Health and Safety
The health and safety of the children and adults in our schools is paramount. Health and safety considerations must always come first in every decision made and every action taken by our schools and districts.
Whether instruction is provided in-person, remotely, or through a combination of the two, the District plays an important role in educating and communicating with school community about the everyday preventive actions they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The District will engage in preventative practices by promoting and implementing the following health and safety recommendations:
- Health Checks
- Healthy Hygiene Practices
- Social Distancing
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cloth Face Coverings
- Management of Ill Persons
- Cleaning and Disinfection
In each of these categories, the District has noted those recommendations that are essential. Additional considerations are based on best practices or recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). The District will continually monitor the CDC and DOH websites to keep current with the latest COVID information and guidance.
Health and Safety Plan:
- The district has reviewed and considered the number of students and staff allowed to return in person. The following factors were considered when determining resumption of in-person instruction:
- Ability to maintain appropriate social distancing.
- Availability of face coverings and other PPE.
- Availability of safe transportation.
- Local hospital capacity, as determined in consultation with the Ontario County Public Health Department.
- The District has engaged with school stakeholders and community members, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/legal guardians of students, local health department, local health care providers, and affiliated organizations, such as unions, alumni, and/or community-based group, when developing the health and safety reopening plans.
- The District plan includes a communications plan for students, parents/guardians, staff, community members, and stakeholders.
- The District plan includes a written protocol, developed in collaboration with the District’s director of school health services, to instruct staff to observe for signs of illness in students and staff and requires symptomatic persons to be sent to the school nurse or other designated personnel.
- The District plan includes a written protocol for daily temperature screenings of all students and staff, along with a daily screening questionnaire for faculty and staff and periodic use of the questionnaire for students. The District plan also includes the use of special equipment and protocols for taking the temperatures of students and staff prior to entering the buildings.
- The District plan requires that ill students and staff be assessed by a school nurse and that if a school nurse is not available, ill students and staff will be sent home for follow up with a healthcare provider.
- The District plan includes a written protocol requiring 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.
- The District plan includes a written protocol to address visitors, guests, contractors, and vendors to the school which includes health screening.
- The District plan includes a written protocol to instruct parents/guardians to observe for signs of illness in their child that require staying home from school.
- The District plan includes a written protocol and appropriate signage to instruct staff and students in correct hand and respiratory hygiene.
- The District plan includes a written protocol to ensure all persons in school buildings keep social distance of at least 6 feet whenever possible.
- The District plan includes a written protocol detailing how the District will provide accommodations to all students and staff who are at high risk or live with a person at high risk.
- The District plan includes a written protocol requiring all employees, adult visitors, and students to wear a cloth face covering whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.
- The District plan includes a written protocol regarding students taking mask breaks.
- The District plan includes a system for obtaining and maintaining adequate supplies of cloth face coverings for school staff, students who forget their masks, and PPE for use by school health professionals.
- The District plan includes a written protocol for actions to be taken if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school.
- The District plan includes a written protocol that complies with CDC guidance for the return to school of students and staff following illness or diagnosis of confirmed case of COVID-19 or following quarantine due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Return to school will be coordinated with the Ontario County Department of Health.
- The District plan includes a written protocol to clean and disinfect schools following CDC guidance.
- The District plan includes a written protocol to conduct required school safety drills with modifications ensuring social distancing between persons.
- The District designates Mr. John Lombardi, Director of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics, as COVID-19 Safety Coordinator. The COVID-19 Safety Coordinator’s responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the school’s reopening plan, as well as any phased-in reopening activities necessary to allow for operational issues to be resolved before activities return to normal or “new normal” levels.
Health and Safety Mandatory Assurances
- The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District conducted a thorough evaluation of its facilities and determined, based upon recommended CDC, NYS DOH and NYSED guidelines, the capacity for which students and staff can safely return to campus. Measurements of all available spaces, regardless of past/historical use, were taken to determine the threshold of students/staff who can occupy said spaces while still maintaining appropriate social distancing (minimum of six feet in all directions.) Further, a re-evaluation of busing routes and bussing capacity was conducted in order to establish the district’s ability to safely transport as many students as possible while still maintaining appropriate social distancing per CDC, NYS DOH and NYSED guidelines. The district will remain in contact with the Ontario County Department of Health to monitor any spike in local cases or any reduced hospital capacity that might factor into district decision-making.
- Throughout the reopening planning process, stakeholders (administrators, staff, students, parents/guardians, health care providers, applicable unions, and community organizations) have been engaged through a variety of methods. These include multiple live online committee meetings, direct correspondence (phone calls, texts, and emails), interactive town hall forums, and surveys.
- Helpful resources include:
- COVID-19 Staff Training PowerPoint
- Tranings for staff will be delivered via Safe Schools. The District will utilize courses and trainings created by Safe Schools that are in alignment with CDC and Department of Health guidance. Each staff member will have a unique log-in to use to access this system.
- Individuals without a unique log-in who are not staff members of the District, may view some of the Safe School digital resources by clicking the following link: https://www.safeschools.com/blog/coronavirus-resources-for-k-12-schools.
- The District has developed a thorough communications process to inform students, parents/guardians, staff and visitors of protocols/procedures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with all CDC, NYS DOH, and NYSED guidelines. The process includes multiple methods of communication, including interactive web-based meetings with stakeholders, emails, phone calls, texts, posted information on all district social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,) live town hall meetings, and mail. Appropriate signage will be placed throughout the facilities and grounds to remind all persons of social distancing guidelines, the wearing of face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained, and other recommended CDC and NYS DOH guidelines. All communications are available in English and the other dominant languages spoken in students’ homes.
- In collaboration with the school doctor and nurses, the district will provide appropriate training to all staff members in knowing and observing signs of illness in students and staff. Further, staff will be trained to require symptomatic persons be sent immediately to the school nurse for evaluation.
Daily Temperature and Health Screenings:
- The District will implement mandatory health screenings, including temperature checks of all students and staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors to identify any individual who may have COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Specifically, all individuals must have their temperature checked each day they are on campus.
- Families will be encouraged to take student temperatures daily and complete a routine health screening questionnaire at home. While it is the responsibility of parents to perform temperature checks on their child before boarding a bus or arriving on campus, the District will be prepared to perform screening for students and staff upon arrival before entering the building. The District will use non-contact automated temporal scanners at the main entry points of the elementary and secondary buildings.
Assessment of Ill Students and Staff:
- Students or staff exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness will be sent to the school health office for an assessment by the school nurse. If a school nurse is not available, staff will be asked to see a healthcare provider. If the school nurse is not available for students, the school will contact the parent/guardian to come pick up their ill child. Students and staff are required to have a daily temperature check and periodic completion of a screening questionnaire. Anyone who has a temperature of 100°F or greater or has a positive response on the screening questionnaire must be isolated from others and sent home immediately. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home. The school will refer such persons to a healthcare provider.
Isolation/Containment Areas for Symptomatic Individuals:
- The District has identified and will maintain an isolation/containment area in each school building. Containment areas will be designated for students and staff who exhibit symptoms of illness, while they wait to go home. Adult supervision will be provided in the containment areas whenever they are occupied by individuals exhibiting symptoms. The containment areas will receive special cleaning at the end of each night by custodial staff to include walls, floors, cots, and high touch surfaces as well.
Health Screenings for Visitors:
- Visitors, guests, contractors and vendors will receive a temperature check and complete a health screening prior to entering any school building. The temperature checks and screenings will be completed by either the school nurse or a trained staff member. Any visitor, guest, contractor, or vendor who shows a fever of 100°F or greater and/or exhibits any signs of illness related to COVID-19 symptoms, will be denied entry.
Instruction for Parents/Guardians to Observe for Signs of Illness:
Parents/guardians will be provided resources to educate them regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. Parents/guardians will be instructed that any student with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection should not be present in school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keep an up to date list of symptoms of Coronavirus on its website. This list is not all inclusive as some individuals may display other symptoms, or none at all. As of July 13, 2020, the following are listed as the most common symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever or chills (100°F or greater)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting; and/or
It is strongly recommended that all parents/guardians are educated to observe students for signs of any type of illness such as:
- Flushed cheeks
- Rapid or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity)
- Fatigue, and/or irritability
- Frequent use of the bathroom
Students exhibiting these signs with no other explanation for them should be sent to the school health office for an assessment by the school nurse. If a school nurse is not available, the school will contact the parent/guardian to come pick up their ill child. Students are required to have a daily temperature check and periodic completion of a screening questionnaire. Anyone who has a temperature of 100°F or greater or has a positive response on the screening questionnaire must be isolated from others and sent home immediately. Students will be supervised in the isolated area while awaiting transport home. The school will refer such persons to a healthcare provider and provide resources on COVID-19 testing.
