COVID Prevention Policy 2021-22rev August 31, 2021
Circle School COVID Policy 2021-22
UPDATE: Governor Wolf’s order, superseding parts of this policy, requires that all students, staff, and visitors wear face coverings indoors, beginning Sept 7, 2021.
COVID Prevention Policy 2021-22 (rev August 31, 2021)
Freedom / Responsibility / Democracy / Community
SUMMARY OF POLICY FEATURES
- Masks OPTIONAL in the OPTIONAL ZONE
- Masks REQUIRED in the REQUIRED ZONE
- Voluntary free weekly COVID testing on Tuesdays (results on Wednesday)
- Policy depends on voluntary testing of at least 80% of student-staff population
- Playroom reserved for 4- to 9.5-year-olds (as of Sept 1), masks OPTIONAL
- Masks also REQUIRED: JC always, field trips (in vehicles and indoors), large indoor gatherings
- Eating allowed only in Eatery, Kitchen, North Nook, outdoors
- Test participation of less than 80% triggers likely expansion of the REQUIRED Zone
- Masks REQUIRED EVERYWHERE if two members test positive in a 7-day period
- “Masks” includes all kinds of face coverings for reducing transmission
- Continuous air treatment to remove particles and aerosols (NPBI)
OPTIONAL ZONE (mostly spacious, well-ventilated areas): Outdoors, Commons, Eatery, Kitchen, North Nook, North Entry, Sign-In Board Area, South Nook, Alley, Lavatories, Lavatory Courtyard, Records Room, Storage Room.
REQUIRED ZONE (mostly enclosed rooms): Vestibule, Lobby/Office, Side Office, Conference Room, Meadow Room, Music Studio, Round Room, Mama Pod, North Pod, South Pod, Library.
PLAYROOM: Exclusively reserved for students who were 4 to 9.5 years old on September 1 (even if older thereafter), masks optional.
This policy shall be in effect from September 1, 2021, through November 30, 2021, and may be modified, extended, or terminated by vote of School Meeting.
The purpose of this policy is to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID at school, intending to balance individual freedom with community well-being; to balance the value of in-person attendance with the risk of a school closure; and to be responsive to the various viewpoints and risk assessments among members of the school community.
In the OPTIONAL ZONE, masks are OPTIONAL. In the REQUIRED ZONE, masks are REQUIRED except that if a person is alone in a room, they may remove their mask.
The PLAYROOM is reserved for masked or unmasked students who were 4 to 9.5 years old on September 1, 2021 (including students who become older AFTER September 1). A maximum of eight students shall be in the Playroom at any time. Older students shall not enter the Playroom with or without masks, except they may enter wearing a mask as necessary for chore-related duties. Staff may be in the Playroom (preferably masked) at any time. The intent is to accommodate young students who are least able to tolerate masks; to treat them as a semi-isolated cohort; and to recognize that younger students, especially those who are new to the school, are often attracted to and feel more secure in the Playroom.
Masking is also REQUIRED as follows: at all times in Judicial Committee sessions (all witnesses, all JC members, all observers); while in vehicles and indoors during field trips; in all-school indoor gatherings (such as the first 15 minutes of School Meeting sessions); other large gatherings as specified by School Meeting from time to time.
The school shall arrange for voluntary weekly collection of cheek-swab samples at school, and submission of samples to a laboratory for rapid PCR COVID testing. (Most students are able to do the cheek swab themselves if they wish. The process takes only a few seconds.) Families of students who choose to participate in the weekly testing program shall submit their medical insurance information to the testing agency. (Test providers currently accept all insurances, and insurers do not require any out-of-pocket payment. If that changes, or if a provider rejects a particular insurance, the family will be notified before charges are incurred.)
Voluntary weekly testing of most students and staff, and exclusion of those who test positive, is essential to this policy and will help reduce the risk of COVID transmission. If voluntary participation in weekly testing falls below 80% of the student-staff population, then School Meeting shall consider expanding the REQUIRED ZONE up to and including ALL of the indoors.
The Medical Officer shall exclude from school any person who has tested positive, and other persons who are assessed by the Medical Officer as likely to transmit COVID, based on their symptoms or their known exposure at school or away from school. Following a positive test, exclusion shall continue until the later of 10 days after the positive test or 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication). Following known exposure in the absence of a positive test, exclusion shall continue for 14 days.
If two or more School Meeting members test positive from samples collected within any 7-day period, then all students and staff shall immediately, temporarily be required to wear masks while indoors (except when eating in the allowed places). This temporary requirement shall continue until a 7-day period passes with no members exhibiting COVID symptoms AND no member tests positive (through sampling at school or elsewhere) OR until School Meeting ends the temporary requirement.
The Attendance Clerk shall record as excused all absences due to exclusion from school and all absences related to COVID symptoms or to reasonable avoidance of COVID.
Curbside pickups and drop-offs are encouraged but not required. Parents and other transportation providers who enter the building are asked to wear masks and wait for their passengers in the Lobby. Visitors shall be kept to a minimum and scheduled during low-attendance hours if practical. Blanket forts and similarly confined forts are prohibited. Staff members are permitted to be anywhere on campus at any time as necessary or helpful, regardless of Zones and other policy provisions. Last year’s Health & Safety Plan is no longer in effect. Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization equipment, installed in August 2020 to remove aerosol particles from the air (including particles containing the COVID virus), will operate continuously (as last year), and last year’s enhanced air filtration will be continued.
Exceptions to this policy may be made only by School Meeting (including its Executive Committee when active) or, temporarily, its Emergency Committee. Note that this policy may or may not accord with recommendations of the CDC and other public health officials. Legally binding orders or legislation that conflict with this policy shall supersede this policy.
NOTE: Ventilation and indoor air quality were already excellent in our newly constructed building. In August 2020 the school added NEEDLEPOINT BIPOLAR IONIZATION (NPBI) for continuous removal of pathogens and aerosol particles. This technology has been shown to disable and remove airborne viruses, including the COVID virus, and will continue to operate throughout the building in 2021-22, along with increased air filtration.