Health and Safety Plan - FCPS 2020-21 School Reopening Plan

Mitigation & Containment Strategies to Support a Hybrid In-Person Alternating Distance Learning Instructional Model

  1. The Importance of Relationships between Schools, Families, and the Community

    Frederick County Public Schools Inspire 2025: A Promise for Progress - continues to provide the school division with focused priorities even in difficult times to nurture all learners to realize their dreams and aspirations. In developing Frederick County’s Health and Safety Plan to reopen schools in the Fall of 2020-21, our guiding compass is grounded in the work and commitment to support students and staff through meaningful, authentic learning experiences and a focus on overall well-being by cultivating strategic, purposeful partnerships with community members, organizations, and families.

  2. Collaboration between FCPS and the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD), Virginia Department of Health (VDH)

    Frederick County Public Schools has developed a strong working relationship with the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). We have worked collaboratively with LFHD during the pandemic and will continue to do so. This Health and Safety Plan reflects the preventive measures advised by Dr. Colin M. Greene, Director, Lord Fairfax Health District, which are: “universal masking, distancing as feasible, hygiene, group size control, cleaning and disinfection, and the elimination of points of spread such as water fountains.” The LFHD has assigned a member of its team to work directly with the school division’s key communicator.

  3. Immunizations

    School entrance physicals and immunization requirements for admission to school remain unchanged for the 2020-21 school year. It is vital that all students receive required vaccinations, including those which have been delayed as a result of the pandemic. Families are encouraged to make appointments with their pediatrician or primary care provider now to avoid any delays from the “back to school rush.” FCPS will work with the Lord Fairfax Health District to create a collaborative approach to support the increased demand for vaccinations. Additionally, the influenza vaccination is highly encouraged for all students.

  4. Student Transportation

    Multiple strategies will be employed to maintain physical distancing on school buses during the hybrid model of reopening. The strategies are:

    • One student per seat, except students living in the same household;
    • Additional bus routes to accommodate reduced passenger loads;
    • Face covering or shield required;
    • Bus sanitizing of high touch areas such as the top back of the seats, stair handrail, etc., between student runs;
    • Parents transporting students in private vehicles encouraged;
    • Arrival and dismissal times increased to accommodate parents (traffic flashing caution signs adjusted accordingly).

    One component of the parent/guardian Fall 2020 reopening school survey will be registering for transportation during the hybrid model. The Superintendent will submit a request to the Lord Fairfax Health District Director to be able to transport approximately 24 students on each bus while employing the above health mitigation standards.

  5. Daily Health Screenings

    Staff and students will be required to complete a daily symptom checklist before reporting to the school. Schools will conduct temperature checks for students upon arrival and prior to entering the building. Teachers will additionally conduct a visual assessment for students in their classrooms who may be exhibiting COVID-19-type symptoms listed below and notify a school administrator should there be a concern. School nurses have developed a protocol for clinic visits to limit the exposure to students who are sick. The daily symptom checklist includes the following questions:

    • A fever (100℉ or higher) or a sense of having a fever?
    • Gastrointestinal issues -- diarrhea, indigestion?
    • A cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • A sore throat that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Muscle aches (myalgia) that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise)?

      • If an individual answers YES to ANY of the screening questions before arriving, they should stay home and not enter the building.

  6. Isolation Area/Room

    Each principal or building administrator shall identify an area within their facility to comfortably accommodate students or staff who are exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19 and are waiting to be picked up by a parent/ guardian or family member. The following precautions shall be taken:

    • The designated space should accommodate physical distancing of at least 6 feet for multiple individuals if needed;
    • Ensure that symptomatic students who are waiting to be picked up remain under the visual supervision of a staff member who is at least 6 feet away;
    • Both the symptomatic student and the supervising adults shall wear a cloth face covering or a clear face shield unless there is another health condition that prevents it;
    • Do not place cloth face coverings or surgical masks on anyone who is unconscious or has trouble breathing, anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance, or anyone who cannot tolerate a cloth face covering due to developmental, medical, or behavioral health needs;
    • Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms as soon as the areas of the school have been identified.
     
