Parents and Guardians,
As the first day of school is quickly approaching, I wanted to share some things with you.
The VCSC Re-entry committee has been working hard for months to devise a plan that keeps our students as safe as possible at school. Please be patient and know that our plans are subject to change as we get more information every day from the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Department of Health and our local health department regarding the safest practices for our students.
I know many of you have questions and I encourage you to reach out to me and I will try to help in any way I can.
There are several topics I would like to address in this email.
I will try to address some questions that have come up and give you as much information as I can to help you prepare to send your student back to school.
What if my child needs prescription medication during school hours?
All prescription medications will be kept in the nurse’s office. Please contact your building’s school nurse to make arrangements for getting the medication set up to be administered at school. We have a plan in place for daily medications, to keep our students as safe as possible. Paperwork for medication administration has not changed. We will still require a parent/guardian and physician’s signature. Please contact your child’s doctor and request an order for medications to be administered at school, including the dose and time to be given. Our nurses are unable to administer the medication until all proper signatures/orders are obtained. You may bring the order with the medication, but most offices are happy to fax an order to the school.
Lincoln High School: (812)885-1431
Clark Middle School: (812)885-1419
Franklin Elementary: (812)885-1440
Tecumseh Harrison: (812)885-1422
Vigo Elementary: (812)885-1454
Riley Elementary: (812)885-1451
Washington Learning Academy: (812)885-1457
What about over the counter medications at school?
We still require a medication permit to be signed by the parent/guardian. A physician’s signature is required if the OTC medication needs to be kept at school for longer than one week. Please keep in mind that headaches and stomach aches are on the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms, so there will not be as many cases of treating headaches and sending back to class as there have been in the past. More information on that below…
INHALERS: It is recommended that all students that need inhalers during school hours should use a spacer (and mask for younger children). Using the spacer prevents the use of an inhaler from being considered an “aerosol” treatment. Please ask your child’s medical provider to order a spacer for school and also send an order for the inhaler use at school. Your pharmacist might also be able to assist you with obtaining a spacer.
NEBULIZERS: No breathing treatments will be able to be given at school until further notice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please contact me.
SEIZURES: There is a new law in Indiana regarding children with a history of seizures at school. If your child has a history of seizures, please contact your child’s school nurse as soon as possible. We will need to have a Seizure Action Plan on file from your child’s medical provider and also work on an Individualized Health Plan to keep them as safe as possible at school. All of our corporation employees will be trained on seizure basics and safety.
What if my child becomes sick at school?
This process is going to be different this year, as we have to be sure we are not keeping children at school that have symptoms of COVID-19. The challenge is that the symptom list of COVID-19 is extensive. We must keep lines of communication open with parents so we can make the best decisions on a day to day basis. The current list of possible COVID-19 symptoms includes: CONGESTION OR RUNNY NOSE, FEVER, COUGH, SHORTNESS OF BREATH OR DIFFICULTY BREATHING, DIARRHEA, HEADACHE, NAUSEA OR VOMITING, SORE THROAT, MUSCLE PAIN AND FATIGUE, CHILLS, NEW LOSS OF TASTE OR SMELL.
If your child has one of the symptoms or complaints on the list, we will do an assessment to determine if this is a sudden unexplained onset or can be explained with an alternate reason. If your child reports with more than one of the symptoms on the list, they will be sent home. If your child has a fever, sudden loss of taste or smell OR breathing problems, they will be sent home.
Example: A child presents to the nurse with a stomach ache. There are no obvious verbal, visual or physical concerns out of range, the student can rest for 10 minutes to see if stomach ache resolves. If it persists, they will be sent home.
The Indiana State Department of Health has provided school nurses with a COVID-19 Screening Decision Tree to use and our nurses will be using this as a guide to keep our students as safe as possible at school.
If your child has any type of chronic condition that may present as signs or symptoms of COVID-19, please ask their medical provider to send a statement to the school, so we know that the presenting symptom is normal for your child and therefore not considered to be a symptom of COVID-19.
If your child is exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and it is determined that they need to go home, they will wait in a separate room from the nurse’s office. We have rooms prepared to keep students distanced while waiting on parents to come. A school staff member will supervise children who are waiting to be picked up. School staff will escort students to the door to meet parents, as we are limiting traffic coming through our offices.
