Health and Safety

How will students with special needs stay safe?

Each IEP team will consider these individual student needs related to the division’s overall health plan. If eligible students with disabilities are not able to wear a mask or social distance, teachers/aides will be provided with additional PPE. As with all students, mitigation strategies, such as hand washing, frequent high surface area cleaning, physical arrangement of the classroom, etc. will be implemented.

What sources of information has HCPS considered when developing mitigation plans?

HCPS has reviewed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), The World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Virginia School Nurse Association, and consulted with the Virginia Department of Health.

How will CDC guidelines be managed and implemented?

Mitigation strategies will include videos that outline the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and cleaning for staff, specific training for students regarding hygiene best practices, use of facial coverings, maintaining social distance, frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette, reminders of the importance of staying home when ill, avoiding contact with individuals that are ill, proper cleaning techniques for commonly touched surfaces, cleaning procedures when students leave the classroom, cleaning products that are approved for use, following movement floor markers provided in common areas for distancing, following one-way hall traffic where instituted when permissible, avoiding congregating in groups, avoiding sharing of equipment and classroom materials, avoiding sharing food, drinks, and utensils, avoiding sharing electronic devices, toys, books, or other learning materials.

Will masks be required?

Masks will be required for all students unless their IEP or 504 plan specifically states they cannot wear a mask. When outside and socially distanced, students will be able to remove their masks. Teachers will make every effort to leverage outside activities for learning and brain breaks.

Are face shields allowed?

The Health Department has stated that face shields are not a substitute for face coverings. Medical masks or cloth face coverings are required. Cloth face coverings with multiple layers may be more effective than ones with one layer, such as gaiters. However, VDH does say that cloth face coverings should be secured with ties or ear loops. Ear savers are acceptable when worn correctly, such that they secure the mask as a tie would. More information on VDH's guidance on face coverings can be found on their website.

What level of social distancing will be achieved?

In buildings HCPS will implement a combination of face coverings and a minimum of three feet distance to the greatest degree possible between everyone present. However, every effort will be made to encourage an even greater distance when possible. On buses, HCPS will require a face mask and seat students 1 child per seat. Students that live in the same household may share a seat.

How will the school guarantee my child's safety?

Every effort will be made to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. Just as in any school day, HCPS cannot guarantee complete safety. The virtual school option is available for students who are not comfortable with the face to face option.

Will temperature checks be taken? (What health screening measures will be taken to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19?)

Families will be responsible for screening for temperature prior to leaving home. Temperature checks and/or verbal screenings at school will be made only when a need is identified.

Will the school be able to support contact tracing if someone becomes infected?

For COVID-19 positive individuals, a Case Investigator from the Health Department will conduct an investigation and will determine if any other significant exposures have occurred, based upon a determination of close contacts to the original case. The child with COVID-19 will be removed from the school setting and isolated at home until released by the Health Department. All identified close contacts (inside and outside the classroom) will be quarantined at home for the appropriate period of time (typically 14 days past the last day of exposure). At the current time, the Health Department does not require that a COVID-19 test be performed on most close contacts; in fact, a negative test would not change the management of a quarantined close contact.

How will students who are medically fragile or have compromised health be accommodated?

We are sharing our mitigation strategies and the requirement for masks. However, the ultimate decision to return to school or go to school virtually is determined by each family.

How will air quality be maintained?

HVAC operations will be monitored to ensure the appropriate level of fresh air intake. Air filters will be changed timely. We are not aware of commercially available COVID air tests.

What will the cleaning routine be like in the schools?

All HCPS staff will assume responsibility for cleaning high touch areas. Rooms will have visual reminders of high touch surfaces and will have cleaning supplies. Staff will be expected to perform periodic wipe downs. Custodial staff will increase the frequency of cleaning bathrooms and common areas.

Will frequent handwashing be required?

Yes, frequent hand washing and/or sanitizing will be required. Sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building.

Will masks and hand sanitizer be available throughout the school?

Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the school. Frequent hand washing will also be encouraged. Cloth, washable masks have been ordered for staff. Students must provide their own mask but a limited supply will be available at the school should a new one be needed. Repeated need for school provided masks will be addressed with the parent.

Can plexiglass barriers be used in the office, at student desks?

It is not feasible to install plexiglass in all classrooms. Sneeze guards will be installed in cafeterias and offices where there is a large volume of traffic. Students sitting in cubicles is not conducive to student learning. The wearing of masks will be a mitigating factor.

How will children with food allergies be protected if students eat in the classroom?

Teachers will be made aware of all food allergies. Some classes may have prohibitions on certain foods that will be communicated with all families. Parents should make us aware of specific concerns. 

Will HCPS provide COVID 19 testing?

Parents should contact their child's pediatrician for testing. HCPS is providing COVID-19 testing for employees. 

Will use of hand sanitizer be required?

Use of hand sanitizer and/or frequent hand washing will be required.

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