Queen of Apostles Catholic School
Reopening/Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
UPDATED: November 20, 2020
Queen of Apostles Catholic School is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff and to providing an excellent formation in our Catholic faith and in all academic subjects.
After much consideration and feedback from our school community, and guidance from the Office of Catholic Schools, following CDC, state and local health guidelines, Queen of Apostles Catholic School opened our physical building to all students who were willing and able, Monday through Friday, starting on August 26, 2020. We believe our small school is in a good position to implement the guidance of local, state, and national health agencies. Be assured that our faculty and staff are continually reflecting on policies and practices developed and are well prepared to adapt and improve our approach as circumstances change.
Queen of Apostles live-streams instruction to students who did not return to the school building due to COVID-19 concerns. Students wear their uniforms at home and at school while the school day is in progress.
COVID-19 SYMPTOM SCREENING, HYGIENE, FACE COVERINGS, AND CLEANING PROTOCOLS
- All employees perform and electronically submit a COVID-19 Symptom Screening before reporting to work each shift. Those who answer YES to any of the questions are prohibited from reporting to in-person work. Temperature checks are taken with a non-contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer when employees arrive at school. Employees who exhibit temperatures of 100 degrees or above go directly home. Face coverings (disposable masks) and face shields are available to all employees. Additional PPE such as gloves and clinic gowns are available.
- Temperature screenings and health checks are done on all students and visitors prior to entering the building. Students have their temperatures taken with non-contact Infrared Forehead Thermometers as they exit their cars, one at a time.
- Students go directly home if found to have fevers of 100 degrees or more or if, before exiting their car, the parent/guardian answers YES to any of the questions asked by the faculty member (morning carline duty) about their student(s) from our COVID-19 Symptom Screening questionnaire. Parents must not give their children fever-reducing medications in the morning, before sending students to school.
- Students report directly to class. Our one long hallway is marked with tape, providing direction for the flow of traffic as well as for the physical distancing that is needed.
- Every student, teacher, and staff member is required to wear a clean, cloth mask or new disposable face mask when they arrive at school. Students and their drivers must have their masks on in the car-line during screening and school admittance. Staff positioned at the car-line or greeting any visitors outside wear face masks and face shields.
- Students must come to school wearing masks (cloth or disposable) to be admitted into the building. All students must keep their masks on when they are in the school building, except when they are eating snacks/lunch and drinking, seated six feet apart.
- Students are responsible for bringing their own masks to school. Masks must be cleaned nightly if reusable. Students are given breaks outside of the building as much as possible.
- All faculty and staff promote good hygiene, hand washing, use of face coverings and physical distancing.
- Hand-sanitizing stations were installed/placed at every entrance, office, and in hallways. Hand-sanitizer is used when hand washing is not easily achieved.
- Drinking fountains will remain closed to prevent cross-contamination. Students need to bring individual water bottles filled at home each day. All reusable water bottles need to be cleaned daily at home in the dishwasher or with warm soapy water.
- The number of students permitted simultaneously in the bathroom is limited. Students use designated bathrooms. Every other sink in each bathroom is blocked off to ensure physical distancing is followed. Staff clean the bathrooms at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Face coverings should align with Queen of Apostles uniform policy (no offensive or inappropriate language or images).
- Cloth face coverings should be cleaned, or new disposable face coverings should be used each day.
- Recess is held outside, weather permitting. Students are directed and monitored to engage in non-contact play maintaining physical distancing. Staggered recess and outdoor times are scheduled to the greatest extent possible.
- Visitors to the school are limited. Anyone who enters the building must wear a face covering while inside (and complete the health screening and temperature check).
- Throughout the day staff clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, etc.
- In addition to performing routine cleaning services of our school, deeper cleaning takes place after school when student desks and chairs, and other surfaces are cleaned.