  7. Protocol For Students and Staff Who Test Positive For COVID-19

    • The student will be placed on, or remain on virtual instruction;
    • The Lord Fairfax Health District, VDH will work collaboratively with the school division key communicator and school administrators to determine a course of action up to and including the possible closure of a school;
    • Student may return once CDC guidelines have been met
     
  8. Physical Distancing

    Physical distancing is a mitigation strategy that has been proven to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Physical distancing is one of the primary mitigation strategies presented by the CDC, VDH, and VDOE. To operate a school safely and efficiently, it is important that physical distancing protocols be put in place at each school building. School capacity, as well as class size, will follow all physical distancing guidelines. The strategies to be employed in this plan are:

    • Restrict room occupancy loads based on available square footage to accommodate physical distancing;
    • Maintain six feet between student desks;
    • Staggering the time for movement of students at arrival, dismissal, and room transitions where possible;
    • Limit the mixing groups of students or classes where possible;
    • Students are encouraged to carry only their chromebook and not to use lockers;
    • Classroom protocols will be developed to manage the storage of lunch bags/boxes and to ensure the necessary protections for students with food allergies;
    • Teachers will employ classroom management strategies that limit opportunities for student congregating.

    Six feet separation cannot be maintained at all times in a school building or bus, where students and teachers need to move freely. The VDH defines incidental contact as being in brief proximity of another person, such as walking past another person in the classroom, hallway, or bus and does not consider such contact to pose a risk of spreading or contracting the virus.  

  9. Playground Use and Recess

    Recess and the use of playgrounds play an important role in a student’s overall well-being. Playgrounds pose a unique challenge (due to their construction and size) since they fall under physical distancing and the disinfection guidelines established by the CDC.

    Playgrounds will be limited in use due to the physical distancing guideline. The playground’s structures (swings, slides, etc) should remain closed unless a disinfection schedule can be maintained and all physical distancing guidelines can be followed. Recess will be limited to 75 students at any time with adequate supervision.  

  10. School Nutrition

    The CDC has indicated that there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with spreading COVID-19. School nutrition staff will follow protocols for physical distancing, use of PPE, and increased focus on sanitation during the preparation and serving of school meals.

    In an effort to mitigate students congregating, a combination of breakfast/lunch will be served in classroom and cafeteria dining areas according to VDH and U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. Each school, in collaboration with school nutrition services, will develop a protocol for serving breakfast and lunch for the in-person instructional hybrid model according to the space limitations of their school facility. Additionally, school nutrition and building level administration will collaborate to develop protocols for students to receive meals on virtual instruction days.

  11. Cloth Face Coverings

    According to public health experts, face coverings and masks mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Studies have shown that many carriers of the COVID-19 virus are asymptomatic. Recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that “Evidence suggests that spacing as close as three feet may approach the benefits of six feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic.” Students in grades two through 12 will be required to wear a cloth face covering. Students who have difficulty breathing or a medical condition may request an alternative to the cloth face mask requirement from their school principal. Students in pre-K through first grade are strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face covering. Students who fail to comply with the cloth face covering requirements as outlined above will be transferred to the distance learning mode of instruction through the end of the first semester. Appeals of the school principal’s denial of a request for an alternative to the cloth face mask requirement may be submitted in writing to the Division Hearing Officer. Protocols to safely provide students and staff members with the opportunity to have breaks from wearing a face covering during the school day will be developed and implemented by each school.

    Employees are required to wear face masks/shields except when in a private office, physically distant, and not in common areas.

    Current Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on cloth face coverings

  12. Use and Cleaning of Shared Materials

    Managing the use of shared materials presents significant challenges. This will be particularly difficult with younger students. Sharing of objects between students and staff members should be avoided when possible. If objects must be shared, objects should be cleaned or disinfected between uses. Staff members should consider the following when sharing objects:

    • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean or disinfect;
    • Keep each child’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas;
    • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials to the extent possible (e.g., assigning each student their own art supplies, equipment) or limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and clean and disinfect between use;
    • Avoid sharing electronic devices, toys, books, and other games or learning aids.

     
  13. Student and Staff Personal Hygiene Protocols

    Hand washing is a proven strategy to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Students, staff, and volunteers will be encouraged, and at times required, to wash hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizing dispensers will be located throughout the building where sinks and other hand washing facilities are not readily available. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer often:

    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
    • After using the restroom;
    • Before eating or preparing food;
    • Before and after touching your face;
    • After contact with animals or pets and playing outside;
    • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child);
    • Before putting on and after removing gloves;
    • After touching frequently touched areas (e.g., doorknobs, handrails, shared computers);
    • Individuals providing health care services should perform hand hygiene before and after contact with each patient, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and after removing PPE, including gloves. Hand hygiene after removing PPE is particularly important to remove any pathogens that might have been transferred to bare hands during the removal process.

