Co-Vid19: Cardinals Information Plan

At Good Shepherd Catholic School, we are closely following reports and updates of the recent health crisis (COVID-19) as well as any variants of the virus. The situation is rapidly and constantly changing, so please check your emails for updates from the school for the most current and accurate information regarding our school’s plan of action. 

Above all, we call on our community to join us in praying for the continued safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff. We also ask you to include in your prayers those who are suffering physically, emotionally, and financially. Your unwavering support at this time empowers us to face the challenges ahead of us. We continue to seek your cooperation and understanding as we pursue our mission to provide quality education and to build up our school community. 

2021-2022 School Opening Plan

The Catholic Schools Office and the principals have been working on a school opening plan for many weeks. Keeping students and staff safe and healthy is our foremost priority. There will be many actions put in place to best monitor and respond to student and faculty health. We will limit or eliminate unnecessary or risky activities that could spread the virus. There will be cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as contingency plans in place if remote learning becomes necessary.

Please know that our goal is to continue in-person learning for our students for the entire school year. All instruction will take place on campus and in person. We are committed to enacting procedures and protocols that minimize the spread of illness so that we can remain in the school building. Procedures outlined within this document will take precedence over procedures outlined in the Parent Student Handbook. However, if required by Dallas County, Good Shepherd Catholic School is prepared to move to remote learning. The learning plan will be released at that time.

Good Shepherd Catholic School has made every effort to maximize learning and limit inconvenience to all of our families. The safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community is of utmost importance, and we are committed to partnering with our families to ensure a successful school year. We ask that patience, love and understanding prevail as we navigate this time together.

Safety Protocols

There has been much discussion among medical professionals and government officials about the safest way to return to school. We wanted you to know that we have put protocols in place to make the safety of our students and staff a priority when school opens.

In some ways we can return to a more typical year such as:

  • Students will move throughout the building to their content level classes and to PE, music, art, library, and other classes.
  • After School Care will be available 3:30-6:00 PM.
  • Outdoor DPL sports will return for football and flag football for grades 5-8. There is a strong possibility that volleyball will be canceled however.
  • Even when masking protocols require students to wear masks in the building, masks will be optional for all outside activities.

We know the three best ways to prevent spread of COVID-19 is to wear a mask, wash hands, and social distancing. Cleaning routines are being upgraded throughout the building and special devices and solutions have been purchased. These are proven methods to keep our community safe and will be put into effect in our school routines.

Safety Guidelines – Daily screening for COVID symptoms will be required before staff and students may enter the building. If everyone follows this procedure every day we can reduce the risk of anyone getting ill. Parents should not give students Tylenol to reduce fever and send them to school. Remember, the building has been empty for two months. The only way COVID-19 can come into the building is if someone who has the virus comes in contact with others.

COVID-19 Symptoms for Self-screening – All students, teachers, and staff will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before coming on campus each day.  Do not send your child to school if he/she is experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, exhibiting symptoms, or waiting for lab results.

Anyone experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms listed above should stay home from school. Our health coordinator, Elizabeth Sturman, should be contacted if your child or anyone in your household becomes symptomatic. If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms at school, the school will contact you to come pick up your child. Students with these symptoms will be immediately separated and isolated until a parent or emergency contact can pick them up.

If/when someone in our school community exhibits symptoms and/or tests positive for COVID-19, we will follow the protocol for reporting as directed by the Diocese and local health authorities. More details are listed below under “In Case of Illness”.

Masks – All staff and students will wear masks when in the school building. Most of our students are not eligible to be vaccinated. We realize that it may not be easy for some children to keep the mask on and not touch their faces. We recommend children start wearing them for short periods of time to make the adjustment easier. Masks must meet the guidelines of a medical grade disposable face masks and must cover the nose and mouth. We strongly recommend that you upgrade from cloth masks to a KN-95 or N95 mask that is able to form a seal around the mouth and nose. Parents may choose a mask that is comfortable for their children, but it must be appropriate with no logos that are offensive to our community of faith. Please send extra masks to school and make sure they are labeled with your child’s name.

The Mask Protocol Levels are the following:

Low transmission: Masks optional for all

Moderate transmission: Optional for vaccinated, required for non- vaccinated

Substantial transmission: Strongly recommended for vaccinated, required for non-vaccinated

High transmission: Masks required for all (current level in Dallas County)

The mask protocol level will be fluid based on the transmission level in Dallas County. As transmission levels rise or fall, our masking protocol will adjust accordingly.

Social Distancing – Procedures will remain in place throughout the school and in classrooms to keep students apart as much as possible. Everyone will be required stand a few feet apart in lines and use outdoor areas as much as possible. Drop off and pick up in the drive will remain the same as last year to avoid clusters of people at the entrances. Middle school students will have limited access to their lockers to avoid gathering in the hallway. We will not have morning prayer in the gym. We will attend Mass in the church while wearing masks.

Healthy Habits – Lessons and reminders will be built into the school day to ensure that students are following healthy practices for not spreading germs, such as washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, covering all coughs, and not touching their faces. Masks will be required for all students and staff on campus.

Classrooms will have hand sanitizers and time will be taken throughout the day for hand washing. Sanitizing stations will be set up throughout the building. Bathrooms will be limited to using outer sinks and stalls only. Students will be allowed to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer at their desks that was included in their supply packs.

Cleaning – Keeping our building spaces clean and sanitized is a priority. All classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected every night, and high-touch areas (doorknobs, technology, hands-on materials, and desk/table surfaces) will be disinfected throughout the school day as well. Every classroom will have hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to use often. We have purchased electrostatic sprayers with botanical safe solutions that kill the virus. UV-C wands have been purchased for cleaning surfaces. Students and staff will be trained in proper handwashing protocols. Teachers will periodically take time every few hours to clean and sanitize surfaces. Janitorial staff will disinfect rooms when the class is outdoors for recess or PE. Classrooms will be thoroughly disinfected each evening so classrooms will be sanitized for the start of school.

Arrival/Dismissal – Please note this plan is subject to change once we start school.

Arrival time is 7:30-7:55 AM. Parents will drop off students in the carpool lane when they arrive in the morning then students proceed to the doorways to enter the school to avoid congestion. They will then sanitize hands and go directly to their classrooms. Staff members will escort the preschool and kindergarten children to their rooms. The entrance doors will be left open (no touch) and hand sanitizer will be available upon entering the building. No loitering at the exit door or in the building will be allowed.

At dismissal students will exit the building with their siblings when the parent arrives at the assigned time. Please stay in your vehicle as no one is allowed in the building. Children will be called when the parent is observed outside in the carpool lane. If a child must be picked up early for an appointment, the parent must call the office to make arrangements.

Dismissal for Preschool to Grade 3 is 3:15 PM. Dismissal for Grades 4-8 is 3:30 PM.
Please come at the time of your oldest child. Those who arrive too early will be asked to get back in the carpool line to pick up older children at 3:30 PM.

Class Routines – All students will have their own supplies purchased in the EPI pre-packed kits. There will be no shared supplies for students.

Mass – Mass is an essential part of the faith formation of our students. We will participate in Masses each week while wearing masks and socially distancing the students in the church.

Lunch – Students must bring a lunch from home. Some classes may eat in the cafeteria separated every other seat facing the same direction. Masks will be removed but no talking will be allowed to avoid spreading viral droplets. No lunches may be brought after school starts as we cannot accept items from outside sources. Water fountains will remain disabled. Every student should bring a tight closing water bottle to school each day as the water fountains will be disconnected.

DPL Sports – There will be some diocesan fall sports for students in grades 5-8. Safety protocols will be in effect to prevent spread of the virus. Decisions about the winter and spring schedule will be made by the Catholic Schools Office at a later date.

No Visitors – No visitors will be allowed in the building during the school day. No one, not even parents, will be allowed in the building to maintain the health and safety of the entire school community. Visitors who actually need to enter the building for school business must wear a mask. No lunches or forgotten items may be brought to the school as the doors will not be opened to avoid any possibility of someone bringing illness into the building. If a child must be picked up early for an appointment, please call the office to make arrangements.

We greatly appreciate our volunteers but no one may come into the building during school hours. We will put on hold the volunteer hour requirement for the first semester and make a decision about the second semester in January.

In Case of Illness – Our nurse’s clinic consists of two separate rooms, one to be used for isolation. Students needing medication or minor medical issues will be handled in the front area. Any student with a temperature of 100 or greater will be sent home.

Ill students will be evaluated in the first room then if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be moved to the second room for isolation. Parents will be notified immediately and the child will remain there until taken home. The isolation room will be cleaned and disinfected after the student leaves.

If the student exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 school members that may have been exposed will be notified. Families of those students will also be informed of possible exposure.

Faculty, staff and families must report to the school if they or their student have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, have received a positive test result for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive within the previous 14 days. Our school nurse will be the contact person who will coordinate with DCHHS on positive cases and contact tracing.

In the case of an individual testing positive for COVID-19 and can be determined to have exposed school members, the school will require to be quarantined for a ten-day period. Any testing for COVID-19 should be after the initial exposure, and following the ten-day period, all individuals would be allowed back on campus provided that they do not display any symptoms.

Vaccinated faculty, staff, and students will not be required to quarantine if there is a close exposure to an individual who tests positive for the virus. If a student is fully vaccinated, it will be necessary to show proof of vaccination to Mrs. Sturman.

Plan for the possibility of schools closing. Now that schools have experience in closing down on short notice and shifting to remote learning, we can use the lessons we’ve learned from this experience to plan for future contingencies if the virus becomes a serious health issue. Our plan is to give students the skills they need to be prepared for learning at home.

Our schools are going through an unprecedented time in planning the best learning experiences for our students. Please know that the leaders in this diocese and of our Catholic schools are prepared to do everything possible to protect our school communities.

The safety of our students and staff is a priority and can be done in our small school environment. Our reopening plan is a work in progress as we focus on the best safety measures offered by medical professionals and what has worked in other places.

One of the advantages of being in our small Catholic school environment is that our faith guides us to do what’s best for each of its members. That includes protecting human life by taking extraordinary steps to keep everyone safe.