FAQ

Roadmap to Reopening: Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 4, 2020

Community health data continues to change in our Affton School District community, and we are continuously monitoring this information and adjusting our plans accordingly. We are sharing these preliminary plans with the understanding that as we get closer to the first day of school on August 24, 2020, plans could change based on conditions.

HEALTH & SAFETY
LEARNING OPTIONS
SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT (SSD)
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATION
TRANSPORTATION


HEALTH & SAFETY


Are students and staff required to wear masks?

Yes. Students in grades 3-12 will wear face coverings in hallways, common areas, and when social distancing is not feasible, including in classrooms, to the extent it is developmentally appropriate. Students in grades K-2 may also wear face coverings, however, they are not required. All students in grades K-12 will wear face coverings on buses. All employees will also wear face coverings.

What is considered a face covering?
Face coverings include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth.

Will the district purchase masks for staff/students? 
Yes, the district will provide one cloth face mask with adjustable earloops and a spot to write a name for each student and staff member. Each school will have a supply of both face shields and disposable face masks, as well.

If one student or a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, does that mean the teacher and the rest of the class have to quarantine for 14 days?
It depends on the situation. Every school will have a nurse/administrator who will receive reports of COVID-19 cases/exposures. When we are made aware of a confirmed case, we will notify the St. Louis County Department of Health. With collaboration from St. Louis County Health, we will determine who is considered to be a close contact or was potentially exposed.  

Families and employees will be notified, and the school will then work with the families and staff to determine the next steps based on Missouri and St. Louis County public health guidance for schools, the CDC, and local health officials.  

  • Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (feeling feverish, fever of 100.0 or more, loss of taste or smell, cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, headache, chills, sore throat, significant muscle pain or ache, new congestions or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to school until their healthcare provider releases them based on symptoms or the local health department releases them to return to work/school if they have tested positive.
  • In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19 or is considered a close contact, the individual may return to school when released by the St. Louis County Department of Health.  If an employee lives outside of St. Louis County, the local health department in which they reside may release them back to work or provide documentation from their physician.
  • In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the CDC considerations of a three-step set of criteria:
    • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
    • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); 
    • and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

If a student or staff member on campus tests positive for COVID-19, will the building be shut down?
Affton School District will follow guidance from local, state, and federal health officials. At a minimum, the building will be deep cleaned and sanitized. Steps will be taken to contact trace and to notify staff and families about possible exposure to the virus and to screen for symptoms. A decision to close the campus will be made in conjunction with St. Louis County health officials.

What is considered a close contact to someone potentially exposed to COVID-19?
According to St. Louis County Department of Health, anyone within 6-feet for a cumulative time of 15 minutes or more with a positive case is considered a close contact. 

Has Affton considered doing its own contact tracing?  
Under the direction and collaboration with the St. Louis County Department of Health, we will help identify close contacts. We may make decisions to notify anyone we consider a close contact once we know of a confirmed positive test result or if St. Louis County Health notifies us to do so.

How will Affton School District notify affected students and families if they have been exposed to COVID-19?
The district will communicate with families through email, calls, and/or texts to notify families of students who may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Schools will be thoroughly disinfected, and if the campus is closed, students will resume their learning online with their teachers until a return date is determined.

What happens if my student gets sick or is exposed to the virus from a sick relative at home?
If there is a confirmed case in a household, all individuals living in the household would be considered close contacts and will be instructed by the St. Louis County Department of Health to quarantine for 14 days.

We expect parents/caregivers to keep sick children at home. If a student is exposed to COVID-19 through a close contact, a parent/caregiver must call the school to report. The student should not report to school and be quarantined at home for at least 14 days until released from the St. Louis County Department of Health for return to school. The student will learn from home and stay connected to their assigned teachers. Additional or alternative learning options can be considered as appropriate.

Every school will have a nurse/administrator who will receive reports of COVID-19 cases/exposures and then work with the families and staff to determine the next steps based on guidance from DESE, CDC, and local health officials.

As more is learned about COVID-19, we expect that there may be changes to this health guidance, and we will keep our families informed.

Who will be responsible for helping students keep their face coverings on when in school?
All school staff will work to educate the students about the importance of wearing a face covering in situations where adequate social distancing cannot be achieved. We ask that families work with their children at home to practice wearing a face covering and also to stress the importance of wearing a face covering to keep everyone healthy.

Affton School District will do our best to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), DESE, St. Louis County, and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, but we cannot guarantee that all students will be 6-feet apart at all times of the day, including in the classroom. We expect our students to play an active role in adhering to these guidelines established for the safety of students and staff within our schools.

Will students’ temperatures be checked daily at school?
No. Temperature checks of asymptomatic students at school are not recommended. All nurses are being provided with updates on a regular basis and receive guidance on screening and evaluation protocols.

All staff and students participating in Affton School District In-Person learning will commit to conducting a daily COVID-19 screening at home, which will include temperature checks, prior to entering an Affton school/facility. Reminders will be posted at building entrances.

Will the district be using plexiglass dividers between desks?
Our school administrators and district facilities team are looking at every classroom space to determine the best way to create social distancing among students, including rearranging desks and tables. Classrooms will have different configurations based on student capacity and square footage. Dividers will be used in areas where it is difficult to create appropriate social distancing, like reception desks in the office.

What other health precautions will be in place?
Affton School District will continue to educate our students, staff, and community members about the importance of frequent hand-washing; covering a cough or sneeze; not touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth; staying home when sick, and other measures to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Affton School District will provide extra cleaning, including disinfecting every bus and room daily. Teachers will set up procedures for cleaning the classroom during the day. Hand sanitizer stations will be installed on every campus, and additional equipment will be provided in high traffic areas.

We will provide bottle fillers at each school. Students will not be allowed to use the water fountain for drinking but can use the water fountains to fill their water bottles. Sanitizer will be available for students and/or staff to use on the bus and in the classroom. We are also increasing the fresh-air intake of our HVAC system to the highest setting to pull in more outside air as well as checking our HVAC filters monthly for replacement. Schools will implement procedures to minimize hallway traffic.

We will create universal signage for all facilities including, but not limited to, signs for the use of face coverings per official orders, social distancing, hand-washing/sanitizing, directional signage for all staff, students, and visitors when they are permitted to be on campuses.

How will immune-compromised students be accommodated? 
Students with health-related issues who do not feel comfortable participating in In-Person learning may choose to attend Online learning that is facilitated by Affton staff.
Will campuses be required to have an isolation space for students who show symptoms while at school?
Yes, every school will have a designated isolation area where students who show symptoms of COVID-19 will wait to be picked up.

Will extra custodial staff be provided during the day vs. evening so that extra disinfecting can take place?  
Yes, staff allocations will be redirected from the evening shift to the day shift to assist with the disinfecting of high touch areas throughout the day.  

What supplies are allowed to be used for cleaning/disinfecting purposes?

The district will use Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC)-approved cleaning products proven to fight COVID-19, yet are safe for students and staff.

Will the district be suspending attendance incentives and awards for students and staff members?
Daily attendance and engagement of students is expected whether students are participating in-person or remotely. School officials will monitor student absences and learning management system inactivity and reach out to families who are not in attendance or not engaging in classes, whether in-person or remotely. All schools will discontinue practices or rewards that encourage perfect attendance or would discourage individuals from staying at home when they are ill.

Daily attendance and/or engagement of staff is expected whether serving in-person or remotely. However, the district wants staff members to stay home when they are sick and understands that absences and length of absences will look different during COVID-19. All staff incentives are discontinued that encourage perfect attendance or would discourage individuals from staying at home when they are ill.

LEARNING OPTIONS

What learning options will be available to Affton School District students for the 2020-2021 school year?
Affton School District families will have two learning options for the 2020-2021 school year: In-Person or Online. Click here to learn more.

What will In-Person learning look like?
While we hoped to welcome students and staff back into our buildings for In-Person learning at the start of the school year,  it was announced on July 25, 2020, that we would begin with 100% Distance Learning.

