RISD’s Pandemic Operating Plan - 2021-2022
Updates as of March 28, 2022
Richardson ISD’s priority continues to remain the health and safety of our students, staff and their families. RISD is implementing a variety of precautions and protocols for the 2021-22 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some protocols may be subject to change based on updated guidance from the state of Texas, public health authorities, or changing conditions in Dallas County. Please ask questions or submit feedback to RISD Let’s Talk.
- The CDC updated its recommendations for mask wearing on 2.25.22 to be responsive to each county and state’s current COVID19 levels. COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
- CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels recommendations align precautions for educational settings with those for other community settings.
- Masks are strongly recommended for all persons indoors when Dallas County reaches level “High” as indicated by the COVID-19 Community Levels tool.
- Children younger than 2 years old should not wear a mask at any time.
- It may be impractical for students to wear a face mask while participating in some non UIL athletic or other extracurricular activities.
- Individual needs regarding face masks at elementary and secondary schools will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Requests for accommodations should be submitted to campus administration.
- Students and staff will be provided with a mask upon request and availability.
- Bullying by any student directed towards a student related to any mitigation protocols will not be tolerated and will be addressed by the campus as part of the discipline procedures.
- All adults and students are expected to self-screen and screen their children for symptoms of illness before coming to campus each day.
- Students and parents are expected to stay home and report to their campus nurse and RISD employees are expected to report to health services and their direct supervisor if they have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19
- Health Services will monitor positive cases within RISD schools, programs, and facilities and will collaborate with Dallas County Health Department in all decisions that could potentially require temporarily shifting classrooms or schools to virtual only instruction.
- Parents are encouraged to talk with their students about COVID-19, and reinforce basic safety measures and family expectations.
- If you believe your child has an existing medical condition that may prevent them from attending school, please reach out to SSS Coordinator Jessica Garrett at email@example.com for homebound criteria information.
Thresholds for Additional Protocols
RISD monitors positive cases and total absences at each campus on an ongoing basis, including whether cases have a high likelihood of being linked within specific classroom, grade level, or activities. For example, if there is a high likelihood that a number of cases within a classroom are linked, and potentially exposed students in the class are becoming symptomatic or positive, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) may advise RISD to temporarily shift a classroom to virtual instruction in order to mitigate further spread.
District Mask Decisions
- Temporary Districtwide Mask Requirement – based on overall positive active cases, trend of new daily cases reported, trend of teacher and staff cases reported, trend of substitute teacher availability. A CDC COVID-19 Community Level of HIGH for Dallas County is necessary for RISD to consider this option.
- Temporary Campus Wide Mask Requirement – Considered by RISD when total percent of active positive cases on a campus reaches 5% of all students and staff, and positive cases are present across grade levels. Campus outbreaks concentrated in specific classrooms that temporarily shift to virtual may preclude a temporary campuswide mask requirement.
- Classroom linked case parent awareness message – at least three active cases within a classroom that are believed to be linked. Linked cases means that there is a high likelihood of transmission believed to be occurring among people in the classroom setting and not from exposure outside of school.
- Temporary classroom shift to virtual instruction – 25% or more of active cases within a classroom are believed to be linked, in consultation with DCHHS.
- Temporary school closure – consult with DCHHS for guidance when overall campus absentee rate exceeds 15% or a lack of available healthy staff impacts RISD’s ability to conduct school safely and effectively.
- Air purifier/filtration system provided in every classroom
- Clear desk shields will be available for any student or teacher in school at their request.
- Increased ventilation and HVAC air filtering where possible in classrooms, indoor common areas, and student transportation.
- Increased cleaning of surfaces and common areas.
- Additional time allocated for handwashing in elementary grades.
- Beginning of year reminders for students about safety protocols, including demonstration of proper handwashing technique for elementary students.
- Encourage frequent use of hand sanitizer.
- Students and staff are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottle for use throughout the day and take water bottles home to be cleaned on a daily basis.
- RISD staff and students will social distance when possible.
- Campuses will be encouraged to utilize outdoor learning spaces for lunch and other learning experiences when possible and available.
- Teachers will be encouraged to keep doors and windows open to increase ventilation.
- Limited visitors and volunteers are permitted on campus at the principal’s discretion, including for organized classroom activities/events. Principals should consider the current level of active cases on campus when exercising this discretion, and may consult with RISD Health Services and their learning community executive director for guidance as needed. All visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when CDC COVID-19 Community Level of HIGH for Dallas County.
- The district will continue to monitor and communicate any changes with parents and the school community throughout the school year.
- The campus nurse will work closely with the principal and front office staff to determine how to best meet the needs of all students while maintaining confidentiality and possible isolation. Plans will be campus specific because of the multiple sizes and layouts of each clinic.
