Garland Independent School District
Return to In-Person Instruction
& Continuity of Services Plan
These guidelines are subject to change based on CDC guidance.
Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan
If you have difficulty accessing the information in this document because of disability, please contact the Communications Department at 972-487-3256.
Table of Contents
Letter from Dr. López 6
Public Health Considerations 7
Academic Calendar 8
PROVIDE NOTICE: Parental and Public Notices 9
COVID-19 Champions 9
Attendance and Enrollment 9
On-Campus Instruction 9
PREVENT: Practices to Prevent the Virus from Entering the School 10
Visitor Access/Screening/PPE Requirements 10
Student Pick-Up During the Instructional Day 11
Health Clinic Guidelines 11
Student, Teacher and Staff Safety Training 11
Off-Campus Student Events 11
On-Campus Events 12
RESPOND: Practices to Respond to a Test-Confirmed Case in the School 13
Screening, Isolation and Return to Campus After Exposure 13
Known Exposure 14
MITIGATE: Practices to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 Inside the School 16
Color Levels 16
Face Coverings 16
Disinfecting and Hand Sanitizing 17
Special Considerations for Students with Respiratory Health Conditions 18
Special Considerations for Students with Special Needs 18
Communicable Disease Monitoring 19
Other Excludable Conditions 20
Classroom Configurations and Procedures 20
Common Areas 21
Water Fountains 21
Student Meals: Breakfast & Lunch 22
Social Emotional Student Supports 24
Employee Wellness 25
Employee Clinic 25
More Resources 25
Letter from Dr. López
As we head into the 2021-22 school year, I cannot wait to be reunited with the best students and staff in our state and nation. GISD continues to lead the way with student opportunities and educational excellence.
GISD’s Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan provides details about procedures and safety requirements that have been created for the well-being of students, staff and visitors. This is our top priority. We are also committed to the district’s board goal of ensuring ALL students graduate prepared for college, careers and life.
This handbook includes guidance on the following:
- Parental and public notices;
- Practices to prevent the virus from entering the school;
- Practices to respond to a test-confirmed case in the school; and
- Practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Please note that our handbook is subject to change based on CDC guidance and executive orders. We are living in unprecedented times and must remain flexible. As guidelines and orders change from local, state and federal authorities, Garland ISD will adjust, but rest assured, our focus will always remain on doing what is best for students and staff.
I look forward to seeing each of you as we begin this journey together in 2021-22.
Ricardo López, Ed.D.
Proud Garland ISD Superintendent
Public Health Considerations
The virus that causes COVID-19 can infect people of all ages, which is why Garland ISD is doing everything feasible to keep students, teachers, staff and community members safe. Research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that while children can be infected by COVID-19 and severe outcomes have been reported, relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized or have severe symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that COVID-19 risks must be balanced with the need for children to attend school in person, given that lack of physical access to school leads to a number of negative consequences, placing, “children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity, and in some cases, mortality.”
While it is not possible to eliminate all risks of furthering the spread of COVID-19, GISD will utilize current science to take every step possible to significantly reduce the risks to students, teachers, staff and their families.
The following changes have been made to the 2021-22 protocols:
- Masks highly encouraged, but not required Updated 10/27
- Disinfectant micro spray on buses daily and as needed
- Plexiglas dividers in classrooms and cafeteria removed (plexiglas in cafeteria available upon parental request) Updated 8/12
- Plexiglas shields in offices and reception areas removed or kept as desired by staff
- Staff self-screens prior to coming to work – no online pre-screening form
- Parent self- screens students – discontinue temperature and verbal screenings
- Less restrictive recess guidelines: Use of hand sanitizer and cohorting
- Discontinue bus pre-screening form required of parents
- Add back field trips
- Confirmed COVID cases sent to parents daily in one letter per week Updated 8/26
2021-22 Calendar: English - Spanish - Vietnamese
PROVIDE NOTICE: Parental and Public Notices
All Texas public schools are required to provide parents a summary of the plan that will be followed to mitigate COVID-19 spread in schools based on the requirements and recommendations outlined in the Texas Education Agency’s SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance document.
This GISD handbook was developed in consultation with teachers, staff and parents, and contains required notices on the following pages. Garland ISD provides this handbook, updated in real-time on a weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly basis, depending on local, state, and federal guidance.
Garland ISD received input from nurses and administrators on May 20, 2021; input from elementary, middle, and high school students in the first two weeks of June 2021; input from community members in early June 2021 via ListServ; more input from students, staff, and families on June 4, 2021, via online survey; and input from the entire community at a public meeting on June 22, 2021. Many adjustments were made as a result of the input from teachers, staff, and parents, e.g., keeping Plexiglas, adding back a small number of field trips, continuation of virtual ARD meetings, etc.
Every campus and department is assigned a COVID Champion. COVID-19 Champions, as well as Health Services, are designated staff that are available to answer concerns or questions related to all things COVID-19.
Attendance and Enrollment
Education Code requires students to attend class 90 percent of the days the class is offered in order to be awarded credit.
GISD is returning to full on-campus face-to-face instruction in the fall of 2021. Canvas and Seesaw will still be used to support teaching and learning in both on- campus and virtual instructional models.
PREVENT: Practices to Prevent the Virus from
Entering the School
The prevention practices outlined on the following pages are designed to significantly reduce the likelihood that a coronavirus outbreak occurs on campus. Consistently implementing recommendations of the CDC, health department and Texas Education Agency to the extent feasible is the best way to reduce the potential negative impact of infection.
Visitor Access/Screening/PPE Requirements
- Visitors are required to self-screen for fever or COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto a GISD facility. If they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or are test-confirmed with COVID-19, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below.
- Any visitor who is diagnosed with COVID-19 will be required to meet readmission criteria.
- Building access for parents, guardians and other adults will be by appointment only.
- Volunteers that have been cleared will be allowed on campus to assist with essential functions.
- There will be no unescorted access into schools.
- Students will purchase their meal from the school cafeteria or bring their lunch to school with them each day. Meal drop offs will not be allowed.
Student Pick-Up During the Instructional Day
- Parents picking up ill students during the day will call ahead so that students can be sent or accompanied to parent vehicles upon arrival.
Health Clinic Guidelines
- Each campus will designate a well area and a sick/isolation area to minimize cross contamination. Each area will be cleaned and disinfected on a consistent basis. Any student feeling feverish will be sent to the isolation area for temperature and symptom screening.
- Students will be required to visit the clinic for assessment before calling parents to be picked up. If a student calls his/her parent, the parent will instruct them to report to the school nurse. It is very important that school nurses know the reason a student is being sent home ill. This will aid in keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Student, Teacher and Staff Safety Training
Students, teachers and staff will complete Return-to-School Training that includes:
- Proper use of PPE
- Proper handwashing and use of hand sanitizer techniques
- Communicable exposure guidelines
- Steps to minimize disease spread
- The importance of covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and if not available, with an elbow
Off-Campus Student Events
- GISD will continue to pursue virtual activities in lieu of field trips, assemblies and special performances when community levels of COVID-19 are high in Dallas County. Special performances and off campus field trips will be allowed after approval by administration.
- When participating in off-campus, school-sanctioned activities, students will follow all on-campus, in-person protocols and requirements.
- Typical parent meetings, such as meet-the-teacher, open houses, parent conferences, etc. will adhere to all required safety protocols that are currently in place.
- Any extracurricular activities, including campus club meetings, that are approved to be held on campus will adhere to all safety protocols that are currently in place.
RESPOND: Practices to Respond to a
Test-Confirmed Case in the School
The response practices outlined on the following pages are in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws. GISD will continue to notify the local health department, GISD staff and the Texas Department of State Health Services upon receipt of information that there has been a test-confirmed COVID-19 case on campus.
Screening, Isolation and Return to Campus After Exposure
Parents are required to screen their student(s) for fever or COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto Campus. If they have COVID-19 symptoms or are test-confirmed with COVID-19, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below.
Students, staff or household members with the following symptoms, not related to a current known health condition, will not be allowed to enter campus:
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater or equal to 100.0
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
- Congestion/runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If a student fails screening, a medical doctor’s note or other appropriate documentation will be required to return to campus.
All students, staff and visitors who become ill while on campus will be immediately isolated, and the area will be disinfected.
Teachers and staff are required to self-screen for fever or COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day. Teachers and staff must report to their supervisor if they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or are test-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below. Additionally, teachers and staff must report to the school system if they have had close contact with an individual who is test- confirmed with COVID-19.
Vaccinated students/staff with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine); It is within six months of your last dose of the initial vaccination series; you have received your booster if your initial vaccination series was more than six month ago. *Depending on age of student boosters are not authorized
- Staff participates in the districts Rapid/PCR Testing Program Updated 1/10/22
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
Persons who have had COVID-19 within the last three months are not required to quarantine as long as they have remained asymptomatic since current COVID-19 exposure.
Unvaccinated Students who have had known close contact to a person who is test-confirmed with COVID-19, will not be allowed to return to work or school until the end of the 10-day self-quarantine period from the last date of exposure. Shortened quarantine of seven days may occur if school is presented with a negative PCR (this is NOT a rapid test) completed on day 5 after exposure.
Unvaccinated staff, without symptoms, may participate in the district's Rapid/PCR testing program, with Health Services approval.
Students or employees who have had known close contact to a person within a GISD facility who is test-confirmed with COVID-19 may participate in the
COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program. Health Services staff will determine eligibility based on type of exposure. This program is voluntary. Staff and students who do not want to participate in the testing program will be required to quarantine for the remainder of the 10-day period. Symptom monitoring must continue for the full 14-day incubation period. Updated 8/13
Close contact is defined as:
- Being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a mask or face shield); or
- Adults-being within six feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes. (unmasked or masked)
- Students- being within 1-3 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes. (unmasked or masked)
Individuals are presumed infectious at least two days prior to symptom onset or, in the case of asymptomatic individuals who are test-confirmed with COVID-19, two days prior to confirming lab tests.
If diagnosed with COVID-19 either by a positive test or assumed positive based on symptoms, the following criteria must be met to return to a GISD facility:
- At least 24 hours have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); and
- The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or if asymptomatic 10 days from test date
If the individual has symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 and wants to return to work or school before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must either:
- Obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis, or
- Return a lab test negative for COVID-19.
If the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and believes the test was a false positive and wants to return to school before completing the above stay-at-home period, the individual must either:
- Obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis, though for health privacy reasons the note does not need to indicate what the alternative diagnosis is, or
- Obtain two PCR acute infection tests (at a physician’s office, approved testing location, or other site) at least 24 hours apart that come back negative for COVID-19.
Results from a COVID-19 test administered at home will NOT be accepted.
MITIGATE: Practices to Mitigate the Spread of
COVID-19 Inside the School
The mitigation practices that follow utilize best practices and current research in lessening the spread of COVID-19. GISD will implement health and hygiene practices with fidelity.
COVID-19 Color Levels
In collaboration with the Garland Health Department, we have implemented a tricolor level system to alert families of location-based safety measures. If a color level is enacted for their student’s campus, families will receive a notification detailing yellow- or red-level restrictions. See the Color Level Chart
- Masks are highly encouraged but not required. Updated 10/27/2021
- Starting September 1, 2021 students, staff and visitors are required to wear face masks indoors at all GISD schools and facilities, as well as on buses, regardless of vaccination status. This temporary mask requirement is subject to medical, religious and/or philosophical exceptions for students and medical and/or religious exceptions for staff through Tuesday, Oct. 26, or until further guidance is provided. Updated 10/27/2021
- Bandanas and other coverings that do not fit snugly against the face, gaiters that are made of thin polyester/fleece material, and masks with vents are not allowed in learning environments or hallways because they do not effectively prevent the spread of respiratory droplets into the air. Updated 10/27/2021
- The district will rely on guidance from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Dallas County and Garland Health Department, as well as executive orders or directives from Governor Greg Abbott, to determine the mandatory use of face coverings.
- The district will alert students, parents/guardians and staff when face coverings must be worn.
- For more information, visit the Dallas County COVID-19 Health Guidance for the Public.
- A facemask will be placed on any student exhibiting respiratory symptoms to prevent droplet transmission during close contact.
Disinfecting and Hand Sanitizing
- There will be frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas, such as desks, light switches, door handles, computers, bathrooms, health clinics, etc., utilizing EPA-approved disinfectants for COVID-19.
- Per CDC guidance, GISD will employ more frequent deep cleaning during moderate to high COVID activity.
- GISD will immediately clean any areas used by an individual who shows COVID-19
sanitizer stations are located in every classroom and by elevators, entrances and high-traffic areas.
