Revisions to the HCS 2021-2022 Health Mitigation Strategies Plan
The General Assembly approved Senate Bill 739 and on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, the Governor signed it. This law states that each local school division must comply with the provisions of subsection C of § 22.1-2.1 of the Code of Virginia, as created by this act, no later than March 1, 2022.
As we have been currently following the law (SB 1303) in this regard, we will also adhere to the new law (SB 739). As a result, starting Tuesday, February 22, students will have the option to wear or not wear a mask in all Hampton City schools. No documentation will be required to remain unmasked. It is important to note that we will not be able to accommodate requests for class changes or special seating assignments due to mask preference.
Mask requirements will remain, however, for:
- Any individual on school buses per federal regulation.
- All HCS staff (regardless of vaccination status) per Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) regulations, while our region is in high transmission per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- All adults (regardless of vaccination status) that visit an HCS school building in any capacity, including tutors, spectators, volunteers, or visitors.
As we make this mask update to our mitigation strategies, we encourage and highly recommend all families consider continued mask use for their child in our schools as the division feels the wearing of masks is an essential component of our layered health mitigation strategies and as our community remains in a status of high COVID transmission. We ask that you discuss these changes with your child to determine the best course of action for your circumstances and clarify parental expectations for masking. Students will be encouraged to respect the choice of others to wear a mask or not to wear a mask. Kindness is expected to be shown towards all individuals, regardless of their masking choice. We ask that you assist in reinforcing this same message at home.
Beginning February 22, the division will prioritize our contact tracing efforts to focus on:
- Individuals who test positive.
- School-aged household contacts of those who test positive.
- Consultation to those experiencing symptoms.
- Contact tracing in cases of school transmission - transmission of concern in a classroom setting is defined as three or more laboratory confirmed - by RT-PCR or antigen - COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14-day period, who are epidemiologically linked, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
Beginning February 22, the following methods of communication will be utilized:
- The division will continue to update our HCS COVID-19 Dashboard daily, Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. If schools are closed due to holidays or other circumstances, the dashboard will be updated on the next school day. Positive cases are being reported as one cumulative number (daily and total number) per location. The cumulative positive COVID-19 test number on our dashboard represents HCS staff members and students who test positive for COVID-19 and were present in a school building or an administrative office within 48 hours of testing positive or presenting COVID-like symptoms.
- Families who have an email address on file with their child’s school will be notified via a ParentSquare post when an individual in their child’s classroom tests positive so they can monitor their child for symptoms and make appropriate decisions. Close contacts will not be identified unless there is a case of school transmission. Individual phone calls will be limited to specific circumstances.
- If a specific class(es) or grade level(s) needs to shift to virtual learning due to school transmission, families whose child’s schedule is directly impacted will be notified via a ParentSquare post (email) and ParentSquare alert (phone call).
- If a school shifts three or more individual classes or one or more grade levels to virtual learning due to school transmission, families in that school whose child’s schedule is NOT directly impacted will be notified via a ParentSquare post (email).
ADDITIONAL MITIGATION STRATEGIES
HCS remains committed to continuing the following established mitigation strategies:
- Parents and guardians should talk with their children about their health and complete the Student Health Questionnaire DAILY BEFORE their child comes to school. As a reminder, the questionnaire is located on the 2021-2022 Instruction and Health Mitigation Plan website, under “Happening Now” on the HCS homepage. This questionnaire is self administered. It does not need to be printed and sent into the school. If “yes” is a response to any of the questions, the student is required to remain home and the parent/guardian needs to contact the attendance clerk or the school nurse. The school nurse will give guidance for medical issues/illness. It is important to get clearance from the school nurse before returning to school if absence is due to COVID-like symptoms (cough, cold, congestion, fever).
- Masks will be available to those who need or request one.
- Teachers will utilize their classroom self-check poster for screening everyone every day to evaluate whether a student has any COVID-like symptoms.
- Classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and desk partitions as well as organic-based disinfectant solution.
- HEPA 13 air purifiers will be utilized for each classroom and other designated areas.
- Our cleaning/sanitizing protocols will be used during the day and evening by custodial staff.
The divisions’ HCS 2021-2022 Health Mitigation Strategies Plan will be updated by February 22, 2022, to reflect these changes as well as all other appropriate documents.
We ask that you continue to partner with us to educate students about these changes. We thank you for your support as we work together to provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff.