Health and Safety

El Paso Academy

COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

The return to onsite protocols for El Paso Academy (EPA) campuses were prepared with the health and safety of our employees, students and community in mind. Please note, health guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation and it is not possible to eliminate all risk of furthering the spread of COVID-19, however, the current science suggests there are many steps schools can take to reduce the risks to students, teachers, staff, and their families significantly. El Paso Academy is using information from the TEA documents as well as CDC guidelines and El Paso Public Health Guidance.

The plan was based on four sets of practices to minimize the likelihood of viral spread which include:

  • PROVIDE NOTICE: Requirements for parental and public notices
  • PREVENT: Required practices to prevent the virus from entering the school
  • RESPOND: Required practices to respond to a test-confirmed case in the school
  • MITIGATE: Recommended and required practices to reduce likely spread inside the school

PROVIDE NOTICE: Requirements for parental and public notices

This document fulfills the Texas Education Agency (TEA) requirement for school systems to post for parents and the general public one week prior to the start of on-campus activities and instruction. The document provides a detailed plan that students, staff, and school leaders will be required to follow to mitigate COVID-19 spread in schools for on-campus activities and instruction.

El Paso Academy designates the following individuals responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns:

Ms. Cindy Canales, East Campus Administrator – ccanales@elpacademy.com

Mr. Jaime Sanchez, West Campus Administrator – jaimesanchez@elpacademy.com

Ms. Carmen Ruiz, Human Resources – cruiz@elpacademy.com

Attendance

Per Texas Education Code (TEC), §25.092, students must attend 90% of the days a course is offered (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. This requirement remains in force during the 2020-2021 school year.

Families have rights with regard to attendance and enrollment. Please see this notice from the TEA to learn more about these rights and responsibilities

PREVENT: Required practices to prevent the virus from entering the school

El Paso Academy will require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day. EPA teachers and staff must report if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off-campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry. Additionally, they must report to EPA if they have had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until the 14-day incubation period has passed.

Parents must ensure they do not send a student to school on campus if the student has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in Appendix A) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19. They should instead opt to receive remote instruction until the conditions for re-entry are met.

Identifying Possible COVID-19 Cases on Campus

El Paso Academy will immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian. We have identified isolated locations on each campus where symptomatic students will stay until they are picked up. EPA will clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff member).

RESPOND: Practices to Respond to a Lab-Confirmed Case in the School

If an individual who has been at El Paso Academy is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, we will notify El Paso Health Department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

El Paso Academy will close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected.

Consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, EPA will notify teachers, staff, and parents/guardians of students if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participated in any on-campus activities. The notification process will take place in regards to the following:

Primary:
  • This indicates that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.
Primary Exposure:
  • Student or staff member has symptoms or has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • An email will be sent to staff and parents/guardians of students who have been in close contact with the primary. Please see Appendix C for close contact definitions.
Secondary Exposure:
  • Student or staff member has been in direct contact with a Primary Exposure.
  • No email will be sent at this level.

MITIGATE: Practices to Mitigate the Likelihood of COVID-19 Spread Inside the School

Health and Hygiene Practices

El Paso Academy will have hand sanitizer dispenser stations throughout the campuses. Students, teachers, staff, and campus visitors will be directed to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently. Campus visitors will be restricted only to those who are essential to school operations.

On the first day students attend school on campus, El Paso Academy will provide instruction to students on appropriate hygiene practices and other mitigation practices adopted on our campuses.

Bathrooms will have signage reminding students of good handwashing techniques. Both EPA campuses will be disinfected nightly. This includes frequently touched objects such as door handles, common tables/desks and computer equipment. Students will be required to clean their own spaces regularly throughout the day using disinfecting supplies available in the classrooms.

El Paso Academy is required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks. As such, all adults and students will be required to wear masks on campus. Be sure to send your student with an appropriate face mask each day. In addition, teachers may wear transparent face shields to provide a further layer of protection. Students in specific situations may also be provided a face shield for specific instructional settings like speech therapy, reading intervention, and other settings where a plexiglass barrier is impractical.

Masks may be non-medical grade disposable face masks, or cloth face coverings that go over the nose and mouth.

Social Distancing on Campus

El Paso Academy will place students at desks or tables to maintain 6 feet of social distance. EPA will change entry, exit, and transition procedures to reduce large group gatherings of students and/or adults in close proximity. Parents will be required to remain in their vehicle during drop-off and pick-up.

RETURN TO SCHOOL PROTOCOLS

Following are the return to on-site work protocols for El Paso Academy campuses. Since this is an everchanging situation, the district may need to change protocols to address specific needs and circumstances in order to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the community. Please note, health guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation. As a result, EPA will continue to consult available guidance through governmental agencies and other information deemed relevant to monitor the situation. The district will comply with applicable federal and state employment and disability laws, workplace safety standards, and accessibility standards to address individual needs.

It is important to remember the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person shows no symptoms or is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously or fatally ill, especially for persons 65 years of age or older or with pre-existing health conditions placing them at higher risk. Because of the hidden nature of this threat, EPA expects all employees, students and families to rigorously follow these practices.

Preparation for the Opening of School

El Paso Academy will ensure all staff, resources and supplies are prepared prior to re-opening our campuses, including but not limited to assigning sufficient staff to carry out re-opening plans, ensuring proper training, and stocking inventory of necessary supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance, recommendations and resources to assist with plans and protocols for health and safety. Before schools re-open, El Paso Academy will implement health and safety plans that include:

  • Ensuring adequate supply inventory (e.g., PPE, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, etc.) Cleaning with products approved by governing authorities and per guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Ensuring compliance with CDC, El Paso Public Health, the Texas Education Agency and other jurisdictional policies.
  • Providing communication of procedures and expectations upon entering campus facilities and throughout buildings.

Protocols for Screening and Isolation

All students and staff will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms daily and individuals with symptoms will be separated and sent home.

Staff will be required to complete a self-screening process prior to entering an El Paso Academy building, and the district may require further screening of employees at any time based on current state and federal guidelines. Staff and substitute teachers are required to complete a daily check-in form prior to arrival on campus.

A parent or guardian will be required to screen their student for COVID-19 symptoms each day prior to sending them to school. Parents will need to take their student’s temperature daily. Additional screening may be conducted during the school day.

Parents must ensure they do not send a student to school on campus if the student has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in Appendix A) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the conditions for re-entry are met.

Staff and students should not enter campuses or district buildings if any of the following apply. The individual is:

  • Sick or has been sick in the past 14 days. Symptoms to watch for: fever (100°F or higher), cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
  • Has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. These individuals must follow all isolation and quarantine guidelines from the local health authority or their physician.
  • Has a household member who is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or if the student is awaiting their own test results.
  • Has traveled internationally or on a cruise in the past 14 days. These individuals must follow current CDC self-quarantine recommendations.

Teachers will monitor students and refer them to the front office if symptoms are present.

Isolation

For students displaying symptoms of COVID-19, the campus administrator will determine if and when a student needs to be sent home.

Students who are ill will be separated from their peers and must be picked up within 30 minutes and no later than 1 hour from the time the campus has contacted the parent/guardian.

Staff members displaying COVID-19 symptoms will follow district protocols including isolation from students and other staff members.

Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 will NOT be permitted to return to school until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications,
  • AND improvement in symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath,
  • AND at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • OR with written clearance from a medical professional in order to return.

Protocols for Personal Protective Equipment

Parents are encouraged to talk with their student about the health benefits of wearing a mask at school. Students in all grades must bring an appropriate face covering to school each day.

Families will be responsible for daily cleaning and replacement of face mask. The school has a limited supply of face masks should student or staff face coverings become unusable or lost during the school day. Masks may be non-medical grade disposable face masks, or cloth face coverings that go over the nose and mouth. Neck gaiters and bandanas are not acceptable face coverings on campus.

There are some limited exceptions for adults or students for whom masks are not developmentally appropriate or pose a health risk. Individual needs regarding face coverings will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Requests for accommodations will need to be submitted to campus administration for approval.

Protocols for Campus Visitors

Visitors, including parents/guardians, must not attempt to enter school buildings. If a student needs to be picked-up during school hours, the student will be escorted outside upon arrival of the parent/guardian. Upon the arrival, the parent/guardian must remain in their vehicle and contact the appropriate campus receptionist to let them know of their arrival:

  • East Campus – (915) 590-8589
  • West Campus – (915) 845-7997

Virtual tools will be used to conduct meetings such as Parent/Teacher meetings, ARDs, LPAC, etc.

Volunteers are not allowed to visit campuses at this time (including mentors, college representatives, guest speakers, etc.).

In the unlikely event of an on-campus visitor required for campus operations, the visitor will be required to complete a screening form before entering a campus facility.

Protocols for Disinfecting, Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizing

Frequent disinfection and hand sanitization will ensure health and wellness of students and staff. Students will participate in hand washing and hand sanitization upon arrival to school, before leaving school, and at other times of the day based on teacher discretion.

