2021-22 COVID-19 Learning Plan FAQs
(Updates are highlighted)

What factors are being considered relative to an increased need for mitigation strategies?
-Health experts have determined that new variants of the disease have become more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19.
-Currently, students under the age of 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated.
-Some Berrien RESA staff are unvaccinated.
-There is a current spike in COVID-19 transmission in our community. This spike is specifically affecting those individuals who are not vaccinated.
-There is growing concern that the Delta variant is transmissible even by those who are fully vaccinated.

What can we expect relative to notifications/procedures regarding transmission level changes?
The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) will determine our level of community spread EVERY FRIDAY in Berrien County based on 5 factors:
Community Spread
Health System Capacity
Vaccination Coverage
Early Detection of COVID-19 Increases
Populations at Risk

Using those factors, BCHD will work with school districts to determine the specific mitigations strategies that need to be put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the following week.

The recommendation will be shared with staff and families on Friday afternoon/evening, with implementation taking effect the following Monday through Sunday.

This may mean that strategies used at Berrien RESA may be different than those being implemented at local school districts. It is best practice to follow the most restrictive mitigation practices when faced with two different levels of mitigation strategies.

Unless the building is closed, staff are expected to report to their job sites and/or participate in local district meetings in-person. 

What are our health screening practices for 2021-22?
Staff will be expected to perform a health assessment prior to coming to work each morning. They will not be required to submit health status or symptoms into a portal this year. Instead, they will sign a form at the start of the year attesting that they will monitor their health and not come to work if they are sick.

Will additional sick time be provided for COVID-19 related absences?
At this time, no additional sick days will be granted.

What is our current masks/face covering protocol?
As of today (August 24, 2021), if you cannot maintain a social distance of 6 feet in an indoor setting, you must wear a mask/face covering. students are required to wear masks while on buses/vans. This is a Center for Disease Control and Prevention mandated requirement and will continue throughout the school year or until the mandate is lifted.

What will be done to clean/disinfect the learning/work environments?
Cleaning and disinfecting best practices will continue as appropriate. Increased cleaning throughout the day in classrooms may need to be implemented as an additional mitigation strategy.

Will we need to cohort students this year?
Students will not need to be cohorted at the beginning of the school year, however, they may need to be during the school year as an added layer of mitigation. Please refer to cohorting plans used last school year and plan for potential cohorting implementation (i.e. make lists of students that should be grouped together in anticipation of cohorting).

What is expected of staff if they must isolate/quarantine?
If a staff member is positive for COVID-19, quarantining will continue. Quarantining will not be required if you are a close contact, are fully vaccinated and symptom free.

Will Personal Protection Equipment be provided?
Enough PPE is in stock through the Facilities and Operations Department to support the district. PPE will be made available for staff and students (hand sanitizer, disposable masks, gloves, etc.) If PPE needs to be replenished or if specific PPE is needed, all requests must go through the Facilities and Operation Department. 

Will remote learning be provided for temporary closures?
If needed, a classroom or building may need to temporarily close due to high numbers of isolations/quarantines. To be prepared, staff should have at least two-weeks of lesson plans prepared should such transition occur. Please coordinate plans with your direct supervisor.

What should we expect regarding Professional Development?
Unless determined otherwise, professional development can still be offered at Berrien RESA. If social distancing cannot be achieved, masks/face covering must be worn.

Travel to conferences (in and out of state): Currently, travel is still permitted.

Will home visiting still be offered?
Yes. Home visitors are expected to wear a face covering/mask if they cannot social distance (6 feet). They should also continue asking health screening questions of those who will be present during the visit prior to entry of the home.

Will guests be permitted in district buildings?
Yes. Visitors should follow the same health and safety check-in procedures as last school year. 
What about COVID-19 case notification? We we still receive updates?
The district will continue to communicate probable and positive cases of COVID-19 as well as any other important COVID-19 procedural information via email. 

UPDATED 8-27-21
What if I have a doctor's statement that my student cannot wear a mask?
Please forward that information to your student's program principal/supervisor. Additional mitigation strategies may be put in place to continue to provide services while at the same time keeping students and staff safe.

What about students under the age of 2?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not changed its guidance on mask wearing for very young children. Children ages 2 and older should wear a mask in indoor settings. Berrien RESA programs will require students ages 2 and older wear a mask in any indoor setting (unless medically excused). Masks are not required or recommended for those students under the age of 2 (per the Berrien County Health Department).

Why are you requiring masks when Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the CDC only recommend the wearing of masks?
Both MDHHS and the CDC, along with the Berrien County Health Department, recommend that schools require universal masking in all indoor settings

What about students that refuse to wear masks?
As with last year, we will work with students on a case-by-case basis to maintain the safety and health of everyone in their educational environment. This may require behavioral support or the use of social distancing to achieve the same mitigation results.

Note: The district will comply with any and all local, state and federal mandates.
These FAQs may change and evolve as knowledge changes surrounding current and potential variants, community spread and availability of vaccinations for younger age groups.

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