ESSER 3 Fund Plan
Like school districts across the country, Highline Public Schools received funding through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Recovery Act (ESSER) to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
As ESSER 3 recipients, we are pleased to share our “Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan," also known as a Health and Safety Plan.
This plan addresses how Highline Public Schools will use ESSER funding to maintain the health and safety of students, families, and staff upon returning to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. Certain sections of this plan can serve as guidelines, of which each individual school will develop more detailed school safety plans applicable to each individual building's unique needs.
We will also maintain our robust safety plan formulated at the start of hybrid learning. We encourage you to view the plan in the link below:
Highline Public Schools has received ESSER 3 Funding to support our re-opening and recovery efforts to full-time learning for the 2021-2022 school year. As part of our application for these federal funds, we posted our Washington LEA Academic and Student Wellbeing Plan on the website in May 2021; this plan describes our strategies for addressing student academic, social, emotional, mental, and behavioral health needs in the 2021-2022 school year.
As ESSER 3 recipients, we are pleased to also make available on our website our “Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan”, also known as a Health and Safety Plan. This plan was developed and posted in alignment with the requirements of Section 2001(i)(1) of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act and within the thirty day window of receiving
ESSER 3 funds.
This plan addresses how Highline Public Schools will maintain the health and safety of students, families, and staff upon returning to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. Certain sections of this plan can serve as guidelines, of which each individual school will develop more detailed school safety plans applicable to each individual building's unique needs.
As Public Health guidance continues to change through the summer of 2021, we acknowledge that some sections of this plan will need to be updated throughout August and into the fall. For the most up-to-date information of our school safety plans, please make sure to routinely check our Return to Learn Web Page. which will also include additional guidance for topics not required to be posted in this plan by the American Rescue Plan, but which we feel is crucial to include in our overall return to learn planning for the fall.
Every aspect of our planning in preparation for the fall is aligned to the most recent guidance from the CDC and Washington State Department of Health for returning to full-time, in-person learning in K-12 schools. In addition, our safety planning in preparation for the 2020-21 school year and summer 2021 learning provided ample opportunities to collaborate with students, families, and staff in the development of our school-based and district-wide return to learning guidance. In the development of our district’s safety guidance to date, Highline Public Schools has incorporated comments and feedback from students, families, and the community across three different TNTP surveys, and multiple webinar and Thoughtexchange processes. In June 2021, we also held a public hearing regarding our 2021-22 budget, including a detailed section on our plans for the use of ESSER Funds; specifically, our investment in buildings that need improved HVAC systems, modifications to some instructional spaces to allow for social distancing, and ensuring that we have procured enough PPE and cleaning supplies as a district to support in-person instruction for the duration of the upcoming school year. This hearing included a section for public comment.
- Physical distancing
- Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including ventilation
- Contact tracing, isolation and quarantine
- Vaccinations in School Communities
Students, children, and staff will have the choice to wear a mask at school and/or at provider settings, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected.
Some may need to wear a mask because they or a member of their household is at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Students, children, and staff who are immunocompromised, medically fragile, and/or otherwise high risk for severe disease should consult their health care provider about whether or not to continue wearing well-fitted masks.
Masks in Extra-Curricular and Performing Arts
While masks are no longer required universally in schools or provider settings, Highline, in collaboration with labor partners, still maintains the requirement to continue utilizing PPE for some activities with increased exhalation, to the greatest extent possible, as outlined below:
- Aerosol-producing musicians, e.g., singers, woodwinds and brass are required to wear appropriate masks/face coverings and/or use appropriate bell covers while performing. Woodwinds and brass performers may remove their face coverings/masks when performing on their instrument and must replace their face covering/mask during non-performance time. Face coverings/masks with slits are recommended but not required.
- Universal masking with appropriate material – MERV13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material – is required in general music and elementary classrooms when singing is performed. Teachers should provide students with District provided singers’ masks to replace their cloth masks in these settings.
- Bell covers with appropriate material – MERV 13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material – are required for brass and woodwind instruments when indoors. Bell covers are recommended when playing outdoors but not required.
- Practice good hygiene collecting water condensation from brass instruments.
- Consider using “puppy pads” for students to empty spit valves rather than emptying directly on the floor.
- Desks in classrooms allow for three-foot social distancing for elementary and secondary grade levels. (This may change if new guidelines come into effect, depending on the classroom size and number of students.)