HOW ILLNESS WILL BE HANDLED
During the school day, we face the normal scrapes (e.g., during recess) and minor illnesses of childhood. As usual, our Health Clinic is ready to assist any student who is injured or ill during the day. We are on the lookout for any student experiencing fear and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 situation. The COVID-19 situation will require heightened watchfulness, and the health of our whole community depends on our strong partnership with parents. Families who are concerned about their students’ susceptibility to severe illness related to COVID-19, or who are concerned about vulnerable family members at home should contact the school administration.
The current approach to illness is outlined as follows:
- Parents must keep sick children home, and teachers and staff must stay home when ill. This is the first and most important line of defense against a contagious disease.
- If a student becomes ill while at school, parents are expected to pick up their student within 60 minutes of being notified by the school. An earlier pickup time will be greatly appreciated in order to maintain school operations.
- As mentioned above, no one registering a temperature of 100 or above is admitted to the building.
- For ordinary illnesses (colds, stomach bugs, ear infections, etc.) without additional COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis, students, staff, and teachers must remain home for the duration of their illness and be fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. No diarrhea or vomiting for 24 hours.
- SCREENING QUESTIONS:
- A fever of 100.0°F. (38°C.) or higher or a sense of having a fever during the past 24 hours
- New or unexpected cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition
- New shortness of breath or difficulty breathing that cannot be attributed to another health condition
- New chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition
- A new sore throat that cannot be attributed to another health condition
- New muscle aches that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise)
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Currently living with a person who has exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 or is currently
under quarantine due to close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
“YES or NO, in the past 14 days, the student (and his/her immediate family), staff, or teacher has done any of the following:”
- Cared for or had other close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
- Travelled internationally
On any day when any student, teacher, or staff answers YES to any of the required health screening questions above, he/she is not permitted to participate in in-person School activities.
The student would shift to eLearning, health permitting.
- Parents must inform the school administration (Principal and Physician Assistant) immediately, but no later than 1 business day, after learning of their child’s suspected or confirmed positive case of COVID-19 and/or the need to quarantine due to close contact with a person suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19.
- All employees (contract employees included) are required to inform the school immediately if they suspect or have confirmed that they are positive for COVID-19. The Fairfax County Health Department and the CDA Office of Catholic Schools will be contacted.
Currently, the CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) do not recommend requiring a negative COVID-19 test in order for students or staff to return to school, unless it is recommended by a healthcare provider and local public health authorities. Therefore, students, teachers, and staff displaying unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 (or testing positive) are required to self-isolate at home in accordance with CDC guidelines. Current CDC guidelines allow discontinuing home self-isolation if after at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first symptoms, and the person has been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours and has experienced improvement in symptoms associated with COVID-19. However, Queen of Apostles School’s Reopening and Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan, in keeping with the directives outlined and set forth in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington COVID-19 Handbook, goes further. It states, individuals who are suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19, including those who are asymptomatic, are prohibited from returning to the worksite until:
Option 1: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined a student or employee will not have a test to determine if he/she is still contagious, the student or employee can leave home and return to school after these three conditions are met:
- They have been fever-free for at least 3 days without fever-reducing medications
- They have improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough and shortness of breath
- At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first symptoms
Option 2: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined the student/employee will be tested to determine if the student/employee is still contagious, the student/employee can leave home after these three conditions have been met:
- They have been fever-free for at least 3 days without the use of fever-reducing medications
- They have improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough and shortness of breath)
- They have received at least 2 consecutive negative results more than 24 hours apart.
- Following CDC guidelines, anyone in the school community who has had close contact with someone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (or who has tested positive) will be required to self-quarantine at home in accordance with CDC recommendations (currently 14 days) after his/her last exposure to that person. This would include an individual’s siblings and anyone with whom he/she had direct contact including his/her classmates.
- If someone in our community is diagnosed with COVID-19, the local Fairfax County Health Department is contacted to help with contact tracing and determine if someone, a class, or the whole school needs to close. Any closures and subsequent reopenings will be determined after seeking advice from the Fairfax County Health Department and the Office of Catholic Schools.
