2020-2021 School Year » Strong Schools NC Toolkit

Strong Schools NC Toolkit

Listed below are some of the highlights of the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit published June 8, 2020 by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The toolkit can be viewed in its entirety here - Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit.

 

North Carolina education and health officials have shared three options for how public schools could operate this school year.

-Plan A: Schools will open as normal with minimal social distancing at 100% capacity. Enhanced health protocols will be required.

-Plan B: Schools will open with moderate social distancing and will be required to operate with no more than 50% capacity. Enhanced health protocols with increased requirements will be required. 

-Plan C: Schools will suspend in-person classes and will operate through remote learning for all students.

 

Listed below are the requirements found in the NC Public Health Toolkit that must be implemented by all North Carolina public school units to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 for students, staff and families. The requirements are divided among the following categories:

 

  • Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure
  • Cloth Face Coverings
  • Protecting Vulnerable Populations
  • Coping and Resilience
  • Cleaning and Hygiene
  • Monitoring for Symptoms
  • Handling Suspected, Presumptive or Confirmed Positive Cases
  • Communication and Combating Misinformation
  • Water and Ventilation Systems
  • Transportation
  • Additional Considerations
  • Resources

 

Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure Requirements
Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Provide social distancing floor/seating markings in waiting and reception areas.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A and:
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Mark 6 feet of spacing to remind students and staff to always stay 6 feet apart in lines and at other times when they may congregate.
  • Ensure sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people at all times in school facilities.
 
  • Provide marks on the floors of restrooms and locker rooms to indicate proper social distancing.
  • Limit density of people in school facilities to no greater than 50% maximum occupancy to ensure social distancing of at least 6 feet apart between people. For school facilities, "maximum occupancy" refers to the stated fire capacity of the building, or 12 per 1,000 square feet if there is not a fire code number readily available.
 
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups or organizations.
   
  • Have staff monitor arrival and dismissal to discourage congregating and ensure students go straight from a vehicle to their classrooms and vice-versa.
   
  • Discontinue the use of any self-service food or beverage distribution in the cafeteria (e.g. meals and/or snacks served at school should be individually packaged and served directly to students; milk or juice may be available separately and should also be served directly to students). As always, ensure the safety of children with food allergies.
   
 
Cloth Face Coverings
Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Ensure that all school staff, adult visitors and students in the middle and high school setting wear face coverings when they are or may be within 6 feet of another person, unless the person (or family member, for a student) states that an exception applies. Cloth face coverings must be worn by students and staff on buses or other transportation vehicles, inside school buildings, and anywhere on school grounds, including outside.
  • Adhere to all
    requirements
    outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
   
   

 
Protecting Vulnerable Populations
Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Systematically review all current plans (e.g., Individual Healthcare Plans, Individualized Education Plans or 504 plans) for accommodating students with special healthcare needs and update their care plans as needed to decrease their risk for exposure to COVID-19.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Create a process for students/families and staff to self-identify as high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 and have a plan in place to address requests for alternative learning arrangements or work re-assignments.
   

Coping and Resilience

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Provide staff, families and students (if age-appropriate) with information on how to access resources for mental health and wellness (e.g. 211 and Hope4NC Helpline 1-855-587-3463.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.

Cleaning and Hygiene

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Provide adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors (e .g ., soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for safe use by staff and older children, paper towels and tissues). Refer to the StrongSchoolsNC Infection Control and PPE Guidance (K-12) for recommended quantities of infection control supplies and ordering information.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or the safe use of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol by staff and older children.
  • Increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
    - Supervise use of hand sanitizer by students.
    - Ensure that children with skin reactions and contraindications to hand sanitizer use soap and water.
    - Reinforce handwashing during key times such as: Before, during, and after preparing food; Before eating food; After using the toilet; After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; After touching objects with bare hands which have been handled by other individuals.
    - Increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
   
  • Provide hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at every building entrance and exit, in the cafeteria, and in every classroom, for safe use by staff and older students.
   
  • Systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers
   
  • Encourage staff and students to cough and sneeze into their elbows, or to cover with a tissue. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
   
  • Incorporate frequent handwashing and sanitation breaks into classroom activity.
   
  • Allow time between activities for proper cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces
   
  • Establish a schedule for and perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g., door handles, stair rails, faucet handles, toilet handles, playground equipment, drinking fountains, light switches, desks, tables, chairs, kitchen countertops, cafeteria and service tables, carts, and trays) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and increase frequency of disinfection during high-density times and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) between use.
    Paper-based materials, such as books and loose-leaf paper, are not considered high-risk for COVID-19 transmission, and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures.
   
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including securely storing and using products away from children, and allowing for adequate ventilation when staff use such products.
   
  • Limit sharing of personal items and supplies such as writing utensils.
   
  • Keep students’ personal items separate and in individually labeled cubbies, containers or lockers.
   
  • Limit use of classroom materials to small groups and disinfect between uses or provide adequate supplies to assign for individual student use.

   
  • Ensure that all non-disposable food service items are minimally handled and washed with hot water and soap or in a dishwasher, or use disposable food service items such as plates and utensils.
   

Monitoring for Symptoms

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Enforce that staff and students stay home if:
    1. They have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms, until they meet criteria for return.
    2. They have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, until they meet criteria for return.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Conduct symptom screening of any person entering the building, including students, staff, family members and other visitors. Screening may be provided at the school entrance, prior to arrival at school, or upon boarding school transportation. Example screening tools:
    -
    Symptom Screening Checklist: Elementary School Students (English/Spanish). Designed to be administered to person dropping off a young child.
    - Symptom Screening Checklist: Middle and High School Students or Any Person Entering the Building (English/Spanish). Designed to be administered to any person middle-school-aged or older, including students, staff, families, or visitors 
    1. The more narrow set of symptoms listed on the screening flow chart, reflect the essential and mandatory exclusionary symptoms in order to not over-exclude people from school facilities.
    2. The more narrow set of COVID-19 symptoms listed on the Screening Flow Chart and as well as the screening tools reflects required exclusionary symptoms in order to avoid over-exclusion of people from school facilities.
  •  
   
  • Conduct daily temperature screenings for all people entering the school facility or boarding school transportation (see note on optional parent/guardian attestation).
    1. Fever is determined by a measured temperature of
      100.4 °F or greater.
    2. Individuals waiting to be screened must stand six feet apart from each other. Use tape or other markers on the floor for spacing.
    3. The staff person taking temperatures must wear a cloth face covering, and must stay six feet apart unless taking temperature.
    4. Use a touchless thermometer
      if one is available.
    5. If not available, use a tympanic (ear), digital axillary (under the arm), or temporal (forehead) thermometer. Use disposable thermometer covers that are changed between individuals.
    6. Do not take temperatures orally (under the tongue) because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 from respiratory droplets from the mouth.
    7. Staff person must wash hands or use hand sanitizer before touching the thermometer.
    8. Staff person must wear gloves if available and change between direct contact with individuals, and must wash hands or use hand sanitizer after removing gloves.
    9. Staff person must clean and sanitize the thermometer using manufacturer’s instructions between each use.
   

Handling Suspected, Presumptive or Confirmed Positive Cases of COVID-19

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Post signage at the main entrance requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Educate staff, students, and their families about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, when they should stay home and when they can return to school.
   
  • Establish a dedicated space for symptomatic individuals that will not be used for other purposes.
   
  • Immediately isolate symptomatic individuals to the designated area at the school, and send them home to isolate.
   
  • Ensure symptomatic student remains under visual supervision of a staff member who is at least 6 feet away. The supervising adult should wear cloth face covering or a surgical mask.
   
  • Require the symptomatic person to wear a cloth face covering or a surgical mask while waiting to leave the facility. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
  •  
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • Anyone who cannot tolerate a cloth face covering due to developmental, medical or behavioral health needs.
   
   
  • Implement cleaning and disinfecting procedure following CDC guidelines.
   
