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LAST UPDATED: October 1, 2020

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1. Are masks required for my student to attend in-person learning?

Yes. The face covering requirement is a state mandate that we will adhere to. Our district will be following all safety and health guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health and Yakima Health District. Masks must be worn at all times in school and on the bus.

“Mask breaks” will be given during the day for students, depending upon instructional models, when outside and physical distancing can be maintained.

1.2 How will schools enforce mask wearing?

The Washington Department of Health has stated that masks are required for students, staff, and any other visitors to the schools. There are certain exceptions for those who are medically unable to wear a mask. If a student refuses to wear a mask, we will work with the student and family to educate about the requirement and the importance of face coverings in reducing the spread of the virus. As a last resort we may have to exclude a student from school. In that case we would ensure that the student has an opportunity to continue receiving their instruction remotely.

1.3 Will masks be provided for students?

Two reusable masks will be provided to all students. Additional masks should be provided by the parent/guardian. If masks become soiled throughout the school day, the mask will be sent home for cleaning in a plastic bag and a disposable mask will be given to the student to utilize for the rest of the day. Please check backpacks daily for soiled masks that need to be cleaned.

1.4 What is the process to deal with students that communicate a difficulty with breathing due to wearing masks all day?

There are some medical exemptions to wearing a mask. Those students would need to wear a face shield per health requirements. Contact the school nurse for further information.

2. Why can the school only bring back a limited number of students at a time for in-person learning?

Health and safety requirements mandate schools to maintain six feet of social distancing in classrooms and all auxiliary areas such as hallways, gym, recess/outdoors, etc. While the physical size of classrooms varies, classrooms are not large enough to accommodate all students six feet apart at every grade level. We may be able to bring back some grades in K-5 full time if enrollment allows us to do so. Health authorities require that class sizes in grades 6-12 operate in a hybrid model so we will not be able to bring back all students in grades 6-8 until allowed, even if class size allows us to do so.

2.2 How will schools enforce social distancing?

The guidelines from health officials and are to maintain 6-foot distance “as much as possible.” Desks will be spaced six feet apart and interactions closer than six feet will be limited. The guidelines state that passing briefly in a hallway, especially when everyone is wearing a mask, is low-risk. Schools are encouraged to limit less than 6-foot distance interaction to less than 15 minutes.

The district has marked 6-foot distances on district property to remind students and staff of this requirement. You will see paw prints outside the school on sidewalks and in front of the school. We have also placed stickers on the floor 6-feet apart throughout the interior of the school for constant reminders of social distancing for students and staff. The office area is also marked appropriately as well.

Signage is posted throughout the school reminding students of social distancing protocols and handwashing protocols.

2.3 What will the safety guidelines be for bus transportation?
Students will be required to social distance while waiting for the bus. In addition, we will encourage families to transport their student or have students walk/bike, if possible. For those students riding the bus, we will have safety guidelines in place for transportation including assigned seating, grouped seating for students in the same household, and open windows for increased ventilation when the weather and air quality permits. Masks are required for all riders and drivers.

3. Can I choose for my student(s) to stay in virtual learning rather than come back to school?

Yes, as we transition to in-person instruction, we understand there are families who may need to change their current learning model, particularly those with a family member who is at high risk from COVID-19. We are calling this instructional model Virtual Academy.

3.2 Will I have the same teacher in Virtual Academy as they do now?

Not necessarily. All districts are in the same position to try to staff two different instructional models at once. Teachers cannot maintain hybrid instruction and virtual instruction simultaneously and meet all student needs. Union Gap School District only has 3 teachers per grade level due to its size. Most of the instruction will come from the online platform and not a live teacher throughout the week. The teacher assigned to your student will provide instruction (as needed), assign work, monitor his/her progress, give feedback, etc. Virtual Academy students will have access to their teacher for questions and support just like in distance learning though it will be one teacher versus multiple teachers (grades 3-8).

3.3 Does Virtual Academy use the same platform (ClassDojo/Microsoft Teams) as current virtual learning?

No, Virtual Academy utilizes Edgenuity as the platform for learning. Virtual Academy students will have one Union Gap School teacher. Grade level standards will be the same, however, the instruction will not. The teacher may choose to continue to use ClassDojo or Microsoft Teams to supplement Edgenuity. Students will access Edgenuity through their district Clever account just like in distance learning. Any training that students need for Edgenuity will be provided.

3.4 Will my students be with other Union Gap students in Virtual Academy?

Possibly. This depends on the number of students that enroll in Virtual Academy at each grade level.

3.5 How long does my child have to stay in Virtual Academy if they enroll now?

Virtual Academy students will be allowed to return to in-person learning after the end of 1st semester (January 15) or can choose to remain in the Virtual Academy for the rest of the school year at that time.

4. Will students have access to water in the building?

Yes, though water fountains are turned off for sanitary reasons, we encourage families to provide water bottles for their students as there are water bottle filling stations throughout the school. Only water (no additives) is allowed in water bottles. 5th – 8th grade students must use clear water bottles in the building.

5. Will visitors be allowed in the building?

No one will be allowed in the building except for students and staff. Parents/Guardians who require meetings with district personnel, will be required to attest to their health and sign in. This information will be provided to the Yakima Health Department for contact tracing in case of any positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Vendors will be allowed in the building for building maintenance, as needed. They will be required to attest to their health and sign in if they will be in the building longer than 15 minutes.

6. Could school close again if a certain number of students or staff report illnesses?

We are also planning for the need to close our building if there is a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases in our state or region. Please note that the decision to close schools in our district rests largely on the Yakima County Health District guidance and orders.

If closure should occur, we will revert back to full time distance learning.

7. Will you be transparent in communicating if there is a positive case or outbreak in the district?

The district will follow student and staff privacy guidelines. The school district will contact the Yakima Health District regarding any positive cases, and they will determine who must quarantine and be contacted.

8. What should I do if my child starts to exhibit COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms?

Parents of students exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, as well as staff exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms should contact their primary care provider. Any individual experiencing these symptoms should not come to school. Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home immediately. It is vital that parent/guardian contact information is up to date for this reason.

9. How will the district clean buildings, classrooms and surfaces to ensure a safe learning environment?

The district will implement enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols to help keep students, staff and families safe while COVID-19 remains with us. Our custodial staff will significantly increase the wiping down and disinfecting of public spaces and high-touch surfaces throughout the school day. We will also provide greater access to cleaning materials for our teachers and staff so that they can clean and disinfect spaces, as needed.

10. Will students have specific handwashing guidelines?

Yes, students and staff will follow the established handwashing hygiene protocols established by the Department of Health for schools. This can be found here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FallGuidanceK-12.pdf

11. How will the district ensure physical distancing takes place in school buildings?

While maintaining physical distancing will be a challenge, we are implementing a number of measures to ensure students remain at least six feet apart for as much of the school day as possible. Seating charts in classes and on the bus are required for health purposes and contact tracing. Students will be seated and working with an assigned, consistent group of students to help with contact tracing. These groups are called cohorts.

12. How will daily health screening be conducted?

Families/students will complete an attestation daily that their student does not have a fever or COVID symptoms. The specific screening and attestation process is completed by a link sent by email. The daily emails do give parents/guardians the option of opting into text to complete the attestation via text message versus email each day. Parents/Guardians will receive one email for every student in the household as attestations must be completed per student per state requirements.

Any student or staff members with COVID-19 symptoms or who has come in direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to stay home.

13. How will contact tracing work if there is a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in a school? The Yakima Health District will manage contact tracing and recommendations related to quarantining.

If a teacher must quarantine, the class will still be held in-person as scheduled as the role will be filled by a substitute. This will be on a case-by-case basis.

14. If there is a confirmed case in a school, who will be asked to quarantine?

This will be a Yakima Health District decision.