- Students and staff are encouraged to properly use hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving the building, before and after use of communal items or areas such as elevators, stairwells and lounges, and when entering the classroom.
- Elementary teachers will be encouraged to supervise student handwashing for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, including after using the restroom and before eating.
- Secondary students will be encouraged and provided reminders to wash hands at least two times a day, after using the restroom and before eating.
- Handwashing techniques will be taught as part of the Return-to-School Training for students.
- Soft and porous materials, such as shag type area rugs and seating, will be stored to reduce the challenges with cleaning and disinfecting.
Special Considerations for Students with Respiratory Health Conditions
- Use of aerosolized medication will be avoided as they spread respiratory droplets and are not advised by the CDC.
- Inhalers with spacers will be used to treat asthma whenever possible.
- Students experiencing ongoing asthma-type symptoms will be encouraged to stay home and seek medical care.
- Asthma management training will be provided to families as needed.
Special Considerations for Students with Special Needs
- Students will be provided with instruction and reinforcement on wearing a facemask and/or shield upon request of parent.
- Due to the varied needs of students with special needs, it may be impractical to enforce the wearing of a face covering.
- Social distancing will be adhered to as much as possible.
- Manipulatives that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used.
- Manipulatives that children have placed in their mouths should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves.
- Clean with water and soap, rinse, sanitize with an EPA-registered disinfectant, rinse again and air-dry.
- May be cleaned in a dishwasher.
- Enough manipulatives should be available so they can be rotated between cleanings.
- Face shields and gloves should be worn anytime staff are unable to socially distance, i.e., feeding students, diaper changes, hand-over-hand instruction, etc.
- Staff will wash hands prior to diapering, wear gloves and wash hands immediately following changings.
- Surfaces used to change students should be cleaned by a district-approved disinfectant.
- If staff are working closely with a student and there is a possibility of fluid contamination, an isolation gown should be worn.
- Staff are encouraged to protect themselves by wearing an over-large, button-down, long-sleeved shirt.
- Staff with long hair will wear it up, off the collar, in a ponytail or other up-do.
- Staff should wash their hands, neck and anywhere touched by a child’s secretions.
- Contaminated clothes should be placed in a plastic bag or washed in a washing machine.
- Students will be monitored when utilizing hand sanitizer.
Communicable Disease Monitoring
- There will be collaboration between nurses, data clerks and attendance clerks to record symptoms when students have called in sick.
- Health Services will be notified of any positive findings immediately so contact tracing can be implemented.
- School nurses will follow up with the employee or parent to determine if the individual will or has been seen by a physician and the plan of care.
- The school nurse must provide return-to-school clearance before the individual is allowed back on campus.
- GISD will maintain ongoing monitoring of local, national and global health trends.
- GISD will follow up-to-date communications from DSHS, CDC, TEA and the Office of the Governor regarding community-specific communicable disease concerns, planning and interventions.
- Updates to this handbook will be made accordingly.
Other Excludable Conditions
Garland ISD will continue to follow all Board policies and Texas Department of State Health Services and local guidelines concerning communicable disease
reporting and exclusion from school. Refer to 25 Tex. Admin. Code § 97.7 for further information.
- If an individual who has been in a classroom is test-confirmed to have COVID- 19, parents, teachers and staff of that classroom will receive notification via Skylert messaging on a weekly daily basis. Updated 9/8/2021
- Parents and staff must ensure that GISD has a correct phone number on file.
- For those individuals who have had close contact with an individual who is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, additional notification will be sent, along with instructions about self-monitoring or required quarantine.
- Health Services will contact the local health department for any presumed or positive COVID-19 case.
Classroom Configurations and Procedures
- Student desks (or seats at a table if tables are used) will be spread out a
minimum of three feet apart when possible. If possible, students’ desks will face the same direction rather than facing each other.
- Classroom manipulatives that will be shared amongst students will be cleaned frequently. As feasible, each student will be assigned his/her own supplies.
- Supplies that must be shared will be made of easily cleanable surfaces and disinfected between uses, e.g., calculators.
Visual reminders will be displayed for social distancing throughout common areas.
- Used tissues will be thrown in the trash, and hands will be washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer will be used.
- Water fountains that have not been retrofitted with bottle-filling stations have been turned off.
- Students are encouraged to bring a clear water container to school each day with their name clearly marked on it.
