Health & Safety
Reopening Plan Main Page | Health checks | Social distancing, face coverings & PPE |
Infection control strategies | Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring |
Health hygiene | Cleaning and disinfecting | Vulnerable populations/accommodations |
Visitors on campus | School safety drills
The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
The following protocols and procedures will be in place in all district for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator, Assistant Superintendent Ruthie Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 762-4611, ext. 3143.
For more information about how health and safety protocols and trainings will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
The district has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources.
The Greater Johnstown School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.
Families will complete the health screening questions through ParentSquare before sending a student to school. This can be completed either through the app on a smart phone/mobile device or the ParentSquare web site (www.ParentSquare.com or the link from www.johnstownschools.org).
Health Screening Process
- Daily temperature checks and completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for staff (prior to arrival), contractors, vendors, and visitors upon arrival to all District schools and buildings.
- Daily temperature check and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned above) for students prior to arrival.
- Trained school personnel will be stationed at each entrance to take temperatures of all students who were not screened prior to arrival.
- Students who arrive to school without a completed screen will be screened upon entry.
- Principals will provide supervision for students while health screenings are conducted.
- Students waiting for temperature checks are to remain socially distant from others.
- The school nurse will provide training to all staff identified for taking student temperatures.
- No-touch thermometers will be provided to school staff to conduct health screenings.
- Staff are to wear masks or face coverings and gloves while conducting health screenings.
- Principals will ensure each school has a process for ensuring students who require screening to be completed at school are treated in a confidential manner and the screening is completed as quickly as possible to minimize time away from class.
- Daily screening dashboards will be accessible to each homeroom teacher for his or her class and to the attendance officer, principal and nurse for the school.
- The family of students with a temperature of 100°F or greater or a positive response to a screening question will be immediately notified to pick up the student, who will be sent to the designated sick room. Other individuals with a temperature of 100°F or greater or a positive response to a screening question will be directed to leave immediately.
- The school office is to be notified when students or staff develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours by calling:
- Pleasant Avenue School – (518) 762-8610
- Warren Street School – (518) 762-3715
- Johnstown Junior-Senior High School – (518) 762-4661
- The school nurse is the contact for staff or students to inform if they later experience COVID-19 symptoms.
- Reminders of the health screening policy will be sent through ParentSquare to staff and families.
Social distancing, face coverings & PPE
The district has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.
- Students must maintain social distancing at bus stops and when embarking and disembarking the bus
- Signage will be used to show a 6 ft. distance at the school entrance
- Directional arrows will be used in hallways and stairways
- Teachers will establish and inform students of classroom directional traffic and specialized instructions
If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, a face covering will not be required, and staff should wear a mask and a shield.
Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and outside, including on the school bus, when six-foot physical distancing is not possible. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.
Because students and staff will need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.
Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn.
Face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
The district will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:
- The proper way to wear face coverings
- Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
- Proper way to discard disposable face coverings
Infection control strategies
Principals will determine arrival and dismissal procedures to minimize student contact at these times. Directional traffic in hallways and stairways will be in place.
Students will be divided into cohorts at the elementary level and remain together for instruction. Specials will be taught in the classroom to the greatest extent practicable to minimize travel throughout the school. The hybrid plan provides for approximately half of the students to be present in each school at a time, and 6-foot social distancing will be maintained in classrooms to the greatest extent practicable.
The district requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The district has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.
- COVID-19 Room: Room 111-D
- Medical Treatment/Medication: Room 111
- Pleasant Avenue
- COVID-19 Room: Room 7
- Medical Treatment/Medication: Room 8
- Warren Street
- COVID-19 Room: Room 93
- Medical Treatment/Medication: Room 96
- Johnstown Junior-Senior High
- COVID-19 Room: Room B-125
- Medical Treatment/Medication: Room B-108
PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.
School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.
Aerosol Generating Procedures
Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The district requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions.
Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished.
If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
The district requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.
Return to School after Illness
The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
- Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation
The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.
District protocols will be implemented with the consultation of the school physician and the Fulton County Public Health Department. They will be shared by school principals through ParentSquare and posted on our website. Families, faculty, staff, students and the local community will be informed as they are updated or revised. Information regarding individuals will remain confidential in accordance with policies and law.
In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with the following providers:
- Futon County Public Health Department – (518) 736-5720
- Nathan Littauer Hospital – (518) 725-8621
The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.
To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Districts may assist with contact tracing by:
- Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
- Ensuring student schedules are up to date
- Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
- Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program
If/when COVID-19 cases are discovered in the school, in consultation with the Fulton County Public Health Department, the district will do the following:
- Notify the custodian
- Conduct cleaning and sanitizing according to CDC guidelines
- Provide directory information as applicable to the known situation
- Alert families and staff and provide them with instructions and information
- Determine how the Teaching and Learning plan may be altered and inform all affected individuals
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
For more information about how COVID-19 containment efforts will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in- person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.
At a minimum, the plan will incorporate the following:
The conditions that may warrant reducing in-person education or closing the school, in consultation with state and local health departments, and plan for an orderly closure; such conditions may include:
- Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1.
- Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
- Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Fulton County Public Health Department.
- If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
- Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
- School will be notified by Laurel Headwell, Executive Director of the Fulton County Public Health Department on the situation.
- School administrators will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
- Schools may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
- Schools should consult their medical director and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.
- Determine which operations will be decreased, or ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely; include process to conduct orderly closures which may include phasing, milestones, and involvement of key personnel.
For more information about how school closure information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
Hand Hygiene | Respiratory Hygiene
The district will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.
- Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.
Hand washing should occur:
- Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
- After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
- After using a tissue.
- Before and after using shared materials.
- Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
- After coming in from the outdoors.
- Anytime hands are visibly soiled.
Movable hand sanitizer stations (at least two in each school building) will be used as school activities occur:
- Outside the cafeteria daily for sanitizing before lunch
- Activities, e.g. games and gatherings
The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.
Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.
- Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
- If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
- Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.
For more information about how hygiene information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
Cleaning and disinfecting
The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include
- Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
- Health offices, isolation rooms
- Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
- Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
- Playgrounds (cleaning only)
- Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.
The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:
- For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
- For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
- Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.
For more information about how cleaning and disinfection information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. Families are to contact the school principal and staff are to contact their supervisor for specific information and directions. Students in out-of-district placements who have IEP’s should contact Mrs. Lent, the Director of Special Education, Pupil Services and Special Programs.
Visitors on campus
No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child and with authorization. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.
- All visitors will be required to wear a face covering.
- All visitors must complete a mandatory health screening assessment prior to gaining entry past the vestibule area.
- All student items dropped off must be left inside the main vestibule and labeled.
- FedEX, UPS, USPS or other delivery persons will be instructed to leave items in the main vestibule. Signing will be done through the teller window.
Food service deliveries will be instructed to leave items at the cafeteria receiving door.
School safety drills
The district will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without, exceptions. Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.
Principals will provide plans for each school under the guidance of our Director of Facilities and the HFM BOCES Safety Coordinator. Considerations for plans include:
- Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the district’s or other applicable school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration should be given to how a school may modify their drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to.
- Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, students should be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.
The school district modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting drills on a staggered schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
- If schools reopen with a hybrid model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures, and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct lockdown drill in classroom setting while maintaining social distancing/using masks.
- Conducting lockdown drills on a staggered schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing, however schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
- Conduct lockdown drill in classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
- The district will work with buildings and grounds and safety committee to provide a written out protocol to use with students and staff during safety drills.