Note: This is a straight-up list of requirements from StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) interim guidance as of June 8, 2020, from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Schools are required to create the following three plans:
- Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing – Will be implemented assuming state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or move in a positive direction. All requirements in this guidance apply to Plan A
- Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing – Will be required if state COVID-19 metrics worsen and it is determined additional restrictions are necessary. All requirements in this guidance apply, with additional requirements in the Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure section noted for Plan B only
- Plan C: Remote Learning Only – Will be implemented only if state COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require suspension of in-person instruction and the implementation of remote learning for all students, based on the remote learning plans required by Session Law 2020-3. The requirements listed in this guidance would not apply, as students and staff would not be gathering together in groups on school grounds.
School districts may choose to implement a more restrictive Plan but may not choose to implement a less restrictive Plan than established by NCDHHS, NCSBE, and NCDPI.
Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure
- Provide social distancing floor/seating markings in waiting and reception areas.
- Mark 6 feet of spacing to remind students and staff to always stay 6 feet apart in lines and at other times when they may congregate.
- Provide marks on the floors of restrooms and locker rooms to indicate proper social distancing.
- Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups or organizations.
- Have staff monitor arrival and dismissal to discourage congregating and ensure students go straight from a vehicle to their classrooms and vice-versa.
- Discontinue the use of any self-service food or beverage distribution in the cafeteria (e.g., meals and/or snacks served at school should be individually packaged and served directly to students; milk or juice may be available separately and should also be served directly to students). As always, ensure the safety of children with food allergies.
Cloth Face Coverings
- Share guidance and information with staff, students, and families on the proper use, wearing, removal, and cleaning of cloth face coverings, such as CDC’s guidance on wearing and removing cloth face masks and CDC’s use of cloth face coverings.
Protecting Vulnerable Populations
- Systematically review all current plans (e.g., Individual Healthcare Plans, Individualized Education Plans or 504 plans) for accommodating students with special healthcare needs and update their care plans as needed to decrease their risk for exposure to COVID-19.
- Create a process for students/families and staff to self-identify as high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 and have a plan in place to address requests for alternative learning arrangements or work re-assignments.
Cleaning and Hygiene
- Provide adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors (e.g., soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for safe use by staff and older children, paper towels, and tissues).
- Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or the safe use of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol by staff and older children.
- Increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
- Supervise use of hand sanitizer by students.
- Ensure that children with skin reactions and contraindications to hand sanitizer use soap and water.
- Reinforce handwashing during key times such as: Before, during, and after preparing food; Before eating food; After using the toilet; After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; After touching objects with bare hands which have been handled by other individuals.
- Provide hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at every building entrance and exit, in the cafeteria, and in every classroom, for safe use by staff and older students.
- Systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers.
- Encourage staff and students to cough and sneeze into their elbows, or to cover with a tissue. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Incorporate frequent handwashing and sanitation breaks into classroom activity.
- Allow time between activities for proper cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
- Establish a schedule for and perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g., door handles, stair rails, faucet handles, toilet handles, playground equipment, drinking fountains, light switches, desks, tables, chairs, kitchen countertops, cafeteria and service tables, carts, and trays) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and increase frequency of disinfection during high-density times and disinfect all shared objects (e g , gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) between use.
- Paper-based materials, such as books and loose-leaf paper, are not considered high-risk for COVID-19 transmission, and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures.
- Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including securely storing and using products away from children, and allowing for adequate ventilation when staff use such products.
- Limit sharing of personal items and supplies such as writing utensils.
- Keep students’ personal items separate and in individually labeled cubbies, containers or lockers.
- Limit use of classroom materials to small groups and disinfect between uses or provide adequate supplies to assign for individual student use.
- Ensure that all non-disposable food service items are minimally handled and washed with hot water and soap or in a dishwasher, or use disposable food service items such as plates and utensils.
Monitoring for Symptoms
Enforce that staff and students stay home if:
- They have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms, until they meet criteria for return.
- They have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, until they meet criteria for return.
Conduct symptom screening of any person entering the building, including students, staff, family members, and other visitors. Screening may be provided at the school entrance, prior to arrival at school, or upon boarding school transportation Example screening tools:
- Symptom Screening Checklist: Elementary School Students (English | Spanish) Designed to be administered to person dropping off a young child.
- Symptom Screening Checklist: Middle and High School Students or Any Person Entering the Building (English | Spanish). Designed to be administered to any person middle-school-aged or older, including students, staff, families, or visitors.
Conduct daily temperature screenings for all people entering the school facility or boarding school transportation (see note on optional parent/guardian attestation)
- Fever is determined by a measured temperature of 100.4 °F or greater.
- Individuals waiting to be screened must stand six feet apart from each other. Use tape or other markers on the floor for spacing.
- The staff person taking temperatures must wear a cloth face covering, and must stay six feet apart unless taking temperature.
- Use a touchless thermometer if one is available.
- If not available, use a tympanic (ear), digital axillary (under the arm), or temporal (forehead) thermometer. Use disposable thermometer covers that are changed between individuals.
- Do not take temperatures orally (under the tongue) because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 from respiratory droplets from the mouth.
- Staff person must wash hands or use hand sanitizer before touching the thermometer.
