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Back to Gordon 2021: Comprehensive health and safety guidelines for families
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Health and safety guidelines and back-to-school procedures and protocols

2021-2022

Overview for 2021
Guiding principles

What is COVID-19 and how does it spread?
What is COVID-19?
How does COVID-19 spread?
How do you protect yourself and others?

What do we know about the Delta variant?

Hygiene habits we will use and teach

What is physical distancing and why should you do it?
What are the current physical distancing recommendations for schools?
What does physical distancing look like at Gordon School?

Cloth face coverings
Why cloth face coverings are important
Cloth face coverings: who wears them, when
Selecting a cloth face covering for school
How to wear cloth face coverings

The difference between cleaning and disinfecting
Cleaning responsibilities at school
Cleaning supplies for classrooms
Basic cleaning and disinfecting procedures
Cleaning and disinfecting shared materials

The healthy classroom
Practices to promote good health
Water
Lunch and snack
Food allergies
Outdoor play and recess
Bathroom protocols
What will a teacher do if a student seems ill?

The physically distanced office
Changes to how we work
Visitor policy

Screening protocols and considerations
My child doesn't feel well. Now what?
Gordon’s approach to screening

Travel guidelines
Information about symptoms

New guidance for symptomatic individuals

Chronic conditions and allergies
Close contacts and household contacts

Quarantine and isolation
Quarantine
Quarantine for close contacts
Quarantine exceptions
Isolation

Dropoff and pickup procedures

Safety and security
Campus security
Evacuation protocols



Overview for 2021

This guide documents the details of the health and safety procedures in place at Gordon in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2021-2022 school year.

A broader view of the preparations for September 2021, including notes on what has changed since Gordon first reopened in the fall of 2020, is at www.gordonschool.org/possibilities. That webpage will give the reader important context for the guidelines below.

A guide for parents whose children don't feel well, in the form of a frequently asked questions list, is at www.gordonschool.org/covidqanda

Notes on travel guidelines, and circumstances when a child might need to stay away from school if they are not ill, are at www.gordonschool.org/travel

Guiding principles for fall 2021

As Gordon planned for the return of students, families, faculty and staff to campus in September, the school's leadership was guided by the following principles:


What is COVID-19 and how does it spread?

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a coronavirus, a virus named for its crownlike appearance. The 19 refers to 2019, when the virus first appeared.

There are a number of other coronaviruses that circulate among humans, including strains that cause the common cold.

Symptoms range from mild to severe and typically show up two to fourteen days after exposure. They include:

Individuals who test positive for the virus might not exhibit symptoms.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads mostly through respiratory droplets which can be inhaled or enter the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes.

While it can remain on surfaces, the risk of getting COVID-19 from surfaces is minimal.

How do you protect yourself and others?

Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination helps schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.

Like many schools, Gordon serves children under the age of twelve who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. For schools like Gordon, the CDC recommends using multiple prevention strategies together consistently to protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and other members of their households and to support in-person learning.

Gordon acknowledges that no single strategy will keep COVID-19 off campus. Therefore, the school has a series of strategies that combine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.These include the following:

Sources



What do we know about the Delta variant?

Delta is currently the predominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in the United States. The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of the virus.

What we know:

At Gordon, we have been using the following framework to explain the importance of getting vaccinated in the face of the Delta variant:

Sources



Hygiene habits we will use and teach

These practices are essential for keeping faculty and students free of COVID-19 and will also help to keep them protected from other illnesses such as the common cold, flu, and strep:

Sources



What is physical distancing and why should you do it?

Sometimes called social distancing, physical distancing is the act of limiting your interaction with others and increasing the space between you and others.

What are the current physical distancing recommendations for schools?

As of August 23, 2021, the CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health make the following recommendations:

The CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health recognize the importance of in-person learning. When at least three feet of physical distance is recommended but is not possible, rather than going to remote learning, they recommend in-person learning with other layers of precaution in place.

What does physical distancing look like at Gordon?

Gordon is a progressive, Nursery to eighth grade school. The ages of the students and the nature of experiential education make it more challenging to require physical distancing between students and teachers at all times.

The recommendations above align with many of the distancing protocols Gordon put into place for the 2020-2021 school year. While our stable groups have expanded to the full grade level, and school staff may now move between classrooms, we will continue to employ the multiple layers of safety recommended by RIDOH and the CDC (i.e., universal mask use, screening, ventilation, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, etc) and continue to take advantage of the benefits our campus provides (i.e., outdoor learning spaces, outside doors for entering and exiting classrooms, limited indoor traffic). See more at gordonschool.org/possibilities.

Sources



Face coverings (also known as “masks”)

Note: this guideline was updated in January 2022 to reflect the move from cloth masks to medical masks.

Why face coverings are important

COVID-19 primarily spreads through respiratory droplets that can be spread by actions such as coughing, sneezing, talking, and singing.

Face coverings, when worn properly, and especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing, have proven to be effective in preventing the virus from spreading.

Consistent and correct mask use is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Face coverings: who wears them, when

Selecting a cloth face covering for school

Gordon is asking all students and employees to move from cloth masks to a medical mask by Monday, January 10th.

The following medical masks are made of materials that can effectively filter both the large droplets and small aerosols or particles potentially carrying an airborne virus:

When selecting a mask, look for...

Non-acceptable masks:

How to wear face coverings

It’s important that students have masks that fit properly. If you notice that your child’s mask is getting stretched out or keeps dropping below their nose, please replace the mask as soon as possible. Gordon will also have a supply of masks in various sizes on hand, so that masks can be replaced, if necessary, during the school day.


The difference between cleaning and disinfecting

Cleaning physically removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects by using soap or detergent and water. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Cleaning responsibilities at school

Gordon’s Buildings and Grounds crew and the cleaning company will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting...

Classroom teachers are asked to support the Building and Grounds crew by disinfecting surfaces that are touched often in their rooms regularly. These surfaces include:

The Building and Grounds crew will be doing much of this disinfecting during the school day, but faculty have been asked to incorporate cleaning and disinfecting routines that make sense for the classroom schedule.

Cleaning supplies for classrooms

All classrooms will have hand soap and paper towels for cleaning.

All classrooms will have a supply of alcohol wipes for disinfecting. These wipes kill the COVID-19 virus, are allergen free, and are safe for both teachers and students to use.

For disinfecting, teachers should only use the wipes provided and should not bring products from home or spray any products into the air.

Teachers have been advised to keep cleaning products out of reach of children.

Basic cleaning and disinfecting procedures

To disinfect something in the classroom, wipe the item or surface with the alcohol wipes and allow to air dry completely before using.

Employees and students should wash masks at home regularly according to the care instructions. If a child needs a new mask during the school day, a disposable one can be procured from Health Services.

Cleaning and disinfecting shared materials

Given what we understand about how COVID-19 is transmitted and spread, teachers will not be required to limit the use of shared materials in the classroom. Teachers have been asked to keep physical distancing in mind when considering shared materials and to clean as they normally would to prevent the spread of the common cold and other viruses.



The healthy classroom

The best way to keep the risk of transmission and spread of the virus low is to build routines into the classroom that re-teach and reinforce healthy hygiene habits, including the following:

Practices to promote good health

Teachers have been asked to use the outdoors as much as possible.

Teachers have been asked to create a handwashing schedule and maintain easy access to hand sanitizers, if applicable, to make hand hygiene efficient.

Teachers have been asked to open windows, use the air conditioner in “clean air” mode, and move outside as much as possible.

Water

Lunch and snack

Food allergies

Outdoor play and recess

Bathroom protocols

It is important that bathrooms be used in a manner that eliminates the possibility of close contacts outside of a student’s stable group. Teachers will encourage these bathroom habits:

Use of bathrooms

What will a teacher do if a student seems ill?



The physically distanced office

Though all Gordon employees are fully vaccinated and It is very unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted or spread through shared surfaces and brief human encounters, the following protocols are in place to reduce the number of possible close contacts should there be a COVID-19 infection. These protocols will also prevent the spread of other kinds of viruses like the common cold.

Changes to how we work

Visitor policy

The following visitor policies will reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus:



Screening protocols and considerations

My child doesn't feel well. Now what?

An extremely detailed step-by-step explanation of this question, and all its implications, is at www.gordonschool.org/covidqanda

Gordon’s approach to screening

Gordon will be using a variation on the most recent screening tool provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health. You may notice other schools or businesses using a different or modified set of questions. Gordon developed its questions by modifying the COVID-19 Employee and Client Screening Tool to acknowledge the fact that the majority of our student body is unvaccinated and to support our commitment to maximizing in-person learning for all Gordon students.

The purpose of any health screening tool is to identify anyone who may possibly be infectious. The ultimate objective is to keep sick people off campus.

All Gordon faculty, staff and students will be asked to complete the safety app each day.

Travel guidelines

The current CDC and Rhode Island guidelines strongly recommend, but do not require, that all unvaccinated domestic travelers get a PCR test upon return to Rhode Island and also quarantine for seven days.

Requiring testing and quarantining after travel implies that travel is somehow more dangerous than other activities like attending crowded, local social events, which it is not.

