Health and Safety Plan
We C.A.R.E. About Our School Community
To prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, on July 12, 2021 PHCSE’s Board of Trustees approved the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER Health & Safety Plan). Within this plan, our goal is to safely educate 100% of students in-person by practicing proven COVID-19 mitigation strategies and following CDC and local/state health department guidelines.
PHCSE is mindful that there are no strategies that can completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission within a school population. However, our goal is to employ as many measures as possible to minimize the risk while continuing school academics and activities. PHCSE will continue to monitor the Health and Safety Plan throughout the year and update the plan as needed. All revisions will be reviewed and approved by the PHCSE Board of Trustees.
All school activities are guided by Governor Tom Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Education recommendations for PK-12 schools.
- COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance Flowchart
- Symptoms of COVID-19 (CDC)
- What to Do If You Are Sick (CDC)
- Your Guide to Masks (CDC)
- International Travel During COVID-19 (CDC)
- Order of the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Directing Face Coverings in School Entities (Pennsylvania Department of Education)
- Frequently Asked Questions about Pennsylvania Masking Order for Schools (Pennsylvania Department of Education)
- Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette (CDC)
- Practicing Respiratory Etiquette in Our Schools
- COVID-19 Resources (Allegheny County Health Department)
Learning Model Options
Full In-person Model: School is open each day with in-person instruction for all students (with some students/staff in a remote setting as health and safety concerns require).
Blended (Hybrid) Model: Any model in which the number of students in a school building is reduced to allow for social distancing of 6 feet. This may be accomplished in many ways, including split schedules, schedules that rotate by day or week, or similar approaches. For these recommendations, blended learning also includes scaffolded approaches that treat grade levels in a differentiated manner.
Virtual Model: Any model in which all students engage in all learning virtually.
*PHCSE maintains the authority to modify or discontinue in-person instruction should the availability of resources decline due to COVID-19, and limit the school’s capacity to meet the needs of students and staff within the brick and mortar setting.
It’s important to note that there is no scientific evidence that food handling or consumption is associated with COVID-19. There is no evidence supporting the transmission of COVID-19 through food. The CDC states that the virus that causes COVID-19 cannot grow on food as it requires a living host. PHCSE Food Services has been diligently planning to open our cafeteria safely. Therefore, we will take the following actions:
Full In-person and Blended Learning Models
- The cafeteria will be used to the least amount of possible for breakfast and lunch.
- Plexiglass will be installed to all service counters where an attendant is present. Food service employees will also wear a face shield and/or a mask.
- Disposable food service items will be used when feasible and to the extent possible.
- All students will receive breakfast and lunch in their classrooms.
- Students may remove their face coverings when students are eating or drinking when spaced at least six feet apart, seated at desks or assigned workspaces at least six feet apart, and when engaged in any activity at least six feet apart.
- The number of food choices will be limited as needed.
- We will continue to maintain federal and state nutritional guidelines.
If PHCSE goes full-time virtual, we will move as quickly as possible to once again provide “Grab and Go” Meals for all families during scheduled pick-up times at the schools.
In addition to facilities preparation, cleaning and mitigation, PHCSE will be utilizing a variety of strategies to protect students and staff, including face coverings (as per the Order of the Secretary of the PA Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings). We will also take the following actions:
Full In-person and Blended (Hybrid) Learning Models
- As per the Department of Health executive order requiring universal face coverings and the corresponding documentation outlining application for schools, children and adults will be required to wear face coverings while in school and congregating indoors. This order remains in effect until further notice.
- Individuals must wear a face covering (mask or shield) unless they have a medical or mental condition or disability, documented in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, that precludes the wearing of a face covering in school.
- Students may remove their face coverings when students are eating or drinking
- Individuals seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or who has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication, are not required to wear a mask; however, individuals should consider using another type of face covering such as a plastic face shield.
- School bus drivers will wear face coverings.
PHCSE will be utilizing disinfecting chemicals as approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and following the chemical manufacturers written specifications for proper use. We are currently working directly with our suppliers to assure that products used in our buildings meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and CDC requirements. We will also take the following actions:
The building will be cleaned and ready to welcome staff and students daily. The following procedures will be followed:
- Each room will be supplied with a disinfectant spray bottle to be used on all “high touch” areas, desks, & flat surfaces.
- Daily disinfecting will occur in all classrooms, group instruction rooms, bathrooms, cafeterias, offices, and common spaces.
- Daily disinfecting will also occur for all “high-touch” areas and flat surfaces such as desks, counters, etc.
- Provide cups or alternative procedures to minimize use of water fountains.
- Hand sanitizing dispensers will be installed in all classrooms, office areas, and common spaces.
- Floors will be cleaned every day.
HVAC filters will be replaced more frequently to increase the amount of airflow through HVAC systems in each building. PHCSE is also in consultation with HVAC engineers to explore additional ways to mitigate the risk of transmission through HVAC systems.
Full In-person and Blended (Hybrid) Learning Models
- Prior to arrival to school, students and staff must complete an electronic health screening questionnaire including temperature check to assess for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to COVID-19. It is recommended that staff as well as parents of students complete the assessment prior to the leaving the home.
- Staying home when sick is the most effective way to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Parents should keep children at home if they are ill.
- Staff/student with fevers or symptom associated with COVID-19 should seek medical attention for further evaluation and instructions before returning to school.
- notify be screened by the school nurse.
- be placed in a designated isolation room.
Disposition of students, staff or visitor will be made with written instructions regarding the COVID-19 illness, testing and return guidelines.
Student specific procedures:
- Parent/guardian will be contacted.
- Student will be escorted to the car when parent/guardian arrives.
- Siblings will be dismissed from district schools as well.
District will coordinate with state and local health department to define appropriate procedures and timelines for re-admittance to school following isolation due to COVID-19 illness:
- Staff/student may return to school with a document from PCP or medical provider giving clearance.
- Using CDC guidelines, the student/staff may return if symptoms have improved and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms appeared. The student/staff member must also be fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication prior to returning.
- Student/staff with symptoms who have had direct exposure to a person with COVID-19 will be considered probable cases and should remain excluded from school/work until release from isolation criteria has been met.
- District will coordinate with state and local health department to define appropriate procedures and timelines for re-admittance to school following quarantine due to exposure to a potential or positive case of COVID-19.
- Student/staff may return to school with a note from PCP or medical provider giving clearance.
- Using CDC guidelines, the student/staff may return after a quarantine period of 14 days after exposure to a symptomatic case of COVID-19, or 10 days after the positive test of a close asymptomatic contact.
- Student/staff member with who is quarantined following close contact with a case may not return to school until cleared to do so by DOH or other health care provider. A negative test obtained prior to the end of quarantine does not clear an individual for return. The entire quarantine period must be completed.
- Student/staff with fever symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19 and no direct exposure to a person with COVID-19 may return to school when they are asymptomatic and have been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine or have confirmation of an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider that explains the COVID-19-like symptom(s).
- Students who are unable to return for an extended period will work with their school counselor and curriculum director to determine the most effective way for the school to deliver instruction and meet the needs of the student.
- PHCSE will follow DOH instruction to determine if a school closure is necessary or if other changes to the current conditions of the school environment are recommended.
- PHCSE will disseminate information regarding those decisions via school messenger and the district website to notify stakeholder groups when advised to do so.
In addition to facilities preparation, cleaning and mitigation, PHCSE will be utilizing a variety of strategies to protect students and staff, including hand hygiene. We will also take the following actions:
Full In-person and Blended (Hybrid) Learning Models
- Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms and common areas.
- Signage will be posted throughout classrooms, bathrooms, and common areas to ensure that staff and students can follow the recommended hygiene guidelines for hand washing/sanitizing.
- Hand washing procedures will be reviewed and practiced as needed.
- Hand washing/sanitizing will be encouraged as students enter and exit different spaces.
- There will be no sharing of equipment during class and equipment will be cleaned and disinfected between use by different people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
- Staff will teach and reinforce hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds following physical education class and/or recess.
- Staff will discourage the sharing of items that are difficult to clean or disinfect.
- Students’ belongings will be separated from others when feasible and to the extent possible.
- Staff will limit the use of supplies and equipment by one group at a time and will clean and disinfect items between use.
- The sharing of electronic devices, toys, books, games and other learning aids will be discouraged.
- Electronic devices should be limited to personal use and stored in a backpack.
- Students are encouraged to read e-books that are available through the library subscriptions on their school provided laptops.
- Physical library materials may be checked-out to students. When a student returns a library book to the school, the book will be quarantined for a minimum of three days. The book can then be re-shelved for circulation to other students.
- District buildings will post signs for hand washing, social distancing, and masks in highly visible locations.
PHCSE will take the following actions to ensure students remain healthy and safe when transported:
- As per the Order of the Secretary of the PA Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings, face coverings will be required when utilizing school transportation.
- All students are encouraged to sanitize when getting on the bus and when leaving the bus.
- Social distancing at bus stops is encouraged.
- Alternative modes of transportation are encouraged for students who have other options to minimize the number of students on the bus.
- Parent survey indicates fewer students will be utilizing school transportation which will allow for more opportunities to practice social distancing to the extent possible.
- Students will be assigned seats based on both the location of the bus stop and other household members also utilizing school transportation. Students in higher grades will be assigned to seats toward the rear of the bus and whenever possible will be seated with members of the same household.
- The transportation department will work closely with local childcare providers where district students are enrolled to ensure details about district transportation are readily available