The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued full interim guidance for how schools and camps can safely reopen during the Covid-19 pandemic. The information is highly detailed outlining the level of care CDC officials expect school leadership to consider before reopening their campuses. The CDC emphasized that opening should be guided by the Covid-19 transmission rates in each community.
Link to the sixty page CDC guidance for yourself. WFIS has has outlined the school section for you (on pages 45-48) below:
Interim Guidance for Schools & Day Camps
These recommendations depend on community monitoring to prevent continued transmission of Covid-19. Communities with high monitoring that remain with low transmission may implement the following practices to gradually scale the return to operations. At every stage of ramping up operations, some amount of community mitigation will be necessary until a vaccine or drug therapy is widely available.
These CDC recommendations, in partnership with your local WA health officials’ parameters, should inform your gradual upscale of operations.
Scaling Up Operations
In all Steps:
- Establish and maintain communication with our local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels in your community.
- Protect and support staff and students who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as providing options for telework and virtual learning.
- Follow CDC’s Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs
- Provide teachers and staff from higher transmission areas telework and other options as feasible to eliminate travel to schools and camps in lower transmission areas and vice versa.
- Encourage any other external community organizations that use the facilities also follow this guidance.
Step 1 Schools that are currently closed, remain closed. E-learning or distance learning opportunities should be provided for all students. Support provision of student services such as school meal programs, as feasible. Camps should be restricted to children of essential workers and for children who live in the local geographic area only.
Step 2 Remain open with enhanced social distancing measures and for children who live in the local geographic area only.
Step 3 Remain open with distancing measures. Restrict attendance to those from limited transmission areas only.
Promote healthy hygiene practices (Steps 1-3)
- Teach and reinforce washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes among children and staff.
- Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings among all staff. Face coverings should be worn by staff and encouraged in students (particularly older students) if feasible and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
- Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school. Information should be provided to staff and students on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings. Face coverings are not recommended for babies or children under the age of 2, or for anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance.
- Have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trash cans.
- Post signs on how to stop the spread of covid-19, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures, and properly wear a face covering.
Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the school and on school buses at least daily (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) as well as shared objects (e.g., toys, games, art supplies) between uses.
- To clean and disinfect school buses, see guidance for bus transit operators.
- Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep products away from children. Review the Responsible Purchasing Network recommendations on safer disinfectants.
- Develop a plan for safely using cleaner, sanitizer & disinfectant guidance in this 4-page graphic Fact Sheet from OSHA.
- Only high touch surfaces need disinfecting, not the air. Increase ventilation indoors. No spraying in the air, misting, or fogging.
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible such as by opening windows and doors. Do not open windows and doors if they pose a safety or health risk ( such as allowing pollens in or exacerbating asthma symptoms) risk to children using the facility.
- Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
Promote social distancing
- Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff – all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children.
- Restrict mixing between groups.
- Cancel all field trips, intergroup events, and extracurricular activities.
- Limit gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities to those that can maintain social distancing, support proper hand hygiene, and restrict attendance of those from higher transmission areas.
- Restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other groups at the same time.
Classroom structure and communal spaces
- Space seating/desks to at least six feet apart. Space bedding (head-to-toe positioning) to six feet apart, if possible.
- Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
- Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and signs on walls, to remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times. When possible create “one way routes” in hallways.
- Keep communal use spaces closed, such as game rooms or dining halls, if possible; if this is not possible, stagger use and disinfect in between uses.
- If a cafeteria or group dining room is typically used, serve meals in classrooms instead. Serve individually plated meals, limit the use of shared serving utensils and ensure the safety of children with food allergies.
- Add physical barriers, such as plastic flexible screens, in situations when individuals cannot be at least 6 feet apart.
Arrival and departure from school & camp
- Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations, or put in place other protocols to limit close contact with parents or caregivers as much as possible.
- Create social distance between children on school buses (for example, seating children one child per seat, every other row) where possible.
- Put in place other protocols to limit close contact with other parents or caregivers as much as possible.
Structured association groups
- Consider keeping classes together to include the same group of children each day, and consider keeping the same child care providers with the same group each day.
- Allow minimal mixing between groups. Limit gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities to those that can maintain social distancing, support proper hand hygiene, and restrict attendance of those from higher transmission areas.
- Consider limiting nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other groups. Restrict attendance of those from higher transmission areas.
Link to the CDC’s Considerations for Schools webpage to read and review with your leadership teams.