Health and Safety.

August 2021

Grace Montessori School COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan

The administrators, teachers, and board members of Grace Montessori School have joined together to develop a plan for best practices to ensure the health and safety of all our students and staff. As a team, we are planning and preparing based on the newest guidelines provided by the CDC and the Department of Health for schools and daycare centers and by the guidelines published by the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, which governs the school, for keeping communities safe.
 
Since knowledge and understandings are changing every day, these guidelines might change with time. We will keep you updated with any changes that may be required in the future. Please read our plan carefully as some information is different from the summer camp contracts you have received.
 

Topics addressed in this plan include:

  1. OPENING FOR SCHOOL YEAR
  2. TRANSMISSION AND SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
  3. PRACTICES, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
  4. SOCIAL DISTANCING
  5. FACE MASKS
  6. DEALING WITH CONFIRMED POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES AND EXPOSURE TO COVID-19

Opening for school year:

  • All our staff is fully vaccinated.
  • GMS serves children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, the CDC, DOH and DHS guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (which include- indoor face masking, regular hand washing and vaccination for anyone above the age of 12) to protect students, teachers, staff, other members of their households and to support in-person learning.
  • CDC is recommending anyone above the age of 12 to be vaccinated. We cannot mandate vaccination for household members but would like to request our families get the vaccine, if possible, to keep our community safe and to continue with in-person learning safely.
  • The carpets and Flooring will be cleaned by professionals after summer camp.
  • GMS will stock all necessary and recommended supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap, hand sanitizer (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), paper towels, tissues, and face masks.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are already installed in different areas of the building.
  • Relevant, child-friendly signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 have been posted.
  • Structured routines around washing and sanitizing hands, both, for the staff and most importantly, the children have been implemented.
  • We will be working with the PA Department of Health and the Department of Human Services to make sure we are ahead of the curve and always ensuring our children have a safe and healthy learning environment.

Transmission and symptoms of COVID-19:

We now know that COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The new Delta variant -Covid-19 is extremely contagious.
 
Persons who have a fever of 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or other signs of illness will not be admitted to the facility. We advise parents to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home when they or a family member in direct contact with child are sick. Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.

Screening tools for symptoms:

  • Fever (99.9 or higher)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose/congestion
  • Chills
  • New lack of smell or taste
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Please keep your child home if you or your child:

  • Has 2 or more symptoms.
  • Is taking fever reducing medication.

PRACTICES, POLICIES, AND PROCEDURES:

Dismissal/Arrival Procedures-

  • All parents/care givers must wear a mask when dropping off or picking up.
  • Children and staff will be checked for signs and symptoms every day upon arrival. A temperature check will be done at arrival using a touch-free thermometer. We encourage parents to maintain 3 feet distance from staff and other families where feasiable.
  • Children will come into the building one family at a time.
  • Hand hygiene stations will be set up at the entrance of the school, so that children can clean their hands before they enter with at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer use will be supervised. Children will also be asked to wash hands with soap and water after entering their respective classrooms.
  • We will designate staff persons to do the arrival and dismissal time.
  • Classrooms will have assigned spots 3 feet away from other classrooms to gather during dismissal time.
  • For dismissal classrooms will have assigned spots or stay in their classroom to aviod contact between classrooms.

Screening Procedures-

  • The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to prevent it from getting inside the facility.
  • We will conduct a daily health screening of children, staff and family members to identify symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19.
  • We will not allow staff and children to enter the facility if:
  • They have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • They have recently had potential exposure with a person with COVID-19.
  • We will mandate that any children and staff who are sick will have to stay home.
  • Anyone with symptoms like fever, cough, or feeling/looking unwell will not be allowed in the building.
  • We will continue to monitor staff and children’s health throughout the day.
  • We will make sure that, in the event of a child getting sick during normal hours, we will notify the parents for an urgent and immediate pickup.
  • We will immediately isolate a child or staff member that develops fever, chills, shortness of breath, new cough, or new loss of taste or smell. The parent/guardian will be informed to pick up their child asap.
  • While waiting for a sick child to be picked up, the staff member will stay with the child in a place isolated from others. If the child has symptoms of COVID-19, the caregiver will remain as far away as safely possible from the child (preferably 3 feet) while maintaining supervision. The staff member will wear a face mask. If the child is over the age of 2 and can tolerate a face covering, the child will be given a face mask to wear.

Cleaning and disinfection efforts-

  • Intensify cleaning, sanitization, disinfection, and ventilation on a daily basis.
  • Promote healthy hygiene practices.
  • Hand washing as soon as the children walk inside the classroom.
  • The GMS staff will set times during the daily schedule to practice handwashing at least 5 times a day: upon arrival, before snack, before lunch, after playground, Just before going home.
  • GMS staff will follow a cleaning and disinfecting schedule developed by the administration which will include routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that are frequently touched. This will also include cleaning objects/surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops, nap mats, toilet training potties (toddler classrooms), tables, chairs, cubbies, and playground structures.
  • At the end of the day practical life materials will be washed in the dishwasher.
  • Materials that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves. If the materials are dishwasher safe, they will be cleaned in a dishwasher otherwise they will be sanitized using CDC guidelines.
  • Materials that cannot be cleaned and sanitized will not be used.
  • A classroom will not share materials with other classrooms.
  • Each child’s bedding (sheets, blankets that can be washed) will be kept separate and stored in individually labeled bins or bags. Mats will be labeled for each child. The napping materials will be sent home every Friday to be washed. 
  • Each classroom will have their own set of playground toys like balls, jump ropes, buckets, and shovels.

