2021-2022 COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols
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As we navigate the 2021-2022 school year, we appreciate the support of our students, families and staff in keeping our community as healthy as possible.
We are monitoring and consulting available resources through local, state and federal agencies. Meridian complies with all applicable federal and state employment and disability laws, workplace safety standards and accessibility standards to address individual needs.
If Texas schools close due to a staff shortage, as we had to do in secondary last spring, the time will have to be made up — either over spring break or to the end of May. Staff, students, and families do not want this to happen.
Meridian district and campus administration presented the Back to School/Health and Safety Plan to parents August 2. All parents were notified of this meeting via parent newsletters from each principal the week prior to the meeting, through the News section of the Meridian website, listing on the school calendar, and through Facebook. It was widely attended via Zoom with at least 289 in attendance. The recording was shared with families in Principals' newsletters the week after, as well as on the news article. Many parents expressed a desire for remote learning to continue and for masks to be required of all students. The difficulties of remote learning and problematic outcomes for students and for teachers was shared with parents as well as the Governor’s mandate that masks not be required. Additional questions and suggestions were shared afterwards via the parent group Volunteers in Partnership and responses shared in the same document.
Meridian began school on-campus for all learners with the International Baccalaureate instruction and framework at the heart of our all that we do, including the Learner Profile. It is such a pleasure to have almost 1700 eager students return to campus along with the almost 225 staff members. With a possible few exceptions, all students will be in their usual classrooms, be that the general education classroom with resource available for support or the Functional Learning Classrooms in Primary and Secondary. All are staffed on campus and welcoming students.
Meridian has added a new counselor position to the secondary school providing for additional support to middle and high school students and a new Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum that was rolled out in the spring to our students will continue this year. Primary will continue with MindUP and additional SEL learning opportunities this year.
This year, we all acknowledge the learning loss that has taken place since March of 2020. We are working to implement HB4545 with weekly tutoring and intervention strategies to raise our students to the levels to which we know they are capable. Tutoring is required for all students who failed a subject in the STAAR exams or an End of Course (EOC) exam. Time has been built into the primary schedule for students to receive during their regular school day. Secondary, for the most part has followed a similar strategy working within the advisory period, design study hall time, and high school study halls.
In the Primary School the all students in Kinder through 3rd grade will be screened in both math and readying with our new MCLASS screening system. Amplify Reading is the K–3 adaptive early literacy assessment and instructional tool. The program helps our educators provide an individualized, student-led instructional path to continue their literacy growth. MCLASS also provides a math assessment program that uncovers students’ mathematical reasoning and measures fundamental skills to build success. Both programs have universal screenings and progress monitoring tools.
For secondary students, STAAR and BOY assessments were used to identify students who qualified for tutoring outside of the classroom. The additional screening tools of Delta Math and Achieve 3000 (for reading) were implemented this year to determine further needs. All other students in need are supported through the RTI process.
Students with disabilities will follow the same protocols for all students unless exceptions are outlined in their ARD files. Contract service providers and evaluation staff will follow Meridian protocols when working with students.
Where are vaccines available?
We encourage students and adults who are eligible to receive a vaccine to do so (age 5+). You can find out where to schedule a vaccine here. A vaccination clinic will be held on campus for interested families Dec. 8. Look for details on the website.
Where can I find more information about COVID-19 safety in schools?
Research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), among others, has found that while children do get infected by COVID-19 and some severe outcomes have been reported in children, relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized or have severe symptoms. As of Dec. 31, 2021, Williamson County has reported 0 deaths in ages 0-19 from the virus that causes COVID-19. The County reports that 60% of the total population is fully vaccinated.
Meridian continues to be in contact with the state and local health officials to determine how to best mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our campuses, monitoring calls with the TEA Commissioner twice monthly and the Williamson County & Cities Health District monthly.
Where can I find the COVID-19 dashboard/updates at Meridian?
You will find COVID-19 notices and updates on the Meridian World School website under the COVID-19 tab on the front page. This includes our dashboard with reported cases. If you have questions about procedures and protocols, email [email protected].
Masks on Campus
As of December, 2021, the federal and state courts continue to remain unsettled in regards to school districts having the ability to require masks. Meridian School leadership strongly recommends masking at this time for students, staff, and volunteers, for the following reasons:
- Williamson County has returned to red, or “high transmission,” following Thanksgiving.
- The CDC continues to recommend that areas with “high transmission” include wearing face masks in indoor public spaces.
- Control measures like wearing masks can help protect immune-compromised students and staff.
- By keeping transmissions low on campus, we reduce the need for up to two week’s quarantine (and pivoting to remote learning during quarantine).
We highly encourage all members of our Meridian Community to do the following:
- Vaccinate for COVID-19! With vaccinations now open to age 5 and older, the majority of our community should be eligible for vaccinations. When you choose to get vaccinated, you help keep those who cannot get vaccinated safe.
- Get your booster! The CDC has opened up boosters to everyone age 16 and up! Schedule yours over the winter break.
- Wash your hands! It’s an oldie but goodie.
- If you suspect someone in your household has COVID or is a close contact, learn what to do here.
- Wearing masks is one of the best preventative safety tools at our disposal for our unvaccinated students.
Why isn’t virtual learning an option?
The Texas Education Agency will not fund districts for virtual learning this year, and we are not able to offer an alternative. Meridian will offer on-campus learning only. As a single campus charter school, we are limited by funding and personnel to offer a distance learning option for a second year.
Free Meal Program for all Students
For the 2021-22 School Year, Meridian World School is participating in the National School Lunch Program Waiver that allows our campus to offer FREE breakfast and lunch to ALL ENROLLED students on campus. Middle and High School will continue to offer à la carte options available for purchase.
We will permit only essential visitors during school hours to the Primary and Middle School campus. We encourage all visitors to wear face masks while inside the building to protect themselves and our students. Visitors will complete a short health screen upon entry into the lobbies.
Because our students in athletics are age-eligible to receive vaccines, athletics events will go on this year. During games, athletes will wear their mask unless playing on the court. Additional safety measures include testing athletes competing in indoor sports before each game. All spectators and non-athletes will be required to wear masks, as well as athletes when not actively playing. Disposable masks will be available at the door for all events. See an athletics COVID-19 protocol overview.
Will there be a morning health screen?
There will be no morning health screen this year. As always, we encourage families to check for fever or if children feel unwell in the morning before coming to campus. Students and staff should stay home if they’re feeling sick.
What happens if we travel outside of Central Texas during the school year?
What if my student is absent or needs to quarantine/isolate?
If your student will be absent, report the absence via email. As with any absence, parents and guardians may contact their student’s teachers to pick up homework for their student. Please email our Health Team at [email protected] to report a positive test for your student.
Through guidance from the Texas Education Agency, there is a Remote Conference option to address the educational needs of students who are isolating at home due to a positive case for COVID-19 or are quarantining due to close contact (details here).
For complete quarantine and isolation procedures, read on …
If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they may return to school once ALL of these measures have been met:
- At least 10 days have passed since the symptoms began and
- They are 24 hours fever-free (temp of 100𐩑 F or higher) without using fever-reducing medication; and
- Improved symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing, etc.)
- Lost of taste and smell may persist and need not delay the end of isolation
Please email our Health Team at [email protected] to report a positive test for your student.
Anyone who is unvaccinated and has had contact with someone that has tested positive is strongly encouraged to quarantine as follows:
- Return to campus after day 10 without testing, or
- Return to campus after day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).
*Per TEA guidance, Meridian requires students to quarantine if they are a close contact of someone testing positive for COVID-19 within their same household (for example, a sibling or parent).
Those who are fully vaccinated or who have been confirmed positive within the last three months will not need to quarantine unless they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. For staff who meet the close contact threshold with a COVID-19 positive individual, if these staff continue to work on campus, rapid testing must be performed periodically for 10 days postexposure. Unvaccinated staff considered close contacts are tested daily.
The CDC defines close contact to include anyone who came within six feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness/symptom onset until the time the patient is isolated.
- If a student/teacher is identified as positive at any grade level, our health team will work with the student, teacher, and parent to identify any close contacts.
- Parents of students who are close contacts will be notified directly and quarantine will be recommended.
- Families of students sharing any classes (including After School) with the test-positive student will be notified via an emailed letter. Close monitoring is recommended, but the student does not need to quarantine.
- The general school population will be notified via the COVID-19 dashboard on our website.
- We do offer COVID-19 testing, as supplies remain available.
- If an individual who has been at Meridian has been identified with a test-confirmed case of COVID-19, Meridian must, by law, notify the local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Meridian must also file weekly reports to the Texas Department of State Health Services on new COVID-19 cases among students, teachers or staff, whether the cases were contracted on or off campus, and whether the campus closed as a result.
- Meridian will immediately send any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school to the nurse’s clinic.
- The nurse will provide a clinical assessment to determine if and when a student needs to be sent home.
- Students who are ill will be separated from their peers and should be picked up within 30 minutes to no later than 1 hour from the time the campus has contacted the parent/guardian.
- Students in that classroom will be moved to another location and their classroom will be disinfected as soon as possible.
- Teachers and staff who begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 while on campus should notify their principal and/or supervisor and make plans to leave the campus immediately.
General Health and Hygiene:
- Meridian will have supervised hand sanitizer stations at each entrance. Students will sanitize their hands prior to entering the building each morning.
- Meridian classrooms will have hand sanitizer in each classroom. Students will sanitize their hands each time they return from the restroom.
- Students, teachers, staff and campus visitors will be encouraged to sanitize and/or wash their hands frequently.
- Students will engage in supervised handwashing for at least 20 seconds twice a day, in addition to being encouraged to wash hands after using the restroom and before eating.
- Students will be guided on good handwashing techniques.
- Students, teachers, staff and visitors will be encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, covered in their elbows. Used tissues will be thrown in the trash, hands should be washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer will be used.
- Meridian will continue more frequent cleaning practices, especially within the classrooms - by the custodial staff, teachers, and students, in ways that are safe and developmentally appropriate.
- There will be additional cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces like door handles, common tables/desks, shared supplies (though this is discouraged to the extent possible), and high touch devices like shared laptops and tablets.
- Commonly touched surfaces in classrooms that are shared between different groups, i.e. middle and high school classrooms, will be disinfected between different classroom groups.
- Meridian uses green products approved by the CDC and will ensure cleaning products used by students in pursuit of this practice will be safe for their use.
- All students will be instructed on their first day back on campus on appropriate hygiene practices and other mitigation practices adopted for the school.
In the fall of 2020, Meridian engaged a mechanical engineer to work with our facilities manager and professional service team to inspect our systems from the units to the airflow to the computer systems. The engineer was able to determine maximum airflows for each unit to increase ventilation. With the work of the service team and a testing and balancing firm, the airflows were achieved.
- Masks are defined as non-medical and medical grade disposable face masks and cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). The wearing of masks is mandatory, as of Aug 23 (see section on page 2).
- We recommend bringing an additional mask or two inside a plastic bag in their backpack in case the mask they are wearing becomes soiled.
- Classrooms will once again have between 22-25 students.
- Students will not share supplies to the extent possible. Primary students will be able to keep their supply box at their desk.
- Secondary students will not be assigned lockers. Students are encouraged to bring only what they need for that day to lighten their load.
- Classrooms will receive extra cleaning during the day including:
- High touch surfaces: pencil sharpeners, door handles, laptops, etc.
- Desktops will be cleaned by students as is age appropriate with cleaning materials in the classroom between classroom changes by the departing students. Arriving students may clean again if they wish.
