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In-person learning during COVID-19 pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines schools should follow for in-person classes this fall. CONTRIBUTED
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines schools should follow for in-person classes this fall. CONTRIBUTED

Just about every school is offering some form of in-person instruction this fall. All have said they will follow strict CDC guidelines. Here are some examples of how they plan to handle social distancing, disinfecting, outbreaks, etc.

  • Actively encourage employees and students who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.
  • Staff and students should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Staff and students who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health.
  • Teach and reinforce hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
  • Encourage staff and students to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately 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 (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
  • Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings. Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school. Face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Individuals should be frequently reminded not to touch the face covering and to wash their hands frequently.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old.
  • Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings (as feasible) and no-touch/foot-pedal trash cans.
  • Post signs in highly visible locations (e.g., school entrances, restrooms) that promote everyday protective measurespdf icon and describe how to stop the spread of germs (such as by properly washing hands and properly wearing a cloth face coveringimage icon).
  • Broadcast regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19 on PA systems.
  • Include messages (for example, videos) about behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff and families (such as on school websites, in emails, and on school social media accounts).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) within the school and on school buses at least daily or between use as much as possible. Use of shared objects (e.g., gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) should be limited when possible, or cleaned between use.
  • If transport vehicles (e.g., buses) are used by the school, drivers should practice all safety actions and protocols as indicated for other staff (e.g., hand hygiene, cloth face coverings). To clean and disinfect school buses or other transport vehicles, see guidance for bus transit operators.
  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children.
  • Cleaning products should not be used near children, and staff should ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children or themselves from inhaling toxic fumes.
  • 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.
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors.
  • To minimize the risk of Legionnaire's disease and other diseases associated with water, take steps to ensure that all Drinking fountains should be cleaned and sanitized, but encourage staff and students to bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains.
  • Space seating/desks at least six feet apart when feasible.
  • Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
  • Create distance between children on school buses (g., seat children one child per row, skip rows) when possible.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, particularly in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least six feet apart (e.g., reception desks).
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to ensure that staff and children remain at least six feet apart in lines and at other times (e.g. guides for creating "one way routes" in hallways).
  • Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment if possible; otherwise, stagger use and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Add physical barriers, such as plastic flexible screens, between bathroom sinks especially when they cannot be at least six feet apart.
  • Have children bring their own meals as feasible, or serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria.
  • Use disposable food service items.
  • If food is offered at any event, have pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal.
  • Offer options for staff at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limit their exposure risk (e.g., telework, modified job responsibilities that limit exposure risk).
  • Offer options for students at higher risk of severe illness that limit their exposure risk (e.g., virtual learning opportunities).
  • Consistent with applicable law, put in place policies to protect the privacy of people at higher risk for severe illness regarding underlying medical conditions.
  • Pursue virtual group events, gatherings, or meetings.
  • Limit any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.
  • Pursue virtual activities and events in lieu of field trips, student assemblies, special performances, school-wide parent meetings, and spirit nights.
  • Pursue options to convene sporting events and participation in sports activities in ways that minimizes the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities.
  • Limit mixing between groups if possible.
  • Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by cohort or put in place other protocols to limit contact between cohorts and direct contact with parents as much as possible.
  • When possible, use flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to help establish policies and practices for social distancing (maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet) between employees and others.
  • Designate a staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns (e.g., school nurse).
  • Implement flexible sick leave policies and practices that enable staff to stay home when they are sick, have been exposed, or caring for someone who is sick.
  • Examine and revise policies for leave, telework, and employee compensation.
  • Leave policies should be flexible and not punish people for taking time off, and should allow sick employees to stay home and away from co-workers. Leave policies should also account for employees who need to stay home with their children if there are school or childcare closures, or to care for sick family members.
  • Develop policies for return-to-school after COVID-19 illness.
  • Monitor absenteeism of students and employees, cross-train staff, and create a roster of trained back-up staff.
  • Train staff on all safety protocols.
  • Conduct training virtually or ensure that social distancing is maintained during training.
  • Conduct daily health checks (e.g., temperature screening and/or or symptom checking) of staff and students.
  • Immediately separate staff and children with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) at school. Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility depending on how severe their symptoms are.
  • Work with school administrators, nurses, and other healthcare providers to identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive but does not have symptoms.
  • Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting
  • Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection productsexternal icon, including storing products securely away from children.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention