2020-2021 Health and Safety
The health and safety of everyone in our community will continue to be our top priority as we bring students and faculty members back to campus. Nobles is implementing health and safety protocols for all members of the community based on current local and state guidance and discussions with our medical advisors. The goal is to create a culture of health and safety that focuses on a combination of mitigation strategies and rigorous protocols to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. All members of our community are expected to support our collective vigilance regarding safety. We also understand that policies may change based on the course of the pandemic and in response to updated guidance from the state, public health entities including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH) and medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
We are all so eager to reconnect with one another this September. Our ability to safely reopen is dependent upon each of you. The thousands of hours we have all invested in designing our reopening plans will only be effective if all members of our community abide by several core requirements, both on campus and off. Below is what we expect from all community members as part of our reopening this fall.
While ON campus, students, faculty, and staff must adhere to all Nobles health and safety requirements, including:
- Attestation: Complete the attestation app daily before arriving on campus, honestly share details about any symptoms, and report any positive Covid case that affects the Nobles community to a Nobles nurse.
- Masks: Wear a two-ply mask properly at all times on campus, except when eating, taking a mask break in a designated location or given explicit permission by an adult.
- Social Distancing: Maintain six feet of distance from others on campus at all times, follow wayfinding signage and adhere to instructions that designate where it is appropriate to stand or sit in common spaces.
While OFF campus, students, faculty, and staff must adhere to all Commonwealth of Massachusetts health and safety requirements, including:
- Masks: Wear a mask whenever social distance is not possible, both indoors and outdoors.
- Group Gatherings: Abstain from gathering in groups of more than 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
- Travel Order: Adhere to the latest travel orders, including those that currently specify the need to quarantine for 14 days when returning to Massachusetts from most states in the country.
- Athletics and Other Activities: Comply with latest state guidelines around safety in youth sports and activities, whether competing or gathering in Massachusetts or out-of-state.
We expect all members of our community to follow these guidelines at all times. For the safety of our community, they will be strictly enforced. If we determine a student has not followed the guidelines or maintained appropriate precautions while away from campus in a way that puts our community’s health and safety at risk, we may require that student to learn virtually while quarantining before returning to campus. We need your help and partnership now more than ever as we seek to safely reopen campus this fall.
The Role of Families
Families play a vital role in the health and safety of the Nobles community. The most important health and safety measure is to keep a child home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms, or have had a known exposure to COVID that creates an appreciable risk of transmission (e.g., a member of the household has tested positive). If a child develops symptoms while at school and needs to be dismissed, an authorized responsible adult will be required to pick up within 45 minutes.
The effectiveness of our health and safety efforts depend heavily on our families and students to continue to take precautions when not at school. This includes wearing masks when in public and at social gatherings where physical distancing is not possible, avoiding large social gatherings, avoiding unnecessary travel, monitoring all household members for illness and quarantining or isolating when advised. We expect that all families will adhere to all state-issued Covid-19 guidelines, including travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
Covid-19 Travel Policy
Effective August, 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must follow new travel orders. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order.
All families must monitor state guidelines on travel, be aware of the restricted travel states (which may be continually changing), and must adhere to the most updated policies from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Updated Health Policies
To reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in our community, we are implementing the following health and safety protocols (further details below):
- All persons (employees and students) will be required to complete a daily health screening via a mobile app prior to arrival at school (instructions will be provided).
- All persons will be required to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet everywhere on campus.
- All persons will be required to wear masks (two-ply minimum) at all times, unless during designated mask breaks.
- All persons will be required to observe handwashing and hygiene protocols.
- Additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be in place.
- Elimination of shared equipment in classrooms and where feasible; equipment will be cleaned between users.
- Implementation of one-way walk-through routes in school buildings where possible.
- Limiting the number of people in a restroom at any given time.
- Where possible, we have improved ventilation in classroom and office spaces.
Daily Health Screenings
Symptom screenings and health attestations will need to be completed on behalf of each student by parents/guardians and by each employee prior to coming to arriving on campus every day. These will serve as the primary screening mechanism for Covid-19 symptoms. Students and employees must stay home if they are feeling unwell, even if the symptoms are mild. Symptoms include: fever, chills, cough (not due to another known cause such as chronic cough), difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, headache when in combination with other symptoms, muscle or body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue when in combination with other symptoms, and nasal congestion or runny nose in combination with other symptoms. Additional questions about potential exposure to Covid-19 will also be part of the daily screenings. Families’ adherence to the sick policy is a critical aspect of keeping our community healthy.
We are continuing to evaluate the efficacy of testing our community for Covid-19 as part of our reopening. To use testing as an effective part of our reopening would require very frequent testing of the entire community along with very reliable turnaround time on results, both of which are notable challenges the medical community is facing. Our medical advisory team is keeping us abreast of evolving research and options to consider. We will make a final determination on testing as we near reopening.
