FAQs Index

COVID-19 Protocols, Precautions & Notifications

1. What happens if a student or staff member on my home campus tests positive for COVID-19?

If and when a lab-confirmed positive case is identified in any RISD school or facility, RISD Health Services works to conduct contact tracing for the purpose of identifying other people who came into close contact with the person testing positive, if any. In those instances, each staff member or parent of a student considered to be a close contact with a positive case will be immediately contacted by RISD staff with quarantine information and direction for exclusion from in-person activities. Students and staff who are excluded from in-person instruction for quarantine purposes will transition to virtual instruction for the length of the quarantine. Due to privacy requirements, RISD cannot publicly release the name of any individuals with lab-confirmed cases or specific details that may identify him or her. It is important to remember that RISD’s extensive health and distancing protocols are designed to minimize the close contact risk to other students and employees in the event of a positive case.

Each situation involving a reported positive case is investigated separately and quarantine decisions are made based on CDC guidelines. If RISD employees or parents of students are not contacted directly by RISD with notification of identification as a close contact, then they may continue with school and work activities under the standard health and distancing protocols that apply to all students and staff. RISD Health Services and leadership will consult with Dallas County Health to evaluate positive cases in a school to determine if temporary classroom or school closure is recommended. In addition, if the number of absent/quarantined staff at a school approaches a point where the school is unable to operate effectively and safely, RISD will consider temporary closure of face to face activities. In the event of a temporary classroom or school closure, all impacted students and staff would shift to virtual learning for the length of the closure.

As a general practice, all parents should evaluate their students each day for symptoms of COVID-19 and not send a child to school if they are experiencing any of these symptoms in a way that is not normal for them:

  • Feeling feverish, or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees 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 any member of a school community does begin experiencing any of these symptoms in a way that is not typical, do not come to school or work, notify the school nurse or your supervisor, and consider contacting your medical provider.

2. How are parents and employees notified about positive cases of COVID-19 in a school?

The district maintains the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal, which is updated multiple times daily with the latest positive case information sorted by school and work location.

RISD will also email a general notification to parents and employees of a school in which a new positive case of COVID-19 is identified within the face to face school setting. The general notification email will be sent after contact tracing has occurred and all employees or students directly impacted by the positive case have been individually and directly notified by RISD Health Services staff with quarantine information and next steps. Note that general notifications are not sent if a positive case is virtual student, if a case is not active, or if a case occurs while school is not in session over a holiday break.

3. For parents with students at multiple schools – how can they find out which school is referred to in the notification?

Parents should click on the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal link to see all active cases at a given time for every RISD school. The link is included in the message and can be found at: https://student.risd.org/pub/c19

4. Why do parents of virtual students receive the general notification?

Dr. Stone has directed that all RISD parents should receive general notifications for the purpose of transparency. Virtual parents may find the information in the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal to be useful as they consider changing their instructional choice in advance of each new grading period.

5. Does receiving the general notification message mean that an employee or a student needs to quarantine?

No, it is a general notification message sent to all parents and employees at a school with a positive case, and serves as a prompt for those interested in more information to check the notification portal. Any employee or the parents of any student who is directly impacted by a positive case would already have been contacted by RISD Health Services with quarantine information and next steps prior to the general notification being sent.

6. Is RISD’s Positive COVID-19 Case Notification Portal Updated Every day? Why does the data not match up some other websites that report positive cases in schools?

The RISD Positive COVID-19 Case Notification Portal is updated multiple times each school day (it includes an updated date/time stamp). It is not updated on RISD holidays. RISD Health Services and Dallas County Health and Human Services are the only entities that confirm positive cases within RISD. Other websites have been that are being developed to report positive school case data either periodically pull the data from RISD’s website or in some instances report unverified information provided by any person who chooses to make a report. No public or private website or entity has access to more up to date verified case data within RISD because RISD Health Services is the source of the data.

As the only formal source of the data that is updated daily, RISD’s Positive COVID-19 Case Notification Portal will always provide the most up to date data on active cases. The reason that data on other websites may not match RISD’s current data is that other websites may not update their data taken from RISD’s website as frequently as RISD’s website is updated. For example, the state of Texas website that reports positive case data for school districts updates its data weekly based on reports that RISD provides. As a result, state data will always be less up to date than RISD’s notification portal and therefore may not match.

