March 25 Pandemic Update – District Implementing Updated CDC Guidelines, Relaxing Desk Shields
In the latest superintendent’s update, Dr. Stone provides information on a number of pandemic-related topics, including how RISD is implementing the most recent CDC guidance for schools that was issued over spring break.
- Positive cases among students and staff in RISD, and in the zip codes containing RISD’s boundaries, have continued to decrease. Cases in RISD are currently at their lowest levels since the beginning of the school year.
- After discussion at the March 8 board of trustees meeting, the decision was made to make masks optional for elementary students who are outdoors and actively exercising, playing or moving during P.E. or recess. Students may still choose to wear masks while participating in these outdoor activities.
- RISD is expanding bleacher capacity for spectators at outdoor athletics events to 75% for spring sports. Because spectators are stationary, masks will still be required for attendees of RISD outdoor events through the end of the school year.
- RISD’s adjusted mask protocols do not modify or eliminate TEA’s Health and Hygiene practices requirements for masks, so no board action is necessary.
- Over spring break, the CDC updated guidance and recommendations for schools. The updated guidance reflects the latest research, science and data related to the spread of COVID-19. This CDC guidance reaffirmed that masks should be worn by students and staff while indoors, and RISD will maintain its universal mask requirement for people indoors through the end of the school year.
- There were two updated recommendations from the CDC that will impact RISD. The first is that students can remain three feet apart while masked indoors, down from six feet. The CDC continues to recommend that adults observe six feet of social distancing from each other while in the school setting.
- The CDC also removed its recommendation for physical barriers for students in classrooms. In RISD, these barriers have taken the form of transparent desk shields this school year. Based on the updated CDC recommendations, the use of desk shields in most classrooms will now be optional for the remainder of the school year.
- Some classrooms may continue to use desk shields for individual classes where there are special circumstances related to individual accommodations.
- The adjusted protocols based on the updated CDC recommendations will go into effect on April 5. Any parents who wish to change their child’s instructional choice as a result of the adjusted protocols may do so by contacting their child’s school by April 1.
- Thanks to partnerships with TEA Region 10 and Methodist Richardson Medical Center, many RISD teachers and staff have been able to receive their first dose of vaccine over the break. RISD is continuing to make employees aware of vaccination opportunities so all adults who work in RISD schools can get the vaccine if desired.
- Thank you to RISD’s educational diagnosticians and athletic trainers. Both of these important groups of employees directly serve and support RISD students, and we recognize their contributions this month.
- RISD is planning a variety of events and celebrations for seniors in the Class of 2021, including alternative prom activities at each high school. Graduation ceremonies will take place outdoors in RISD’s stadiums, and all senior events will follow the updated health protocols in place for school activities.