For each mitigation strategy listed below (A–H), please describe how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC.
A. Universal and correct wearing of masks
All staff and students have the option of wearing a mask while they are in schools, district buildings, and school buses. Visitors are encouraged (but not required) to wear masks. The district may need to mandate masks to be worn if local conditions change during the year. Anyone who would like a mask can get one from the school’s security guards or principal.
B. Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding)
The District will continue to follow guidance with regards to physical distancing from the NJDOH. As of now, it is encouraged that students keep right in the hallways and stairwells.
C. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
- Handwashing: Frequent hand washing, and respiratory protocols will continue to be encouraged as the District moves forward into the 2022-2023 school year. Staff and students will be advised to continue to do the following:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, hand sanitizer should be used that contains 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes if not wearing a mask.
- Maintain adequate supplies in classroom/hallways, including hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trash cans.
- Hand washing or sanitizing should take place during the following times:
- Upon entering the school building.
- Before and after eating (includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks).
- Before entering the bathroom and after going to the bathroom.
- Before leaving the school building for the day.
- After blowing nose, sneezing, coughing, or touching unclean items.
- When hands are dirty or soiled from touching surfaces.
- District staff should observe young children when hand washing takes place and throw away all used tissues and paper towels.
- Respiratory etiquette: All bathrooms and classrooms are stocked with paper towels and tissue to covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or using a tissue or paper towel, placing it in the trash, followed by immediate handwashing or hand sanitizing.
D. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation
- The District will provide regular in-service training of Facilities Department staff and the contracted custodial vendors that will include topics on infection control (use of PPE), District regulations to reduce the spread of COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, general hygiene, safe work practices, and the use of products to disinfect and sanitize school buildings.
- High-traffic areas and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected regularly, using only EPA-approved disinfectants.
- A procedure has been established and implemented for disinfecting contaminated areas in the event of on-site COVID-19 exposure.
- Vollara Air and Surface Pro air purifiers have been placed in every occupied space. The units are equipped with ActivePure ionic technology that provides continuous surface decontamination and air purification in real-time, using superoxide molecules and hydro-peroxides that destroy contaminants on surfaces and in the air. The ActivePure Technology has been proven to eliminate over 99.9 percent of many common airborne and surface contaminants including viruses like the SAR-CoV-2 coronavirus, swine flu and bacteria, mold, fungi, volatile organic compounds (VOC), smoke, allergens, and odors.
- The Maintenance Department will continue servicing HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems based on manufacturers’ specifications for preventive and routine maintenance. Air filters will be monitored and replaced if required, even ahead of the normal replacement interval. Wherever possible, fresh air circulation will be increased in all occupied spaces by opening windows. The CDC recommends that even a slightly opened window can introduce beneficial outdoor air in rooms. A districtwide standard has been established to have at least two windows open when classrooms and offices are occupied and where it does not create an imminent health/safety hazard.
E. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments
Contact Tracing: Paterson Public Schools has its own personnel to perform contact tracing for the District’s schools. Contact tracing is a strategy used to determine the source of an infection and how it is spreading. Finding people who are close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and are therefore at higher risk of becoming infected themselves, to help prevent further spread of the virus.
School nurses will identify school-based close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases in the school. As with other communicable disease outbreaks, schools will assist in identifying the close contacts within the school and communicate this information to the Supervisor of Nursing who will notify the City of Paterson’s Department of Health and Human Services. Schools are responsible for notifying parents and staff of the close contact exposure and exclusion requirements while maintaining confidentiality. The Paterson Health and Human Services Department’s contact tracing team will notify and interview the close contacts identified by the school and reinforce the exclusion requirements.
Lastly, weekly summative COVID positive data is shared with the President of the Board of Education, President of the Union and Principals.
F. Diagnostic and screening testing
On-site diagnostic testing will be available to staff and students who are exhibiting symptoms or who were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Testing will be performed by a contracted provider, at locations designated by the District. Test results will be made available to patients and District representatives online within 24 to 48 hours. Testing now requires health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, you can get tested at the Paterson Division of Health.
Although screening testing is not being implemented at this time, the District will implement a screening testing strategy if warranted by local pandemic conditions.
G. Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible
Everyone six months or older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey and is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing you from getting sick. Most K-12 schools will have a mixed population of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals at any given time. This is why the District has provided several layers of protection against the COVID-19 virus. To determine the vaccination status of students and staff, the District will administer periodic surveys in addition to collecting vaccination records as may be required by law. If the District is unable to determine the vaccination status of an individual student or staff member, that individual will be considered not fully vaccinated.
Paterson Public Schools will promote its partnerships to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to staff and students, including its partnerships with St. Joseph’s Medical Center, the N.J. Department of Health and the Paterson Division of Health.
H. Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies
Although masks are optional, certain students with disabilities or severe respiratory impairments who wish to wear a mask are provided with full face shields as an alternative. Other accommodations with respect to health and safety policies will be granted as required under applicable federal and State laws and regulations concerning non-discrimination and disability rights.