Health and Safety Protocols
Health and Safety Protocols

Northwest ISD reopening plans are put in place in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support educational goals. Each campus will have COVID Campus Contact who will be the primary point of contact for that campus regarding any concerns or investigations of test-confirmed cases.

Updated: Sept. 30, 2020

1. Promoting Healthy Behaviors

Health Pre-Screening for Staff & Students

  • Parents/Guardians of students and staff will be required to self-screen daily before arriving at school. Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher should not come to school or a NISD facility.
  • Students and staff should also prescreen themselves for any of the following symptoms prior to coming to school:
    • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 Fahrenheit
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Cough
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Chills
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Shaking or exaggerated shivering
    • Significant muscle pain or ache
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • If you suspect that your child may have symptoms of COVID-19, please make sure the child sees a health care provider immediately.
  • Students and staff may be subject to temperature checks for verification, especially if they are feeling ill or suspected of having a fever during the school day.
  • All staff will monitor students and refer them to the clinic if symptoms are present. According to the assessment of the clinic staff, a treatment plan will be determined. Parents will be contacted to pick up students who are unable to remain at school, and the students return to school plan will be discussed. Students should be picked up within 30 minutes and no later than 1 hour from the time the campus contacted the student’s parent/guardian.
  • Students and staff will be required to report to Northwest ISD if a) they have come into close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19; or b) they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Northwest ISD requires all outsourced vendors (i.e. food service, transportation, custodial, etc.) to pre-screen and check the temperatures of all contracted workers and essential volunteers before they are allowed entrance on campus or on a . bus.

Close Contact Defined

  • Close contact is defined as:
    • (a) Being directly exposed to infectious secretions. (e.g., being coughed on)
      Or
    • (b) Being within 6 feet for a largely uninterrupted or sustained extended contact period throughout the course of a day of approximately 15 minutes; however, additional factors like case/contact masking (i.e., both the infectious individual and the potential close contact have been consistently and properly masked), ventilation, presence of dividers, and case symptomatology may affect this determination.
  • Either (a) or (b) defines close contact if it occurred during the infectious period of the case,defined as two days prior to symptom onset to 10 days after symptom onset. In the case of asymptomatic individuals who are test-confirmed with COVID-19, the infectious period is defined as two-days prior to the confirming lab test and continuing for 10 days following the confirming lab test.
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again.

Arriving at School

  • Parents are encouraged to drop their child off at school, or walk with their child to/from school, to allow for more space on buses for students who don't have options for arriving to school.
  • Students should not arrive at school any earlier than the times listed below.
    • Elementary school is at 7:20am
    • Secondary school is at 8:20am
  • Students arriving at school early will be expected to social distance and follow campus protocols for arrival until school begins.
  • Bus riders will be taught to space themselves out from others as they exit the bus and walk into the school building.
  • Students will be expected to use district approved hand sanitizer immediately upon entering the building.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

  • The Texas Education Agency provided PPE to the district for use as needed.
    Sneeze Guards and Plexi-glass will be added to public reception desks and point of sale registers in the cafeteria check out lines.
    The district will provide each teacher with their own clear desktop divider.
    Gloves are available for use as needed.
  • Masks
    • For the safety of everyone, students, teachers, staff, and visitors must wear a face mask and practice social distancing where possible. These times could include entering and exiting the bus, walking during passing periods at school, before-school areas of congregation, etc.
    • Appropriate masks include: disposable masks, washable masks, neck gaiters, etc.
      Face shields may be worn in addition to a mask, however they do not replace the requirement for a mask.
    • Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not a CDC approved mask and are not acceptable.
    • Being 6 feet apart does not negate the requirement to wear a mask.
  • Mask - Exceptions
    • If a student who receives SpEd or 504 services has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, the ARD/504 committee will review the medical documentation discussed with the doctor and other relative data, to determine if accommodations are appropriate.
    • Students who are currently not receiving SpEd or 504 services but have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, should contact their campus 504 Coordinator.
    • Students will not be required to wear face coverings when
      • Eating or drinking
      • Participating in certain district approved activities per UIL and TEA guidelines
      • Participating in P.E. activities that are both vigorous and provide a minimum of 6 feet separation between students.
    • In addition, campus administrators may provide additional opportunities, as needed, for “mask breaks”. These breaks must adhere to a minimum of 6 feet of social distancing and may include, but are not limited to the following:
      • Designated and monitored mask free area during recess
      • Designated and monitored class time outdoors
      • Designated and monitored time in the hallway, not during passing periods.
  • Masks - Noncompliance
    • Slogans and images on masks must comply with the NISD dress code.
    • If students don’t abide by the face mask requirement for In-Person Learning, they may be transitioned to Remote Learning.

