Week of 8/8:  "Pre-Covid Expectations"

Covid 19 restrictions are being eliminated as districts open across the country.


This is Dennis from Burbio and below is our weekly update.  Feel free to share. 
 
Burbio has now compiled 5,400 ESSER III plans with over $85 billion in allocated spending and we are adding to the database weekly.   Burbio's weekly blog posts covering school operations, finances, and enrollment since October 2020 can be found here.
  
1.  By the end of this week just over one-third of K-12 public school students will be back in the classroom.    As of the end of last week just seven of the Top 500 districts are requiring masks for students, and to date we have not seen any Covid-related school disruptions in the first week of school.  The overall direction is to remove Covid 19 restrictions amidst news reports of upcoming CDC guidance adjustments although there are some exceptions. 
 
First, examples of Covid 19 mitigations being removed from districts in six states that reflect the trend we are seeing: 
  • Hondo Valley Public Schools, NM, in a state that had one of the highest percentages of virtual-only learning in 2020-21, announces simply, "NOTICE: WELCOME TO THE 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR!! We are excited to have everyone back! There are NO COVID RESTRICTIONS at this time. This year STUDENT DROP OFF will be at the same spot as STUDENT PICKUP near the gym . . . . "
  • Kannapolis City Schools, NC announces the following, "After June 30th, boards of education across North Carolina will no longer be required to conduct a monthly vote on masking in schools and the North Carolina Strong Schools Toolkit will no longer be in use.  Additionally, KCS will stop providing weekly updates regarding positive COVID cases in our schools . .  ."
  • Southeast Dubois County School Corporation, IN reports  ". . . . In essence, Covid-19 has shifted from a pandemic to an endemic like other illnesses that we manage throughout the year such as the flu. As a result, Southeast Dubois County Schools will no longer be quarantining and excluding from school close contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid-19. Individuals who test positive for Covid-19 must still notify the school and will still be required to follow the guidance below  . . ."
  • Central School District 301, IL writes a letter to staff that states in part, "Since March 2020, we have navigated the challenges associated with COVID 19 in our schools and we are pleased to announce that we will be returning to pre-COVID expectations in our schools, on our buses and with our activities."
  • MSAD 15, ME, near the bottom of their first-day-of-school update letter, notes "COVID-19: The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) will no longer be providing guidance on COVID-19 mitigation. The MDOE has directed schools to return to protocols for communicable diseases that were in place prior to the pandemic. The school nurse is the primary resource for families regarding all communicable disease protocols."
  • Stafford County Schools, VA  reports a number of changes, including that cleaning is no longer required in between classes, social distancing is no longer required, and contact tracing, letters home to families, and the COVID dashboard will discontinue.  The district's water fountains are being turned on after two years and the district reports "we are currently working with an industrial hygiene consultant to proactively test stagnant water in our fountains for the presence of Legionella. We have not been directed to complete water testing, nor are there any staff members who are ill. This is simply the right thing to do to ensure the highest level of safety in our buildings."
Districts in California tend to have more mitigation in place.  Examples include: 
  • El Monte Union High School District, CA requires indoor masking for ten days following exposure to someone with Covid 19.  The districts links to the LA County Department of Public Health website for details on the policy.   
  • Jefferson Union High School District, CA  reports "students are strongly recommended to take an at-home COVID test on Monday, August 8, prior to returning to campus before the first day of school, and again on Thursday, August 11."
  • While not requiring masks during school hours, in their August 4th update the Pasadena Unified School district requires masking for all "Indoor in-person meetings/activities with parents/guardians, community members, staff, and students," requires masks at Back to School Night, for all school visitors, and on buses, while requiring students to test for Covid 19 before returning back to school.   
  • Hacienda La Puenta Unified School District, CA requires masks for staff and visitors while not requiring them for students. 
2. In previous blog posts we have noted the use of ESSER III funds on mental health initiatives, as well as the addition of new staffing for mental health positions in K-12 school budgets.  Ongoing mental health initiatives for 2022/23 are widely noted on district websites and will be an ongoing feature of the 2022/23 school year.  Among the examples:
  • Salt Lake City School District, UT has partnered with a local non-profit organization "to provide free Telehealth School-based Therapy to any student in the Salt Lake City School District."
  • Red Clay Schools, DE has launched a program at two middle schools that "will make it possible for students to receive telemedicine consultations from board-certified emergency medicine specialists, right from the school nurse’s office. The school district will pilot the program . . .  . .through the end of the 2022-23 school year . .  . "
  • Eau Claire Public Schools, MI is launching an "Expanding & Enhancing Emotional Health" (E3) program offering counseling, support programs "such as school climate initiatives, bullying prevention, etc," crisis intervention, anger management, depression and suicide prevention, family conflict, and peer pressure.
  • Indian Prairie School District 404, IL received a $500,000 grant to create mental health clinics.  “Specifically, this funding will be used to provide mental health support to children and families through the creation of Mental Health Clinics. Services will be provided after school and on the weekend," notes the announcement. 
  • Greenbriar Public Schools, AR has a high school program to support "Mental Resilience in Senior Student Athletes" that includes "a senior athlete/elementary student mentoring program as a service learning model, resilience rituals for the mind/body/spirit, and strengths assessment tools for our students to learn more about themselves as individuals."
  • Bloomfield Public Schools, CT presents the 'Talk It Out Line," a state-level initiative.  "Parents and caregivers are invited to call 833-258-5011 and/or visit www.talkitoutct.com to speak with trained professionals . .  . who will listen and discuss their concerns and, if additional help is needed, refer them to responsive services."
  • We note special mental health themed events across districts.  For example, Richland County School District One, SC will hold an event on August 20th focusing on mental health and self-care.  Cumberland County Schools, NC held the 'Speak on It! Teen Wellness Fair" in July.  
  • Somerville Public Schools, MA has partnered with the local government to create  "TOGETHER, a public awareness and engagement campaign to promote the mental health and social-emotional wellness of school-aged children, particularly to respond to the stress, anxiety, and other struggles students are facing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.  . .  ."

 

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