- Staff person must wear gloves if available and change between direct contact with individuals, and must wash hands or use hand sanitizer after removing gloves.
- Staff person must clean and sanitize the thermometer using manufacturer’s instructions between each use.
Handling Suspected, Presumptive or Confirmed Positive Cases of COVID-19
- Post signage at the main entrance requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter. Examples of signage such as Know Your Ws/Stop if You Have Symptoms flyers (English: Color, Black & White; Spanish: Color, Black & White). Educate staff, students, and their families about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, when they should stay home and when they can return to school.
- Establish a dedicated space for symptomatic individuals that will not be used for other purposes.
- Immediately isolate symptomatic individuals to the designated area at the school, and send them home to isolate.
- Ensure symptomatic student remains under visual supervision of a staff member who is at least 6 feet away. The supervising adult should wear cloth face covering or a surgical mask.
- Require the symptomatic person to wear a cloth face covering or a surgical mask while waiting to leave the facility.
- Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- Anyone who cannot tolerate a cloth face covering due to developmental, medical or behavioral health needs.
- Require school nurses or delegated school staff need to provide direct patient care to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and perform hand hygiene after removing PPE Refer to the Infection Control Supplies Checklist for type of PPE needed.
- Implement cleaning and disinfecting procedure following CDC guidelines.
- Have a plan for how to transport an ill student or staff member home or to medical care.
- Adhere to the following process for allowing a student or staff member to return to school.
- If a person has had a negative COVID-19 test, they can return to school once there is no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines and they have felt well for 24 hours.
- If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional based on a test or their symptoms or does not get a COVID-19 test but has had symptoms, they should not be at school and should stay at home until they (or a family member if younger child) can answer YES to the following three questions:
- Has it been at least 10 days since the individual first had symptoms?
- Has it been at least 3 days since the individual had a fever (without using fever-reducing medicine)?
- Has it been at least 3 days since the individual’s symptoms have improved, including cough and shortness of breath?
- Suggest aligning with child care guidance: “Notify local health authorities of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children and staff” (as required by NCGS § 130A-136).
- Ensure that if a person with COVID-19 was in the school setting while infectious, school administrators coordinate with local health officials to notify staff and families immediately while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with FERPA, NCGS 130A-143, and all other state and federal laws.
- If a student/employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not have symptoms, they must remain out of school until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.
- If a student/employee that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms, they are not required to have documentation of a negative test in order to return to school.
- If a student/employee has been determined to have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, they must remain out of school for 14 days since the last date of exposure unless they test positive, in which case, exclusion criteria above would apply. They must complete the full 14 days of quarantine, even if they test negative.
- Provide remote learning options for students unable to be at school due to illness or exposure.
Communication and Combating Misinformation
- Disseminate COVID-19 information and combat misinformation through multiple channels to staff, students and families. Ensure that families are able to access communication channels to appropriate staff at the school with questions and concerns.
- Some reliable sources include: NCDHHS COVID-19 Webpage; Know Your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash; NCDHHS COVID-19 Latest Updates; NCDHHS COVID-19 Materials & Resources, and the additional resources listed at the end of this guidance document.
- Put up signs, posters, and flyers at main entrances and in key areas throughout school buildings and facilities such as those found on the Social Media Toolkit for COVID-19 to remind students and staff to use face coverings, wash hands, and stay six feet apart whenever possible (Wear, Wait, Wash).
- Know Your W’s signs are available in English and Spanish.
- Teach students who cannot yet read what the signs’ language and symbols mean.
- Clean and disinfect transportation vehicles regularly. Children must not be present when a vehicle is being cleaned.
- Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children and adequate ventilation when staff use such products.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in the vehicle (e.g., surfaces in the driver’s cockpit, hard seats, arm rests, door handles, seat belt buckles, light and air controls, doors and windows, and grab handles) prior to morning routes and prior to afternoon routes.
- Keep doors and windows open when cleaning the vehicle and between trips to let the vehicles thoroughly air out.
- Clean, sanitize, and disinfect equipment including items such as car seats and seat belts, wheelchairs, walkers, and adaptive equipment being transported to schools.
- Follow the symptom screening protocol outlined in the Monitoring for Symptoms section above for any person entering a school transportation vehicle, which could be using the option of a parent/guardian attestation. Individuals must stay home and not board transportation if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19.
- Note: Upon arrival at school, students do not need to be rescreened if screening was followed prior to entry into the vehicle. However, as noted above, if a parent/guardian provided an attestation only, students do need to be screened upon arrival at school.
- Create a plan for getting students home safely if they are not allowed to board the vehicle.
- Enforce that if an individual becomes sick during the day, they must not use group transportation to return home and must follow protocols outlined above
- If a driver becomes sick during the day, they must follow protocols outlined above and must not return to drive students.
- Provide hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) to support healthy hygiene behaviors on all school transportation vehicles for safe use by staff and older children.
- Hand sanitizer should only remain on school transportation while the vehicles are in use.
- Systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers.
Coping and Resilience
- Provide staff, families, and students (if age-appropriate) with information on how to access resources for mental health and wellness (e.g., 211 and Hope4NC Helpline 1-855-587-3463).