7. What is the process that RISD follows that results in a positive case being reported on the RISD Positive COVID-19 Case Notification Portal? When are cases no longer considered active in the portal?

RISD Health Services processes all positive COVID-19 case reports within RISD. Positive case reports can come to RISD from parents, students, employees, relatives, healthcare providers or Dallas County Health and Human Services. In the event of a positive report, RISD Health Services staff immediately contact the person reported to have tested positive (or their parent/guardian) to confirm the report and then immediately begins conducting a contact tracing investigation related to in-person school activities. The goal of each contact tracing investigation is to identify any people who came into close, prolonged contact with the positive case during the period that the positive case could have been contagious. The definition of close contact used is the CDC definition, as recommended by the CDC and the Dallas County Health Dept. If close contacts are identified, they are contacted individually by Health Services staff with instructions to quarantine and are excluded from in-person RISD activities throughout the quarantine period. Simultaneously, Health Service staff report cases to Dallas County Health and Human Services as required, which may conduct its own contact tracing investigation to identify any close contacts outside of RISD-specific activities (for example youth sports or social activities outside of school).

Once close contacts have been identified and contacted, the final step is to add the positive case to RISD’s student or staff database (as appropriate), which is the source of data for the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal.

A positive case is considered active for the period of time that the positive case is considered potentially contagious under CDC guidelines, and therefore unable to participate in any in-person RISD activities. Once a positive case is able to return to work/school under CDC guidelines, it will no longer appear as an active case in the notification portal, but will continue to appear under the column of cumulative cases since the school year began.

8. How do quarantines work? Why are some students in a classroom asked to not come to school for two weeks? Does this mean they have tested positive for COVID-19?

RISD’s health and distancing protocols are designed to both keep the virus out of school and also limit the impact that the virus has if someone in a school tests positive. One of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus, and to keep individual cases from becoming multiple cases or an outbreak, is through quarantining.

As part of every positive case, RISD Health Services staff conducts a contact tracing investigation to identify if any other people may have come into close contact with the positive person during the period that the person could have been contagious under CDC guidelines. This often results in students and/or staff being directed to quarantine for up to 10-14 days from the date of exposure, which means they are excluded from in-person school or activities and shift to remote teaching or learning until they can return. Fourteen days is the time that the CDC indicates a person could develop COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus, so keeping people who have been identified as potentially exposed as a close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) away from in-person activities for up to that period is an effective way of limiting the spread of a positive case.

Students or staff excluded from in-person school activities due to quarantine as a close contact to a positive case have not tested positive for COVID-19 and those quarantines are precautionary. So for example, if 10 students in a classroom or a school are quarantined because a contact tracing investigation determined they likely came into close contact with a positive case, they will remain out of school for up to 10-14 days, but they have not tested positive and would not appear as confirmed positive cases on the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal. While a person is on quarantine, they can participate in teaching and learning remotely until they can return to in-person activities under the CDC and Dallas County health authority options.

RISD Health Services staff (who are professional registered nurses) have been trained in conducting contact tracing and are very aware of CDC recommendations and protocols. If there is any doubt whether a person is or is not a close contact of a positive case in a school under CDC guidelines, Health Services errs on the side of caution and directs that person to quarantine. RISD knows it can be difficult and/or inconvenient for a student or staff member to quarantine, but please understand that quarantines are a critical precaution taken after a thorough contact tracing investigation, and along with the universal mask requirement is a primary reason that RISD has been able to significantly limit the spread of individual positive cases in schools and classrooms so far in the pandemic.

9. If someone experiences any COVID symptoms, do they need to quarantine? Does it mean they have COVID-19? How soon can they return to in-person school?

Only a confirmed positive test means a person is confirmed to have COVID-19. If any student or staff member experiences new or worsening COVID symptoms, they should not come to school and report their symptoms to their campus nurse. The nurse may direct that person to self-quarantine for 10 days since the symptoms began. If the symptoms are known or common to a person as associated with a non-COVID condition (for example seasonal allergies that a person knows causes them to get a sore throat or congestion), parents and staff are still asked to talk with the school nurse about their specific situation.

People who are symptomatic may be able to return (with approval from the campus nurse) sooner than 10 days if their symptoms have improved and they are able to share a negative PCR COVID test result after their symptoms have improved. Note that many “rapid” tests are not PCR tests – check with your healthcare provider to be sure. A return to school or work due to a negative test must be approved by RISD Health Services. 

