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Back to JC Schools Re-Entry Plan

VIEW "BACK TO JC SCHOOLS 2021-2022 RE-ENTRY PLAN" w/UPDATED COVID-19 PROTOCOLS HERE: Changes take effect Friday, October 1st, 2021

JANUARY 2022 Return to JC Schools Chart

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(If you would like to share feedback regarding the re-entry plan, please email communications@jcschools.us)

Message below was shared with JC Schools Families on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Hello JC Schools Family,

As has been the case throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation surrounding the virus continues to change regularly and rapidly. Today we are announcing two changes to our COVID-19 protocols which will both take effect on Tuesday, January 18th – please continue reading for more details on each of these changes:

  1. All schools and district buildings will transition to yellow protocols.
  2. The district will adopt the new CDC isolation protocols for both students and staff.

Last week, most of the positive cases and close contacts we were seeing across the district upon return from Winter Break did not impact our district tracker or rubric because exposure occurred while away from school. However, since then we have seen a steady increase in the number of cases occurring within the school environment (those who are symptomatic at school or within 48 hours of becoming symptomatic) and a steep increase in those who are absent due to becoming positive or exposure to a positive case outside of the school setting.

We are concerned about the increase in positive cases and exposure among staff and students and the overall increase in cases in the community. With these increases, we have decided to temporarily transition the entire district to our yellow protocols beginning on Tuesday, January 18th. This change will remain in effect until further notice, but we will continue to monitor cases within the buildings and revert to our building-specific rubric as soon as we are able. 

Yellow protocols include (these are the same measures we started the school year with - view more about these protocols on Page 13 of our Reentry Plan HERE):

  • Masks are required indoors for all staff and students in any instance when social distance of three feet cannot be maintained;
  • School gatherings and assemblies are permitted only if social distance can be maintained. Masks are required if not;
  • Unvaccinated close contacts with no symptoms may be excluded from the school environment; 
  • Visitors providing essential and educational services are permitted but must always check-in, wear a mask while in buildings regardless of vaccination status, and follow all COVID protocols. 

Thankfully, many are doing the right thing by staying home when sick and not bringing COVID into the school environment. This means that there is a significant discrepancy between the tracker numbers and the actual absences occurring from personal exposure or positive cases that never impact the school environment. We are actively monitoring all of these absences on a nearly constant basis to watch for any concerning trends in building attendance.

We have also seen an uptick in staff absences this week, including those that are directly COVID-related (such as positive cases or close contacts), as well as absences we see in a normal school year due to other illness or unforeseen circumstances. Our staff members are going above and beyond to stretch themselves and cover for their coworkers. Amidst the ongoing sub shortage this is becoming increasingly more difficult. As a result, we have canceled all planned district PD for the month of January to ensure as many teachers are available to stay in the classroom as possible. We will keep a very close eye on staff absences to ensure we are able to provide the type of safe and quality learning environment our students deserve. 

Also since our message last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their official guidance for K-12 schools to reflect the changes to COVID isolation protocols. With this change, the Jefferson City School District will now adopt the isolation protocols for both students and staff members beginning on Tuesday, January 18th. This change will bring us in line with the other schools in Cole County and will allow for over 70 staff members to return to the classroom by Tuesday, as long as they meet the criteria below.

What exactly does this mean for those who test positive for COVID-19?

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic must isolate for five days (day zero is the first day of symptoms). If the individual is symptom and fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, they can return to school on day six, but must wear a well-fitting mask through day 10 except when eating or drinking;
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic must isolate for five days (day zero is the day of the positive test). If the individual remains symptom-free after five days, they can return to school on day six, but must wear a well-fitting mask through day 10 except when eating or drinking.

What exactly does this mean for those who are identified as a close contact to a positive case?

  • Individuals who are identified as a close contact due to personal exposure outside of the school environment must isolate for five days (day zero is the day of exposure). If the individual remains symptom-free, they can return to school on day six, but must wear a well-fitting mask through day 10 except when eating or drinking. If the individual later develops symptoms, they will need to isolate for a minimum of five days (day zero is the day symptoms develop);
  • Individuals who are identified as a close contact due to exposure within the school environment will likely not be excluded from school, in most instances. 