If your child has been sent home with symptoms on the COVID-19 list, you will be asked to keep them home for 14 days from the day the symptom started or take them to the doctor for assessment. If your child has a doctor’s note with an alternate explanation for the symptoms (strep throat, etc.), then they may return to school as long as they have been fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication.
I realize this is a lot to process, but we will work together and get through this the best we can. Despite all the rules and regulations we must adhere to, I know our students can still have a positive experience at school. We are here to help!
What steps are being taken to keep the school clean?
Our teachers all have expectations in place to wipe down desks, doorknobs, counter tops and other frequently touched surfaces at different times throughout the day. Our custodians will be cleaning the bathrooms, stair railings and other high-touch surfaces multiple times a day. The nurse’s office and waiting rooms will be sanitized between each student. We are working diligently to stay on top of cleaning and sanitizing guidelines to keep our students safe.
What if there is a positive COVID-19 case at school?
The school nurse will be the “point of contact” for positive cases and with this will work with the superintendent’s office and the Knox County Health Office. If you have your child tested and are notified of a positive result, please call the school nurse or building principal immediately. They in turn will notify me as the corporation head nurse and I will then notify the County Health Department (if they haven’t contacted me first) and we will begin the process of contact tracing. At this time, one positive case does not “automatically” close the school. This is a case by case decision and our school administration and nurses will work with the health department at the local and state level to determine the best course of action. We follow the recommendations of our local and state health departments for all decisions regarding positive cases.
What is the definition of a “CLOSE CONTACT”?
A close contact is defined as someone you have been within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or longer. If we have a positive case at school and your child is determined to be a close contact of this individual, you will be notified and your child will switch to remote learning for 14 days after last contact with the person who tested positive, even if they are symptom free.
While your child is at school, we will be doing our best to “social distance” so that there is a very limited number of individuals that your child is actually in close contact with. We are working hard to have plans in place to social distance whenever possible.
What can parents do to help children and school staff?
- Talk to your children about masks, practice wearing them at home.
- Make sure your child has all the required immunizations for school. There are many kindergarten, 6th grade and 12th grade students that need shots. There has been a change in the state requirements for TWO Hepatitis A shots in all grades. If your child will be in grades 9, 10 or 11, they may need another Hepatitis A shot. Please let your school nurse know if you are unsure if your child needs shots and she will be happy to let you know.
- If you don’t have a medical provider for your child, start the process now to find one and become established with them. Your child’s doctor can help to determine if your child’s symptoms are related to other medical issues and get them back to school in some cases. Your child’s doctor can send statements to the school regarding ongoing medical conditions that may mimic COVID symptoms but can be medically explained otherwise. Please let me know if you need assistance finding a medical provider for your child.
- Talk to your children about proper hand washing and the importance of not touching their face. Our students will be instructed to wash hands often during the school day and there will be hand sanitizer in all classrooms. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing needs to feel normal to our students.
- Talk to your children about social distancing and the importance of making an effort to do this. We want our students to talk and socialize and enjoy one another, but we need to do what we can to prevent groups of students congregating and being closer than necessary.
- Update your contact information in PowerSchool and you can do so by calling the school secretary where your children attend school. If your child needs to come home, we need to be able to contact you. We do not want to have sick students waiting for longer than necessary.
- Let us know if your child has any allergies or health concerns so we can be prepared to keep them safe.
- KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME IF THEY ARE SICK. Please see the attached parent screening tool. Parents need to talk to children each morning and decide if they should be sent to school or not. Keeping them home when they are symptomatic helps protect other students and is a necessary step to keep our school safe. Vincennes Community School Corporation’s schools attendance policy will be flexible this year, as we navigate through these new guidelines and health protocols. Please do not send your child to school sick because you are worried about attendance. Give us a call if you are uncertain and we will work together to make a decision.
- Please be patient and flexible. We are navigating through new territory and we all want the same outcome. We want your children at school and we are working hard to make sure we do everything we can to ensure that students feel safe and supported.
- Most importantly: Reassure your child and remind them that although there will be things that are different this year, there are more things that will be the same. Our administrators, teachers and support staff are excited to have students back in the buildings and we are committed to doing whatever we can to help our families every step of the way!
PLEASE contact me with any questions you may have. I am here to help.
Sara Schutz, RN
VCSC Head Nurse