The most important overall aspect of the quarantining process is that people who may be contagious with the virus are not put in a situation where they can expose other people at school. Since people can be contagious for up to 48 hours before they begin feeling symptoms or test positive, the process is designed to quarantine every person who could be contagious. In most situations, a person who quarantines may not experience any symptoms at all and not have COVID-19, but taking the precaution is what helps keep individual cases from becoming outbreaks within our schools.

10. Is RISD adopting any of the updated CDC Options for shortening the quarantine period of exposed people who are asymptomatic?

Yes. In early December, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) issued updated options for people who are quarantined after exposure to a positive case of COVID-19. The updated federal guidelines include direction to seek guidance from local public health authorities, and RISD has consulted with Dallas County Health and Human Services. As a result, RISD is implementing new additional quarantine options for students/staff identified as exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 while participating in an in-person school activity. The new quarantine options apply to people who have been exposed, but are not symptomatic or have not tested positive.

Applying the updated CDC options and based on direction from our local Dallas County public health authority, RISD is implementing the following two new options:

  • For exposed students and staff without symptoms, quarantine can end after completion of 10 quarantine days. Students and staff would be able to return to school/work on day 11 after exposure. This new option provides a shortened quarantine period from the 14 quarantine days that RISD has utilized so far during the pandemic.
  • School district employees may choose to return to work after completion of 7 quarantine days provided they meet the required criteria. The guidance from the Dallas County health authority is clear that this option should only be available to employees, in their role as essential workers. The criteria required for employees to choose this option include:
    • No COVID-19 symptoms at all during the first seven days of quarantine
    • Employees receive a negative PCR test (not rapid antigen) result that was administered between days 5-7 from the date of exposure

Every person who returns to school/work under a revised quarantine option must continue diligent daily symptom monitoring through day 14, strictly adhere to RISD’s social distancing and infection mitigation strategies, not attend an in-person school activity is symptoms develop and immediately report any symptoms to the school nurse (parents/students) or their supervisor (employees).

These updated quarantine options for exposed, asymptomatic people are optional. The CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine as the most cautious approach if a person has been in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19 since the disease has an incubation period up to 14 days. Accordingly, under the updated guidelines, RISD parents and employees may choose for their quarantine period to remain at 14 days if desired.

More information about RISD’s response to the pandemic is available on the COVID-19 Information site.

11. I’d like more information about who tested positive at my school and the number of quarantines. Can the school tell me the name of the positive case or their grade level and who or how many students are quarantining?

RISD Health Services conducts a contact tracing investigation into each positive case, and they will directly call and email the parents of every student (or/and employees if appropriate) who they determine have been a close contact of a positive case, and direct them to quarantine. They are trained in conducting contact tracing investigations, and if they are ever unsure in a situation, will err on the side of caution when directing quarantines and exclusion from in-person school. So by the time a parent or staff member receives a general notification message, people who are directly impacted by a positive case would already have been contacted directly.

With that said, an important aspect of sharing information about a positive case is to protect the identity of the person who tests positive, which RISD is required to do as a school district. Part of maintaining that confidentiality includes not sharing the grade level (if any) of a positive case (unless it is necessary to conduct the contact tracing investigation) because in some cases that information can make it very easy to identify the person who has tested positive. In addition, sharing quarantine information can easily allow a person to be identified in some instances. Information about students or staff who have been directed to quarantine as potentially exposed to a positive case, and/or who are self-quarantining as symptomatic is not published for two reasons. In some cases it can lead to the personal identity of a positive case; and the accurate number of people absent from school due to a decision to self-quarantine is very difficult to track in an ongoing way, as reasons for absences are not always provided, and when they are it’s often after a student’s return to school.

If a contact tracing investigation specifically impacts a classroom in a way that significantly changes the classroom environment for a child (for example, if the child’s teacher may temporarily shift to teaching from home over their computer, or if a large number of a child’s classmates may have to temporarily shift to learning from home), then parents in that class may receive a separate communication from the school alerting them to those changes.

Every RISD parent is asked to assess their child for symptoms and encouraged to complete the online student health screener each day, regardless of whether their school currently has any active cases. We understand it’s natural for parents to want to know additional information about a positive case, but no level of additional information should impact a parent’s behavior or level of diligence related to their own child.

Part of RISD’s charge and challenge in operating in-person school during the pandemic is to balance transparency with confidentiality. The contact tracing and quarantine processes in place have directly contributed to preventing or mitigating outbreaks and spread within RISD schools, and while the quarantine process is not always convenient, parents, students and staff can have confidence that the measures have proven effective through the first portion of the school year.

12. Is RISD planning to close any schools or move to 100% virtual instruction?

The district has no current plans to move to 100% remote instruction. RISD families may continue to choose from in-person instruction or remote instruction, with the ability to change their choice each grading period. This practice affords families the opportunities to make a decision that they feel is best for their family and situation during the pandemic.

The effects of identified positive cases associated with a school have been mitigated through the variety of CDC, Texas Education Agency and Dallas County Health and Human Services health, distancing, and quarantine protocols and guidelines that RISD has in place.

The Texas Education Agency requires school districts to offer an in-person instructional option five days a week to families that request it, unless a local health department order prevents it. There is not a local health department order directing RISD schools, or schools in Dallas county, to offer virtual-only instruction at this time. RISD will comply with a valid school closure order if conditions in Dallas County lead Dallas County Health and Human Services to issue such an order.

If an individual RISD school reaches a point where it cannot effectively and safely provide face-to-face instruction due to an outbreak of positive cases or accumulated quarantines, RISD will consult with DCHHS to temporarily cease face-to-face instruction and operations at that school. Fortunately, no campus in RISD has yet reached that point.

Dr. Stone has carefully evaluated health recommendations for Dallas County overall when making decisions for RISD as the northernmost school district in Dallas County. One of the metrics the district tracks is the number of active cases within RISD boundaries as compared to active cases in other parts of Dallas County where cases consistently have been more prevalent to this point in the pandemic. Recommendations made for the entirety of Dallas County typically have been based on the entirety of data, metrics, and conditions within all of Dallas County. The majority of RISD’s boundaries have not aligned with the areas of Dallas County where community spread and active cases are at a higher level. That difference in alignment has been one factor in RISD’s decisions thus far. 

There are parents, staff, and other stakeholders with a wide variety of opinions on all sides of how school districts should operate in what is an unpresented time. RISD will continue to attempt to balance the conflicting requests from all stakeholders with requirements from the state of Texas and requirements from health authorities as it makes decisions.

13. Will RISD provide personal protection equipment for students and staff?

RISD will provide every student and staff member with a face covering, or families can provide their own covering if they prefer. It is a universal expectation that all students and adults wear face coverings while at school, when possible and appropriate. Students in grades 3-12 and all adults must wear a face covering throughout in-person instruction (except while eating/drinking/exercising). Students in grades PK-2 must wear face coverings while moving within the school and will be strongly encouraged and reminded to wear face coverings while in class as possible and appropriate.

Students and staff should take their face coverings home with them each day and return with it the next day. Students who arrive at school without a mask or face shield will be provided a replacement, but personal responsibility must be considered as the district’s PPE supply is well-stocked but not inexhaustible. No adults will be permitted inside an RISD school without a face covering.

More specific policies and procedures regarding face coverings can be found here.

14. What types of masks are acceptable and recommended for students and staff, and why?

All students and staff are expected to wear a cloth face covering when on RISD campuses or at RISD events.  The information below outlines the benefits and risks associated with alternatives.  

Evidence for Effectiveness of Masks

Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. CDC’s recommendations for masks will be updated as new scientific evidence becomes available. See additional information supporting the effectiveness of face coverings.

When choosing a mask, look for masks made with at least 2 layers of fabric. It should cover your nose and mouth without large gaps. The mask should have ear loops or ties so you can adjust it. For people who wear glasses, look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging. Professional masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines caring for patients. The denser the fibers of a material, the better it is at filtering. That’s why higher thread counts lead to higher efficacy. For this reason, bandanas, neck gaiters, and fleeces are highly discouraged.     

Best Practices for K-12 Educational Setting:

  • CDC and AAP recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering when around people who don’t live in the same household, especially when social distancing (staying at least 6 feet from others who are not from your household) is difficult to maintain.

  • See CDC Table: Additional Considerations for Use of Cloth Face Coverings in K12 School

  • Texas requires all individuals age 10 years or older to wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) “wherever it is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.” (Governor’s Executive Order GA-29)

  • Have students wear face masks as much as possible, especially when in hallways or bathrooms or in proximity to students from other classes (HSPH p.7, 25). Children who ride the bus are recommended to wear their mask on the bus and follow any spaced seating rules. If carpooling, the driver and every child in a carpool is recommended to wear a mask for the entire trip. (CDC)

  • Ensure masks meet effectiveness criteria in materials, and fit snugly over the nose bridge, mouth and chin. (CDC, WHO, Stanford Medicine, HSPH p. 7, 26).

