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Health & Safety

Symptoms of COVID-19 & Health Screening| Social Distancing, Face Coverings & PPE | Health HygieneCleaning and Disinfecting | Visitors on campus | Nurse’s Office ProceduresManagement of Ill Persons/COVID-19 Testing | Contact Tracing & Return to School Protocols

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 schools for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 Safety Coordinator Kristine Dickson at kdickson@ffcsd.org or 518-853-3185 ext. 4234.


Symptoms of COVID-19 & Health Screening

The following resources are intended to educate parents/guardians and staff members about the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. Any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection should not come to school and contact the school nurse. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, symptoms of infection include:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

If staff or students are sick, they should stay home. In addition to the above symptoms, signs of potential infection include: flushed cheeks, rapid or difficulty breathing (without exercise), fatigue, irritability or frequent bathroom use.

Mandatory, daily health screenings will be required for students(temperature checks), faculty, staff, contractors, vendors and visitors.

Screenings will be completed prior to entering any school building. Screening questionnaires determine whether an individual: has knowingly been in close or proximate contact with anyone who tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19; tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature of greater than 100°F in the past 14 days; or traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.*

If a staff member has traveled  internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, they must quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of returning to work.  In addition, Staff must be symptom free upon returning to work.  If symptoms occur, staff should contact their county of residence public health department and the school.

School staff will be required to complete a Google Form prior to arriving at school attesting they are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. If staff answers “yes” to any of the four screening questions, they should stay home, contact their supervisor or school point of contact, and make an appointment with their healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Parents will screen their children’s temperature prior to getting on the school bus or being dropped off at school. An online form will be provided to parents to share their child’s daily results. This online form will be checked daily, and any student who has not submitted a completed online screening form prior to school will have their temperature checked at school. Parents will be instructed that if their child is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home, contact the school Health Office and their personal healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Students are required to complete the screening questionnaire periodically throughout the school day with the school nurse. School staff will be trained on the symptoms of coronavirus and how to identify signs of illness in students and other staff members. Any student or staff member exhibiting symptoms with no other explanation will be sent to the school health office immediately.

The school nurse will be responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all screening activities as well as being the individuals to inform if they later experience COVID-19 related symptoms or exposure.

Please see the Management of Ill Persons section for procedures in the event that a student or staff member is positively screened while in school.

*Quarantine of students, faculty, or staff may be required after international travel or travel within certain states on the NYS travel ban.


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. Social distancing includes a 6-foot requirement, or 12-foot for activities requiring voice projection (singing), playing wind instruments and aerobic activities resulting in heavy breathing.

To accomplish this, the district has reconfigured/modified space within the schools. Some areas of the school will be closed. Spaces where people gather, including entryways and hallways, will be restricted to ensure social distancing. The use of lockers and student storage areas will be restricted. Students will be encouraged to use backpacks. They should not carry an unreasonable number of books or materials throughout the day.

Foot traffic will be restricted to one-way by using tape on the floors or signs with arrows in the hallways. The district will post signage and distance markers denoting spaces of 6-feet in commonly used areas, and in areas where lines commonly form or people may congregate (libraries, classrooms, health office, main office, etc.)

Social distancing will be maintained in classrooms. Barriers will be utilized to separate students in some areas. Workstations, desks, tables, or other surfaces will not be shared without first cleaning and disinfecting between each use.

Students and staff will be expected to follow all safety protocols, including wearing face coverings indoors and outside when social distancing (six or twelve feet depending on the activity) is not possible or , when an acceptable barrier is not in place. This pertains to traveling around the school and at all times on buses. Face coverings are strongly recommended by the NYSDOH at all times. Face coverings are required to be worn by all individuals at all times except for meals and at times determined by staff and administration when social distancing is occurring. 

Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering based on a documented disability or medical condition , including students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by such covering, are not subject to the required use. Parents of these students MUST contact their child’s school building principal and provide documentation from a healthcare provider. A 504 accommodation plan may need to be created. 

All students, parents, faculty, and staff will be provided with age-appropriate training on how to safely put on, take off, clean, and discard personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings. This will be done through classroom instruction and video training that is also posted on the website. Signage will also be posted throughout the school buildings as a reminder.

Parents are encouraged to send their children to school with a filled water bottle and clean face covering. Face coverings will be available at school and on the bus if needed.

Staff and students will be allowed to use their own acceptable face coverings, which include:

  • Cloth-based (homemade, quick cut, bandana) and surgical masks that must cover the nose and mouth.
  • Transparent at or around the mouth for visualization of lips/mouth.
  • Face shields (must be worn with a mask and extend below the chin and to the ears, no exposed gap between the forehead and headpiece, worn by only one person, cleaned in between use, user should wash hands after removing the shield and prior to putting it on).

The district will ensure there is an adequate supply of PPE for staff, including but not limited to: masks, respirator masks (N95) that are fit tested, eye protection or face shields, gloves and disposable gowns.

Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use, and must not be shared. Students, parents and legal guardians should take responsibility for maintaining their face coverings. The district will provide training on how to properly maintain face coverings to students, staff and parents/guardians.


Health 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 washing. 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.

Hand Hygiene

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.

