Health & Safety Procedures Overview

Health & Safety Procedures Overview
Posted on 04/06/2021
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As we begin the fourth quarter of the school year, the South Park School District is providing this review of the health and safety protocols in place, as well as the guidelines, recommendations and mandates the district has used and continues to use throughout the school year.


SYMPTOM SCREENING

It is critically important that all district students and staff use the district’s symptom screening tool prior to leaving for school each day. Additionally, this tool directs students and staff to remain at home and contact the school nurse if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or to someone with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.


FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings remain a requirement for all individuals, vaccinated or unvaccinated, while on district property except when eating or drinking or during scheduled mask breaks. Face coverings are to be worn securely over the nose and mouth at all times.


PHYSICAL DISTANCING IN CLASSROOMS

With the return to school of all in-person learning students, physical distancing in our classrooms was reduced. In most classrooms, desks are spaced less than six feet apart. Six feet of physical distance remains a requirement in our school cafeterias, per the order by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.


CONTACT TRACING & QUARANTINE

When the district is notified of a student or staff member’s positive COVID-19 test result, school nurses and building administrators begin contact tracing immediately. Bus and classroom seating charts are reviewed, and the distance between student and staff desks is physically measured. Please note, that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its school guidance to recommend three feet of physical distancing in classrooms in most instances, the CDC’s contact tracing directives have not changed. Therefore, a close contact is defined as any individual within six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more. The CDC’s school guidance explains, “For schools that use less than 6 feet between students in classrooms, the definition of close contacts should not change. Students sitting less than 6 feet next to another student or person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more should quarantine at home and be referred for testing.”


The South Park School District has confirmed, multiple times, with the Allegheny County Health Department that six feet of distance is still to be used when contact tracing a positive COVID-19 case in our schools.

 

Close contacts will be directed to quarantine for ten days from the date of exposure to the individual with COVID-19, per CDC guidelines. Due to delays in testing or results, some time may elapse between the school exposure and the notification of close contacts. All close contacts are notified as quickly as possible once the district receives notification of the positive case.

 

Individuals who meet one of the following CDC and/or health department requirements would not need to quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case.

  1.  Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and recovered as long as they do not develop symptoms and proof of the COVID-19 diagnosis has been provided to the district.
  2.  Those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as long as they do not show symptoms and the vaccination record has been provided to the district. The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as 14 days after the final dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or 14 days after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). 
  3.  Unvaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they have received a positive antibody test 90 days from the date of quarantine notification or if they immediately get an antibody test after the exposure, and antibodies are detected. Documentation of the antibody test would need to be provided to the school nurse.

These guidelines are continually being updated by health officials, and are subject to change. When contacted by a district employee about quarantine, the employee will review all CDC quarantine guidelines with the parent/guardian, provide pertinent dates and be able to answer any questions.

 

The South Park School District follows contact tracing and quarantine guidelines from the Allegheny County Health Department, Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The district does not establish its own contact tracing and quarantine guidelines. Individual cases from our schools are reviewed with infectious disease experts at the Allegheny County Health Department.

 

CASES & BUILDING CLOSURES

On Friday, April 2, 2021, Allegheny County was in the substantial phase of transmission according to the state’s early warning COVID-19 dashboard. With the county now in the substantial phase of transmission for two consecutive weeks, the district must adhere to the directives of the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health following the identification of cases in schools. These guidelines, updated on Monday, April 5, 2021, specify the specific actions the district must take. These actions include:

  •  When 1-3 cases are identified in a school building over a rolling 14-day period, the district is to clean the area(s) where the individuals spent time. No closure is necessary.
  •  When 4-6 cases are identified in a school building over a rolling 14-day period, the district is to close the building for 2-3 days for case investigations, contact tracing, cleaning and disinfecting. The state also recommends the district consider altering its schedule to significantly decrease the number of students on site.
  • When 7 or more cases are identified in a school building over a rolling 14-day period, the district is to close the building for 5 days for case investigations, contact tracing, cleaning and disinfecting. The state also recommends the district consider altering its schedule to significantly decrease the number of students on site.

The specified closure time can be shortened if case investigations, contact tracing, cleaning and disinfecting can be accomplished in a faster timeframe.

 

During the closure period, instruction for all students in the building will be remote.

 

It is also important to note that not all cases in our schools count towards the 14-day rolling total. Cases are only counted if the individual was physically present in school 48 hours before symptom onset or 48 hours before the test was administered if the individual is not showing symptoms.

 

A building’s 14-day period begins with the date of the first positive case which is either the date the individual was first symptomatic or the date the individual was tested.

 

Cases that are connected as part of a cluster (a team, band, household) are to be counted individually in the 14-day case count.

 

During the mandated closure period, all activities, including sports, are also canceled, per state guidelines.

 

The 14-day total only resets after the closure period consistent with the state directives. A building’s count does not reset over weekends.


We continue to encourage families to have a contingency plan in place in the event the district must transition a school or schools back to a remote instructional model. Any mandated transition will be swift.


Each building’s current 14-day case count is once again posted on the district’s COVID-19 tracker.




Thank you for your continued attention to these matters and for your work to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep South Park schools open.

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