Health and Safety
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 the school campus. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Reopening Guidance for Religious and Independent Schools, the Religious Services Guidelines on the New York Forward website and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
For more information about how health and safety protocols and training will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section https://www.stpius-x.com/communication-family-and-community-engagement of our reopening plan.
St. Pius X School 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 requirements 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 St. Pius X School will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.
- Daily completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors upon arrival at school.
- Daily completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for students upon at school.
- Families will be provided with the screening questionnaire via email, on the school website or with paper copies sent home (upon request). They will be strongly encouraged to complete the questionnaire prior to their child’s arrival at school to aid in the daily screening and admittance process.
- If a child arrives at school without a completed screening questionnaire, that student will be taken aside (in a confidential manner) and a staff member will assist the child in completing the questionnaire.
- The screening data collected will be maintained in binders in the health office for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year, unless otherwise directed by the Albany County Department of Health. The data maintained will consist of a cleared/not cleared for admission checklist and the daily screening questionnaires.
- Individuals found to have a temperature of 100°F or greater or having a positive response to a screening question will be denied admittance to the school building. In the event that immediate denial of admittance is not possible (students arriving at school via bus and/or without a parent/legal guardian), that individual will be escorted to and remain in the isolation room and parents/legal guardians will be contacted for immediate pick-up.
- The school nurse will review the incoming reports of screening by staff and parent/legal guardians and attest that they are completed.
- The school nurse will be notified in the event that staff or students experience COVID-19 symptoms after being granted admission to the school building.
- The health screening policy will be made available to all stakeholders via an email , and the school website. Reminders will be sent weekly via email in our Bulldog newsletter.
In-school temperature screening protocols will include:
- Social distancing markers and signage at all entrance points
- Temperature checks and at school screening performed by staff members who will be trained by the school nurse.
- Each entrance point and the nurse’s office will have one no-touch infrared forehead thermometer. Backup devices will be stored in the nurse's office in case of breakage or malfunction.
- All staff members performing temperature checks and screening will be provided with proper PPE by the school.
Health Hygiene Practices
St. Pius X School 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. Alcohol based 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.
The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the school 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 do not 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 https://www.stpius-x.com/communication-family-and-community-engagement of our reopening plan.
St. Pius X School 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.
- All faculty, staff, students, and visitors will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while entering the school building.
- Signage will be displayed, and floor/ground markers will be installed, at all entrance points and within the school building reinforcing the social distancing guidelines.
- All PreK-8th grade classroom populations will be limited to ensure the 6 ft distancing guideline.
- All students in Preschool through eighth grade will maintain classroom cohorts to limit exposure risk.
- Twelve foot distancing will be maintained in the gymnasium when Physical Education instruction occurs. Music instruction (singing) will also have 12 foot distancing.
- Socially distant spacing/markers will be marked on the floor of every classroom.
- Social distancing and PPE will be maintained during dismissal routines for both bus riding and pick-up students.
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, individuals will be required to provide a medical note and efforts will be made to find the best alternative. Whenever possible school will allow for better social distancing of this individual.
The availability of safe transportation and local hospital capacity in consultation with local department of health officials were considered in the development of this reopening plan.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings
Students, staff and visitors to our school will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and outside, including on the school bus, and 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 school will instruct students, parents/legal 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
Training will be provided to all staff and students, within the first two weeks of school and on an ongoing basis throughout the school year, on proper social distancing and use of face coverings. The school will provide replacement cloth face coverings to all staff and students when needed. Proper PPE will be provided to all staff members required to complete temperature checks and health screenings.
Management of Ill Persons, Contact Tracing and Monitoring
St. Pius X School 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 school 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.
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.
Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).
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.
Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following manufacturer’s instructions after each use.
If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
The school 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 school 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 school 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 school 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.
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 school will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the 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:
- St. Pius X School 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%.
- St. Pius X School 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 Albany County Department of Health.
- If the infection rate rises about 9%, St. Pius X School must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%.
- Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, St. Pius X School can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
- St. Pius X School will be notified by the Albany County Health Department on the situation.
- St. Pius X School administrators will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
- St. Pius X School 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.
- St. Pius X School will consult their school nurse and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.
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.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
The school 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 school 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 school will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more often.
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 https://www.stpius-x.com/communication-family-and-community-engagement of our reopening plan.
School Safety Drills
Visitors on Campus
No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on the school campus, 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. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school building.
Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.