2020-21 Back to School Plan-FAQs
Health and Safety
What additional safety measures is HPISD taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
After studying guidance from the CDC and the Texas Education Agency, HPISD will have the following additional safety measures in place prior to the beginning of the school year:
- Hand sanitizer stations throughout each campus
- Regular times for students to wash their hands
- Plexiglass barriers to protect office staff and visitors, as well as in other high traffic areas in schools
- Mandatory mask policy
- Regular electrostatic spraying of disinfectant in each room
- Self-cleaning film applied to handrails and door handles
- Personal plexiglass partitions have been ordered for each elementary school student to use throughout the day
- Careful monitoring and encouragement of social distancing
What situations could trigger an emergency closure that results in all staff and students learning through a virtual platform?
Any governmental order (county or state) prohibiting in-person classes would result in HPISD issuing an emergency closure and a switch for all students (both in-person and remote option students) to the Emergency Closure Schedule. In addition, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a particular class or campus, HPISD could, depending on the circumstances and in consultation with the Dallas County Health and Human Services department, issue an emergency closure to protect the safety of students and staff.
How will HPISD decide who has to quarantine when someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been on a campus?
As per TEA guidelines, any time a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified on a campus, parents and staff at that particular school will be informed while protecting personal information about the individual. Anyone at school (students, teachers and staff) who either tests positive for the virus or who has had close contact (defined as within six feet with or without a mask for more than 15 minutes) with the individual with the confirmed case will be notified and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days since the last exposure.
Per the CDC guidelines, a single case of COVID-19 in a school, in most instances, will not warrant closing the entire school. Community spread and how much contact the person with COVID-19 had with others, as well as when such contact took place, will be considered. These variables will also be considered when determining how long a school, or part of the school, stays closed. If the spread of the virus within a school is higher than in the community, or if the school is the source of an outbreak, HPISD will work with local health officials to determine if temporarily closing the school building is necessary.
What if my student tests positive for COVID-19?
Please call and let your school nurse know. Your student’s absence will be excused, and they will have the option of attending school virtually if they feel up to it. They can return to school after 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and there is a significant improvement in symptoms (i.e. coughing, shortness of breath). If your student tests positive but does not develop symptoms, the time frame of contagiousness starts 2 days prior to the date of test, through at least 10 days.
The school nurse will also be in contact with you during this time should you have any questions.
The CDC says cloth masks need to be two or more layers. Will HPISD mandate that to follow CDC guidance?
HPISD will require masks but will not police the number of layers of the masks.
Will parents use a web page or app to verify screening and submit it to the school prior to the start of each day?
Can you please clarify Governor Abbott’s comment regarding five days of school closure if there is a positive case?
The reference to five days in relation to a school closure was incorrectly reported. The actual guidance says that a district cannot be closed longer than five days if a positive case requires extensive cleaning of a building. The five days are not a mandatory closure length.
If there is a positive COVID case, will the child with the virus be switched to remote learning so they can follow along with their class as closely as possible or do they have to switch to the online class with a different teacher(s) if there isn’t a class at their grade level?
To the extent possible, students who are out for quarantine will remain connected with their class at their grade level during the extended absence. When it is applicable, the student may be provided virtual support in other ways as well. The student will then return to in-person learning as soon as health criteria are met based on clinic procedures.
Can you please provide further guidance on how a student can come back early if suspected/exposed but is asymptomatic?
A student may not return until all health criteria are met based on district clinic procedures.
Will schools require COVID testing, and if so, who will pay for it?
If a parent has a child with a health issue that has symptoms common to COVID (e.g., cough with asthma), will the parent be able to work through details with the school nurse so that the child isn’t being sent home all the time?
If my child is sick with a non-COVID illness for 7-10 days, will he or she be allowed to have the same access to remote learning that a COVID positive patient will have so they don’t get behind?
What are the symptoms of COVID – 19?
