Safety & Health FAQs

The Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) held a virtual town hall for employees Oct. 7.  

The town hall was open to all CCPS staff members and focused on health and safety as CCPS prepares to move into Phase 2 of the school system’s reopening plan. Staff from the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building provided a short presentation about health and safety and answered employee questions through Zoom’s chat feature. Some employees submitted questions via email. Some of the answers are provided below. 

To watch the town hall, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m5Uc4obH58.

cleanlinessHow does the Board expect to keep students and staff safe while forcing them to go into a school where students are responsible for cleaning after themselves, eating in a small classroom with other students?

  • It is normal practice for students to throw away their own trash after finishing breakfast and lunch. Students and staff will wear masks except when eating or drinking inside of buildings while continuing to practice safe social distancing. Large trash cans will be placed in hallways where discarded food and trash will be thrown away.

Was additional staff hired to handle the extra cleaning necessary?

  • No. Buildings are staffed based on the square footage of the building. Temporary building service staff can be assigned to buildings with staff absences.

How will kids safely use the restroom? Is the restroom going to be cleaned after each child's use?

  • Students should wash their hands as they enter the restroom and wash their hands before they exit the restroom. Staff members will monitor how many students enter the restroom at a time. Building service staff will clean, restock supplies and sanitize the restrooms throughout the day.

Will additional supplies and necessary materials be provided to physical education (PE) teachers who will need to clean more surface area and equipment than teachers who are cleaning desks/chairs? Will anyone else be available to assist with this process? What will the expectations for PE teachers — cleaning, equipment/no equipment?

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved cleaning products and paper towels will be supplied for each classroom, gym and weight room for discretionary use throughout the day as needed. PE teachers are typically responsible for maintaining the equipment as a normal practice. PE teachers have practices in place for keeping weight rooms sanitary.

How will lunch be handled?

  • Students will eat in classrooms until Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) determines it is safe for an acceptable number of students to eat in cafeterias based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Charles County Department of Health.

If we have students eating in classrooms who cleans up after them?

  • Students will place their trash in garbage cans set out in hallways outside of classrooms when they are finished eating. Building service staff will remove trash cans from hallways after students have finished eating and have thrown away their trash. Building service staff will address any food/drink spills that they are made aware of in the classrooms. EPA-approved cleaning products and paper towels will be supplied for each classroom for discretionary use throughout the day as needed.

Who is responsible for wiping desks and how often?

  • Desks will be cleaned and sanitized each night by building service staff. EPA-approved cleaning products and paper towels will be supplied for each classroom for discretionary use throughout the day as needed.
instrucitonDoes Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) plan on providing more assistance to building administration in the planning to return to schools for the different groups as there are a lot of special circumstances per school?

  • Each school administrator will work with central office staff to design a school-specific reopening plan for Phase 2. Each school has slightly different plans based on student and staff needs, and the physical design and space of the school building.

Will CCPS provide headphones for students to eliminate echo feedback while they are in class?

  • Parents will be asked to send their children to school with headphones as part of the supply list. The school system will provide any headphones for students who have economic challenges.

Will Wednesdays continue to be telework days or will teachers/staff be required to come in?

  • Wednesday will continue to be a telework-optional work day.

When teachers and staff report back on Nov. 2, will there be any options available for children of staff since Alphabest isn't expected to open until Nov. 9?

  • Staff may bring their school-aged children to the building to participate in their learning supervised by their parent.

Will teachers who have students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan joining the class for live instruction have a full-time assistant?

  • Instructional assistants will be hired based on the individual needs of the students and the needs of the class.

If a staff member’s job can be done via telework and they aren't a classroom teacher, will telework be an option to reduce the number of people in buildings?

  • All staff members are needed back in the building once CCPS opens in Phase 2 unless they receive a medical accommodation that includes teleworking.

What will be the option for students whose parents opt out of sending them to in-person learning throughout each phase and wish to have them continue virtually?

  • Parents have the option to select virtual instruction for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

What is the expectation for special areas at the elementary-school level?

  • Special area teachers will follow the established schedule they are currently using. Depending on space and the number of students returning, special area teachers may be teaching from their classrooms or may be asked to instruct from a homeroom teacher’s classroom.

What is the plan to help with our workload with possible hybrid teaching? Workload, especially for special education teachers, is incredibly high, there are literally not enough hours in the day and then to add hybrid teaching on top of it, the workload will be insurmountable.

  • Staff will continue on a four-day synchronous schedule to allow additional time for planning. In addition, content specialists will continue to provide as many resources as possible to assist teachers.

How will you address the needs of special area teachers that teach many classes throughout the day with very little time in between classes?

  • All special area teaches will have a planning period and a duty-free lunch. Principals will work with any individual staff members who feel there is not sufficient time between classes.

How are we supposed to monitor students on Zoom and the students we might be teaching in front of?

  • Training for teaching in a hybrid setting is taking place on Wednesday in October.

Wouldn't it be more efficient for those students to sit in our classrooms or to sit at their desks and continue learning through zoom?

  • Hybrid teachers will be much more effective with students identified in a special population group while in classrooms. In addition, the bandwidth of CCPS buildings can’t support large numbers of students learning synchronously on Zoom or on any other platform.

If students in a teacher’s assigned caseloads are all choosing to continue to participate virtually, will the teacher be given the option to continue to telework?

  • The only employees approved for teleworking in Phase 2 are those individuals who qualify for a medical accommodation.

Isn't having students in the classroom on laptops and students at home displayed on the Smartboard the same thing as all virtual learning?

  • CCPS has started training teachers and staff on implementing a hybrid teaching model as we move into Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

Are students allowed to come in just for classes that they need help with?

  • No.

How will we monitor virtual students when using web cams to instruct?

  • Teacher training is scheduled for Wednesdays in October.

Will students that do return be allowed to complete class work in a pen and paper format as long as it is the same or very similar to the format of the documents embedded in the assignments on Synergy?

  • Yes, teachers may collect papers.
planningWhat is the plan to accommodate classroom teachers for lunch and planning?

  • Teachers will continue to get 45 minutes of uninterrupted planning time and 30 minutes of uninterrupted lunch as agreed upon in the contract between Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and the Education Association of Charles County (EACC).

How are you going to address the issue of lack of planning at schools with traditional periods now as we are 100 percent virtual?

  • Teachers will continue to get 45 minutes of uninterrupted planning time. CCPS will also continue to use Wednesdays for professional development and planning for teachers.

How will teachers have time to set up for our next class if they are to use "flex time" to help students who have returned to the classroom during Phase 2?

  • Principals are working with administrative teams to create schedules for teachers and instructional assistants. Unless it is a planning period, teachers will use flex time to address potential learning gaps. The bell schedule will be planned to allow time between classes as it is normally when schools are open.

Will planning time be broken up throughout the day or will teachers receive it all at once?

  • Per the negotiated agreement between CCPS and EACC, planning must be 45 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Students may be eating lunch in a classroom. Will teachers still be given any time without duties especially on those days where we don't have our planning period on the schedule?

  • All teachers and instructional assistants will have a planning period and a duty-free lunch period.
ventalationHow do you plan on improving ventilation in the buildings as the virus can spread more than 6 feet?

  • The first step is to ensure students and staff wear masks inside of buildings except when eating and drinking, along with practicing safe social distancing. HVAC systems are designed to control temperatures and relative humidity, distribute adequate amounts of outdoor air to meet ventilation needs, isolate and remove odors, and other contaminants through pressure control, filtration and exhaust fans. CCPS buildings have exhaust fans in various areas to vent inside air to the outside. HVAC systems mix outside air with return air. As more outside air is used, an equal amount of return air is exhausted. For example, if you are bringing in 40 percent outside air then 40 percent return air is exhausted. Therefore, the HVAC system would be supplying a mix of 40 percent outside air and 60 percent return air. This process pertains to air handlers and roof top units. A classroom unit ventilator does not have the ability to exhaust a percentage of the return air.

What is the plan provided by CCPS to properly ventilate buildings that cannot be equipped with CDC/ASHRAE recommended MERV-13 filters

  • Conditioned air goes through a series of filters during the heating or cooling process. Buildings have exhaust fans in various areas to vent inside air to the outside. Schools can consider opening windows if it does not pose a safety or health risk to individuals with asthma or allergies.

Is CCPS planning to allow for air-change to occur between classes?

  • Central HVAC systems are designed to mix return air from individual rooms with fresh air during the heating or cooling process. The recycled air goes through a series of filters during the conditioning process. CCPS buildings have exhaust fans in various areas to vent inside air to the outside.

How will staff and schools ensure efficient ventilation?

  • School HVAC systems were designed based on the school’s expected occupancy rate and the square footage of the building. Buildings have exhaust fans in various areas to vent inside air to the outside. Schools can consider opening windows if it does not pose a safety risk or health risk to individuals with asthma or allergies.

What is the air-change rate for a typical classroom in CCPS?

  • Air-change rates for a typical classroom per hour ranges from 6 to 8 per hour.

What about the air-change rate for nontypical classrooms like physical education (PE) and fine arts?

  • Air-change rates for cafeterias, gyms and auditoriums range from 10 to 12 per hour.

Will open-space schools (schools without walls) receive any extra accommodations?

  • Regardless of whether the building is open space or enclosed, the HVAC is designed to handle the square footage of the building and the intended occupancy rate. CCPS buildings have exhaust fans in various areas to vent inside air to the outside. HVAC systems mix outside air with return air, as more outside air is utilized an equal amount of return air is exhausted.

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