Restrooms & Water Breaks
- Students will be allowed to go to the restroom on an as-need basis; however, grade levels in primary will be encouraged to schedule as a class to avoid mixing students in the restrooms.
- Students will be instructed to social distance to the extent possible in the restrooms, one child per sink.
- Students will be instructed to wash hands using soap and water for 20 seconds, and hand sanitizer when re-entering the classroom.
- Students are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles from home. Water fountains will be fully operational, but water bottles are encouraged (and may be easily filled via the bottle filling stations).
- We may limit gatherings, including pep rallies, spectator events, etc., at Meridian when Williamson County and Cities Health District is in Orange or Red.
- The Primary Cafeteria has been expanded into two rooms, allowing for one empty seat between each student. In Secondary, additional seating for students was added outside the Mays Cafeteria and the High School entrance last year.
- We understand the value of online parent and guardian meetings allowing more people to attend, and we also value the importance of in-person connection. We are investigating the possibility of livestreaming parent meetings. As the Governor’s emergency order has expired, Board meetings will return to in-person in September, per the Texas Open Meetings Act.
- Arrival: Students will arrive at the ordinary time:
- Primary 7:30 to 8 am.
- Secondary 7:30 to 8:30 am.
Parents are not allowed to bring students any earlier as staff is not on site to provide supervision to children arriving early. The main entry doors are opened at 7:30 for all buildings.
- Students must enter through the designated entrance as indicated on the carline maps.
- Students must stop and sanitize hands at a supervised station prior to entering the building.
- Students must go directly to the cafe for breakfast OR to their classroom to await the start of class.
- Departure: Meridian Primary will continue with the digital carline system, PikMyKid. This app is also a communications messaging system for all grades.
- Waiters will be offered during the 2021-2022 school year.
- K-5 Enrichment/Triple A and 6-12 After School will use the PikMyKid app to notify supervisors digitally that they are on site to pick-up their student. Students will be sent to the car under supervision. Parents are not to enter the building at this time unless pre-arranged.
- Fast Lane Carpool lane will be operational for Primary.
Cleaning & Disinfecting
- As reported earlier in this document, high touch surfaces within the classroom will be cleaned and disinfected more frequently, including pencil sharpeners, door handles, digital devices. This cleaning will be completed by the teacher in conjunction with the classroom students as age appropriate.
- Custodial staff will clean and disinfect all restrooms prior to lunch and once after lunch before the end of day.
- The cafeteria tables, chairs, and stools will be wiped with disinfectant between students.
- Custodial staff will clean and disinfect student restrooms at the end of the day for students participating in afterschool programs on campus.
- Meridian employs a night service for evening cleaning. In addition to their regular scope of work, they will provide the following:
- Clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces and areas surrounding, i.e. door surface around door handle in classrooms, corridors, restrooms, and all public areas.
- Wipe all table and desk tops with disinfectant.
- Wipe all cafeteria tables with disinfectant.
Please keep these things in mind as we begin the school year:
- Per Texas Education Code (TEC), 25.092, students must attend 90% of the days a course is offered in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. This requirement remains in force during the 2021-2022 school year.
- Meridian has a higher standard of attendance as described in our Parent/Student Handbook. You will be alerted if your student is not regularly attending classes or if several classes/days are missed. If attendance cannot meet the requirements as outlined in pages 10-11 in the handbook, your student may be withdrawn and returned to their home district.
- We acknowledge that quarantining and isolation for a positive case or close contact may be required and we request you notify us via email. A positive case should be reported to [email protected]. Quarantining due to close contact should include the dates you will be absent.
by Williamson County and Cities Health District
Williamson County COVID-19 Dashboard
Daily update available through Williamson County. See page.
$168,000 (From WILCO)
ESSER II $51,235 (Tech connectivity program)
ESSER III $159,442
ESSER III SUPPLEMENTAL $1,068,906