Politz Day School
Plan for Re-opening
- We firmly believe that the emotional and academic needs of children are best served by having school in person. We are planning to open school 5 days per week. Our efforts have been geared at both reducing the transmission of Covid-19 at school and keeping in-school learning going as long as possible.
- Children do not attend school in a vacuum. There are many adults in school buildings every day, some of whom are older or have other risk factors for serious Covid-19 illness and keeping them safe must be one of our top priorities. Also, our students live with parents and grandparents and visit adult relatives. We need to protect them, too. We also need to protect our immunocompromised students as well as our older students, who are not spared by this virus to the same extent that younger healthy children are. In addition, there are quite a few people who are asymptomatic but actually have Covid-19. In order to protect people as much as possible, we are trying to establish guidelines that we hope will be both practical and effective. We want school to stay open safely. Therefore, it is very important that families and staff adhere to state and local government mandates regarding social distancing and in using face coverings outside as well as inside of school.
- This document is informed by the collective clinical experiences of our Health Advisory Committee and careful review of the current medical literature and the guidelines published by the CDC, NJ Department of Health, and the State of NJ. These recommendations are the best consensus we can come to at this time in order to mitigate the risk of opening schools in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
- We do NOT expect to eliminate Covid-19 transmission in school. We hope that we can REDUCE transmission to an acceptable level and keep school open safely. We are making the recommendation to open school because we feel that this can be done safely based upon the current low prevalence of Covid-19 in our community and based upon our school’s ability to implement appropriate safety protocols - and to rapidly adapt those protocols should the need arise. We will continue to constantly monitor the situation in our school and in our greater community and will adapt our recommendations and guidelines as needed.
- Every student from Preschool through Grade 8 will be able to attend class in the building every day.
- For Grades 1-8, to the extent that there are parents who choose not to send their children to school (or if children need to quarantine or are home sick), there will be an option for remote learning daily.
There needs to be an understanding among parents and staff that NO ONE comes to school sick. The act of sending your kids to school or staff coming to work at school indicates that they are healthy. We will require that parents and staff sign an affirmation before school starts and again every 6 weeks to reaffirm that if they are sending their kids to school or they are coming to school to work that they are well. The affirmation will have the following statements:
The act of sending your child to school or a staff member coming to work at school indicates that the following statements are true.
- No one living in the house has had any of the following symptoms in the past 48 hours, unless cleared by a healthcare professional:
-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
-A fever of 100°F or higher (families must check the temperature of any household member who is does not feel well)
-New loss of taste or smell
-Muscle or body aches without obvious explanation
-Severe abdominal pain without constipation
-Congestion/running nose – not related to seasonal allergies
- My child/children/ I (if staff member) has/have not been in close contact with anyone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- My child/children / I (if staff member) has/have not taken any medication to reduce a fever or any symptoms in the past 72 hours
- My child/children / I (if staff member) has/have not returned from a Covid-19 “hot spot” within the past 14 days. (If a member of our household has returned from a hot spot within the past 14 days, he/she is appropriately isolating from the rest of the family.)
- I agree that if I fail to abide by this agreement, I/my child/children may, at the school’s discretion, not be allowed to return to the school campus this year.
Social Distancing and Masking
As per NJ Guidelines, all students (K-8) must maintain social distancing unless masks or physical barriers are in place
- Our plan requires students to be in cohorts (i.e. create “pods”) as much as possible and avoid large indoor gatherings.
- Masks are required to be worn at all times for students in grades preK-8, with the following exceptions:
○ During snack and lunch, masks may come off while eating when the students are seated at their desk within the pods that are appropriately social distanced (6 ft.).
○ During recess, masks may be removed when the students are involved in a supervised outdoor activity which consistently maintains the appropriate 6 feet distance. Masks must be kept in a closed holder such as a fanny pack on the child's person when they are permitted to remove them during the game.
○ For younger preschool classes Toddler, 2 year olds), social distancing and masking should be encouraged to the extent possible. The youngest classes will not have recess or activities with th eother preschool classes.
- ALL ADULTS in the building must wear a face covering at all times (per NJ state guidelines).
- There will be no medical exemptions to masking policy for adults.
- Good hand hygiene practices will be emphasized and reviewed throughout the school year.
Protocol for Students or Staff with Symptoms
- The following symptoms require physician clearance in order to determine the timeline for return to school campus. These symptoms MUST be reported to the school, whether they occur at school or at home.
○ New cough or change in chronic cough (Children with chronic cough need documentation from their physician)
○ Persistent shortness of breath (not exercise or mask induced)
○ Diarrhea (2 or more episodes of loose stools in a 24 hour period)
○ Loss of taste or smell
○ Sore throat
○ Severe or persistent abdominal pain
○ Persistent body aches without known trauma/injury
○ Headache (Children with chronic headaches require documentation from their physician and can be allowed to stay in school if their headache is relieved with Tylenol or Motrin. Extra vigilance should be taken for a student with a first complaint of headache.)