Symptoms associated with COVID – 19 include, but are not limited, to:
- Fever (>100° F)
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- New onset of loss of taste or smell
This list of symptoms can mimic several different childhood illnesses or chronic health conditions. Just because a student may present with one of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they will be excluded from school according to COVID guidelines. When the school nurse assesses a student presenting with signs of illness, the student's health history, along with many other factors, is taken into account.
If your student has any symptoms of illness, please keep them home until they meet the ‘Return to School’ criteria listed on the district’s Health Services webpage. If your student should become ill while at school with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, the school nurse will, when appropriate, place a surgical mask on your student, assess them and contact you for further guidance.
Masks will not be placed on a student that is short of breath or vomiting.
What does the “remote option” look like? and what’s the difference between a “remote option” and virtual learning through an Emergency Closure Schedule?
There are two types of virtual schedules that will be used--along with an in-person option--during the 2020-2021 school year as needed. These two virtual schedules include the “remote option” schedule for students who elect that approach while other students attend in-person classes; the second will be used during Emergency Closure when all staff and students must operate off campus through a virtual learning platform.
Remote Learning, explained
The first virtual schedule, the one used for students who elect the remote option, will vary by level. For elementary students, the class for the remote/virtual section (while other students receive in-person instruction on campuses) will be dedicated to 100% virtual instruction. This could mean students who are in a virtual elementary classroom could be with other students across the district. This will give elementary students the chance to work closely with a classroom teacher dedicated to that group of students and the virtual approach which will include live instruction with the teachers and offline assignments throughout each school day. Knowing that our youngest students will need to become accustomed to a full school day in a virtual environment, the teacher will work with students and families to develop a routine. The teacher will be mindful of the need for screen breaks but still meet the demands of a high-quality instructional environment.
For intermediate, middle, and high school students who elect the remote option, instruction will be scheduled differently than the elementary level. Students will be issued a class schedule that reflects their course selections by “hours” (Hour 1, Hour 2, etc.). These students will connect synchronously with each hour’s class as directed by the teacher. Most often, this will be at the beginning of the scheduled class time, but this could vary based on the teacher’s direction. During the synchronous time (live learning) each day, students will be able to listen to the instruction provided and, when applicable, watch any presentations being made in the classroom. Students may also be asked to engage in small group work with students both from the in-person setting and the remote setting.
Students in the remote option will be allowed to move to an offline setting to complete any assignments, activities, reading, etc. as directed by the teacher. This will result in multiple sign-on expectations throughout the school day. Attendance, engagement, and submission of work will be expected as if students were on campus attending classes. To increase the fidelity of assessments, remote option students may be asked to report to a campus testing center for designated assessments. This setting would allow for ample social distancing and masks would be required.
Emergency Closure-Virtual Learning, explained
The second virtual schedule for the district is the Emergency Closure Schedule. This schedule will be used in the event of an emergency closure causing all staff and students to operate from a remote location through a virtual learning platform. This schedule will be provided to parents before the first day of school; students--both those who are in-person option students and those who are remote option students--will be expected to log in and engage as directed on the first day of any emergency closure. Given the differences in the elementary and secondary approaches to the remote option schedule, the differences between these two schedules will vary. At the secondary level, students will find longer synchronous classes and shorter asynchronous classes in the Emergency Closure Schedule, but they will still engage in every class at the designated times on the Emergency Closure Schedule.
Will students be able to change their option?
HPISD will ask each student to make a declaration for the in-person or remote option by August 6, 2020. At that time, student class assignments (elementary) and class schedules (secondary) will be finalized. As per TEA guidance, students may change their option for a new grading period. Therefore, two weeks prior to a new grading period, parents will be asked if they wish to change the option for their students. Parents who opt for their students to have in-person instruction but who must be absent for health reasons will be allowed to return to in-person instruction after health criteria are met. HPISD will work with an in-person option student who must be absent; however, it is possible that the instructional times may not mirror any posted schedules. Instead, classroom teachers will work with the in-person option student similar to working with any extended absence. Students choosing the remote option will not be able to switch to the in-person option until the beginning of a new grading period.