Frequent hand washing will be encouraged at regular intervals throughout the day with both soap and water and hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer stations are being installed in other strategic locations in schools.

The borrowing or sharing of any items will be restricted. Drinking fountains will be available for refilling water bottles only.

Respiratory Hygiene

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.

HVAC systems have been checked and will be monitored for proper airflow and circulation.

The district will curate an age-appropriate video library about COVID-19 symptoms, preventing spreading germs, hand washing, etc. Videos will be posted on the website and students will be trained by staff.  Reminders will be given during morning announcements.  Information will be shared with parents/guardians on ways to reinforce these concepts at home.

The district will increase the number of receptacles around the school for disposal of soiled items, including paper towels and PPE.


Cleaning and Disinfecting

Daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols based on CDC guidance will be followed, with an emphasis on frequent cleaning of high-touch/high-traffic areas. The district will maintain detailed logs which include the date, time and scope of cleaning and disinfection performed in a facility or area.

The district will supply appropriate cleaning and disinfecting supplies (disposable wipes, sprays, paper towels) to faculty and staff for shared and frequently touched surfaces, followed by hand washing.

The number of high-touch surfaces will be reduced by installing touch free amenities such as water bottle refilling stations, trash receptacles and paper towel dispensers when feasible. If not feasible, at a minimum, hand sanitizer should be made available near high-touch surfaces.

Parents will be encouraged to send water bottles to school with their children. Drinking fountains are configured with a bottle refilling station.

Cleaning and disinfection of restrooms will occur every two hours or more often depending on the frequency of use. Access will be limited to every other sink, urinal and stall.

The district will use signage or other methods to reduce restroom occupancy and to ensure social distancing rules are followed.

Cleaning of school health office

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 utilized including pillow cases, thermometer sheaths or probes, otoscope specula.

Cleaning and disinfection following a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case

The district will follow CDC and NYSDOH guidelines:

  • Close off areas used by the person.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation.
  • Wait 24 hours to clean and disinfect, unless waiting 24 hours is not feasible, in which case, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • Once the area has been cleaned and disinfected, it can be reopened for use.
  • Individuals without close or proximate contact can return to the area and resume activities immediately after cleaning and disinfection.
  • If more than 7 days have passed since the person who is suspected or confirmed visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary but routine procedures should be followed.

Visitors on campus

Out of an abundance of caution, the visitor protocols have been adjusted. Visitors will be allowed to enter school buildings by appointment only. Visitors will be required to complete a screening assessment prior to entering. Masks and adherence to all health and safety protocols will be required.


Nurse’s Office Procedures

Two rooms will be established within the health office. One will be for healthy students awaiting medication/nursing treatment or who have injuries. Another room will be for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Isolation rooms will also be designated throughout the k-12 facility for students/staff exhibiting signs of illness to limit movement between buildings.

PPE will be available for health office staff caring for sick individuals, including gowns, gloves, eye protection and N-95 masks.

For asthma related and other respiratory related treatment:

Treatments such as nebulized medication, oral or tracheal suctioning should be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE.

An N-95 mask must be worn when administering nebulizer treatments.

School nurses will consult with parents, student’s health care provider to discuss alternative medication delivery systems.

Cleaning of the room should occur between use and cleaning of equipment should be done following the manufacturer’s instructions after each use.


Management of Ill Persons/COVID-19 Testing

Students and staff with symptoms of illness must be sent to the health office to be assessed by the school nurse.

Students or staff who are exhibiting a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 that are not explained by a chronic health condition will be isolated immediately. There will be isolation areas for COVID-19 symptom students. The individual will be isolated from others and sent home immediately with instructions to follow up with their personal healthcare provider for further evaluation. Health office staff will send an instruction sheet with the parent or caregiver providing the steps that should be taken and resources for COVID-19 testing.

Students will be supervised by an adult until their parent/guardian arrives. The district will provide information on health care and testing resources to the parent/guardian. The district will immediately notify state and local health departments about the case if diagnostic test results are positive for COVID-19.


Contact Tracing & Return to School Protocols

The district will take guidance from the Montgomery County Department of Public Health in the event there is confirmation of a positive case. The district would then issue a communication to all families that there has been a positive case, while following all laws pertaining to confidentiality. The district must adhere to the NYS Contact Tracing Program protocols & health department isolation/quarantine efforts. The local health department would implement these protocols and notify any exposed individuals.

School staff will be trained on the symptoms of coronavirus and how to identify signs of illness in students and other staff members. Any student or staff member exhibiting signs with no other explanation will be sent to the school health office immediately for assessment by the school nurse.

If a student or staff member is placed on quarantine by Public Health due to exposure to COVID-19, they should contact the FFCS health office immediately.

The district will follow the NYSDOH regulations with the support of the public health department as to when individuals, especially students, who screened positive can return to the in-person learning environment. Steps to return are as follows:

If COVID-19 positive, a student/staff can return to school when the public health department releases the individual from isolation, and documentation is received from a health care provider clearing the individual to return to school.

If COVID-19 symptomatic, a student/staff may return to school when the district receives documentation from the health care provider, following an evaluation that clears a student/staff to return to school or a negative COVID-19 test result.

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.