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Reopening Q&A, COVID-19 Dashboard, and Video Update

1 February 2021

HCS-Starting February 11th, our high school students who chose the in-person learning option, will return for five days of face-to-face instruction.

 
After seeing success with our elementary and middle school reopenings, along with COVID-19 positive cases going down across the district since the beginning of January, we feel it is appropriate to make this decision.
 
Educating our students in a safe manner has always been our goal, and we will continue to follow safety procedures that have been in place all year.
 
We will also continue to follow the guidance provided in the Alabama Department of Public Health's Back to School Toolkit. 
 
At this time, nothing has changed from the ADPH in regards to close contact tracing or the 6/15 rule. Those who are identified as a close contact to a COVID-19 positive case at school, will be sent home to complete the close contact quarantine period of 10 to 14 days.
 
We are asking parents to please keep their student home if they have any symptoms of illness and contact their healthcare providers as needed.
 
Our administrators will continue to look at the data within our schools in the event a class, grade or campus needs to be shut down.
 
We appreciate your flexibility during these past few months, and we want to remind you that this is a fluid situation, and these plans are subject to change.

 

HCS COVID-19 Dashboard

 

Q: At what point might a school be closed entirely?

A: If conditions as dictated by public health guidelines deem a campus unsafe - and/or there are not enough personnel to safely and effectively operate a campus - the district will have no choice other than to close that campus.

Q: Why can’t the school system just hire more substitute teachers and substitute bus drivers?

A: This issue is not unique to Hoover City Schools. We compete with surrounding districts - all pulling from the same sub pool. Some subs have indicated to us they do not want to work in schools during a pandemic. In other cases, the subs themselves have contracted COVID or been identified as a close contact and thus have had to quarantine. Overall, we are using more subs district-wide, which stretches our sub pool very thin on any given day.

Q: How can I obtain more information about becoming a substitute teacher or bus driver?

A: Call our Central Office at 205-439-1000 and ask for the Human Resources representative that handles substitute teachers. You may also visit our Human Resources page.

Q: What can my household do to help?

A: If your child has a fever or is exhibiting COVID symptoms, please keep them home. We will get through this difficult time. We are hopeful that educators will receive the vaccine soon. Our students’ academic, emotional and physical well-being is important to all of us. If your child needs to speak with a counselor, there is a form available on our district and school websites. We appreciate your support as we phase in the reopening of our schools.

Q: When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available for school employees?

A: School employees, who are considered front line essential workers, are in the second phase to receive the vaccine. The Jefferson County Health Department hopes school employees will receive their first vaccine by mid to late February and the second dose by March.

Q: Who is on the District Coronavirus Task Force?

A: The District Coronavirus Task Force is comprised of district administrators, school administrators, the lead nurse for HCS, all of whom are in consultation with local health officials.

Q: Who is handling contact tracing?

A: Each School Nurse is performing contract tracing at school when she receives a report of COVID-19 positive person on campus. Principals, Assistant. Principals, Transportation and anyone else needed is assisting in the contact tracing at school. Teachers are questioned about the ability to social distance in the classroom and placement of desks, etc. Anyone determined to be within less than 6 feet distance for a period of 15 minutes or more is identified as a Close Contact and instructed to quarantine according to ADPH quarantine guidelines. It does not matter if both parties are masked or not. Masks are an additional layer of protection against spread of COVID-19 but are not a factor in identifying close contacts.

Q: If I have had COVID-19, do I need to quarantine if exposed again?

A: Close contacts who were diagnosed with COVID-19 by either (1) a positive Rapid Test or PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA within the last 90 days or (2) a healthcare provider based on their symptoms, and 90 days or less have passed since their symptoms began.

  • Those with no current symptoms of COVID-19 do not have to quarantine, and retesting is not recommended.
  • Those with symptoms should begin self-isolation immediately for 10 days after symptom onset and consult with a medical provider to determine if they may have been re-infected with SARS-CoV-2 or if symptoms are caused by another etiology.

Q: Are close contacts contracting COVID-19?

A: We do have reports of individuals who have been sent home due to Close Contact status at school developing symptoms and subsequently testing COVID-19 Positive. We do track this information when provided to us by the individual involved or their parent/guardian

Q: Why do we quarantine 10 to 14 days instead of seven?

