Health & Safety

Health & Safety Overview

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE DAILY SYMPTOMS CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS/GUARDIANS


On August 26, the Superintendent held a Zoom meeting for families to answer questions about health and safety related to the reopening of our schools. The presentation and the recording of this meeting are available for your reference.
 
We recognize that there is some level of risk involved in returning to school at this time and we understand that families and staff are justifiably concerned about their health and wellness. There are some staff and students we will need to support outside of the schoolhouse and in a remote environment to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, and we will do that. However, we believe there is an even greater risk to our students if we keep schools closed for an undetermined period of time when it is possible, with the appropriate levels of health and safety measures in place and guided by trusted and local public health professionals, to reopen schools in a hybrid model. 

In every school building, mask wearing will be required for all staff and for students in grades Pre-K to 12. Students will provide their own masks, although each school will have an extra supply of masks available. Our school nurses prepared a video to explain and demonstrate the proper use of masks in order to ensure everyone's safety.

Throughout the day, we will encourage students and staff to practice good hygiene to reduce any possible transmission of COVID-19. Students will have assigned seats in all classes. We will provide students with breaks to wash their hands before and after eating meals. We will also provide hand sanitizer in each classroom and office, as well as in strategic locations around each building. In addition, we will add plexiglass in highly trafficked areas (such as offices or lunch lines) and will install signage to require individuals to travel in one direction.

 

With almost half of the student body attending school remotely, we are able to provide students with the space for up to six feet of social distance under most circumstances in each of our buildings. This distance aligns with CDC guidelines and exceeds the minimum required three feet by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In the event that we learn that a student may have been exposed to COVID-19, we will follow the guidelines issued by the state on July 17. These guidelines detail procedures for quarantine, testing, contact tracing, and whether school needs to close. We will also rely on our Health and Safety Joint Committee comprised of Public Health staff, school administrators, and school staff representatives who will monitor health metrics to advise the superintendent on school buildings' opening or closing. The Committee proposed that three measures be adopted:

1. State Department of Public Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Health Metrics (DPH and DESE Health Metrics);
2. Positivity Rates (14-day average) below 5 percent using state, county, and relative rate of change in average;
3. Adherence to NPS expectations for health and safety measures, including prevalence of student mask wearing, social distancing, hygiene/hand washing, and meeting standards for proper ventilation of school and classrooms.

The Joint Committee will consider all three measures holistically when making a recommendation to the superintendent about opening/closing.

To proactively clean and disinfect buildings, we will increase our cleaning and disinfection each evening, on Wednesdays, and weekends. Since we have a limited number of custodians across Needham, we will need to ask others (staff or students) to help in cleaning desks, chairs, and other areas around the classroom each day. All of these factors, as well as ventilation, are addressed in our cleaning and disinfection protocols. For more detailed information on HVAC Planning and Protocols, see the webpages dedicated to Building Maintenance.

 

We will provide a series of information sessions for staff, students, and families to share these cleaning protocols, as well as individual roles and responsibilities, to ensure consistent implementation across the district and for the community’s health and safety.

Please check the link to Frequently Asked Questions for more information about Health and Safety and Building 
Maintenance. This webpage and the FAQs are being updated regularly.

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