    • Masks or respirators with exhalation valves are not recommended, since they are not effective as source control and decrease protection of persons around the wearer. (CDC)

    • Gaiter type neck fleece are not advised as face coverings for COVID-19 prevention, as there is evidence they offer little protection, and may increase transmission and dispersion of small droplets. (Science Advances 8/2020)

  • Establish/reinforce a culture of health, safety and shared responsibility. Prior to school opening, train all students and staff on how to choose, correctly wear, care for, clean or discard, and store their masks (CDC, HSPH p. 7, 26).

  • “Mask Breaks”: Build in time throughout the day where students and staff can safely take a break from their masks to avoid ‘mask fatigue’ and to encourage compliance. For example, during time spent outside when distancing can be maintained. (HSPH p 7, 26).

  • Masks should be stored in a space designated for each student that is separate from others when not being worn. Have additional back-up masks in case needed during the day. (CDC, HSPH p26).

  • CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings

Face Shields

  • A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

  • However, wearing a mask may not be feasible in every situation for some people for example, people who are deaf or hard of hearing—or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired. Here are some considerations for individuals who must wear a face shield instead of a mask:

    • Although evidence on face shields is limited, the available data suggest that the following face shields may provide better source control than others:

      • Face shields that wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin.

      • Hooded face shields.

    • Face shield wearers should wash their hands before and after removing the face shield and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth when removing it.


CDC (2020, June 28). Use of Masks to Help Slow the Spread of Covid-19. Retrieved August 11, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2020, July 2). Coronavirus Face Masks and Protection FAQs. Retrieved August 11, 2020 from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-face-masks-what-you-need-to-know

Dallas County Health Department (2020, August). Masking Guidance for Schools from the Public Health and Educations Ad Hoc Committee. Retrieved August 17, 2020 from https://www.dallascounty.org/Assets/uploads/docs/covid-19/public-health/Mask-Guidance-PublicHealthandEducation-AdHoc-August-081120.pdf

15. What is the definition of close contact?

Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. *Individual exposures added together over a 24 hour period (e.g. three 5 minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

16. What is the definition of quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it is safe to be around others.  At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room,” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).

17. If my child has a history of a positive COVID-19 result, are they exempt from being placed into quarantine if they are exposed in the future?

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months (90 days) and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. The campus must receive a copy the positive result. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

18. If my child is exposed to a positive person, can my child take a test on days 5-7, like the CDC states, and return to school on day 8?

The CDC introduced options to reduce quarantine times that are subject to local health authorities. Dallas County HHS only allows critical infrastructure workforce personnel to qualify for this option.  Therefore, students may not test out of quarantine. RISD has implemented shortened quarantine guidelines for students based on updated CDC recommendations (from 14 days to 10 days).

19. Someone in my home is positive with COVID-19, how long does the rest of my household need to quarantine?

When someone in a household is positive for COVID-19 they are continually exposing everyone in the home for the entire 10 days of their isolation. If the positive person is unable to completely isolate (they have their own bedroom, own bathroom, do not come into shared spaces/kitchen), then the rest of the household occupants will not start their quarantine until the positive person’s first day out of isolation.  The  rest of the household should be quarantined for the 10 days of the positive person’s isolation, plus the 10-14 days of their own quarantine (up to 20-24 days).


20. Can I send my child’s positive antibody result to prove that my child has had COVID-19 so they do not have to be quarantined?

No, currently, antibody tests are simply a tool for doctors to use and evaluate.  Antibody tests are not valid to confirm history of COVID-19.  The CDC continues to release new information on this topic and RISD will continue to monitor.


21. Can my child come to school with a pending COVID test?

No. No matter the reason for testing (just curious, having surgery, symptoms) all students and staff must remain home until test results are available.

22. Can a Positive COVID-19 result be ruled as a false positive if I have differing results?

Yes, however, a false positive is only approved when a person with a positive antigen test takes a PCR test within 24 hours, using a different swab (specimen), and receives a negative PCR result.  Both results will have to be provided to the campus nurse for approval.

