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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Public Health and Education 2020-2021 School Year Ad Hoc Committee


Preamble to the Recommendations

The return to school presents challenges to families, children, teachers and staff of educational institutions, elected officials and to the various communities in which they live. The issues are multiple, complex and include the safety of: the children, the teachers and staff, the direct and extended families and the population in general. In addition to the importance of the traditional educational processes is the recognition that it is critical for children of all ages to interact and socialize with their peers as part of their growth and development and mental well-being.

A safe return to school will also provide parents relief from in-home educational responsibilities and, most importantly, the opportunity to return to work knowing that their children are safe and in a learning environment.

An important consideration to achieve the latter is the recognition that children who attend a particular school generally reside in the same geographic area; however, the teachers and staff often do not and these factors must be considered in any planning for the safe return to normal classroom activities.

Members of the Committee are knowledgeable about and understand the challenges of COVID-19 testing in Dallas County, particularly for young children; however, we strongly recommend that there are robust efforts to insure the availability of reliable, free or low-cost, rapid turnover (36 hour results), geographically available and readily accessible testing for families, teachers and school staff. The availability of rapid results testing is a critical tool to insure educational continuity during the period of the epidemic. It is particularly important that COVID-19 testing be available prior to the onset of the fall-winter respiratory season.

With the aforementioned general principles in mind, we make the following recommendations that we believe will provide the safest opportunities for children to return to school.

 


Dr. Preston Wiles, Chair
Dr. Wendy Chung

Members
Libby Doggett, Ph. D.
Dr. Amanda Evans
Dr. Charles Ginsburg


Pamela Reese-Taylor, RN
Dr. Victoria Shinn

 

Click here to view the Preamble.

 

 

Guidance Resources

Reopening Guidance

This committee’s overriding goal is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and reopen schools as soon as possible. The best way for the community to support school openings is by wearing a face mask, social distancing, using appropriate hand hygiene, and following local guidance specific to avoiding gatherings and other high risk settings.

Click here to read the Reopening Guidance for Schools

 

 

Statement on Sports and Musical Activities

There are known and yet unknown potential risks of intense physical exercise, playing of musical instruments and singing activities related to COVID-19 infection.

To mitigate these risks to students, in-person organized sporting activities, music, theater, recitals, and choir should not be conducted during times when levels of community transmission of COVID-19 infection are moderate or high using the Red/Orange categories as designated by the Public Health Committee.

By delaying these high-risk transmission activities that occur outside the classroom, there will be a more expedited return of in-classroom learning for all students.

Click here to read the Statement on Sports and Musical Activities

 

 

Masking Guidance for Schools

These guidance documents can advise school administrators, staff, and school based health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic as they make complex decisions related to educational opportunities. The document was prepared by the Public Health and Education Ad Hoc Committee made up of public health, epidemiology, education policy, pediatric mental health and infectious disease leaders who have prepared their entire adult lives to advise us in this moment. Guidance presented is based on the best available science, best practices, and professional judgement of committee members at the time the documents are released. Their goal is to keep us safe through continued containment of COVID-19, while supporting the educational, physical, and emotional and mental health of our students, teachers, and parents.

Click here to read the full Masking Guidance for Schools

 

 

DCHHS COVID-19 Screening Tool for K-12 School Settings

Click here to view the Screening Tools

 

 

Dallas County School Closure Decision-Making Protocol

District representatives should contact local health department for guidance, as needed. School & District Action Teams should be formed to serve as the initial response command unit should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified within a school community. The action teams will collaborate with local health authorities to ensure coordinated response and communication efforts.

Click here to view the Decision-Making Protocol

 

 

School Public Health and Education Committee Guidance – August 2020

The members of this committee have met twice weekly over a period of weeks to examine the safety and health issues that pertain to beginning the school year and opening the schools after having been shut down from March 2020 through the present time. We have reviewed specific issues regarding early childhood education, special education and children with special needs including medical special needs, kindergarten through fifth grade education, and middle school and high school education. We have examined the various activities and factors that may contribute to the spread of infection and increased risk across the wide spectrum of daily learning, extracurricular, and sports activities in which students participate. We have also examined the various environments in which children learn, play, eat, engage in fine arts activities, and participate in sports as these environments pertain to the relative risk of spreading of the infection and increasing the prevalence of coronavirus.

Click here to view the full document