North Florida School of Special Education’s COVID-19 Protocols

We will ensure our policies and practices are in compliance with COVID related local, state, and federal guidelines. Our COVID-19 protocols are based on extensive research by carefully considering recommendations made by the following organizations or plans: CDC guidelines; American Academy of Pediatrics, Governor DeSantis’ Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery; Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) Reopening Florida’s Schools and the CARES Act; Mayo Clinic; Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS); National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and Independent School Management (ISM).

We are planning to begin the 2020-2021 school year on campus on Tuesday, August 11, guided by the following:

  • Having the flexibility to modify plans should local, state, or federal guidelines change.
  • Ensuring hygiene practices are in place as the most effective way to combat the spread of COVID.
  • Establishing daily health checks that ensure individuals with COVID symptoms are not on campus.
  • Establishing clear COVID related quarantine and testing protocols for the community.
  • Ensuring we put in place COVID protection practices and modifications to reduce potential exposure to COVID for our students, faculty, staff, and families. These practices and modifications (listed at the end of this document) will impact all aspects of school life and will evolve as needed to ensure we protect our community.

Hygiene Practices

  • Personal hygiene will be constantly reinforced to all who are on campus. There will be signage, daily reinforcement, and general availability of locations to wash and or sanitize hands.
  • Regular cleaning and deep cleaning protocols will be established for all classrooms, bathrooms, offices and general spaces.

Daily Health Checks

  • We encourage parents to also conduct a daily health check before sending their children to school.
  • We will be checking for the following symptoms:
    • Fever (100.4 or higher) or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • The daily Health Check will take place at lunch.
  • Based on the symptoms present and specific circumstances, a student who is believed to be at risk of having COVID will be asked to leave campus.

Quarantine and Testing Protocols UPDATED 10.28.20

This section provides guidance when community members are either suspected or confirmed to have COVID. In all cases parents must immediately inform the appropriate individual of all suspected or verified COVID cases.  This excludes daily Health Checks of which the school will already be aware.

Scenario 1 – Health Check Symptoms are present – assume possible COVID

  • Your child must be seen or be consulted by a doctor within 24 hours to rule out COVID.
  • Contact the school nurse with your doctor’s recommendations before returning to school.

Scenario 2 – Tested Positive for COVID with symptoms

  • Quarantine for a minimum of 10 days but must also have three consecutive days with no fever and improved symptoms before returning to school.

Scenario 3 – Tested Positive for COVID without symptoms

  • Quarantine for 10 days following the test.

Scenario 4 – Have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID

  • Close contact is defined as having been in close proximity to a COVID-positive individual for a minimum amount of time during which social distance did not or could not occur and face coverings were not being worn.
  • Individuals who have been in close contact need to call their doctor or the school nurses for guidance about testing recommendations.
  • Individuals who have been in close contact as described above need to quarantine for 14 days after exposure.

General Guidelines for those who have or suspect having COVID

  • Self-monitor for symptoms (check temperature twice a day), also watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, or other symptoms (per the above list).
  • Quarantine is meant to be self isolation to preclude potential spread of the virus.
  • Individuals who have a weakened immune system due to a health condition or medication should be in close contact with their doctor for guidance if they suspect to have COVID or tested positive.

Scenario 5 – Student tests positive in the classroom

Per the Florida Department of Health, protocols are based on students’ and teacher’s exposure within the classroom.

Close contact has occurred if any of the following happened while an individual (student, teacher, or staff person) interacted with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, even if they didn’t have symptoms during their infectious period. The school will proactively inform all parents of the possible exposure when this scenario takes place to include classroom exposure in which face coverings and social distancing have taken place.  Further determinations will be implemented based on exposure risk and guidelines from the CDC and the Florida Health Department.

  • Had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
  • Were within 6 feet of the person for 15 minutes or more. This includes single encounters OR multiple encounters within a single day adding up to 15 minutes.
  • Had contact with the person’s respiratory secretions (for example, coughed or sneezed on; contact with a dirty tissue; shared a drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal items).

This definition applies even if protective measures, such as face coverings, face shields, or physical barriers (for example, plexiglass, partitions), were used. While these protective measures reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, it does not negate the need for a quarantine if the criteria above are met.

To determine within the classroom setting if a subset of students need to be quarantined versus a whole classroom, details needs to be obtained to make an informed decision. Factors to consider include age of students involved, classroom layout, seat assignments, movement of students and staff within the classroom, and length of exposure. Examples are below:

  • If desks are placed 6 feet apart, students remain at their desks throughout the duration of class, and the teacher remains at the front of the class at least 6 feet away from any students, there would be no close contacts identified in the classroom.
  • If desks are placed less than 6 feet apart, students remain at their desks throughout the duration of class, and the teacher remains at the front of the class at least 6 feet away from any students, those students within the 6-foot radius of the case would be considered close contacts and should be placed in quarantine. The teacher and students outside the 6-foot radius would not need to quarantine.
  • If the classroom is arranged such that students are moving freely throughout the classroom without maintaining 6-foot distance and interacting with the teacher, all students and the teacher would be considered close contacts and should be placed in quarantine, given that the duration of free movement exceeded 15 minutes total in a day.
  • If the students move between multiple classrooms throughout the day and desks are placed less than 6 feet apart, those students within the 6-foot radius in each of the classrooms the case was in would be considered close contacts and should be placed in quarantine.

School Practices and Modifications

Visitor Policy

  • Parents, visitors, and guests are allowed on school campus to volunteer, tour, visit or dine in the café. Mask wearing indoors is optional for vaccinated individuals. Guests who are unvaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors.

Daily Drop-off and Pick-up

  • At this time, there are no planned changes in the manner students are dropped-off or picked-up.

Face Covering Usage

  • All vaccinated students, staff, faculty, and visitors have the option to wear a mask indoors.
  • Students, staff, faculty, and guests who are unvaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask indoors when social distancing is not possible.
  • Mask wearing in not required for outdoor activities.

Classroom Environment

  • Class sizes have been capped to ensure appropriate occupancy by room.
  • Seating arrangements will be determined by departments to allow for flexibility according to discipline-specific learning needs.
  • Plexiglass dividers will be installed in classrooms with fixed workspaces that do not allow for appropriate distancing.
  • All commonly-used classroom spaces will be disinfected between each class period.
  • All classrooms will be treated nightly with disinfecting spray and all surfaces treated with disinfectant, including desks, chairs, phones, doorknobs, light switches, and white board trays.
  • Air filters are being changed to ensure we have the highest filtering capability that will work with each unit.

Lunch Modifications

  • NFSSE’s Culinary Program will continue to provide the highest quality foods that are healthy with appropriate choices given COVID required restrictions to reduce the probability of the spread of the virus.
  • Lunch will be provided directly to students and staff by Culinary team members in the classrooms.

Bus/Transportation Modifications

  • Passengers will be required to wear a mask on the van.
  • If a student can not wear a mask, please do not sign them up for transportation.