Frequently Asked Questions
Check back often as we provide answers to questions and concerns about operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll also find a lot of information in our Fall Re-Opening Plan.
Masks (Read the research here)
- Will you require face coverings? The board approved our fall reopening plan on July 30th, which does outline mandatory face coverings if the district is in the Yellow or Red categories. This applies to both staff and students. If we are operating in the Green category, face coverings remain mandatory any time that 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Who will provide the masks or face coverings? Although many will want to bring their own face coverings from home, the district has enough cloth face masks for staff and students. We also have enough face shields for all staff and students who may require them in lieu of a face mask.
- Will there be extra masks available for students. Yes. All buildings will have a supply of cloth masks (they will need to order these from maintenance) and disposable masks.
- Can a teacher require students to wear masks in their classroom? This question is now irrelevant. All students will be required to wear face coverings/masks in their classroom.
- What are the consequences for students not wearing masks? For students who choose not to wear masks, we will follow classroom discipline plans and school-level discipline plans as outlined in student handbooks. Although we will approach this process as we would any other dress code issue, this is a safety issue and the district can deny attendance to students who do not comply with this mandate. (Idaho Code 33-512). We encourage parents to support their students in wearing face coverings. NOTE: See questions on exemptions below.
- What are the consequences for teachers not wearing masks? Teachers are district employees and need to comply with district requirements to use face coverings. We appreciate employees modeling the use of face coverings for our students. NOTE: See questions on exemptions below.
- Can we make face coverings a part of the dress code? The district will add this requirement in the dress code sections of the handbooks.
- Can teachers wear face shields? Although face shields are not as effective as face masks, teachers will be able to wear face shields if they choose. Teachers can request face shields through their building administrator.
- Are there exemptions from or accommodations for wearing face coverings or masks? Yes, for medical reasons. For students who have a medical concern, parents may connect with the building principal to request an accommodation through the 504 process. The process includes verification of the medical condition. Since this is a safety issue, there are no religious, political or personal preference exemptions. If teachers want to request an accommodation from wearing face coverings, they need to contact HR, which can assist them with appropriate accommodations required by law.
- Will there be breaks from wearing face coverings? Classroom teachers will be able to support students with mask breaks if necessary when 6-foot physical distancing is ensured and maintained.
- Masks and social/emotional needs and health-related concerns. The social and emotional needs of our students are important to us. In countries where face coverings are common, both social/emotional health and physical health of students have not been negatively impacted when the system still pays attention to the social and emotional needs of students.
- Will face coverings and masks be required for students with special needs? All of our students on IEPs will be considered on an individual basis. IEP teams (which include parents and guardians) will determine the necessity of face coverings and explore this requirement in context of the IEP goals and safety for the student. Students who cannot remove face coverings should not wear them.
- Are students required to wear masks during PE? Our physical education teachers will determine appropriate activities for PE classes. If a 6-foot physical distance cannot be maintained, students will be required to use face coverings. Even when 6-foot distancing can be maintained, PE instructors should implement cohort grouping in order to minimize transmission opportunities within a class.
- Will the district provide voice amplifier microphones for teachers?
- Can a student wear a face shield instead of a mask? We are supportive of alternatives like face shields for students who are not able to wear face masks. The district will provide face shields for students who, through an IEP or 504 plan, need face shields as an accommodation.
- Are patrons required to wear masks if they enter a school or district building? If a patron prefers not to wear a face covering, our staff will do their best to collect the information related to your need and will work to meet that need as quickly as possible. It is likely that staff will have to get back with patrons through email or phone to answer the concern. In some cases, the patron will be asked to return when the information or documents are ready and they will be met at the door with the appropriate information.
- During the Red and Yellow categories, if teachers are in their classrooms alone, do they have to wear a mask? If you are in your classroom by yourself with no students or other staff members present, a mask is not necessary but should be put on if someone else enters.
- Will students be able to use lockers in hallways or locker rooms? In yellow and red categories, students will NOT be able to use their hallway or locker room lockers. They will need to keep their backpacks and equipment with them.
- How do you physically distance in a classroom? If we are in the yellow category, we will have a limited number of our students on campus at any one time. Most classrooms have the capacity to physically distance 15-18 students at a time. We will work to create solutions within classrooms to make the environment as safe as possible.
- How will we teach our youngest children to physically distance? All schools will teach routines and procedures around physical distancing. For our youngest children, teachers will use visual cues such as rope lines, dots on the floor, etc.
- How will we physically distance in the lunchroom? All schools are required to have detailed plans regarding lunchtime. Overall, lunch schedules have been lengthened in order to minimize the number of students in the lunchroom at any one time. The food nutrition services staff have also adapted meal service and options available to allow for social distancing in the lunch lines.
- How will we physically distance in the hallway between classes? Each school is reviewing how it can structure the class transition time. Some of these strategies could include one-way hallways, staggered releases, or other ideas.
- How will we physically distance on the playground? All elementary schools will have plans in place to create distance or limit interaction between cohort groups on the playground. Schedules will be adjusted to limit the number of students on the playground. Most schools also will provide a rotation schedule between play “stations” – big toy, green toy, fields, basketball courts, etc.
- How will we protect our front office staff? All front office staff will have appropriate PPE at their disposal, including gloves and face coverings. In addition, plexiglass shields have been installed where they are appropriate. All schools should have plans for procedures related to the front desk operations that include how they will protect our front office staff.
- Are there negative aspects of prolonged social distancing? There is a difference between social and physical distancing. The district has trained and will continue to train all staff in supporting the social and emotional needs of students. Although our plan will work to provide physical distancing to the extent possible, we also will work to provide intentional social and relationship building times for students.
- How will we physically distance on the bus? Because you cannot physically distance on a bus, we have worked with Brown Bus Company to create clear procedures. Buses will load from the back to the front. Masks will be required for everyone on the bus. Windows will be open as much as possible. Students who are not wearing masks should not ride the buses unless alternate plans are outlined as a part of a medical exemption in a 504 or IEP. Buses will have a limited supply of masks for those students who have forgotten their masks or who do not have one.
- How will we console a child from 6 feet away? Remembering that both children and teachers will be wearing masks, the next best protection for a teacher or child is to limit the direct contact between them to less than 15 minutes. We will care for all children.
- How do we conduct hands-on, group activities? There are two key components to physical distancing – we work to separate groups from groups AND parts of groups from other parts of groups. For example, we work to keep classrooms from interacting extensively with other classrooms. And we work to keep teams within the classroom from interacting with other teams in the classroom. So, in crafting hands-on activities or small-group activities, the key will be to limit the interaction in the small groups to chunks of time less than 15 minutes and to limit the composition of the groups so that the same students interact with the same students pretty consistently. This will help to minimize the number of students who may have to be quarantined within a classroom.
- Are tables okay in a classroom? Yes, tables are okay in the classroom. You may have to consider alternatives for how students sit at the tables, and the number of students who sit at each table. Remember that in our hybrid/blended model, we are trying to limit class sizes to 15-18 students in a room.
- What about our ERR students who need assistance – how will we protect our teachers? The district has a variety of PPE options available for ERR teachers, and their staff, who need to interact in closer contact with specific students. Schools/teams will work with our Special Education Department on appropriate safety protocols that will meet safety requirements and protect the personal connection with students.
Green, Yellow and Red Categories
- Where can I learn what the Green, Yellow and Red categories mean? The fall reopening plan approved by the board on July 30th included several supporting documents. One of these documents outlines key components and benchmarks for the district to consider in transitioning between the three stages.
- Who decides what category we are in? Although Southwest District Health will make the determination of which category we are in, the document linked above provides some guidelines to support the district in making decisions related to that determination.
- What will blended schedules look like for families? If the district is in the yellow category, or trending toward the yellow category, and implements blended learning using a split schedule, families will be issued a schedule based on last name. Families whose surname ends in A-L will attend school in person on Monday and Thursdays (the BLUE cohort schedule) while completing other work from home the remaining three days of the week. Families whose surname ends in M-Z will attend school in person on Tuesday and Friday (the GOLD cohort schedule) while completing other work from home the remaining three days of the week. Exceptions include families whose children have different surnames, families whose children have no siblings and are asked to attend an alternate schedule to help balance class sizes, and families who request that their children attend different schedules (provided we can accommodate those requests). Additional schedule variances may be recommended by IEP teams based on the specific needs of a student.
