Health checks | Social distancing, face coverings & PPE | Infection control | Management of ill persons | Cleaning and disinfecting | Vulnerable populations/accommodations | Visitors on campus |School safety drills | Social-emotional wellbeing|
The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
Assistant Superintendent for Business, Mr. Christopher Ruberti, will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Mr. Ruberti will continue to work closely with our local health department as our reopening plan is implemented. He will also serve as a central contact for district schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Mr. Ruberti may be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 518-356-8200.
The district has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources.
The Mohonasen CSD will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.
- Self-attestation form (https://entry.neric.org/mohonasen) – Staff must complete daily and prior to arrival at work.
- For staff without internet access and for visitors, kiosk stations will be available for attestation completion upon arrival at their school building.
- Temperature checks will be conducted at home for all staff and students prior to entering the main school building. Visitors will have their temperatures checked prior to admittance into the building.
- Staff members whose temperature is 100°F or greater must remain home.
- Visitors whose temperature is 100°F will be denied admittance to the building.
- Students with 100°F temperature or higher must stay home. If, during the school day, a student develops/manifests a temperature of 100°F will be sent to the nurse’s office for further evaluation and his/her/their parent/guardian will be notified.
- Students and staff must maintain social distancing protocols while waiting to be screened. Signage on the floors and walls will indicate appropriate social distancing requirements.
- As supervision of students will be needed to ensure proper social distancing and general supervision, staff members will be assigned this duty daily.
- Staff members who are assigned to perform temperature screenings will be trained by a school nurse to ensure proper execution of the check and the requirement for confidentiality.
- All staff members performing temperature checks will be required to wear masks. Gloves, face shields and gowns will be provided to staff upon request if they wish to utilize additional PPE when checking temperatures. The Director of Facilities is responsible for ensuring that appropriate levels of PPE is available for all that need it.
- If a student becomes ill during the day, he/she/they will be required to report to the school nurse immediately for evaluation. Staff members who become ill should leave the building as soon as practicable, minimizing contact with others and notify their supervisor immediately. He/she/they are to remain out of work until such time as the symptoms are gone and he/she/they can answer “no” to the self-attestation questions.
- Records regarding temperature screenings for staff, students and visitors will be maintained for one (1) year. Information recorded will include their name, date and pass/fail. No records of the actual temperature will be kept.
- Parents/guardians will be provided information about health screenings and their responsibilities prior to the start of the 2020-2021, via the website, direct mail, school messenger and the parent portal.
- Additional information can be found at: New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines
Screening Questionnaire – The District will implement a screening application tool for all staff and students to complete prior to arrival at school, including temperature checks. For those who fail to complete the screening, the nurse or other staff member will follow up with these students to ensure they do not have symptoms.
Students/staff suspected of having COVID-19 must be assessed and evaluated by the school nurse. Each individual showing signs of COVID will be isolated in a room or area separate from others, with a supervising adult present. Students/staff will be assessed privately and should they be found to show symptoms will be required to return home. If multiple students are suspected of having COVID-19, they may be in the isolation room provided they can be separated by at least six (6) feet until parent pick up is available. Parents will be contacted for immediate pick up, and students will be escorted from the isolation area to the parent/guardian.
The school nurse will distribute to the parent/guardian our District protocol on the next steps once he/she/they pick up the student. The parent/guardian will be instructed to call their health care provider, or if they do not have a health care provider, to follow up with a local clinic or urgent care center. Symptomatic students or staff members must follow the CDC’s “Stay Home When You Are Sick” guidance unless otherwise directed by a healthcare provider or the local department of health.
Additional screening or temperature checks will be conducted if the student/staff show signs during the school day.
Any family who may be unable to complete the screening form prior to arrival for any reason, (internet down / parents out of town and other family attending to child care) that child will be requested to come to a designated location where a staff member will conduct the screening in a confidential manner with one student (or siblings together) at a time and allowed to return to class as timely as possible.
The building secretary or designee will be responsible for reviewing the results of the screening application and communicating with the school nurse to follow up with those that did not complete the daily attestation.
The school nurse will be the direct contact for all students/families for reporting of any potential or suspected COVID symptoms. The school nurse will work in conjunction with the COVID Coordinator regarding any students with symptoms.
Students, staff, and visitors will wear face coverings consistently throughout the school day, including on the school bus and during all transitions and always when social distancing of at least six-feet cannot be maintained. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one. Students will be allowed mask breaks under the direction of their teachers during instructional periods when seated at a desk that is physically distant from peers and staff. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals so long as they maintain appropriate social distance.
The district has developed a plan with procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.
Hallway traffic will be one-way, where possible, with appropriate signage and classes moving within hallways will be regulated to reduce the number of students in the hallway at a given time to the extent practicable. Students will be asked to carry a reduced number of materials with them on a daily basis. The current plan is for lockers not to be used at Draper and the High School.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.
Face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
The district will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:
- The proper way to wear face coverings
- Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
- Proper way to discard disposable face coverings
- Universal Precautions (e.g., hand washing, use of sanitizer) should be practiced and encouraged verbally and via signage.
- Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms, at entrances and outside of offices.
- Social distancing should be adhered to
- Face Coverings should be worn consistently, especially whenever social distancing is not possible.
- Points of entry and exit will be clearly labeled to ensure a smooth flow of traffic in and out of the buildings.
- Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized routinely, on a specific schedule and as needed.
- Bathrooms and other sinks will be equipped with paper towels, rather than hand dryers to reduce the airborne contaminants.
- At the elementary level, students in grades K through 5 will be in classrooms with a reduced number of students to allow for at least 6 feet of social distance in all instructional areas.
- Students in grades 6-12 will be using a hybrid model at Draper and the High School. This model allows for half of the students in those grade levels to attend in person with social distancing while the other half of students utilize remote learning.
- In areas where staff will be closer than six (6) feet, dividers will be installed.
- Student arrival, dismissal and room changes, where practicable, will be on a staggered schedule to reduce the possibility of clustering.
Mohonasen Facilities and Custodial staff have been going to the schools and meeting with the Principals to go over room capacity that allows proper 6 foot distancing. This is done on a room by room basis with the distances properly measured and adjusted by the needs of the room. This provides an understanding of proper room capacity and training for building level employees on how the rooms need to be set up. All rooms are being set up with a lower than normal occupancy because of the need for 6 foot distancing and proper egress is being maintained.
Facility Alterations and Acquisition
The only change to space utilization at Mohonasen CSD will be a reduction in occupancy to allow for proper social distancing. Means of egress, fire alarm protection, lighting will be unaffected. The percentage of outside air for the ventilation system will be increased.
All classrooms will be used as originally intended, for student instruction. Alterations to the configuration of existing classrooms is limited to the removal, where necessary, of partitions, bookcases, portable furniture, etc. to increase usable square footage. Some tables will be replaced with desks that can be spaced 6 feet apart to comply with social distancing regulations. Where the use of cafeterias, libraries, auditoriums and gymnasiums is necessary to expand instructional capacity the use of space dividers may be used.
There is no planned expansion to Mohonasen buildings to accommodate adapting to COVID-19 requirements. If a need was to arise it would properly be submitted to the Office of Facilities Planning for review. The District’s architects would be involved in this process if a need arises and all proper codes and submittal processes with OFP would be followed.
Tents for Additional Space
The District is examining the feasibility of using temporary or permanent tents to expand opportunities for outdoor instruction or movement breaks. These structures must comply with regulatory building codes and fire codes as required by New York State.
Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures
To ensure restroom social distancing, fixtures that are too close together will be unavailable for use. After the bathrooms have been properly set up for distancing we will review to see if we have been able to maintain the proper amount of toilet fixtures. Proper signage will be installed in the bathrooms and the availability of occupied markers will be expanded.
Paper towel dispensers are currently in use within Mohonasen schools. Where hand dryers have been installed they will be deactivated and paper towel dispensers installed.
Touch free bottle fillers are located at various points throughout the district. The proper amount of drinking fountains will be maintained throughout the District.
Bathrooms will be monitored for capacity and will be cleaned and disinfected three times each day by custodial staff.
Filtration and ventilation will meet or exceed minimum requirements. Outside air circulation will be increased as much as possible but fans will not be used. Teachers and staff will be encouraged to open windows and exterior doors when safe to do so and as conditions allow. The District will maintain adequate, code required ventilation as designed in our air handling units.
The district requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The district has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.
- Bradt Primary School, Anchor Room
- Pinewood Intermediate School, conference room located near Grade 3 entrance
- Draper Middle School, Nurse’s Office side room
- Mohonasen High School, Room 52A
PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.
School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.
Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).
Aerosol Generating Procedures
Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The district requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions.
Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished.
Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following manufacturer’s instructions after each use.
If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
The district requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.
Return to School after Illness
The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
- Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation
The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.
The District will comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. In the event that large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the District administration will work with the Schenectady County Department of Health to secure appropriate testing protocol.
Should a student/staff member show signs or symptoms of potential/presumed COVID, the following protocol will be followed by the school nurse:
- The student/staff member will be separated from others and should symptoms be present, he/she/they will be instructed to return home.
- All parties will be instructed to call their healthcare providers for possible office assessment or testing.
- The school nurse will distribute a copy of the District’s Protocol Sheet to the parent/guardian outlining the proper procedures.
- The school nurse will follow up with the family.
- The District will follow all the latest NYS DOH and CDC guidelines.
- The District will seek guidance from our District Physician and local Health Department regarding any situations that warrant it.
In the event that large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with the following providers:
- Schenectady County Department of Health: (518) 386-2810
- School Physicians: Dr. Warren Silverman
The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.
To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Districts may assist with contact tracing by:
- Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
- Ensuring student schedules are up to date
- Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
- Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program
If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is discovered, the district will contact the Schenectady Department of Health to receive guidance. The rooms/wings where the infected person was located will be immediately closed and will not be allowed to reopen until full disinfection of the area has taken place.
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in- person education and/or closing the school.
The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.
At a minimum, the plan will incorporate the following:
- Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
- Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Schenectady County health department.
- If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
- Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise above 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
- School will be notified by: The Schenectady County Department of Health regarding the situation.
- The district may consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
- The district may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
- The district will consult the school physician and/or the Schenectady County Department of Health when making such decisions.
- The district will determine which operations will be decreased, or ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely; include a process to conduct orderly closures which may include phasing, milestones, and involvement of key personnel.
The district will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.
- Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.
Hand washing should occur:
- Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
- After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
- After using a tissue.
- Before and after using shared materials.
- Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
- After coming in from the outdoors.
- Anytime hands are visibly soiled.
The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.
Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.
- Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
- If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
- Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.
The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include
- Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
- Health offices, isolation rooms
- Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
- Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
- Shared books and supplies will be minimized and where used, books (e.g., library books, trade books) supplies (e.g., science lab materials) will be disinfected or allowed to remain untouched for a specified time period.
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
- Playgrounds (cleaning only)
- Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.
The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:
- For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
- For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
- Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.
We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. A remote learning option will be available for all students in grades K-12.
High-risk staff members are advised to contact Human Resources to request potential individual accommodations. The request would be reviewed by both the physician and by Human Resources so that a reasonable leave or accommodation plan can be discussed where required by Federal or State law pertaining to leave and accommodation requests. This review process will comply with HIPAA and all applicable privacy guidelines. Additional documentation may be requested after reviewing the employee’s initial submission.
In an effort to keep visitors to a minimum, limited outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, where their presence enhances the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child.
All visitors, contractors and vendors will be required to submit a health screening before being allowed inside a building. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.
Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed in this plan.
The district will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Schools are required to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Faculty and staff should wear face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained during drills.
- Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Protocols will be in place to ensure face coverings will be used while exiting, waiting to return, and re-entering the building.
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year.
- With the reduced number of students in each building each day, drills can be conducted similarly as they have been in the past with reminders about social distancing as practicable while moving through the building. With the alternating schedule at Mohonasen drills will be conducted to ensure students following both schedules will have adequate opportunities to learn procedures.
- Students will be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.
Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct lockdown drills in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing and/or using masks.
- Conduct lockdown drills in the classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. The District has made available resources and referrals to address the academic, social, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instruction. The District has done or plans to do this by:
- Coordinating counseling efforts with our support team (e.g., school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists) to provide counseling services to all students as warranted, delivering social emotional lessons to address a variety of topics to include: self-regulation, emotional regulation, anxiety, social skills and coping strategies at the elementary level. This will include reviewing and implementing crisis response strategies depending on student needs.
- Providing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provides support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This need will be addressed through the expertise of our school counseling staff to include school counselors, social workers and school psychologists.
- Continuing an advisory council that involves shared decision-making and is composed of parents, students, members of the board of education, school building and District leaders, teachers, and school counselors. The advisory council will continue to review the comprehensive school counseling plan to discuss how we can best meet the needs of our students.