After conversations with our health and safety team, and bearing in mind Gordon’s multiple layers of safety, we are asking families to respond to the safety app honestly, and continue to follow the health and safety strategies that have been proven to limit the transmission and spread of COVID-19 (masking, hand hygiene, distancing, etc.). The Rhode Island travel recommendations and guidelines are subject to change and we will keep you informed of any changes to Gordon’s travel policy.

Information about symptoms

You can find the list of symptoms of COVID-19 on page 7 of the Rhode Island Outbreak Response Protocols for Pre K-12 Schools. We have also been calling this document the “RI Playbook" and we have created a shortcut to it at www.gordonschool.org/playbook. 

An important update from last year: the playbook no longer makes a distinction between being “symptomatic” and being a “probable case.” Now, in the absence of a more likely diagnosis, any person with one or more of the following symptoms should be considered a “probable case,” indicating the need for a COVID-19 test.

Symptoms of COVID-19:

New guidance for symptomatic individuals

The current guidance from the Department of Health indicates that if a child or adult is experiencing any symptom of COVID-19, they should stay home, seek medical advice, and get a PCR test.

Gordon has decided to provide symptomatic students, faculty and staff with the following options to in order to return to campus:

According to the RI Playbook, unvaccinated household contacts of a symptomatic individual always have to stay home while the individual recovers (within twenty-four hours) or awaits the results of their COVID-19 test.

This sounds like there will be a lot of people staying home.

Probably. Some patients with COVID-19 have presented with only one mild symptom or atypical symptoms, so health care providers may recommend testing even when a child has only one symptom.

We will learn a lot in the first weeks of school. But the potential inconvenience is worth it to avoid a possible outbreak of any illness at Gordon. Taking twenty-four hours to determine the appropriate school response and provide the right direction to employees and families will give us the best possible chance to keep our school safe and keep our doors open.

Chronic conditions and allergies

When an adult or child with a history of allergies or some other chronic condition has a new onset of ANY symptom, the Department of Health instructs families to assume that it’s COVID-19 and not allergies. The symptomatic person should stay home, contact their healthcare provider, and get a PCR test.

If the symptoms are a result of allergies, then the symptoms could be present for as long as the allergen is present. This could be for weeks or longer.

Therefore, the symptomatic person may come to school as long as there is no fever, no new symptoms of COVID-19, and no sudden change in symptoms. The school will also need a note from the symptomatic individual’s doctor indicating that the symptoms are due to a chronic condition.

If there is any new additional COVID-19 symptom or sudden change or worsening of symptoms, particularly runny nose or nasal congestion, then the symptomatic person should stay home, seek medical advice and get tested, as required, to return to school.

Close contacts, household contacts and positive cases

The Rhode Island Department of Health defines close contact with an infected person as “being within six feet of an infected person, with or without a face mask, for at least fifteen minutes, or having unprotected direct contact with secretions or excretions of a person with confirmed COVID-19 during their infectious period.”

Individuals living in the same household are considered household contacts. The definition of a household contact is the same as a close contact. However, the isolation or quarantine protocols may differ between the two.

Last year at Gordon, students and teachers in the same house were considered close contacts. For the 2021-2022 school year, close contacts of a positive case will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis through contact tracing.

To determine close contacts, Gordon and the Rhode Island Department of Health will be looking at whether or not physical distancing was able to be maintained at all times during the exposure to the infected person.



Quarantine and isolation

Quarantine 

Quarantine is for unvaccinated individuals who were identified as a close contact to an infected person:

Quarantine for close contacts

Quarantine exceptions

Isolation

Isolation is for the ill or infected. It involves...

Duration of isolation depends on whether the individual is:

Generally, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for ten days from first onset of symptoms or, if they are not showing symptoms, ten days from the date they were first tested.

In consultation with the Department of Health, Nurse Hoey will advise infected individuals and their families on isolation, including quarantine instructions for household contacts. You can find out more about isolation protocols in the RI Playbook. 



Dropoff and pickup procedures

The parent and caregiver's guide to dropoff and pickup is at www.gordonschool.org/dropoff



Safety and security

Campus security

Due to the increased use of outdoor classrooms and the recommendations to open doors to increase ventilation, Gordon has hired security to patrol and monitor the campus from 7:45am to 3:30pm each day.

Evacuation drills

Evacuation drills are performed regularly throughout the school year. For the first drill of the school year, the school receptionist Kim O’Donnell alerts the division directors so teachers (especially in Early Childhood) can be prepared and prepare the students. Following that, evacuation drills will occur without warning.

For the 2021-22 school year, Gordon will not conduct any lockdown drills with students.