- When will families know what days their students should attend? Schools will begin to notify families of their assigned BLUE or GOLD schedule starting the week of August 17. Remember – NSD will start in a wholly online format. So, even though families are notified of their BLUE or GOLD schedule, the earliest this schedule will take place is after Labor Day. We want to be able to give families time to plan.
- When will students receive secondary schedules? High school daily schedules will be available to families sometime during the week of August 17. All scheduling issues will be addressed through email and not in person. Middle school schedules should be available after Aug. 18.
- Will students attend school in person every day? If the district is in the RED or YELLOW category, students will likely NOT attend in person every day. An IEP team may determine a schedule variance for individual students based on the level of their individual needs.
- What will the daily schedule look like? If NSD is in the GREEN category, daily schedules will look pretty typical. In the RED or YELLOW categories, schedules will be altered to maintain physical distancing, which could include a split schedule where only half of our students attend in person on a given day, or being wholly online.
- In a wholly online model or a hybrid model, who will watch our children if we have to work? The district is working with some outside agencies to provide childcare for district personnel who need to continue their role even if students are not physically in school 100% of the time.
- Will employees be able to work from home if we are wholly online? Yes, if they can successfully perform the requirements of their positions.
- Will the district work with employees regarding their own children? To the extent that we can, yes, the district will work with employees in caring for their own children. We are pursuing some childcare options for staff, we will work with employees under the CARES act regulations and will provide some flexibility in having staff children on campus when we are teaching wholly online.
- Will we take kids’ temperatures? The CDC has changed its recommendations related to taking temperatures as a screening precaution. At this time, we believe that taking temperatures is not incredibly effective because fever can be mitigated using medication. Also, determining the benchmark temperature of a student (in order to exclude) is difficult at best, and most methods for taking temperatures create physical distancing issues. In most cases, we will use physical screening methods to refer students to the nurse, who can then use temperature as a deciding factor. Daily temperature checks may occur with students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to communicate effectively regarding how they are feeling.
- Will we send sick kids home? We will follow SWDH and CDC guidance.
- How do we ensure that sick kids and staff stay home? NSD will work to educate parents, staff and students that if they are sick, they should stay home. If they become sick at school, they will be sent home.
- What if a parent doesn’t want their child to be screened for COVID? The visual screener that is in place is not invasive and is something teachers and staff do every day. Staff notice when a student doesn't seem to be feeling well or is out of sorts. That is what the visual screening does, checking for students that aren’t feeling well. Assure parents that when students don’t feel well, they are sent to the nurse in normal day to day operations, this is the same thing.
- What is the protocol for an infected student or staff member? If a student or staff member becomes sick at school, they will be sent home. Staff will be sent home or assisted in getting home if necessary. Students with COVID-like symptoms will be isolated and cared for at school until a parent can come and pick them up.
- Will you implement mandatory testing for COVID? Even if the CDC recommended this as an effective mitigation strategy (which they don’t), we do not have access to the number of tests this would demand. It could be possible to work with local partners to access COVID tests (after onset of COVID-like symptoms) for staff for a quicker return to work.
- What about compromised or vulnerable staff and students? Vulnerable students will be cared for through the 504 or IEP process, which will outline appropriate services, supports, and accommodations. Vulnerable staff need to report their vulnerabilities to HR so that NSD can follow federal guidelines in caring for them.
- If a child is home because of COVID, will their siblings be able to attend? It is likely that if a child tests positive for COVID-19, their siblings will also be quarantined. There may be circumstances where no close contact has occurred between the siblings and they may not be required to quarantine.
- Will students who are learning at home (either because we are wholly online or because we are in a blended learning model and they are learning from home on specific days) be able to access school breakfast and lunch? While we are online only, do students have to go to their home school to pick up a grab-and-go lunch? No. During online-only classes, we have developed a K-12 menu that will allow us to serve any enrolled Nampa School District student at any of our schools (for example, a high student can pick up a lunch at the elementary school next door to their house, or an elementary student who lives closer to a middle school can pick up a meal there). This means enrolled students can access the closest school instead of their home campus.
- How do I get breakfast during the grab-and-go meal phase? Breakfast for the next day can be picked up during lunch service.
