Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
What is the COVID-19 risk to school-age children? Generally speaking, school-age children diagnosed with COVID-19 have demonstrated less severe symptoms than have people in other age groups. No person in the world age 15 or younger has died from COVID-19. Nonetheless, it remains important for schools and families to do everything we reasonably can. Some school-age children have compromised immune systems themselves, while others live with or are often in the company of people with a compromised immune system.
Should I send my child to school? Just like the flu or common cold, if your child is exhibiting symptoms of a fever of at least 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, and/or shortness of breath, they should remain home until they are symptom-free for twenty-four hours without medication. These absences will be considered excused. Our policy allows for ten days of absence without a doctor’s note, though a parent note will be required upon the child’s return. Additionally, our teachers and administrators will be respectful of student absences during this trying time relative to make-up policies and the like.
What are the District’s guidelines for parental reporting of COVID-19 concerns to school officials? Parents are asked to report to the school nurse if their child or any member of the family has had direct exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR has traveled to a Level 2 or Level 3 country as designated by the CDC (as of 3/10/2020, the Level 2 and 3 countries are China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea). Any individual returning from one of these Level 2 or Level 3 countries must self-quarantine for 14 days.
Will families be notified if someone at school contracts COVID-19? Families will be notified in accordance with the Bucks County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if a confirmed case of the COVID-19 is identified in our schools.
What protocol are Council Rock nurses following regarding students who present with COVID-19 symptoms? If a student has a fever of at least 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, and/or shortness of breath, parents/guardians will be contacted and encouraged to pick up their child. Symptomatic students will be kept away from well students until they are picked up by parents/guardians. The District is encouraging students to stay home if they are sick.
How often is the District in contact with the Bucks County Health Department? We are in daily communication with the Bucks County Health Department. Given that this situation is rapidly evolving, most days we talk multiple times, and that includes evenings and weekends. We continue to follow their guidance closely.
Where can parents look for comprehensive information on COVID-19 and Council Rock related information? Council Rock School District has established a COVID-19 Resource Center on all CR website homepages where you can find updates and information related to the disease and Council Rock School District. Our Resource Center includes links to pertinent health agencies, COVID-19 prevention links, and a running list of all CR letters issued on the topic. We will continually add information to our Resource Center.
What should parents do now? There are ways that you can help keep our schools healthy. Preventative measures include:
- Talk to your child about good hygiene practices.
- Tell your child to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Tell your child not to touch eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Have your child avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Keep your child home when sick.
- Instruct your child to sneeze into elbows, instead of hands.
Parents can also establish plans for if we have to close. Actions to take include:
- Finding alternative childcare arrangements in case of school closure.
- Talking to your neighbors and other parents in your child’s school about sharing childcare duties if your child is well but the school is closed.
- Talking to your employer about policies for working from home or shifting work schedule /responsibilities if schools are dismissed or you become sick.
How We’re Keeping Our Schools Healthy
What is the District’s current cleaning protocol?
In order to minimize exposure of our students and staff, our cleaning and custodial staff are utilizing enhanced flu-season cleaning protocols which also eliminate COVID-19. Specifically, the school custodial team is using Virex II-256 every two days as part of enhanced cleaning. It is also worthy of mentioning that the priority right now is cleaning for health, as opposed to cleaning for appearance, as we navigate our way through dealing with this virus.
How is the District ensuring that school buses are appropriately cleaned? Bus drivers are using Clorox disinfecting wipes, which are on our list of approved products (5813.79), to wipe down buses at the end of each day.
How is Council Rock educating students about COVID-19 and reinforcing the importance of handwashing? All CR teachers have shown handwashing tutorial videos in class. K-6 teachers showed a CDC video on handwashing, and 7-12 teachers showed the World Health Organization’s video on the origin of COVID-19 and importance of handwashing.
What opportunities exist for students to wash their hands while in school? Across K-12 classes, there are opportunities throughout the day for students to practice active handwashing, such as upon entering school, between classes, during class with teacher permission, before lunch and after lunch, and at the end of the day.
