Reopening Schools Plan - Health Mitigation Strategies

Details on the health mitigation strategies for reopening schools

Health Mitigation Strategies for Reopening

Virginia’s reopening plans are based on CDC guidelines for ensuring safe and healthy learning and working environments. FCPS is working with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) to determine criteria and guidelines for reopening schools. The CDC provides a comprehensive decision tree to support local school system decision making. In this section, FCPS staff have outlined an initial summary of CDC decisions tree guidelines, as they apply to FCPS. The FCHD will provide further guidance. 

Adherence to State and Local Guidance 

All final decisions about when and how to reopen schools—as well as decisions about any future closures—will continue to be informed by the most recent local health data in partnership with the FCHD. 

Protecting Students and Staff Who Need Extra Precautions 
  • The CDC has defined certain students and staff who need extra precautions against infection. As prescribed in the governor’s phase guidance, FCPS will provide a full-time online option for students and teachers. This option is available for students and teachers who need extra precautions due to medical risk and others who are concerned about potential risk. Flexible telework assignments are available for non-teaching staff, including those with higher health risk.
  • The screening, health, and safety measures that follow will offer further precautions for vulnerable students and staff.
Health Screening 
  • FCPS will implement daily health screening practices for students and staff. FCPS is partnering with the FCHD to develop and refine protocols for daily screening, reporting, and monitoring for 2020-21. A public information campaign will be utilized to reinforce the importance of staying home for any individual who is sick. Staff will be required to complete daily self-reporting to verify they are asymptomatic when reporting to the worksite. 
  • Families will be required to complete a health screening process for their children daily. A variety of formats for this daily screening process are being considered to maximize its accessibility and utility. Public health assistants will screen students that report symptoms upon arrival or whose caregiver did not complete the daily health screening.

Health and Safety Measures 

The CDC has highlighted specific mitigating strategies to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

Healthy Hygiene Practices
  • Routine healthy hygiene practices are a foundational measure to protect against COVID-19 and other illnesses. 
  • FCPS hand washing guidelines indicate that students should wash hands for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; before eating, and upon entering classrooms. Breaks will be provided for hand washing. If soap and water are not readily available, sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol will be provided.
  • Cloth face coverings will be worn by students and staff throughout the day when social distancing guidelines cannot be strictly maintained. Masks will be provided for students who are unable to provide their own, and will be used as developmentally appropriate. Students are required to wear masks on FCPS school buses.  
  • Additional protective equipment including face shields, gloves, and gowns will be provided, as appropriate, for settings that require close human contact, such as for staff providing certain supports for students with disabilities.
Intensified Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Cleaning and disinfection measures will ensure the physical spaces, equipment, and materials students and staff come into contact with remain safe.
  • Daily sanitizing will be implemented for high touch areas (doorknobs, handles, fixtures, etc.) with a medical grade sanitizing solution.
  • Restrooms will be monitored and cleaned more frequently throughout the day. Outside cleaning services will be contracted, as needed.
Social Distancing Practices
  • FCPS staff will employ social distancing strategies to increase spacing between individuals, including adjusted seating arrangements for school buses and classrooms and posted signs to remind staff and students of 6-foot social distancing.
  • Staff will maintain small groups by having students eat meals in classrooms whenever possible and limiting volunteers and visitors in the building.
  • Additionally, staff will use strategies to minimize mixing between groups whenever possible. Specific practices will be customized for each school and may include designating building entrances by grade level, mapping traffic patterns through the school, and scheduling  student and staff groupings to be as static as possible.

Ongoing Monitoring Practices 

FCPS will regularly communicate and monitor developments with local health department authorities regarding cases, exposures, hospitalizations, and any other relevant metrics that may require a change in school operations. In the event of an elevated number of cases in local health data or in the event of presumed or confirmed cases directly impacting schools or central offices, FCPS will collaborate with FCHD authorities to implement all necessary health and safety protocols. This could include short-term closure of one or more FCPS facilities until health officials deem it safe to reopen. More information on preparations for future closures may be found in this plan.

Reopening Schools Plan - Complete Information