Safe School Advisory Committee - Initial Report 6/12/20
The Park School of Buffalo takes the health and safety of its students, faculty, and staff very seriously. As a private, independent school in Amherst, NY serving students in grades PreK-12, our physical space allows us to respond to the current global health crisis with assets unlike other public or independent schools in our region. Park School sits on a 34-acre campus with 14 buildings, three playing fields, a pond, a stream, a marsh, and nature trails. Intentionally designed so that classrooms and the outdoors integrate seamlessly, curriculum knows no boundaries and isn’t confined to four walls. This flexibility provides us with a wealth of tools and resources to manage the necessary precautions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Safe School Advisory Committee (SSAC) was formed to provide preliminary recommendations to safely open the campus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The SSAC consists of healthcare professionals, educators, parents, and private sector leaders.
Members of the SSAC include:
Dr. Fred Archer III, MD, Pediatric Specialist UBMD, Park parent
Melissa Archer, RN, Park parent
Lisa Conrad, Middle School Dean of Students
Sheryl Davies, Health Services Researcher, Park parent
Charles Hartney, Upper School Dean of Students
Monica Padmanabha, Director of Lower School
Ellie Poleon, CEO of Le3 INC
Kennedy Schultz, Director of Studies
I. New York State Guidance for Phased Reopening
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has shared data-driven guidelines to help regions plan for the phased reopening of New York State.
The state will monitor core factors to determine if a region can reopen. The loosening of restrictions in New York will be considered on a regional basis, based on the following criteria. These criteria are designed to allow phased reopenings to begin in each region only if:
The infection rate is sufficiently low;
The health care system has the capacity to absorb a potential resurgence in new cases;
Diagnostic testing capacity is sufficiently high to detect and isolate new cases; and
Robust contact-tracing capacity is in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Each region will reopen in phases, with at least two weeks between each phase. This allows state and local leaders to monitor the effects of the reopening and ensure hospitalization and infection rates are not increasing before moving to the next phase and permitting more economic activity.
The phase-in plan prioritizes businesses considered to have a greater economic impact and inherently low risks of infection for workers and customers. Those will be followed by other businesses considered to have less economic impact and those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Schools reopen as part of Phase 4.
II. Park Reopening Plan
The Park School is a unique community with a long history of educational innovation, honoring students as their individual selves, and a deep-seated belief in a shared responsibility for taking care of each other. These are not accidental developments, but are intentional, core parts of our mission, dating back more than 100 years. Currently, the vast majority of our educational functions and programs have continued operating remotely due to guidance set forth by the New York State Pause Act. The New York State Pause Act has already started to transition to New York Forward, which is a plan developed to provide a new set of guidelines to reopen government, businesses, and not-for-profits in a safe manner.
In support of our students, faculty and their families and to comply with federal, state, and local recommendations, The Park School has developed a comprehensive plan to be shared with our constituent groups. Park is asking every stakeholder to help with prevention efforts while on campus. In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at school, everyone must play their part. As set forth below, the School will institute protocols to strengthen hygiene practices of students and staff, ensure appropriate social distancing, facilitate contact tracing, and support individual students and faculty needs. These protocols are based in principles of epidemiology, infection control and align with currently known best practices and guidelines.
Infection Control Protocols
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided the following control and preventive guidance for all individuals, regardless of exposure risk:
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Follow appropriate respiratory etiquette, which includes covering for coughs and sneezes.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
In addition, individuals must familiarize themselves with the symptoms of COVID-19, which include the following:
Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
Early symptoms such as chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste
Individuals who develop a fever and/or symptoms of respiratory illness, , such as cough or shortness of breath, diarrhea/vomiting, or a general feeling of being unwell, will be instructed NOT TO REPORT TO SCHOOL and to call their healthcare providers for guidance.
Social Distancing Protocols for Students, Faculty, and Staff
The Park School will institute the following preventative measures on campus:
Any student, faculty, or staff member showing symptoms of COVID-19, as identified above, will be asked to leave campus, return home and contact their physician. For more information on signs and symptoms, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
All students, faculty, staff, parents, and visitors will be required to wear a mask while on campus.
Class sizes will be limited to the range of ten to twelve (10 to 12) students or fewer. Desks (and for younger students - spaces on a carpet), will be arranged at least six (6) feet apart.
Outdoor classes are encouraged whenever possible. Students will sit on a mat spaced at least six (6) feet apart from others.
Arrows will be used on the ground, inside and outside of buildings, displaying in what direction foot traffic must follow.
Meetings will be scheduled by teleconference or Google Meet, if possible. During any in-person meetings, gathering in groups of more than 10 people will be avoided and participants must remain at least six (6) feet apart.
Students, faculty, and staff must avoid physical contact with others and shall direct others to increase personal space to at least six (6) feet, where possible.
Students will eat lunch in a group of ten to twelve (10 to 12) students or fewer, in their respective classroom.
Recess will only occur in a group of ten to twelve (10 to 12) students or fewer, and each group will hold it in their designated space with designated recess materials.
Faculty will avoid the use of shared materials. Students will be required to hold labeled individual supplies in a container for their use only.
In lieu of using a common source of drinking water, such as a water fountain, students, faculty, and staff should use individual water bottles.
Specials teachers will travel to classrooms to avoid mixing large numbers of students in one common area.
There will be a designated area near the health office for students who experience flu-like symptoms while at school and need to be seen by the school nurse.
Procedures for Attendance and Arrival/Dismissal
Students and their families must decide whether they will be attending school in person or remain learning distantly.
If families feel they want their child/children to continue remote learning instead of coming to campus, they will be allowed to do so without attendance repercussions.
For drop-off at the start of school, parents will not be allowed to walk into buildings. They will instead meet teachers at the door, in an effort to reduce the density of people in buildings.
Upon arrival, every student will have their temperature taken and answer brief questions about their well-being.
Faculty and staff will also follow this protocol upon arrival for work.
The traffic circle and the drive near the Dining Hall will be closed to traffic during the school day. For pick-up at the end of the day, parents will not be allowed to walk into buildings. They will instead meet teachers at the door, in an effort to reduce the density of people in buildings.
Protocols for Regular Campus Cleaning
The School has instituted regular housekeeping practices, which include cleaning and disinfecting frequently used spaces, furniture, and other elements of the school environment. Faculty and staff will regularly do the same in their assigned areas.
Classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms will be cleaned at least once per day. Maintenance performing cleaning will be issued proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as nitrile, latex, or vinyl gloves and gowns, as recommended by the CDC.
Any trash collected from bins will be changed at regular intervals throughout the day by someone wearing nitrile, latex, or vinyl gloves.
The School will ensure that hand sanitizer dispensers are always filled. Frequently touched items (i.e. door pulls and toilet seats) will be disinfected at regular intervals throughout the day..
Protocols in Event of Positive COVID-19 Test
OSHA has indicated that a reliable report that an employee (or student) who has tested positive for COVID-19 does not typically require an employer to perform special cleaning or decontamination of work environments, unless those environments are visibly contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids. Notwithstanding this, the School will clean those areas of the school that a confirmed-positive individual may have contacted and it will do so before employees or students can access that space again.
If an employee or student exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, the employee or student must remain at home until he or she is symptom free for 72 hours (3 full days) without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants). The School will similarly require an employee or students who reports to school with symptoms to return home until he or she is symptom free for 72 hours (3 full days). To the extent practical, employees and students will be required to obtain a doctor’s note clearing them to return to school.
An employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be supported as they comply with self-quarantine requirements as directed by their county public health officials. Employees or students who test positive and are directed to care for themselves at home may return to work when: (1) at least 72 hours (3 full days) have passed since recovery;1 and (2) at least seven (7) days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Employees or students who test positive and have been hospitalized may return to work when directed to do so by their medical care providers. The School will require an employee to provide documentation clearing his or her return to work. These standards will be revised with any updates current county health guidelines for return to school/work.
Employees or students who have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 (co-worker or otherwise) will be supported as they comply with self-quarantine requirements as directed by their county public health officials. Close contact is defined as six (6) feet for a prolonged period of time.
If the School learns that an employee or student has tested positive, the School will support trained public health contact tracers in identifying co-workers, students or other individuals who may have had close contact with the confirmed-positive employee in the prior 14 days and support those individuals hose individuals who have had close contact with the confirmed-positive employee in compliance with county public health self-quarantine requirements.
1 Recovery is defined as: (1) resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and (2) improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).