SOCIAL DISTANCING:

  • No more than 22 children and adults will be allowed in the hallway, a classroom, or outdoor space at one time.
  • We will encourage social distancing by rearranged the furniture with open areas for walking.
  • The tables will seat 2 children end to end (not side by side). The tables will be divided by sneeze guards.
  • The rugs will be replaced by yoga mats which will be placed at a distance when children are working.
  • We will implement distancing at intervals of 3 feet during nap time.
  • Students (toddlers and primary nappers) will nap in their respective classrooms.
  • We mandate that no food works or snacks will be available during class time. Children will eat a snack provided and packed by their parents at a set time every day as a time for group snack is recommended. Children will bring snacks from home in zip lock bags or containers labeled with their names.
  • Children will bring lunch boxes with ice packs in them. Lunches will not be refrigerated. To avoid handling of food during lunch time the food will not be heated in the microwave. Lunch boxes will be stored in their cubbies.
  • We will ensure that children will eat their own packed lunch and snack in their own classrooms.
  • There will be staggered playground times to avoid interaction between children in different classrooms.
  • We mandate that no common art material (pencils, glue, paint, and scissors) will be shared. Children will receive individual boxes with supplies from school which will be stored in their individual cubbies or in a location for them within the classroom.
  • Children will come to school with back packs (every Friday to take works home), lunch boxes and winter gear during colder months.
    We will not allow any visitors inside the building beyond the administrative space. All tours and visitations will be strictly virtual, with exception of vaccinated special education staff and therapists.
  • Class size-
  • Toddler classes will not exceed 15 children per day.
  • Primary classrooms will not exceed 18 children per day.
  • Elementary classrooms will not exceed 15 students per day.
  • Staff will remain with the same classroom of children avoiding interactions between classes.
  • All trips and social gatherings and/or holiday events are cancelled until further notice.
  • We will have a plan in place for a trained substitute teacher, in case someone from the GMS team is sick.
  • We will train the GMS team on the crucial health and safety protocols as laid out by the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health.

FACE MASKS:

  • All staff and children above the age of 2 years (2-year-old who can tolerate) will wear CDC approved masks.
  • Parents will provide masks for children above the age of 2 years (2-year-old who can tolerate) which will be sent home to be washed daily.
  • If a child is outdoors and able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 3 feet from individuals who are not part of their household, they do not need to wear a mask.
  • If a staff member is outdoors and is able to maintain a 3 feet distance, they do not have to wear a mask.
  • We will ensure proper face covering size and fit for both staff and students. The mask should cover nose and mouth both at all times.
  • We will give children frequent reminders and education on the importance of proper wearing of cloth face coverings.

DEALING WITH CONFIRMED POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES AND EXPOSURE TO COVID-19:

Strategies to deal with a COVID-19 positive case-

  • If the child is in care when the test results are confirmed positive, the child will be isolated until the parents/guardian arrives to pick them up.
  • We will follow the “Discontinuing at home isolation” guidance below for timelines on returning to GMS.
    • GMS will meticulously follow rules and regulations as laid out by the Department of Human Services. Based on the current guidelines since we have all the mitigation procedures in place, we do not have to close the facility in case we have one positive case.
    • However, if we have two or more cases, we will need to close (classroom/pod affected) for 7 days and require everyone in the pod to have a test on day 5 before being able to return to school. During this closure, we will move to virtual learning. 
  • The administration will inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency. *An outbreak is defined as a single positive COVID-19 case.
  • GMS will report positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health (DOH). The facility will also report positive COVID-19 cases to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).
Exposure to a person who tests positive for COVID-19
 
Exposure is defined as being within 3 feet of the individual who tests positive for COVID-19 for a period of 15 minutes or more. It also means coming into direct contact with droplets from a COVID-19 positive individual. Persons who test positive are considered infectious 48 hours before the onset of symptoms. Persons testing positive but do not have symptoms are considered infectious 2 days after exposure (if known) or starting 2 days before test date (if exposure is unknown).
 
If a staff person, household member, or a child is exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID -19
  • It is strongly recommended and highly encouraged that they self-quarantine for a period of 10 days based on the CDC guidelines.
  • If a child becomes ill at the facility, the administration shall notify the child’s parent as soon as possible for an immediate pick up.
  • The administration will also inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency in the opinion of the Department of Health.
  • GMS will report when a staff person, child, or household member is exposed to a positive COVID-19 case to the DHS and DOH.
Discontinuing at home isolation
GMS will follow Test-based strategy for discontinuing home isolation to maintain the health and safety of children and staff.
 

Test-Based Strategy: Individuals who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under all of the following conditions-

  • Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
  • Negative COVID-19 test results from respiratory specimens.     

Any individual who becomes ill should contact their medical provider for advice or testing. For any individual who has been exposed to COVID-19 as described above, or who tests positive for COVID-19, follow the information outlined above.

REPORTING:

GMS is mandated to report all positive cases to DOH and DHS

In all instances when reporting GMS will provide:

  • The name of the facility
  • The address of the facility including the county
  • The number of cases
  • Identify if the positive case is a staff person, household member, child, or family member

All policies procedures are based on recommendations from the CDC and PA Department of Human Services as well as the PA Department of Health and may be subject to change.