July 17, 2020
Dear Methacton Families,
As we continue forward with communicating the DRAFT plan for reopening Methacton Schools, please see the second of two communications that contains the last 3 major components addressing:
- Symptom screening
DAILY SYMPTOM SCREENING IS REQUIRED FOR ALL STUDENTS AND STAFF
The Methacton School District will issue a Symptoms Check List to each family prior to the start of the school year. The symptom check list is recommended to be placed on the refrigerator or easily observable location within the household so that parents/guardians, student and staff alike can be reminded and be mindful to check themselves daily before leaving their home in the AM against the below list:
- New loss of taste or smell
- Fever (100.4) or chills
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
Everyone should recognize that the symptoms listed above can be a result of a number of medical or other matters that are in no way related to COVID-19. Considering that a test administered by a medical professional is generally the only means to confirm that the symptoms are a result of COVID-19 and that these symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
We ask that parents, students, and staff contribute to the health and safety of everyone by remembering this phrase – “if I feel ill- STAY HOME”.
If a student, staff member or essential visitor tests positive for COVID-19 after being on campus, they should advise the school nurse immediately. That individual will be sent home and be required to secure a COVID 19 test or medical clearance prior to returning to school/work.
If a student, staff member or essential visitor presents at school with flu-like or COVID-19 like symptoms, he/she will be sent home and be required to secure a COVID 19 test or medical clearance prior to returning to school/work.
ACTIONS REQUIRED: When anyone who becomes sick in school:
- Symptomatic student MUST place on self, a FACE MASK
- Symptomatic student MUST report immediately to the School Nurse for assessment.
- Based on School Nurses’ assessment, the School Nurse will coordinate with building administration to place symptomatic student into school building isolation area.
- Any student placed in school isolation area will be monitored.
- School will notify the parent/guardian and require symptomatic student to be picked up within one hour.
- Symptomatic staff members should contact their supervisor and report to the School Nurse for an assessment.
- School Nurse will contact staff supervisor in the event the assessment requires staff member to be sent home.
- School nurse will notify District Nursing Department Coordinator daily of COVID-19 student and staff assessments.
- District Nursing Department Coordinator will notify Pandemic Response Team Coordinator (Superintendent) of assessments on a weekly basis and immediately of confirmed cases.
- All Confirmed cases will be reported to the County Department of Health
- District will cooperate with County Department of Health and communicate where and when appropriate.
District will follow the Montgomery County Department of Health Exclusion Guide
Each school building has designated an isolation space for the purpose of isolating persons who become sick in school to await parent/guardian for pick up. This space is NOT in the School Nurses Office, but is located close by the school nurses office in an adjacent room. The school nurse will monitor this space and not allow more students in the space than acceptable by distancing standards. The building isolation space will be separated from the nurse’s office and will be well-ventilated and easy to disinfect.
The school nurse may evaluate any individual who presents with symptoms, but it is the recommendation of the district for the parent/guardian of child or employee to contact their primary physician for appropriate measures immediately. The school nurse will take the temperatures for only those individuals who present with symptoms.
The district will provide appropriate PPE to staff and students in the nurse’s suite and isolation space and to those interacting directly with a symptomatic individual.
Custodial staff will be directed to disinfect classrooms or spaces occupied by symptomatic individuals prior to reentry by students and staff. This may displace students and staff temporarily during the school day.
Students impacted by isolation/quarantine will be provided a continuity of education plan coordinated between the school counselor and the family with services being provided through the Methacton Online program or other appropriate arrangements.
Students and staff who are high risk and most vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 morbidity, are encouraged to wear face coverings, while on school property and engaging in school related activities at all times.
Each building will monitor absenteeism to identify any trends in student and staff absences due to illness.
The district will issue guidelines for staff to follow with respect to the importance of staying home if symptomatic.
The district will adopt flexible attendance policies for students and staff that that are applicable to this plan.
Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe and responsible manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Given this, the district has developed cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation protocols, procedures and checklists to ensure that all of our buildings are thoroughly maintained in accordance with the guidelines from national health organizations in partnership with local and state public health officials.
The district has applied for the PCCD’s COVID-19 School Safety and Security Grant to procure adequate supplies of cleaning, sanitation and disinfecting materials that meet OSHA and CDC criteria. Furthermore, the district has allocated funds ($325,000) in the 2020-2021 budget for COVID-19 purchases that may be required during the school year.
Our custodial and maintenance staff will be trained on the implementation of these protocols and procedures and will use the appropriate PPE.
In addition, district administration and custodial/maintenance supervisors will conduct compliance checks to ensure that the protocols/procedures are being implemented properly and to make sure areas are being addressed as required throughout the day. Our second shift custodial and maintenance staff will be performing rigorous cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting measures to ready all areas for the return of our staff and students daily. We will employ additional cleaning staff for each shift in order to maintain the level of care for students and staff.
All students are required to provide a water bottle bearing a label with the student’s name. All water fountains will be made inoperable with the exception of water bottle fillers. The district will assist students with economic need in accessing a water bottle and alternative options will be available for misplaced or forgotten bottles. The Principal and teachers will coordinate water breaks throughout the day in order to provide reasonable access to water while limiting gathering around water bottle fillers. Bottled water will be provided to supplement buildings/classrooms as needed.
Playground equipment use will be available, but modifications may occur to maintain consistency with the expert guidance and County Department of Health.
Safety Drills – awaiting county safety guidance
Enhanced disinfection and sanitizing procedures will be employed throughout the school day and at night. Custodians will be trained in disinfecting high touch points and restrooms during class periods, utilizing hand-held electrostatic and backpack sprayers with a disinfectant approved by the EPA for the control of COVID-19. The disinfectant has a kill/dwell time of one minute. The sprayer puts out a 40 micron spray mist that wraps around surfaces, due to the electrostatic properties. The application in a typical classroom takes 3-5 minutes depending on the density of furniture in the class and will take 7 minutes to dry.
Sanitizing will also take place in office spaces, cafeterias, and classrooms. Spray bottles with disinfectant, cloths and pre-treated wipes will be provided for use by faculty and staff.
Custodial employee’s shifts will be arranged to allow for additional coverage during the day before, during, and after lunch to assist with the additional disinfection/sanitizing procedures/routines. Additional casual staff will be scheduled where necessary for coverage within the schools.
Once areas have been cleaned in the evening, each class, restroom and common spaces will be disinfected by the use of the backpack disinfectant sprayer.
Principals and teachers will organize procedures/routines in coordination with building custodial staff and Aramark staff to address health and safety measures while eating in classrooms along with the proper disposal, general upkeep and organization of classrooms.
Kindergarten classrooms will be cleaned/disinfected between AM and PM sessions.
All Elementary classrooms will be equipped with disinfecting spray and wipes in order to accommodate additional and incidental disinfecting needs. Principals will coordinate disinfection protocols with instructional staff and custodial staff for additional/incidental disinfection routines to ensure staff and student safety.
Restrooms will be cleaned/disinfected multiple times throughout the school day based on planned use schedule.
Classrooms, large group areas, offices and hallways will be thoroughly cleaned/disinfected every evening.
Each classroom will be equipped with disinfecting wipes, gloves, and spray in order to accommodate the transition of students throughout the day and for additional and incidental disinfecting needs. Teachers will establish routines to ensure that the use of disinfection spray is applied to desks, chair arms, seats and related surfaces used by students prior to those surfaces being used by another student.
Staff will be instructed by the building custodian on options available for increasing classroom ventilation during the day and where and when feasible.
Cafeteria serving lines and all tables used for eating purposes will be cleaned/disinfected following each lunch period at all levels using a combination of the electrostatic disinfection sprayers and bottled disinfecting spray.
Gymnasium equipment used during a physical education class will be cleaned/disinfected prior to it being reused. Physical Education modifications of curriculum will limit the use of equipment used/shared and make available hand sanitizer and hand washing routines for all levels.
In the instance that the district is subject to the YELLOW phase, the district will cease use of cafeterias and other congregate settings with all meals being served in classrooms at all levels.
