COVID-19 FAQs

Last update: 8/19/21

POSITIVE CASES AND QUARANTINE

 

Who should I notify if my child tests positive for COVID-19?
Notify your student’s principal as soon as you receive a positive test so that we can immediately begin the process of contact tracing.

If a student or teacher becomes infected, what is the plan for those potentially exposed?
The District will continue to work with the St. Charles County Department of Public Health, providing contact-tracing information for cases and school-related exposures. Parents will be notified by FHSD when their child has been in close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with a positive case. Under the SCCDPH’s current quarantine protocols, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine following exposure. Students or staff who are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 are not allowed to attend school. View the "Who Needs to Quarantine" document for more information.

How can my child avoid quarantines during the school year?
The St. Charles County Department of Public Health’s current quarantine guidelines allow an exemption for fully vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19. Children who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can avoid quarantine during the school year, as long as they are not showing symptoms. In addition, masks can help students avoid quarantine or qualify for Modified Quarantine.

Modified Quarantine applies to mask exposures that happen in the school setting at a distance of 0-3 feet. Modified Quarantine allows a close contact to continue attending school as long as both parties were correctly wearing masks at the time of exposure. The close contact must continue to wear a mask during the quarantine period and cannot participate in sports or extracurricular activities until their quarantine is completed. 

FHSD will also follow the 
CDC exception for masked exposures that happen in the school setting at a distance of 3-6 feet. The CDC exception allows a close contact to avoid quarantine altogether as long as both parties were at least 3 feet apart and properly masked at the time of exposure. SCCDPH expanded the CDC exception to include staff as well as students.

If my child is in close contact with a COVID-positive individual at school, are they eligible for modified quarantine?
Possibly. If both the positive case and the close contact were properly wearing masks during the exposure, the close contact would qualify for modified quarantine. Modified quarantine allows the close contact to continue attending school / working at school as long as they remain symptom free. However, students on modified quarantine are not able to participate in extracurricular sports or activities during the quarantine period. In addition, FHSD will utilize the CDC exception for masked exposures in the school setting. This allows individuals in close contact with a positive case to avoid quarantine altogether if both parties were at least 3 feet apart and masked at the time of exposure.

How long is a standard quarantine? Is a shortened 7- or 10-day quarantine still possible?
Yes. Close contacts are allowed to complete a reduced quarantine period under the following circumstances:

  • No symptoms: Quarantine will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days following the last day of exposure if the individual remains completely symptom free through and including the 10th day of quarantine.
  • No symptoms, plus negative test: Quarantine will be reduced from 14 days to 7 days following the last day of exposure if the individual remains symptom free for 7 days after exposure AND receives a negative COVID-19 test result from a medical provider (PCR test preferred), which was collected on or after the 5th day following the exposure. 

 

What if a student or staff member develops symptoms after exposure to a positive case?
He or she should notify the school nurse or building administrator immediately, and then go home/remain home for a minimum of 10 days. The individual will be considered a probable case and must follow isolation instructions

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Please check your student(s) daily before sending them to school for the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills (Fever of 100 degrees or higher); New cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches that are not related to other causes
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Active vomiting or diarrhea

If your student has any of the above symptoms, please keep them home and call your healthcare provider. This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update the list as we learn more about COVID-19. Please check the CDC website for the most up-to-date symptoms.

 

My child has a symptom that is sometimes associated with COVID-19. What should I do?
If your child has any COVID-like symptoms, you must keep them home. Symptoms include: fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new less of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; and diarrhea. They must be symptom free for 24 hours without medication before they can return to school.

 

How will I be notified if my child is in contact with a COVID-positive individual at school?
Students identified as close contacts will be notified by a school or District administrator. 

 

Will absences related to COVID-19 be penalized?
COVID-related absences are considered excused absences. While attendance is always tracked, we will not be celebrating or penalizing students for attendance. If families have any questions about attendance, they should contact their child’s school.


How will my student keep up with schoolwork while quarantined?
Teachers will make arrangements to ensure that students who must miss school can continue their learning if they are out for an extended period of time. This information would be shared out via Google Classroom or Canvas, depending on a student’s grade level. Students will be trained on these platforms and they will be used during in-person instruction to allow for an easier transition should a student need to use one during an absence or virtual instruction.

 

How will I know when my child can return to school?
Families will receive an approximate date of return from the school when they are contacted. This will be followed up by an email from the SCCDPH. The email address SCCDPH will use is the family primary email address in Infinite Campus.

 

MASKS

Are masks required for students and staff?
Since our youngest learners are not yet eligible for vaccination, masks will be required for students in Pre-K through 6th grade while indoors, except while eating. Masks will also be required for staff working with students in Pre-K through 6th grade when social distancing of 6 feet is not possible. Due to a  federal order that mandates face coverings on public transit, masks will be required for all students on school buses, regardless of age or vaccination status. Masks are strongly encouraged for adults and students in 7th-12th grades when indoors while the level of community spread is high. Masks are optional for all students and staff while outdoors.


What will happen if a student doesn’t wear a mask as required?
Staff will follow the Code of Student Conduct as it relates to dress code violations for students refusing to wear a mask. The situation will be addressed based on the nature of the refusal or if there is another reason the student does not have on a mask at the time.


My child cannot wear a mask. Who do I speak with about a mask exemption?
If there is a medical reason a student is unable to wear a mask, families will work with the school nurse and administration as necessary to determine appropriate accommodations for the student's medical needs.

