2021 Covid Operating Plan

2021 Covid Operating Plan


2021-2022 COVID-19 Operating Plan for Parents, Student and Teachers

Version: January 17, 2022
Updates in green text

Preamble, Purpose and Goals

This plan outlines the general protocols and procedures that must be followed across all facilities and programs within the Orange Southwest School District (OSSD) and are based upon the current guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Vermont Department of Health (VTDOH), and the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE). These protocols are designed to keep students and staff safe as we re-engage in full in-person instruction this fall.

Since vaccination is the best way to move forward in this pandemic and the best way for our schools to return to normal, our district and districts across the state are working with local agencies to provide vaccination clinics. We strongly urge every eligible person to become vaccinated, as this will become especially important when the first vaccine is approved for ages five-to-eleven. Information on vaccination sites and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on the state health website:

DOH Vacinne Information

COVID Coordinators

The district has two health professionals acting as its COVID Coordinators, Beth Osha and Sadie Lyford. It is their role, in conjunction with the superintendent, to coordinate all activities as they relate to the district’s COVID response:

  • Interpret and communicate new guidance as it evolves
  • Manage student and staff questions
  • Coordinate contact tracing with the Department of Health and CICManage cases affecting the schools
  • Determine who must stay home and when they can return
  • Coordinate the various testing programs: home test to stay (HTTS) antigen testing, in-school PCR response testing, and take-home PCR testing.
  • Coordinate school-based vaccination clinics
  • Assist in providing training to staff and students
  • Establish each school’s vaccination rate the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

The COVID coordinators have the final say when it comes to the day-to-day management and response to the virus. Their contact info is:

Sadie Lyford, RUHS and RTCC – 802 728-3397, slyford@orangesouthwest.org
Beth Osha, All Elementary Schools – 802 728-9555, bosha@orangesouthwest.org


COVID Guidance Updates

As the passage of time provides health scientists with more information about the virus, the guidance on how to respond to it will inevitably change. Once that guidance is vetted by the State, the district will change its protocols to ensure we are doing what is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Any major changes in protocols will be communicated to the community via our email systems. This handbook will also be updated regularly and will be available via the district website.

At Home in the Morning
The first step each day is for parents to check in with their children to ensure they are healthy and feeling well before allowing them to head to school. Students and staff who are sick, must stay home.
All students and staff must stay home if they:

  • Show any COVID symptoms (see Sick at School below for a list of symptoms) regardless of vaccination status.
  • Have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Are currently required to quarantine due close contact with an individual with COVID-19 or due to testing positive for COVID-19.

If you are unsure, please contact a COVID Coordinator before entering onto school grounds:

For high school or technical center students, Ms. Lyford can be reached at 728-3397.
For Randoloph Elementary students, Ms. Osha can be reached at 728-9555.

For Braintree or Brookfield students, Ms. Naylor can be reached at 802-728-9373 (or Brookfield 802-276-3153)
For RTCC, Ms. Leonard can be reached at 802-728-9595

Please ensure that you child is leaving home with a mask and the expectation that they will put it on before entering a school bus or before entering onto school grounds. The district will turn away those who attempt to enter our busses or facilities without following the protocols outlined in this guide – especially those around masking.

Universal Masking

The OSSD requires universal masking inside its buildings. Universal masking will remain in effect until further notice and the continuation of this protocol will be based on the current guidance from the State of Vermont which includes at least 80% of a school’s population demonstrating reliable evidence (see definition below) of vaccination. Reaching the 80% threshold does not guarantee that masks will no longer be needed in that school, it will also depend on how active the virus is in our district and local community. The 80% threshold is also important because it changes how contract tracing is conducted.

  • Masks are not generally required outdoors; unvaccinated individuals should wear masks in crowded outdoor setting during activities that require sustained close contact.
  • Masks may be removed for instructional and operational purposes if required; district personnel must seek pre-approval from their administrator (i.e., principal or director).
  • Masks must be worn by all passengers on the district’s school busses and when using district vehicles.
  • Masks should not be used by anyone who has a medically documented condition where mask wearing is contraindicated: developmentally, medically, or behaviorally.

The Health Department recommends wearing a high-quality mask to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including variants like Omicron. Examples of high-quality masks are N95 or KN95 masks, which are very good at blocking droplets. If you cannot get that type of mask, wear a well-fitting mask with at least two layers of tightly woven fabric. You can also layer a disposable mask under a cloth mask to increase effectiveness.

Handwashing
Schools will promote regular handwashing with students. Soap and water should be readily available and used as the most effective choice - while not as effective, hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or greater) can be used when soap and water are not accessible.

Social Distancing
Students should not be excluded from in person learning to keep minimum distance requirements, when possible:

  • Unvaccinated individuals should maintain six feet of social distancing in school.
  • Classrooms and school spaces should be set up to maximize social distancing.

Refusal to Wear a Mask

Refusal to wear a mask when required will be treated as any other violation of our safety rules and may result in progressive disciplinary consequences. Reasonable accommodations can be made for those with disabilities.

District Transportation

Masks are required for all passengers on public (i.e. district) transportation (busses, school-owned vehicles) per federal regulation regardless of age or vaccination status.

Bus drivers will establish assigned seats and ensure that students sit where assigned to assist with contact tracing. Seating charts will be provided to the school nurses to assist in contact tracing when necessary.
Bus windows should remain open as much as possible to allow for increased ventilation.

Lunch Times

Because students must unmask to eat, each school will put into place protocols to maximizing social distancing as much as possible during lunch times:

  • Lunches should be eaten outside as much as feasible.
  • Students should not directly face other students while eating.
  • Three to six feet of spacing should be utilized – six feet is the ideal.
  • While student must unmask to eat, they must wear their masks when moving through the food service line and must immediately re-mask when they are done eating.
  • Assigned seating should be used during lunches for elementary aged students.
  • Students within the 10-day window since exposure or testing positive who meet the requirements to return to school should eat outdoors, in isolation, or as separated from other students as possible.

Extracurricular Activities and Field Trips (does not include athletics)

Extracurricular activities and local field trips are encouraged and permissible as long as masks are worn in indoor spaces. Only vaccinated and boosted students and personnel should attend out of state or overnight school sponsored events. This protocol can be reviewed if the infection rates in the area to be visited are low. All trips must be approved by a COVID Coordinator.

Volunteers, Visitors and Parents
Volunteers and potential visitors (e.g. guest speakers) to our schools must provide proof of vaccination (and booster shots if appropriate) before entry and must comply with all local Covid protocols including masking. Parents attending indoor meetings must follow all masking requirements. Parents may request to meet remotely if desired. If cases are high, the district may curtail in person meetings.

Sick at School
Staff should immediately send students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms at school to the school nurse for evaluation. Healthy students for whom the cause of illness is known to be other than COVID (allergies, asthma) should not be sent to the nurse.

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptomatic students will be isolated and sent home as quickly as possible. Symptomatic students waiting to be picked up must remain under the visual observation of staff. Parents should follow the recommendations of the COVID coordinators when it comes to testing and quarantine. Students who are sent home due to COVID-like symptoms cannot return to school until cleared by a COVID coordinator.

Seating Charts, In-Out Logs

To aid in identifying potential close contacts should exposure to COVID occur, teachers should maintain seating charts for all students and students should be required to sit in their assigned seats. Staff whose services are delivered via visitation (guidance, social workers, special education teachers) should maintain strict time logs with students signing-in when they arrive and signing-out when they leave. These charts and logs are crucial to effective contact tracing should exposure occur.

Contact Tracing

In most cases, when a positive case is identified in any of the district’s schools, the COVID coordinators will conduct contract tracing at the classroom or program level (as opposed to the individual level); all students in a classroom or program that contained a positive case will be considered “presumptive close contacts.”

Definition of a Close Contact

In general, close contact is defined as anyone who was within 3 feet of an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). An infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date), until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation.

  • Exception: In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, anyone who spent four or more hours together with an infected individual, even if masked and more than three/six feet apart, is considered a close contact. They district may use this rule if contact tracing using the 3ft//6ft/15min standard is restrictively difficult.

The rules for teachers, staff, or other adults in a classroom setting remain 6ft/15min in a 24-hour period or more than four hours in the same space with an infected individual.

Outdoor Exposure: schools will not contract trace for exposures that occurred outdoors, nor will they send exposure letters in these cases.

School Busses: schools will only contract trace the seatmate of a COVID positive individual. Busses will maintain assigned seating.

Presumptive Close Contacts and the Home Test to Stay (HTTS) Process

This scenario applies to both school-based and community-based contacts. This scenario applies
to both staff and students. PreK students attending programs that are attached to K-12 school
buildings are eligible to participate in this program.

Testing for the Test to Stay process is now done by parents at home, the district will provide the testing kits as available supplies allow. It is imperative that parents follow the process as required for the district will not monitor compliance (we will answer questions that parents may have). Given the contagious nature of the Omicron variant, parents who fail in this duty increase the likelihood of a major outbreak that may result in the closure of the district’s schools and/or harm to others.

Process

  • School learns of a positive case in a student or staff member.
  • School notifies students/families via email that there is a case in their class. Classmates are considered “presumptive contacts.”
  • Students and staff who are presumptive contacts should pick-up take-home antigen test kits. Each school will provide a letter detailing how their Home Test to Stay (HTTS) program is managed and how home testing kits can be picked up or delivered.
  • Presumptive contacts receive a different number of kits depending on their vaccination status.
  • If individuals are fully vaccinated (and have received a booster for adults), they should receive 2 tests and use them on the fourth and fifth days after learning of their presumptive exposure.
  • If individuals are not fully vaccinated, they should receive 5 tests and use them for the next 5 consecutive days after receiving them. These students must test negative each morning in order to come to school. If you or a student test positive please see, What to Do if you Test Positive for COVID-19 below, and Notify the school nurse (contact information on page 2), and Notify the Vermont Department of Health using their online portal found at: Vermont COVID-19 Self-Test Result Reporting Form (alchemer.com)

For individuals with Continuous Household Exposure due to a Positive Case at Home

  • If individuals are fully vaccinated (and have received a booster for adults), it is recommended that they test every 3 to 5 days while their household contact is in isolation and for 5 consecutive days after the household contact ends isolation.
  • If individuals are not fully vaccinated, it is recommended that they test daily while their household contact is in isolation, and for 5 consecutive days after the household contact ends isolation.
  • Individuals who are close contacts to a case outside of school are recommended to quarantine according to Vermont Department of Health guidance but may attend school according to the above protocol.

If you Have COVID Symptoms but do not Test Positive

Symptomatic students and staff who have two negative antigen tests, have symptom improvement and
are fever free for 24 hours may return to school

Close Contact from Out of School Source

Students who are identified as close contacts outside of school (“community contacts”), who are unvaccinated, can pick up test kits from school to test at home for five days and can continue to attend school as long as all tests are negative.

Surveillance Testing

As per the State, “PCR surveillance testing in schools will be discontinued.”

Diagnostic Testing

School nurses will have access to rapid testing (antigen and/or LAMP) for the following
purposes:

  • School-based testing for students or staff with symptoms at school.
  • School-based testing for families who need school assistance in administering tests

Schools will require consent from families to do in-school testing.

What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID-19

The protocol is the same for everyone who tests positive regardless of your vaccination status. If you test positive for COVID-19, including on an at home test

  • Stay home and isolate for 5 days. Isolation means staying home and away from other people – including the people who live with you.
  • Notify your close contacts that you have tested positive.

You can leave your home on day 5 if:

  • you have two negative antigen tests performed at least 24 hours apart beginning no earlier than day 4*.
  • AND you never had symptoms, or your symptoms have improved, and you feel better
  • AND you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers
  • AND you wear a mask around others through day 10.

