NOTICE: FOR THE LATEST FSPS COVID UPDATES, PLEASE VISIT BIT.LY/FSPSCOVIDUPDATES. THANK YOU!
Click the image below to access the DESE End-of-Year COVID-19 Guidance for Schools PDF on the DESE Website.
This section was last updated on April 2, 2021.
The information below was shared originally as part of the Ready for Learning Plan for the 2020-21 school year.
STUDENT & STAFF SAFETY
Student safety continues to be our number one priority. As families review learning options and make decisions, Fort Smith Public Schools will continue to prioritize the safety of students. We ask families for their support as we determine the safest way to reopen schools.
New: Healthy School Guide from DESE
Take a look at this Healthy School Guide, new from the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Arriving at School
Fort Smith Public Schools is implementing the following procedures for students and families as they arrive to school:
- Parents/guardians will not be able to accompany students into the building.
- Parents/guardians will be encouraged to remain in their vehicles as they drop off/pick-up students, or to walk with their children to/from school to reduce possible virus exposure.
- School offices will encourage physical distancing and masks are required.
- Students, teachers and staff will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer immediately upon entering the building.
Visitors and Volunteers
At this time, visitors (including parents/guardians) and volunteers will not be allowed to visit FSPS campuses to eat lunch with students, join students in the classroom, or enter other areas of the school where students are present. Parents/guardians may make arrangements with the school office to address a student's daily needs or meet individually with their student.
Sterilization Response Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year
Obtaining cleaners and sanitizers has proven to be a challenge, but we have obtained an ample supply. We are continuing to research various sources and purchasing items to meet longer-term needs. Please view this document that outlines our Sterilization Response Plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Each classroom as well as any activity or common area will be sanitized a minimum of once per day.
- After passing periods, teams will be sent to spray common area touch points (water fountains, door knobs, locker handles, handrails, pencil sharpeners, etc.).
- Top to bottom disinfection occurs in the classes with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Public Reception Desks
Public reception desks are equipped with Plexiglass shields at all elementary and junior high schools. The public reception desks at the high schools will be similarly equipped as office construction projects are completed at those campuses.
School Entrance Access
Consistent with current security practices, only main school entrances will remain accessible after arrival times.
Partners in Education Mentors and Additional Mentors
Fort Smith Public Schools will work with its Partners in Education and mentors to develop alternative ways for these important student and school advocates to connect with students and schools virtually.
Food from Outside Vendors
At this time, staff and students may not order food to be delivered to the school from restaurants and other food vendors. K-12 students may bring their lunch to school or purchase food items at the school.
Parents may make arrangements to drop off forgotten lunches for their children by calling the office.
Over the last few months we have all learned that physical distance between people helps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other preventative measures such as wearing a mask is an important practice that will help contain the spread of the virus in situations where it is not practical for students and their teachers to maintain a 6’ distance from one another. In part for this reason the FSPS Board of Education has approved a district requirement for all students and staff to wear masks. Virtual School enrollment also indicates that fewer students will attend school on-site during the 2020-2021 school year. This will help to increase the distance between students in classrooms. With these actions in mind and with guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), FSPS continues to design particular processes in collaboration with school principals to help ensure students are following distancing procedures in the hallways and classrooms to the maximum extent that is practical.
Signage that communicates key messages about social distancing and safety will be posted throughout school facilities. Students arriving at school are encouraged to physically distance and spread out in larger common spaces until the bell rings to report to class.
Every effort will be made to provide distance but not limit each student’s ability to interact with others in their classroom.
Disinfecting Classrooms and Schools
Please review this PDF regarding disinfecting classrooms and schools.
Students and staff will continue to have access to facial tissue in classrooms and common areas in order to cover sneezes and coughs. Students and staff will be encouraged to cover sneezes or coughs with the inside of the bend of the elbow when tissue is not available.
Fort Smith Public Schools will encourage students and staff to follow CDC Handwashing guidelines to help prevent the spread of germs.
The Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of an emergency mask policy for students and staff on July 20, 2020.
Under this policy, kindergarten through 12th grade students will be required to wear a mask or face covering (a) while attending school or a school function in any school building, District facility or other area of a school campus or the District’s grounds, and (b) when riding in school-provided transportation. All masks and face coverings must cover the nose and mouth of the student. This Emergency Policy applies to students waiting outside school buildings before and after school, and to students waiting at bus stops.