What will my child’s routine be like during the day?
Can you please provide further details on how drop-off will occur to prevent crowding?
Each campus is designing a specific plan for their campus that will involve multiple entrance doors. Each entrance will be monitored by staff for safety. Parents will not be allowed to enter the building in the morning.
Students will enter designated doors that will be monitored by campus personnel. Students who arrive/dismiss utilizing carpool will be monitored to ensure the safety of students and staff. Students will enter the building and wait in designated areas according to grade level and homeroom classes/cohorts. Designated staff members will supervise students, while keeping a 6 foot distance to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
To limit gatherings in common areas, students will go directly to their 1st period classroom in the morning. Students will not congregate in the cafeteria or auditorium. Limited breakfast service may still be available in the cafeteria where students may eat breakfast following safe distancing guidelines and then report to their classrooms.
To avoid hallway congestion, students will not use lockers. All personal items should be kept in their backpacks which will be carried with them between classes. Cell phones will remain in student backpacks turned off.
Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and spacing guidelines. Students will wait in the hallway until their teacher admits them to the classroom.
Parents and visitors will not be allowed in the building during arrival or dismissal.
Afternoon dismissal will occur through the same doorways and students will be required to wait outside observing safe distancing until picked up in the afternoon. Students should leave campus immediately unless participating in teacher supervised tutorials.
Hand sanitizer will be available at each entrance and in each classroom.
Clear signage reminding students and staff to promote safety practices will be posted at entrances and in classrooms.
High school students
Parents of high school students are asked to avoid early drop offs in the mornings. Students who arrive by car will enter through their assigned main entrances outlined below. Parents/guardians will not be able to leave their cars or enter the building during student arrival or during student dismissal. Signage will be posted to communicate social distancing expectations within the school building.
Students who walk to school shall maintain appropriate distance (6 feet) from others and avoid congregating outside or inside the building. Parents who wish to pick up their student before the end of the school day will need to call ahead so students can be sent to parent vehicles upon arrival.
HPHS students will enter the following assigned entrances:
Freshman and Sophomores: Entrances on Douglas and Emerson
Juniors and Seniors: Main student entrance on Westchester
HPHS students arriving to school early will be directed to the following designated locations where students will be expected to sit distanced from one another:
Freshman and Sophomores: Cafeteria
Juniors and Seniors: HPHS Library and Auditorium
During student dismissal, teachers will stagger student egress to assist students in maintaining appropriate distance from other students. Students will exit the building from the exterior door closest to their classroom.
Will parents be allowed to walk their children into the school building?
How will dismissal be handled at the elementary schools?
Students will be dismissed by grade levels/homeroom teachers/cohorts through multiple exits while being monitored by staff members to ensure safety of all students, staff and parents.
Homeroom teachers will walk their class out designated doors. Students who walk/ride bikes/meet with siblings to walk, will be dropped at “Meet Zones.” The homeroom teacher will then proceed to designated areas for carpool pickup. Students will stay in designated areas to ensure safety of all students, staff and parents.
How will lunches be handled?
Students in HPISD elementary schools will eat in the cafeteria or common area, socially distanced with their own personal plexiglass partitions. There will be time allotted for staff to clean all tables between lunch periods. Students will have assigned seats each day. Pre-selected meals will be delivered to assigned locations.
Areas will be designated for separate groups of students which may include additional lunch spaces in the cafeteria, gyms, assembly rooms, and outside to allow for students to be socially distanced from one another. Outdoor seating will be used, weather permitting. Students will continue to eat with their cohort group of the advisory class or house using assigned seating.
Limited lunch options will be available for students who do not bring lunch from home. Students will have the opportunity to pre-order hot and cold lunch selections which will be available for pickup to minimize lines for food service and cashiers.
During recess, cohort groups of advisory class or house will be limited to play areas at a single time to minimize exposure.
Cafeteria tables and seats will be disinfected between groups.
The following precautions are in place to help promote a healthy and safe environment during student lunch periods at HPHS:
- Students will line up 6 feet apart from each other. Markings on the floor will show where each student can stand safely.
