St. James Lutheran School & Early Childhood Covid-19 Operating Guidelines 

St. James Lutheran School (SJS) began classes on August 11, 2021, with in-person instruction guided by an opening plan developed by the Leadership Team during June 2021. Given the levels of Covid-19 since  the original plan was developed, the Board of Christian Education has revised the original plan with a more outlined and detailed program based on best practices focused on prevention, mitigation, and minimizing quarantines. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly encourages universal masking by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination  status. 

PREVENTION AND MITIGATION MEASURES 

SJS will continue implementing procedures and practices to promote the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19. Cleaning, disinfection and hand hygiene guidelines are established across school facilities to protect the health, safety and well-being of students, teachers, other school staff, and families. Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is important for schools to operate safely and efficiently with minimal absences and disruptions and everyone must do their part to be successful.

Hand Hygiene Program 

A culture of good hand hygiene will again be promoted to help our school community stay healthy and prevent fewer missed school days. 

  • Teachers and staff will reinforce handwashing. 
  • Time will be built into daily routines for students and staff to wash hands, especially at key times: upon entering the building, restroom breaks, before lunch, anytime a person sneezes orcoughs, and after recreational activities. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be readily available for teachers, staff and students. Hand sanitizer will be placed near frequently touched surfaces (e.g., water fountains, doors, shared equipment) and areas where soap and water are not readily available (e.g., cafeteria, classrooms, gyms). 
  • SJS will promote hand hygiene throughout the school by placing visual cues in highly visible areas. 

Cleaning and Disinfection 

A cleaning plan will be implemented across all facilities, which includes a regular cleaning, sanitization and disinfection process prior to each new school day to keep the building clean and safe for everyone. High touch surfaces will be sanitized frequently throughout the school days: light switches, stair rails, door knobs, water fountains, and restroom facilities.

Classroom Daily Check-off Routine

  • Students pre-screened before entering building
  • Scheduled handwashing
  • Seating charts
  • Increased daily cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of high touch surfaces
  • Lunch room and classrooms cleaned, sanitized and disinfected at end of each day

Screening and Staying Home 

One of the best prevention methods is self-screening. Students should be screened by parents/guardians prior to coming to school. Staff should self-screen prior to work/school. Students may be sent home if displaying the following symptoms.

Students or staff who exhibit the following symptoms should remain home from school: 

  • Fevers or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The school will allow a child to stay home without a doctor’s note for two days based on the symptoms above without it being counted as an unexcused absence. Absences lasting 3 days or longer require a doctor’s note to return. 

NOINDIVIDUAL SHOULD ENTER SCHOOL IF HE/SHE IS NOT FEELING WELL OR HAS BEEN INCONTACT WITH ANYONE WHO HAS COVID. (See procedures for close contact.) 

Increased Social Distancing 

SJS will pursue at least 3 feet of spacing and up to 6 feet of spacing in the classroom, chapel, cafeteria and during school assemblies to the greatest extent possible. Mandatory seating charts will be in place.

Cohorting

Cohorting will be used in scenarios to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in physical contact with each other during the academic day, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distance, such as among early childhood and elementary students.Face Covering Guidelines 

Families and individuals need to choose what strategy will be best for themselves, their children, school staff, co-workers and classmates. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. 

It is strongly encouraged that students and staff wear masks anytime they are unable to sustain a social distance of 6’. The families of students in classrooms where at least 6 ‘ of spacing cannot be maintained will be contacted by respective administrators so they are made aware. All students and staff should have masks readily available. Masks will be available in the main office if needed. Should anything change regarding mask mandates, SJS will immediately notify staff, students and stakeholders.

Quarantine and Contact Tracing: 

A designated quarantine area and procedures for sick students/staff will be established. Any student or staff displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent home immediately and encouraged to be tested and/or seen by a licensed physician unless a negative Binax test has been completed by trained personnel. (See Binax Testing section)

Classes following the Classroom Check-off, seating chart, and hand washing  protocols, will be limited to contact tracing findings for limiting whole class quarantine.  Only students within 6 feet of a Covid positive student for more than 15minutes in a 24 hour period will follow the close-contact procedures below. 

Test Positive for COVID-19 

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should notify the school and shall isolate at least 10 days following onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, at least 10 days from the date of collection of the positive test and must be at least 24 hours fever-free without fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement. 

Close-contact 

Asymptomatic individuals who are fully vaccinated or who wear a mask properly inside the facilities during school hours, or who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days will NOT be required to quarantine, but will need a PCR test 3-5 days after exposure and be required to wear a mask for 14 days or until they receive a negative PCR test result. 

Individuals that do not qualify with the above requirements who are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case shall quarantine until: 

  • The IDOH says asymptomatic individuals may return on Day 11 after 10 days of quarantine.  
  • Return on Day 8 after 7 days of quarantine if the Binax test result is negative and there are no known symptoms while quarantining.
  • If returning on day 11, after known close contact, the individual must follow additional precautions for days 11-14.
  • Precautions include monitoring for symptoms, wearing a mask at all times around other people, and maintaining at least 6’ of distance from others at all times unless otherwise directed by state or local health authority.

Contact Tracing 

The SJS Board of Christian Education has plans to monitor school incidence rates and be in close communication with school leaders and public health officials to understand how changes in disease burden may alter school mitigation requirements. If the school positivity rate for COVID-19 reaches 5%, the BCE and school administrators will collaborate to review the policy.

Binax Testing

SJS will provide on site BinaxNOW testing by a trained staff member for any staff or student who become symptomatic during school hours provided they have a signed consent form on file. A positive test will require the individual to follow the quarantine procedures outlined in this document. A negative test will require the individual to wear a mask for 14 days unless the individual provides a negative PCR test sampled within 3 days of the BinaxNOW test. 

BinaxNOW testing is only for symptomatic individuals or for those seeking a negative result to return from quarantine on day 8 or after.

Visitors and Field Trips 

SJS is limiting non-essential visitors or volunteers in our buildings until further notice during the academic school day. Examples of essential visitors include: pastors, law enforcement, contractors, substitute teachers, etc. All visitors will be required to wear a mask while inside the school building. Examples of non-essential include parent teacher organizations, classroom volunteers, etc. 

Field trips may be conducted providing individuals use federal mandated masks when using bus transportation and follow regulations established by the entity being visited. 

Academics and Virtual Learning 

SJS believes onsite instruction of students is important to their academic success and social emotional well-being. Virtual learning opportunities will be available for students who are required to quarantine due to illness or potential exposure.

Before and After School Care 

SJS will continue to provide before and after school care. All schoolhouse procedures will be followed during these hours.

Extracurricular Activities 

Unique requirements when visiting a district/school’s region or county must be followed regardless of the guidelines of SJS. In addition, given the fluid situation of COVID-19, these considerations are subject to change. Athletic programs shall follow the local school guidelines. 

  • Coaches will report any COVID-19 related issues immediately to the school athletic director or principal. 
  • Face coverings are strongly encouraged when not in competition and appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained. 
  • Parents/students should self assess prior to participation. 
  • All indoor activity personnel are recommended to follow prevention and mitigation measures outlined on page 1.

Monthly Case Review 

BCE will have a monthly review of all programs and positivity rates. The administration has the ability to request a meeting with the BCE at any time to review if needed before the monthly scheduled review. The BCE reserves the right to modify or change this policy at any time given the change of COVID-19 data.

Appendix A
SJS Close Contact Protocol

Last edit: Sept 25, 2021

Board approved: Sept 25, 2021