- Will all meals be free, like they were when we closed in the spring? Breakfast is free to everyone at all schools and lunch is free to everyone enrolled at Sherman and Central. However, other students will be charged according to their status of free, reduced or paid. Please complete the free and reduced lunch paperwork found here.
- Can students still bring their own lunches to school?
- Who will monitor recess? Elementary buildings will continue to have duty schedules to ensure recess is monitored appropriately.
- How will you physically distance at recess? Most elementary buildings are creating schedules to limit the number of classes on the playground at once or plan for areas of play for each classroom on a rotating basis.
- Will you disinfect the playground? How often? We will not be able to disinfect the playground on a daily basis. We will work to implement other mitigation strategies such as social distancing, face coverings and hand washing/sanitizing before and after using the playground.
- Will you disinfect playground equipment like balls, etc? Playground equipment should be sanitized in between uses if it is shared.
- Will children be able to play on the equipment?
- Who will monitor students before school to ensure social distancing? Most schools will implement duty rosters to ensure students are monitored before and after school during entry and exit.
- Will there be athletics? Our intention is to work toward having athletic and activity seasons. We are working in conjunction with our SIC partner schools and the IHSAA. Currently, the guidelines from the IHSSA include no practices or competitions if school is not physically in session. However, there is a possibility that we could maintain conditioning and skill practice in small numbers if NSD is wholly online. In addition, the SIC has agreed (pending approval from various school boards) that it will delay the normal start of practice until at least August 17 and perhaps beyond. We are working to reschedule or postpone some events. We want our students back in school and back on the athletic and activity fields.
- Will there be DIII competitions? Our understanding is that DIII competition has been cancelled. We would support this competition in the spring if this comes up as a possibility.
- Will you allow spectators at athletic or other events? Currently, the SIC guidelines do NOT allow for spectators while districts are in YELLOW or RED categories.
- Will you cancel the fall schedule? We have not planned to cancel the fall schedule, but instead will work week by week toward the hope and reality of a fall season.
- How will we do substitutes if teachers have to quarantine for 14 days? If we are in the RED category and teaching wholly online, substitutes will be necessary only if a staff member is sick and cannot perform their duties at home. If we are in YELLOW or GREEN and a staff member has tested positive and needs to quarantine, the district will work to make substitutes available to cover classes. If we are following the appropriate mitigation strategies, we hope that teachers will not have to quarantine as a result of potential exposure at school.
- Will buildings hire their own subs? The district will maintain a substitute pool and will have some additional plans in place if we consistently operate in a substitute deficit.
- Is the district hiring extra subs? Positions are posted now on our website.
- What is the plan when we don’t have enough subs? Some non-classroom personnel might have to provide substitute coverage. If we are unable to fill classrooms on a consistent basis because of the number of staff who are ill or quarantined, we may have to move back to wholly online instruction.
- Is there any additional training for subs? HR is working on additional training for substitutes.
- Will subs even want to come and work for a teacher who has tested positive? The district does have some subs who are in vulnerable populations and they may not want to substitute in some classrooms or substitute at all.
- Can we utilize Title I and Special education staff for substitutes? Special education paraprofessionals may be used as substitutes if it is not essential that they remain with the student/classroom they are primarily attached to. Preference should be given to substituting in special education classes first, as that is their area of training.
- Will COVID supplies be provided (masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.)? Teachers should request these items through their building administrator.
- How will teachers be able to afford art supplies if we don’t share? Supplies can be shared if they are sanitized between uses.
- Will the district provide bins and wipes for student supplies? The district will supply cleaning supplies (such as wipes, spray bottles, cloths, etc.). The district is not planning to provide individual student bins at this time.
- How will we NOT share supplies at the elementary level? The district will work with our community partners to collect typical school supplies that will be distributed to schools. If we are unable to collect or provide what classrooms need, supplies can be sanitized and shared.
- How will we get supplies for children who cannot afford them? The district will work with our community partners to collect typical school supplies.
- How many kids will be on each bus? It depends. If we are in the YELLOW category, there could be approximately half the typical number of students on the bus. If we are in the GREEN category, buses will run with the typical number of students. In all categories, buses will load from the back to the front and will require face coverings.