23. Are parts of RISD located outside of Dallas County? Is RISD required to comply with orders or recommendations from Dallas County?

All RISD schools and all of RISD’s attendance boundaries are located within Dallas County. Dallas County Health and Human Services is RISD’s county public health authority and has provided valuable guidance, expertise, resources and recommendations to the district throughout the pandemic. RISD carefully considers DCHHS guidance related to the safety of our employees and students. RISD has utilized DCHHS data to develop COVID case data specific to RISD zip codes, that is one factor that helps guide RISD decisions and determine if and how case data within RISD boundaries may differ from overall Dallas County data. DCHHS has the ability to order the closure of in-person school activities if the pandemic situation in Dallas County leads them to determine that is a necessary course of action to protect the public health. If any RISD schools were subject to such an order, RISD would comply. 

24. What chemicals/disinfectants are being used in RISD schools, and how often are they being used?

Richardson ISD uses 13 different disinfectants to clean buildings. During the pandemic RISD will continue to use the same disinfectants that have been used for the last several years. All of the chemicals/disinfectants that RISD uses are EPA approved to be used in schools around children and adults.

Below is the list of the chemicals/disinfectants:

Each day at RISD campuses, the custodial staff will be using Virex II to wipe down high touch areas on the hour throughout the day. Once the school day is over, an electrostatic backpack sprayer will be used to disinfectant the entire building. The custodial staff will be using one of three chemicals depending on the area. (Virex II, Oxivir or Brutabs) Teachers will have a spray bottle of Virex II in their classrooms to use as needed.

25. What is RISD doing to increase air ventilation and filtration in school buildings?

Richardson ISD has HVAC systems that are set to have 20%-30% of the source air flow be outside air when the units are running. This helps to keep fresh air moving throughout the buildings. The district currently uses MERV 8 filters in HVAC systems to help filter the air. To increase filtration efficiencies the district is moving to MERV 11 filters, or the highest rated filter the existing systems can handle in each building. The higher efficiency filters will be more efficient in removing more particles from the air.

26. Is laboratory confirmation required for a symptomatic person to be considered a positive case of COVID-19?

Laboratory confirmation of a positive case is required in almost every situation. In rare instances, when a symptomatic student or staff member has had direct, verified contact with a lab-confirmed case (such as sharing a household), RISD may consider that symptomatic student or staff member as a positive COVID-19 case without laboratory confirmation if specifically directed by a physician or public health authority.

27. Do vaccinated people need to quarantine if they are exposed to a positive case?

Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  2. Have remained without symptoms since the current COVID-19 exposure

Persons who do not meet both of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. People in the situation will be asked to provide proof of vaccination

Per CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

For more information, please see the CDC guidelines.


1. How many families chose virtual and face to face instruction?

2. Will a student lose their seat at a campus if they choose to remain in the RISD Virtual School after health officials deem it OK to return to in-person learning?

Not for the following school year. All RISD students who are enrolled for the 2020-21 school year will retain the right to remain at their attendance area or magnet school throughout the year. This means students can stay in the RISD Virtual School all year and then return to that school for the 2021-22 school year, assuming all typical enrollment requirements are met.

3. When and how can parents formally choose their child’s instructional model for 2020-21?

Parents of enrolled students received an email from RISD the week of July 27 with information and instructions to formally choose a 2020-21 instructional model (virtual or face to face) for each of their enrolled students.

Parents completed a formal choice for each enrolled student, through email or over the phone. The period to make a formal choice remained open through August 6. Parents were encouraged to review RISD’s return to School Blueprint at http://www.risd.org/backtoschool (this website) in order to make an informed choice.

RISD is using the commitment information to build class schedules and assign teachers and staff.

4. If my child begins the first grading period in the virtual school and then we choose to return her to face to face instruction, will she have a seat available at her home campus? Or is there a possibility that she will be placed at a different school?

RISD’s goal for every student moving from the RISD Virtual School to face-to-face instruction would be to place them in a classroom at their enrolled campus, which would happen for students in secondary grades (7-12). However, as shared in The Blueprint, based on face-to-face enrollment and seat availability in a given grading period, this may not be possible 100% of the time in elementary grades (PK-6). There could be a situation, however unlikely, where a student may need to be placed at a geographically close campus if space is not available for face-to-face instruction at their enrolled campus. While this is viewed as unlikely, parents should be aware of the possibility as they are finalizing their decisions. (New FAQ, TC 7/28)

5. What is the window and process for parents to change their instructional choice in advance of the second grading period?

The window for parents to change a student’s instructional choice (from virtual to face to face or from face to face to virtual) for the second grading period occurred from September 30 – October 2. The parent choice process is handled at the school level, and each school will provide details to parents in advance of the next window. The choice window for parents in advance of the third grading period will occur from December 2 – December 4 and the choice window for parents in advance of the fourth and final grading period will be February 17 – February 19.

In-Person Instruction

1. When can RISD students return to campus?

RISD students returned to in-person learning on September 8-21, for those families that selected that option.

2. What will the maximum class size be for face to face instruction?

In Pre-K, maximum class sizes for face to face instruction are 18-22 students, based on the physical size of the classroom. In grades K-4, the maximum class size is 22 students, and in grades 5-12, the maximum is 28. As in every school year, an actual class size will vary by grade level and school based on the number of students enrolling in face to face instruction per grade level at each school. It’s important to remember that many RISD teachers are being tasked with virtual school instruction instead of teaching in-person, so even though fewer students have been opted in for face to face instruction than a typical year, class sizes will not be dramatically smaller in most cases because there will be fewer in-person class sections in most schools.

3. Will student desks be spaced six feet apart in every classroom?

Spacing student desks at least six feet apart is a goal in the blueprint and is being done when possible. Schools will not know if a full six feet (or more) of spacing can be achieved in every single classroom until enrollment numbers settle after the first days of in-person instruction (at the beginning of each year, there are historically significant student enrollment fluctuations at many schools). In addition, as face to face instruction numbers fluctuate each grading period as some parents make different choices, spacing between students may be impacted. Extraneous furniture and items have been removed from classrooms to accommodate student distancing. Some schools place students in small cohorts in which spacing between students within a cohort is closer than 6 feet, while spacing between cohorts of students is greater than 6 feet. This strategy mitigates the quarantine impact of any single positive case to just the students within the cohort.

Universal masking expectations for all students and staff, transparent (plexiglass or similar) barriers between students, hand sanitizer, built in handwashing breaks, and very frequent custodial cleanings are among the many other protocols designed to mitigate the spread of the virus among students and employees.

4. Will the same teachers teach both in-person and students taking instruction through the virtual school?

In some cases, yes. A variety of factors impact if this model (called co-seating) is used in a given class, including the number of students in a school whose families have selected face to face or virtual, the specific type of class at secondary, and if students may be temporarily quarantined and learning from home.

Virtual Instruction

1. What is the difference between virtual synchronous and virtual asynchronous learning? Is asynchronous learning required by Texas as the virtual learning model for young children?

Virtual asynchronous learning, mandated by the state of Texas for our youngest learners, will be available only for students in Pre-K through grade 3. Teacher-student interaction is not continual, as younger students need to learn by both doing and listening. Asynchronous means the teacher and student will not be in ongoing communication throughout the day. The student, with the help of a parent or other caregiver, will log in to a virtual classroom, receive assignments and show progress via electronic communication. Families of our youngest students will pick up and turn in packets of activities and assignments every week at their school of physical enrollment. In addition to the work in the packets, these students will learn through interactions with teachers on electronic devices parts of the day, everyday, in the asynchronous model.

Virtual synchronous learning will be used by all students in grades 4 through 12. Synchronous learning will include a rigorous online delivery of RISD’s curriculum, using a student device. Students will be in continual communication with teachers throughout the day, following a virtual schedule and attending virtual classes, as they would in a face to face model.

Students in grades 7 through 12 will have a schedule of classes to attend and attendance will be taken in every class to adhere to state law. Texas mandates students attend at least 90% of classes to move on to the next grade, and that will not change in a virtual model.

More specifics about virtual synchronous and asynchronous learning can be found in the PreK – Grade 3 Asynchronous Learning and the Grade 4-12 Synchronous Learning pages.

2. Where can parents find out more information about the devices, software and apps students will use during RISD Virtual Learning?

RISD is developing a Parent University to help parents and caregivers get a better understanding of Google Classroom, Seesaw and other electronic educational programs that will be used so they can support virtual student learning from home.

More information about the hardware and software that RISD will use in virtual learning can be found here.

3. How can families get technical help with virtual learning? Has RISD increased the IT staff and help desk professionals to assist nearly 40,000 students navigate virtual learning?

