Any information appearing in this living document regarding COVID-19 is subject to change. This document is to be used as a “guidance document” composed by Sidney Public Schools stakeholders. The guidance is dynamic and will change and grow as the impact of COVID-19 constantly evolves. This is not a legal binding document or an exhaustive list of actions that need to be fulfilled. This document will be updated as new information is made available from the Governor’s office, the MT Office of Public Instruction, Montana High School Association, and our local health department.

Phasing Model

Due to the fluid nature of COVID-19 we assume that at any given point we will be required to adjust, accommodate, and transition into any of the following phases:

Phase One

Sidney Public Schools should/will remain closed for general in-person instruction due to an increase of community spread and identified threat to both student/staff public health in conjunction with the local health department. This phase will be an option if all of the State of Montana is under a complete stay-at-home order. All instruction must continue via distance learning, whether using digital or non-digital platforms.

Phase Two/Three

Sidney Public Schools may provide in-person instruction, a blended instruction approach, or distance instruction due to the possibility of increased community spread while working under the advice of the local health department.

Phase Four

Sidney Public schools may/will provide in-person instruction for all students electing to attend while providing distance learning for those electing to opt out of in person instruction.

Phase Five

Sidney Public Schools will provide in-person learning instruction for all students.

Students requesting to opt out will need to qualify for a district 504 plan according to district qualifications. Any students requesting this option need to be prepared to provide medical documentation.

Grouping and Scheduling

Due to the transmission risks associated with COVID-19 the following actions/practices may be used/taken:

K-8

When deemed appropriate, class and grade level cohorts in which instructors, not students, transition from class to class. Schedules are designed to limit large gatherings in community areas such as, Library, Gymnasiums, Cafeteria, and Playgrounds.

Or

Classes will continue in a traditional setting with paperwork available for the local health department to conduct contract tracing investigations.

High School

When deemed appropriate, alternative bell schedule releases to reduce the high population of transition. Large group gatherings mitigated with physical distancing, masks, or elimination.

Or

Classes will continue in a traditional setting with paperwork available for the local health department to conduct contract tracing investigations.

Social or Physical Distancing

Under all phases of social distancing will be mandated in the school setting when feasible. The following guidelines will help ensure this:

Physical distancing of all will occur as deemed necessary for the activity, event, and location. Classrooms will allow for 3-6 feet of achievable space between individuals.

Masks will be required when social distancing measures cannot be met or maintained.

Examples include on buses, hallways, and in some classrooms. Hallways will be marked with directional transitional flow indicators. Some areas will have transparent barriers for the protection of staff and students. Visitation and spectators will be restricted at some events and when allowed must follow the distancing requirements.

Or

The use of masks within Sidney Public School facilities will be optional for all individuals.

Face Coverings/Masks

At this time there is no mandate that requires the wearing of face coverings. But as part of Sidney Public Schools opening it is necessary to consider guidelines of face coverings.

Masks will be optional for all students and staff for the 2021-2022 school year. This will be monitored by administration throughout the school and can be adjusted as necessary. Staff members will be afforded reasonable accommodations when requested and on a case by case basis.

With the removal of mask requirements, any identified close contacts that were not wearing a face covering will not be allowed to complete their quarantine at school. The school will still be providing off-site learning opportunities for any student required to quarantine at home. This will be done through the Google platform.

Face Coverings/Masks on Public Transportation Vehicles

On Feb. 1 the CDC issued a mandatory mask requirement for all individuals on public transportation vehicles. This order was pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order 13998, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. This order requires masks on public or private school buses.

Due to the President’s order and the CDC requirement, masks will be required for all individuals utilizing the Sidney Public Schools transportation program when possible. Masks will become optional as soon as this CDC Order is lifted.

Health Screening

In all phases of operation it is mandated to monitor students, staff, and visitors of the school.

The guidelines are as follows:

Students

SPS recognizes that parents may be the best identifier of sick children and we ask that parents please keep their children home if they become symptomatic or have potential exposure to a COVID positive individual.

Students must be asymptomatic for at least 24 hours following any illness.

Staff

All SPS staff are required to monitor their own health and potential COVID-19 exposure.

COVID-19 Testing

Though there is no mandate requiring COVID-19 testing the school trying to maintain safety standards will requests the following best practices:

Meals/Cafeteria

When feasible, cohorts and social distancing may be utilized to maintain safety standards.

General Sanitation/Cleaning Guidelines

General Staff

Face masks/Face shields are optional. Hand sanitizer will be available to all students and staff. Each classroom will be equipped with wipes/disinfectant capability. When possible, signage of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette will be posted.

Students

Intentionally teach hygiene and respiratory etiquette procedures. Seating charts may be utilized to assist the health department with contact tracing.

Custodial

Increased bathroom sanitation and high traffic areas when possible.

Educational Delivery

1908 & 1908 (F) Opt Out Policy (Offered Only In Phase II, III and IV)

Families and students have the opportunity to choose to not participate in any onsite educational program due to safety concerns that they feel are necessary for their families. When applicable, Policy Form 1908(F) must be completed but SPS requires if this opportunity is taken that students will remain in the distance learning setting for the remainder of the semester. Families may choose to participate in this option at any time that they deem necessary, but will have to remain in this mode for the remainder of the semester. The delivery method of this distance instruction will be at the discretion of the school district.

Board Policy 1908 and 1908F will not be offered while the school is operating under the Phase V guidelines.

Phase 1

All teaching and learning activities will be conducted from a totally remote setting. The district will survey technology needs from students and staff and work to mediate the issues that arise. Infinite Campus will be utilized for attendance/grading/and assignment tracking. Google Classroom will be utilized for distance learning and assignment submission. Class timing and scheduling will be followed during distance learning when feasible.

Phase 2

Students covered under IDEA, who have applicable 504’s, are identified Title I, and are students who do not maintain proficiency levels in the distance learning module will receive in person instruction in the school buildings. All other students will remain in the distance learning module. The same distance learning module will be utilized as in Phase 1.

Phase 3

Students covered under IDEA, who have applicable 504’s, and are identified Title I, and are students who do not maintain proficiency levels in the distance learning module will receive in person instruction in the school buildings. All other students will attend in person on a 50/50 basis. This will be either an A/B alternative day schedule or an A/B half day schedule depending on needs of students and building. The same distance learning module will be utilized as in Phase 1.

Phase 4-With mandatory face coverings

Schools will operate at full capacity with the option for students to utilize Board Policy 1908. All recommended safety guidelines ordered by state and federal officials may be implemented.

Phase 5-Face coverings are optional for all students and staff

Sidney Public Schools will provide in-person learning instruction for all students.

Students requesting to opt out will need to qualify for a district 504 plan according to district qualifications. Any students requesting this option need to be prepared to provide medical documentation.

Staff members will be afforded reasonable accommodations when requested and on a case by case basis.

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