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COVID-19 Safety Response

As we continue working diligently to keep Bethany a safe place for students, faculty, and staff during COVID-19, we appreciate the options our facility offers us for adapting to these new needs. We are analyzing our building to determine typical patterns of interaction and taking steps to make our school safer for students and staff. Here you will find documents and resources outlining our safety approach and more detailed information about specific topics. 

Greetings,


I trust that everyone has had a good start to the second semester. The purpose of this communication is to update you on our current COVID situation and context. This communication also includes modified quarantine and isolation protocols.


As many of you may be aware, we have had a surge in positive COVID cases since the Christmas break. From the start of school through to the end of first semester we had only 8 confirmed student positives and 6 staff positives. Since the start of Christmas break we have had 23 confirmed student positives and 4 staff positives.  


Given the contagiousness of the Omicron variant, we are not surprised by the upsurge of cases. The good news is that the Omicron variant is understood to be less virulent than previous variants. We have not seen a case of severe illness among staff or students.


Some of you have inquired about the source of information we use to make decisions regarding Bethany’s COVID policy. Though we access multiple sources of information, for policy guidance concerning isolation, quarantine and masking we rely mostly on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Indiana Department of Health (IDH) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP) Policy Lab, (see updated guidance: CDC, IDH CHoP). We understand that people rely on different sources, some of which advise more caution and some less. Many of you have forwarded information to me, and I have done my best to digest all of the readings and studies.


People are comfortable with different levels of risk, and we know our policies won’t match with every family’s preference. There have always been unknowns with COVID, and this seems likely to continue. We have done our best to follow the current best practices for schools. As researchers learn more about the COVID virus, its variations, spread, and treatment, best practices for schools continue to evolve, as will our policies


The latest CDC guidance came out on December 27, and last week the Indiana Department of Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also updated their guidance for schools. These three organizations are in general agreement but differ slightly in some of the details. The overall change is that the length of isolation and quarantine is reduced under certain conditions.  Please see Bethany’s updated guidance below and for your convenience attached in a separate document.


A few other pieces of important information:

  • Please keep your child at home if they are in any way feeling ill. This is by far the easiest and best thing we can do to limit the spread of COVID, or any illness in our school population.  In order to return to school after an illness, students will need either a doctor’s note stating the illness is not COVID related or a negative COVID test administered by the school. See this parent screening tool.
  • Please update your COVID vaccinations as guided by your physician or authoritative medical source.  If you have not had your student vaccinated, consider doing so.  See the latest information on childhood vaccinations (including COVID) on this Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia web page.
  • Regarding testing at school. Up to this point BCS has been in position to do almost unlimited batch and rapid testing of family members. However, due to the demand for and limited availability of rapid tests, BCS will now only test students and staff, and limit testing to those students and staff who are experiencing COVID symptoms, have stayed home sick or who have been directly exposed.

As always if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am happy to listen to your concerns and I hope that we can find some common ground.  We all want the best for our children.



Jan 12, 2021 updated guidelines for COVID masking, isolation and quarantine:


A. You are considered fully vaccinated, regardless of age:
    • Two weeks after completion of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna series or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
 
B. General Policy on masking: 
        • Masking for all students and staff within buildings and at school activities when appropriate.

 
C. If the student, teacher or staff member is not feeling well, stay home and get tested. If the student, teacher or staff member begins feeling ill at school, go home immediately and get tested. Please use this daily screening tool
 
D. If student tests positive:
    • Stay home (isolate) for 5 days
    • Return to school Day 6 if asymptomatic, and fever free without medication for the previous 24 hours, and continue to mask for days 6-10 during all school activities indoors and out.  (if unable to mask properly at all times, must remain isolated at home for full 10 days)
    • Students can participate in athletics or other co-curricular activities upon returning on day 6 under these conditions
      1. The student must remain masked the entire time, including during the extracurricular activity through day 10.
      2. Athletes must have a parent or legal guardian sign this waiver to return to games and/or practice.

E. If a student is directly exposed in school
    • As long as they continue to be asymptomatic, they may remain in school and follow general masking policy; if possible, test on day 5, 6 or 7.
    • If symptoms develop, get tested and stay home, and if positive follow isolation guidance. If the test is negative, return to school when symptoms have resolved.

F. If student is directly exposed to someone with COVID-19 outside the school setting, especially in-home contacts
        • If fully vaccinated 
      1. As long as the student is asymptomatic, they may remain in school and continue to mask at all times in the classroom; if possible test on day 5, 6 or 7 .
      2. May continue extracurricular activities; wear mask for 10 days (while not actively performing or actively playing during your sporting activity)
      3. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay home. If positive, follow isolation guidance. If the test is negative, return to school when symptoms have resolved. 
        • If Unvaccinated
      1. Must stay home for 5 days from last exposure.
      2. May return on day 6 if symptom free
      3. Must wear a mask through day 10 while in extracurricular activities including while competing.
 
COVID-19 School Quarantine Guidance 
 
COVID-19 Screening for Parents
 
COVID-19 Athletic Waiver
 
COVID-19 School Mitigation Strategies
  • Transportation is once again possible for many school activities. Masking will now be required at all times in vehicles per federal guidelines (adjusted based on changes to federal law and local circumstances).
  • Social distancing is continuing where possible. Classrooms, hallways and common spaces are set up to provide the greatest amount of space between students, faculty and staff.
  • Sick students should stay home and adhere to expectations that will be shared in a future communication.
  • Sanitation stations are set up outside of all classrooms and common areas. Students should utilize these stations throughout the school day.
  • Restrooms and drinking fountains are set up to mitigate cohort interaction and provide maximum hygiene. Drinking fountains remain closed with water bottle filling stations available throughout the school.  
  • Hallways, lockers and passing periods continue to be monitored by school personnel to help ensure social distancing. Passing periods are lengthened to five minutes to help with traffic flow and congestion.
  • Daily breaks for students and staff are built into the schedule to give all individuals the opportunity to spend time outside.
  • Outside classrooms and instructional spaces are again available to teachers for use throughout the day.
  • The School Cafeteria is continuing to limit the number of individuals per table and will run five lunch shifts, allowing us to cohort groups, provide social distancing space and ease congestion during transition times.
  • Guests to our school will continue to be limited and those entering must be screened and tracked.
  • The Drop-Off / Pick-Up system utilized last year for items and students is once again in place to decrease office traffic and traffic.
  • Symptom screening at home is essential to maintain a safe school.  While we will no longer be taking temperatures of all students this year, we will need families to screen all students before coming to school (a COVID-19 Parent Screening guideline will be provided).
  • Student pick-up at the end of the day will continue to be staggered to help alleviate congestion and cohort interactions.
  • School cleaning continues in a thorough manner to ensure safe classrooms and common spaces for all individuals.
Face covering policy
  • Bethany Christian Schools will comply with the ECHD recommendations and beginning on Tuesday August 10, will require masks for all people in the school building. We are hopeful that the incidence of the COVID-19 Delta variant will decline soon, and we can relax some of our masking requirements.
COVID-19 Student and Staff Testing
  • A voluntary COVID-19 screening program for students provided by Health and Human Services (HHS) will help Bethany identify students who have COVID-19, but don’t have symptoms and who may be contagious. This will allow us to take quick action to prevent further spread to other students and their families, faculty and staff.
  • BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing provided by the state of Indiana can be utilized to determine positive COVID-19 cases on an individual basis when students display symptoms at school or immediate results are required.
BCS COVID-19 Reporting Form
  • If your student has tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive, please fill out this form to communicate with administrators.