In accordance with the Public Health Order issued on August 12, 2021, all individuals aged two and older are required to wear a CDC approved mask when indoors at public and private K-12 schools to inhibit the spread of the virus.
Exceptions to the mask mandate include:
- Eating, drinking, sleeping
- Playing an instrument (6 feet distancing required)
- Anyone unable to remove a mask without assistance
- Anyone incapacitated or unconscious
- Students with IEPs or 504 plans where mask wearing would inhibit communication or services
- Medical condition or disability
- Participating in a religious ritual
The order allows local school districts to provide reasonable accommodations for those with medical conditions or with a sincerely held religious objection to mask-wearing in schools. In accordance with this new order, we have drafted new accommodation request forms.
We encourage and promote COVID-19 vaccinations for those eligible to receive them. Once again, we have partnered with Rite Aid to host a series of vaccine clinics in our schools throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Anyone eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is welcome to participate in these clinics. All clinics will offer both the first and second dose of the vaccine to students aged 12 and older, their parents, and our employees. Registration is recommended, see our website for details.
Please register in advance to schedule an appointment.
Contact Tracing and Quarantining
Contact tracing, a key mitigation strategy, includes isolating those who are sick and quarantining those who are considered close contacts of anyone who is infected. We will continue to encourage all students and staff to stay at home if they experience any symptoms of infectious illness. To support and reinforce this safety measure, we will suspend the attendance awards that have been given in years past. Employees will be asked to monitor their health daily through the continued use of an electronic daily health screening.
Additionally, all visitors will continue to be screened upon arrival to the building, and nonessential visitors, volunteers, and external groups will be limited during instructional hours; appointments are preferred. Parents are encouraged to schedule virtual conferences and meetings whenever possible.
If Chesapeake Public Schools is notified that a student/employee/visitor has tested positive for COVID-19, the Health Services department will work with the Chesapeake Health Department to notify close contacts directly by phone while keeping confidential the identity of the known infected person. The CDC defines a close contact as anyone within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. This definition does provide an exception to students within 3-6 feet of an infected individual as long as both students wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in indoor school settings. We will continue to post any new COVID-19 test results, both self-reported and those reported by the Chesapeake Health Department, to our district COVID-19 dashboard each weekday by 4 p.m.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends schools provide at least 3 feet of distance between students, but schools should not reduce in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement. Instead, schools should implement layered prevention strategies when distancing cannot be maintained. Within our district, we will continue to distance students to the greatest extent possible, and teachers will maintain seating charts should they need to be referenced.
Cafeteria seating presents some unique challenges; however, students will be required to wear a mask when they are not eating, and assigned seats, distancing, and cohorting will be used as much as possible. Schools who are able to offer Grab & Go breakfast will do so. At this time, visitors will not be able to eat with students in the cafeteria.
Additional Mitigation Strategies
Our layered mitigation plan will continue to promote effective hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. We will continue to provide instruction to students on proper hand washing, and we will maintain hand sanitizer stations throughout all of our buildings. Students will also be prompted to wash their hands before and after eating.
Additionally, students will be permitted to use shared materials, supplies, and resource equipment this year but will be asked to sanitize their hands when sharing.
Our custodial team members will continue to clean high-touch surface areas throughout the day and sanitize all desks and classroom tables each night. We will have disinfecting wipes available in all classrooms for use as needed and, as always, all cafeteria tables will be sanitized between use.
Ventilation is also identified as a key prevention strategy. Our district operations team has worked throughout the summer (2021) to monitor and service all HVAC units to maximize exterior air flow and ensure all systems are operating properly. Appropriate MERV 8 filters are used for our HVAC systems. We change these filters every 90 days, as recommended by the CDC, and our process has been vetted by health services and mechanical engineers. For more information about our HVAC systems, please visit our list of HVAC frequently asked questions.