Routines will be encouraged daily through teacher led discussion/demonstration, building posted signs/posters, and classroom audio announcements at each level to help encourage all individuals to sanitize/wash hands before and after eating, when entering and leaving classrooms, and as prescribed within this plan. COVID-19 Stop the Spread Posters will be prominently displayed throughout all of our schools to assist with reminder of safety, sanitation, and distancing practices. All individuals will sanitize/wash hands before and after eating. Teachers will reinforce good hygiene measures, such as handwashing, covering coughs, using face coverings, blowing your nose, sneezing and touching your face.
Aramark will provide training in COVID-19 best practices for preparation and distribution of food and food safety along with enhanced disinfecting and cleaning protocols for all schools.
At the elementary level (K-6) standard daily routine requires students use of hand sanitizer or washing of hands when: coming onto the bus; coming into the classroom from bus; after morning bathroom break (if applicable); before and after breakfast and lunch; before they leave for recess or PE (rest of specials are in room); re-entering the room from PE or recess; at end of the day before getting on the bus; and any transition activities where they will leave or re-enter the classroom.
At the secondary level (7-12), students will have access to hand sanitizer in all classrooms, special areas, fields, cafeteria, hallways and offices and will be encouraged to use sanitizer each time they leave and enter a space. Frequent handwashing/hand sanitization will be promoted and strongly encouraged.
While in the GREEN phase, the district will continue with recess activities when practical as long as those activities limit physical contact and touching and use of equipment. If the district is subjected to the YELLOW phase, modified and or limited recess may occur.
The district will issue to each student in grades K-6 a materials box that will include necessary learning materials, tools and resources including pencils, ruler, pens, erasers, colored pencils, post-it notes, crayons, scissors, whiteboard, tape, marker, highlighter, glue sticks, etc. in order to limit the sharing of supplies throughout the day.
The district used COVID-19 grant funds to purchase additional technology to allow for a Chromebook for grades 3 through 6. This then provides a Chromebook for each student in grades 3 through 12 districtwide and limits the need for students to share technology devices.
Teachers and Principals will limit the sharing of high-touch materials to the extent possible including art supplies, science equipment, etc. OR will limit the use of supplies and equipment to one group of students at a time prior to reuse. Classrooms will be equipped with clean/dirty bin for those items that were shared and need to be sanitized before being reused.
The district will consult with the Montgomery County Health Department on any decision related to the closure of classrooms, schools, or the district.
The district will notify families and staff if the closing of a classroom, school or district is recommended by the Montgomery County Health Department, the reasons so determined and the responsive actions of the district to such recommendation. The district will provide notice on important matters including classroom, school and district closures via email, web site, phone calls, and social media where and when appropriate.
The district will continue to review health guidance from national, state, and county organizations and will update the Health and Safety protocols as necessary and will communicate those changes to parents and students via email, web site, phone calls, and social media.
A program of education on signs and symptoms of COVIDS-19 will be provided to all employees, students, and parents/guardians as well as the practices recommended at home before reporting to work or returning children to school.
The district will provide posters for home and include details in all building communications to the home as we work to remind families of the ongoing diligence and importance of keeping symptomatic children home from school. A daily reminder of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and the immediate actions if feeling symptomatic will be provided every day by way of announcement by homeroom or first period teacher.
District will be providing approved plans to on-site before/after care providers and will require them to follow same standards as adopted by district.
Notify childcare facilities of any transportation, student health or calendar changes as soon as possible where applicable and necessary for the health and safety of students and staff.
The district will communicate with before and after care programs and the Pre-K Count program to ensure that staff and students associated with such programs are informed of the protocols required.
The district will communicate with third party groups that rent space from the district to advise them that we will be strictly limiting the use of facilities to outside groups in order to best manage the building environment due to challenges with cleaning/sanitation/disinfection needs, procedures, and staffing.
A Quick Reference Guide of the plan will be developed from the approved plan and distributed to parents and will be placed on the district website and be communicated via other media forms.
Lastly, please know that I have been in contact with the District Pandemic Team, the Board of School Directors, the Methacton Education Association (teachers association), home and School parents, and a group of parents/physicians to review/share this plan. I am holding staff meetings on Monday and Tuesday July 20/21, have a work session of the Board on the evening of the 22nd, and holding parent focus groups on 22nd and 23rd of July. Any questions or comments can be sent to Reopening@Methacton.org.
As always, I appreciate your support during this process.
Sincerely,Dr. David ZerbeSuperintendent of Schools