To help add clarity for when a positive case or close contact can return to school based on the new CDC protocols, we have created a “Return to School” reference document (VIEW HERE). Any positive case or close contact who meets the above criteria can return to school on the date outlined in the document if they meet the above criteria, beginning on Tuesday, January 18th.

Lastly, we met with the Cole County Health Department and our fellow Cole County schools on Tuesday. We are not alone in adopting the updated CDC isolation protocols, and we are not alone in the challenges we are facing as a result of the introduction of the Omicron variant into our community. Many models show that we are at the beginning to middle stages of the Omicron surge, so it is vitally important that we all continue to adhere to best practices in order to keep ourselves and others healthy, including: stay home when you are sick; keep yourself safe by wearing a mask and getting a COVID-19 vaccine; maintain social distance; and wash your hands.

The district will continue to actively monitor all conditions surrounding COVID-19 in the coming weeks and will keep you posted when changes occur. We firmly believe that our students learn best when they are in-seat, and we are committed to taking the reasonable necessary steps to keep our doors open. 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our efforts to create a safe and healthy learning environment for our staff and students.

Jefferson City School District

Message below was shared with JC Schools families on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Hello JC Schools Family,

It has been wonderful to see your students back at school this week after winter break! As we wrap up the end of our first semester, we want to thank all of you for your efforts to help the students of our district grow, learn, and achieve success.

We have been blessed to be able to stay in-seat this school year amidst the constantly evolving challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As you know, the district has looked for ways to loosen our COVID restrictions when possible, while still providing a safe learning environment for our staff and students.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated isolation and quarantine guidance, which suggests individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can leave their house after five days of isolation if: 

  • They are asymptomatic or have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are resolving;
  • They continue to wear a mask around others at all times for five additional days. 

At this time, we will not be adopting the latest CDC guidance regarding the isolation period for positive cases. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will still be excluded from school for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the day of the positive test for those who are asymptomatic. Those who are named as a close contact due to personal exposure outside of school will also still be excluded for 10 days. 

In October, the mask requirement for JC Schools staff and students was lifted. The requirement that those who are identified as close contacts of a positive case within the school environment be excluded from school was also lifted. We have monitored school data very closely since those changes were implemented, and have not seen any changes in the number of cases occurring within the school environment. The district’s COVID-19 Rubric is updated on a weekly basis and includes data as to the positivity rate for each building. All buildings have remained in the green status so far.

We are pleased with the COVID-19 protocols we currently have in place, but we are closely monitoring cases to see what, if any, impact the newest omicron variant may have on the transmissibility of COVID-19 within our schools. 

The district will actively assess data over the next several weeks and provide an update at our next Board of Education meeting on Monday, January 24th. By then, we hope to be in a better position to make a determination as to whether we are comfortable making any further changes to our COVID protocols. 

Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to keep our schools open!

Jefferson City School District

Message below was shared with JC Schools families on Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Hello JC Schools Families,

The Jefferson City School District has been closely monitoring any positive cases of COVID-19 that occur within the school environment since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. 

Despite our initial concerns regarding how the Delta variant may impact the school environment, we are seeing a comparable number of positive cases and a significantly lower number of close contacts compared to last year at this time. We also have not seen any instances of close contacts from within the school environment becoming positive. 

District leaders meet regularly with representatives from the Cole County Health Department and other school leaders from across Cole County to stay informed about community level data. The health department has shared that case numbers and hospitalizations have been steadily trending downward for our community, and with their support we are able to lift some mitigation protocols schools have in place.

Effective tomorrow (Friday, October 1st), masks will no longer be required within the school setting for students and staff in instances when social distancing cannot be maintained:

  • Masks will be encouraged rather than required, particularly for those who are not vaccinated; 
  • Masks will still be required on the school bus, as required by a federal order issued by the CDC;
  • No one will be prohibited from wearing a mask;
  • The other key priorities of the COVID reentry plan are still critically important and will be enforced in all JC Schools buildings: students and staff should maintain social distance whenever possible, wash hands frequently, and stay home when sick.

