PPE and screening protocols for local school districts
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With hundreds of students and staff gathering inside school buildings at least a couple days a week, local districts will be working to keep COVID-19 out.
It's a new part of the back to school wardrobe this fall, face coverings for students and teachers in Wisconsin.
In the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Augusta school districts, masks are required for most of the day for most everyone in school.
It's one of many tools districts are using to keep everyone safe.
“Dividers that will be available for students on their desks that will offer additional protection. In our main office spaces will also have the plastic shield guards that you see that will offer some safeguards for those people that work in our offices. We’re also adding some additional PPE gear for our school nurses,” said Augusta Area School District Superintendent Dr. Ryan Nelson.
Physical distancing in schools is another tool districts are utilizing.
District officials say the effort to help keep COVID-19 out of local schools starts at home though, including temperature checks.
“That’s a really important piece of the puzzle. To make sure that we’re all monitoring our own symptoms and that parents are helping children monitor their symptoms so that if children aren’t feeling well they stay home,” said Eau Claire Area School District Executive Director of Administration Kim Koller.
If a student does come to school and later feels sick, Koller says there's a plan for that.
“We’ll have students that will get sick at school whether it’s with COVID or with something else. It happens every year where people spike a fever in the middle of the school day. The thing that will be different this year compared to previous years is that we will have what we call isolation rooms in each of our schools,” she explained.
Augusta, Chippewa Falls, and Eau Claire all have the so-called isolation room where students under the weather can keep distanced from their classmates.
“From there we’ll follow protocol and probably refer them for testing. Once the test is administered we will actually take that guidance from Chippewa County Department of Public Health so if somebody tests positive public health will let us know,” said Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District Business Manager Chad Trowbridge.
District officials say they're prepared for when, not if, there's a confirmed coronavirus case in their school with plans to work with their county's health department during that event.
In Augusta, the district held summer school for around 200 students without a COVID-19 outbreak.
Nelson says the time in the class has shown them what's working with screening and PPE tactics, and what could be improved.
“I think it has offered us an opportunity to run through our protocols and our procedures to see if there are any gaps or holes that we’re missing. You know things like the screening process, what steps were we maybe overlooking, or how long is that screening process take,” he said.
As for how these screening and PPE measures will last, each district says it’s an evolving situation and only time will tell as the school year goes on.
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