EPIC Charter School’s (“EPIC”) Phase 4 plan will cover the period from May 1, 2021 – August 31, 2021, unless federal or state regulations or CDC guidelines change. This plan includes a host of considerations to address the variety of issues and contingencies that may impact operations and instruction amid the continued incidence of COVID-19. This Phase 4 plan reflects the importance of students’ educational instruction while ensuring the safety of our students, teachers, and staff. This Phase 4 policy is subject to change to ensure it is consistent with guidance from health officials including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and others (collectively, “Health Officials”) to provide reasonable safeguards to address the novel COVID-19 virus. By ensuring compliance with health official guidance, EPIC is adopting the recommendations of health officials to implement reopening protocols that are layered to mitigate risk to students, families, teachers, and parents in ways that are feasible, reasonable, and acceptable in consideration of federal, state, and local restrictions.

Blended Learning Centers (“BLCs”)

The Blended Learning Centers will continue to work in-person through the end of the school year, pending any unforeseen circumstances that arise. Parents can choose if their students remain in the BLC or if they transition to EPIC’s One-on-One program, based on their comfort level with the precautions in place at our sites.

EPIC was proud to offer vaccines to all faculty and staff in March and April. Per the CDC, “Vaccinating teachers and school staff can be considered one layer of mitigation and protection for staff and students. Strategies to minimize barriers to accessing vaccination for teachers and other frontline essential workers, such as vaccine clinics at or close to the place of work, are optimal. Access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing.” To that end, masks shall continue to be worn by all adults (regardless of vaccination status) upon entry, exit, and common areas. Masks or face shields are required of staff in the common areas in the buildings. Teachers may wear a mask or face shield in the classroom at their discretion so long as compliant with guidance from the Health Officials. We encourage but will not mandate masks for students upon entry, exit, and in the common areas. However, the optionality of masks for students and staff is contingent on it not being required by the order of the Health Officials, or any state or federal governmental entity with the regulatory power over public schools.

The BLC sites will have daily cleaning. Teachers and staff will be given disinfectant to clean surfaces in their classrooms each day. A deep cleaning and disinfectant will be completed once a month and promptly following any confirmed cases of the virus.

Before sending a child to school, parents are expected to pre-screen students to ensure there are no symptoms of COVID-19 and the student does not have a fever. Upon entry to the building, individuals will be screened to confirm they do not have any symptoms and to have their temperature taken with a no-touch thermometer. Any individual with a fever will be asked to exit the building as soon as possible; and, if necessary, will be placed in a designated space to quarantine until they are able to leave the building.

Employees screening individuals entering the building shall wear a mask or face shield and gloves.

If a student or staff member starts exhibiting symptoms, they will need to go home. Students will be taken to a designated quarantine room until a parent can pick them up.

Parents should make appointments or call ahead to pick up students at any time that is outside the typical drop-off or pick up a schedule of that student. No parents or other visitors will be permitted inside the building without an appointment and without the appropriate mask/shield. Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout each building and routine hand-washing and sanitizing will be encouraged.

There will be signage to indicate guidelines at the entrance of each site. Arrows will be placed on the floor to encourage social distancing and hygiene reminder posters will be hanging throughout the building.

All BLC students will be assigned their own technology equipment. There will be no shared equipment or materials.

Lunch will be served in the cafeteria in a manner where students can socially distance and with time in between lunch periods to clean surfaces.

Water fountains will not be in use. Students should bring their own refillable water bottle that is labeled with the student’s name, and refills will be permitted with the assistance of staff.

Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, EPIC will require staff and families to self-report to the school via the link provided on the website and to building administration if an employee or a student has symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within 72 hours of their onset of symptoms, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations relating to privacy and confidentiality, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). EPIC will notify staff, families, and the public of school closures and any changes in these restrictions to limit COVID-19 exposure.

In the unfortunate circumstance that an EPIC employee or student that has been in a BLC gets sick with COVID-19, EPIC will implement the following strategies:

  • Advise Staff and Families of Sick Students of Home Isolation Criteria required by the Health Officials and inform sick staff members or students not to return to the BLC until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
  • EPIC will ensure that staff and families know that they (staff) or their children (families) should not come to school, and that they should notify school officials if they (staff) or their child (families) become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
  • EPIC will immediately separate staff and children with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) at school. Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick.
  • EPIC will identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive but does not have symptoms at the BLC site.
  • In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, EPIC will notify local health officials, staff, and families immediately about anyone the student/staff member has come in close contact with who has tested positive for COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • EPIC will inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
    • Current quarantine guidelines are:
      • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
      • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen should be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
      • New guidelines state: “Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and who meets the following criteria does NOT need to stay home.
        • Someone who has been fully vaccinated within the last three months and shows no symptoms of COVID-19
          • Or:
        • Someone who has COVID-19 illness within the previous 3 months and
          • Has recovered and
          • Remains without COVID-19 symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath)

EPIC will communicate with BLC parents when it is determined that someone with a confirmed case of COVID has been in close contact with his/her child. If the student or parent/guardian tests positive, the student will have to comply with Health Official guidelines to quarantine, test for COVID, and any other guidance as may be applied prior to being authorized to re-enter the BLC. In order to return to the BLC site, a student, parent/guardian or staff member must be 10 days post positive test and fever and symptom-free for 3 days per CDC and Oklahoma Health Department guidelines.

Throughout the school year, parents have the option of continuing at the BLC or to transition to EPIC’s One-on-One program.

Parents must communicate any time a student or member of their household has a confirmed case of COVID. Staff will be required to do the same. Any individuals that may enter the BLC site, including students and staff, that have been in close proximity with an individual that has tested positive to COVID-19 will be required to take the Health Official’s recommended precautions prior to re-entering the BLC site.

One on One Teachers and Students:

At the mutual agreement of the parent/guardian of the student and the teacher, a face to face meeting is authorized and the school recommends that Health Officials guidelines for the safety and well-being of the student, parent/guardian, and teacher be followed. Both parties need to agree on if masks/shields will be worn, or not. Teachers should abide by any local mandates in this regard, as well. No parent or teacher will be forced to meet in person for a face to face meeting. If a teacher elects not to meet in person with a student although a parent and student desire to meet in person, or if there are differing expectations regarding masks/shields, the teacher or the parent shall promptly notify his/her principal so that the student can be reassigned.

Teachers meeting with 2 or more students in one meeting room are encouraged to wear masks and encourage masks for students, unless they have a medical reason NOT to wear a mask.

Teachers will be expected to follow the childcare policy as outlined in the handbook. Exemptions will be made for pre-k and elementary school children, as well as older children with special needs, who attend schools who have mandated part-time or full-time virtual learning.

Benchmarking in person is preferred. However, if remote benchmarking is necessary, the session should be recorded. Only teachers with approved medical exemptions will be exempt from working at a state testing site. These exemptions were due February 24. The only exemptions considered now are newly diagnosed conditions.

Special Education Department

After July 20, 2020, EPIC Special Education staff resumed face-to-face evaluations and services.

Our face-to-face testing and services include full precautions for our staff and students and priority for the safety of our staff/students will be monitored throughout this process. Anyone displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 should NOT attend in-person evaluations. The Health Officials recommendations and guidelines will be followed.

The following precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of our students and families:

  • All locations will be sanitized prior to and after each student’s evaluation,
  • Social distancing recommendations will be followed,
  • No materials will be shared between the evaluator and the student. Copies will be made or duplicate manipulatives will be used e.g. two balls one for the evaluator to demonstrate and one for the student to use.Everything will be sanitized at the end of the session and before use by another student.
  • Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be made available.

If the parent chooses to decline to have the student scheduled for an evaluation or service at this time, the pending consent for evaluation will remain open and scheduled at a later date. Forms have been sent out by the Special Education Department regarding this matter. Failure to respond will result in the student’s consent remaining in the pending status.

EPIC Microsites

All EPIC microsites will be kept at reduced capacity for teacher-student meetings for social distancing. Masks are encouraged, but not mandated, contingent on local mask policies and the preference of the teacher and family. Participants in meetings longer than 15 minutes with no social distancing possible are encouraged to wear masks. Microsites will be cleaned weekly and deep cleaned quarterly. Teachers will disinfect surfaces used after each student meeting. Disinfectant spray will be provided at each microsite. If there is a confirmed case of COVID in the building, it will be deep cleaned according to CDC guidelines. Also, if there is a confirmed case, all teachers who used the space during a span of time in which they could have been exposed will be notified and they will notify the families of students they met with during that span of time.

Building Visitors to Administrative Buildings

Masks required for everyone over 10 years of age upon entry, exit and common areas and sign-in will be strictly enforced for tracing purposes. Masks for all children are encouraged, especially in bathrooms and other common areas. No one will be allowed past the Customer Service Representative besides employees, contractors and students. Contractors must sign in.

If a visitor has to go to an office, they shall be escorted by an EPIC employee and shall abide by the mask requirements stated previously.

Remote Administration Employees

Remote Administration employees will be expected to attend any required in-person meetings in person. Medical exemptions for employees will expire April 30, due to the availability of the vaccine for all faculty and staff. The only exceptions will be: employees who are pregnant or spouse is pregnant; employees who have an exemption due to a condition of a minor child living in the home, or individuals who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons. Employees will be expected to follow the childcare policy as outlined in the handbook. Exceptions will be made for employees with pre-k and elementary school children who attend schools who have mandated part-time or full-time virtual learning.

In-Office Employees

All offices will be fully operational and in-office employees are expected to report to their office Monday through Friday. All employees will be required to wear a mask or shield upon entry, exit, and in common areas (hallways, kitchen, bathrooms, open office doorways, etc.). Masks may be removed when staff are inside their offices.

Meetings should be socially distanced, as well. Participants in meetings longer than 15 minutes with no social distancing possible are encouraged to wear masks.

The building will be cleaned daily, with a more thorough cleaning weekly, a deep cleaning monthly, as well as cleaning focused on areas of contact following an employee’s positive test for COVID per State Health Department guidance. Disinfectant spray will be placed in meeting rooms so staff/teachers can disinfect surfaces when the meeting has ended.

Sharing offices should be avoided.

Medical exemptions for employees will expire April 30, due to the availability of the vaccine for all faculty and staff. Anyone previously assigned to an office should plan to return May 1, 2021. The only exceptions will be: employees who are pregnant or spouse is pregnant; employees who have an exemption due to a condition of a minor child living in the home, or individuals are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons. Alternative officing can be explored at one of the less crowded EPIC sites in their area. Flexible scheduling may be allowed to manage childcare and educational schedule challenges due to COVID, for employees who qualify. Documentation would need to be provided to show this need, much like what we require when someone applies for COVID leave. The FFCRA expired December 31, 2020, and has not been renewed as of the implementation of this policy; therefore,the leave afforded by the Federal Government is no longer available to employees unless later required by the law. Although the FFCRA has expired and the Federal government is not requiring paid leave, EPIC has chosen to extend 5 work days of COVID leave to our employees who qualify. A copy of positive test results must be sent to Shawna Salkil to get the process started. Flexible scheduling for employees or those seeking leave should reach out to Shawna Salkil, Managing Director of HR.

Employees are required to report any direct exposure to COVID or diagnosis of COVID for the employee or for anyone in their immediate household to their supervisor and via the link provided on the website. l. Anyone who tests positive or who has a person in their immediate household test positive should quarantine for 10 days post positive test and work remotely or take COVID leave. In order to return, a staff member must be fever and symptom-free for 3 days after being absent due to symptoms and 10 days post positive test per CDC and Oklahoma Health Department guidelines.

Employees who do not report or who come to work sick will be subject to disciplinary action. Employees who claim to have a diagnosis and don’t will also be subject to disciplinary action. Documentation of a positive test or other information will be requested to ascertain the validity of the request, as outlined in the FFCRA.

EPIC commits to communicating with anyone who is determined to have been in close contact (being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with a confirmed case of COVID for one of the occupants in our buildings. We will not be releasing the names due to HIPPA but we will inform employees we believe were in close contact with another employee who tests positive, and those individuals should quarantine and work remotely per CDC guidelines.

Quarantine guidelines are as follows:

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen should be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
  • New guidelines state: “Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and who meets the following criteria does NOT need to stay home.
    • Someone who has been fully vaccinated within the last three months and shows no symptoms of COVID-19
      • Or:
    • Someone who has COVID-19 illness within the previous 3 months and
      • Has recovered and
      • Remains without COVID-19 symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath)

Employee Travel

Pursuant to Governor Stitt’s SIXTH AMENDED EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-20, a moratorium is placed on all out-of-state travel for all employees of EPIC that is paid for, in whole or in part, by the school.