Health & Safety

Health checks | Social distancing, face coverings, and PPE | Infection control strategies | Management of ill persons/contact tracing | Health hygiene | Cleaning and disinfecting | Facilities

The following protocols and procedures will be in place in all-district for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator at jhunter@hfcsd.org or (518)747-2121.

For more information about how health and safety protocols and trainings will be communicated to students, families, and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Health checks

The district has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources. 

The Hudson Falls Central School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.

  1. Through the use of a digital app, all staff and students will be asked to complete the CDC questionnaire prior to coming to our campuses. 
  2. A report will be generated prior to arrival listing those staff and students who have not completed the daily temperature check and questionnaire.
  3. Those who have not completed the digital screener, and all visitors, will be screened in person upon arrival.
  4. We will only collect “cleared/not cleared” data and will maintain this data for a minimum of two weeks. 
  5. Should an adult individual have a temperature of 100°F or higher, that individual will be dismissed immediately.
  6. Should a student arrive at school with a temperature of 100°F or higher, that student will be isolated in our additional health space until a parent/guardian can pick him/her up.
  7. These arrival stations will be staffed by nurses, teachers, or other school-related personnel, depending on the quantity of traffic.
  8. Those with symptoms will be given the direct contact of the building nurse for later communication.
  9. Reminders of the temperature check and health screener will be daily.

In-School Temperature Screening Protocols

  1. As this will be done upon arrival, the staff members will vary. Teachers, TAs, aides, and monitors are available at different times for supervision of students. 
  2. Students will continue to wear masks and/or maintain six feet of social distance while waiting for a screening. Where possible, the ground will be marked indicating six foot spaces. 
  3. Any staff doing screenings will be trained by our nursing staff on proper procedures.
  4. PPE, masks, tissues, and sanitizer will all be on-hand at the screening stations.

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Social distancing, face coverings, and 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.

If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, barriers or six feet of separation will be maintained. Additionally, more PPE like shields, gowns, or gloves will be provided for those who need to work in close proximity to students who are unable to wear face coverings.

Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and outside, including on the school bus, when six-foot physical distancing is not possible. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.

Because students and staff will need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school. 

Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose. 

An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.

Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn. 

Face coverings will not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance 

The district will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:

  • The proper way to wear face coverings
  • Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
  • Proper way to discard disposable face coverings

Training methods to be used will be videos, posters, social media educational post and in person demonstration as needed.  

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Infection control strategies

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the buildings in areas of congregation, as well as additional PPE like masks, gloves, and tissues.

Polycarbonate barriers will be placed in all areas of congregations like central offices, nurses, offices, cafeterias, and kichens when social distancing cannot be maintained. All barriers will be approved by the district’s architect.
High traffic and high touch areas and fixtures will be cleaned and sanitized multiple times a day. Cleaning and sanitizing will occur at times in the day when the area is unoccupied.

Class size will be reduced with student seating maintaining the six-foot social distance. In a few instances, barriers are also present. Any time a barrier or social distance is not possible, students and staff will be required to wear a mask.

In the few instances when a barrier is present, it will meet the NYS Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code.
There are no proposed changes to our occupancy.

Facility Alterations and Acquisition

Alterations to the configuration of existing classrooms or spaces or the introduction of temporary and/or movable partitions, changes will be approved by the HFCSD architect and will be submitted to OFP, the local municipality and/or code enforcement officials for review.
Proper means of egress, fire alarms systems, ventilation and lighting require no changes.

Any floor plan of rooms being repurposed as learning spaces will have the entire room showing the furniture layout with egress aisles submitted to OFP for approval. Lighting, ventilation, means of egress, and fire alarm coverage will be indicated.

Space Expansion

Based on our current facilities, our average classrooms can seat up to 12 students while maintaining social distancing. Since our normal class section is higher than that, we may be spreading out our grades into classrooms normally used by other grades. For example, our nine Kindergarten classrooms may become 13 classrooms, and would therefore use four of our 1st grade classrooms. This is true up the grades, so that our 5th grade classrooms are in our middle school and our 8th grade will be moved to the high school. In a hybrid model, our 6th-12th grades will attend in-person on a rotating basis. None of this will require building additions, adding transportable classroom units, or tents. None of this changes our occupancy, or changes our plumbing, ventilation, or fixture needs.

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Management of ill persons/contact tracing

The district requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The district has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.

  • At the Kindergarten Center, there is an attached, unoccupied room very near the Health Office that will be utilized as the isolation area.
  • At the Primary School, there is a conference room very near the Health Office that will be repurposed as the isolation area.
  • At the Intermediate School, there is a counseling office very near the Health Office that will be repurposed as the isolation area.
  • At the Middle School, there is a conference room very near the Health Office that will be repurposed as the isolation area.
  • At the High School, there is a Security Office very near the Health Office that will be repurposed as the isolation area.

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.

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 used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).

Aerosol Generating Procedures

Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The district requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions.

Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished.

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

If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School

The district requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

Return to school after illness

The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school.

This protocol includes:

  1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
  2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
  3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

COVID-19 Testing

In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with the following providers:

Patricia Hunt, Director of Public Health

Kathy Jo McIntyre, Asst. Director of Public Health

Glen Gosnell, Director of Public Safety

Tim Hardy, Deputy Director of Public Safety

Dr. Robert Nielson, HFCSD Medical Director

Contract Tracing

The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.  

Districts may assist with contact tracing by:

  1. Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
  2. Ensuring student schedules are up to date
  3. Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
  4. Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program

If COVID-19 cases are discovered in school, the school and district will consult with the above listed entities and follow their guidance in any needed partial or full closures of our buildings and district.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff will not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

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.

School Closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in- person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

At a minimum, the plan will incorporate the following:

  • Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
  • Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the LOCAL (insert county) health department.
  • If the infection rate rises above 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
  • Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
  • School will be notified by Linda Hunt from the Washington County Department of Health on the situation.
  • School administrators will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
  • Schools may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
  • HFCSD will consult their medical director and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.
  • Should HFCSD be required to close due to a rising number of cases or rising absentee rate, all in-person activities will cease in the building or district. Should this happen, there will be a continuity of learning by switching to our Remote Learning options which vary by grade and building.

For more information about how school closure information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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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 hygiene. 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:

  1. Stay home if they feel sick.
  2. 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.
  3. Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
  4. Adhere to social distancing instructions.
  5. Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
  6. Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  7. 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.

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.

For more information about how hygiene information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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Cleaning and disinfecting

The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include

  • Bathrooms
  • Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
  • Health offices, isolation rooms
  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
  • Break rooms
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens
  • Computer labs
  • Science labs
  • Classrooms
  • Maintenance offices and work areas
  • Bus Garage
  • Buses, school vehicles
  • Libraries
  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)
  • Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)

Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.

The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:

  • For hand-washing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where hand-washing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed. 

The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.  

For more information about how cleaning and disinfection information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan. 

Vulnerable populations/accommodations

We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. At the time of this writing, HFCSD is working with our Teacher’s Association and our BOCES in developing a plan for a virtual academy allowing students who cannot return to participate fully in the educational program.

Visitors on campus

No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.

Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.

School safety drills

The district will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without, exceptions. Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.

Below, month of drill, type of drill, groups included, requirements met and COVID-related modifications:

  • January – Evacuation – Office staff before school – IFC – 6-feet distancing/masks and PPE used
  • February – Evacuation – second shift custodians immediately after lunch – IFC – 6-feet distancing/masks and PPE used
  • March – Evacuation – first shift custodians at beginning of their shift before anyone else arrives – IFC – 6-feet distancing/masks and PPE used
  • March – Lockdown – entire building – SED – classes will hold lockdown drills without congregation in “hiding” places, while instruction is given as to where the students would hide in a live lockdown scenario
  • April – Evacuation – office staff during April break – 6-feet distancing/masks and PPE used
  • May – Evacuation with blocked exit – entire building – IFC and SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-feet from other groups while masked
  • June – Evacuation with blocked exit – entire building – IFC – SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-feet from other groups while masked
  • June – Lockdown – entire building – SED – classes will hold lockdown drills without congregating in “hiding” places, while instruction is given as to where the students would hide in a live lockdown scenario
  • July – Evacuation – entire building – IFC and SED if there is summer school – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • August – Evacuation – entire building – IFC and SED if there is summer school – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • September – Evacuation – entire building – IFC and SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • September – Evacuation with blocked exit – entire building – IFC and SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • September – Evacuation – entire building – SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • September – Lockdown – entire building – SED – Classes will hold lockdown drills without congregating in “hiding” places, while instruction is given as to where the students would hide in a live lockdown scenario 
  • October – Evacuation with blocked exit – entire building – IFC and SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • October – Evacuation – entire building – SED – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • November – Evacuation – entire building – IFC and SED  – staggered evacuations of classrooms per egress location, classes will congregate in locations assigned in order to remain 6-ft from other groups while masked
  • December – Evacuation – office staff during Christmas break – IFC – 6-ft distancing/masks and PPE used
  • December – Lockdown – entire building – SED – Classes will hold lockdown drills without congregating in “hiding” places, while instruction is given as to where the students would hide in a live lockdown scenario

Facilities 

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the district, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities that require review by the Office of Facilities Planning (OFP), will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code.

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

The district plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, lead in water sampling will be carried out upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”

Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible.   Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

Building reopening plan

  • HFCSD has worked with the architect to review current HVAC filtration system to ensure maximum air exchange throughout the buildings.
  • HFCSD meets the minimum number of toilet fixtures and bathroom requirements and all district bathrooms will be opened.
  • HFCSD will meet the minimum requirements of (at least) one drinking fountain for each 100 occupants.
  • All code required ventilation will be adequate and maintained.

 

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