- Notification: In accordance with HIPPA laws, we keep the name of any individual infected by the COVID-19 and ALL medical information related to our students and employees confidential. If a case or cases of COVID-19 occur in our school a written notification is sent to all populations requiring notification. Please ensure you updated your contact information at the start of each new school year and anytime there is a change in your contact information (cell phone number, address, emergency contacts) during the school year.
- All teachers, staff, or students returning to school following a COVID-19 related absence are required to meet the guidelines outlined in Queen of Apostles School’s Reopening/Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan. (See #7: How Illnesses Will Be Handled)
- In the case of multiple possible cases of COVID-19, if advised by the Fairfax County Health Department, the CDA Office of Catholic Schools, or at the discretion of the principal or pastor, the school may close temporarily to permit an enhanced cleaning/disinfection protocol.
FURTHER HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES
- Temperature screenings take place before recess for all students. Students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or a fever will be sent home, and parents are required to pick up their child(ren) within an hour. Accurate and updated emergency contact information is vital. Identified ill students, faculty, or staff members will be sent to the designated isolation room to be assessed by the school nurse or trained staff. If there is a possibility of COVID-19 and /or an infectious disease, the student is supervised by the school nurse or trained staff in the isolation room wearing a mask until he/she is picked up. A parent/guardian is required to arrive within one hour of being contacted. During that time the student is excluded from school in accordance with Virginia Department of Health regulations. After an individual has utilized the isolation room, the room is sanitized to ensure the safety of future students. All CDC Interim Guidance for Schools guidelines are followed for the sanitation of the isolation room.
- If an employee is not severely ill, but medical care seems necessary, the employee’s emergency contact will be notified so that arrangements can be made for care and transportation to a healthcare facility OTHER THAN a hospital emergency room. The healthcare facility will be contacted in advance of arrival and informed that the employee might have COVID-19. If immediate medical care does not appear necessary, the ill employee will be sent home to self-isolate and directed to contact his/her medical provider for guidance. If necessary, transportation home will be arranged with the employee’s emergency contact. If other transportation is required, the transporter will be advised in advance of arrival that the person may have COVID-19.
- There is a six-feet distance between students in the classroom. Desks face the same direction.
- Larger spaces such as All Saints Hall is used as classrooms for larger classes. Furniture and decorations were removed from classrooms to offer as much space as possible. Educational posters and signs reminding students, teachers, and staff to wash their hands, keep a distance, etc. are posted throughout the school (classrooms, bathrooms, and hallways).
- Class sizes (depending on the size of each classroom) are capped for in-person instruction to allow for the proper physical distancing required at this time.
- Teachers and staff wear cloth or disposable masks. Teachers may remove their masks when they are providing instruction (in order to be heard clearly), but they must wear face shields and remain at least six-feet apart. Where contact is predictably less than 6 feet or difficult to maintain, the teacher is required to wear the additional personal protective equipment of a face shield (in addition to a cloth or disposable mask).
- Students use their own supplies located at or near their desks instead of sharing supplies and resources. When this is not possible, materials are disinfected after each use.
- Recess is held outside, weather permitting. Staggered recess periods are scheduled for students in grades K-5th grade.
- Lunch: Lunch is eaten in the classroom or outside (students sitting six feet apart) and students are asked to bring lunch from home. Proper handwashing takes place before lunch. Face masks are permitted to be removed while eating. Meals cannot include peanut or tree nut products.
- Students remain in their homeroom classrooms and middle school teachers rotate to classrooms for instruction, except for advanced math/science classes. Students are given breaks to stretch at their desks or outside as much as possible.
- The ventilation system is regularly maintained and is on a service contract. During school operations, the HVAC system remains in fan mode to ensure a sufficient exchange of air in each classroom with the system configured to allow for the greatest amount of intake of outdoor air possible. Filtration was increased to MERV-13 in early August 2020 after consultation with the HVAC contractor regarding equipment specifications.