○ Congestion/Upper Respiratory Infection (eg. runny nose, etc. Chronic rhinitis requires a physician’s note to return to school campus.)
- IF THE PREVALENCE OF COVID-19 IN THE COMMUNITY INCREASES, ALL OF THESE SYMPTOMS WILL REQUIRE COVID TESTING PRIOR TO RETURN TO SCHOOL.
- Students or staff who test positive for Covid-19 or who are highly suspicious for Covid-19 with negative or pending tests, must quarantine as per CDC and DOH guidelines.
What to do if someone develops symptoms while at school?
- Students or staff with these symptoms, with or without fever, will have to leave the school campus.
○ Close household contacts (i.e. siblings, children, or other people living in the same household) of symptomatic students/staff will need to go home as well. They may return to school as per the guidelines for household contacts below.
- Parents must have a plan to come get their children within 1 hour. As part of the new school online registration forms on ParentLocker, parents should have already indicated emergency contacts who can come within 1 hour of notice that their child is sick and are authorized to pick their child/children up from school and are medically able to have potential Covid-19 exposure. The students CANNOT be allowed back on the bus or carpool.
- A parent or designee should wait outside the building and call upon arrival. The student will be escorted out to the parent/emergency contact by a school staff member. Parents may NOT come into the building.
Protocols for Students or Staff with Covid-19 Exposure
- All determinations will be made based on CDC guidelines in conjunction with Department of Health recommendations. If a household member is sick (child, parent, sibling, childcare provider) :
- All members of the household MUST stay home pending evaluation by a healthcare professional for possible Covid-19 infection.
- If the household member is determined by a healthcare professional to be low risk for Covid-19 infection - other members may return to campus with written documentation.
- The ill household member will require physician clearance to return (as above)
- If the household member is Covid-19 positive or highly suspicious for Covid-19 with negative or pending test - ALL household members must be quarantined as per CDC and DOH guidelines.
Classmates of Covid-19 Positive Student/Staff Member
- Every potential Covid-19 exposure in school or during transport will be promptly reviewed with attention to the degree and duration of possible exposure to classmates, faculty, and staff. This includes transmission factors such as incubation period, degree and time of physical proximity, uniformity of mask/barrier usage, and other factors. With input from the Health Department and consultants, a quarantine plan specific to each exposure event will be promptly shared with parents and faculty.
- If the school is notified during the school day about the need to quarantine a cohort, the cohort will need to be picked up within 1 hour and may not ride the bus nor can they be in a carpool with students from other cohorts.
- If multiple members of a cohort have Covid-19-like symptoms, the entire cohort will be sent home to be quarantined, pending test results. (i.e. sent home even prior to test results of the symptomatic cohort members).
Mandatory Quarantine After Travel
We will adhere strictly to government guidelines; you may not send your child to the school campus until at least 14 days have passed since travel from areas on the NJ Travel Advisory List, please see website below.
We will not accept “testing out” of the 14 day quarantine after returning from areas on the NJ Travel Advisory List; as negative Covid-19 test results are not a substitute for the 14 day quarantine after returning. Additionally, quarantining while in the area on the NJ Travel Advisory List itself does not negate the requirement to quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. Furthermore, we recommend a 14 day quarantine after ANY air travel as airports are very high risk. Also, please do not host or mingle with family/friends visiting from areas on the NJ Travel Advisory List in the 14 days before school starts nor during the time school is in session.
- All students, except if medically exempt, are strongly urged to get the flu shot prior to November 1st. Preschool students 59 months and younger MUST have the flu shot prior to December 31st.
- Nebulized medications will not be administered at school. A nebulizer will be available in the building in case of emergency. If your child has asthma, please send an inhaler and spacer instead as well as medication for a nebulizer (if indicated) in case of emergency.
- All students must have up-to-date health forms, including emergency contacts and contact information for their pediatrician, on file at all times
- There will be checks for signs of illness and temperature for all staff and students at entry each day.
○ Try to limit the number of families and/or pods involved in the same carpool.
○ When carpooling, everyone in the car older than 2 years old should wear a mask for the duration of the ride.
○ Keep the car windows open and/or set the AC/heat to bring in outside air instead of recirculating the air within the car.
○ Please do not allow non-carpool members (except for siblings of students) to ride in the car with the carpool.
○ Everyone in the car (including drivers or siblings) must agree to the health screening and social distancing affirmation above.
○ In the event of a Covid-19 positive person in a carpool, the school must be notified immediately and provided with a list of everyone in the carpool.
○ Masks required on buses ALL the time.
○ No eating or drinking on buses.
○ Only one child per seat is allowed.
○ Seats will be assigned and families will be seated near each other.
○ Buses will be loaded from the back to the front.
○ It is recommended to keep bus windows open.
Reopening Advisory Committee
Ron Zanger, M.D.
Naomi Goldman, R.N., A.P.N.
Ms. Fran Twersky, Educational Specialist
In consultation with Epidemiologists from CHOP and Cooper