A: Hoover City Schools strictly follows the ADPH Back to School Toolkit. The current version can be found online on the ADPH Covid-19 website. CDC and ADPH both state that 14 days of Close Contact Quarantine is still the best and preferred quarantine timeframe. BUT, CDC announced in early December that evidence shows 10 days of close contact quarantine may be allowable if the person has absolutely no symptoms and agrees to monitor for symptoms during days 11-14. CDC also stated that a close contact quarantine of 7 days may be allowable if the person has absolutely no symptoms and has a negative COVID-19 test result on or after day 5. Both options carry a significantly higher risk of releasing contagious persons from quarantine at 10 or 7 days as opposed to the preferred 14 day close contact quarantine. CDC stated they are allowing State Government and Public Health Officials to determine if adopting the new options were appropriate in their State, based on the COVID-19 status in their State. Alabama Public Health Officials determined that the 7 day option is not appropriate for the State of Alabama with the current COVID-19 situation but they would allow the 10 day close contact quarantine option if individuals meet the associated criteria. The ADPH Back to School Toolkit was updated on 12/11/2020 to reflect the change, and Hoover City Schools adopted the practice on that date along with other Districts in our area.

Q: What is the 6:15 rule, and why does HCS follow the 6:15 rule?

A: Public Health Officials state that COVID-19 spread occurs mainly among people who are within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time. For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient is isolated. COVID-19 Contact tracing, also referred to as contact investigation, is the identification, monitoring, and support of the individuals (contacts) who have been exposed to the patient and possibly infected themselves. This process prevents further transmission of disease by separating people who have (or may have) an infectious disease from people who do not. The 6/15 Rule is part of the guidance in the ADPH Back to School Toolkit. All schools in the state of AL are obligated to follow that guidance.

Q: Why are some who wear masks and sit between plexiglass still ending up in quarantine?

A: Plexiglass barriers and Facial coverings are additional layers of protection in the fight to lessen the spread of COVID-19, but are not limiting factors in determining exposure when identifying close contacts. While plexiglass barriers may help protect against large droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, the coronavirus can also be spread through smaller droplets that hang in the air. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth and help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people. The single most critical factor in determining potential exposure is the 6 foot social distancing. A close contact to COVID-19 is a person who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a period of 15 minutes or more, regardless of the use of face mask or other barriers. 

Q: Does the district have a mobile app?

A: While many of you may have a Hoover City Schools app currently, the contract for the app was not renewed, which makes the app inactive. At this time, the best source of information is the HCS website.

Q: What should I do if my student is experiencing mental health issues?

A: If your student is struggling emotionally, please reach out to your school counselor who is able to assist in a variety of ways including providing information and resources. If you have a safety or medical emergency and need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.

Q: How does my student receive mental health assistance?

A: You can also complete the District Counselor Request Form to request assistance.

Please be advised this form and any emails/messages you have left with a counselor are not monitored 24 hours a day/7 days a week. If you have a safety or medical emergency and need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.

Q: Where can I access meals from the Cafeteria?

A: Breakfast and Lunch are available each school day and also at curbside pickup, Monday-Friday from 11am-1pm, at Green Valley Elementary, Bumpus Middle, Simmons Middle and Berry Middle. There is also an evening curbside pickup on Mondays at Green Valley Elementary from 4pm-6pm

Q: Are the student meals free?

 A: Yes, Breakfast and Lunch meals are Free to all students at all grade levels for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. The curbside pickup of meals is available to ANYONE age 18 or younger (do not have to be a student of Hoover) for free.

Q: How will I learn of any changes or updates to these plans?

A: Any changes or updates to these reopening plans will be shared on the Hoover City Schools website, social media pages and mass communication system.

Q: May a third party rent a Hoover City Schools facility?

A: Facilities will be available for rent to interested third parties once Hoover City Schools resumes five days of instruction for all students.

Q: Is HCS considering eliminating Spring Break?

A: At this time, HCS is not considering the elimination of Spring Break.

Hoover City Schools’ Reopening Plans remain fluid and subject to change. We will follow the Alabama Health Department (ADPH) recommendations for close contacts. If an individual is within 6 feet for 15 or more cumulative minutes, the individual must quarantine for 10-14 days depending on whether or not they have symptoms.

We ask parents to keep their kids at home if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Again, if you have a safety or medical emergency and need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.

As vaccinations come about and awareness remains high, we are hopeful. We are all in this together. A return to normalcy, a 5-day school week in our case, will only come about with commitment and collaboration.

 

Quick Links

Mental Health Resources for Students During COVID-19

District Counselor Request Form

Alabama Department of Public Health Back to School Toolkit

Jefferson County Department of Public Health

Curriculum Q&A on Reopening Schools