Safety Requirements for Staff
KEY PRINCIPLES FOR REDUCING POTENTIAL COVID-19 EXPOSURE
In response to COVID-19, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) outlined various safety and health requirements for staff and students during the 2020-2021 school year. School districts must comply with safety practices as outlined in the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Proclamation 20-25. Mount Baker School District intends to put safety first for everyone, and wants to share with you some of the expectations for returning to campus. These guidelines will be updated as policies, rules or guidance changes. Also, please follow your specific school safety guidelines.
Keep ill persons out of school / stay home when sick – No staff, students, parents, guardians, or visitors are allowed on campus if they:
- are showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19;
- have been in close contact (meaning within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with someone who has confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days; and/or
- have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.
Please use the COVID-19 DOH Return to School Guidance flowsheet to identify signs and symptoms when you are ill. This flowsheet will direct you to make a safe decision to stay home, to be tested for COVID-19, and/or to see your healthcare provider.
Health screening at entry – Staff are required to complete a daily attestation form prior to arriving on campus. Currently the district uses Qualtrics. Qualtrics is accessed through your school’s email and you may set up a feature allowing the information to be accessed on your cell phone. Parents/guardians are required to complete a Health Attestation Form for students in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 before students are allowed into classrooms. Parents are expected to screen their students for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 every day prior to arriving at school. The Whatcom County Health Department, DOH, and OSPI require schools to have a health attestation for every person on campus.
- The attestation for students will be completed quarterly and kept on file as evidence of the parent/guardian’s agreement to the requirement. One quarterly health attestation is required for each student in the District who will be at school for any reason (e.g., hybrid, study session, meeting with teachers, instructional support, sports, and/or extra-curricular activities). Daily visual screenings will be conducted by staff on each student upon arriving at school.
- The District is asking parents/guardians to check their student(s) daily and if there are any of the listed COVID-19 symptoms, do not allow boarding of the bus or arrival at school. They are also asked to let the school know of the absence and if the student is in the hybrid program, to let the school know if the student will be attending remotely.
- Staff are expected to follow all District absence guidelines should they become ill. In addition to completing Ready Sub, staff will need to advise school administrators as soon as possible, if they have any illness symptoms listed on the COVID-19 flowsheet. Depending upon the flowsheet symptoms, staff may need to return to remote learning for an extended period; for example: if you have a sore throat and cough on Monday, (both A & B symptoms) then follow the Symptom A side. You should make an appointment with your health provider, or get COVID-19 testing. If you choose not to see your provider or to be tested, you are now directed to be away from school for 10 days from Monday AND 24-hours after symptoms resolve.
- Should a staff become ill at school – Staff need to notify their administrator immediately. Someone will need to finish the class learning activities and you will need to go home immediately.
- If a student becomes ill in your classroom – contact the administrator, or as directed, and the student will be immediately picked up from your classroom and escorted to an isolation room for monitoring until parent/guardian pick-up. Do not send an ill student to the health room. The health room will kept for students needing first aid treatment above something that can be cared for in the classroom. If possible, provide Band-Aids in your classroom to prevent student movement in the building. If a student is sent to the health room for first aid, call the front office before sending the student, so the student can be escorted or tracked in the hallways. This is important for contact tracing.
- By staying on campus for an extended period, an ill staff or student puts others at risk.
- An ill student may not ride the bus home. Parent/guardian will be contacted immediately for pick-up.
- Only people directly involved with an ill staff or student will be advised of the situation. Confidentiality is critical for all persons concerned and an illness does not mean a COVID-19 infection.
- Per the health attestation, if staff test positive for COVID-19; have been in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19; told by a public health official to quarantine over concerns of a possible COVID-19 infection; or, had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 10 days advise your school administrator as you may need to return to remote learning for a period of time.
- If we have a confirmed case in the community or in our district and the person was never on campus, and there is no direct contact with anyone on district grounds, confidentiality will be maintained.
- In the event that a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs on campus that directly affects staff and/or students, information will be provided per guidelines from the Whatcom County Health Department. No names will be identified.
- A confirmed case or cases on campus, may change a hybrid class to remote for a period, may close a classroom(s) for extended periods to ensure cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting practices are complete, may close a school, or may close the District. The decision is made by the Superintendent and the Whatcom County Health Department.
- It is important to know where you and your students have been each day, so that contact-tracing information can be provided to the Whatcom County Health Department as soon as possible in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case affecting the school. You may wish to develop strict routines throughout the day, so that it is easy to recall your movement and the movement of your students.
Cohort of students – Mount Baker will keep students in small groups and prevent mixing of groups to decrease COVID-19 exposure. Students will have their own supplies to avoid sharing common items, and will have staggered schedules for activities to prevent mixing of groups. Any shared learning materials will be cleaned and disinfected. Children’s books and other paper-based materials are not a high risk for spreading COVID-19. However, if students take home a book, it will be placed in a sealed bin for 24 hours upon return before another student may take it home.
Maintain physical distancing – Staff and students will maintain a minimum 6-feet separation from others to the maximum extent feasible. It is understood that in the learning environment there may be times when the 6-foot minimum distancing needs to be broken, (e.g., helping a student with a math problem), but staff should keep this time to a minimum. Staff will also remind students of physical distancing. Desks are placed at least 6 feet apart in the classroom, and there are markings on the floor to help remind staff and students to maintain physical distancing.
Perform frequent hand washing – Teachers, staff, and students will have hand-washing times built into schedules. Examples may include any or all of the following: upon arrival at school, before eating, after bathroom use, after blowing one’s nose, and at the end of the day. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying with a paper towel offers the greatest protection against COVID-19 and other germs. The use of a hand sanitizer (which is at least 60 percent alcohol) will be used when soap and water is not available. Small children should not use hand sanitizer due to putting fingers in mouths and the possible exposure to toxins.
Protective equipment – All teachers, staff, and students in grades K-12 will wear at least a 2-ply cloth facemasks while on school grounds. Wear the mask appropriately by covering both the mouth and nose.
- Mask requirements for Mount Baker students coming onto school campuses – All students coming onto campus are required to wear a facemask while riding the bus and for the time that they are in class.
- Masks need to cover both the nose and the mouth.
- When eating, masks will be removed and students will be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
- Should a student’s mask become wet or dirty, a cloth facemask will be provided to complete the day and wear home.
- Mask sizes: the small size is black, and the medium/large size is white.
- If the weather is nice, students may have an opportunity for a mask break outside if they can remain at least 6 feet apart; this will be dependent upon student needs and teacher direction.
- Students will not do strenuous activity while wearing a mask. They may do stretches or general low exertion movement exercises during the day.
- To provide good safety practices, staff may provide students educational direction in wearing masks.
- Types of masks allowed:
- All student facemasks must be at least 2-ply cloth that does not let very much light through the fabric layers when held up to a light, or a non-medical 2-ply disposable mask.
- A cotton layer near the face is usually most comfortable. Both mask types should have either ear loops or two ties. Small children should wear ear loops and not ties for safety reasons.
- All staff facemasks must be at least 2-ply cloth following the above guidelines, or you may wear higher protective facemasks such as FDA approved medical masks or KN95 masks. The district provides cloth, medical and KN95 masks. Please contact you school administration for supplies.
- The KN95 mask may be worn until visibly dirty, or it becomes more difficult to breathe through. Please do not wear make-up with this mask type.
- The medical mask should be disposed of at the end of the day, or if it becomes damp.
- Types of masks not allowed:
- Currently there is not enough research for neck gaiters, ski gaiters or face shields around protection from the spread of COVID-19, so these are not allowed on campus.
- Masks that have air valves are not allowed on campus because the valve allows respiratory droplets to spread from the person wearing the air valve mask.
Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help your child wear a mask correctly:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – In addition to masks, staff may need to wear additional PPE depending on job duties or classroom situations.
- Staff screening students upon arrival at school will need KN95 masks, eye protection (faces shield and/or eye goggles) and gowns. They may also need gloves in certain situations.
- Staff working with students unable to continuously wear a mask will need combinations of the above.
- Staff working with students who are unable to maintain a minimum 6-foot physical distance will require additional PPE.
- Staff monitoring ill students in the isolation room need full PPE including KN95 or N95 fitted mask (if available), eye protection (face shield and/or eye goggles, gloves, gown and booties if needed.
Mount Baker PPE Guidelines – these follow the latest OSPI/LNI recommendations for staff.
Environmental cleaning/custodial – Students will not assist with cleaning in the schools. Our custodial team is the recognized experts in cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting classrooms, offices, common workspaces, restrooms, and other locations on school grounds. Routine cleaning, sanitization, and disinfecting is conducted at least daily. All school buildings will have deep cleanings on Wednesday between cohorts. Sanitizing is generally done by kitchen staff trained in the products and procedures to meet the requirements for food services.
- Staff may use soap and water to clean surfaces and/or baby wipes and approved alcohol wipes on electronics per cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting guidelines from the DOH, CDC and Whatcom County Health Department.
- Staff may not bring in products from home for cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting. Material Safety Data Sheets must be available for all products used at the school.
- The change in cleaning came about for several reasons: improper use of disinfectant wipes, overuse potentially causing mutations, build-up of wipe residue and toxicity on surfaces where food is eaten and developing a false sense of security. Disinfecting wipes also can be asthma triggers, cause skin sensitivity and rashes. Most wipes contain quaternary ammonium compounds (Quats) which may also pose reproductive health risks.
- The custodians have been using chlorine-based products for cleaning and disinfecting since March 2020 when cleaning policies for schools changed in response to COVID-19. Never use ammonia and chlorine products at the same time.
- Staff may use disinfecting wipes when assisting students with toileting. The disinfectant wipe used in this situation is Hydrogen Peroxide based, on the N-list, a greener product, proven effective against COVID-19, and approved by the Whatcom County Health Department.
- Those assisting with toileting: after putting on gloves, wipe down touched surfaces first with a baby-wipe, then while the surface is still wet, use the Hydrogen Peroxide disinfecting wipe and allow it to sit for the dwell and dry time approximately 2 minutes before the next student may use the restroom. Do not cross-contaminate. Use separate wipes for faucets/sinks and a new wipe for toilet handles/seats.
- As always, should the room or fixtures be visibly dirty from an accident, please call custodians for assistance.
Improve indoor ventilation – The District maintenance team worked with experts on determining which classrooms and buildings have appropriate ventilation and filtration. The rooms that have been determined to lack proper ventilation or filtration are closed for student use and are in process for HVAC upgrades. A map of which classrooms are open/closed is available at the District Office and with school principals. Certain areas will also have portable continuous air circulating machines.
Low risk spaces – Outdoor spaces are safer than indoor spaces, so teachers may spend more time outdoors with students when the weather is nice.
Bus transportation – Drivers have specific protocols for seating, loading, and unloading buses. Students will be loaded as efficiently and safely as possible, and adjustments will be made when necessary to provide as strong a social distance as available. Students from the same family will be seated near each other. Appropriate windows and vents will be left partially open to help with ventilation. All students and staff will be required to and must wear facial masks on the bus. Buses are cleaned daily and between each route, and deep cleaning is done between cohorts.