- Lines will form from service lines and continue down the North/South corridors along the Cafeteria. Markings on the floor will show where each student can stand safely.
- Tables will be set up with plexiglass barriers between each seat at a safe distance.
- Overflow tables will be available in the Ensemble Room.
- All students will have masks on unless eating/drinking.
- No sharing of food between students.
- Measures will be taken to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria during each lunch period.
- All tables and surfaces will be disinfected between each lunch period.
- Staggered release of students who are picking up food; holding locations to decrease the number of students in hallways waiting to pick up food.
- Outside food deliveries will not be allowed for students.
Questions pertaining to elementary schools
Will there be a time during the day when students won’t have to have their masks on?
Yes, during lunch when students are adequately distanced and using their personal plexiglass partition, during PE and at recess, as well as when adequately distanced.
Will SeeSaw be the only platform? One of the sample schedules has Google Classroom on it for 2nd grade.
SeeSaw was selected as the virtual platform for PreK-1st grade as it is easier for students at that age to interact with an iPad (the technology we have for those grade levels); 2nd grade students will use Google Classroom.
Will older siblings be allowed to walk their younger siblings to class (e.g, 3rd grader walking new K student)?
Initially yes, but we should all strive to eventually get students comfortable with the idea of walking by themselves to class.
When will further information be provided on HPMS UIL activities and sports?
Will masks be required during recess?
If students are able to maintain adequate social distance, they will not be required to wear a mask during recess.
Will the remote classes for HPHS be live streaming of in-person classes or separate dedicated remote-only virtual classrooms?
Students will engage with their assigned classes and teachers who are operating in person.
How will HPHS classes like TAG Art, PE or other very specialized electives be handled in remote learning?
Teachers in each of these areas will be asked to identify ways to engage students virtually.
Common questions related to movement between the two options and hybrid
If a parent starts their student in-person but the case number gets to a point where they think they need to pull their student, can they switch their child to online especially if there is a documented medical concern?
Yes, but the parent will need to work with a campus administrator on their options.
Can you please provide further guidance on what the online check-ins will look like and why they will be required? It seems like we’re going from nothing in the spring to a lot more now - why?
HPISD will use an asynchronous remote learning model as defined by TEA. This holds a requirement of “instructional minutes” for which HPISD is held accountable each day. These minutes may be documented in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (not live) activities. Students must ultimately demonstrate daily interaction with the instruction and activities and have daily evidence of engaging in and submitting work to be considered present in a remote model. This is a very different approach from the spring closure where teachers focused on only the essential learnings in a pass/fail model. This fall, students will engage in a full day of learning five days a week as required by TEA.
Might there be a circumstance when just one elementary school closes and they’re doing emergency closure plans but all the other campuses are open?
Will after-care be offered and will students have to follow the same rules and use the same procedures regarding masks and social distancing?
When will the informational plan for SPED/504s be posted for parents to review?
How will TAG students be supported in remote learning?
Can you please provide more detail on testing for remote students both when they are called into test (i.e., will they be asked to mingle with the students who are in-person) and when it’s remote (will the assessments be the same ones given to students that are in-person)?
Remote students will not be asked to mingle with in-person students in the event they are asked to report to take a test. A testing center will be established to allow for adequate social distancing. This may occur during class time or at alternate times. The location may be at the high school or at a district facility. Assessments will cover the same objectives as those that are in-person but may be a different form depending on the instructor’s preference.
How will my child borrow a digital device if we choose remote learning?
Will only cafeteria volunteers be allowed in the school? What other volunteers will be considered essential?
When spacing is under 6 feet, what other measures than masks will be taken to protect students and teachers?
Desks will face the same direction and students in elementary classes will be provided with a personal three-sided safety shield for their work space. These shields will be taken with the student to lunch to provide an extra layer of protection in addition to the social distancing when masks are removed during eating/drinking periods.
Will there be training for parents on how to use the platforms and support their students more effectively?