Parents/Guardians are required to notify the school when their child(ren) develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours.
Signage to Promote Correct Hand and Respiratory Hygiene:
- The District will promote behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, cloth face coverings, physical distancing, and staying home when appropriate, through classroom instruction, guidance, redirection, and reminders. Posters will serve as reminders. The CDC resources for schools will be strategically placed throughout the buildings. Signage asking visitors not to come into the building during the COVID-19 will be posted at entrances. Letters home to parents and posted on the District website before school opens will serve to communicate a spirit of cooperation using the Governor’s concept of "New York strong and smart." Parents will be asked to remind their children about important educational points about health and safety. Signs will be placed on school buses and outside of buildings asking students and staff not to come to school if they are ill. Children will not be penalized for not having perfect attendance records. Space markers separating six-feet space will be placed outside the school building to prevent congestion at the doors.
Written Protocol to Ensure Social Distance (at least 6 feet whenever possible):
- Every effort shall be made for all students to be kept six feet apart. Signage will be placed on busses, outside of buildings and throughout the interior of building reminding students, staff, and visitors of social distancing guidelines. The District will promote behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, cloth face coverings, social distancing, and staying home when appropriate, through classroom instruction, guidance, redirection, and reminders.
Accommodations for Students and Staff at High Risk or Living with a Person at High Risk:
Specific groups are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 and may need added or alternative provisions for social distancing. Students who have family members who are in high risk groups may also need to attend school remotely. The District will make accommodations to meet the needs of these students in the school community.
Persons in these groups should consult with their healthcare provider regarding prevention:
- Individuals age 65 or older
- Pregnant individuals
- Individuals with underlying health conditions including, but not limited to:
- chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- serious heart conditions
- the immunocompromised
- severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
- chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- liver disease
- sickle cell anemia
- Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.
Students with special needs or students who are medically fragile may not be able to maintain social distancing, hand or respiratory hygiene, or wear a face covering or mask. It is important for parents/ guardians to work with their child’s healthcare providers so that an informed decision can be made on how best to meet the child’s needs at school while protecting their health and safety. Transitioning these students back to school requires:
- Planning and coordination of:
- School health services personnel
- Special education personnel
- Pupil personnel services and administration.
- Being aware that such families are already under significant stress and COVID-19 has made their situations more critical.
- Alternate plans created in consultation with school health personnel on how to meet the needs of the child while keeping social distancing may include:
- Additional PPE for staff caring for such students.
- Assigning only one staff member to care for the student.
- Decreased students in a classroom, alternating schedules, and provision of related services to an individual instead of group setting.
Finally, if the parents/guardians choose not to send their child back to school, this district will provide the option for remote instruction.
Face Coverings and Social Distancing for Employees, Visitors, and Students:
Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks, respirators, or other medical personal protective equipment. All individuals in school facilities and on school grounds must be prepared to put on a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance. All students and staff members must wear cloth face coverings:
- Whenever they are within 6 feet of someone
- In hallways
- In restrooms
- In other congregate settings, including buses
The district will provide acceptable face covering to employees (and students if they forget their own) and have an adequate supply in case of need for replacement per Executive Order 202.16. The district will allow an employee to wear their own acceptable face covering but may not require they supply their own face coverings. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering cannot be required to do so.
Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so scheduling mask breaks is important. Face coverings will 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; or
- 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.
- The importance of routine cleaning of reusable face coverings.
Face coverings are for individual use only and should not be shared.
Information and resources to assist schools in instructing on the proper use and cleaning of facemasks are on the CDC webpage on cloth face coverings.
