COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN: HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES

COVID-19 continues to pose challenges and risks to the Waterford community, and Waterford is committed to providing a healthy and safe learning environment for all members of our community. But with effective vaccines now available for most students (and probably for all within the fall term), we are confident we can operate school safely and effectively without requiring the limitations of strict social distancing or hybrid teaching. We will need to continue working together as a community.

The following new or modified policies are meant to create a common understanding of how we best unite around the mission of world-class liberal arts education this year, regardless of the lingering pandemic challenges in front of us. These protocols have been developed with the guidance of the local and state health departments and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  and the CDC. This plan is fluid and may change in accordance with the latest local transmission levels, and recommendations from local, state, and national health experts. Our response plan includes the following strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 and encompasses:

 

VACCINATIONS

Waterford is requesting that students and faculty are vaccinated when the COVID-19 vaccine is given full approval by the FDA for their age group—consistent with the State’s school vaccination requirements for other communicable diseases. This recommendation is also backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—read more here. We encourage you to reach out to your pediatric or primary care provider with any questions you may have regarding vaccination.

 

HEALTH SCREENING AND MONITORING

Parents will monitor their students for symptoms of illness and keep their students home when sick. Health screenings are a helpful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any infectious illness on campus. Faculty, staff, and students will be required to self screen at home prior to entering campus.

  • Faculty, staff and students should stay home and follow the direction of their provider and notify the School Nurses if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of illness. 
  • This tool/questionnaire can help guide self screening prior to arriving on campus
  • Faculty, staff and students who have recently had an exposure with a person with COVID-19 should quarantine, notify the school health office at studentillness@waterfordschool.org and follow the School Nurses’ instructions
  • Faculty, staff, and students with a fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 (ie. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pain, new decreased sense of taste or smell) on campus will be directed to the school nurse, screened, given a medical mask to wear over their cloth face covering, separated from others and guardians will be contacted.

 

FACE COVERINGS 

Face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent individuals who may have the virus and not know it from transmitting it to others (CDC Mask Recommendations). Face coverings are a necessary preventative measure for faculty, staff, and students to wear at all times while in indoor spaces on campus. Face coverings for all individuals on campus are optional outdoors. Face covering guidelines will be updated depending on vaccination levels, transmissions levels, and guidance from the CDC and State Health Department.

  • Masks should cover your nose and mouth at all times while indoors.
  • Faculty, staff, and students should provide their own cloth (or disposable) masks and wear them to campus. A limited supply of disposable masks will be available if forgotten at home.
  • Cloth face masks should fit snugly, have at least two layers of cloth and be free of holes, tears, and rips; and should be able to be laundered daily. They should not contain an exhalation valve.
  • Education and instruction on proper face mask use will be provided as needed.
  • More information about Waterford’s mask guidelines can be found here.

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING 

Limiting close contact with others outside of household members is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing of three feet will be encouraged between individuals on campus. We are fortunate to have, and we will be utilizing all 240,000 square feet of building space on our 41 acre campus to maximize student experience. Distancing guidelines will be updated depending on vaccination levels, transmissions levels, and guidance from the CDC and State Health Department.

 

HEALTH PROMOTION: HAND HYGIENE & HEALTHY BEHAVIORS

Healthy hygiene is key to preventing the spread of germs, and basic infection prevention measures will be implemented across campus.

  • Consistent scheduled handwashing times will be established throughout the day for hand hygiene (LS).
  • Hand sanitizer will be made available to augment handwashing:
    • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed at multiple entry points on campus and inside of MS/US classrooms.
    • Each LS classroom will have a container of hand sanitizer that can be stored out of reach when not in use. Teacher supervision will be required.
  • Touchless faucets and touchless paper towel dispensers along with foot door openers have been installed in all shared restrooms.
  • Signage on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures including face coverings are on display in prominent locations in buildings.
  • Faculty, staff, and students will receive instruction on good hygiene and respiratory practices, handwashing technique, proper use of face coverings, and COVID-related protocols and procedures.  
  • Lower School will be embedding hygiene and healthy behaviors into the curriculum and classroom routines.

     

CLEANING, DISINFECTING, AND VENTILATION

Cleaning and disinfecting are both required strategies for reducing the risk of exposure to viruses and maintaining a healthy school environment. EPA approved products will be used to frequently and thoroughly clean and disinfect the campus.

Cleaning - removes dirt and most germs and is usually done with soap and water, while disinfecting - kills most germs, depending on the type of chemical, and only when the chemical product is used as directed on the label. 

  • In classrooms, desks, chairs, and other high touch surfaces ( ie. doorknobs, light switches) will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
  • Shared spaces, such as bathrooms and sinks, water bottle dispensers, and high touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • Shared objects will be cleaned (ie. sporting equipment, toys, games, art supplies) in between uses.
  • Bus seats and railings will be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.
  • Playground surfaces and equipment will be routinely cleaned. 

Ventilation- the provision of fresh and filtered air to a room and building.

  • Increased fresh air intake with higher airflow in all classrooms with high grade filters installed in HVAC systems campus-wide. 
  • Individual medical grade HEPA (High-efficiency particulate arrestance) air filtration units added to all classrooms and shared office spaces.

