Covid-19 Guidance for Safe In-Person Learning

Last Updated: 1/24/2022 6:38 PM

Plan for Continuous and Safe Operation of In-Person Learning
for the 2021-22 School Year

(Written: July 21, 2021 / Updated: August 18, 2021 / Revised: January 19, 2022)


The current plan is for all Preston School District (PSD) students to return to school with on-campus instruction for the 2021-22 academic year. The district’s online elementary sections concluded at the end of last school year and are not currently offered. Parents or guardians with vulnerable children or other unique circumstances should reach out to respective school administrators for possible exceptions to in-person learning. A district committee will determine any allowances for those students with extenuating circumstances.

 --Contact Information for administrators:

        School                                          Position                                                Email                                          Phone

Pioneer Elementary                  Dan Wendt, Principal                                  208.852.2050

Oakwood Elementary               Kaylynn Hamblin, Principal                208.852.2233    

Preston Junior High                 Mackay Manley, Principal                     208.852.0751

Preston High School                Russ Lee, Principal                                         208.852.0280

District Special Ed                   Brady Garner, Director                              208.852.2233


Preston School District believes that meeting in-person can best address the educational progress and emotional well-being of students. In July 2021, the CDC said, “Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall of 2021 is a priority…Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.” Safe and continuous in-person learning is a priority for PSD, and we have established strategies to promote the safety of all students and staff. PSD will continue to take steps to mitigate the Covid-19 public health crisis and prevent the spread of sickness and disease.



Mitigation Strategies

Healthy Hygiene, Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use tissues and throw them away.
  • The district purchased boxes of tissues for each school to have available for students/staff.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating and every time you touch your face.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Hand sanitizer is available throughout the school.
  • Avoid close contact with those already sick.
  • Stay home from school if sick.
  • Isolate at home if test positive for COVID-19.



  • The CDC recommends “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status."
  • In Preston School District, masks are recommended to be worn while in the school, but optional.
  • The CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective masks you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
  • Students, staff, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own masks
  • If a mask is needed, masks will be made available to those without their own.
  • If a teacher has a medical reason, such as weakened immune system, the teacher may require masks to be worn in his/her classroom and will work through administration to inform parents. 
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your mask.
  • Put the mask over your nose and mouth and slip loops over your ears while securing it under your chin.
  • If a mask does not fit properly or needs to be continually adjusted, use a different mask type.
  • Make sure you can see and breathe easily.


Physical Barriers and Physical Distancing

  • Where possible, avoid direct physical contact with people.
  • Partitions and sneeze guards are installed in some of the front office areas.
  • Protection dividers for desks are available for teachers to use in their classrooms.
  • Clear face masks and face shields are available for staff so students can see the face of the instructor or therapist.
  • The CDC now recommends “schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students in classrooms.”
  • Teachers are encouraged to follow this 3’ physical distancing practice with students.
  • Teachers and schools are encouraged to maintain the grouping of students into cohorts when possible.
  • If there is a need to reduce the number of students in areas like the cafeteria, classrooms, or playground, schedules may be altered, or other options provided. 

Maintaining Healthy Facilities

  • To the extent possible, avoid touching typical high-touch surfaces.
  • Additional cleaners were hired to help the custodial crew clean and disinfect buildings more frequently and thoroughly.
  • Busses, classrooms, and high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, switches, and keyboards will be cleaned and disinfected during transitions or other times students are not present.
  • The school staff will clean and disinfect areas where a sick person was during the day.
  • As needed deep cleaning and thorough disinfection will take place in the schools outside of the regular school hours.
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HAVAC) systems are in the process of upgrade.
  • When safe and appropriate to do so, windows and doors will be opened for circulation.


Efforts to Provide Vaccinations to School Communities

  • PSD encourages students, employees, and community members to collaborate with their doctor, the health department, and other medical professionals regarding vaccinations.
  • Vaccination for COVID-19 is encouraged for all eligible and appropriate recipients, but not required for staff employment, student attendance, or visitors in the school.
  • Convenient vaccination clinics were provided to school staff during the spring of 2021.
  • The district will continue to make vaccines available for district employees.
  • PSD hosted a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic in December 2021 for interested employees and age-eligible family members.
  • The district is working on hosting a community vaccination clinic in which eligible students with parental permission as well as other patrons could attend to receive vaccination for COVID-19.


Screening, Testing, Contact Tracing, and Quarantining

  • The school district will take into consideration the recommendations from local health experts. 
  • PSD encourages at-home screenings and monitoring of children by parents or guardians.
  • Each school has thermometers that can be used for temperature checks.
  • Visitors and volunteers will answer a few health-related questions from a brief questionnaire before staying at school.
  • Individuals (students/teachers/staff/visitors) should stay home when sick or have signs of any infectious illness, and then seek out a healthcare provider for testing and/or care.
  • Students, employees, and volunteers who test positive for COVID-19 should quarantine as directed by a medical professional or stay home at least five (5) days from symptom onset before returning to school. 
  • When the district is made aware of a positive test, the district will make reasonable efforts to notify others who were in close contact exposure at school. (Close contact is defined as being within 3 feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 
  • Confidentiality in reporting will be maintained as required.
  • Seating charts and student/teacher interviews will be used for contact tracing to help identify others with whom someone sick has been in close contact.
  • Individuals exposed at school to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (within 3 feet for 15 minutes or more) should quarantine as directed by medical professionals or for five (5) days from exposure unless they meet the following exceptions: 1) fully vaccinated and show no symptoms, 2) medically diagnosed with COVID in the last three months and show no symptoms, 3) wearing a face covering at the time of contact and show no symptoms, or 4) willing to wear a mask during the quarantine period.
  • All individuals exposed to COVID should watch for symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) for up to fourteen (14) days after exposure, and inform medical professionals for advice if experiencing symptoms.
  • If exposed to COVID outside the school setting, follow medical advice regarding testing and/or quarantine procedures.


Special Education and Support for Students with Disabilities

  • In addition to the regular IEP, students receiving special education or related services will have an Independent Digital Learning Plan (IDLP) established as a contingency plan should students be required to attend fewer days per week while establishing a cohort group for physical distancing or should students need to take part in remote education in the event the school needs to close for a time.
  • Students with disabilities will receive appropriate accommodations to support progress in learning with respect to the health and safety policies.
  • Accommodations will be developed collaboratively with the IEP team and other stakeholders.
  • Vulnerable and at-risk students may be provided alternate learning options deepening upon the circumstance and decided upon by the IEP team.
  • If the closure of the school for an extended period of time negatively impacts a student’s progress toward IEP goals, it may be necessary to determine whether recovery services are appropriate and necessary for particular students.
  • PSD is aware that young children or those with sensory or cognitive issues may find difficulty wearing a mask, and the district will work on prioritizing times most important to mask.


Narrative on Addressing Needs and Info on Reviewing the Plan

How the district is addressing and plans to address students’ academic needs:

District staff utilizes data such as state and local test results, attendance, teacher referrals, parent input, students not meeting grade-level standards, GPA, etc. to make determinations on recommendations for services. Teachers, counselors, administrators, and other district personnel meet regularly through Professional Learning Community team meetings, such as grade level, department, student assist teams to analyze student performance data and develop appropriate interventions. Similar meetings are held where an IEP team comes together to discuss support for students with disabilities. The schools partner with parents by sharing student information in person at formal or informal conferences, by phone calls, and/or electronic communication.


How the district is addressing and plans to address students’ social, emotional, mental health, and other needs:

Teachers will strive to create an environment of respect and rapport to ensure that relationships with students are positive and supportive. Schools will attempt to connect students with at least one caring adult to support the social and emotional needs of students. The district firmly believes that meaningful learning cannot take place unless we attend to students’ overall well-being. Character education, bullying prevention, suicide prevention, and other related activities are taught to students. The district will cultivate safe, inclusive, and supportive environments. The district will seek to identify opportunities for students with disabilities to interact and receive needed support and interventions. Preston School District has at least one counselor available for students in each of the schools. Some staff have taken, and all will be encouraged to participate in professional development such as the following training: Youth Mental Health & Frist Aid, Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). There is a district wide initiative and focus on student needs with all schools involved in the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) Project. Additionally, PSD contracts services with an outside mental health agency to come into school and support at-risk youth.


How the district is addressing and plans to address their staff’s social, emotional, mental health, and other needs:

District employees will each receive the book FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results.  During the 2021-22 school year, training on the four practices of the Fish Philosophy will be shared with staff in an effort to boost morale, improve emotional well-being, enhance teamwork, increase trust, and develop leadership skills. The four practices to help us re-energize and rejuvenate include principles: 1)

Be There – Be emotionally present for people. Make them feel like they are the most important person at that moment. 2) Make Their Day – Serve people in meaningful, memorable ways. 3) Choose Your Attitude – Choose to make today a great day. Take responsibility for how you respond. And 4) Play – We can be serious about our work and the destination of achieving student success, but we will enjoy the journey by having fun and performing our jobs with enthusiasm.

Additionally, the district has school counselors whose skills can assist district employees with social, emotional, mental health, and other needs. If staff feel overwhelmed with sadness, depression, anxiety, or feelings of self-harm, they are encouraged to seek professional advice and/or medical help.


The process and timeline for review and revision of the plan:

The district sought feedback from stakeholders and gave the public opportunity to provide input in the development of the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. The foundation of the current return-to-school plan was based on the district’s previously established plan. The plan was posted on the district website and discussed in board meetings.  Feedback received regarding plan improvement and clarity was taken into consideration, and many suggestions were incorporated into the current plan. This document will be reviewed and revised as necessary by all stakeholders at a minimum of every six (6) months in a similar process where the district will engage in meaningful consultation with students, parents, teachers, principals, supervisors, community leaders, etc.



Preston School District administration, school board, and staff will continue to monitor any illness posing a significant threat to the wellness of our community and school district, including that caused by the new covid variants, to determine if additional precautions should be taken. PSD could change guidance according to local public health conditions even after the school year begins to better ensure the health and safety of students, staff, and visitors. Updates will be provided on the district website.

While we understand that on occasion, there is some risk associated with a physical return to school if a highly contagious illness with severe health consequences is present, we also understand that there is a significant risk to the education of students as well as lack of healthy emotional/social relationships in our school and community if we are unable to return to school with on-campus learning. The benefits of face-to-face instruction and healthy relationships cannot be replicated in an online environment.


Should the district need to close the schools and go to remote learning, the virtual contingency plans include the following platforms: Teachers of secondary students will use Teams and Canvas. Teachers of elementary students will use Zoom to provide instruction, and students will then work with the digital curriculum (such as Istation) or paper curriculum packets (which will be sent home). At the elementary level, the Seesaw app may also be used to give assignments, share activities, and document learning.


Preston School District will adhere to the requirements of IHSAA in determining policies and procedures associated with extra-curricular participation in both practices and competitions.


We ask that students and district employees be mindful of teachers and students who may be more susceptible or vulnerable to illness by exercising greater caution around such individuals (i.e., wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, etc.) so we can proceed this school year with a continuous and safe operation of in-person learning. Preston School District looks forward to providing an excellent education this school year, leading to student success now and into the future.


Please reach out to a member of the administration if you have any questions or concerns about the safe return to on-campus instruction. For further clarification or to provide additional comments and feedback, contact Dr. Lance Harrison, Superintendent of Preston Schools, at or 208.852.0283.