During the 2020-2021 school year, In-Person Learning will look different based on the level of community spread of COVID-19 in our area and can transition between Onsite, Fixed Blended, and Distance at any time to adjust our school schedules to accommodate physical distancing, avoid large groups of students gathering in certain areas, and ensure we are able to properly clean and disinfect our facilities. Shifts on a district-wide level between Onsite, Fixed Blended, and Distance Learning will be decided based on guidance from government & health officials. We are currently planning for several scenarios for In-Person learning:
  • Onsite: We are able to welcome back all students into our buildings and resume a mostly normal school day schedule. This would involve enhanced cleaning protocols, a degree of physical distancing among students, eating meals in the classroom, adjustments to how students enter and exit buildings, and reducing transitions in the school throughout the day.
  • Fixed Blended: Students spend 2 days in school and 1 day engaged in distance learning. Under this scenario, we would have A days and B days assigned to each family based on last name. Half our students would attend in-person classes on A days, while the other half would learn remotely. The roles would flip on B days. This scenario would also involve enhanced cleaning protocols, physical distancing, eating meals in the classroom, adjustments to how students enter and exit buildings, and reducing transitions in the school throughout the day.
  • Distance Learning: We will need to begin the 2020-2021 school year with students engaged in 100% Distance learning. All distance learning  is required. Attendance, grades, assessments, and daily work will be tracked. 
If my family starts the school year by choosing In-Person learning, but then we change our minds, can our students opt into Online? Or vice versa?
We will do our best to accommodate the needs of our students, but families are committed to their original choice for the first semester of school. 

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
Synchronous learning is with a teacher live online in real-time. Asynchronous learning is a recorded video lesson from a teacher that's available on demand. Both synchronous and asynchronous learning and activities will be planned for students when they learn from home.

If a student needs to quarantine because they are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, will that student be able to continue learning from home? 
We expect parents/caregivers to keep sick children at home. If a student is exposed to COVID-19 through a close contact, a parent/caregiver must call the school to report. The student should not report to school and be quarantined at home for at least 14 days until released from the St. Louis County Department of Health for return to school. The student will learn from home and stay connected to their assigned teachers. Additional or alternative learning options can be considered as appropriate.

What will be the weekly schedule if Affton School District transitions to Fixed Blended in-person learning?
District-wide A/B Days will be assigned to each family based on last name. Students spend 2 days in school and 1 day engaged in distance learning. Under this scenario, we would have A days and B days. Half our students would attend in-person classes on A days, while the other half would learn remotely. The roles would flip on B days, and 1 day would be scheduled as a Distance Learning at Home day for everyone. More information on the specific A/B Day schedule will be available soon.

How will the Virtual Academy differ from the Continuation of Learning that occurred in the Spring?
The Continuation of Learning was a response to an immediate crisis. Affton’s Virtual Academy is learning through online instruction of grade-level or course content with required attendance and grades assigned for student demonstration of learning and participation. The Virtual Academy is school with instruction by certified teachers in a virtual environment. It may also include periods of self-paced and independent learning.

For Distance Learning or Virtual Academy, will grades count?
Yes. Online school grades will count toward GPA, class rank, and eligibility, just like in-person grades will count. Grading policies will be similar for all students, whether they participate in Affton In-Person or Online Learning.

How much time will students be online?
Students must be engaged in learning each day. They must show progress and submit assignments daily to be marked present. Teachers will provide daily instruction and support to students in all grade levels. The actual time online will vary depending on a student’s grade level and specific classes they are taking and DESE guidance.

My student found the remote learning during the extended closure to be isolating. Will the district have any mental health support to keep families connected even if they choose the Affton Virtual Academy option?
Yes. We will be staffing a helpline so we can assist families with counseling and mental health concerns. In addition, our school employees will be reaching out to our Affton Virtual Academy learners on a regular basis.

How will attendance be taken?
DESE has released specific guidance on attendance that all districts must follow. A designated daily schedule for in-person and online instruction will be provided to all students to follow, and attendance will be taken for all students every day. 

What will learning look like at Affton Early Childhood? What will be their schedule?
The Affton Early Childhood Center (AECC) is scheduled to be open during the 2020-2021 school year. Each classroom has two full-time staff members, a certified early childhood education teacher and instructional staff assistant, and consists of 12-16 students. This provides between a 2:12 and 2:16 staff to student ratio. Registration information can be found here.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the district will make every attempt to implement the full-day and half-day options as outlined in the registration information. There might be COVID-19 circumstances that arise which require AECC to close. During AECC closures, the district will apply tuition credit towards program fees once reopening occurs. In the event AECC is unable to reopen, refund options will be provided.

AECC will implement health and safety routines similar to K-12 school that include hand hygiene and staff wearing face coverings and/or face shields. AECC staff will also have access to other personal protective equipment as needed, such as gloves, aprons, etc. Children attending AECC will not be required to wear face coverings. All classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and have access to hand washing stations.

Will Before and After Care be offered during the 2020-2021 school year?
Yes, we do anticipate offering Cougar Care both before and after school at Affton Early Childhood, Mesnier Primary, and Gotsch Intermediate when schools are meeting In-Person (Onsite or Fixed Blended). If school buildings are closed for Distance Learning, before and after care will not be provided. More information will be shared in early August.

SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT (SSD)

If I opt for Online Learning, would my child still be able to utilize special education resources from Special School District (SSD)?
Yes. The IEP team will collaborate to anticipate needs through Individualized Education Programs (IEP) which outline services that will ensure students receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).  IEP teams will ensure the provision of free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) is met and provided with parental input in a fluctuating environment.

How will this year look different than last year for SSD students?

This year you will be provided with a schedule and more face time from teachers that are both special education and general education.  If there are any concerns, please mention them when determining your student's Distance Learning Plan (DLP).  The main contact person for your students with special education services will be the student's case manager. This could be decided by your team and will be individualized to meet your student's needs.

For kids who only get limited special education services, will the SSD teachers be accessed live through Zoom or Google Meet, or will they check-in through email if the students have questions? 

This will be determined by the Distance Learning Plan (DLP).  All students will have a DLP even if they receive limited services.  You will have a say on how this looks and it will be individualized for each student.

Will the SSD teachers and general ed teachers actually be teaching lessons on videos rather than just sending assignments as they did in the spring? How will that look?  Will the students be tuning in to live teaching or watching videos of the teachers teaching a lesson?   
Yes, there will be lessons taught by general education and special education teachers. The general education teachers are getting a schedule and your students will know what times they should log in to participate in these meetings. If your student is not available at that time, they will be recorded to watch them later. Some lessons will be recorded, and some will be synchronous. Special education teachers will review the master schedule before determining the schedule for special education students.

How will a student's IEP be met?

Distance Learning Plans (DLP) will be created for each student with special needs and these plans will be reviewed every two weeks to address strengths to continue and concerns to address. These services will be comparable to what is written in the student's current IEP. 

What about Affton High School students enrolled in South Tech?
On August 3, 2020, the SSD Board of Education voted to start school on August 24 under Plan B – 100% Distance Learning for all students who attend SSD schools. Click here for more information.

I have a question specific to my SSD student and don't see the answer here. Who should I contact?

Please reach out to Katy Meers, Director of Special Education, for SSD students in grades K-12. For SSD early childhood students, please reach out to Karin Fleming, Area Coordinator.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

Where will students eat meals at school? 
The cafeteria will not be used to serve large group meals to the entire school population. Schools will implement routines during the school day that include eating breakfast and lunch in the classroom. Students will be kept in smaller cohorts and specific zones of the building. Meals will be delivered to the zones and classrooms eliminating the need for students to visit the cafeteria for meals. Students will also have the option of bringing their lunch.

Will Grab & Go meals be available for students if they’re not learning Onsite full-time?

A process for meal pickup when students are not attending school in-person will be established and communicated to families. This may include students impacted by circumstances such as online Virtual Academy, Fixed Blended schedule, 100% Distance Learning schedule, quarantine, and isolation.

Will elementary school students have recess?
Yes. Outdoor play and learning will be encouraged as public health conditions allow. Students will be required to wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon re-entry to the building. 

Will students share school supplies?

No, for the 2020-2021 school year, students will have individual school supplies. These individual supplies will include instructional items to support curriculum (for example, math manipulatives).  Students will be able to take the necessary supplies with them to additional classes they attend (ELL, math/reading interventions, SSD, Gifted). Click here for school supply lists for each school.