 

NURSING SERVICES

Health office space has been adjusted to effectively separate ill and injured students to help prevent spread of COVID-19 or other illnesses and widespread school closure. 

  • LS and MS/US will have separate health offices to prevent mixing of students. 
  • “Well” and “sick” students will be cared for in separate health office spaces.
  • Students with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be provided a medical mask, placed in an isolation room equipped with reverse ventilation while awaiting pick up.
  • Each health office will be stocked with appropriate PPE (ie. N95 & surgical masks, face shields, gowns and gloves).
  • Attendance will be tracked by front office staff, and the school nurse will review for trends, reporting a student body illness greater than 10% to the local health department.
  • Parents of students with special health considerations should reach out to the School Nurses to coordinate meetings and formulate individualized health plans.

 

SUSPECTED COVID-19 ILLNESS PROTOCOL / POSSIBLE SCHOOL CLOSURES

While schools are not expected to diagnose COVID-19, appropriate safety precautions will be taken on campus when faculty, staff, or students become ill. The school will work closely with the health department when cases of COVID-19 are suspected or found. Community COVID-19 testing may be recommended by the health department. Local legislation recommends testing if transmission thresholds are reached. The health department will collaborate with the school if they determine a closure may be necessary. For high risk activities that are unmasked and indoors, weekly testing will be required of participants that remain unvaccinated.

Students, faculty, and staff with a COVID exposure in the community or household will be assessed for the need to quarantine and symptom watch:

  • Faculty, staff and students who have recently had an exposure to COVID-19 should quarantine, notify the School Nurses and follow their instructions. 
  • If symptoms develop during a quarantine, the entire household must quarantine, contact a medical provider and email studentillness@waterfordschool.org for further instruction.
  • 24 hours prior to the end of a quarantine period, the student’s family, faculty and/or staff will email their intent to return and current symptom status to studentillness@waterfordschool.org.

Students, faculty, and staff exhibiting COVID-like symptoms during the school day will be isolated:

Protocol with students exhibiting signs of illness:

  • When a student begins to feel unwell, faculty or staff will provide them with a medical mask to wear over their cloth mask.
  • The student will be isolated from others.
  • Parents or guardians will be notified for student pick-up and informed to follow up with their healthcare provider. The student must be picked up promptly (i.e., within 45 minutes).
  • A parent should follow the guidance of the student’s health care provider and update the School Nurse by emailing studentillness@waterfordschool.org.
  • The school must be notified immediately of a presumed or positive diagnosis.
  • The school nurse will notify administration and the local health department about any positive COVID tests. Vice versa, the health department notifies Waterford School of any positive test cases in our community. 
  • The school will maintain the privacy of health information, while assisting with contact tracing. The Health Department will collaborate with the School to make decisions based on each individual case and possible exposures. The school is committed to remaining in compliance with FERPA.

Protocol for faculty or staff exhibiting signs of illness:

  • Faculty or staff member must notify appropriate administrators and leave campus promptly (Melanie Battistone (LS), Brandon Bennett (MS/US), Mike Hamideh or Greg Miles (staff).
  • Faculty and staff members needing immediate care should call the school nurse for assistance.
  • Faculty or staff members should seek immediate treatment, and follow the guidance of their healthcare provider and/or local health department.
  • The school must be notified immediately of a presumed or positive diagnosis.
  • The school will maintain the privacy of health information, while assisting with contact tracing. The Health Department will collaborate with the School to make decisions based on each individual case and possible exposures. The school is committed to remaining in compliance with FERPA and HIPPA.

Waterford will follow the guidance of the local health department when a member of the community tests positive for or has had an exposure to COVID-19. 

  • Families and staff are required to notify the school of off-campus exposure. Faculty, staff, and students with an exposure (unmasked and within 6ft for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) will be assessed for risk in collaboration with the health department and may be required to quarantine at home and monitor for the development of symptoms.
  • Voluntary community COVID-19 testing may be recommended by the health department to continue on campus learning. Local legislation requires testing if transmission thresholds are reached. Students will be required by the health department to present a negative test prior to returning to school. 
  • Any on campus rooms or areas possibly affected will be appropriately cleaned and disinfected per CDC guidelines and the school will contact the local health department for any further guidance.
  • The school will maintain the privacy of health information, while assisting with contact tracing. The Health Department will collaborate with the School to make decisions based on each individual case and possible exposures. The school is committed to remaining in compliance with FERPA and HIPPA.

After a period of home isolation, students, faculty, and staff excluded for presumed or diagnosed COVID-19 may return campus if the following criteria are met:

If you have been presumed to have COVID-19 by a healthcare provider based off of symptoms or you have tested positive for COVID-19, you can return to school if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
  • Fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND
  • Marked improvement of symptoms or continuation of no symptoms if asymptomatic. 

Undiagnosed illness with COVID-19 symptoms following a known exposure:

  • Faculty, staff, and students with symptoms of COVID-19 following an exposure that have not been seen by a healthcare provider or tested for COVID-19 may return to campus after 10 days have passed from onset of symptom AND 24 hours after fever resolves AND symptoms have improved or with a healthcare provider’s note stating symptoms are attributed to another condition.

 


 

REFERENCES

American Academy of Pediatrics: Guidance for Safe Schools
https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19 - K-12 Schools
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html

CDC: COVID-19 - Cleaning Your Facility
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html