COVID-19 PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS
Public Health Assumptions:
- The virus that causes COVID-19 will remain in circulation, and people will be susceptible to the virus until an effective vaccine is developed and widely used.
- A vaccine is not likely to be in broad use for the next 12 to 18 months.
- During this time, improvements in understanding of the virus and in testing will allow public health officials to act with greater precision when taking steps to slow the rate of infection. Broad stay-at-home orders and long-term school closures are less likely to be needed in the future.
- Children and staff with significant health conditions will continue to be especially vulnerable during this time.
- Teaching and reinforcing prevention behaviors (social distancing, face coverings, handwashing and cough/ sneeze etiquette) and promoting flu vaccinations will continue to be important strategies in slowing the spread of this and other infectious diseases.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces will also be needed throughout this period.
School Operation Assumptions:
- Conditions are not likely to improve quickly enough to allow schools to resume normal (pre-pandemic) operations for the 2020-21 school year.
- If schools are permitted to re-open, it is likely that operations will need to be modified until schools resume normal operations. Should viral transmission flare up, schools will need to be prepared to respond quickly and be flexible to adjust to reclosing and reopening of campuses as needed.
- It is unlikely it will be safe for schools to fully return to normal operations until the following have occurred:
- The directive to physically distance has been removed
- Restrictions on group gatherings have been lifted
Economic Impact Assumptions
The economic impacts of the pandemic will have significant and lasting impacts on schools.
- State tax revenues have fallen well below those of previous years and reductions in school funding are likely. Leaders will need to advocate for regulatory flexibility, including state and federal waivers to address unprecedented financial challenges.
- Need for increased services:
- School nutrition programs will be needed by more students and will become a more significant portion of their access to food. Accommodations to provide continued access to meals for children who are ill or required to self-isolate may be necessary until COVID-19 is controlled.
- The District will need to respond to increased student and family mental health and wellness needs.
- The number of children and families experiencing homelessness and eligible for the support services and protections required under the federal McKinney-Vento Act will likely increase.
- Structural changes (staggered schedules and/or blended learning configurations), the need for enhanced cleaning, and protective equipment to implement social distancing will need to be addressed.
- Potential COVID-19 Effect on Attendance:
- Schools have the responsibility to serve all students and will need to continue offering remote earning to ensure student access to learning.
- Students and staff with COVID-19, and those who are directly exposed, will probably need to stay out of school for two or more weeks. In larger households, children may be required to stay out of school for an extended period if the virus affects other members of their family. These quarantine protocols underscore the need to maintain high quality, flexible, remote learning options throughout the school year.
The social-emotional impacts of the pandemic will continue to affect many students and staff.
- Fear, loss, and isolation will result in the need for increased and continuing mental health supports.
- The impact of ongoing social distancing restrictions may overwhelm the coping skills of many.
- Coping for people with pre-existing mental health concerns will be very difficult.
- Social distancing requirements may impede schools’ ability to engage students through athletics, the performing arts, and other extracurricular programs that involve close contact or large gatherings
- Public Response: There will continue to be a broad spectrum of opinions in the community regarding government and school responses (from schools are overreacting to under reacting) to COVID-19.
- Local Decisions: The challenges posed by COVID-19, and the duration of this threat, will make it more difficult for school districts to make unified regional decisions. Differences in resources, negotiations, community concerns, and direction from county public health services in response to local conditions will impact decision-making.
Adapted from COVID-19 Planning Assumptions