May I send my child to class with hand sanitizer and cleaning products? You may send your child to school with hand sanitizer. The District supplies hand sanitizer in all cafeterias. That said, there is a shortage of hand sanitizer across the country and that will impact our ability as a District to purchase additional sanitizer. Again, you may send your child to school with their own hand sanitizer.
Potential Closures, Cancelations, and Postponements
What are the most likely scenarios that would cause schools to be closed? Generally speaking, schools may be closed any time a deep disinfecting clean is necessary due to an individual having direct contact with a presumptive positive COVID-19 case, if we ourselves have a presumptive positive COVID-19 case, and/or to halt community transmission. The decision to close a school, or the entire school district, will not be made lightly and will be made in consultation with the Bucks County Health Department. Typically a closure will be for only one or two days. Closures may occur for longer durations, even up to 14 days, though that would likely happen only under the most extreme of circumstances.
How will Council Rock communicate a COVID-19 related school(s) closure? The CR Office of Community Relations will send out messaging utilizing a combination of communication tools (web notices, robocall, email messages, mobile app push notifications, text messaging, and social media).
Does Council Rock have plans to provide distance or virtual learning in the event of closures? At this time the District does not intend to provide any form of virtual or distance learning for days when school is closed. That stance could change if school needs to be closed for several days.
How will days be made up if school needs to be closed? There are several considerations in answering this question. And the ultimate answer is, it depends. The state requires 180 days of instruction K-12, as well as 450 minutes of instruction for half-day Kindergarten, 900 minutes of instruction for grades 1-6, and 990 minutes of instruction for grades 7-12. There are several factors that will be considered in ultimately answering this question.
- The impact will be determined by both the total number of days school is closed and also the timing of those days. If we need to close during PSSA or Keystone Exam testing, or worse yet during AP testing, the impact will be greater than on regular school days.
- We would apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for an exception to the requirements noted above, particularly if we are able to meet the minutes thresholds noted above.
- We would apply for a provision in PA School Code, known as Act 80, that allows time to be used for curriculum planning and development, professional development, strategic planning, and/or parent-teacher meetings.
- If we have closures before Spring Break, we will consider shortening Spring Break by scheduling school on April 6th, 7th, and 8th.
- Currently, the last day of school is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th. Adding three days to the end of the school year would not be terribly problematic for families, and we will prioritize to the extent possible to not stretch school days into the week of June 22nd.
What would happen to high school graduation if there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19? In all likelihood, we would need to hold graduation as scheduled, unfortunately without guests, spectators, etc. Depending on the degree of community spread, we may need to even modify the ceremony itself. In either case, we would televise the ceremony for home viewing.
Is Council Rock canceling all international and local student trips? The District has postponed our one international trip to Ireland that was scheduled to commence in April 2020. The trip was postponed upon recommendation from Dr. David Damsker, Director of the County Health Department. This trip will be rescheduled for the 2020-21 school year. Other trips are being considered on a case-by-case basis. No new trips are permitted to be scheduled between now and the end of the school year. As always, parents have the authority to determine whether their child participates in any scheduled trip.
Will student exchange programs continue? All student exchange programs have been canceled for the remainder of the school year.
Will Council Rock continue to hold sports practices and games? Yes. All practices and games will be permitted for the foreseeable future, pending PIAA guidance.
Will communal school events, such as Book Bowl, concerts, and plays be held? To date, we have canceled one school event. We have no current plans to postpone or cancel additional events. Importantly, that current rationale is based on the fact that there has been no community transmission of COVID-19 to date in our area. Rather, every known current case points back to exposure from a confirmed case elsewhere. Community transmission in our area may certainly occur at some point, and if/when it does it will have an impact on our analysis and decision making relative to these types of events. All decisions will be based on guidance from the Bucks County Health Department.
Will school trips planned to our senior citizen communities be permitted? Student experiences with our senior citizen community are very much a part of our culture. Out of respect for our senior community, we are canceling these experiences for the foreseeable future. We know that our senior community is one of the more vulnerable populations with COVID-19, and we do not want to take any risks in jeopardizing their health.