By Samuetta Hill Drew
This article is the third and last one in the safety series dedicated to student learning in a COVID-19 environment. The old saying “children are our future” remains true, pandemic or not. Investment in them reaps dividends for us all, both now and well into the future. Our lives will one day literally rest in their hands. Therefore, it is imperative that one of our greatest assets is being well nurtured and fed with the knowledge needed for us all.
This ever-evolving pandemic continues to test everyone’s ability to “color outside the lines” as we strive to regain some sense of normalcy within our day-to-day lives. Interviews with school superintendents these past three weeks have demonstrated how administrators and teachers are attempting to obtain the goal of student learning. This final safety article will explore how Dr. Shun Williams, Superintendent of Midfield City Schools addresses learning in a COVID-19 environment.
- Will you describe your school district’s process for monitoring COVID-19 cases among employees and students? How often is this monitoring process conducted?
- Midfield City Schools takes COVID-19 and the health of our students and staff seriously. Protocols have been put in place so that each building follows the same guidelines for students and staff screening. Each building in Midfield City Schools has been equipped with a walk-through monitor that captures the body temperature hands-free. School administrators, along with the nursing staff, should monitor student/staff temperatures upon arrival daily. For the smaller children, a hands-free forehead scan is made of their temperature each morning. This monitoring process helps alleviate any student-staff who may be displaying COVID-19 symptoms prior to them being allowed to mix with other staff or students. This process, completed daily, helps to identify potential problems. Midfield City Schools recently partnered with UAB and Luxor Scientific to provide weekly testing in our schools for students and staff. Tests have a 24-hour turn-around with online results.
- Once the COVID-19 data is collected, how is it used?
- Midfield City Schools respects the privacy of all their students and staff. Because of Privacy Issues only numbers of cases are collected and shared outside of the district. When there is a positive case, the results are shared with the school administrator and the Lead Nurse in the district. The nurse supervisor at the district level collects the data and reports this information to the Alabama Public Health Department (APHD) for the State COVID-19 portal. The Lead Nurse submits personal information to APHD for contact tracing purposes. Only Covid-19 weekly positive numbers are posted to our COVID-19 website.
- Can you describe your COVID-19 safeguards used in your school district to keep employees, students, and visitors safe?
- Masks are required inside all facilities in Midfield City Schools (MCS). A mask required sign is posted on all entry ways. Each building has custodians who assist with cleaning each facility on a regimented schedule with chemicals targeted to address COVID -19 every day. Teachers are given cleaning supplies to assist with ensuring their assigned areas are clean and safe for student learning. All stakeholders have the opportunity to receive valuable information as it relates to MCS COVID protocols and measures to assist in keeping our learning environments safe for our learners. Our superintendent and principals have actively kept our stakeholders informed by way of town hall meetings, announcements through our call out system, and/or written communications.
- How do you stay abreast with current COVID-19 trends in your area?
- Midfield City Schools understands the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of students, families, faculty and staff. Mental health information support is available through:
- Wellness Wednesdays – weekly emails providing information and social/emotional support for MCS faculty and Staff
- Parent Engagement Zoom Meetings – information on ways to support students’ mental health at home.
- True Life and Hope Counseling – individual counseling and small group sessions for students with identified needs.
- Peer Helpers – peer support and education regarding social/emotional topics and issues.
Midfield City Schools Nurse Supervisor, the Lead Nurse along with the Superintendent participates in all webinars held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), APHD in conjunction with the State Department of Education. The information, guidelines and handbooks are shared with each school administrator and department director. As changes occur emails are sent to all administrators with the current changes to share with their staff during meetings. Our district media specialist updates our COVID-19 website with current changes and updates so that all stakeholders are aware of current trends.
This safety series has outlined how a large, middle, and small school district Keeps an Eye on Safety during the pandemic for their employees, students and the greater community as a whole.