Reopening Safety Plan

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:

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:

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:

In addition, individuals must familiarize themselves with the symptoms of COVID-19, which include the following:

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. 

  1. Social Distancing Protocols for Students, Faculty, and Staff

The Park School will institute the following preventative measures on campus:

  1. Procedures for Attendance and Arrival/Dismissal   

Students and their families must decide whether they will be attending school in person or  remain learning distantly. 

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. 

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).