Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan 

Maintaining Health and Safety Overview 

A district’s plan must include how it will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and LEA staff, and the extent to which it has adopted policies or practices and a description of any such policies or practices, on each of the CDC’s safety recommendations including: universal and correct wearing of masks; modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding); hand washing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation; contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the state, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments; diagnostic and screening testing; efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible; appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies or practices; and coordination with state and local health officials.

Description of maintaining health and safety 

Sumter School District (SSD) will begin the 2021-22 school year with face-to-face instruction five days a week. Our academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students remain at the forefront of our response to reopening schools safely.  Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and other agencies in addition to input from our stakeholders are very important in planning for the reopening of our schools. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sumter School District utilized ESSER funds to purchase Personalized Protective Equipment (PPE), including facemasks, shields, gowns, plexiglass dividers for office areas and classroom use, and hand sanitizer and wipes. Bottle refill stations, sanitization stations, and signage regarding safety are strategically placed throughout our buildings. We have also hired additional nurses, social workers, and building services staff to help meet the needs of our schools.  In addition, our schools have modified their arrival, dismissal, lunch, and transition between class procedures to discourage students from congregating in groups to the greatest extent possible. SSD will continue to limit non-essential visitors and activities and encourage schools to incorporate virtual events when possible.   

Our Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan further describes how SSD will maintain the health and safety of students and staff as we return to five days of face-to-face instruction. 

Policies or Practices Regarding CDC Recommendations

Universal and correct wearing of masks
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable 

Beginning Monday, October 4, 2021, Sumter School District will require students, employees, and visitors to wear face masks in our school buildings. As a precautionary measure, visitors will be limited in our schools.

The South Carolina Department of Education is enforcing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) order requiring the use of face masks by students and staff on state owned and operated school buses. In compliance with this directive, effective Monday, August 30, 2021, Sumter School District will require face masks on all school buses. Our bus drivers will offer a face mask to any student who boards a school bus without a face mask. 

Face coverings are required by students, staff, and visitors in healthcare areas of school facilities. Locations designated for healthcare, testing, or for awaiting pickup due to illness are considered healthcare facilities. Individuals being assessed, tested, or dismissed from attendance due to respiratory symptoms are required to wear a face covering while in these designated healthcare areas and also when transiting to/from these areas.

All face masks must adhere to the Sumter School District Dress Code.  No inappropriate symbols, pictures, language, or messages can be displayed.

Recommendations for wearing face masks correctly:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.
  • Masks should be washed regularly, inspected for damage, and discarded and replaced when damaged.
  • Masks should be stored in a clean, dry location, and they should never be shared.
  • Do not put the face covering around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Do not touch the face covering, and if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.


Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding) Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable
Schools in SSD will allow for physical distancing within the classrooms, hallways, and other areas of the school to the greatest extent possible. Many classroom settings were adjusted to allow for physical distancing as well as the removal of any unnecessary furniture. In classrooms where students cannot observe physical distancing of three feet or more, plexiglass shields will be utilized as an additional safety precaution. Transportation will comply with DHEC and CDC guidelines regarding capacity that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.

Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

Schools should take the following steps to help keep students and staff from getting sick. These steps should be followed at all times, and not only during a pandemic.

  • Encourage respiratory etiquette by providing staff and students with education and reminders about covering coughs and sneezes and easy access to tissues and running water and soap or alcohol-based hand cleaners.
  • Remind staff and students to practice good hand hygiene and provide the time and supplies for students and staff to wash their hands when needed.
  • Clean surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact with cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas. 
  • Have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks available and ensure they are worn by school nurses and other staff caring for sick individuals at school.
  • Post signage reminding students and staff about physical distancing in prominent locations throughout each school campus.
  • Teach and reinforce proper handwashing techniques, avoiding contact with one’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes. 
  • Post signage in high visibility areas to remind students and staff of proper techniques for handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes and other prevention measures. 
  • Ensure adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap, tissues, no-touch trash cans, face coverings, and hand sanitizers (with at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol) for staff and students who can safely use hand sanitizer. 
  • Minimize the sharing of supplies and equipment among staff and students to the extent feasible. When items must be shared, clean and disinfect items between uses.
  • Minimize staff’s and students’ contact with high-touch surfaces (e.g., propping open building or room doors, particularly at arrival and departure times).
     

Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation 

Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable 

Sanitization

  • At least daily, and more frequently if feasible, clean and disinfect frequently touched hard surfaces (e.g., tables, desks, chairs, door handles, light switches, phones, copy/fax machines, bathroom surfaces (toilets, countertops, faucets), and playground equipment) and shared objects (toys, games, art supplies, books) pursuant to CDC guidance.
  • Only use cleaning products and electrostatic sprayers approved by the district.
  • Ensure proper ventilation during cleaning and disinfecting.                     
  • Introduce fresh outdoor air as much as possible, for example, by opening windows where practicable. When cleaning, air out space before students arrive; plan to do a thorough                      cleaning when students are not present. If using air conditioning, use the setting that brings in fresh air.
  • After an illness, limit access to areas used by the sick person (e.g. a student’s desk or a staff member’s office) until cleaned and disinfected.
  • Limit the use of items that are difficult to clean and sanitize. 
  • Establish a cleaning and disinfecting schedule to avoid both under- and over-use of cleaning products.

School Bus Sanitization between Routes

  • Drivers will disinfect the bus after each route including high touch surface areas.
  • Buses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily and after transporting an individual who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.

Ventilation

SSD upgraded the filters for the HVAC units from MERV 8 to MERV10. The filters are changed once a month. 

Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable 

Isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine of close contact recommendations will continue to be based on current CDC and DHEC recommendations. District protocols should be based upon those guidelines to ensure the safest options to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our staff and student populations. Those exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 will be excluded from the school setting for a 10 day isolation unless they present a negative COVID-19 test or alternative doctor’s excuse. They should also be fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications and have significant symptom improvement prior to returning. The close contact definition for quarantine excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if the exposed students wore masks during the exposure time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.

Diagnostic and screening testing
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable
SSD is not currently participating in school-based testing for COVID-19. There are no current plans to implement testing on site or through an outside vendor at this time. The lead nurse has been in contact with the school testing coordinator at DHEC in regards to staying abreast of testing options for the 2021-2022 school year should the need arise. 

Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

SSD partnered with Prisma Health to provide COVID-19 vaccination clinics in March and April 2021 for staff at the Sumter County Civic Center. The SSD Lead Nurse has inquired to Prisma Health and Walgreens to explore the possibilities of offering a COVID-19 Vaccine clinic for students in September 2021 if needed based on the current vaccination rate data at that time. (Currently, the vaccine for those who are 12 years of age and up in our community is widely available, but should that become limited, the need for a school-based effort may arise and will be coordinated by the district’s lead nurse). Efforts will be made to educate, promote, and encourage our students and staff to get vaccinated by offering information about the vaccines available on our school district website, to include places that parents can access for their child(ren) (ages 12 and up) if desired.

Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies and practices
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

What additional support will my child receive? 

  • Students identified as special needs with an IEP or a 504 plan may participate in additional class sessions designed to provide supplemental instruction to meet goals. 
  • Students identified as English Language Learners will participate in additional class sessions that are designed to support and promote language proficiency. 
  • Students identified as Gifted and Talented will participate in class sessions designed to provide enrichment and promote academic growth. 

My child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP). How will the goals be addressed? 

  • The Office of Student Support Services is committed to providing students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education and access to high quality general education and special education programs and services. 
  • The LEA ensures to the greatest extent possible that students with disabilities will receive special education and related services outlined in each Individualized Education Program (IEP). 
  • Parents will be contacted by the lead teacher/case manager to discuss the current IEP and the service delivery model. The IEP team and parents will collaborate to implement the plan. 
  • Each team will monitor students’ progress while delivering appropriate services. Students with disabilities will be given the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. 
  • Teachers will have professional development that addresses virtual learning and social emotional learning. 
  • The LEAs will assure that standards-based, high quality instruction will be provided across all instructional delivery models.

My child has a 504 plan. How will his/her accommodations be addressed? 

  • The district will continue to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities as general education students, including the provision of FAPE and accommodations under Section 504. 
  • The district will continue to implement and provide accommodations as listed in individual 504 accommodation plans under Section 504. 
  • 504 plan meetings will be held to assess and determine each student’s individual needs in order to access the educational services provided in the current service delivery model. 
  • The students’ progress will be monitored on an ongoing basis.


Coordination with state and local health officials
Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

SSD’s school nurses will continue to communicate as needed with DHEC and our assigned DHEC contact tracers. Positive COVID-19 cases in staff or students will continue to be reported within 24 hours to the DHEC school contact. The district’s lead nurse will continue to communicate with the state school nurse consultant when questions or changes in DHEC recommendations arise. She will also stay abreast of Health Alert Updates issued by CDC or DHEC and respond appropriately.

Continuity of Services Overview

Districts must describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff social, emotional, mental health and other needs, which may include student health and food services. 

District response on continuity of services

Academic Needs

SSD will begin the 2021-22 school year with a five-day per week, face-to-face instruction for students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district will also provide the option for a virtual program for students in grades six through twelve who are medically fragile. 

SSD has developed a Sumter School District Academic Recovery Plan to address students’ academic and SEL needs. The SSD Academic Plan contains measurable goals for student growth and achievement in ELA, mathematics, social emotional learning, science, and college and career readiness. Each goal addresses how our district will accelerate learning using measurable targets to maximize growth, diminish achievement gaps, and provide accelerated learning. Accelerated learning will focus on moving students from below grade level expectations to meeting and/or exceeding grade level expectations.  In addition to the goals, the SSD Academic Recovery Plan contains strategies for meeting the goals, how each strategy addresses each tier of learning lag from mild to significant, a timeline, and funding source.