- All HVAC systems continue to have frequent and timely maintenance
- Highest level of recommended HVAC filters are being used
- HVAC systems run at maximum outside airflow before and after the building is occupied
- Buses run with windows open as long as weather permits
- When masking not possible, will consider holding activities outdoors
Bus transportation is provided for Special Education students when required by the students ARD and IEP. All general education students will be provided transportation if eligible from the designated transportation areas to each campus or if they are enrolled in an eligible magnet program at one of the many magnet campuses in the district.
Transportation is not guaranteed to your school of choice if you do not reside in a designated transportation area for that campus. Parents can view the transportation areas at the following link GISD Bus Eligibility Link.
- Parents are strongly encouraged to provide transportation to school for their children.
- Parents are required to screen their student for fever and COVID-19 symptoms prior to students entering the bus. Based on the exclusion criteria listed in this document, parents are to notify dispatch and campus if student is ill.
- During transport, drivers will maintain as much social distancing as possible between students. Members of the same family may sit together.
- Seats will be numbered and assigned to students.
- Buses will be loaded from back to front and unloaded front to back.
- Required Bus Sanitation Guidelines:
- Bus drivers will use an EPA-approved disinfectant on frequently touched surfaces after each morning run, each afternoon run, and as needed.
- Buses will be disinfected using the EPA-approved antimicrobial misting system on a rotating basis, based on manufacturer specifications.
Student Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
GISD is encouraging cashless payments. Make payments at PayPAMS. Visit our Temporary Virtual Learning page for more information about curbside meal pickup.
For students receiving on-campus instruction, each campus will establish meal service that meets the following criteria:
- Meal service may include classroom service.
- Disposable food service items will be used to the greatest extent possible.
- Computerized kiosk systems for grab-n-go food service will be used where possible.
- Hands-free transactions with ID badges will be used to the greatest extent possible.
- Breakfast in Class programs will continue.
- Use of playground equipment is permitted. Use of hand sanitizer before and after use is required. Students will be cohorted.
- Campuses will limit the number of students per recess group by creating a staggered schedule.
- Teachers will monitor students to ensure safety guidelines are followed.
- Movement and brain breaks will be implemented as needed, at the discretion of the campus/teacher.
- Classroom manipulatives that will be shared amongst students will be cleaned frequently. As feasible, each student will be assigned his/her own supplies.
- Equipment will be disinfected frequently.
- Any activities bringing students into close physical contact will be avoided.
Social Emotional Student Supports
GISD counselors are available to support students academically, socially and emotionally. Counselors are prepared and ready to provide mental health support and resources for families who may be struggling emotionally. These services may be provided remotely or face-to-face. To provide families with free or low-cost face-to-face and telehealth services, Garland ISD has numerous partnerships with local community-based counseling agencies. Access to schedule a meeting with a GISD counselor or to find a list of local counseling-based resources can be found on our district’s website. Family resources, such as Coping With COVID, Virtual Counseling, and Social Emotional Learning, can also be found at GISD Counseling Resources Link.
In addition to providing individual and group counseling, the Guidance and Counseling Department also provides behavioral health and wellness-based classroom guidance lessons for all students. These lessons include the following:
- Orientation to the Counseling Program
- Bullying/Cyberbullying Prevention/Harassment
- Violence Prevention/Conflict Resolution
- College, Career, Military Readiness (CCMR)
- Suicide Prevention/Mental Health Safety
- Drug Education Prevention
Social Emotional Learning lessons are offered to GISD students to develop important skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. The lessons include remote self-paced learning using the EverFi platform, in conjunction with a synchronous component being utilized by teachers via face-to-face instruction.
GISD offers health and wellness resources for employees in the following ways:
- GISD Wellness Program
- Programs offered by independent healthcare professionals
- TRS ActiveCare Wellness
- Employee Assistance Program
Please visit the GISD Employee Wellness Link or contact the Employee Wellness Department for support and resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-487- 3164.
For vaccine information, click here: City of Garland Vaccination Information
The Employee Clinic is currently taking patients by appointment only. Contact the Employee Clinic to make an appointment at 972-487-4567. Visit the Employee Clinic website for clinic information, FAQs and current clinic protocols. Email the Employee Clinic with additional questions at email@example.com.
For more information, including COVID-19 Vaccinations and Temporary Virtual Learning, see the COVID-19 page on the district website.