*If testing supply shortages make it impossible to test and you meet all other requirements, you can end isolation after 5 days.

Athletics Protocols

The athletics department will follow the guidance of the Vermont Principal’s Association and is based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • All athletes, coaches, referees and spectators (if allowed to attend) must be masked when inside of school facilities.
  • Masks should be worn by student-athletes (with limited exceptions) at all times, regardless of vaccination status, recent exposure or testing positive for COVID.
  • It is highly recommended that all eligible athletes get vaccinated.

 

Return to Play Protocol (RTP)

 

The Return to Play protocol is separate and distinct from return to school or community following close contact or COVID positive tests results. The Return to Play protocol is from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National guidance. The Medical Clearance Form and Return-to-Play after COVID-19 Infection protocols, including Cardiac Screening in Pediatric Patients after COVID-19 Infection are the responsibility of the child health care professional and warrant clinical judgment by the health care professional and shared decision making with children/youth and their family.

Athletes who have tested positive for COVID must provide proof that they have been cleared by their primary care physical to begin the RTP protocol.

 

If a student tests positive for COVID they should not practice or play regardless of symptoms or
vaccination status until a minimum of 5 days have passed AND they:

  • have two negative antigen tests; and
  • have had no fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medicine) and other symptoms have improved; and
  • have been cleared by their primary care physician to begin the Return to Play protocol.

If a student is vaccinated and a close contact of someone who tests positive, they can practice and play in interscholastic competitions/games

  • The student should be tested on days four and five post-exposure
  • If the student tests positive or develop symptoms at any point they should follow A) above

If a student is unvaccinated and close contact of someone who tests positive, they can take an antigen test daily and:

  • If negative, they can continue to go to practices, and following five negative daily antigen tests, return to interscholastic competitions/games.
  • If positive: follow steps under A) above

 

 

Additional Reminders

 

  • All passengers riding in district vehicles must be masked.
  • No one should be present on school grounds if they have symptoms associated with
    COVID-19. Coaches should immediately notify a parent or guardian and send students home who are symptomatic or become symptomatic and must provide this information to the athletic director and a COVID Coordinator as soon as possible.
  • Masking is strongly suggested for unvaccinated spectators at outdoor events given the
    potential for crowding.

 

Spectators at Indoor Events
Spectators will be allowed during the winter sports seasons:

  • There is no limit on capacity as long as compliance with masking and distancing is maintained.
  • Masks will remain on at all times. OSSD staff will not be placed in harm’s way when it comes to enforcing mask compliance. If spectators are unwilling to follow masking requirements, the district will have little choice but to limit or exclude spectators from future events.
  • There will be signs to identify sections for seating, this is to help with notification should a COVID exposure occur – please take note of your section whenever attending an event.
  • Home team rules apply to spectators.
  • Given the fluidity of how the COVID pandemic is unfolding, these protocols may change as necessary to protect our students and spectators.

Full or Partial School or Program Closures – Including Athletics

The state no longer allows the remote or hybrid modalities to be used on a schoolwide basis; therefore, if an outbreak is severe enough, a school may be shut down for the time needed to allow for an effective quarantine period. This should be an extremely rare occurrence. Such “COVID” days will be administered in the same manner as snow days, with the school making up the time missed at the end of the year.

Use of Facilities

Beginning September 1st, and until further notice, district facilities may not be used by outside programs or agencies. This will be reassessed when all students become eligible for vaccination.

Cleaning and Disinfecting of Facilities

Normal daily cleaning is sufficient to remove potential virus on most surfaces. High touch surfaces should be disinfected as part of the daily cleaning routine.

Any spaces that contained someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the prior 24 hours should be cleaned and disinfected before being put back into use.

HVAC and Ventilation

Facilities will immediately notify a building principal if the ventilation system fails in a classroom. The classroom will be shut down and the students moved to an alternate location until the ventilation system is restored or a work around is put into place: window fans (preferably blowing into the classroom), or a standalone filtration system appropriate for the square-footage of the room.