- How will busing work? In the YELLOW category, buses will run daily except for Wednesdays, but will only transport those students on either the BLUE or GOLD schedule. Face coverings are required on buses during all three categories of spread.
- What about students with special needs? Students with special needs will follow the schedule and preventative safety measures as determined by the IEP team.
- Will we still transfer students between campuses? We have worked to minimize the number of students who have to transfer while maintaining choice and quality for our CTE programs. In addition, we will only be providing transfer buses before school, before second, before fourth, before sixth and at the end of the day. Masks will be required on buses.
- We have several students who need special education testing. Would we be allowed to test those students before the school year begins or on Wednesdays (assuming parents can transport)? This way we won't be taking students out of their limited classes and we will have significantly fewer people in the buildings. With less people around, we also might be able to keep doors open during testing to allow for better ventilation. Yes, you are allowed to begin assessments prior to the official start of school as long as appropriate safety procedures are followed. You are also allowed to complete assessments on Wednesdays as long as it doesn’t interfere with your other responsibilities in your building or with scheduled professional development. There may be options for online assessments in specific areas as well. Please consult with your consulting teacher.
- For staff who have meetings at multiple schools on the same day, are we allowed to attend meetings via Teams instead of going to multiple schools on the same day? Through Enrich we could digitally sign any documents needed. Yes, attending IEP meetings via Teams is allowed; most meetings will occur via Teams or other online platforms due to social distancing requirements and other safety procedures.
Teachers and Quarantine
- If teachers have to miss work because they are quarantined or test positive for COVID-19, will they have to use their sick/personal days? There are 10 days available under the CARES ACT (currently available until December 31st) that could be used with proper documentation. If additional days are needed for another exposure or illness, sick/personal days will need to be utilized.
- If a student in my class tests positive, will I have to quarantine? Not necessarily. Just because you were in the same room or around someone who tests positive for COVID doesn’t mean you had “close contact” and need to quarantine. The school nurse will visit with you to determine if you or other students or staff had close contact, defined as being closer than 6 feet for 15 or more minutes. If you both are wearing masks and you have short interactions with the student less than 6 feet away during the time the student was contagious, the exposure risk is lower. This means you wouldn’t have to quarantine at home and instead could monitor yourself for symptoms and continue to practice precautions (social distance, wear a mask, wash/sanitize your hands, respiratory etiquette, and staying home when you are sick).
- If a colleague in my building tests positive, will I have to quarantine? Probably not. Just because you work in the same building as someone who tests positive for COVID doesn’t mean you had “close contact” and need to quarantine. Remember to social distance, wear a mask, wash/sanitize your hands, practice appropriate respiratory etiquette, and stay home when you are sick.
- Will the school tell me if there are COVID cases in my classroom or my building? In my child’s classroom or school? Yes, our current plan and practice with SWDH is to send communication in the form of a letter to all students and staff in the building, while protecting the privacy of the student or staff member who tested positive IF there is enough exposure risk to be deemed necessary. If the person who tested positive wasn’t on campus during their infectious period, or if they were only in the building when no other staff or students were around, a letter would not be sent. Please note that communicating with everyone in the building could change if SWDH and the district determine that it would be better practice to just communicate with the families of students who were in the classroom(s) where the student or staff member was physically present, if other communication has been sent in the building previously.
- Will teachers who have to quarantine but are not sick be able to work from home? If we are wholly online, absolutely. If we are in a hybrid model (Yellow) or have all our students (Green) present, a substitute would be needed.
- Has the district prepared virtual lessons to be used? Teachers at NOVA have prepared content resources in core areas for grades K-12, which any teacher in the district can access and use for face to face, blended or wholly online classes.
- Are we going to be evaluated in all of this? If we do not evaluate, our teachers will not qualify for the professional or advanced compensation rung on the career ladder. In addition, without a proficient evaluation, no teacher advances on the career ladder.
- Will teachers be responsible for sanitizing their rooms? ABM will disinfect the rooms after school, but the teacher will be responsible for ongoing disinfection of spaces and shared materials throughout the school day.
- Will teachers have to buy their own disinfecting wipes and cleaners? No, the district will be providing either disinfecting wipes or disinfectant spray and paper towels for each classroom.
- What happens if a custodian is out sick? Who sanitizes? ABM management
Last updated August 7, 2020