Safe Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan
American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER III Plan
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, allowing the U.S. Department of Education to allocate $121.9 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III). This legislation will provide funding for school districts across the country to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on our students and schools.
As part of a two-phase process to receive these funds, districts were required to draft a "Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan" for the 2021-2022 school year and seek input on this plan from all stakeholders. District 7 completed this process during June of 2021. With input from staff and community survey responses, District 7 also finalized a full plan for use of ESSER III funds over the next three years, which was submitted in August 2021. Both plans are below.
The public is invited to give feedback on these plans at any time by emailing email@example.com.
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan 2021-2022
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plans (ARP) Act was signed into law. In it, the U.S. Department of Education is providing an additional $121.9 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III Fund). This legislation will award grants to state educational agencies (SEAs) for providing local educational agencies (LEAs) with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.
South Carolina will receive $2,112,051,487 in ESSER III funds from the Act, with 90 percent being awarded to school districts with amounts determined in proportion to the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in summer 2020 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The remaining funds will be used for state-level activities to address issues caused by COVID-19.
This plan describes how the LEA or district will provide the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. This report template complies with all reporting requirements of the ARP Act (Public Law 117-2), the ESSER III grant terms, conditions, and assurances (CFDA Number 84.425U), and the interim final rule established by the United States Department of Education, 86 FR 21195.
Maintaining Health and Safety
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:
In Spartanburg School District Seven, we know the best place for students is in the classroom with their teachers and their peers; however, our first priority is to keep everyone safe. Therefore, protocols have been developed and implemented to enable learning to continue in the safest possible environment. Our protocols are based on medical science combined with educational best-practices to maximize students’ health and safety.
The district is committed to continuing the following procedures in the 2021-2022 school year, in order to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and entire District Seven community:
- With regard to COVID-19, Spartanburg District Seven will continue to work alongside local and state health officials, while also following guidelines and recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and South Carolina Department of Education to the extent feasible. County, State, and Federal guidelines regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and safety protocols will continue to be shared with our educators, parents, and administrators as the recommendations change.
- Spartanburg District Seven school buildings and facilities will be maintained to the highest standard, which includes routine cleaning throughout the day and evening. Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be properly stocked and signage encouraging physical distancing and general safety practices will remain in place.
- Spartanburg District Seven staff, to include custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and nurses will follow all cleaning protocols according to CDC and DHEC guidelines.
- In coordination with DHEC, Spartanburg District Seven will continue its contact tracing process, monitor infection rates and any potential spread of COVID-19 in our schools or facilities, and adjust procedures and practices as necessary. District 7 will follow CDC and DHEC guidelines for quarantines and exclusions.
Policies or Practices Regarding CDC Recommendations
Universal and correct wearing of masks
Masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors to Spartanburg District Seven for the 2021-2022 school year except in specific circumstances. On October 12, 2021, the District 7 Board of Trustees approved to require masks in individual classrooms or schools as needed in response to instances of COVID-19 outbreak, and to implement mask requirements and other COVID-19 safety protocols needed as accommodations for qualified students under ADA Title II and Section 504. The CDC and DHEC have also issued guidelines for wearing masks upon return from quarantine and isolation. The district will continue to monitor protocols and infection rates, and will adjust as necessary.
Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding)
Spartanburg District Seven Schools will continue to follow physical distancing guidance from DHEC and the CDC to the extent feasible for the 2021-2022 school year. The district will encourage teachers and staff to distance students when appropriate, but will not require the use of cohorts or "family classrooms" in the classroom. Based on the latest CDC guidance removing recommendations for plexiglass as a prevention tool, all plexiglass has also been removed from classrooms and our schools will not utilize this tool. District Seven's plan will include the following:
- Post signs on building entrances to encourage physical distancing and general safety practices
- Continue use of floor markers to remind students to social distance
- Separate desks as much as possible within classrooms • Allow parent and community volunteers on campus during the school day in a reduced capacity
Physical distancing practices to the extent feasible are a personal responsibility of each individual attending school or coming to a District Seven facility.
Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
In accordance with guidance from the CDC and DHEC, Spartanburg District Seven will continue to promote proper hand washing and respiratory etiquette on our campuses to ensure the health and safety of students, staff, and visitors. In addition, the following procedures will remain in effect:
- Continue hand washing protocols established in the 2020-2021 school year
- Continue to encourage physical distancing for students and adults to the extent feasible
- Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout schools
- Provide hand sanitizer as needed in regular classrooms, front office areas, and regularly used spaces
District 7 is monitoring the toxic hand sanitizer list and making sure that all of our products - hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays, cleaning solutions, and soaps - are safe.
Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation
In Spartanburg District Seven, the maintenance of clean, healthy facilities is a top priority, as we always aim to protect our students and staff. To ensure we continue to maintain our facilities to the highest standard, while also taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and/or other illnesses, the district commits to the following procedures:
- Install bi-polar ionization units, which help reduce airborne pathogens, on HVAC units in all schools
- Continue to provide additional hand sanitizer for student and teacher use in classrooms
- Continue to provide disinfectant spray or wipes for use as appropriate in classrooms during the school day
- Continue routine cleaning protocols throughout the day and evening as implemented in the 2020-2021 school year
- Continue to follow federal guidelines for school bus cleaning
District Seven custodial employees have been trained on COVID-19 safety protocols.
Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine
In the 2021-2022 school year, Spartanburg School District Seven will continue to follow DHEC and CDC guidance in regard to contact tracing, the reporting of COVID-19 cases, isolation, quarantine, and exclusion procedures for students and staff members. In addition, the district will closely monitor infection rates and any trends in respect to specific schools or buildings.
Diagnostic and screening testing
Given the readily available testing in our community, Spartanburg School District Seven does not directly administer COVID-19 testing.
Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible
Spartanburg School District Seven will continue to provide educational resources to staff and families about the COVID-19 vaccine. As much as possible, the district will continue to coordinate with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS), and other local providers, to help District Seven community members who wish to be vaccinated to receive the vaccine.
Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies and practices
In the 2021-2022 school year, students with disabilities will continue to have their needs met, as indicated by their individual education plans (IEPs) or section 504 plan. Any additional accommodations required will be discussed between parents and District Seven Special Services staff and implemented accordingly. The district's multi-tiered systems of support will provide high quality intervention tailored to each student's specific academic needs.
Coordination with state and local health officials
Spartanburg School District Seven has a longstanding cooperative relationship with local and state health officials, including Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and SCDHEC, to ensure the district continues to follow the best health and safety practices for our students and staff. In regard to COVID-19, District Seven will continue working with SCDHEC during the 2021-2022 school year to conduct contact tracing. As was done in the 2020-2021 school year, District Seven will continue to report positive COVID-19 cases, and close contacts who need to be quarantined, to DHEC.
Continuity of Services
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:
Continuity of services for all Spartanburg School District Seven students will be a priority for the 2021-2022 school year. District Seven will implement evidence-based strategies and programs to address the academic and social-emotional needs of our students at all levels. District Seven will also support our faculty and staff by providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through MYgroup for free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees and family members.
Spartanburg School District Seven has offered face-to-face instruction to all students in grades K-12 since August 2020 by using both a hybrid model at the upper grades and a face-to-face “family” classrooms model in all elementary schools. The hybrid model transitioned to fully face-to-face, five days a week in January 2021. For the 2021-2022 school year, instruction will be face-to-face five days a week for all students in grades K-12. District 7 will also offer a virtual option for grades 3 – 12 in collaboration with the Spartanburg County Public Virtual Program.
The district’s Academic Recovery plan is based on student assessment data which has been analyzed to determine the extent of learning loss. In response to the data, District Seven will use the iReady diagnostic tool to create individualized learning pathways to address learning loss. Students will work toward reaching “stretch goals” to accelerate learning and close the gaps in their learning. In addition, the district's Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework will be used to provide additional support and interventions for our students as we strive for “catch up growth” throughout the 2021-2022 school year. High school students will receive additional tutoring, content recovery and credit recovery to help ensure students are on track to graduate from high school on time. District Seven will work to ensure our graduates are college and career ready and meet the expectations of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL NEEDS
District Seven will address the additional social and emotional needs of students created by the pandemic by utilizing the evidence-based Second Step Curriculum which focuses on social and emotional learning. Our guidance counselors are receiving ongoing training to provide students with support to succeed in and out of the classroom. In order to strengthen the district's implementation of its Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS), a survey will be used to create individual student support plans that address the social and emotional health and wellness of our students.
GIFTED AND TALENTED
Our elementary Odyssey students will receive appropriate support on all levels from accelerated academic programs to interventions for learning loss and social emotional needs. Our Odyssey program will resume the normal weekly schedule for gifted students beginning with the 2021-2022 school year for all grade-levels.
SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
Individual Education Programs (IEPs) or section 504 plans are being reviewed to address learning loss and other student needs. Our highly qualified Special Education staff will ensure our students receive quality services specific to individual student needs.
Teachers will continue to follow individualized learning plans to ensure accommodations are provided for Multilingual Learners.
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:
Spartanburg School District Seven will review its "Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services" plan, in accordance with federal guidelines set forth in ESSER III legislation, and will update that plan as appropriate every six months.
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:
Spartanburg District Seven will, in accordance with ESSER III guidelines, provide ongoing avenues for public input on its "Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services" plan. This input will be gathered in a combination of methods, including but not limited to a feedback link posted on Spartanburg District Seven's website (spartanburg7.org).