    Students and staff are asked to:

    • Encourage individuals to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, place the used tissue in the opened-top wastebasket, and then wash their hands;
    • If tissues are unavailable, encourage individuals to cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow, not onto their hands; then they should wash their hands;
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol alcohol content and rub until the contents are dry; ttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hand-hygiene.html
    • Encourage individuals to avoid touching their face with their hands as much as possible;
    • Individuals may be asked to put on a face covering to protect others;
    • Encourage individuals to avoid close contact with people who are sick;
    • Staff, students, and volunteers are instructed not to come to work or school if they are feeling ill.
  14. Visitors to Schools or Administrative Support Facilities

    Frederick County Public Schools encourages parents and community members to become involved in our educational programs. We realize how important community involvement is within our schools but now must balance this involvement with knowing that limiting access to our students and buildings may mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The school division will limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations. Parents/guardians and any other visitors are requested to schedule necessary visits to the school or administrative support facility in advance. In the event that a student needs to leave school early, the parent/guardian would use the front door buzzer to state the purpose of the visit, show photo identification to the camera, and wait outside the school doors for their child to be released. If the student drove themself to school, the school would follow their usual protocol for release.

    In an effort to limit the possible spread of COVID-19, if visitors must enter the building, they will be required to undergo a health screening according to CDC guidelines prior to entry. 

  15. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

    Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) has withdrawn its previously held position that COVID-19 virus could not be spread by airborne particles. The virus is spread by droplets that usually travel less than a meter; however, there is a general concern that it could be spread by particles of .01 microns in size lingering in the air for short periods of time. The most effective measures are wearing a face mask/covering, good personal hygiene with handwashing for 20 seconds or more, and good house cleaning with disinfecting.

    Air Flow Management is designed into HVAC systems often using a ceiling plenum for return air. Three specific air management guidelines have emerged from the HVAC industry based on early studies; they are:

    • encouraging a vertical laminar (travels smoothly or in regular paths) rather than turbulent airflow;
    • ensuring a slow, steady air speed;
    • directing potentially contaminated air out of rooms and away from people where possible.

    Additional steps will be taken to operate the school division’s HVAC systems 24 hours a day during the school week, increase fresh air intake without creating turbulent air flow where possible, and replacing air filters on an accelerated schedule.

  16. Employee Support - Child Care

    Through a collaborative effort with Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department (FCPRD), a Day BasicREC program will be offered at the Evendale Community Center, the Greenwood Mill Community Center, and the Gainesboro Community Center during any period of the hybrid schedule in the 2020-21 school year for school-aged children. Based on need, this may be expanded to include other locations. Employees may apply for a scholarship assistance to cover the expense of the FCPRD Day BasicREC. Registration will be made available and managed through FCPRD.

  17. COVID-19 Health Planning Team

    Albert L. Orndorff, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Administration
    Jennifer Rydholm, Executive Director of Human Resources
    Kristen Campbell, Assistant Director of Human Resources
    Teresa Ritenour, Director of Student Support Services
    Pamela Unhoch, Coordinator of School Health Services
    Michele Williams-Sandy, Ed.D., Director of Special Instructional Services
    Maria Neidrick, Assistant Director of Special Instructional Services
    Timothy Crisman, Director of Facilities Services
    Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Public Communications

  18. Point Person by School or Support Facility

    Megan Dodd, Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School
    Heather Miller, Armel Elementary School
    Darren Thomas, Bass-Hoover Elementary School
    Michael Daddiero, Ed.D., Evendale Elementary School
    Patricia Black, Gainesboro Elementary School
    Jennifer Muldowney, Greenwood Mill Elementary School
    Sharon Cooley, Indian Hollow Elementary School
    Justin Raymond, Jordan Springs Elementary School
    Kristi Diminuco, Middletown Elementary School
    Crystal Nicola, Orchard View Elementary School
    Joseph Strong, Redbud Run Elementary School
    Mark Weisbrod, Stonewall Elementary School
    Jessica Nail, Ed.D., Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School
    Jerry Putt, Frederick County Middle School
    Grant Javersak, James Wood Middle School
    David Rudy, Robert E. Aylor Middle School
    Samuel Gross, James Wood High School
    Joanne Altendorf, Millbrook High School
    John Nelson, Sherando High School
    Janelle Ball-Brooks, Dowell J. Howard Center
    Ralph Reese, Northwestern Regional Educational Programs
    Timothy Crisman, Facilities Services Department
    John Grubbs, Transportation Department
    Susan Brinkmeier, Central Administration Building