Updated Health & Safety Protocols for the 2020-21 School Year
As the new school year approaches and we continue to prepare to reopen our schools , the district has worked to implement many health and safety protocols to protect our students and staff. Please understand that the Department of Health has issued written protocols that we must follow, including placing students in isolation areas and sending them home with signs and symptoms of COVID-19. These are NOT school or district policies. We ask that parents have plans in place should they receive a call to pick up their child from school. While we realize travel time from some individuals’ workplaces can be up to an hour or more, students cannot be in the health offices or isolation spaces for that amount of time waiting for pick up. In addition, you could be notified to pick up your student if they are exposed to a potential case of COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea, stomach pain or vomiting
Per current guidelines confirmed by the Department of Health, if a student presents with any of the above listed symptoms, or any symptoms of any viral infection including viruses such as conjunctivitis, they will need to be sent home.
When students are sent home with any of these symptoms, they should be seen by a health care provider. To return to school, they will need a note from their health care provider, a negative COVID-19 test, and be symptom free for 24 hours without any fever reducing medications.
If your child is not seen by a healthcare provider, they can return to school once 10 days have passed and they are feeling well. At this time, NYS guidelines state that even if a student is diagnosed with an alternative diagnosis (i.e., strep throat), a COVID-19 test must be obtained and be negative. These guidelines continue to be under review on a regular weekly basis and may change in the future.
There have been questions about pre-existing conditions (such as seasonal allergies causing congestion or runny nose, migraines, irritable bowel) and we have been advised that symptomatic students will still need to see a physician to get a diagnosis and test when symptoms first present. We can then accept a health care provider’s note stating that the student has a chronic condition, and that specific listed symptoms can be expected due to said condition. The note should include a management plan if the symptoms reoccur (allergy or asthma treatment plan, migraine headache medicine, anxiety medicine, bowel, or menstrual medicine, etc.) If it is determined that your child has a chronic condition that is causing symptoms, you will not have to take him/her for repeated visits or tests.
In the event that your child tests positive for COVID-19 our local departments of health will become involved and let you know when he/she can return to school.
Asthma Medications in School
As recommended by our school medical director and numerous healthcare organizations, and in support of not spreading respiratory viruses during this school year, we are asking all students who require inhaled asthma medications to receive them by inhaler with a spacer rather than a nebulizer. If your doctor orders a nebulizer, we will be contacting him to help obtain support in teaching your child to use a spacer device. The other option may be to do the nebulizer at home. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Allergy support the idea that all children by the time they reach Kindergarten, should be able to manage inhaled medication with a spacer device. If your child has a condition that absolutely requires the use of a nebulizer, we recommend considering a remote learning environment rather than in person for this school year.
Keeping Children Home
If your child is not feeling well or has a fever of 100 degrees or more, please keep them home and have them seen by their provider. Please do not provide them with medication to reduce symptoms/fever and then send them to school. In addition, please keep your student home if you think they may have been exposed to a potential case of COVID, even if they do not have symptoms. Any individual who has come in close contact with someone testing positive may need to quarantine for 14 days at home, the course of action will be determined by the health department.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in helping to keep all of our students and staff safe and healthy!
Dr. Stephen Sipperly, Medical Director
Donna Fredericks, RN and BH-BL High School Nurse
Laura Jewell, RN and O’Rourke Middle School Nurse
Tracey Hay, RN and Stevens Elementary School Nurse
Cheryl Traver, RN and Charlton Heights Elementary School Nurse
Jodi Reynolds, RN and Pashley Elementary School Nurse
April Park, RN and District Nurse