  • Have a plan for how to transport an ill student or staff member home or to medical care.
   
  • Adhere to the following process for allowing a student or staff member to return to school.
    1. If a person has had a negative COVID-19 test, they can return to school once there is no fever without the use of fever- reducing medicines and they have felt well for 24 hours.
    2. If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional based on a test or their symptoms or does not get a COVID-19 test but has had symptoms, they should not be at school and should stay at home until they (or a family member if younger child) can answer YES to the following three questions:
  • Has it been at least 10 days since the individual first had symptoms?
  • Has it been at least 3 days since the individual had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine)?
  • Has it been at least 3 days since the individual’s symptoms have improved, including cough and shortness of breath?
   
  • Notify local health authorities of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children and staff (as required by NCGS § 130A-136).
   
  • Ensure that if a person with COVID-19 was in the school setting while infectious, school administrators coordinate with local health officials to notify staff and families immediately while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with FERPA, NCGS § 130A-143, and all other state and federal laws.
   
  • If a student/employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not have symptoms, they must remain out of school until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.
   
  • If a student/employee that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms, they are not required to have documentation of a negative test in order to return to school.
   
  • If a student/employee has been determined to have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, they must remain out of school for 14 days since the last date of exposure unless they test positive. In which case, exclusion criteria above would apply. They must complete the full 14 days of quarantine, even if they test negative.
   
  • Provide remote learning options for students unable to be at school due to illness or exposure.
   

Communication and Combating Misinformation

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Disseminate COVID-19 information and combat misinformation through multiple channels to staff, students and families. Ensure that families are able to access communication channels to appropriate staff at the school with questions and concerns.
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A.
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Put up signs, posters, and flyers at main entrances and in key areas throughout school buildings and facilities such as those found on the Social Media Toolkit for COVID-19  to remind students and staff to use face coverings, wash hands, and stay six feet apart whenever possible. Teach students who cannot yet read what the signs’ language and symbols mean.
  •  
 
 

Transportation

Plan A Plan B Plan C
  • Ensure that all school staff, adult visitors and middle and high school students wear face coverings when they are or may be within six feet of another person on a bus or other transportation vehicle, unless the person (or family member, for a student) states that an exception applies.
  •  
  • Adhere to all requirements outlined in Plan A and:
  • Plan C is not addressed because buildings would be closed; however, if staff are present, needs will have to be addressed.
  • Clean and disinfect transportation vehicles regularly. Children must not be present when a vehicle is being cleaned.
  • No more than one passenger can be seated per school bus seat (considerations for family members to share one seat).
 
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children and adequate ventilation when staff use such products.
  • No more than two passengers can be seated in a contracted vehicle.
 
  • Keep doors and windows open when cleaning the vehicle and between trips to let the vehicles thoroughly air out.
   
  • Clean, sanitize, and disinfect equipment including items such as car seats and seat belts, wheelchairs, walkers, and adaptive equipment being transported to schools.
   
  • Keep doors and windows open when cleaning the vehicle and between trips to let the vehicles thoroughly air out.
   
  • Follow the symptom screening protocol outlined in the Monitoring for Symptoms section above for any person entering a school transportation vehicle, which could be using the option of a parent/guardian attestation. Individuals must stay home and not board transportation if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19.
    1. Note: Upon arrival at school, students do not need to be rescreened if screening was followed prior to entry into the vehicle. However, as noted above, if a parent/guardian provided an attestation only, students do need to be screened upon arrival at school.
   
  • Create a plan for getting students home safely if they are not allowed to board the vehicle.
   
  • Enforce that if an individual becomes sick during the day, they must not use group transportation to return home and must follow protocols outlined above.
   
  • If a driver becomes sick during the day, they must follow protocols outlined above and must not return to drive students.
   
  • Provide hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) to support healthy hygiene behaviors on all school transportation vehicles for safe use by staff and older children.
    1. Hand sanitizer should only remain on school. transportation while the vehicles are in use.
    2. Systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers.