COVID-19 Updates

Last Updated: 10/22/2020 9:21 PM

Preston School District Parents, Students, and Teachers,

Our overarching goal is to have students at school, working directly with teachers as much as is possible.  All of our plans are designed to maximize the amount of time students can be in school together with their teachers. 

As we receive additional information and add details to our plans to deal with COVID-19, we will post those plans and information on this website.  Updates (if any) will be made each week on Thursday.  If you have concerns, questions, suggestions, please refer those to me (marc.gee@psd201.org). 

Thank you for all you do for education in our community!

Sincerely,
Marc C. Gee

Superintendent

Preston School District

UPDATE 10-22-2020

Preston School District Families,

I wanted to reach out and thank you all for your support and work as we made adjustments to our plans this week.  I know it was not easy for many, but I appreciated the way it was approached by all.  We have two more bits of information to share with all of you.

First, the board has approved to release students on November 3rd and no classes will be held in the district.  This will accomplish a few goals.  One, it will allow our polling location at Pioneer to be utilized without risk of disruption to the school day or students.  Two, it will provide more flexibility for all of our employees to exercise their right to vote on a day that may have some challenges depending on where they live.  Teachers will still be working that day and will be utilizing the time to continue to prepare and make adaptations for their classes to better serve those that are not able to attend due to COVID.  We encourage all to exercise their right to vote and cast their ballots.

Second, we wanted to make you aware as families of a program offered by the state of Idaho that may be able to assist you.  The program is called “Strong Families, Strong Students”.

Idaho families are facing many challenges as they are forced to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances in their children’s education because of COVID-19. Through the Strong Families, Strong Students program Idaho families are provided access to grant funds to help with their students learning.

Strong Families, Strong Students 
Is a grant program funded by Idaho’s Coronavirus Relief Funds, which provides Idaho students access to grant dollars that can be used to purchase educational goods and services that their families decide their students need.

Information regarding this program can be found here:

Strong Families, Strong Students Letter (English and Spanish)

FAQs (English)

FAQs (Spanish)

Strongfamilies.idaho.gov

If you apply for these funds you will need a document that shows your student was enrolled in one of our schools between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.  It will need the student name, a valid date, and the school name.  There are several items you could use (report card, student schedule, progress report, etc) if they have all of these things.  As a district, we will send, via our messaging service, a letter to all students in the district next week. 

If you have more questions about this program you can email Mr. Gee at marc.gee@psd201.org.

Thank you.

UPDATE 10-20-2020

Parents,

Last week as I shared information regarding the changes to our plans in response to COVID-19 I made some errors in the process that caused some problems for some of the families in our district. 

Schools were informed earlier in the day on Thursday of the finalization of plans and the message to parents was sent at 5:00 pm that afternoon.  Unfortunately, some of the students in the district received the information while at school, which meant that they received the message before their parents could have the appropriate conversations they would have liked to have had with their children.  As superintendent, I take responsibility for that oversight as I did not give schools specific instructions not to share the information.

I sincerely apologize for the problems this may have caused in your homes.  With matters of importance we try to make sure that parents are informed and have the information they need to have important conversations with their children as they see fit.  I have discussed this matter with the administrative team and we will do our best to avoid future repeats of the same mistake.

Again, I am sorry if this has caused problems for you.  Please reach out if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Marc Gee

UPDATE 10-15-2020 (en espanol)

Preston School District Parents and Students:

The county is continuing to see increases in the number of active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  After serious consideration and conversations with county commissioners, Franklin County Medical Center, Southeast Idaho Public Health, as well as feedback from you and parents via surveys and comments, we feel it is necessary to make adjustments to our plans to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe and to assist our health care community in their attempts to meet the needs, not just of COVID-19 patients, but all that might need medical attention, which could be put in jeopardy if cases and hospitalizations continue to rise unchecked.

We do not take this decision lightly.  Please understand that this is temporary and is only motivated by our desire to help assist our health care providers, keep our staff and students safe, and to keep our students coming to school on a daily basis for as long as possible.  This approach will be re-evaluated every 2 to 3 weeks depending on conditions. 

Adjustments for Preston School District 

  1. Masks required for students at PHS, FCHS, and PJH at all times unless eating or as instructed by a teacher or administrator.  Teachers and administrators may make allowances for students in their environments to remove their masks if social distancing of 6 feet can be maintained. (exceptions only for medical conditions presented by parents, approved by admin) Parents should plan to supply the masks for their students.  If that is not possible, cloth or disposable masks can be provided.
  2. Masks required for students when participating in group activities and when in close proximity at Oakwood Elementary and Pioneer Elementary as directed by their teacher (exceptions only for medical conditions presented by parents, approved by admin) 
  3. Masks will be required for students riding busses, including extra-curricular busses or vans.  
  4. Students who are found to be in within six feet for 15 minutes or more to other students with a positive COVID test will be required to remain home for 10 days after last exposure (staying at school will not be an option) 
    1.  Exception:  Negative nasal swab/PCR/antigen (not antibody) test will allow students to return to regular participation as long as symptoms are not persisting (this test is only valid after 7 days from most recent exposure). 
  5. Students who are required to remain home as a result will not have absences counted against them, however, they will be responsible for work that was prepared by the teacher during that time. (Student attendance at FCHS will continue to be monitored according to their regular plans)
  6. Staff members are expected to wear a mask unless 6 feet of separation can be maintained. As teachers are giving instruction they may need to do so without a mask.
  7. Volunteers and guests coming into the school will be required to wear a mask if proceeding past the office.
  8. Extra-curricular considerations
  • Parents and students are aware of the risks and will be notified if a player has tested positive on a team on which their student participates.
  • Masks will be required when riding in any school vehicle (bus, van, or car). 
  • Masks will be required of athletes and coaches on the sidelines. (may be removed to communicate with players on the court/field etc.) 
  • Students quarantined (for exposure) from school can still participate in after school activities as long as they are not displaying symptoms and wear masks for all but full action practice and drills.
  • Student participants will be masked whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.

Fans at extra-curricular activities  

Masks are required to enter but no limiting the number of spectators will take place.

Why are we making this decision? 

  1.  Active case counts reported by the health department and FCMC are well above the high risk limit. 
  2. 10-15% of the health care workers at FCMC are under quarantine because of COVID + testing or COVID exposure. 
  3. School District Staff positivity counts are increasing.
  4. Hospitalizations due to COVID are increasing. 
  5. Key service providers are quarantined as a result of COVID exposure. 
  6. Recommendations from federal and state agencies.
  7. The majority of parents who completed the most recent survey indicated that they would prefer a requirement for masks over an alternating schedule.

If cases were to continue to escalate the district may have to move to a schedule that limits the number of students in the building at any given time (like an alternating AB schedule).  As stated before, our primary goal is to keep students in school as much as possible and that will be the driving force for decisions related to schedule adjustments. 

UPDATE 10-5-2020

Preston School District Parents,
Thank you for your continued support as we have managed through the first month and a half of school.  We appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to continue educating your students in a face-to-face environment as much as possible. 

At this time, as cases continue to increase, we have been moved, as a county, to a high risk level by the health department.  According to our original plan, if that were to happen we would consider moving to an alternating schedule where students would come to school every other day.  This would be to allow for increased spacing between students both in classrooms and between classes.  The school board will be considering this move at the next scheduled board meeting unless cases continue to escalate, in which case, the decision may be made by the superintendent at an earlier date. ***PLEASE NOTE:  This is only to inform you as parents of our process.  This is NOT an announcement of a change at this time*****

If the district were to move to an alternating schedule we would do so on a temporary basis, analyzing the cases in the county and in the school every two to three weeks, with the goal of returning to a regular schedule as soon as possible.  If this were to happen students would be separated as follows students with last names A through K would attend on Monday and Wednesday and students with last names L through Z would attend on Tuesday and Thursday.

Additionally, the school district is considering, if we were to move to an AB schedule, to do so for students at Preston Jr. High and Preston High School only.  Our elementary schools and Franklin County High School are better able to separate students by class than PHS and PJH and have not had a significant number of cases among their students.  To help us as we consider this and a few other items, we have created a quick two question survey to better help us understand your perspective on these proposed changes. 