- Specials Teachers (eg., art, music, library, computer) rotate to classrooms for instruction (K-8) rather than having students rotate through classrooms. Physical education classes are conducted outside (weather permitting), and students practice physical distancing.
- Computer: Chromebooks are used for classes. Each Chromebook is cleaned with a disinfectant wipe before it is assigned to a student.
- Although our school library is closed to students, we hope to make school library books available later in the school year. Based on student interests and requests, books are brought into the classrooms on a cart. After books are returned, they are quarantined before they are placed back into circulation.
- Students do not take part in school wide-assemblies or gatherings, at least our current first trimester. We will follow CDC and local health guidelines.
- During the first trimester, students will not attend Mass at the parish on Fridays. We will re-evaluate after Christmas break and inform parents in advance if changes are possible.
- Students are dismissed to carline from their homeroom classes one family/student at a time to ensure proper physical distancing is followed. Teachers/staff call the names of students via walkie talkie as parents remain in their cars in a single row carline.
- The school Physician Assistant/nurse, Mrs. Maureen Earner, and office staff monitor the rate of student illness and absenteeism as well as any related health information on a daily basis.
- Parents are required to notify the school immediately if their child or family member exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- If a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified within the school community, the school will notify the Fairfax County Health Department and the Office of Catholic Schools immediately to determine a course of action. We will keep all families informed while maintaining the confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by law. Following CDC guidelines and the policies set forth in our Reopening and Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan we will seek guidance from local health officials to determine when students and staff should return to school and what additional steps are needed to put in place for the safety and protection of the school community.
- Due to the lack of interest in Extended Day Care by our school families, Extended Day (before and after school) is not available at this time.
(See #’s 6-11: How Illness Will Be Handled)
- Teachers utilize Google Classroom or online resources to assign homework as much as possible (in order to limit transfer of physical materials back and forth as much as possible).
- All enrolled students must have current paperwork and updated immunizations per Virginia state requirements whether learning from home or in the school building. (This from VDH and VDOE – no waivers allowed).
- Dining table chairs have been removed from the Teachers’ Lounge. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies are readily available and must be used to sanitize appliances such as the microwave before each use. Staff clean and disinfect the lounge and bathrooms at least three times a day.
- Teacher desks have been moved out of the classrooms (unless proper physical distancing is possible inside the classrooms) and placed in different areas around the school. Teacher desks are spaced at least six feet apart.
- Teachers disinfect the immediate area in which they are located before using the same space.
- Water System: In the event of a prolonged shutdown, all water features will be sanitized and water lines will be periodically flushed to ensure safety. Students are encouraged to bring water bottles to class since water fountains remain closed to prevent cross-contamination.
- Education/Training Plan: During the in-service week in August, all faculty and staff were properly trained on the effects of COVID-19, effective preventive measures, and ways to mitigate risk of spread in the school. Training included:
- What is a novel coronavirus?
- What is the source of the virus?
- How is the virus transmitted and what are the symptoms?
- How do we prevent the spread of the virus?
Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
Use of cloth face coverings
Staying home when sick
Encouraging physical distancing
- What do you do if you become ill?
- What does it mean to self-isolate and to quarantine?
- When is it safe to return to work after having Covid-19?
- In the first three days of school, training will be provided for students explaining the effects of COVID-19, effective preventive measures, and ways to mitigate risk of spread in the school. Information promoting behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 will be shared with families as well.
LEARNING FROM HOME WHEN THE SCHOOL BUILDING IS OPEN
- Queen of Apostles live-streams instruction to students who do not come in the school building due to COVID-19 concerns.
- Lessons will are live-streamed via Zoom for synchronous instruction.
- Students have their cameras on to allow teachers to monitor their progress and participation. Students participate and engage in the classroom lesson in real time. Teachers provide time for students at home to “interact” with students in the classroom by involving them in discussions, games, and other activities to the greatest extent possible.
