COVID-19 Resource Page

Safe and Strong Health and Safety Plan

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September 1, 2021


Dear SPS Community,


The COVID landscape has changed dramatically in the past few weeks and comes just as we prepare to launch the 2021-22 school year. Despite this new challenge, the faculty, staff, and administrators in the Scituate Public Schools are energized and ready to welcome students back to fully in-person learning on September 8th. We are focused on and excited to begin

re-establishing community amongst students, staff, and families, fostering climates of belonging and inclusion for all, and resuming our rich academic and extra-curricular programs.


As much as we desire to leave pandemic-related planning and considerations in the past, we must continue to monitor and respond to current health conditions. Utilizing health and safety protocols to ensure students can stay in school learning and connected with others is critical this year. With the appropriate health and safety measures in place, we can successfully continue to accelerate our learning and provide appropriate social and emotional support to students as they recover from a very challenging school year.


With this in mind, I share with you the guiding principles of this document, our Safe and Strong Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-22 School Year:


  • Maintain safe and healthy learning environments in school buildings

  • Minimize disruptions to learning through the use of health and safety protocols

  • Collaborate and partner with students, staff, families, and community

  • Abide by an unwavering commitment to the academic, social and emotional well-being of students


This document provides you with the district health and safety protocols and school operations plans for the start of the 2021-22 school year. Of course, as we know, the COVID landscape changes rapidly. The Medical Advisory Committee and SPS leadership teams will continually review newly available data to inform adjustments to health and safety protocols as needed. We expect these guidelines to change over the course of the year.


We are looking forward to a terrific school year in which our students thrive in our school communities. Our partnership with you is critical to our success and we intend to share updates in a timely and consistent manner throughout the school year.


Sincerely,
William Burkhead

 HEALTH PROTOCOLS


Over the past several weeks, federal, state, and professional organizations have issued guidance for schools for the upcoming school year. For reference, you will find the guidance linked here:


Based on these recommendations and the national guidance, this document provides key health and safety decisions for the start of the 2021-22 school year.


THE SPS HEALTH PILLARS
The Scituate Public Schools will continue to utilize key health pillars to mitigate public health risks of COVID-19 in the schools. These pillars are the foundation of our efforts to mitigate risk and provide healthy school environments for students, staff, and their families.

1. Face Coverings
All students and staff are required to wear face coverings, per DESE requirement, and in compliance with District policies and rules relative to masks/face coverings, including Scituate’s Policy EBCFA Face Coverings. Any student who does not comply with the District’s face covering policies and rules will be considered not in a condition to attend school. As such, the building principal or designee will work with the parent/guardian and student to develop a plan for the student to meet the conditions required for attendance. Students who refuse to comply with face covering/mask policies or procedures may be subject to the full range of discipline, at the discretion of the building principal.

2. Hand Hygiene
Students and staff should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used instead. Hand sanitizer will continue to be available in all schools and entrances and throughout the buildings.

3. Physical Distancing
Although DESE is not requiring physical distancing, SPS will be implementing a minimum of 3 feet of distance when feasible. We will continue to utilize outdoor space as much as possible. Mask breaks and lunch will be a minimum of 3 feet of distance.

4. Health Self -Assessment
Students and staff who are sick must not attend school, even if they are fully vaccinated. Staff and families should use the below health self-assessment tool every morning before coming into school. If you/your child is sick, call the school to report the absence and the reason. The assessment will not be collected by school personnel but rather is meant to be a personal tool. Staff should refer to Scituate Public Schools Human Resources for relevant sick leave policies.

SPS Health Self-Assessment Tool

  1. Do you/your child have any of the following symptoms?

    • Fever (100F or higher), chills, shaking chills
    • Cough (not due to other known causes, such as a chronic cough)
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Muscle aches or body aches
    • Sore throat (when in combination with other symptoms)
    • Headache (when in combination with other symptoms)
    • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
    • Fatigue (when in combination with other symptoms)
    • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies and when in combination with other symptoms)

2. Have you/your child been told by a public health official to isolate or quarantine?
If your answer to either of the questions above is ‘yes’, stay home and do not come to school.

  • Notify the school nurse, building principal, or principal’s designee

  • Staff should also follow standard procedures for reporting an absence

  • If symptomatic, contact your health care provider for assessment and testing. As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

VACCINATION

Scituate Public Schools encourage ALL ELIGIBLE STUDENTS AND STAFF to be vaccinated prior to the start of school.

  • You can find the list of vaccination sites by visiting the state’s searchable vaccination website.

  • The state provides in-home vaccinations for anyone who is unable to get to a vaccine location. Call 833-983-0485 Mon-Fri, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to register.

  • If you have additional questions or need assistance acquiring a vaccine, please contact SPS at 781-545-8725 or visit the Scituate Board of Health website.


MULTI-LAYERED COVID TESTING STRATEGIES

Scituate Public Schools will offer a multi-layered COVID Testing Protocol in school buildings for staff and students. Testing is available.  Families have received information on testing and consent. The two testing protocols are as follows:


Symptomatic Testing: This protocol will be used for students and staff who develop symptoms while at school. It is a rapid test performed by the school nurse, and requires consent. 


Test and Stay (Close contact testing): This protocol will be used to test asymptomatic individuals who have been identified as close contacts IN SCHOOL ONLY. It is designed to allow close contacts to stay in school vs. quarantining at home and missing school. It is a daily rapid test performed for at least five days following exposure by the school nurse.

For more information on the state testing program, please view this document: State COVID-19 Testing Program Webinar Slides.

For individuals who need to access testing on their own, DPH provides a searchable database of all currently available testing sites.


ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has issued these protocols for responding to COVID-19 scenarios: 

Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 in Schools

The protocols provide information on isolation and quarantine for infected individuals, as well as individuals identified as close contacts IN SCHOOLS. Highlights of the DESE protocols are noted below, but please refer to the protocols linked above for complete information.

All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset (or specimen collection date if asymptomatic). Return to school should be based on time and symptom resolution. Repeat testing prior to return is not recommended.

Close contacts are defined as individuals who have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual while indoors, for at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period, outside of the classroom setting. This definition applies even if both the close contact and the case are wearing face coverings.

Some close contacts are EXEMPT from quarantine and testing protocols:

Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts (symptomatic fully vaccinated individuals should stay home and get tested).

A close contact who is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom while both individuals were masked, so long as the individuals were spaced at least 3 feet apart.

Bus close contacts, so long as both individuals were masked and windows were open.

Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days.

Asymptomatic close contacts who do not develop symptoms and do not meet any of the above exemptions will do one of the following:

  • Participate in the Test and Stay testing protocol to stay in school

  • Quarantine at home for 7 days returning to school with a negative PCR test, and may return to school on day 8

  • Quarantine at home for 10 days returning to school without a test.


Symptomatic individuals who are not close contacts, and who experience COVID-19 symptoms may return to school with at negative PCR test, improvement of symptoms/fever-free for 24 hours, and/or an alternative medical diagnosis.

School nurses will provide schools and families specific information on isolation and quarantine protocols following a COVID diagnosis or identification as a close contact in school.  Please refer to the protocols linked above for complete information.

Please note that DESE/DPH has informed districts that the above protocols are for school scenarios only. Close contacts outside of school follow Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 guidance. Individuals who are designated close contacts in an exposure that occurs outside of school should contact their healthcare professional for guidance, and inform your school nurse in writing of the guidance provided. 

SCHOOL NOTIFICATION AND DATA SHARING

Scituate Public Schools will continue to utilize our email communication protocol for informing families of a COVID-19 case in their school.  We will also continue to report out our weekly town of Scituate case updates that are released by the State every Thursday evening. Communication will be sent to families on Fridays.

VENTILATION

SPS will continue to monitor air quality and the functionality of HVAC systems and will continue to:
  • Maximize fresh air coming in and exhaust going out

  • Minimize air recirculation wherever possible

  • Increase and sustain air filter efficiency wherever possible

SPS will continue to use third-party engineers and testing and balancing firms to conduct sample testing on a sustainable basis.  Information and other documentation will be posted to the SPS website, including updated data.  Additionally, SPS will monitor the effectiveness of the work done last year by continuing a Carbon Dioxide monitoring program. CO2 monitoring is a tool used to indicate general building ventilation on a consistent basis.

CLEANING AND SANITIZING

Routine cleaning and disinfecting is an integral piece to maintaining a healthy environment for Scituate Public School’s faculty, students, and staff. While multiple studies have demonstrated that COVID-19 does not spread easily through contaminated surfaces, effective cleaning and disinfecting of environmental surfaces can have a positive impact on disease prevention and the overall health of the school community.

Therefore, Scituate Public Schools will continue its standard infection control practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of buildings, with special emphasis on high-touch surfaces. Cleaning will be conducted throughout the day and in the evenings after the school day ends. Sanitizing wipes and appropriate spray cleaners will be provided in all classrooms for teachers and staff to use at their discretion.


TRANSPORTATION

Per the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandate, the following health and safety protocols will be in place on all bus and van transportation in the Scituate Public Schools:


  • Masks will be required on all Scituate Public Schools transportation.

  • Seats may be assigned to facilitate contact tracing should that be necessary.

  • Windows will be open at all times unless not possible due to weather conditions.


We will continue to ask parents to drop and meet students at the door of schools rather than entering school buildings. 


SCHOOL OPERATIONS


MEALS AND FOOD SERVICE

Scituate Public Schools identifies the following priorities for lunch:

  • Assigned seating (to support contact tracing)

  • Utilization of outdoor spaces as much as possible


Water fountains will remain turned off, however, bottle filling stations, where available, will be operational.


Breakfast and lunch will be provided free of charge to Scituate Public School students again this year. For families who typically, or may this year, qualify for the free and reduced meal program, we encourage you to complete the free and reduced meal application. Completing the application may provide access to additional benefits for you and your family.


SPORTS / EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES 


Masks are required for any sports or extracurricular activities when indoors, in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).

SCHOOL VISITORS

All school visitors are expected to follow the SPS mask policy. We also ask that all visitors keep at least 3 feet of distance between others. 


ASSEMBLIES, FAMILY MEETINGS  AND GROUP GATHERINGS

SPS Assemblies, family meetings and group gatherings will attempt to maintain physical distancing wherever possible. All participants are expected to adhere to the SPS mask policy


TRAVEL AND FIELD TRIPS


Field trips will comply with Scituate Public Schools health and safety protocols.


USE OF BUILDINGS

Outside organizations that utilize space in SPS buildings outside of school hours, operate under the SPS health and safety protocols, including the face covering policy. 




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