As a critical component of our academic needs, progress monitoring will be continuous, ongoing, and utilize a variety of resources. Semester data meetings with principals and leadership teams and formative and summative assessments including MAP, SCREADY, Exact Path and classroom observations will all be used to evaluate progress toward these goals. As the data warrants, SSD plans to adjust the plan to provide appropriate support.

Spring, summer, and fall 2021 data will be used as baseline measures to determine academic gaps in reading and mathematics. This information will be used to identify learning loss and skill identification to employ additional interventions in reading and mathematics including, but not limited to, tutorials before and after school, as well as reading and mathematics interventions during the school day. Literacy and mathematics academic growth and progress for students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be assessed via NWEA MAP assessments in fall, winter, and spring. 

In grades 9-12, schools will utilize state-provided strand data, as well as the state data review, to provide professional development for teachers who teach courses for which the state requires an End-of-Course assessment (EOC). SSD common-assessment data will be utilized to monitor growth and progress in EOC courses throughout the year. Schools will provide ongoing support for academically at-risk students who have demonstrated learning loss, as a result of the pandemic, through small-group instruction, interventions, credit recovery, and tutoring. All high schools will continue to strive to increase the number of students who are deemed college or career ready and to increase the number of students who are on-time graduates. In addition, schools will continue to develop and implement strategies to improve all state report card measures.

A continuum of interventions will be provided that supports Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Instructional staff will participate in professional learning opportunities to ensure compliance with Act 213, which requires schools to report data on the implementation of MTSS and universal screening procedures for students in kindergarten through second grade.

Special Services

Sumter School District  is committed to the Child Find process and efforts under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Progress-monitoring will be used to monitor students’ IEP goals to identify learning loss/gains.

SEL

MTSS teams are an integral part of the school community and are involved in meetings regarding students’ academic, emotional, mental health, and social needs.  Our district collaborates with Santee Wateree Mental Health to provide services and support.  

Multilingual Learners

SSD will prioritize the scheduling of ESOL services for English Learners (EL) in order to maximize service minutes. Schools will continue to schedule EL students with teachers trained in sheltered-instruction content strategies. Teachers will follow the students’ individualized learning plans to ensure accommodations are provided for EL students as identified. Essential information, at a minimum, will be provided as needed in the languages of students.

Gifted and Talented Students

Schools will schedule gifted and talented students with thoughtful consideration to ensure that continuity of services is maintained. Schools will determine the master schedule and groupings, keeping in mind the needs of gifted and talented students. Existing screening tools used for the identification of gifted and talented students will be utilized. 

Professional Development

Opportunities will be provided to facilitate collaboration and professional development that safely supports the professional growth and development of all staff. Educators will receive ongoing professional learning related to the pedagogy and strategies to promote student learning, social-emotional wellness, and success. Professional development support for the implementation of instructional standards and priorities and updated curriculum maps will be customized for educators based on their grade-level assignments and/or specific content areas. Professional learning communities within and across schools will be utilized in an ongoing manner for the exchange of resources and best practices, as well as discussion of challenges and needs.

Food Services (Updated July 9, 2021)

The Sumter School District Food Service Department established procedures to provide meals to students who are unable to attend school in person due to COVID-19.

Students will receive and consume meals in the cafeteria. At the principal’s discretion, a class may receive meals in the cafeteria and consume them in the classroom.

Periodic Review Overview

Districts are required to review and, as appropriate, revise their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan at least every six months through September 30, 2023, including seeking public input and taking such input into account in determining whether to revise the plan and, if revisions are determined necessary, on the revisions it makes to its plan. If a district developed a plan prior to enactment of the ARP Act that was made publicly available and was developed with public comment, but does not address each of the required aspects of safety established in the ARP Act, the district must, as part of the required periodic review, revise its plan consistent with the ARP Act requirements no later than six months after it last reviewed its plan. 

District response on ensuring periodic updates to its plan 

During the period of the ARP ESSER award (until September 2023), SSD will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every six months, and the school district will seek and take into account public input during the review process. Plan revisions will address updated CDC guidance on safely reopening schools, if any are issued.

Public Input Overview 

The ARP Act requires that school districts make their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan available to the public online and that the plans be in an understandable and uniform format; to the extent practicable, are written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable, orally translated; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability, provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. Before making its plan publicly available, school districts must seek public comment on the plan and develop the plan after taking into account public comment.

District response on public input in development of its plan 

During the development of the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan, SSD sought input from faculty, staff, parents, students and community members through an online survey. In addition, input from our Executive Team and our Reopening of School Taskforce, which consists of representation from various stakeholder groups, was also taken into consideration in the development of the reopening plan. As we review our plan periodically, SSD will take into account feedback from our advisory councils in addition to survey data. 

The plan is posted at www.sumterschools.net.

The plan is available in multiple languages. Through the use of our web provider powered by Google, our plan is available in 109 languages.

Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting Executive Director of Student Support Services Veronne Davis at 803-774-5500.