Paper towels and sanitizing spray will be provided near doors and in classrooms to sanitize high-touch and working surfaces and shared objects frequently. Additionally, teachers will be provided with sanitizing wipes for their classrooms.

  • Each classroom and restroom will be cleaned and disinfected nightly.
  • All high-touch areas will be disinfected nightly.

Staff and students will have access to disinfecting items to sanitize working surfaces, shared objects, and high-touch areas after use and during breaks in instruction.

El Paso Academy will provide hand sanitizer upon entry to classrooms and encourage periodic teacher reminders during the instructional day.

If a classroom or facility is closed due to COVID-19 spread, quaternary disinfectant, which is recommended for use on the virus that causes COVID-19, will be used to defog and disinfect after a mandated 24-hour waiting period.

Maintenance contracted personnel will defog and disinfect classrooms, restrooms, lunch areas and all additional areas necessary for proper disinfection on a nightly basis.

Protocols for Restrooms

Staff will limit the number of students that enter the bathroom at one time to comply with health agency recommendations and social distancing.

Staff and students must wash hands with soap and water prior to exiting the bathroom. Proper handwashing techniques will be encouraged of all students and consistently reinforced.

Protocols for Common Areas

Common areas include spaces that includes computer labs, conference rooms and other meeting rooms.

Campuses will schedule and follow protocols for the use of common areas, including how to sanitize the space between use. When needed, students will bring personal supplies from the classroom.

Students will sanitize their spaces before and after usage.

The number of students allowed in a common area will be based upon social distancing requirements.

Visual reminders will be displayed for social distancing throughout common areas. Informational graphics and markers will be posted to serve as a visual reminder for students to keep social distance.

Protocols for Training

On the first day a student attends school on campus, school administration will provide instruction to students on appropriate hygiene practices and other mitigation practices including: the practice of covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, covering coughs and sneezes with their elbows, throwing used tissues in the trash, washing hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer.

Student:

  • Students will participate in training specific to newly adopted health and safety protocols.
  • All students will be trained on information about COVID-19 screening, identification of symptoms, prevention of spread, and sanitation of work areas.
  • If a student is experiencing symptoms they need to immediately notify a teacher.

Parent/Guardian:

  • Parents are asked to talk to their students about COVID-19 symptoms and prevention strategies.
  • Parents are asked to talk with their student about the health benefits of social distancing at school, as well as the health benefits of washing their hands, and/or using hand sanitizer.

Teacher/Staff:

  • Teachers attend training and develop classroom procedures consistent with TEA, District and CDC guidance.
  • All staff will be trained on COVID screening, identification of symptoms, prevention of spread, and sanitation of work areas.
  • All staff will monitor students that exhibit symptoms and will be required to notify the campus administrator if a student is showing any symptoms.

Protocols for School Arrival & Dismissal

Arrival: All staff will be utilized for duty to maintain a line of sight in hallways and distancing of hallway cohorts. Students will go straight to the designated areas set by each campus.

Dismissal: Campus will designate staggered dismissal groups. Staggering the groups of walkers, car riders, or grade levels will help manage student movement in the building and decrease the risk of potential crowding outside at dismissal time. Sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the hallways and students will be encouraged to sanitize hands prior to exiting the buildings.

Student:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon arrival.
  • It is required that students and staff wear masks when entering the building.

Parent/Guardian:

  • Parents/guardians must remain in their vehicle during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal. If a student needs to be picked-up before dismissal, the student will need to wait in a designated area until the arrival of the parent. Upon the arrival, the parent must remain in their vehicle and contact the appropriate campus personnel to let them know of their arrival:
    • East Campus: (915) 590-8589
    • West Campus: (915) 845-7997

Teacher/Staff:

  • Campus staff is required to complete the staff check-in form before entering a campus.
  • Staff will be assigned to supervise students during morning arrival.
  • Staff are required to have masks on when entering the building and ensure that they ensure that students are wearing masks in the hallways and in classrooms.
  • Staff will dismiss student using staggered student release into halls from these areas.

Protocols for Classrooms

Classroom protocols and procedures will include expectations regarding not sharing school supplies, social distancing, and hand washing or sanitizing, etc.

Teachers will ensure high-touch areas in the classroom are wiped in between classes. Each classroom will be outfitted with the following:

  • Visual reminders of distancing requirements will be in all classrooms marking off areas for common spaces and distancing best practices.
  • Refillable alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations.
  • Access to disinfectant to sanitize working surfaces.
  • Students and staff will maintain consistent groupings of people to minimize the spread of the virus.
  • Technology will be utilized when students are involved in collaborative work.
  • Occupied student desks will be placed a minimum of 6 feet apart.
  • The use of outdoor space for learning will be considered.