- In an effort to minimize exposure, clinic traffic will be divided between students that are feeling ill and students that are not.
- All teachers will be provided with a basic first-aid kit, and teachers will assist and direct students to handle minor injuries in the classroom or front office.
- Nurses will determine processes for medication administration, keeping healthy students separate from those complaining of illness. Medication administration may occur (where confidentiality permits) in the classroom, in another room within the school or in the clinic. Medication administration may be delegated to other staff designated by the principal.
- RISD staff will only administer those medications that must be given during the school day. If the therapeutic use of the medication can be accomplished by dosage outside of the school day, the medication should not be administered at school.
- Nurses will determine processes for performing medical procedures to maintain a clean area where the student will not be exposed to others. Medical procedures may take place in the classroom (where confidentiality permits), in another room within the school, or in the clinic. Nursing procedures may not be delegated to other staff; however, clinic coverage may be needed if the nurse must leave the clinic in order to perform a procedure.
- An isolation area will be determined for students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 while they are waiting for pick up. Isolation areas should be located such that staff can visually monitor the child while still maintaining social distancing.
- Clinics can no longer be used for rest, cool down, or an emotional safe place for anxiety. Principals should identify an alternate space for students in these situations.
- Clinics can no longer be used for incontinence issues, which is not a medical issue. Students may bring spare clothing in their backpack and use a designated restroom for cleanup. Front office staff may call home for spare clothing if necessary.
- Clinic restrooms will be for student use while in the clinic. Staff may not use the clinic restroom and should use designated staff restrooms.
- It is recommended that teachers call before sending a student to the clinic so that the nurse can prepare the clinic if the student is symptomatic, relocating any healthy students, and allowing the nurse to don proper PPE.
Asthma, Anaphylaxis, Allergies
- Students with asthma, anaphylaxis, or other life threatening conditions will be encouraged to carry and/or self-administer medication prescribed for these conditions provided the physician and the parent/ guardian provide permission for the student to do so on the medication administration paperwork. All students who self-carry medication at school are still required to complete and provide the appropriate paperwork to their campus nurse.
- Students with symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend school.Symptoms of asthma and COVID-19 may overlap, including cough and shortness of breath. Parents should collaborate with the campus nurse and personal healthcare provider to determine the best option for what to do when their child experiences an acute asthma attack.
- According to the CDC, during this COVID-19 pandemic, asthma treatments using inhalers with spacers are preferred over nebulizer treatments whenever possible. Aerosols generated by nebulizer treatments are potentially infectious. If students require a nebulizer at school, a physician note will be required explaining why that student cannot use an inhaler with spacer.
- Students with seasonal allergies will be permitted in school. Students that have significant sneezing and coughing may be referred to the clinic so that the campus nurse can work with that parent to achieve better control.
- Students or staff who are symptomatic, positive, or choosing to quarantine may not participate in face-to-face school activities until cleared to return under TEA and CDC guidelines for K-12 schools. The campus nurse for students and RISD Health Services for employees will evaluate each situation and provide a return to school or work date.
- Students who miss school due to illness or quarantine will be able to keep up with assignments and make up work upon their return, as with any other excused absence due to illness, utilizing tutoring times if necessary.
- Students in grades PK-2 can keep up with assignments through their teacher or through the classroom’s SeeSaw platform.
- Students in grades 3-12 can keep up with assignments through their teacher’s Google Classroom platform.
- Students who do not have their school-issued chromebook or iPad at home at the time of illness or absence may contact the school to arrange a pickup time by the parent/guardian, if desired.
- Any student or family needing internet access can notify their school to check out an RISD hotspot.
- Teachers do not ‘co-teach’ lessons simultaneously to students in the classroom and students watching via a video conference.
- During COVID-related absences, bilingual students enrolled in Grades PK-4 will receive assignments from their homeroom teacher. Parents of bilingual students should contact their home campus for additional information.
- All absences count toward the state’s compulsory attendance laws. Please review the Compulsory Attendance information listed in the RISD Parent and Student Handbook for additional information.
- Eligible students and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID-19.
- If a child has been vaccinated, parents are requested to send a copy of the vaccine card to the campus nurse so the information can be included with the student’s records.
The presence of any of the symptoms below generally suggests a person has an infectious illness and should not attend school, regardless of whether the illness is COVID-19:
- Temperature of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Sore throat (not caused by seasonal allergies)
- Cough (for students with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
- Difficulty breathing (for students with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
- Loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
RISD staff and students should not attend school in-person if they or their parent identifies new development of any of the symptoms above. Parents should contact their child’s school and report that their child is sick. The school nurse may ask some additional questions to help determine when it is safe for the child to return to school. Students with COVID-19 like symptoms will be excluded from school for 10 days unless they can provide a negative rapid antigen result, or a negative PCR result, a medical note clearing the student to return to school, or an alternative diagnosis by a Medical Provider that is submitted to Health Services. Please note that a negative home test cannot be accepted because the specimen cannot be verified. Staff will communicate with their direct supervisor and Health Services to determine next steps.
