School buildings must be safe places to learn and offices must be safe places to work. With health and safety steps to reduce risk foremost in mind, we are committed to the development of a safe and meaningful restarting process that aligns with the guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE), and is informed by many other local, state, and national health and safety organizations. The District will take proactive and intentional approaches to support the health, well-being, and safety of all members of its community. This includes the careful review, exploration, and adjustment of policies, practices, and systems in the following key areas:
Social distancing has two main components:
- Keeping individuals at a safe distance from one another
- To support students returning to in person learning, social distancing is a mitigation factor to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Minimizing the number of face-to-face interactions.
Examples of how we are planning to implement this include:
- Markings and signage will be posted to ensure that students and employees remain apart when waiting to enter the building, standing in line for elevators, walking in hallways, etc.
- Adjustments will be made to seating and desks, when necessary, to allow for employees to maintain distancing when completing work.
- In-person class size will be reduced and adjustments to seating will be made in support of social distancing practices when feasible.
- Large group settings will be eliminated or reduced when feasible.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hygiene Practices
The District will require the use of personal protective equipment for students and employees when in school buildings. This includes the use of items such as face coverings and hand sanitizer. Additional guidance will be provided regarding the specific PPE needed, as well as the process for exceptions due to underlying health conditions. All PPE will be provided jointly between the school district and community.
Key points about PPE and hygiene include:
- All students and employees will be required to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times.
- The school district will establish a process for exceptions if a student or employee has an underlying health condition.
- Daily cleaning protocols will be established to ensure that workplaces, workstations, equipment, and facilities are clean.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be installed in common areas and regular hand hygiene will be encouraged throughout the day.
- Click here for an article and video on helping children understand the importance of wearing face masks.
Monitoring and Excluding for Illness
Regular screening for symptoms and ongoing self-monitoring at home and throughout the school day can help quickly identify the signs of illness and help reduce exposure. Staff and students should be encouraged to self-monitor symptoms. Staff or students who develop symptoms must notify school health services or another identified point of contact in the school building immediately.
Suspected/Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
We will follow the guidance of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) in our response to a positive diagnosis. If we receive confirmation that a student or employee has had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, prompt action will be taken by Des Moines Public Schools by contacting the Iowa Department of Public Health and following their directions regarding possible quarantine (or isolation), contact tracing, communication to families and or with the media, and facility disinfection.
Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Health’s immunization requirements for the 2020-2021 school years remain in place.
Health and Safety Training
We acknowledge that “return anxiety” exists for many members of our school community. Our students, educators, and support staff all need to feel safe and supported to learn, teach, and work. Our intent is to foster a sense of safety and confidence by ensuring they have the resources necessary to return to work and school. This means taking active steps to develop and launch comprehensive training and resources, so students and employees know what to expect as we restart school and work. All students and employees will participate in training to support the use of health and safety measures. Training will also be offered to parents/guardians.