• Health & Safety

    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 or the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator at kross@greenisland.org or 518-273-1422.

    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 Green Island Union Free School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.

    Faculty & Staff

    Health screening for faculty and staff, as well as visitors to the building, will be done via the BOCES app or using the screening document provided by the district. Both screening methods include:

    1. Does the individual have a fever of 100 degrees F or higher?
    2. Does the individual have a cough or shortness of breath, which began in the past 14 days?
    3. Within the past 14 days, has the individual received a positive result from a COVID-19 test?
    4. Within the past 14 days, has the individual been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who has either tested positive for COVID-19 or developed symptoms of COVID-19?
    5. Within the past 14 days, has the individual traveled out of state to travel restricted areas outlined in NY Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205, dated June 24, 2020?

    Data collected will not be stored but the District will maintain records that confirm individuals were screened and the results of such screening.

    If an individual has a temperature of 100°F or greater or has a positive response to a screening question, they will be isolated from others and immediately dismissed from school.

    Faculty and staff are to notify the Principal when they develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours and should notify the school via calling the school nurse.

    The secretary to the Superintendent will review the incoming reports of screening by staff and parents/guardians and attest that they are completed.

    Students

    Parents will be responsible for screening their children prior to arriving at school each day. Parents will have access to the BOCES health screening application for attestation of their child’s daily health screening.

    Parents of students are to notify the school when their child develops symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours and should notify the school via calling the school nurse.

    The school nurse should be contacted by staff or parents/students to inform if they later experience COVID-19 symptoms.

    Parents and guardians will be reminded of the health screening policy and protocols in the parent emails.

    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.

    To maintain social distancing requirements, directional arrows will be placed in hallways to control traffic flow and maximum capacity signage will be placed in every instructional space based on the 6 ft. requirement.

    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, a face shield is acceptable.

    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. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, a face shield is acceptable.

    If a teacher requests that students wear masks in their classroom due to a medical condition, students may be asked to wear a mask for the period of time they are in that classroom. Mask breaks could be provided on an as-needed basis.

    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 should 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

    The District will provide face coverings for school staff and students who forget their masks, as well as appropriate PPE for school health professionals.

    Infection Control Strategies

    Infection control strategies that will be used by the District include:

    • Staggered entry and dismissal times for students
    • Alcohol-based hand rub dispensers by entryways and in instructional spaces
    • The use of plastic separators in instructional spaces
    • Unisex, single-use bathrooms
    • Closing drinking fountains
    • Arrows directing traffic in hallways

    Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

    Water drinking fountains will not be accessible in the building. The district is exploring purchasing touch-free water bottle drinking fountains where students would be encouraged to provide their own reusable water bottles. The district will provide bottled water to students upon request.

    Bathrooms will be converted to unisex, single-use bathrooms.

    Signage will be posted in bathrooms to adhere to the proper hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

    Each bathroom will have physical barriers between fixtures and will use paper towel dispensers.

    Bathrooms will be assigned based upon the location of the classroom.

    Ventilation

    Outdoor air will be utilized as much as possible, through the use of exterior windows for classrooms, offices, and corridors. All exposed window areas will have screens to provide a safety barrier.

    In addition to outdoor air, the building's ventilation system will adhere to the highest rated filters that the system can handle.

    Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring

    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.

    The Nurse will don the appropriate PPE to assess the ill student/staff in the ‘isolation’ area, attending to appropriate hand hygiene, and donning techniques, as well as doffing PPE and hand hygiene upon exiting the isolation area. The ill student, if not already wearing a mask, may need to now don a facemask [“the use of facemasks for persons with respiratory symptoms and fever over 100.4 is recommended if available and tolerated by the person and developmentally appropriate”], per the NASN, ‘Considerations for School Nurses Regarding Care of Students and Staff that Become Ill at School or Arrive Sick’, and per CDC ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019, Using PPE, Who Needs PPE’- “patients with confirmed or possible SARS-CoV-2 infection should wear a facemask when being evaluated medically.”

    Likely, the Nurse may determine the student with symptoms of illness will need to be dismissed to home, and will contact the parent/guardian for prompt pick up of the student. Staff who are ill/symptomatic will also be encouraged to contact their Supervisor and go home.

    Students with illness awaiting pick up from school will remain in the ‘isolation area’ until parent/guardian arrival. Administration may need to assist with coordination of gathering student belongings and student exiting the building.

    Isolation area will need to have cleaning and disinfection after every encounter of students requiring assessment, and staff will need to ensure that PPE supplies and cleaning supplies are kept stocked.

    Heatly School - COVID Symptoms Isolation Area - Rm 132

    Heatly School - Treatment/Medication Area - Nurses Office

    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, the district administration will work with the following providers:

      • Albany County Department of Health
      • The Village of Green Island - Sean Ward, Executive Assistant to the Mayor
      • Capital Region BOCES - Michael Walker, Program Coordinator, Health-Safety-Risk Management

    Contact 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/when COVID-19 cases are discovered in the school, in consultation with the local health department, the district will do the following, in accordance with the schools’ Safety Plan:

    • Report a confirmed case to the local health department for guidance on the proper next steps
    • A 24-hour closure of the affected area will begin when the case is reported
      • Begin cleaning and disinfecting the building guidance with NYS DOH guidelines (after the 24 hour window)
    • An investigation of who has come into close contact with the individual is required for the local health department to determine the next steps
    • Communicate the exposure to all community members in coordination with the schools Communication Plan to ensure confidentiality
    • Use one-way communication (e.g., mass notifications, letters sent home, district website, etc.)
    • Prepare for continuity of critical support services including meals and special education services and other supports
    • Identify an area to separate sick students from others
    • Increase social distances within the school environment
      • Prohibit large gatherings when possible

    Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should 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 the 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:

    Conditions that may warrant reducing in-person education or closing the school, in consultation with state and local health departments, and plan for an orderly closure; such conditions may include:

    • 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 about 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: Albany 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%; we will consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
    • Schools will consult their medical director and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.

    If operations are decreased or ceased, the following operations will be conducted remotely:

    • Billing
    • Administration
    • Office Staff
    • Instruction
    • Determine which operations will be decreased, or ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely; include a process to conduct orderly closures which may include phasing, milestones, and involvement of key personnel.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.)
    • Cafeterias/Kitchens
    • Computer labs
    • Science labs
    • Classrooms
    • Maintenance offices and work areas
    • Libraries
    • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)

    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 handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
    • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing 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 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.

    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.

    Staff Members

    The safety of our students and staff members continues to be our top priority. We have developed a procedure for our employees who may fall into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention high risk categories or who have another reason for submitting a leave or accommodation request during this time. This procedure is below.

    1. We are recommending that any staff member who is within one of these categories or who has another reason for submitting a leave or accommodation request meet with their physician to see if they are believed to be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. As the privacy guidelines under HIPAA do not allow the district to require disclosure of personal medical information, this is a voluntary process initiated at your request.
    2. The physician should recommend in writing the basis for the leave or accommodation request that the employee needs. A determination of whether this is a temporary situation or a permanent issue should be included in the physician’s note. In order for us to be able to speak with or obtain records from the personal physician, we would need an authorization form signed by the requesting staff member.
    3. The request would be reviewed by both the physician and the Superintendent so that a reasonable leave or accommodation plan can be discussed. This review process will comply with HIPAA and all applicable privacy guidelines. Additional documentation may be requested after reviewing the employee’s initial submission.

    Should you be in one or more of the high risk categories and potentially in need of leave or an accommodation, we are asking you to reach out to the Superintendent’s office by the close of business Monday, Aug. 10, where possible.

    Students

    The following groups are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 and may need added or alternative provisions for social distancing. Students who have family members who are in high risk groups may also need to attend school remotely. We will make accommodations and be able to accommodate the needs of these students in the school community.

    Persons in these groups should consult with their healthcare provider regarding prevention:

    • Individuals age 65 or older;
    • Pregnant individuals;
    • Individuals with underlying health conditions including, but not limited to:
      • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma serious heart conditions
      • immunocompromised o severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
      • diabetes
      • chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
      • liver disease
      • sickle cell anemia
      • children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.

    Students with special needs or students who are medically fragile may not be able to maintain social distancing, hand or respiratory hygiene, or wear a face covering or mask. It is important for parents/ guardians to work with their child’s healthcare providers so that an informed decision can be made on how best to meet the child’s needs at school while protecting their health and safety. Transitioning these students back to school requires:

    Planning and coordination of:

    • school health services personnel, special education personnel, pupil personnel services and administration.
    • Being aware that such families are already under significant stress and COVID-19 has made their situations more critical.

    Alternate plans will be created in consultation with school health personnel on how to meet the needs of the child while keeping social distancing may include:

    • Additional PPE for staff caring for such students;
    • Assigning only one staff member to care for the student; and/or
    • Decreased students in a classroom, alternating schedules, and provision of related services to an individual instead of group setting.

    Finally, if the parents/guardians choose not to send their child back to school, we will provide instruction remotely.

    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.

    • Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the district’s or other applicable school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.
    • Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration should be given to how a school may modify their drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to.

    The school district modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:

    • Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
    • If schools reopen with a “hybrid” in-person model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures, and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.