Also effective tomorrow, students and staff members who are identified as a close contact of a positive case within the school environment will no longer be excluded from school, in most instances:

  • Staff members and parents of students who are identified as close contacts will still be notified so they can stay alert to any symptoms that may develop; 
  • Depending upon the severity of symptoms experienced by the positive case, the length of exposure, and the proximity to the positive case, there may be instances when exclusion from school is still required;
  • The primary approach will be to keep healthy students and staff members in school, but anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home;
  • Students and staff who are identified as a personal contact of a positive case outside of the school environment will still be excluded from school unless they meet designated guidelines to return to school.

With these changes, the district will now be activating a COVID-19 rubric to constantly monitor the number of positive cases occurring within the school environment. This will allow us to watch closely for any emerging trends and make real-time changes to mitigation protocols:

  • Positive cases within the school environment will be assessed weekly, at a minimum, to evaluate the percentage of positive cases among students and staff based on the total population of the school;
  • Individual classrooms, grades, school buildings, school categories (elementary/middle/high) or the entire district can be moved into corresponding levels (green/yellow/red) at any given time based on the number of active cases within the school environment, or based on community trends;
  • If a school community is moved from a lower to higher level (from green to yellow or yellow to red), the corresponding mitigation protocols will remain in place for a minimum of 10 calendar days to allow active cases to complete required exclusion from school;
  • If after 10 calendar days the percentage of active positive cases within the school environment drops back into the range for a lower level, the school community will move back to the corresponding mitigation protocols;
  • The rubric for assessing positive cases within the school environment is included in the JC Schools COVID Reentry Plan, which was approved by the Board of Education at the September board meeting;
  • Based on current data, all schools will be moved into the green category as of Friday, October 1st;
  • Staff and parents will be notified of any changes to levels for their school community, and that information will also be posted on the district website along with the COVID case tracker.

The district is fully prepared to make necessary changes to our mitigation protocols if the data warrants doing so. We will be continually assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of these changes, and if we see any alarming changes to the number of cases within the school environment then we will move back to tighter protocols.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our COVID reentry protocols and your support to keep our schools open and our staff and students safe.


Superintendent Dr. Larry Linthacum
#WeAreJCSchools #JCStrongerTogether

 

Message below was shared with JC Schools families on Monday, August 16th, 2021

Hello JC Schools Families,

In the past week since our “Back to JC Schools COVID-19 Reentry Plan” was released, district leaders have worked diligently to assess local conditions, evaluate the effectiveness of our COVID-19 protocols from last year, and finalize our decision regarding masks for the 2021-2022 school year.

At this time, masks will be required indoors for students and staff in any instances where social distancing cannot be maintained. Social distance is defined as a minimum of three feet within the school environment. This approach was recommended by the Cole County Health Department, aligns with the other schools in Cole County, and is effective beginning Tuesday, August 17th.

IMPORTANT DETAILS REGARDING MASK PROTOCOLS:

  • JC Schools students and staff members should bring a mask to school every day. 
  • Masks should be worn upon entering the school building, within common areas, during passing periods in the hallways, and during small groups, for example. 
  • Any time a distance of three feet cannot be maintained between students, or between staff and students, masks will be required. This includes on all school buses, as required by federal order issued by the CDC. 
  • When students are in the classroom seated three feet apart, masks can be removed, for example. Masks can also be removed if students are seated at a table or desk when plexiglass is present as a barrier. 
  • To go along with this guidance, masks will be required for all staff, parents, and students at this week’s Open House events (see schedule HERE).

As an added layer of protection, the district has developed a rubric for tracing all positive cases that occur within the school environment. The rubric includes three levels: green, yellow and red. 

If the number of positive cases within the school environment exceeds the designated percentage allowable within a school community, then an individual building may be moved to a level with additional mitigation protocols for a minimum of 10 days (until the active cases fall out of quarantine). This could also apply to an individual classroom, grade level, school categories (elementary/middle/high), or the entire district. 

Positive cases within the school environment will be monitored constantly throughout the school day to watch for trends and determine whether any immediate changes are needed to mitigation protocols. Positive cases within the school environment will be assessed weekly, at a minimum, to evaluate the percentage of positive cases among students and staff based on the total population of the school. Staff and parents will be notified of any changes to levels for their school community.