- Teachers are available during a scheduled time period to answer questions for students who are learning from home.
- School uniforms are worn by all students, at home and at school.
- Materials for students learning from home (textbooks, workbooks, manipulatives, etc.) were provided to families via car-line at the beginning of the school year and as needed.
Reduction in in-person classes: When a confirmed case has occurred in the school, or if local health officials report that there are multiple cases in the community, Queen of Apostles Catholic School may need to implement additional strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. These additional strategies will be determined through consultation with the Fairfax County Health Department and the Office of Catholic Schools. Health officials will help the school determine which set of strategies will be most appropriate for the specific situation, including the option of discontinuing in-person instruction for some or all students with an increased implementation of eLearning.
Complete School Closure: Additional strategies will be considered when there is substantial transmission in the local community in addition to those implemented when there is no, minimal, or moderate transmission. In the event that local health officials have determined there is substantial transmission of COVID-19 within the community, they will provide guidance to the school administration regarding the best course of action for Queen of Apostles Catholic School. In consultation with the Fairfax County Health Department and the Office of Catholic Schools, the school administration may implement an extended school closure and event/activity cancellations (e.g., suspension/cancellations for longer than two weeks). This longer-term and likely broader-reaching strategy is intended to slow transmission rates of COVID-19 in the community.
eLEARNING FOR ALL STUDENTS
If our school building is required to close at any point in the school year, or if a class is required to quarantine, we will be ready to shift fully to eLearning.
- Our small class sizes will allow our teachers to focus on each and every one of our students, knowing their strengths, talents, challenges, and weaknesses. Transitioning to eLearning will have its challenges, but our teachers will be equally committed to helping students learn and grow.
- Google Classroom will continue to be the platform used by our teachers
- Zoom (online video conferencing platform) will be used for live group meetings, hosted by teachers, following all safety procedures. Cameras must be turned on during instructional periods to allow teachers to monitor their progress and students are expected to show respect and attentiveness.
- IXL: Teachers will provide student account information and assign work to students
- If your family does not have access to a laptop, computer, or tablet, please notify the school and a Chromebook may be loaned to you. A Chromebook Loan Agreement must be signed and the device must be returned in similar condition. Please note that we have a limited number of devices, especially when in-person instruction is offered, as devices will be used by students for classes. Please only borrow a device if it is necessary. If you do not have wireless internet access, the following resource may be helpful https://www.internetessentials.com/. In an emergency, you may use a hotspot and data from your phone https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-turn-your-phone-into-a-wi-fi-hotspot.
- Students will need to check in (via Zoom) no later than 8:00 am each morning for morning prayers, announcements, and attendance, dressed in school uniform.
- Unlike the third trimester of last school year, students will be expected to complete all work and assessments.
- Specials Classes will be taught following the regular schedule and grades will be given.
○ Kindergarten-2nd Grade (in the event the school building must close to all students or to an entire class):
- Teachers will provide synchronous (live) lessons, but make recordings of direct instruction available to families facing unique challenges
- Teachers will check student work during synchronous/live lessons and provide immediate feedback and guidance to students as much as possible (this should place less responsibility on parents to support their students)
- Example description of a math class:
- 8:15 am: Teacher provides a math lesson followed by examples and offers time for questions
- Teacher asks students to complete one or two practice problems and show their the work by placing the paper in front of the camera
- Teacher checks their work and determines which students are ready to complete further practice problems independently and which students need additional support
- Teacher will remain on camera to help students who need additional support while other students work independently with their cameras off. At a given time, teacher and students meet back in Zoom to review and check their work
- A review game is played together and a quick assessment is given
- Students and teacher take a break for a few minutes to stretch and prepare for the next lesson
○ 3-8th Grade students (in the event the school building must close to all students or to an entire class):
- Classes will be taught live following class schedules, 40 minutes per scheduled class time (providing students with a five minute break to join the next class).
