COVID-19 Plan for Fall 2021
GOLD COAST PREP COVID-19 PLAN FOR 2021
Gold Coast Prep was able to offer a successful and safe in-person learning environment for the 2020-2021 school year by following best practices during a pandemic, adhering to guidance from medical organizations and professionals, and the assistance of the entire Gold Coast Prep community. For the 2021-2022 school year, we have detailed a COVID-19 Plan with the aim of achieving another safe and successful year. Gold Coast Prep will monitor the local COVID-19 transmission environment and implement measures accordingly. Our plan provides an overview of what is in place to help reduce the likelihood of transmission at school and help keep our community safe during this pandemic. Our protocols continue to evolve as conditions and recommendations change (as recently as August 2021, IDPH issued updated guidance for schools.) We will inform families of any further adjustments to protocols to help everyone remain reasonably protected.
Our multi-layered protection model is based on guidance from:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
- Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
- Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH)
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
For the 2021-2022 school year, only in-person learning and cohort quarantine-required distance learning will take place; as a general rule, virtual learning will not occur. Our plan is designed to promote a safe in-person learning environment. Its key components are as follows:
- COVID-19 vaccinations are strongly encouraged for all eligible community members.
- All students and adults on campus will wear masks when indoors, unless eating or drinking.
- Masks may be removed outside when local COVID-19 transmission levels are low and when individuals are appropriately socially distanced.
- Regular handwashing will be practiced.
- Cohorts will be separated to reduce the possibility of spread.
- Classes will be held in regular classrooms.
- Social distancing will be practiced, inside and outside.
- Daily self-reporting health questionnaire required for students.
- COVID-19 testing is available weekly.
Continue reading for details of each key component of the Gold Coast Prep COVID-19 Plan.
- Following CDC recommendations, vaccination is the leading public health strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we have adopted the following guidelines:
- All employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible and submit proof of vaccination.
- All age-eligible students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible and submit proof of vaccination.
- When vaccinations become accessible to those younger than age 12, GCP will assist with coordinating vaccinations for those who are eligible.
- While GCP believes strongly in using COVID-19 vaccines and encourages everyone able to obtain them to do so, we will not require them of students or employees for the 2021-2022 school year.
- All visitors, vendors, contractors, and others wishing to enter GCP will need to complete a self-reporting questionnaire.
- Following CDC/IDPH/CDPH/AAP guidance, all students will remain masked indoors regardless of vaccination status, unless eating or drinking.
- While eating lunch/snack, students will maintain social distancing by being seated at least 3 feet apart.
- Masks must completely cover both the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps, and be easy to apply and remove independently.
- Masks can be either disposable or reusable and must be fastened securely with ear loops or ties.
- If someone forgets to bring a mask, they will be provided a disposable one before entering school.
- Masks do not need to be worn outdoors during periods of low and moderate COVID-19 community transmission (as defined by the CDC.) The COVID dashboard provides the latest transmission rates for Chicago.
- Each student should bring two spare masks in order to be able to change masks in the event one becomes wet, soiled, or torn.
- Hands are to be washed with soap and water upon entering the school in the morning, after being outdoors, and before lunch/snack.
- Upon entering a new classroom, all students will use hand sanitizer or wash their hands.
COHORTS and Classrooms
- Student groups will be separated into cohorts.
- Cohorts will be utilized for lunch, PE, and if necessary, for quarantine purposes.
- Classroom windows and doors will remain open, even in cold weather. Students should dress appropriately and be prepared to bundle up in classrooms on cold days. Clothing layers are recommended.
- Based on age level and subject matter, students may move from one classroom to a classroom that has been used by another group. The students may be asked to assist with wiping the desks down before using them. Faculty will supervise and provide appropriate materials and instruction.
- Nightly cleaning staff will continue to employ heightened cleaning protocols throughout the school, and especially in highly trafficked areas.
- Classes will have the option to take place outside this year, at the teacher’s discretion.
- Students will not change into PE uniforms.
- Students will be separated by a minimum of 3 feet in the classroom per ISBE, IDPH, and CDC guidelines.
- During lunchtime and snack, students will be seated and are to maintain a distance of 3 feet.
- All snacks/lunches must be self-contained and not require reheating.
- Students are to bring lunch containers and drinks that they can open independently without adult assistance.
- Students may not share lunches or snacks.
- As a reminder, Gold Coast Prep is a nut-aware school, and foods containing nuts are not allowed for grades preschool through kindergarten.
- Students are to bring a reusable water bottle to school every day.
SELF-REpORTING HEALTH ScREENING
- All students and staff members will answer an electronic health screening questionnaire via Bloomz submission by 7:45 AM each morning.
- Completion of the questionnaire is required prior to entry into the building.
- Paper forms will be available for completion in the event the questionnaire has not been received by the school.
- Visitors to the school will be screened prior to entry.
- Gold Coast Prep has partnered with the University of Illinois to perform diagnostic saliva screenings (see the covidSHIELD fact sheet) as part of our mitigation plan to maintain a safe environment for students and staff.
- In-school testing allows for the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals that would not have been excluded due to symptoms or quarantine (seen also IDPH Testing in Schools FAQ’s).
- By conducting in-school screenings, we can contribute to reducing transmission out of school thus mitigating transmission to the community at large.
- We also view participation in these screenings as an opportunity to mitigate pandemic-induced stress, as screening programs that regularly test students and staff can help reassure families, staff, students, and the community that school is a safe place to learn, and their children can feel a sense of normalcy.
- The Test-To-Stay protocol may allow for asymptomatic students in the cohort of the positive testing student to remain in school, thus minimizing disruptions to in-person learning.
What does the covidSHIELD screening (“Test”) look like?
- CovidSHIELD is a PCR test that consists of a small non-invasive saliva collection. The individual being tested will deposit their saliva into a sterile container and their saliva will be tested to indicate the potential presence of COVID-19.
What happens to the saliva samples?
- Saliva samples will be destroyed following testing.
How quickly are results communicated?
- We anticipate providing results to participants within 24-36 hours of collection.
What happens if an individual’s Test result indicates a potential presence of COVID-19?
- Actions are the same whether the individual tested positive from the covidSHIELD or from an outside independent test. Per the Decision Tree Return to School Guidance issued by the IDPH, we must contact Chicago Department of Public Health and the individual must stay home at least 10 days (some circumstances may require 14 days) AND be fever-free for 24 hours AND experience improvement of symptoms prior to returning to school. CDPH will advise us as to the specific quarantine requirements.
How does in-school screening affect the return to school guidance issued by the IDPH?
- With the covidSHIELD in place, if a student tests positive, we can institute the Test-To-Stay protocol for the remaining students in the classroom who tested negative instead of automatically sending them home to quarantine, unless we are directed otherwise by the Chicago Department Public Health.
What is the Test-To-Stay protocol?
- Per the IDPH: As an alternative to quarantine, students and teachers who have been identified as close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case now have the option of a Test-to-Stay protocol as follows: close contacts must be tested on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after exposure. As long as close contacts remain negative, they are not required to quarantine. Close contacts are only eligible for Test-to-Stay if universal indoor masking is required of all individuals (age 2 and older), regardless of vaccination status, and both the close contact and infected individual were wearing masks at the time of exposure. Schools like Gold Coast Prep that implement weekly testing will be prioritized for Test-to-Stay and outbreak testing when required.
How can my child participate?
- Parents must sign a consent form in order for their child to participate in the covidSHIELD program.