Return to In-Person plans for 2021-2022
Since March 2020, Alexander County Schools has been faced with challenges unprecedented in its history. The COVID-19 pandemic has made every educational institution re-examine how it delivers instruction and how it cares for its community. The federal government has made available additional funds for school systems through the CARES ACT, ESSER I, II, and III. Alexander County School leaders have worked together to create an integrated response to the impact of COVID on the educational, social, emotional, and health experiences of our students, staff, and community.
The plans are ever-evolving, with a focus on people-students, staff, and families.
On Sept 17, 2020, Governor Cooper announced that the State would allow schools to expand options for in-person instruction to include Plan A (minimal social distancing) for all K-5 students beginning Oct. 5, 2020. Schools could also choose a more restrictive Plan B (moderate social distancing) or Plan C (remote learning only) model. 6-12th grade students had the option of Plan B, or C only. At that time ACS chose to implement a Plan B hybrid model for all students. Elementary students attended school 4 days a week, with Wednesday's operating as a cleaning and sanitization day for schools. Grades 6-12 operated 4 days a week on an A/B day schedule using Wednesdays for cleaning and sanitizing. ACS operated under this plan for the entire school year 2020-21.
The new 2021-2022 school year began August 23, 2021, with updated guidance on COVID-19 from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The new Toolkit provided greater flexibility in implementing layered prevention strategies based on COVID-19 trends and updated CDC guidance. ACS leaders worked with the Alexander County Health Department to make plans for the new year. All eleven schools in Alexander County began the year operating on a regular school schedule. District leaders reviewed information from the Toolkit and CDC guidance to help make decisions regarding instructional delivery methods, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, school nutrition/meal delivery procedures, transportation, visitors on campus, COVID-19 screenings, quarantine requirements and contract tracing.
We have put together a list of frequently asked questions as we begin the 2021-2022 school year.
What will the instructional delivery look like for students this year?
School is returning to in-person learning. All Alexander County Schools will operate on a regular calendar, operating 5 days a week.
Free Breakfast and lunch for every child will be offered all of the 2021-2022 school year.
If your child is in isolation and/or quarantine, a family member who is well is welcome to pick up breakfast and lunch for that child from any school. They just need to drive up to the school and tell the cafeteria staff the student’s name and lunch number.
Will there be virtual learning?
Applications for Virtual Academy for students grades K-8 were accepted through early August. The academy is currently not enrolling students. Please contact your school Principal if you have further questions about VA.
What are the social distancing requirements for this school year?
Students should stay at least 3 feet apart to the greatest extent possible without excluding students from full-time, in-person learning. This includes the classroom, the cafeteria, and playgrounds to the fullest extent possible.
What are the social distancing guidelines for staff and adults? According to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, a distance of 6 feet should be maintained between adults and students or between adult to adult when not fully vaccinated within school settings to the greatest extent possible.
Will my child have to wear a face covering (mask)?
Mask will be required when the number of positive cases in the school system is greater than 20 for a three-week rolling average. (Policy effective 10.12.2021)
Will my child be required to wear a face covering on the bus?
A federal order issued by the CDC currently requires face masks on public school buses unless a mask waiver is on file with the school. In addition to school buses, this order applies to all public transportation (airplanes, trains, subways, taxis, etc.).
Will there be COVID-19 health screenings?
No, but please do not send your child to school if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever or chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
Do not enter an ACS facility if you have been instructed to quarantine.
When can students return to school?
Students who are not feeling well but do not have one of the COVID-19 symptoms listed above may return to school 24 hours after they have a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine) AND they have felt well for 24 hours.
Will visitors be allowed on campus?
Only essential visitors will be allowed on school campuses in an effort to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Visitors sill be required to strictly follow all health measures.
Please explain COVID-19 reporting and contract tracing?
Even with thorough measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on school campuses, anyone in the community could be exposed to the virus through everyday interactions on campus or off-campus. To assist with maintaining a healthy school community, we ask students,, employees, and visitors to notify your school as soon as possible if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
ACS is required to report cases of COVID-19 to Alexander County Health Dept. and work with them to conduct contact tracing, which will determine who, if anyone, will need to quarantine. Only individuals who had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to quarantine. The health dept. And ACS will work together to ensure that individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 are notified.
Is there a vaccine mandate for students? No
Is there a vaccine mandate for staff? Not at this time.
Will students be allowed to use water fountains at the schools?
Because of COVID-19, students are not allowed to drink directly from the water fountain. Students may bring a refillable water bottle for the bottling station.