2021-22 COVID-19 Mitigation Procedures

Updated 10-01-21 to reflect upcoming changes to exclusion procedures.  See relevant area(s) below.

On July 26th, 2021, the Superintendent announced to the community that Huntsville City Schools (“HCS”) would be implementing procedures to address the spread of COVID-19.  The Superintendent is authorized to create these procedures under HCS Policy 4.18 regarding Public Health Precautions and Infectious Disease Mitigation which states that: The Superintendent is authorized to develop public health precautions and infectious disease mitigation procedures for all schools and other Board properties and all school sponsored activities. See Policy 4.18.1.

Procedures & Applicable Portions of Policy 4.18
Mitigation Procedures for Students
  1. Face Coverings. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn in the following circumstances:
    1. Inside HCS Facilities. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone inside any HCS facility regardless of vaccination status.  This requirement also applies to any indoor HCS activity or event, including Huntsville City Board of Education meetings.
    2. Traveling on School Bus or Any HCS Vehicle. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone while traveling on any HCS school bus or vehicle regardless of vaccination status.  This provision is intended to comply with CDC Order, authorized by 42 U.S.C. 264(a) and 42 C.F.R. 70.2, 71.31(b), and 71.32(b).
  2. Exceptions.  Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:
    1. Infants. Face coverings shall not be required for individuals younger than two (2) years of age.
    2. Strenuous Physical Activity. Face coverings shall not be required for any student while engaged in strenuous physical activity.  When a student is not participating in such an event, he or she should wear a face covering.
    3. Exigent Circumstances. A face covering will not be required if a parent, guardian, or visitor is: experiencing acute difficulty breathing; unconscious or incapacitated; receiving health care where it is necessary to remove the face covering; or is personally unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
    4. Medical Exemptions. 
      1. If a family believes that their student requires an exemption to this procedure based on a medical, physical, or psychological contraindication, that family should reach out to their student’s principal.    
      2. HCS may require documentation from a licensed health care provider before granting an exemption, and it is ultimately HCS’ determination – and not the outside licensed health care providers – as to whether a student’s medical condition justifies an exemption.
      3. Given the large quantity of requests that HCS has received and expects to receive, it may take several days before HCS can review a particular request for an exemption and to determine whether any such exemption is warranted.
  3. Questions.  If a family or student is unwilling to comply with this procedure, the school principal will attempt to contact the student’s family to discuss possible alternatives to in-person instruction.
  4. Enforcement.
    1. Student Discipline.
      1. Misplaced or Forgotten Mask.  HCS will not punish students for failing to bring a mask to school or for misplacing their masks or for forgetting to bring a mask with them to school.  Each school will have spare masks for students.
      2. Disruption. If a student disrupts class or school as a part of failing to wear a mask, the student will be subject to the applicable consequences and interventions from the Behavioral Learning Guide and applicable Behavioral Learning Matrices.  If a student refuses to comply with these procedures, then Policy 4.18.3b, discussed below, applies.
    2. Policy 4.18.3b. Policy 4.18.3b states: As a condition to participating in any on campus instruction or attendance at any school sponsored event, students must adhere to the procedures developed pursuant to this policy. Failure to do so may result in removal from in person instruction. If parents/guardians believe that their student will not be able to comply with the procedures, they should contact their student’s school principal to discuss options.
    3. Notice.  Both Policy 4.18.3b, which was previously adopted by the Board and which has been in place since 2020, and this webpage serve as notice to you of HCS’ policies and procedures.
  5. Updates.
    1. Amendments. The Superintendent, and her designees, will develop, and amend as necessary, these procedures based on current guidance from local and state government and health officials.
    2. Notice. 
      1. The Superintendent, and her designees, will ensure that this page is updated to reflect the latest version of the COVID-19 mitigation procedures.
      2. The Superintendent, or her designee, will update the Board of Education when making major changes to these procedures.
      3. The Superintendent, or her designee, will send updates to HCS families using typical methods of communication (e.g., robo-calls and e-mails) when making major changes to these procedures.
  6. Effective Date: August 2, 2021
Mitigation Procedures for Parents, Guardians, and Visitors to HCS Facilities
  1. Face Coverings. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn in the following circumstances:
    1. Inside HCS Facilities. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone inside any HCS facility regardless of vaccination status.  This requirement also applies to any indoor HCS activity or event, including Huntsville City Board of Education meetings.
    2. Traveling on School Bus or Any HCS Vehicle. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone while traveling on any HCS school bus or vehicle regardless of vaccination status.  This provision is intended to comply with CDC Order, authorized by 42 U.S.C. 264(a) and 42 C.F.R. 70.2, 71.31(b), and 71.32(b).
  2. Exceptions.  Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:
    1. Infants. Face coverings shall not be required for individuals younger than two (2) years of age.  
    2. Exigent Circumstances. A face covering will not be required if a parent, guardian, or visitor is: experiencing acute difficulty breathing; unconscious or incapacitated; receiving health care where it is necessary to remove the face covering; or is personally unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  3. Questions.  If a parent, guardian, or visitor is unwilling or unable to comply with this procedure, he or she should reach out to the school principal to discuss possible alternatives (such as communication through telephone or Zoom).  If seeking some type of exemption from this procedure, the school principal or other HCS employee may ask you for additional information to determine whether appropriate accommodations can be made.
  4. Enforcement.
    1. Policy 4.18.3a. Policy 4.18.3a states: All individuals, including all students, faculty, staff, family members, and other visitors to Board schools or properties, must comply with the procedures developed pursuant to this policy. Failure to do so will result in consequences including, but not limited to, temporary or permanent removal from the property.
    2. Notice.  Both Policy 4.18.3a, which was previously adopted by the Board and which has been in place since 2020, and this webpage serve as notice to you of HCS’ policies and procedures.
  5. Updates.
    1. Amendments. The Superintendent, and her designees, will develop, and amend as necessary, these procedures based on current guidance from local and state government and health officials.
    2. Notice. 
      1. The Superintendent, and her designees, will ensure that this page is updated to reflect the latest version of the COVID-19 mitigation procedures.
      2. The Superintendent, or her designee, will update the Board of Education when making major changes to these procedures.
      3. The Superintendent, or her designee, will send updates to HCS families using typical methods of communication (e.g., robo-calls and e-mails) when making major changes to these procedures.
  6. Effective Date: August 2, 2021
Mitigation Procedures for Employees
  1. Face Coverings. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn in the following circumstances:
    1. Inside HCS Facilities. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone inside any HCS facility regardless of vaccination status.  This requirement also applies to any indoor HCS activity or event, including Huntsville City Board of Education meetings.
    2. Traveling on School Bus or Any HCS Vehicle. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are to be worn by everyone while traveling on any HCS school bus or vehicle regardless of vaccination status.  This provision is intended to comply with CDC Order, authorized by 42 U.S.C. 264(a) and 42 C.F.R. 70.2, 71.31(b), and 71.32(b).
  2. Exceptions.  Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:
    1. Exigent Circumstances. A face covering will not be required if a parent, guardian, or visitor is: experiencing acute difficulty breathing; unconscious or incapacitated; receiving health care where it is necessary to remove the face covering; or is personally unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
    2. Strenuous Activities. Face coverings shall not be required for any employee while engaged in strenuous physical activity.  When not participating in such an event, employees shall wear a face covering.
    3. Disability Accommodations.  If an employee requires a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of his or her job which would impact his or her ability to wear face covering as required by these procedures, the employee must reach out to his or her supervisor to seek such exception.  The employee’s supervisor and relevant HCS administrative personnel will engage in the interactive process to determine whether the request accommodation is reasonable.  
  3. Questions.  If an employee is unable to comply with this procedure, he or she should reach out to his or her supervisor to discuss possible alternatives.
  4. Enforcement.
    1. Policy 4.18.3c. Policy 4.18.3c states: All employees must comply with any procedures developed pursuant to this policy. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary consequences up to and including recommendation for dismissal. If an employee has concerns about his or her ability to follow the procedures, the employee should raise that concern with his or her supervisor.
    2. Notice.  Both Policy 4.18.3c, which was previously adopted by the Board and which has been in place since 2020, and this webpage serve as notice to you of HCS’ policies and procedures.
  5. Updates.
    1. Amendments. The Superintendent, and her designees, will develop, and amend as necessary, these procedures based on current guidance from local and state government and health officials.
    2. Notice. 
      1. The Superintendent, and her designees, will ensure that this page is updated to reflect the latest version of the COVID-19 mitigation procedures.
      2. The Superintendent, or her designee, will update the Board of Education when making major changes to these procedures.
      3. The Superintendent, or her designee, will send updates to HCS employees using typical methods of communication (e.g., robo-calls and e-mails) when making major changes to these procedures.