Henry Hall is the new Chief Information Officer for the district. Hall has been with RISD for more than 20 years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal of two technology-focused secondary schools, and executive director of instructional technology. Henry’s team has added help desk staff, including the addition of bilingual professionals, to support students and families who will need assistance with virtual learning.

Parents or students in need of assistance should begin with their school technology assistant, who will then refer to central support if needed.

All RISD students are provided a device for virtual learning, and RISD provided hundreds of hotspots to families in the spring to ensure connectivity. As part of the enrollment process, family technology needs are determined to ensure they are prepared for virtual learning.

More information about technology support can be found here.

4. What secondary courses are not available to take virtually?

The following courses are not available to students who select virtual instruction. Please note this list is subject to change, as additional courses may not be able to be offered based on final enrollment numbers and course requests.


  • Ceramics 7/8 
    8143   8143A
  • Intro to 3D Sculpture 7/8
    8144     8144A


  • Country/Western Dance
    FA8045     FA8046     FA8047     FA8048
  • Show Choir
    FA8356     FA8357     FA8358     FA8359
  • Ceramics
    FA8140     FA8141     WF8141    FA8142     WF8142
  • Studio Art 3D
    FA8142     WF8142
  • Sculpture
    FA8134     FA8135     WF8135


  • Airframe Tech
  • Animation 2
  • Auto Tech 1
  • Auto Tech 2
  • Constru Tech 2
  • Cosmetology 1
  • Cosmetology 2
  • Engin Des & Pres 2
  • Intro Unman Aerial Veh
  • Prac Hosp Srvs
    CT7407     CT7410
  • Prac Hosp Srvs 2
    CT7408     CT7412
  • Prac Human Srv 2 Ext
  • Prac Human Svc 1 Ext
  • Prac in Animation
  • Prac in STEM
  • Prac Transp Syst
  • STEM Aircraft Pplant Tech
    CT7707     MT7707
  • STEM Aircraft Pplant Tech Dual
  • STEM Airframe Tech
  • STEM Prac in STEM – Biotech
  • STEM Prac in STEM – Robotics
  • STEM Prac Transp/Aircraft
  • STEM Prac Transp/Aircraft Dual

PE and Local Credit

  • Partners PE 7/8
  • Support Peer Rel 1
  • Support Peer Rel 2


1. Can I visit my student at school?

During the pandemic, visitors of any kind are discouraged from coming into front offices, and no visitors are permitted inside buildings past the front office. Parents are encouraged to call or email school with general questions as opposed to an in-person visit. School and RISD staff work daily to ensure everyone’s questions are addressed.


Richardson ISD encourages families to walk to school or drop off students via carpool to reduce possible COVID-19 exposure on buses.

RISD will provide bus transportation for all students who register for transportation services and meet the eligibility requirements.

1. Will the RISD bus system run the same routes and times as prior years?

As of Aug. 28, the bus schedules for the 2020-21 school year are still being developed as the transportation services staff also is trained on new policies and creates new procedures to implement new health and safety guidelines, including disinfecting seats, handles and high-touch areas daily, per TEA guidelines, using CDC-approved disinfectant through electrostatic disinfectant sprayers. When possible, bus windows will remain open to allow air to circulate.

2. Will drivers and students wear masks? Will hand sanitizer be provided?

Yes, the RISD universal mask requirement extends to buses. Drivers and students must wear a cloth face covering when entering, riding and exiting the bus. Yes, hand sanitizer will be available near the door of every bus. Drivers and students are encouraged to use the hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the bus. When possible, bus windows will remain open to allow air to circulate.

3. How will social distancing occur on buses?

Each bus and route will be limited to one student per seat or two students from the same household. The seat immediately behind the driver will remain empty. Students will enter the bus, sit in the back seats first, and then fill in toward the front. Students will exit the bus beginning with the seats in the front and then progressing through to the seats in the back. Students are encouraged to sit apart from one another, face forward and keep their hands to themselves. When possible, parents should help with student supervision at the bus stop both at arrival and pick-up times. Depending on the number of students, multiple runs of each route may be necessary to accommodate all students while abiding social distancing protocols.

4. What happens if symptoms manifest during in-person instruction for a student who rode the bus to school that morning?

The policies and procedures outlined in The Blueprint for a student showing symptoms take precedence. The student will be isolated, and parents are expected to pick up students from school should they show symptoms.