Handwashing & Hand Sanitizers

  • Students and staff will be trained in proper hand washing protocols to aid in the prevention of COVID-19 and the spread of germs.
  • All students will be expected to wash their hands for 20 seconds at least two times each day, in addition all students will be encouraged to wash hands after using the restroom and before eating.
  • Handwashing stations are available in restrooms and some classrooms.
  • Follow these five steps every time:
    • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
    • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
      Hand sanitizer stations have been added in every classroom, playgrounds, and commons areas throughout schools.
    • Hand sanitizer stations have been added in every classroom, playgrounds, and commons areas throughout schools.
    • Staff and students are allowed to use their own hand sanitizer, but should not share it with other students or staff.

Social Distancing Protocols

  • Students and staff will be trained in proper social distancing.
  • Signage will be provided to help encourage students and staff to practice social distancing.
  • Social Distance processes are a personal responsibility of each individual attending school or coming to a NISD facility. Anyone causing a disruption or unwilling to follow NISD safety protocols, putting students/staff at unnecessary risk may be asked to leave the premises immediately.
  • We understand that all students have different needs, but whenever possible throughout the day, students and staff will remain six feet apart. NOTE: it isn't always feasible for staff and students to maintain six feet of social distancing at all times, especially in classrooms.
  • Campuses will develop schedules and protocols for the use of common areas, including how to sanitize space between use. All students and staff will be expected to use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting common areas. 
  • Classrooms shall arrange the desks in a manner that best separates students from one another. We realize that classroom sizes and shapes, as well as student counts, will vary across the district. If six feet of separation cannot be achieved, then students shall be separated to the maximum distance possible within a given space.
  • Classrooms should utilize a seating chart so that students have the same seats in the classroom.
    Students will be encouraged to use backpacks instead of hallway lockers and cubbies to help ensure social distancing/space between students.
  • Currently, all locker rooms and shower rooms are "CLOSED" per the Texas Education Agency. This could change by the opening of in person activities at school.


2. Maintaining Healthy Environments

Classroom Environment

  • Students should be encouraged to keep as much distance between them and others as feasible.
  • Desks should be arranged as far apart as the space will allow. Students should sit six feet apart when possible. When six feet spacing is not achievable, students should sit as far apart as possible.
  • Personal furniture shall be removed from all teaching areas and taken home or disposed of properly. The intent of removing personal furniture is threefold:
    • Clear out space for separating desks
      Remove furniture that encourages shared seating, either at the same time or one after another. (ex. Loveseat, couch, beanbag, etc…)
    • Remove furniture that is difficult to clean or is made of a porous material.
    • Every classroom and office area will have CDC-approved disinfectant in a spray bottle with appropriate cleaning cloths provided for employees and students to use on high-touch areas throughout the school day.
  • Sneeze Guards and Plexi-glass will be added to public reception desks and point of sale registers in the cafeteria check out lines.
  • The district will provide each teacher with their own clear desktop divider.
  • The state recommends that each school district provide students the opportunity to clean their own spaces before and after they are used in ways that are safe and developmentally appropriate.
  • At the beginning of any class where students will occupy a desk or work area for the first time, teachers will spray disinfectant at each student’s work area and the student will use a paper towel to clean their work surface.
  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean or disinfect.

Playground Environment

  • Playgrounds are often crowded and could make social distancing difficult.
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Because it can be difficult to keep surfaces clean and disinfected between use of equipment, children should wear a mask while playing on the playground.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from people while on the playground.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after being on the playground.
  • Children should utilize district-provided hand sanitizer while actively playing on playground equipment.

Cleaning & Disinfectant Protocols

  • NISD custodial employees have been trained on COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting will occur nightly in every classroom, restroom, commons area, and on high-touch surfaces.
  • Routine checks will occur daily to refill supplies.
  • Every classroom and office area will have CDC-approved disinfectant in a spray bottle with appropriate cleaning cloths provided for employees and students to use on high-touch areas throughout the school day.
  • The state recommends that each school district provide students the opportunity to clean their own spaces before and after they are used in ways that are safe and developmentally appropriate.
  • At the beginning of any class where students will occupy a desk or work area for the first time, teachers will spray disinfectant at each student’s work area and the student will use a paper towel to clean their work surface.
  • Medical-grade, CDC-approved disinfectants will be used for deep cleaning campuses on a regular and ongoing basis.
  • Tissues will be provided in classrooms and common areas to encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, to cover with their elbows. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water or hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Restrooms, cafeterias, and playgrounds (when allowed for use) will undergo extensive cleaning each day utilizing Electrostatic Disinfectant Sprayers.
  • Social distancing and safety signage will be added and visible throughout school facilities.