Student:

  • Students will be expected to adhere to class and school-wide protocols that are consistent with CDC guidelines.
  • After washing hands or using hand sanitizer, students will be asked to immediately sit down in their assigned seat.
  • Students will avoid sharing school supplies and will sanitize shared items after each use.
  • Students will maintain a 6 feet distance in classrooms whether they are sitting at a desk or a table. Additionally, if tables are provided instead of desks, students will sit two per table.
  • Students that want to use hand sanitizer should use it at the beginning of class.
  • Students should avoid touching high-touch areas.

Teacher/Staff:

  • Multiple locations of hand sanitizer, tissues, and trash cans will be available throughout classrooms and common areas to limit student and staff movement.
  • Teachers will post signs with clear class protocols that are consistent with CDC guidelines and school-wide practices.
  • Teachers will limit student movement within the classroom such as turning in assignments, materials being passed out, etc.
  • Teachers will create assigned seating arrangements to ensure social distancing.
  • Teachers will create systems to limit the sharing of items such as school supplies.
  • Teachers will clean supplies after each use by students.
  • Teachers will prop doors open to allow for additional ventilation during class and in between classes so students don't touch doors or handles.

Protocols for Water Fountains

El Paso Academy has replaced water fountains with water bottle fillers.

Student:

  • Students are must bring their own reusable water bottle for use throughout the day and must to take water bottles home to be cleaned on a daily basis.

Parent/Guardian:

  • Parents must secure a reusable water bottle for their child to bring to school on a daily basis.
  • Parents are asked to assist students, as needed, to clean water bottles on a daily basis.

Teacher/Staff:

  • Develop and demonstrate how students should fill water bottles instead of drinking directly from the water fountains.
  • Monitor that students take water bottles home to be cleaned.

Protocols for On/Off Campus Activities & Field Trips

On-Campus Activities

  • No in-person assemblies will be held in the fall.
  • Parent/Teacher conferences will be held virtually.

Field Trips

  • Off-campus field trips will be scheduled as appropriate to meet curricular needs while maintaining proper social distancing practices.
  • Virtual field trips will be planned as often as possible.

Protocols for Hallways

  • Visual markers will be developed to help students maintain physical distances and adhere to established campus traffic flow in hallways.
  • Traffic patterns will be established throughout the campus that separates individuals to the greatest extent possible.
  • Students are required to immediately report to their next class and not congregate in the hallway.
  • Students and staff must wear face coverings in the halls and avoid gathering in large groups during passing periods.

Protocols for Emergencies and Drills

El Paso Academy will continue to follow the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) and its emergency actions of Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate and Shelter.

Emergency Evacuation Protocols

Administration will continue to implement drills and protocols as defined by the Texas School Safety Center. The TXSSC has modified some drills and protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing will be encouraged but not required during an actual emergency such as a fire, lockdown, shelter for dangerous weather, evacuation, etc. Masks will be required.

APPENDIX A

COVID-19 Symptoms

In evaluating whether an individual has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, consider the following from El Paso Public Health Interim Guidance on Reopening for El Paso County Schools:

  • Have they recently begun experiencing any of the following in a way that is not normal for them?
  • Fever (temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit when taken by mouth)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for persons with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New severe headache, especially with a fever
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain

APPENDIX B

Conditions for Re-entry

Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:

In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:

  • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
  • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
  • at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.

If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay-at-home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.

Identifying Possible COVID-19 Cases on Campus

  • Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
  • Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible.
  • Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.

APPENDIX C

Close Contact

The El Paso Academy plan refers to “close contact” with an individual who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19. For clarity, close contact is defined as:

  • being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a mask or face shield); or
  • being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a mask or face shield;
  • if either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time the infected individual was infectious.

Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to the confirming lab test.

P-EBT

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a one-time food benefit for families who lost access to free or reduced-price meals due to school closures. Eligible P-EBT families will receive application instructions from schools in late May. The P-EBT application will open the first week of June.

P-EBT food benefits are for children who received SNAP food benefits for March 2020 and children who are certified for free or reduced-price school meals during the 2019-20 Texas school year. For more information, visit: hhs.texas.gov/PEBT

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer
COVID-19 Texas Resources

Practice Social Distancing

To avoid the spread of COVID-19 in our community, practice social distancing:

  • Avoid going out in public
  • When in public, keep six feet of distance between you and others
  • Follow guidance provided by local and state officials.

Get more information at https://texas.gov/covid19 and at http://tea.texas.gov/staywell
#covid19 #texasstrong #stayhome

Apart we stand together