Finally, understanding that for many this is a sensitive issue, please recognize this is designed to give the school board information.  No decision has been made on this topic.  For many the alternating schedule, even if it were just for secondary students, may create difficulties in schedules and home life.  The goal of the alternating schedule is to attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.  An alternative could be to require students at the secondary level to wear masks when 6 feet of separation can’t be maintained, and elementary students, only when they are in close proximity to one another.  Accommodations could be made for those with medical conditions that would be complicated by wearing a mask.  Again, this is not making a decision, but providing information to the school board as they try to keep our students in school and learning face to face as much as possible.  A question about this will be included in the survey.

Parents, thank you so much for your help.  We know many things in regards to COVID-19 are frustrating and that often the school is in the center of those frustrations.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked on this process.

LINK FOR SURVEY

UPDATE 9-17-2020

COVID Mitigation Plan Update

If a student in school has been diagnosed with a positive COVID test

Only parents of students who had direct contact with the student will be alerted.

It is tremendously helpful if parents, upon learning of a positive case in a student, will contact the school as quickly as possible.  To that end we have created a method whereby parents, after hours, can contact the school to alert them of the positive test. The link will be on the district home page as of Friday, September 18th.  If positive results are received during the school day please contact the student’s school directly. 

After Hours Notification of positive COVID case:  Positive COVID Case Reporting Form

Form includes:

  • Name of Student
  • Parent/Guardian Name
  • Date and time of first symptoms
  • Date and time of test
  • Date and time received notification of positive result
  • Location of Testing
  • Swab testing or antigen/antibody testing
  • Students, besides those sitting by the student in class who have been within 6 feet for fifteen minutes or more.

Please notify as soon as possible.  If you receive positive results during the school day, please contact the school directly.

If students or staff were in close contact with a student or staff member with a positive COVID test. (any discussion of days is in terms of all days, not just school days)

  • If students or staff were wearing a mask when in close contact, no further action will be required.
  • Students and staff are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines to stay home for 14 days from last date of close contact (Within 6 ft for 15 minutes or more)
  • However, students and staff will only be required to stay home from school for 7 days from last date of close contact with a confirmed case.
    • Median date of infection is 5 days
    • With school-based close contact, most students will be required to miss school for 1-2 days.
  • If a student prefers to stay at school he/she will be required to wear a mask and symptoms will be checked regularly (daily) by school staff.  If symptoms appear, the student will be expected to go home.

Participation in Activities

Follow same guidelines as above

Testing for COVID as method for maintaining participation in school activities

There are two types of tests currently being offered to the general public.

  1. COVID-19 Viral Testing (nasal swab):  This test looks for the COVIC-19 virus in a machine that uses the PCR method to detect the virus.  It will detect the virus if you are currently infected.  It is most accurate in the middle of the infection period.  It will not detect the virus if you were infected in the past.
  2. COVID-19 Antibody Testing (blood):  This test detects the antibodies that your body develops to the COVID-19 Virus.  There are two types, IgM and IgG antibodies.  IgM indicates the body is currently infected and is only accurate 7-10 days after the most recent exposure to the virus.  IgG are only detected 7-10 days after an infection, indicating a past infection. 

While the district does not require or request students to be tested after a potential exposure it should be made clear that an antibody test cannot be used by the district to certify negative test results until 7 days have passed since the most recent potential exposure. 

The nasal swab test can be used to certify negative test results, regardless of the number of days after the most recent exposure. 

In any case, whether for extra-curricular activities or school attendance, if a student is symptomatic they should not participate is school classes or after school activities (games, practices, performances, etc). 

If the number of days recommended to stay home has passed and the student is still symptomatic, they should not participate in school classes or after school activities (games, practices, performances, etc).

UPDATE 9-8-2020 (en espanol)

Dear Preston School District parents, staff, and community members:

Today, we received notification that a student attending Preston High School has tested positive for COVID-19. While we must protect the privacy of the person involved, we believe it is best to communicate transparently with you so you can make well-informed decisions for your family.

There is nothing more important to us than the safety and health of our students, our staff, and their families. We have contacted those students and their families who had contact with this student and given recommendations for how to proceed.  If you or your student were not contacted by the principals or secretaries, your student was not identified as one who had been in contact with the student who tested positive.

As a district it is impossible to create a school environment that is both educationally sound and free of all possible avenues for virus transmission.  We will continue to follow all COVID-related safety procedures as outlined in the plan available on our website (prestonidahoschools.org).

COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. As more cases are being confirmed across the state, including in our community, we must be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure.

The CDC recommends the following best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. 
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. 
  • Stay at home when you or family members are sick.
  • Practice social distancing, leaving at least six feet between
          you and other people. 
  • Wear a cloth mask in public when you cannot social distance.

 

Our greatest priority is the safety of our students, staff, and community members. It is important to remember that children are greatly influenced by the reactions of adults when facing difficult circumstances. I encourage everyone to remain calm and to be empathic and respectful to those affected.

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your family, especially as we face this challenging situation together. Thank you for your support of Preston School District.

Sincerely,

Marc Gee
 Superintendent

UPDATE 8-12-2020

While there have not been significant changes to the overall plan for the district, many details have been filled in in this updated plan for returning to school.  

UPDATED RETURN TO SCHOOL PLAN

UPDATE 7-30-2020

We continue to fine tune our plan based on the feedback you shared on the survey.  A final draft of our plans will be available next week (ideally on Monday or Tuesday).  We have, however, created the application for parents to fill out if they would like to participate in the virtual option, as well as having created a virtual learning Frequently Asked Questions page, which we will update as we get more questions about virtual learning.  Those links can be found here:

VIRTUAL LEARNING APPLICATION:  FALL 2020

VIRTUAL LEARNING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We are asking that this application be completed by the end of the day on Monday, August 3rd to give us time to prepare and organize the virtual classrooms.

UPDATE 7-16-2020

In last night's school board meeting, a draft plan was shared with the school board.  Some adjustments have been made to that draft plan and that plan can be found at the link on the next line.

PRESTON SCHOOL DISTRICT:  DRAFT PLAN FOR OPENING SCHOOLS IN FALL 2020

We encourage all who are affected by this plan to read through this document, understanding some of the limitations.  First, there are still many details that we will work out as school approaches and will inform you as those are solidified.  Second, this plan is still in draft form.  This is deliberate at this point, so as to give you as patrons of the district an opportunity to share your feedback.  To that end we have developed the following survey that we would ask all parents and any other interested parties to participate in.  It is a little long (about 20 questions), but your input will help us as we continue to develop and finalize our plan.  The link for this survey can be found on the next line.

PRESTON SCHOOL DISTRICT:  PARENT/PATRON SURVEY

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work towards a positive start to the school year and wonderful educational experience for your students. 

NOTE: This message is being shared via our district messaging service, but we will continue to update each Thursday via this webpage.

UPDATE 7-9-2020

Idaho State School Board members released the recommendations for schools opening in the fall today.  Here is a link to those re-opening guidelines.  Our district has a preliminary plan that is being shared among teachers and administrators this weekend.  Between now and Wednesday the 15th we will be adjusting the plan to accommodate for feedback from those groups.  The plan will then be presented in board meeting and on Thursday shared with the public for comment.  Thanks to those who have shared ideas and concerns with the district through teachers, administrators, or school board members.  

We know this is a stressful time and that having a plan is important, but we think it is equally important to have all the pertinent information before we share so that we can keep further adjustments to a minimum.

UPDATE 7-2-2020

Unfortunately there is not a lot of new news this week.  Mr. Gee and district principals met together Tuesday to work through some questions and details regarding some of the different scenarios.  State School Board recommendations did not come out this week as they had indicated it would.  For a news report regarding the state board process you can click here

We will continue monitor news from the state board, but we are still on schedule to have a plan to review with the Preston School Board by the July 15th board meeting and immediately following the board meeting we will release a survey for parents to share their thoughts and input on the plan.