Food Service Safety

  • Northwest ISD plans to utilize the school cafeteria for student meals. NOTE: No parents/visitors will be allowed during lunch.
  • Cafeteria staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Classes will go to lunch on a staggered schedule to minimize the number of students in the cafeteria each period. The campus may add a lunch period to reduce the number of students in each lunch period as well.
  • All cafeteria staff will be wearing masks and gloves while serving students.
  • Seats, tables, door handles, and high-touch areas will be disinfected between lunch periods/use.
  • Middle school and high school students will be given a pre-order option to minimize face-to-face contact in the cafeteria line.
  • When possible, food items will be pre-packed and boxed to minimize face-to-face contact in the cafeteria line.
  • Elementary campuses will have 2 choices and be directed to either line to help expedite and space out students while in line.
  • Masks will be worn at all times while in line.
  • Hand sanitizer will be used upon entry into the Cafeteria line.

Campus, Class, and Program Closures 

  • District-wide closures should occur under only the most extreme circumstances. Unless the state, county, or a local executive order requires the district to close, Northwest ISD has outlined the circumstances that could be considered for a school or district closure. Understanding that things can change rapidly, decisions may be adjusted as needed in response to the health, safety, and welfare of our students and staff. If cases are isolated to a specific grade level or program a more localized approach may be considered.
  • In addition to COVID-19 positive cases, increased absences related to COVID-like symptoms may also be assessed for widespread transmission control.
  • Campus Closure
    • Northwest ISD will consider a closure of a campus when the active test-confirmed cases at or above 3% of the student and staff population at any given campus. Tarrant County Public Health Department’s metrics for safer in person instruction cites that the positivity rate should ideally be less than 5%.
    • Additional Considerations:
      • Three or more linked cases.
      • Increasing number of cases identified within a 14 day period.
      • Increasing number of teachers/staff that are out due to COVID cases, without a sufficient number of viable guest educators available.
  • Class/Program Closure
    • Any given class/program (i.e. athletic teams, fine arts groups, clubs, CTE groups, etc…) may be subject to closure with test-confirmed rates lower than 3%.
    • Additional Considerations:
      • Three or more linked cases.
      • Increasing number of cases identified within a 14 day period.
      • Significant number of participants have been exposed and identified as close contacts.
      • Increasing number of teachers/staff that are out due to COVID cases, without a sufficient number of viable guest educators available. 


3. Maintaining Healthy Operations

Staff Training

  • Campus staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols and students will engage in lessons focused on hand washing and social distancing practices at the beginning of the school year.
  • Students, teachers, and staff will be encouraged to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently following proper practices.
  • Teachers will encourage students to wash their hands at a minimum of twice a day while on campus. For the classrooms that have access to sinks within their room, students may utilize these sinks for handwashing. If a teaching space does not have a sink within the classroom then the teacher will need to encourage students to wash their hands at the restrooms or other areas with sinks.

Signage and Messaging

  • Signage will be posted in highly visible locations (i.e. school entrances, restrooms) that promote everyday protective measures.Broadcast regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19 on PA systems throughout the school day.
  • Include messages about behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff and families (such as on school websites, in emails, and on school social media accounts).
    Floor signage will be placed in gathering areas to encourage social distancing. (i.e. reception area, restrooms, nurses clinic, cafeteria, etc…)

Bus Transportation Protocols

  • Northwest ISD will provide bus transportation for all students who register for transportation services and meet the eligibility requirements for transportation.
  • Bus drivers will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Drivers will be required to wear a face covering/mask.
  • Each student will be required to wear a mask at all times while on the bus.
  • Bus riders will be encouraged to sit apart from one another and will be required to sit facing the front of the bus and keep their hands to themselves.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available on all buses and are to be used by students when exiting the bus.
  • Seats, handles, and high-touch areas will be disinfected after every trip per TEA guidelines, utilizing CDC-approved disinfectant through Electrostatic Disinfectant Sprayers
  • When possible, bus windows will be opened to allow outside air to circulate in the bus.

Visitors

  • Visitors to campuses will be limited to essential needs on the campus. 
  • Lunch visitors will not be permitted.
  • Main school entrances will be locked immediately after arrival times and remain that way throughout the day to help ensure effective management and safe screening of visitors. Visitors will continue to utilize the outdoor buzzer system located at the entry of every school building. Hand sanitizer will be available upon entering the building.
  • Volunteers will be limited to essential needs, and approved by school personnel prior to arriving at the school. Any volunteers scheduled for work at a campus will complete a pre-screening survey prior to entering the school.
  • Northwest ISD is permitted to prevent any individual who fails the health screening criteria from being admitted to the campus until they meet any of the criteria for re-entry to the campus.

 



4. Preparing for Illness

COVID Campus Contact

  • Each campus will have a designated COVID Campus Contact. Their information will be made available to the staff, teachers, students and parents for that campus.
  • The COVID Campus Contact will lead the investigation of any test-confirmed cases and identify any individual who should be considered to have had close contact with the test-confirmed case.
  • Parent contact on the campus for questions related to COVID protocols.
  • Coordinate Tier 1, 2, and/or 3 COVID notification letters to staff and student families.
  • Partner with campus health coordinator and the local health department to determine if identified close contacts need to be quarantined
  • Partner with HR on test-confirmed positive COVID staff members and staff members that are possible close contact with a test-confirmed positive COVID student or staff member on campus

School Health Clinic Procedures

  • Temperature and symptoms will be checked in a triage area in the clinic to determine whether isolation is indicated. A student’s medical history will be considered when determining whether a student should be excluded.
  • When indicated, a student will be isolated from others until picked up by his/her parent in the campus clinic and should be picked up within 30 minutes and no later than 1 hour from the time the campus contacted the student’s parent/guardian
  • Students who come to the school health clinic showing symptoms will be required to put on a face covering/mask until their parent arrives to take them home.
  • An alternate location will be used for medicine, lost tooth, diabetic treatment, etc.
  • Additional staff members will be trained on basic first aid, medicine distribution, etc. and will be supported by the nurse.
  • Clinic staff and substitute clinic staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Minor health needs will be handled in the school office area, when possible, by trained staff to reserve the health clinic space for students experiencing symptoms or fever.
  • Attendance clerks will be trained to collect information from parents that report their child is sick with identified Coronavirus symptoms. The NISD District Health Coordinator or Campus Health Coordinator will follow up with the family to discuss the protocol to return to school.
    School Health Clinics will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Protocols for Test-Confirmed Case of COVID-19 at School

Responding to a Test-Confirmed Case

  • If an individual who has been in a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school will notify the local 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).
  • We will close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the test-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, (unless more than 7 days have already passed since that person was on campus, per state guidelines).

Notification of a Test-Confirmed Case (The NISD COVID Dashboard will be updated nightly at 6 PM)

  • Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, NISD will notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any on-campus activities. NISD will have a 3-tiered notification process as outlined below:
    • Tier 1 - Upon confirmation of a test-confirmed COVID-19 case, communication will be sent out to all teachers, staff, and families of students who are assigned to that specific campus. This includes families of students who have elected Remote Learning in addition to those who are attending In-Person learning. A copy of the Tier 1 notification letter can be found here. Tier 1 letters will be sent out within 24 hours of the campus being notified of a test confirmed COVID positive student/staff member.
    • Tier 2 - Upon confirmation of a test-confirmed COVID-19 case, communication will be sent out to all teachers, staff, and families of students, who are enrolled in any class or activity with the individual who has the test-confirmed COVID-19 case. Teachers, staff and students sharing a room with the test-confirmed may meet the definition of having close contact with the case. Those receiving this letter will be required to monitor themselves and if they begin to have any COVID-19 symptoms, they will need to quarantine and contact their campus. A copy of the Tier 2 notification letter can be found here. Tier 2 letters will be sent out within 24 hours of the campus being notified of a test confirmed COVID positive student/staff member.
    • Tier 3 - Upon confirmation of a test-confirmed COVID-19 case, the Campus COVID Contact will begin an investigation. If the results of this investigation provide that close contact was confirmed with any teachers, staff, or students, those specific individuals will receive communication requiring them to quarantine. A copy of the Tier 3 notification letter can be found here. Tier 3 letters will be sent out within 24-48 hours of the campus being notified of a test confirmed COVID positive student/staff member.

Returning to Campus after Recovering from a Test-Confirmed or Suspected Case

  • Any individual - including teachers, staff, students, or other campus visitors/volunteers - who themselves have qualified as either of these individuals:
    • Are test-confirmed to have COVID-19
      OR
    • Have experienced symptoms of COVID-19
      OR
    • Have been tested
  • Must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to the campus until the school system screens the individual to determine if the following 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 one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications)
    • The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath)
    • At least 10 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 provide one of the following:
    • Obtain a medical professional's note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis
      OR
    • Obtain an acute infection test (https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/) that comes back negative for COVID-19.
  • Individuals - including students, teachers, staff, or other campus visitors/volunteers - who have had close contact with someone who is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, as narrowly defined in this document and as determined by the appropriate public health agency, should stay at home through the 14-day incubation period and should not be allowed on campus.
  • Northwest ISD clinic staff will screen individuals after the incubation period has concluded, and if the individual did not experience COVID-19 symptoms during that period, the individual can be allowed back on campus. If the individual experienced symptoms, they must stay at home until the conditions outlined above have been met.