 

Does wearing a mask exempt you from being quarantined if you were in close contact?
Yes, depending on distance. The CDC offers an exception for masked student exposures in the school setting that are at least 3 feet apart. If the close contact and COVID-19 positive individual are both consistently wearing masks within 3 to 6 feet, the exposed student can avoid quarantine and continue coming to school. They should monitor their symptoms for 14 days and stay home if sick. The SCCDPH expanded the CDC exception to include staff as well as students.

Close contacts may also qualify for Modified Quarantine, which applies to mask exposures that happen in the school setting at a distance of 0-3 feet. Modified Quarantine allows a close contact to continue attending school as long as both parties were correctly wearing masks at the time of exposure. The close contact must continue to wear a mask during the quarantine period and cannot participate in sports or extracurricular activities until their quarantine is completed. 


Will students be allowed mask breaks?
Students in grades PreK-6th are allowed to remove their masks outdoors and while actively eating and drinking. Brass and woodwind players may remove their masks while playing their instruments. Teachers may allow students to temporarily remove their masks indoors for short periods of time when 6 feet of distance can be maintained. 

 

Do students need to wear a mask on the bus?
Due to a federal order, all students must wear a mask on the school bus. Students will not be allowed to board the bus without a mask. Bus drivers will have a limited supply of disposable masks on hand for emergencies. Bus drivers must wear a mask during loading/unloading and when students are seated in the first row. To ensure safe transportation, bus drivers may remove their mask temporarily while driving to avoid fogging of glasses and sight interference.

 

OTHER MITIGATION PROTOCOLS

 

Are there additional protocols in place to reduce the risk of transmission at school?
Yes. In addition to required masking for students who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, all schools will work to maintain social distancing of at least 3 feet whenever possible. Students will be provided assigned seats in situations where close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) may occur, including on the bus and in all instructional areas. This will allow the District to accurately contact-trace to identify exposed students or staff who may need to quarantine. School leaders will continue to require that individuals who are sick remain home and will encourage frequent handwashing and other healthy habits designed to reduce the spread of disease. 

 

What is the threshold for requiring masks or closing a building?
District and school administrators are carefully monitoring the COVID situation and will make appropriate adjustments to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. We monitor transmission rates in our county and region, paying special attention to positivity rates among school age children. We also track positive cases and quarantines in all school buildings. When a positive case is identified, we work through our contact-tracing process to identify and notify those in close contact. We also interview the positive individual and/or their family to determine the likely source of transmission. If we see multiple connected cases in a particular classroom, school, or sport/activity, we will consider temporarily requiring masks in that area to limit further spread of the virus. We will be prepared to temporarily close a building and switch to remote learning due to staffing shortages (if multiple teachers are quarantined and unable to teach) or if a large number of students are absent for a period of time due to illness or quarantine. 

 

How will students and staff physically distance at school?
We will take steps to promote physical distancing in our school buildings, although we cannot guarantee that students will be six-feet apart at all times. Physical distancing will look a little different at each school, due to the difference in the spaces, and it could include:

  • Rearranging furniture and equipment to allow students to be spaced farther apart
  • Staggering the use of common spaces, including the cafeteria, playground, and other areas
  • Physically distance while in line for restrooms, waiting for breakfast or lunch, or moving within the building
  • Adjusting recess and lunch schedules allowing for more periods with fewer students and to allow for more cleaning and disinfection
  • Modifying passing periods
  • Creating hallway and stairwell traffic patterns that have students moving in the same direction
  • Changing arrival and dismissal procedures
  • All students will have assigned seats in classrooms


Will students and staff be screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Families and staff should self-screen for illness/COVID symptoms before coming to school and work each day:

  • Fever (100⁰ F or greater)
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of taste or smell

If students or staff experience any of the above symptoms they will be required to stay home until symptom free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Students and staff must stay home if sick. All students and employees must stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive, or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 within the last 14 days and do not qualify for the vaccination exemption or other exemption. (See Quarantine section for more information).

 

VACCINE

Is my child required to have the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school
No. Vaccination requirements are made at the state level. The state of Missouri has a statute for compulsory vaccinations and potential exemptions. The Department of Health and Senior Services has regulations that further define these requirements and provide guidance to local officials. No decisions are made at the local level for vaccinations. That said, being fully vaccinated may help your child avoid quarantine. 

 

How do I prove that my child is vaccinated against COVID-19?
Families are not required to provide the District with documentation that their child has been vaccinated. If your child is identified as a close contact of a positive case, and you indicate your child has been vaccinated, that information is confirmed with the SCCDPH, who will then confirm vaccination status with the state. SCCDPH requires that close contacts go home / stay home until vaccination status can be confirmed. To avoid this delay, parents may wish to provide their child’s school nurse with a copy of the student’s  vaccination card at the start of the school year; it will be uploaded to the District’s HealthMaster student record system and be accessible only by school nurses and other staff on a need-to-know basis. 

 

GENERAL

 

Are there any alternative options available this year for those not wanting to do in-person learning?
Yes. The District will continue to offer a virtual learning option for the 2021-22 school year. However, due to the small number of families electing the virtual option, all virtual students will be placed with an external course vendor (most are placed with LAUNCH, a program of the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program, or MOCAP). This means the virtual experience this year will be different than last. Most courses are taught asynchronously and are not live courses. Families who want to enroll their child in virtual learning should contact an administrator at the school they attend to discuss options and next steps.

 

How can I monitor the COVID situation in my child’s school?
The COVID-19 dashboard will be updated every Friday that school is in session, beginning August 27.

 

How can I contact the St. Charles County Health Department?
The St. Charles County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The hotline number is 636.949.1899.

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