A Series for Staff and Families on the District's Plans to Resume In-Person Instruction
SOCIAL DISTANCING: Along with masks, social distancing is one of the most important ways we can keep one another safe. The following steps have been taken to help keep social distancing front and center, as we return to in-person instruction in our elementary and specialty schools.
  • Schools have been provided signage and floor decals to help remind students and staff to maintain a social distance.
  • Capacity has been capped at approximately 10 students (with exceptions for larger spaces) per classroom.
  • Desks are no longer in pods. They have been been spaced out.
  • Soft toys like stuffed animals have been removed, along with items that encourage group play. 
  • When possible, lessons and play will be conducted outside to give students fresh air and room to spread out.
PPE AND CLEANING: SLPS has invested more than $1 million in personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
All students and staff have been issued washable, reusable face masks. They may also wear their own store-bought or hand-made masks.
Scarves and bandanas are not as effective at preventing the spread of respiratory droplets and will not be permitted as a substitute. Schools will have extra masks on hand should a child forget to bring one, or if it gets wet, torn or dirty.
All schools and offices have been stocked with hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, and a simple form has been developed for school custodians or administrators to quickly request refills or additional items.
All classroom surfaces are sanitized daily — after staff and students have left — using EPA-approved disinfectant and an electrostatic sprayer designed to quickly disinfect wide areas. 
High-touch areas, including door knobs, handles, main entrances, stair rails and restrooms, are sanitized hourly. In order to carry out this aggressive schedule, we have doubled the number of custodians on site at each elementary school.
SCHOOL HOURS: Instead of spending the first 15-20 minutes in the halls, playground or cafeteria, students will go directly from their buses or drop-offs into their classroom to begin instruction. This will help reduce interaction between groups. There will likely be other occasions during the day where timing will be adjusted for this purpose, such as meals, recess, bathroom breaks, etc.
To offset these adjustments for staff, and to ensure custodians have ample time for cleaning, the school day will end one hour earlier than the regular bell time.
For example, a school that begins at 8:15am will now end at 2:12pm instead of the traditional 3:12pm. Students will be sent home with one hour of independent (asynchronous) work to complete. If you have questions, please contact your principal.
Click to watch a short clip of Pre-K students learning at Stix last month.
CONTACT TRACING: When a COVID-19 case is reported, the District alerts the City of St. Louis Department of Health. 
To further support this effort, the District is seeking applicants to serve as contact tracers for SLPS.
Contact tracers are responsible for reaching out to people (contacts) who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and providing health education and guidance to interrupt ongoing disease transmission. 
BUS RULES: Students are to wear masks and practice social distancing at the bus stop. Once on the bus, they are required to wear a mask for the duration of the bus ride.
Bus drivers and monitors, when applicable, will also wear masks.
To reduce interaction between students, buses will load from back to front and unload from front to back. 
Each student will have an assigned seat and ride only on their assigned route in the AM and PM. Students must adhere to the bus and COVID-19 safety rules.
Each bus is sanitized with a 30-day preventative disinfectant. High-touch areas are sanitized daily.
AIR QUALITY: Maintaining clean air quality and the flow of fresh air through our buildings is a key part of the District’s facilities plan.
Here are steps we are taking in response to COVID-19: 
  • We have increased air quality by opening outside air dampers approximately 20-25%. Normally, dampers are set at 10% during occupied times. This adjustment allows more fresh air to enter our buildings.
  • Restroom exhaust fans are running 24/7 in order to maintain proper air flow in these enclosed spaces.
  • To help focus on strategies that will manage the humidity levels and promote air quality in our buildings, HVAC control schedules have been modified, so systems run 24/7 during summer months and from 3am until 9pm daily during winter months.
  • The CDC recommends increasing air filter sizes to MERV 13 for all buildings. Currently, the District uses MERV 8 filters, but we are upgrading to MERV 13 filters for HVAC units greater than 5 tons.
  • Lastly, we are installing air purification devices in equipment to purify the air throughout our buildings.
NEXT ISSUE: In the next part of this series, we will look at what will remain the same and what will change about the school day when we return to in-person instruction. 
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