Students and staff may use alternate PPE (i.e., face coverings that are transparent at or around the mouth) for instruction or interventions that require visualization of the movement of the lips and/or mouths (e.g., speech therapy). These alternate coverings may also be used for certain students (e.g., hearing impaired) who benefit from being able to see more of the face of the staff member.
Obtaining and Maintaining Adequate Supplies:
- The Director of Facilities, in conjunction with the Business Official, will purchase and monitor appropriate supplies of cloth face coverings for use by school staff, students who forget their masks, and necessary PPE for use by health professionals.
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19:
- Any individual who screens positive for COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, if screened at the school, will be immediately sent home with instructions to contact their health care provider for assessment and testing
- Students who are being sent home because of a positive screen (e.g., onset of COVID-19 symptoms) will be immediately separated from other students and supervised until their parent/legal guardian or emergency contact can retrieve them from school.
- Such individuals will be provided with information on health care and testing resources, if applicable.
- The state and local health department will be immediately notified about the case if diagnostic test results are positive for COVID-19.
- Individuals will be required to immediately disclose any changes to their responses to the health screening questions, such as if they begin to experience symptoms, including during or outside of school hours.
- Policies will be established, 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. This returning to learning protocol includes at minimum documentation from a health care provider evaluation, negative COVID-19 testing, and symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation.
- Central point of contact(s), including school nurses, COVID-19 Safety Coordinator , and department supervisors, which may vary by activity, location, shift or day, responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all screening activities, with such contact(s) also identified as the party for individuals to inform if they later experience COVID19-related symptoms or COVID-19 exposure, as noted on the questionnaire.
Return to School Following a Positive Screen for COVID-19 Symptoms, Illness, or Diagnosis/Confirmed Case of COVID-19:
- The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District must follow CDC guidance for allowing a student or staff member to return to school after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. If a person is not diagnosed by a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) with COVID-19 they can return to school:
- Once there is no fever, without the use of fever reducing medicines, and they have felt well for 24 hours.
- If they have been diagnosed with another condition and has a healthcare provider written note stating, they are clear to return to school.
- If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider based on a test or their symptoms or does not get a COVID-19 test but has had symptoms, they should not be at school and should stay at home until:
- It has been at least ten days since the individual first had symptoms.
- It has been at least three days since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); and
- It has been at least three days since the individual’s symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.
- The CDC provides specific guidance for individuals who are on home isolation regarding when the isolation may end.
- CDC recommendations for discontinuing isolation in persons known to be infected with COVID-19 could, in some circumstances, appear to conflict with recommendations on when to discontinue quarantine for persons known to have been exposed to COVID-19. CDC recommends 14 days of quarantine after exposure based on the time it may take to develop illness if infected. Thus, it is possible that a person known to be infected could leave isolation earlier than a person who is quarantined because of the possibility they are infected.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Schools According to CDC Guidance:
- In the event an individual is confirmed to have COVID-19, cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas with cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces.
- CDC guidelines on "Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility," will be followed if someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
- Areas used by the person who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 will be closed off.
- If the affected area used by the person who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 can be closed off (e.g., classroom, restroom, hallway), building operations will continue and local health departments will be consulted.
- Outside doors and windows will be opened to increase air circulation in the area.
- Before cleaning and disinfection takes place, 24 hours will pass, unless waiting 24 hours is not feasible, in which case, we will wait as long as possible.
Required School Safety Drills with Modifications Ensuring Social Distancing:
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct 8 evacuation and 4 lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration will be given to how to may modify drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency, however, steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the 2020-21 school year using protocols that are different than they are used to.
- Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, 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 evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose; and
- If schools re-open with a “hybrid” in-person model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, the District will ensure that all students receive instruction in emergency procedures, and participate in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
- Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct lockdown drill in classroom setting while maintaining social distancing, using masks; and remaining out of the line of sight of the threat.
- Conducting lockdown drills on a “staggered” schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing, however schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person; and virtual
- Conduct lockdown drill in classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
COVID-19 Safety Coordinator (administrator):
- John Lombardi (Director of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics) will serve as the Phelps-Clifton Springs COVID-19 Safety Coordinator. Responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the school’s reopening plan, as well as any phased-in reopening activities necessary to allow for operational issues to be resolved before activities return to normal or "new normal" levels.