Specifics of Cleaning, Safety, and Health Questions
- Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
- Cleaning of Shared Materials, Manipulatives, Electronics, Computers
- Ventilation & Air Flow
- PPE & Social Distancing
- Health and Safety
- Teaching and Learning
- Miscellaneous Questions
- We must hire significantly more cleaning staff to sanitize our facilities and have a cleaning protocol, which includes increased cleaning supplies, that is transparent and followed on a consistent basis
- We must increase air flow in every room and utilize outside air to support cleanliness.
We will have clear cleaning protocols that will be posted in every room with a signed note from the cleaner. Link to Checklist
In terms of the cleaning process, we start with cleaning and sanitizing and then move to disinfecting. Rooms will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected every night. High touch areas in the building will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected multiple times a day. High touch areas in the classroom and any manipulatives that are shared should be disinfected by the teacher or staff member.
Cleaning staff will assist classroom teachers with lunch clean up and making sure appropriate garbage cans are available. Cleaning staff will also be available for emergency cleanups in classrooms that will include disinfecting.
Night cleaning will be responsible for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting every space in the school. They will follow the cleaning protocol described above. If teachers/staff comes in the next day and finds something from the checklist that is not completed or not completed appropriately, they are to immediately email Chris Marshall and Brian Parker, Day Supervisor. You should receive a response in a timely manner along with follow up.
In terms of desks in rooms, we are planning on using a spray that dries in 2-3 minutes on a desk. Teachers are responsible for spraying and then making sure students do not touch the desk for approximately 2 to 3 minutes after they are sprayed. The spray does not need to be wiped clean. It should dry in a manner of two to three minutes and should not leave any residue. If the spray is difficult for people to deal with based on asthma or another medical condition, the maintenance department will prepare a bleach solution that can be used on desks, but will need to be wiped off by the teacher. We will supply dry wipes for this purpose.
First, we are trying to minimize shared materials in the classroom. This includes Chromebooks, which will be distributed to individuals who need them. Individuals who do not need Chromebooks will bring their own device. These devices should not be shared. In addition, manipulatives should be as much as possible given to individual students and used by the same students each day.
If materials are shared, then the teacher would use a disinfectant wipe, or if they are not available, would spray the disinfectant on a towel and wipe the material with a towel.
Faculty work spaces will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected daily. Personal items on a desk should be sprayed with disinfectant by the staff member in order to maintain cleanliness. Lunch spaces and faculty bathrooms will have the same level of cleaning that student lunch spaces and student bathrooms have.
Our goal is to increase fresh air into classrooms as much as possible.
- Three of our buildings (Primary, Junior High and Senior High) have 100% of their air circulated from the outside. In addition, the vents are separated to minimize any intake of air that was just used.
- While our Early Childhood and Intermediate Schools do not have 100% ventilation, they do have a significant amount and we have added 20% outside air into those buildings via air dampers. We are also installing high capacity MERV filters in these buildings to minimize the opportunity for the virus to enter.
- In addition to filtration systems, we will also rely on “fresh air” to circulate through classrooms through windows. In other words, teachers will be allowed and encouraged to safety open/crack windows. This is a different directive than was given at the August 17th Town Hall. As we did more research and listened to staff, we realized that opening a window would be more beneficial than harmful. According to the Department of Health, open windows (even minimally) are beneficial in creating healthier environments. Please note: fans will not be utilized as they are known to move air and potentially spread droplets.
- We must utilize social distancing procedures, which means we must have classrooms where we have significantly less student population than before or significantly more space
- We must provide you and your students with masks and proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) in order for you to do your job in a safe manner.
Students and staff should practice social distancing as much as possible. This will be more than doable in typical classrooms with 11 to 14 kids. In classrooms with more than 14 students, larger spaces that support 6’ distancing will be utilized. For example, we can fit up to 75 students and adults in the JH cafeteria and maintain social distancing. We are only allowing up to 50 people in the JH cafeteria at one time to maintain greater distance between people (especially during lunch).
In unique settings that can’t be socially distanced, we will utilize special polycarbonate dividers per New York State Education Department and Department of Health guidelines. Please note, this doesn’t mean that kids won’t be closer than 6’ at ALL times. Students may be closer, on a limited basis and for short durations of time, while wearing masks.
Staff will arrange desks in their rooms. Maintenance will support staff moving desks to appropriate distances if needed, but individuals know how they want desks arranged, whether they want a full complement of desks or whether they only want the number of desks for the hybrid number of students, etc. The maintenance department can verify appropriate distances.
Masks will be provided to both staff and students. We have an additional supply of face shields for individuals working in a setting that has greater risk (health office) as well as for people who may feel more comfortable wearing both a mask and face shield. Face shields do not take the place of masks. We have a small supply of N-95 masks. These are for high risk staff and individuals working in settings with a greater risk (health office). The District will also provide gloves and eye protection to every staff member who spot cleans their room.
Q: What are the District’s guidelines around masks?
A: Masks must be worn almost all times by students and staff. (There may be times when teachers need to remove masks for instruction purposes. In these cases, 6’ must be maintained.)
Q: What is a Mask Break?
A: A mask break incorporates three key principles:
- Distance: After you take your mask off, you must be at least 6’ apart from others
- Location: In order to remove your mask you must be sitting in one spot (not moving around)
- Time: All mask breaks will be timed in increments of 3-5 minutes, to be determined by individual teachers and/or administrators
Q: Will mask breaks look the same for everyone?
A: The fundamentals of mask breaks (distance, location, time) will be the same for everyone, however there will be more frequent mask breaks at younger grade levels. These breaks will be determined by building principals/teachers.
Q: Do ALL children have to wear masks?
A: Yes, however, we do realize there may be a small number of students with medical reasons that prohibit them from wearing a mask. In such a case, parents would need to fill out a special medical excuse form and submit that along with a doctor’s note to their child’s nurse’s office for approval.
Note: In the event a student cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, special social distancing protocols would be implemented to further protect the child, without ostracizing him/her from other students.
Q: What if a student doesn’t have a medical condition and just refuses to wear a mask?
A: Refusing to wear a mask will not be acceptable. Teachers will use these potential occurrences as “teachable moments” to educate students on the importance of wearing a mask to protect themselves and others. If a student continues to break the mask rule, parents will be contacted. If this behavior continues the child would be shifted to the 100% remote learning model. Masks must also be worn on buses or else the student cannot ride the bus.
Q: What type of mask can be worn at school?
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control cloth masks are acceptable. Gators and bandanas are not an acceptable form of masking as they do not provide the same level of protection a cloth mask provides.
Please note: VCS will provide ALL children with cloth masks if they do not have one.
Q: Are adults factored into rooms when accounting for social distancing?
A: Yes- we factored in a staff member and a staff member’s desk.
We must solidify procedures for monitoring the health of our students and staff as they enter the building and have a clear procedure for visitors. We must adhere to the principle that if we feel sick or have a temperature we must stay home, despite the conflicting feelings that all educators have to power through and do what's best for our kids. In today's world, staying home when feeling ill is what's best for all of us. We must work with parents and guardians to develop this same understanding when their kids are feeling ill.
Please review the four major focus areas that we need to adhere to at all times. The first is not to come to school when you feel ill. Therefore, if you have a temperature, feel run down, have body aches or chills, have a sore throat, or lose your sense of smell and/or taste, stay home. Our job is to find substitutes for you. If you go to school feeling ill, you risk infecting large numbers of people, which could not only impact our ability to stay open, but more importantly, impact someone’s well-being. At the Town Hall we discussed working with staff who are new and have a small number of sick days in order to use sick bank type ideas to support these staff members. We will continue to look for ways to support staff.
The VCS health and wellness strategy will begin with a daily screening process. Parents will be expected to fill out this health screening form online or via a phone app each morning before school. (Instructions to come). The daily screening will take approximately 20 seconds to complete and will ask basic health questions, such as, ‘Do you have a fever?’ ‘Have you been in contact with someone with Covid?” etc. We are depending on parents to be honest about their child’s health when answering the daily screening form. We do not want your child coming to school if they are feeling ill.
Forms will be checked by school nurses on a daily basis. Parents who do not complete the daily form will be contacted. Forms with “yes” answers will be forwarded to the nurse for immediate follow up.
We must solidify, have clear procedures, and completely support our incredible nursing staff who will be charged with seeing students and staff when they feel ill, determining who goes home and the process for dismissal of sick students and staff, determining who gets tested for COVID, and working with County Health and administration, determining when someone comes back to school and, if someone is tested positive, who gets quarantined
We have a specific process for dealing with students and staff who have symptoms of illness.
Please see the link for the Flow Chart regarding this protocol, which includes quarantine procedures. The Staff Town Hall from August 17th also has information regarding these procedures and can be seen below.
- We must work together to be ready for both virtual and in-person learning strategies with a strong emphasis on connecting with students, evaluating and supporting their social-emotional needs, and taking care of each other as we move through this uncharted territory. This includes reaching out for help when we need it, understanding that it is ok to be vulnerable because we are all feeling this way, and knowing that being transparent about our feelings is a sign of strength not weakness.
- We must work together to reframe what a school day/week looks like and the best way to utilize the small number of hours that kids are in front of us and the extended time where they must practice what we taught them and communicate with us if they are confused.
- We must work together to be ready for full on-line learning in the event we must go in this direction. We must also support all of you with a plan that is doable for students who opt out of the hybrid model and we will teach on-line.
Both leadership and teaching faculty have worked thoughtfully on the best process for teaching students in both the hybrid and the 100% online models. This is incredibly difficult for our faculty. We understand this difficulty. Your individual building principals have set up protocols and specific information regarding the structures and methods that faculty will use to teach in an engaging and deliberate way through these models.
Because of the difficulty of this process we made the decision to shift conference days to September 8th and September 9th to allow faculty to practice and implement instructional planning and the use of instructional technology, especially for the first week to two weeks of school. We will focus on continued professional development for our faculty that is relevant and impactful toward improved teaching practice.
Please refer to individual building information and guidance on these specific protocols. Information can also be found on individual building websites.
Q: Has our district's plan been approved yet?
A: We received an email on Wednesday, August 12th that the state health department has received our plan. We are not sure why they didn’t receive our plan when we had confirmation it was sent on July 31st. We have not received any other messages from the state but neither has the rest of the schools in the area.
Q: Carpet time allowed or not allowed? Should we be removing carpets and making room to separate desks?
A: You should be separating desks. We have heard nothing from the state on our end regarding carpets.
Q: Will teachers use sick days if we are getting a test and awaiting the results?
A: No. There is no use of sick days if an employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
Q: What about childcare issues with staff
A: We thank the collaborative partnership between the VTA, the District, and the Community in setting up additional childcare options for staff and community members whose students are in a hybrid model, either at Victor or, in the case of staff, in another district. We have over 100 spots available that we are focusing on for our staff as our first priority. For those stressed about childcare for kids, NYSUT provided a link to Office of Child and Family Services for assistance: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/referralagencies.asp
Q: Can he meet with smaller groups of teachers or contingencies of those who responded that they feel uncomfortable coming in?