- Three feet physical distance in classrooms and six feet elsewhere, to the greatest extent possible. Physical distancing recommendations should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in-person learning to all students/families in the fall.
- Maintain six feet distance between students to the degree possible for the following circumstances:
- For all staff and students in common areas and community settings outside of the classroom, such as school lobbies and auditoriums.
- For all staff and students during activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as PE, exercise, or shouting. These activities should be moved outdoors or to large, well ventilated spaces whenever possible.
Continued handwashing stations available in all hallways that include hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, antibacterial hand soap, and adult and child disposable masks. Proper
handwashing is stressed to students and staff.
Students will wash hands upon entry into the classroom or other learning space. Schools should teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students,
teachers, and staff.
- Encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and immediately wash their hands after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Some students with disabilities might need assistance with handwashing and respiratory etiquette behaviors.
- Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies, including soap, a way to dry hands, tissues, face masks (as feasible), and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans.
- If soap and water are not readily available, schools can provide alcohol- based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
Signs & Guidance:
- Schools will post signage in classrooms and bathrooms about proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette
- Schools will post signage in hallways, classrooms, and entrances to communicate how to stop the spread of COVID-19 (symptoms, preventative measures, good hygence, proper respiratory etiquette, school/district specific protocols, etc.)
Cleaning and Maintenance:
Increased cleaning and disinfection is conducted by custodial staff. Custodial staff will continue to use electrostatic machine/targeted spraying, as an electrostatic sprayer adds an electric charge to the spray droplets so they are naturally attracted to the surfaces being sprayed and occupancy delays are short with spraying, as you only need to wait until surfaces are dry. The team will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces each night after students leave and when someone is sick in the room (vomit, blood, feces, urine).
As of Monday, March 14th, cleaning will resume on the standard, non-pandemic schedules.
Highline Public Schools has been meeting or exceeding the guidance from the Washington State Department of Health since hybrid return, and we will build on these basic requirements. Highline Public Schools will continue to:
- Change filters as needed (clogged filters decrease HVAC operation, stress the fan motors, and decrease ability to improve indoor air quality). Visually check the filter for a tight fit within the frame and ensure there are no rips or tears.
- Inspect and clean the entire system at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer or installer. Make repairs quickly to prevent more serious issues.
- Reduce recirculation of air; increase/maximize outside air.
- Increase filtration to the highest level possible. MERV 13 is recommended, if possible.
- Bring in outside air continuously two hours prior to occupancy and for two hours after occupancy, including while cleaning and disinfection is occurring.
- Inspect and maintain local exhaust ventilation in restrooms, kitchens, cooking areas, labs, etc. Increase exhaust ventilation from restrooms above code minimums.
- Work with a building engineer or HVAC specialist to generate air movement that goes from clean-to-less-clean air.
- Refrain from using ozone generators, electrostatic precipitators and ionizers, or negative ion air purifiers because they can produce harmful by-products. Portable HEPA air cleaners can supplement ventilation and are most critical in rooms with poorer ventilation or in isolation areas.
Air Quality Standards:
As of January 2021, HPS replaced all the filters, and the air handling units are set to industry standards. Air units allow four complete air exchanges in the building every hour, which is in compliance with industry standards. In efforts to go beyond this standard, HPS started the process of reprogramming the air handling systems to increase the airflow to five exchanges per hour, which will allow outside air to enter the building every 8-10 minutes, rather than every 15 minutes. The operable windows be opened for additional circulation; however, all doors leading into a hallway are to remain closed, as per fire and life safety code.
While our HVAC/filtration systems currently meet the standards set forth by the CDC and DOH, Highline Public Schools continues to test airflow and filtration systems regularly.
In addition, Highline Public Schools worked with McKinstry to develop a detailed Investment Grade Audit (IGA) of HVAC upgrades. The purpose and goal of the HVAC upgrades is to improve ventilation airflow and Indoor Air Quality of the classrooms at the selected school. Some of the schools are very old with existing infrastructure well beyond typical useful life. Therefore, the following schools have been selected to be part of the HVAC Upgrade Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund(ESSER) Funding Project:
- Beverly Park Elementary School
- Big Picture (Manhattan) High School
- New Start (Salmon Creek) High School
- Sylvester Middle School
- Valley View Early learning Center
The main focus at these buildings is to improve classroom ventilation and comfort by replacing aged unit ventilators, installing new steam lines, and upgrading electrical infrastructure to accommodate the new equipment electrical requirement..