- Students may remove masks and face coverings for eating or drinking;
- Students may remove masks and face coverings when appropriate social distancing measures are in place as determined by a teacher or school administrator;
- Students may be exempted from this Emergency Policy by the school principal due to a documented medical condition or disability of the student;
- Students may remove masks and face coverings on a case-by-case basis for specific instructional needs, including physical education activities, as determined by a teacher, in which case the teacher will require appropriate social distancing measures to the extent possible; or
- Students may remove masks and face covering while participating in athletic activities where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity or active exercise; or
- Students may be exempted from this Emergency Policy due to special behavioral or individualized needs as determined by the Director of Special Education or the Executive Director of Student Services.
Students who refuse to wear a mask or face covering at school or at a school function under this Emergency Policy shall be subject to discipline consistent with District Policy and exclusion from on-site instruction.
Under this policy, all District employees shall be required to wear a mask or face covering while working or attending a school function in any school building, District facility or other area of a school campus or the District’s grounds. All masks and face coverings must cover the nose and mouth of the employee. Employees shall wear masks and face coverings at all times except for the following:
- Employees may remove masks and face coverings for eating and drinking;
- Employees may remove masks and face coverings when appropriate social distancing measures are in place; or
- Employees may remove masks and face covering when six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the ability to safely and effectively perform an employee’s job duty;
- Employees may remove masks and face covering while participating in athletic activities where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity or active exercise; or
- Employees may be exempted from this Emergency Policy by the school principal or the Superintendent due to a documented medical condition or disability of the employee.
Employees who refuse to wear a mask or face covering at school or at a school function under this Emergency Policy shall be subject to discipline consistent with District Policy, suspension without pay and/or termination.
More Information on Masks
- Fort Smith Public Schools has ordered masks for staff and students (adult and child-sized masks).
- Staff and students are welcome to wear their own masks.
- FSPS has ordered lanyards for each student to help them keep up with their masks.
- According to state guidelines, faces shields may not be considered a substitute for face masks for students or teachers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Fort Smith Public Schools has placed orders for the following quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and students the 2020-2021 school year.
- 33,000 Adult Cloth Masks (for students in grades 5-12 and staff)
- 16,200 Youth Cloth Masks (for students in grades K-4)
- 2000 boxes Nitrile Gloves
- 24,000 3-ply Disposable Masks
- 120 Full Face Shields
- 3,000 Disposable Barrier Gowns
- 144 Protective Eyeglasses
The following PPE items are in the process of being ordered:
- 20,000 3-Ply Disposable Masks
- 2,000 Full Face Shields
Plexi-glass shields have been ordered for classroom teachers. The plexiglass shields that will be supplied to teachers are portable and can be used either at their desks or taken to small group tables or desks.
Before school begins, FSPS Facilities staff will be retrofitting two water fountains in each school as water filling stations (see pictures below). Two additional retro-fitted water fountains will be added in each school as quickly as possible. At this time, FSPS is not purchasing water bottles for students, but students may bring their own refillable water bottle to utilize. FSPS is also looking to purchase paper disposable cups for students and how to best distribute the paper disposable cups to students. Water fountains will not be available for use.
Screening for COVID-19
FSPS students (with family support depending on age and ability) and staff will be expected to self-screen for any COVID-19 symptoms before arriving at their school campus or building:
- Fever or chills (see above)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher should not come to school or a FSPS facility for 48 hours. They should be fever-free for 48 hours before returning. FSPS Student Health Guidelines as listed in the Student Handbook (pp. 9 and 10) continue to apply. “Parents should not send a student to school who has a fever of 100 degrees or greater.”
These are emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Students and staff may be subject to periodic temperature checks for verification, especially if they are feeling ill or suspected of having a fever during the school day. Each campus has a touch-free forehead thermometer to check/verify temperatures throughout the day. Anyone with a 100 or higher temperature will need to leave school. Staff are required to notify their immediate supervisors if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are presenting COVID-19 symptoms.
Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released this guidance on COVID Response for On-Site Learning. In the event of a confirmed case or cases of COVID-19 in our district, school leadership will contact our District Point of Contact (POC) who will report cases as quickly as possible to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) so we can receive guidance for next steps. This may involve actions at the classroom, school, and/or district level.
- When possible, the school nurse or trained school personnel will be the first point of contact for student health concerns.
- District nurses will continue to be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Attendance clerks will be trained to screen students/staff who are absent for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Students who come to the school health clinic showing symptoms associated with COVID-19 will be required to put on a face covering/mask until a parent or guardian arrives to take them home.
- School Nurses’ Offices will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Individuals - including students, teachers, staff or other campus visitors/volunteers - who have had close contact with someone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, and is presenting with COVID-19 symptoms, should stay at home until seen by a physician or tested.