WDMCS RETURN-TO-LEARN ALL STAFF Q&A MEETING — JULY 21, 2020
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Q: Is it safe for me to return to work?
A: The WDMCS Return-to-Learn Task Force worked diligently this summer to plan for a safe return to buildings for both students and staff. Our Operations department has adjusted ventilation in buildings, enhanced cleaning protocols, added plexiglass in public-facing spaces, and provided face shields for all staff. We also have wellness check-in stations that will be in place at all buildings prior to staff returning in August and mitigation strategies in place. We will continue to adjust our practices, as needed, to support safety of students and staff.
Q: Are face coverings required for staff?
A: WDMCS staff will be expected to use some form of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) based on their role. This may include wearing a face shield, face mask, and/or gloves. Students will be required to wear masks.
Q: What personal protective equipment (PPE) is available for staff?
A: We are requiring all staff to wear face coverings while at work. Some staff may also have to wear gloves or other PPE based on their role. We are asking staff to follow a check-in process when entering a building. They should not enter if they have a fever or answer “yes” to the questions. Additionally, we are enhancing cleaning throughout the day.
Staff can share concerns with their building administrators, teacher association, or Human Resources.
Q: What will health self-assessments look like for staff?
A: WDMCS is asking employees to monitor their temperature and symptoms. If an employee feels sick and/or has symptoms related to COVID-19, they are asked not to come into work. Staff will answer some simple health questions on a daily basis during the self-assessment, which is currently implemented at the Learning Resource Center. All WDMCS buildings will have designated areas for staff to take their temperatures when at their home building if they have not done so at home prior to arriving for work. We are working on digital forms for staff to log their information.
Q: How will WDMCS work with high-risk staff?
A: WDMCS has worked with individuals and healthcare professionals to see if our current mitigation strategies are adequate or if additional accommodations are needed. We will use a long-standing process where we work directly with employees to address individual circumstances.
Q: If a shield is broken, will staff receive a new one from the district or will they be expected to purchase their own?
A: We currently only ordered one face shield per employee. However, we plan to order back-up supplies. Due to demand, we encourage staff to carefully store their face shield to help protect against damage. Two face shields per elementary student have been ordered to provide a back-up in case of damage.
Q: What mental and emotional support resources are available to staff?
A: WDMCS partners with Employee and Family Resources (EFR) to provide resources for both staff and students. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides support for anxiety, depress, job stress, wellness concerns, and much more. To talk to a counselor, please call 800-327-4692, or contact them online.
Similarly, families can reach out for EFR through their Student Assistance Program (SAP).
Q: How will you decide what teachers will be online or on-site?
A: We must first understand the number of students who may choose the online environment for fall before we can determine what teachers may be online or on-site. We will determine the grades, and/or courses that may require an online teacher assigned. At the secondary level, many students may remote into an on-site classroom. Human Resources will work directly with staff on a case by case basis to determine the best fit for each scenario.
Q: If someone in our family tested positive for Covid and we have to self quarantine how does this effect our sick time?
A: Staff are eligible for COVID-specfic sick leave, whether they are sick or they need to care for someone who is ill. There is a limit to the amount of sick leave available under COVID, but it does extend available sick leave beyond the traditional number of days allocated each year. Specific questions related to how sick leave should be coded can be directed to Human Resources.
Q: What is the plan for substitutes and how are you going to work with them?
A: This is a topic that is on everyone’s mind. WDMCS is currently updating its sub pool for teachers and assistants. This is conducted on an annual basis, but we are doing a deeper dive this year to make sure we have opportunities ready for substitutes and in the plan we are following.
Our sub pool will have access to a variety of training sessions if they should find themselves working with us and supporting our students alongside our full-time staff. We will rely on our teacher leaders for guidance, and there is already a support system in place that will be continued to enhance professional learning.
Want to be a sub for our district? Please make sure you call our main office at 515-633-5000 to learn more about these opportunities.
Q: Could an elementary teacher be assigned per building, per grade, or potentially to several buildings?
A: We are waiting to hear back from families to determine staffing adjustments. We must first understand how many elementary students will choose to learn online this fall. For example, if there are 25 third-graders across the district who choose the online learning environment, it is possible one third grade teacher would be assigned an “online third-grade class” to teach.
Q: Will we reduce staff if we are in Hybrid Option 2?
A: We do not believe we will need to make staff reductions based on our current Hybrid Option 2 plan.
Q: How should staff best enforce the face covering requirement? How will staff know which students have a face covering exception? Are there further mitigation steps staff can take regarding students who do not wear face coverings?
A: Staff will remind students that face coverings are required, emphasizing PBIS expectations. Staff should be able to explain why face coverings help protect others. Students who consistently refuse to wear a face covering will face consequences outlined under Board Policies 502.01 (Maintenance of Orderly Conduct) and 503.01 (Discipline.) Any student who has written documentation on file with the district regarding a medical and/or religious exemption from wearing a face covering will have that information noted in Infinite Campus. Building administrators can provide a list of students to teachers prior to the beginning of the school year.
Q: Are Title I, reading resource, & ESOL teachers able to pull kids? If not, what will their role look like?
A: Specific guidance will be provided for these roles to support student learning. In an in-building environment, specialist teachers should aim to provide instruction with small groups of students in the same class cohorts as much as possible and work in the classroom. When not possible, small group instruction with mixed students can happen if specialists utilize mitigation strategies, including cleaning before and after each group, and maintaining records of groups. Virtual instruction guidance for specialists can be found in the PK-6 Guidance for Virtual Learning. This document has been shared with PK-6 teachers.
Q: Will teachers who only work with students in the online learning environment work from the building or at home?
A: All staff will work from a WDMCS building unless a COVID-specific situation impacts the building they are working in or a larger closure district-wide is required.
Q: Are we assuming that professional development (pre-service days and regular PD) will be done in person?
A: We are planning for both face:face and virtual professional learning this fall. We will work with Polk County and Iowa Department of Public Health as we get closer to the pre-service dates to determine the most appropriate course of action to avoid unnecessary potential exposure.