- Each teacher will post a Zoom link in Google Classroom along with assignments, announcements, and reminders.
- Students will be expected to turn in assigned work, attend class/Zoom meetings, and participate. Teachers will be understanding of extraordinary circumstances.
- Students will be provided with immediate feedback and guidance.
- Students cannot ask parents or other adults to complete the work for them. They must be mindful of academic integrity when it comes to sharing ideas and working with others.
- Students will be expected to turn in assigned work, attend class/Zoom meetings, and participate.
- We recognize the importance of helping our students foster friendships and grow in virtue. Each class will be given the opportunity to socialize with classmates online on a weekly scheduled basis, under the supervision of a teacher or staff member.
■ Example description of a math class:
- Students log onto Zoom at a set time for instruction on strategies and steps
- Teacher models the strategy on white board and checks for understanding and addresses questions in a dynamic manner
- Students complete a practice problem. When completed, they place their written work in front of their cameras for the teacher to view and provide feedback. Students work on practice problems and the teacher remains on camera for the entire 40-minute class period to answer questions and provide additional guidance. Students write out their problems on paper, but type their answers in a Google Document and submit it to the teacher via Google Classroom to be graded. All students return to the classroom to review their work and clarify any confusion. Teacher asks students an essential question of the day.
■ Example description of a reading class:
- Students log onto Zoom at a set time for instruction on strategies for making inferences
- Teacher models the strategy on white board with a graphic organizer and checks for understanding and addresses questions
- Students finish reading the rest of the passage in their book/textbook and complete the graphic organizer, uploaded into Google Classroom. The teacher checks their progress as students work and provides feedback and further guidance (using the comment section).
Due to the nature of the situation, our guidelines and plans may change during the year.
Persons Responsible for this plan: Anne Arias and Maureen Earner, PA
The plan conforms to the guidance from the Diocese of Arlington, CDC, and the local health department. Consultation has occurred with Fairfax County Health Department. Mrs. Maureen Earner, physician assistant/nurse and staff/teachers contributed to developing and implementing this plan.
ADDENDUM (October 14, 2020):
This week, the Office of Catholic Schools for the Diocese has provided further guidance in addition to recommending the use of a COVID-19 Checklist Form (found on our website under “Forms and Documents”) that they have developed to be completed by your child’s Health Care Provider (HCP) when your child is seen for COVID -19 or any illness during the pandemic.
Guidance for use of the checklist form and how illness during the pandemic (COVID-19 or other otherwise) should be communicated to school from your child’s HCP is delineated below:
- Using the COVID-19 Checklist screen will help improve communication between our school and your child’s HCP get students back to school with greater ease and consistency.
- The checklist also will help establish the boundary that a “drive-thru swab” is not acceptable because those freestanding testing centers will not sign the form.
- If a student has a virtual visit with their pediatrician and no testing is ordered, then the student can return to school with just a parent note.
- The checklist form from the Diocese is to be used for those students who are seen by their HCP in person for COVID-19 screening and for other diagnosis such as allergies, migraines, strep, etc.
- “e-notes”will be accepted from the HCP if a student has a virtual health care visit then goes for COVID-19 testing.
- Providers may use a form that they created themselves and these will be accepted in place of the Diocesan generated form.
- Excluding known diagnosis – students will be sent home with a sore throat that is red, hard to swallow, a new onset headache with no headache history. If, however, the child is better (it becomes evident the symptoms were present due to allergies, etc.) then the student may return to school without a note. If a student is out 5 or more consecutive days than a medical note is needed before a student can return to school.
- If a student goes home with a fever, the student must be fever free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours before returning to school. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact a health care provider before having the student return to school to determine the cause of fever. The checklist form should be taken to all Health Care Provider visits.
Please contact Mrs. Earner, our Physician Assistant, and Mrs. Arias with any questions, health updates, or international travel plans.