To learn more about the district’s rubric for tracking positive cases within the school environment, and which mitigation protocols will apply for each level, go to pages 12 & 13 of the district’s “Back to JC Schools COVID-19 Re-Entry Plan” HERE.

As a reminder, it will be critically important that we all remain committed to the key priorities of our COVID-19 reentry plan:

  • Social Distancing: maintain a distance of at least three feet from others in the classroom and avoid direct contact such as handshaking, hugging, sharing drinks, etc;
  • Handwashing: wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and disinfect frequently touched objects;
  • Staying Home When Sick: students and staff who experience symptoms related to COVID-19 or come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not come to school. As a reminder, CDC guidelines regarding contact tracing define a close contact within the school environment as any individual less than three feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in the classroom;
  • Keeping Yourself Safe: wearing a mask and getting a COVID-19 vaccine are proven methods to protect against the spread of COVID-19 virus. In most cases, individuals who are wearing a mask properly or are vaccinated will not be required to quarantine if they come in contact with a positive case as long as they are not experiencing symptoms.

We were incredibly blessed to be able to provide in-seat education last year, and that remains one of our highest priorities, along with ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and staff.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges which change frequently, JC Schools is committed to making real-time decisions to protect the learning environment and help our students achieve success. We will monitor school and community data closely, and tighten or loosen our mitigation strategies accordingly to help us keep our schools open and our students in-seat.

Thank you for your continued support to have a safe & healthy school year!

Superintendent Dr. Larry Linthacum
#WeAreJCSchools #JCStrongerTogether

 

Message below was shared with JC Schools families on Friday, August 6th, 2021

Hello JC Schools Families,

The Jefferson City School District was proud to be one of the largest districts in the State of Missouri to remain in-seat last year, and we are looking forward to again welcoming students back for in-seat education on Monday, August 23rd.

Many of us were hopeful that COVID-19 would be in the rearview mirror by now. While that is unfortunately not the case, our district’s COVID-19 reentry plan has proven to work extremely effectively as designed, by minimizing the exposure to any positive cases that do enter the school environment and allowing us to keep our schools open. For that reason, we will be keeping a majority of the same protocols in place for the 2021-2022 school year. 

We have assessed the COVID-19 protocols that were in place last year, and we were able to successfully implement several changes during summer school that we will be keeping in place for the fall. Those changes are outlined in our full 2021-2022 reentry plan.

District leaders remain in frequent communication with the local health department and area schools. We are closely monitoring local conditions and guidance from health experts, which change frequently. A decision on whether masks will be required for staff and students will be made no later than Monday, August 16th.

The mask requirement for staff and students was lifted for the last two weeks of summer school and we were hopeful we would be able to begin the school year without a mask requirement. However, with the recent trend of new positive cases in our community and everything we are learning about the transmissibility of the Delta variant, we do not feel comfortable making a final decision on masks at this time.

As we prepare to come back to school, it will be critically important that we all remain committed to the key priorities of our COVID-19 reentry plan. Please remind your student of the importance of:

  • Social Distancing: maintain a distance of at least three feet from others in the classroom and avoid direct contact such as handshaking, hugging, sharing drinks, etc;
  • Handwashing: wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and disinfect frequently touched objects;
  • Staying Home When Sick: students and staff who experience symptoms related to COVID-19 or come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not come to school;
  • Keeping Yourself Safe: wearing a mask and getting a COVID-19 vaccine are proven methods to protect against the spread of COVID-19 virus. In most cases, individuals who are wearing a mask properly or are vaccinated will not be required to quarantine if they come in contact with a positive case as long as they are not experiencing symptoms.

Despite the many challenges we faced last year, we had a very successful school year, and we are excited to welcome your student back! Our guiding principle throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic has been, and will continue to be, our commitment to ensuring success for all of our students.

We sincerely appreciate your continued support and thank you for standing stronger together with JC Schools!

Superintendent Dr. Larry Linthacum
#WeAreJCSchools #JCStrongerTogether