Currently the design process of the HVAC Upgrade is underway. McKinstry is working on preliminary equipment selections, evaluating existing electrical infrastructure, preliminary pipe routing and structural evaluation of proposed new piping.
Highline Public Schools will continue its protocols from the 2020-21 school year for case investigation , isolation, communication, and response. This original guidance was developed in consideration of feedback on all COVID protocols from the Muckleshoot Tribe, the Washington Department of Health, the University of Washington, and HPS students, families, and staff. In the 2021-22 school year:
- The district is required to directly notify any student who has been identified as immunocompromised, medically fragile, or otherwise at high risk for severe COVID-19 of potential exposure.
- Notification will be provided to all employees and high risk individuals, irrespective of their vaccination status or recent infection within the past 90 days.
- School leadership (including site-based COVID Response Leads) and nurses will continue to receive support and training on how to report positive cases to the district’s Special Projects COVID Response Team through Collab or Microsoft Teams.
- COVID Team is available for support.
- We do not need to contact trace (or submit a positive case report) if the positive case was not on site during their infectious period and did not expose anyone. Someone’s infectious period begins 2 days before their symptoms began, or the day they took the positive test if asymptomatic. They should be listed in your school’s COVID tracker so that you can track any return dates and/or transmission occurring in school.
- If a person tests positive for COVID by a molecular or antigen test, they can return to school when all of the following are met:
- It has been 5 days since symptom onset, or since positive test specimen collection date, if no symptoms are present, and individual has a negative antigen test result
- it has been 24 hours after fever resolves without use of fever-reducing medications
- symptoms have improved
This isolation guidance applies regardless of vaccination status.
This update includes the removal of Close Contact definition and protocols. General exposures to a positive case will be addressed by submitting a positive case report, sending out a building-wide notification, and offering testing to the group that was exposed.
- The district will continue to leverage various strategies in accordance with each building’s individual school safety plan for school-based leadership to collect information about positive cases and report information to Special Projects COVID Response Team in a timely manner.
- COVID Team will serve as liaison to ensure all information is collected and the report is submitted to Public Health successfully. COVID Team will handle follow-up interviews from Public Health of Seattle King County (PHSKC).
- In the event of exposure for staff and students, the Special Projects Team will continue to follow DOH and Public Health protocols (linked in resources) and serve as the primary liaison between school district and Public Health Seattle and King County in order to enact contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, communication, and response protocols in a timely manner.
- Special Projects Team ensures complete reporting of information, communicates most updated public health information, and answers questions/concerns from district members.
Highline Public Schools is actively engaged in Fall 2021 COVID vaccination planning in partnership with Public Health Seattle & King County and the University of Washington.
HPS has already teamed with University of Washington to offer vaccine clinics at different district sites. We will continue this partnership to promote vaccination drives and open vaccination clinics.
Along with the additional vaccine clinics offered at district sites (in partnership with UW), HPS will offer information and resources for families looking to receive the vaccine.
Public Health Seattle & King County on July 19, 2021: “As part of efforts to integrate COVID-19 vaccination into routine care, King County’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic has moved from the Kent ShoWare Center to King County’s Kent Public Health Clinic. In addition, starting July 25, King County’s COVID-19 vaccination site at the Auburn Outlet Collection Mall will move locations within the mall to Suite 1369 (across from the Gap Factory Store). At both sites, anyone 12 or older can get vaccinated for free, with no insurance or appointment needed, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.”
More information on vaccination access to school communities will continue to be provided via our COVID-19 Vaccination website.
This plan was developed in alignment with the following guidance:
- CDC: CDC K-12 School Operational Strategy (January 6, 2022)
- Washington DOH: Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools, Child Care, Early Learning, Youth Development, and Day Camp Programs (March 7, 2022)
Data show that transmission in schools is the same or lower than in the community. Our experience in Highline is consistent with this. Since November when we began serving students with special needs in person, we have had no COVID transmission from classroom contacts.
Our COVID Dashboard shows all reported staff and student cases, starting January 1, 2021.