Letter from Director of Health Services

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We hope you and your families are well.  We want to provide you with important health information in anticipation of re-opening our schools. There is a lot to prepare for, and we thank you in advance for your partnership in helping to keep our students and staff healthy. Linked to this letter are some important documents; please refer to them throughout the upcoming school year and please note that there is an opt-out letter for hand sanitizer if you so choose.

Please note the following:

-  All students, whether attending school in-person or remotely, will be required to have a complete immunization record on file. There are new requirements this year including requirements for a meningococcal vaccine in grades 7 and 11 and the influenza vaccine (flu shot) is required for ALL students in grades K-12 by December 31. Here are the Massachusetts Immunization Requirements for school entry for the 2020-2021 school year  for your reference.

-  Face masks are required for all students in grades Preschool to 12; please have your child practice wearing a mask in the weeks leading up to school.

-  Face masks should be provided by families; cloth face masks that have 2 to 3 layers offer the best protection, and we ask that students bring two masks to school each day in case of soiling or contamination. Face masks will be available in the buildings if your student forgets one or needs a replacement if ill and is awaiting dismissal.

-  Students should bring a small paper bag labeled with their name into school each day to store masks during scheduled mask breaks. We are providing an instructional video on how to store a face mask in a paper bag.

-  Face masks should fit students snugly so that they cover the nose/mouth and should be comfortable.  Gaiters, Buffs, Bandanas, and face masks with valves are not permitted in school.  Here is an instructional video by the school nurses on the proper use of face masks.

-  Students will be washing their hands frequently throughout the day.  If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer will be used.  If you wish to opt your child out of using hand sanitizer, please see this opt-out letter and notify your child's school nurse.  

-  Lunches may be eaten in classrooms (depending on the building); please reinforce to your students that no food should be shared, and students should bring a napkin/placemat each day to keep their food contained.

-  Parents/Guardians will be required to perform a symptoms check each day on each child before they leave for school.  This is essential to ensure that our school community remains as safe and healthy as possible.  **If your child is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you must keep your child home and call their healthcare provider and school nurse.  As a reminder, symptoms of COVID-19 include:  fever of 100 degrees orally or higher, chills, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache (in combination with other symptoms), new loss of taste/smell, new muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion (in combination with other symptoms). Here is information on where COVID-19 tests are available; and follow up with the healthcare provider.

-  Please see new illness guidelines; these have been developed in accordance with public health guidelines and in collaboration with the Needham Public Health Department and Needham Public Schools Physician.

If your child will need medication at school, per our Medication Policy, medications need to be provided to the school nurse by an adult in a pharmacy labeled container with a physician's order dated after July 1, 2020 and a Parental Authorization form. You must contact your child's school nurse to schedule an appointment to drop off medication. See the Medication Drop-Off Protocol. Please note that nurses are not able to administer nebulizers in school due to the aerosolizing nature of the treatment. If your child requires medication for asthma, please work with the healthcare provider to prescribe a multi-dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer.

-  It is extremely important that you update PowerSchool with new contact information as well as emergency contacts; if your child becomes ill at school, they will be assessed and supervised/monitored in an Isolation Area/Medical Waiting Room, and will need to be picked up within 45 minutes of their arrival to the nurse's office.

Please see the FAQ for Families as there is a lot of information around COVID-19 and returning to school.

Thank you, and we are  looking forward to seeing your children soon!  

Barbara Singer MSN, RN, NCSN
Director of School Health Services
Needham Public Schools

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