A minimum of 6 feet of physical space between people must be maintained throughout the campus. We are working to create classrooms, offices and common areas with this spacing. The number of students in each classroom space will be based on the physical size of the classroom and the spacing of desks 6 feet apart. Throughout campus, directional signage will guide the flow of students in and out of buildings, in hallways and on staircases to enforce these distancing guidelines.
All members of the community must wear a mask with at least two layers that adequately covers both the nose and mouth. They should fit comfortably, but snugly along the sides of the face. No graphic and/or inappropriate images or words are permitted on masks other than the brand insignia, or the writing and symbols of official Nobles masks. Each student will be expected to bring two clean masks to school every day, and there will be disposable masks available for those who need them. Additionally, a two-layer mask will also be required for afternoon program activities. Masks should be washed daily in hot water. Nobles will provide one cotton, washable and reusable two-layer mask to each student and employee at the start of school.
Hand Washing/Hand Sanitizing
Students should wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after each restroom use, before eating, before putting on and taking off masks, before leaving school and always after sneezing or coughing. When soap and water are not available, students should use hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol-based). Hand sanitization will be required upon entry to any building. Hand sanitizer will be placed at all entrances and common areas and by each classroom. Soap and water, when available, should be used instead of hand sanitizer.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Classrooms will be stocked with cleaning supplies for sanitation of tables and desks between classes. Frequently touched areas and restrooms will be cleaned regularly throughout the day. Additional custodial staff will be on duty during the academic day. There will be a comprehensive cleaning at the end of each school day and as needed during the day.
Visual markers such as signs, posters and other reminders will be posted throughout campus to remind the community of the safety protocols and way-finding.
To maintain 6-foot distancing and avoid gatherings, we will be limiting the number of people allowed into each restroom at once.
Nobles Health Office
Nobles will use two separate spaces for health care this year. Each space will be staffed by one of the school’s two full-time nurses. For non-illness related visits, asymptomatic students will visit the health office located in the Pratt Middle School. Students who are experiencing any illness symptoms will be instructed to visit the new health office, which is located below the admission area. This space will have immediate access to outdoor space, with a dedicated entrance and exit from the outside, as well as a separate dedicated bathroom. Signage will direct students to the newly added location, which they will enter from outdoors. Once there, students will be evaluated and either sent back to class or isolated and sent home. Families should be prepared to have an authorized adult pick up a child within 45 minutes should the nurse determine the child is unwell.
As of 8/19/20, Massachusetts is now requiring all students to receive the flu vaccine (by 12/31/20).
Protocols for Responding to Covid-19 Scenarios
As we prepare to return to school in September with focus on the mitigation strategies and rigorous protocols, we will be following the guidance from the CDC and DPH in responding to any positive cases in the Nobles community.
If a Student or Employee Tests Positive for Covid-19
A student or employee must remain at home, monitor symptoms, notify the school and close personal contacts, assist in contact-tracing efforts and isolate as directed by the local Board of Health. The current isolation guidance (CDC) is 10 days from the date symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours fever-free off of fever-reducing medication and improvement of symptoms.
Nobles will work to identify the student’s or employee’s possible close contacts based on classroom seating and academic schedule. The lookback period will begin two days prior to the appearance of symptoms or the positive Covid-19 test, and will include up to the time the student or employee was isolated. A “close contact’ is defined as someone who is within 6 feet of the individual for at least 10-15 minutes.
When may a Student or Employee return to school after COVID-19-like symptoms
If a student or employee has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative (PCR only) for COVID-19, have improvement in symptoms, and have been without a fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis (e.g.influenza, strep pharyngitis).
If a student or employee presents with Covid-19-like symptoms and chooses not to be tested, they may return to school 10 days from the start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours prior to their return to school without the use of fever-reducing medication.
When may a Student or Employee who has been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 return to school
A “close contact” is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before symptom onset (or, for asymptomatic individuals, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the infected person is isolated.
Current MA Department of Public Health guidance is that all close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case should be tested, but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of the test result.
Family Responsibility for Notifying Nobles of Covid-19 Event in a Household
Families should notify the Nobles health office as soon as possible for any of the following Covid-19 events in a household:
- A student or household member has been diagnosed with Covid-19
- A student or household member has been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19
- A student has been tested for Covid-19 (with or without symptoms) and is awaiting results
The information provided will help Nobles to respond appropriately and begin contact tracing, notify others if they have been exposed, initiate facility cleaning, and monitor the health of the community.
In the interest of privacy, Nobles will not publicly share information identifying any affected student, staff member or household. Nobles will collaborate with the local Board of Health in the contact tracing process and notification of other community members who may need to quarantine or follow-up with their physician.
Remote Learning Options
Any student who has health or safety concerns when we return can choose to opt out of on campus programming and participate entirely virtually. The student’s schedule will remain the same whether on campus or off, and the student will connect to live classes virtually. There are also virtual options for any student to connect to afternoon and co-curricular programs. Recognizing that much remains unknown about Covid-19, and that transmission could occur despite Nobles’s extensive efforts to create a safe environment, all families are advised that the decision to participate in programming offered on campus carries some risk, which families knowingly assume in deciding whether their students will opt for the remote-only learning options.