  6. Effective Date: August 3, 2021
COVID-19 Symptoms or Diagnosis Procedures for Students & Employees
  1. COVID-19 Student Screening Tool.  HCS will use the Attachment E: COVID-19 Student Screening Tool from the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (“ADPH”) 2021-22 Back to School Guidance when students present with symptoms of COVID-19.  This tool will help HCS school nurses identify possible cases of COVID-19 in schools.
  2. Reporting Suspected Cases.  HCS will report all suspected cases of COVID-19 to ADPH as required by law.
  3. Symptoms of COVID-19 with a Positive Test Result for COVID-19. 
    1. Isolation. Individuals who test positive for or are diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate by staying home. 
    2. Requirements Prior to Return to School.
      1. Wait 10 days following the onset of symptoms or the positive test result;
      2. Be 24 hours without fever or fever- reducing medications; and
      3. Experience symptom improvement before returning from isolation.
  4. Symptoms of COVID-19 with a Negative Test Result for COVID-19.  Individuals who demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19, as per Attachment E: COVID-19 Student Screening Tool, but test negative for COVID-19 will be required to comply with the following:
    1. No Alternative Diagnosis. Symptomatic students who do not receive a confirmation of an alternative diagnosis must:
      1. Wait 10 days following the onset of symptoms;
      2. Be 24 hours without fever or fever- reducing medications; and
      3. Experience symptom improvement before returning from isolation.
    2. Alternative Diagnosis. If a symptomatic student receives a confirmation of an alternative diagnosis, the student can return to school as per HCS Policy 6.26’s guidelines which state in pertinent part: “In cases of acute or contagious illnesses, parents or guardians may be notified and required to pick up the student and keep the student home until the student is fever free and/or symptom free for twenty-four (24) hours.”
  5. Contact Tracing.
    1. Referrals to ADPH. HCS will adhere to all local and state laws and regulations pertaining to the reporting of known or suspected COVID-19 cases to ADPH.
    2. Letters to Families.  When HCS becomes aware of a known case of COVID-19 in a school, the students and employees assigned to the impacted classroom(s) will receive a letter informing them that an individual in their class has tested positive and to monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19.
Close Contacts Exclusion (Updated 10-11-21)
  1. Students: Students who are close contacts to COVID-19 positive individuals will be excluded from schools, campuses, and other buildings (except those who meet exceptions to close contact exclusions. See #5).  Parents will be notified of their student’s possible exposure by an authorized HCS employee.
  2. Employees: HCS employees who are close contacts to COVID-19 positive individuals will be excluded from schools, campuses, and other buildings (except those who meet exceptions to close contact exclusion. See #5). Employees will be notified of their possible exposure by an authorized HCS employee.
    • 10-day Exclusion: 10-day school exclusion is allowed if there is no ongoing exposure (does not live with or repeatedly comes in contact to the positive individual), the excluded person has not had symptoms during their exclusion, and the excluded individual can monitor symptoms, follow masking, and maintain 3 to 6 feet of social distancing to the greatest extent practical.
    • 7-day Exclusion Alternative: 7 day school exclusion is allowed as an alternative in schools if there is no ongoing exposure (does not live with or repeatedly comes in contact to the positive individual), the excluded person has not had symptoms during their exclusion, the excluded individual has a negative COVID-19 test (molecular or antigen) result which has to be collected NOT BEFORE day 5 of the exposure period, and the excluded person can monitor symptoms, follow masking, and maintain 3 to 6 feet of social distancing to the greatest extent practical.
    • Home Based-Tests: Home-based tests are not accepted for the 7-day exclusions. If a person has a positive home-based test, they are considered to be a COVID 19 case and should follow Isolation and Exclusion for the full 10-day period.
    • Note: If the student or employee lives in the same household as another individual who has recently tested positive for Covid-19, their exclusion time may be longer. Please reach out to your school’s nurse for further guidance.
  3. Assignments While Excluded: Students will use Schoology to access assignments.  Additionally, packets may be available upon request.  If students are having trouble accessing their class materials, they should contact their teachers or principal.
  4. Employee Leave:  The Superintendent has developed leave procedures to help alleviate the burden of COVID-19 related absences from work. Contact your immediate supervisor for more information about these procedures.
  5. Exceptions to Close Contact Exclusion: Currently, the exceptions to exclusion are as follows:
    • Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated individuals;
    • Asymptomatic individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and have recovered; and
    • Asymptomatic students in the K-12 indoor classroom setting who consistently wear masks who were distanced by 3 feet or more from the positive individual who also consistently wore a mask.
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