Will designated times for hand hygiene be scheduled throughout the day?
Yes, staff and students at all schools will implement frequent hand hygiene routines during the school day. Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will be available in all classrooms. Staff and students will have scheduled hand sanitizing routines during each block of time that comprise the school day. Handwashing will also be integrated into scheduled hygiene routines during the school day. 

Will field trips be allowed?
Per the guidance of the CDC, Affton School District will encourage virtual activities and events in lieu of in-person field trips, student assemblies, special performances, school-wide parent meetings, and spirit nights.

TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATION

Will all K-12 students have access to a device for learning?
Yes, all students in grades K-12 will be issued a Chromebook as part of our 1-to-1 Affton School District learning experience. Kindergarten and first grade students will receive a touch-screen Chromebook, students in grades 3-12 will continue to use the devices they have been assigned. If a student has not received a device they will receive one during the first week of school

Will Chromebooks be allowed to go home with students or do they need to stay at school?
All students will be allowed to bring their Chromebooks home each night. Devices should be charged every evening and chargers left at home. Classrooms will have two spare chargers, loaners will only be available for non-working devices, not forgotten devices.  

What is being used to monitor student use of devices?
Affton School District partners with both Securly and Bark:

  • Securly monitors all websites that students visit, ensuring they are only accessing approved content. 
  • Bark monitors student communications (Google Email/Chat/Drive) for things like self-harm, bullying, or drug use.   

Both Securly and Bark work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on campus or off.

My Internet is spotty, so my family has trouble learning remotely. What is the district doing to assist with that?

We have several options available to try and meet the needs of each of our families who need help with internet access at home. Please complete this form to request internet service for your home: https://bit.ly/AfftonWiFiHelp

What will be the Learning Management System for Affton School District students this year?

The majority of students (not in specialized programs or pilots) will be utilizing Canvas as the district learning management system.  The role of a Learning Management System (LMS) varies depending on the organization’s objectives, online training strategy, and desired outcomes. However, the most common use for LMS software is to deploy and track online training/learning initiatives. Typically, assets are uploaded to the Learning Management System, which makes them easily accessible for remote learners. In some cases, the LMS may even have built-in eLearning authoring tools that allow you to develop online training materials without additional third-party software.

Think of a Learning Management System as a vast repository where you can store and track information. Anyone with a login and password can access these online training resources whenever and wherever. The district, hearing feedback from families of the shortcomings and inconsistencies of emergency remote continuity of learning, knew we needed a more robust solution for deploying learning.  In April of 2020 the district adopted Canvas as that platform. You can learn more about Canvas here. The district signed a three-year agreement with Canvas in April of 2020.

What kind of support will the district provide to familiarize parents with this platform?
We are curating tutorials and resources for families on Canvas. We know it’s important for parents/caregivers to feel comfortable with the online learning environment that our students will be using. If you need additional support, your teacher will be a great first resource, as well as completing a student helpdesk ticket by clicking here. Canvas also offers a support line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What other support will the district provide to assist with technical questions, such as log-in and password issues?
The Affton School District Technology team remains committed to ensuring our students have access to technology. We will provide help desk support with a link for families and students to receive technical assistance as needed. Click here for more information.


Will bus transportation be available to students for the 2020-2021 school year?
During the 2020-21 school year, Affton School District asks parents for their support in getting students to and from school on a daily basis. Due to the health and safety precautions that will be required for bus utilization, the district will have limited bus transportation capacity. Therefore, the district will only be able to guarantee bus service to and from school for those students who reside more than 3.5 miles from school. 

From July 20-26, the district will have parents complete a return to school form that asks about bus transportation needs and will try to serve as many students as possible that live less than 3.5 miles from school. Families that live the farthest from their school will be given priority.

Please note that students who qualify for transportation services from Special School District (SSD) and the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) program will continue to receive bus transportation by SSD or VICC. Additional information and regulations will be provided to those families directly from these programs.

Will there be social distancing on the school buses?
All staff and students on a bus are required to wear face coverings and all bus riders will have an assigned seat. There will be an empty row between each student and students will be placed in alternating rows. Students that live in the same house can share the same seat, and seating charts will be used to limit possible exposure. Seats will be sanitized between routes.
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