Last updated July 16, 2021
In consultation with local health officials, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) continues to monitor COVID-19 cases in our community and evaluate our health and safety practices and policies as needed. The following COVID-19 mitigation strategies are in place for summer programming and operations.
COVID-19 Screening Tools
Our updated COVID-19 screening tools reflect current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and differentiate questions based on vaccination status.
Parents/Guardians: Each school day, prior to allowing your child to board a school bus or enter a school building, you are responsible for completing an at-home health screening of your child for COVID-19 symptoms.
Employees & Visitors: All employees are required to perform a self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before reporting to work and again upon building entry. All visitors to ACPS facilities will be required to undergo a health screening for COVID-19 symptoms upon building entry.
During their meeting on July 8, 2021, the Albemarle County School Board approved revisions to the division's face mask policy. Among the changes, students, staff, and all visitors to school facilities now have the option of not wearing a mask when outside while on school property. Also, when students are not present in a building or on a school bus, staff members and visitors who have been fully vaccinated may remove their masks while indoors. Staff should continue to wear a mask if they are interacting with a visitor and if 6 feet of physical separation is not possible.
The State Health Commissioner issued a temporary public order that requires masks to be worn by all individuals 5 years of age or older when students are inside schools or in other instructional settings. This order will expire on July 25, and the state has said that it will issue separate guidance for the new school year.
We remain committed to transparency. We will continue to provide notification to families and employees in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at a school or department, and we will continue to maintain the ACPS COVID-19 Dashboard, which tracks cases and quarantines across our schools and facilities. However, we will no longer provide notification when a classmate is sent home from school with COVID-19-like symptoms.
When necessary, ACPS may reduce social distancing between students in classrooms to 3 feet. This decision is based on updated recommendations from the CDC. We will continue to maintain greater distance between students when they are eating, taking a mask break, or engaging in physical activity.
Maintaining 3 feet of social distance in classrooms will require additional staff and space. We are analyzing the staffing impact of reducing class size where needed at all levels. We are also installing modular classrooms at several school locations to help address space needs.
In consultation with health authorities, ACPS will no longer perform temperature checks at our facilities. Evidence shows that fever is not always present with COVID-19 infections. Temperature readings also require a lot of resources, are not accurate when the air temperature is very high or low, and may actually make people less safe by giving the false impression that COVID-19 is not present. Families, employees and visitors are still responsible for monitoring their own temperatures and reporting a fever or any other COVID-19 symptoms as part of our daily screening.
This summer, as other school divisions have done, we will increase the number of students per seat on our school buses from one to two. We will continue to maintain 6 feet of separation between the bus driver and student riders. Also this summer, we will begin installing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters on each bus with a goal of outfitting our fleet as soon as possible.
For the 2021-22 school year, we plan to return to our normal practice of allowing two or more students per seat. We will continuously monitor conditions to ensure the risk of virus transmission remains low, and we will act immediately to make adjustments if necessary. We continue to encourage parents to drive their students to and from school when possible.
Other Health Mitigation Practices
In addition to the efforts explained above, and in an effort to support a healthy and safe physical environment for our students, employees, and community members, ACPS will continue to implement the following practices in alignment with guidance from public health officials:
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection;
- Operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems that can reduce airborne exposures;
- Absence monitoring;
- Hand hygiene;
- Contact tracing in partnership with our local health department;
- Exclusion of staff and students with illness symptoms; and
- Exclusion (quarantine) of staff and students who have been in close contact with anyone who has COVID-19 or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated.