School Manual

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COVID-19 School Manual

Schools are not only a place of learning for students, but workplaces for teachers and employees. This manual provides public health recommendations to help make informed decisions to protect students, teachers, and employees.

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Schools are essential to our communities

In Utah, we consider the education sector critical to the long-term health and economic success of our state.

Students, teachers, and employees who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home until the health department has notified the school that his or her isolation is over. Students, teachers, and employees who are exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine at home for 14 days from the last date of exposure to the person who tested positive.

Who is considered part of the education sector?

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Employees
  • Paraprofessionals
  • School nurses
  • Volunteers

Why is it important to open schools for in-person instruction*?

Schools play an essential role in the infrastructure and well-being of our state and our communities.

For more information about reopening schools around the world, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schoolschildcare/prepare-safe-return.html.

Everyone must help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.

What do we know about COVID-19 and children*?

The science available right now suggests children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults. When children do get COVID-19, they usually have a less serious illness.

Reports suggest there are different things that affect the number of children who get COVID-19, such as age and other factors

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  • Adolescents aged 10-17 may be more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than children younger than age 10. However, adolescents do not seem to be at higher risk of getting severe illness from the virus.
  • Children and adults with certain health conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness means they may need to be in the hospital, intensive care, need a ventilator to help them breathe, or may even die.
  • Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to have additional health conditions that put them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Although rare, some children have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) after exposure to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of May 20, 2020, most of the children hospitalized with MIS-C had recovered.

* https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/prepare-safe-return.html

Symptoms of COVID-19

If students, teachers, or employees have any of the 6 symptoms of COVID-19, which make them eligible for testing, they should call a healthcare provider and get tested for COVD-19, even if the symptom is mild. Testing locations can be found at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/testing-locations.

Even if they don’t have symptoms, students, teachers, and employees need to be very careful and take precautions at school because children and adults may be asymptomatic. This means they have no signs or symptoms of the virus but can still spread it to others.

If you can’t do a temperature check on a student, teacher, or employee, ask the person if he or she is feeling feverish (the person’s skin may feel hot or be red, or he or she may have chills or be sweaty).

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to find out other symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19.

Keeping your school open if a student, teacher, or employee is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19

COVID-19 is spreading in many Utah communities. This means students, teachers, and employees are likely to be exposed to COVID-19 in their personal lives or at school. It is important everyone do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you follow public health recommendations, you are more likely to keep students, teachers, and employees safe and your school open for in-person learning. If one of your students, teachers, or employees tests positive for COVID-19, it does not mean he or she did anything wrong. It also does not mean your school did anything wrong.

If you have questions about what to do after a student, teacher, or employee is exposed to COVID-19 or tests positive, call your local health department. You can find your local health department at https://ualhd.org/.

If a student, teacher, or employee tests positive for COVID-19, does the school need to close?
No. In most cases, schools do not need to close for in-person learning. Schools may consider hybrid or remote learning options to protect students, teachers, and employees. Local education agencies (LEAs) should work closely with the local elected school board and the health department before making the decision to temporarily transition to hybrid or remote learning options.

How long do students, teachers, and employees have to isolate at home?

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate until his or her symptoms get better and he or she has been fever-free for 24 hours without medicine AND it has been at least 10 days since he or she first had symptoms or tested positive. Students, teachers, and employees should not go to school or work until the health department has said they are done with isolation.

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Your school needs to be prepared for times when students or teachers need to isolate at home.

Being prepared to respond to COVID-19 in your school may require lesson planning in advance. You should also have a plan to provide another learning option for students who need to isolate or quarantine at home. School policies should allow students to make up any missed classwork without penalty if they are sick or need to quarantine. This will be a critical aspect of schools being able to stay open for in-person learning. With an increase in the spread of COVID-19 in Utah, it is likely some students and teachers will need to stay at home.

The time frame for isolation is the amount of time someone is infectious and can pass the virus to other people. A student or teacher who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate at home for at least 10 days, depending on when his or her symptoms start to get better. This does not mean someone will only be sick for that amount of time. Some people who get COVID-19 are sick for a long time. You need to be prepared in advance to continue student instruction without disruption. This can only happen if schools are well prepared.


What happens if a student, teacher, or employee is exposed to someone with COVID-19?

If a student, teacher, or employee was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the health department and the school will work together on contact tracing. Contact tracing is how public health workers find the close contacts of someone who has COVID-19.


Extracurricular activities and COVID-19

The Utah Department of Health understands how important school extracurricular activities are to students, their families, and our communities. Participation in school sponsored extracurricular activities and sports helps students succeed in school, lowers students’ risk of substance use, and provides social and emotional benefits that help students throughout their lives.

This is why we are asking students, schools, families, and community members to take extra precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. It will take everyone working together and taking precautions to make sure students get to participate in these important activities.

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Testing your students, teachers, and employees for COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Utah Department of Health DO NOT recommend testing all students, teachers, and employees at schools. Testing should only be done if students, teachers, and employees have symptoms of COVID-19. Testing may also be done if public health has referred a student, teacher, or employee for testing because they had a close contact exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

At this time, the Utah Department of Health only does asymptomatic testing (testing people who do not have symptoms) for certain groups of people. Some of these groups include people who had a close contact exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, first responders, vulnerable populations, long-term care facilities, communities where many people do not have access to testing, Tribal Nations, and in areas or facilities where an outbreak has happened or is likely to happen.


Students, teachers, and employees with symptoms of COVID-19 should call a healthcare provider to get tested.


Create a healthy learning environment.

COVID-19 is spread mainly by close contact between people. Close contact means a person was within 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) for 15 minutes or longer of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

It is very hard to prevent close contact in a school setting. You won’t always be able to prevent close contact, especially between young students. However, if you think about how people use the spaces in your school and modify them to reduce close contact as much as you can, you decrease the chance of exposures in the school.

This manual provides public health recommendations to consider to help keep your school safe and the spaces in your school healthier. You can use these recommendations and ideas to make it less likely students, teachers, and employees will be exposed at school. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) has specific state requirements for schools.

Prepare your school for in-person learning
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You can begin your hazard assessment as soon as custodial and maintenance staff say the school is prepared for employees to return.

Remember, COVID-19 is spread mainly through close contact. Close contact means a person was within 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) for 15 minutes or longer of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. It spreads through respiratory droplets from person-to-person.

The good thing about doing a hazard assessment in a school, is that schools function on routine. With few exceptions, when, by whom, and how the spaces in the school are used, is planned out in advance. The work processes teachers and students use also function on routine. Almost everyone who attends or works in a school does the same thing, with the same people, in the same place, at the same time every day. It may seem overwhelming before you get started, but doing a hazard assessment in a school will be easier than doing one for the workplaces and work processes of other employees who do not work in the school.

Creating a hazard assessment for your school
Assess the risk in each space
Sample hazard assessment of student drop off and pick-up
What are the hazards of drop off and pick up areas?
Ideas to reduce close contact exposure in drop off and pick up areas

Ideas to prevent close contact exposures, reduce hazards in the school or workplace, and make your learning environment healthier*.

To reduce the chance of exposure at the beginning of the year, you may want to provide information to families to help them understand your policies, procedures, and give them strategies to keep their families and the school safe. Sometimes health information is hard to understand, especially for people who have lower literacy levels. Many people have an easier time understanding information from videos or other formats. Consider different ways you can provide information to families, including translating materials into other languages depending on the needs of your school community.

*https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/cloth-face-cover.html

Cleaning

The guidance in this section is for regular cleaning of your school or workplace.

We still have much to learn about COVID-19. From what we know right now about the virus and about similar coronaviruses, COVID-19 is most easily spread from close contact (within about 6 feet or 2 meters for 15 minutes or more). The virus is spread by respiratory droplets. We don’t know yet if, or how easily, it spreads with infectious aerosols (droplets in the air that another person inhales).

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. From what we know, COVID-19 can live on surfaces for hours to days. We are still learning many things about COVID-19 and how it spreads.

Clean visibly dirty and high-touch surfaces. Disinfect them after you clean. This will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.
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These guidelines are meant for community, non-healthcare facilities such as:

  • Schools
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Offices
  • Childcare centers
  • Businesses
  • Community centers that do, and do not, house persons overnight

These guidelines are not meant for cleaning staff in healthcare facilities or repatriation sites, households, or for others who have specific cleaning guidance.

You should train all cleaning staff on-site before they begin cleaning tasks

See cleaning products
Personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning staff and employees

Cleaning after a positive case of COVID-19*

You should wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect. This reduces the chance for other students, teachers, and employees to be exposed to respiratory droplets. If you can’t wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas during this waiting period.

Learn more about cleaning after a positive case
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Considerations for schools as employers



Travel

Travel increases the chance you may get infected or spread COVID-19. Try to limit non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic as much as you can. For up-to-date travel recommendations, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc. gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

Right now, there are no COVID-19 travel restrictions in Utah. This means students, teachers, or employees who travel outside the state of Utah do not need to quarantine when they get back. However, there may be mandatory quarantines in other cities or states across the U.S. Before traveling, visit the state website of the area you are traveling to for more information.

If students, teachers, or employees travel outside the U.S., the CDC recommends he or she quarantine for 14 days after getting back. You can find the CDC’s recommendations for what to do after you return from international travel at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after- travel-precautions.html.

The CDC recommends you avoid all nonessential travel to certain areas of the world where COVID-19 is widespread. There may also be restrictions entering the U.S. if you travel to these areas. These travel health alerts can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html.

Consider these questions before you travel
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COVID-19 outbreaks in schools

The Utah Department of Health and Utah’s 13 local health departments provide guidelines to help school administrators understand when a group of students, teachers, or employees at the school may need to be dismissed from in-person learning because there is spread of COVID-19 in the school.

These guidelines may change as we learn more about COVID-19. Schools and public health need to be willing to adapt to these changes as we learn more about the best ways to keep students, teachers, and employees safe and schools open for in-person learning.

Helpful resources
What is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a school?
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Who will decide if schools will transition from in-person learning to hybrid or remote learning?

The decision to transition from in-person learning to hybrid or remote learning will be made by school administrators in collaboration with the local school board and the health department.

If a school needs to transition from in-person learning to hybrid or remote learning, it may be for a short period of time, such as 2 weeks, or for the rest of the school year.

The Governor, state health department, and local health department each have legal authority to close schools in response to a public health emergency. Many things will be considered in this situation including the:

  • Importance of in-person learning to the social, emotional, economic, and academic growth and well-being of students.
  • Number of people in the community who are testing positive for COVID-19 (called community spread or community transmission).
  • Number of students, teachers, and employees who are testing positive for COVID-19 or who are on quarantine due to an exposure.
  • Growth rate of new cases (people who tested positive) in the area.
  • Statewide capacity for testing, hospital beds, and ICUs.
  • The color coded risk phase the city or county is currently in.
  • Interaction of students, teachers, and employees among other schools in the district.
  • Ability to provide virtual learning to students.
  • Economic and social hardships on families and students.