Students who are feeling ill during the school day will be evaluated by the campus nurse who will consult the parent/guardian to determine if they need to be seen by a medical provider.
Screening Program for COVID-19 On Campus
RISD Campus Nurses are prepared to administer voluntary and consented COVID-19 rapid testing for individual staff and students pending delivery of supplies and directives from the Texas Education Agency.
Positive Case Processing and Quarantine Protocols
- When a student or staff member has tested positive, the parent or staff member will be asked to provide a copy of the PCR or antigen test results to Health Services.
- Once the results have been reviewed, Health Services will interview the parent regarding when symptoms began and confirm the dates the student attended school.
- Parents of all students in the positive student’s classroom/activities will be notified by email (through Focus) that a person in their classroom/activity has tested positive, potentially exposing other students.
- Parents who receive a potential exposure notification should closely monitor their child for symptoms for 10 days and not send their child to school if experiencing any symptoms.
- If a student who was potentially exposed begins to experience symptoms, that student will be required to quarantine under TEA and CDC guidelines.
- If a student who was potentially exposed is not experiencing symptoms, parents may choose, but are not required, to quarantine the student as a preventative measure.
- Under federal privacy law governing school districts (FERPA), no RISD employee may share information about the identity of any student who is positive, symptomatic, or chooses to quarantine. Student health information is private, and RISD discourages speculation or attempts to gather information about individual student health situations.
- Any unvaccinated student/ staff member who has a positive person within their household, will be required to quarantine under CDC guidelines.
- Students in athletics/fine arts may have additional UIL guidelines to follow and may receive further instructions from their coach and campus nurse.
- A student with a positive rapid test can be overturned by a negative PCR that is taken within 48 hours of the original rapid test.
- Any unvaccinated student/ staff member who has a positive person within their household, will be required to quarantine under CDC guidelines.
RISD students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will not be able to attend in-person school activities and are encouraged to stay home in isolation under TEA and CDC guidelines. People who test positive should complete 10 days of isolation counted from the day their symptoms began or 10 days after they tested positive, if they did not experience any symptoms. Campus nurses and RISD Health Services will help staff, parents, and students determine when it is safe to return to campus.
Students participating in UIL athletics who test positive for COVID-19 must receive clearance from a physician or a physician-approved delegate in order to return to UIL athletic competition.
Note: If you believe your child has an existing medical condition that may prevent them from attending school, reach out to our Special Student Services Coordinator, Jessica Garrett for homebound criteria information. Parents needing additional information regarding counselor support or other questions please use the following elementary and secondary hotline available for parents during normal school hours.
Elementary/Secondary Support Hotline: 469-593-0480
RISD Travel Protocols 2021-2022 (updated for third grading period)
Overnight student travel will be determined by new guidelines for the 2021-22 school year. RISD will reevaluate these guidelines at the beginning of each 9 week grading period, taking into account current pandemic conditions.
- Overnight student travel should be limited to no further than 500 miles from RISD.
- This ensures that parents/guardians can get to their child quickly if needed if COVID-related issues arise.
- If a child becomes symptomatic or tests positive, the student will be quarantined, and a parent/guardian will be expected to immediately come and pick their child up. Parents should consider this expectation while considering permission for their student to travel, especially to non-local destinations. Parents should likewise consider the unpredictable nature of the pandemic when considering permission for student travel, especially if a non-refundable deposit is required.
- If a student tests positive while on a trip, all non-vaccinated students sharing the room would quarantine.
- Further guidance would be provided in the event a symptomatic student tests positive.
- No air travel permitted at this time.
- Trip insurance is strongly encouraged for all students, as trips may be postponed or cancelled on short notice. These guidelines are subject to change pending local health guidance and district protocols.
RISD families intending to travel over school breaks are encouraged to review CDC travel recommendations as part of the planning process.
- Guidance for COVID Mitigation Strategies (PDF)
- COVID Testing Information and Resources
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC
- Coronavirus Self-Checker – CDC
- Physician Advisory Panel Presentation on COVID Risk Mitigation
- COVID-19 Cumulative Cases by Zip Code as of Jan. 14
- TEA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Guidance
- Dallas County Health and Human Services
- Keeping Kids Safe: An Evidence-Based Guide by Dr. Katelyn Jetelina
Please access our Let’s Talk Platform to share feedback, comments, and questions about The Blueprint: RISD’s Back To School Plan – 2021-2022.