medication) AND
- Other symptoms improved AND
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared
-Students that only have a fever and no other symptoms and have not had any contact with an individual that has COVID-19 may return to school after they are fever free for 24 hours without using any fever reducing medications.
-Any other illnesses should be handled in the routine manner according to district procedures.
-To return to school the child must be transported to school by the parent and must be checked by the school nurse.
Communications when a student/staff member has been diagnosed with a COVID-19 positive case
-Communication will be in collaboration with the Darke County Health Department. A common template will be developed to include the following:
- The school district will cooperate with the Darke County Health Department in contact tracing to identify close contacts of the case of COVID-19.
- 14-day quarantine will be required of any student who is determined to have close contact with the case of COVID-19 by the Darke County Health Department.
- The Darke County Health Department will write a letter for the school district to use and the letter will explain/define what is considered close contact to a COVID-19 case that will result in quarantine.
-All districts will offer food service. Logistics will be determined by each district in compliance with the Health Department based on:
- Following social distancing to the extent possible;
- No self-service;
- Individual condiments;
- Face coverings will be required by cafeteria staff;
- Districts are encouraging parents to keep money on student’s account to limit passing of currency.
-Districts will inform parents that safety protocols are in place but any student who attends school will incur some level of risk. Districts will decrease the likelihood of infection with hygiene, cleaning, and safety procedures, but being in a public place has a certain level of risk that cannot be eliminated.
-Classroom occupancy will be determined based on each individual circumstance with the maximum amount of safety considerations possible.
-Face coverings are recommended for all students, particularly grades 3 through 12.
-School employees will be required to use face coverings when they are within six feet of students unless the face coverings would significantly interfere with the learning process.
-Seating charts will be maintained.
-School districts may offer remote learning options to be available to students based on school district’s individual plan.
-There are different levels of school visitors, and each district will make decisions for each situation.
- Visitors are generally discouraged from being in school district facilities during the school day.
- Safety protocols will be implemented for all visitors such as taking temperatures and screening questions during the school day.
-Darke County districts will attempt to keep two students per seat. (3 if from the same household or group stop).
-Districts will attempt to seat siblings together.
-Seating charts may be required to assist with contact tracing if that is needed. (Students must comply if established).
-Face coverings are required for drivers and recommended for students.
-School districts will make every effort to maintain consistency with other safety procedures.
-This may mean that districts limit student access to certain pieces of playground equipment and restrict activities that are “high touch” and difficult to clean or maintain social distancing.
-Students must sanitize their hands after recess.
*Each school district in Darke County will be releasing an individual district plan to address unique details and circumstances that pertains to the general county guidelines.