COVID-19 Updates & Inforamtion
According to the CDC, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. It is caused by a novel (new) strain of coronavirus that arose in China in December 2019. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
Based on current CDC guidelines, Natural Steps considers symptoms of COVID-19 to be a fever of 100.4° and above, chills, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Any teacher or child exhibiting any of these symptoms will be sent home. A negative PCR test result or a doctor's note will be required before returning to the school. If a member of the household begins experiencing any of these symptoms, if at all possible, do not send your child to school until that person’s symptoms have cleared or they have been cleared by a doctor.
Health Department: In the event of a teacher or student testing positive for COVID-19, the Director will immediately contact the local health department to notify them of the positive case. The Director will seek a recommendation on the student’s period of contagion and determine close contacts* and closures based on that period. The local health department will likely contact all individuals who are considered to be “close contacts” to the infected individual and reiterate the recommendation of the quarantine period given by the school.
Families: Upon gathering all information, Natural Steps will send a Procare email update out to all families alerting them to a positive COVID case in the building, along with any planned pod or classroom closures. Natural Steps will also reach out individually to families with students who are considered to be “close contacts” of the positive individual and inform them of the date their child can return to school. That date will be based on the protocol defined in the “Quarantine Periods” section of this document.
*Close Contacts: A close contact is defined as any person who was within six feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more, within 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask.
POD AND CLASSROOM CLOSURES
Depending on the positive individual’s period of contagion and last day of attendance at the school, Natural Steps will immediately close the pod(s) or classroom(s) the infected individual has been in during their period of contagion. When Natural Steps receives word of a positive case, regardless of time of day, students in that pod are required to be picked up within an hour of contact. In that time, children will be directed to individual activities while they wait to be picked up. The reopening of classrooms and pods will be dependent upon the availability for staff to return and for students to finish the quarantine mandated by the local health department.
TESTS AND QUARANTINE PERIODS
All students and teachers who are considered to be a close contact of an infected individual, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to quarantine from the school until the following criteria are met. As a reminder, a PCR test will not be accurate until five days after their last known contact with the infected person. Rapid test results will not be accepted.
Student or teacher with symptoms and a positive test
Individuals can end isolation and return once ALL of the following criteria are met
10 days out from the start of symptoms, AND
Fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, AND
Symptoms have improved
Asymptomatic student or teacher with a positive test result
Individuals that have tested positive, but are not showing symptoms, must quarantine for 10 days from the date of their positive test.
Close Contact: Student
Students will be required to quarantine for 14 days regardless of a negative PCR result, and may return to school on the 15th day if no symptoms are present during the quarantine period.
Close Contact: Teacher
On the sixth day or later after exposure, a teacher who is vaccinated may return to school with a negative PCR test result if no symptoms are present.
A teacher who has not been vaccinated will be permitted to return to school on the 11th day after exposure with a negative PCR test result if no symptoms are present.
Students and teachers who have previously tested positive will not be required to quarantine after exposure to an infected individual, as long as their previous positive test was within the last 90 days and they have completed their mandated quarantine for that positive test.
Siblings of students who have been considered a close contact of an infected individual will also be required to quarantine for the same length as the sibling and be permitted to return if no symptoms are present in any children or adults in the household. Siblings of an individual who becomes infected with COVID-19 and tests positive will need to quarantine for an additional 10 days after the infected person’s quarantine ends, unless they are able to quarantine away from the infected family member for 10 days after most recent contact and have a negative PCR test result on the 6th day or later.
If a member of a student’s household tests positive, it is the parent’s responsibility to contact Natural Steps if the student has attended school inside the infected person’s period of contagion. That student will need to
(1) quarantine away from the infected individual for 10 days since last known exposure and have a negative PCR test result on the 6th day or later OR
(2) quarantine for an additional 10 days after the infected individual’s quarantine period ends and have a negative PCR test result after that 6th day.
The student may return to Natural Steps after these quarantine periods if no symptoms are present.
Pre-COVID, full tuition payment has always been required to maintain a child’s spot in the program and is not based on their attendance. In order to maintain the school’s financial welfare and continue serving all of our families, as well as supporting our teachers, tuition is still required to maintain your child’s spot. However, we are sensitive to the financial hardship of our families in this pandemic and have made the following tuition adjustments for mandated quarantine periods. (This does not apply to families who are choosing to keep their children home that are able to attend school.)
Beginning August 9, 2021, the following tuition discounts will apply to family quarantines in a 12-month period:
First quarantine: 100% of weekly tuition will be required to be paid to maintain your spot
Second and third quarantines: 50% of weekly tuition will be required to be paid.
Fourth and all subsequent quarantines: 25% of weekly tuition will be required to be paid.
LAYERED PREVENTION STRATEGIES
Adjusted School Hours: The school hours have been temporarily adjusted to 7:00am to 5:30pm to allow for adequate staffing and limit the moving of teachers or students to other rooms in order to maintain state mandated ratios.
Temperature Checks: Teacher’s will check their own temperatures when they clock-in for work and will take their student’s temperatures at drop-off. Any student or teacher will not be permitted to stay with a temperature of 100.4° or higher.
Exterior Doors: Parents of children in a toddler class or older will use the exterior doors for drop-off and pick-up as the weather allows. Parents of infant children may use the front door for drop-offs and pick-ups, but will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the building. We ask that all parents promptly drop-off and pick-up. Please do not use this time to socialize.
Masks: All teachers, parents, and students above the age of five, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask at all times inside of the school building, and outdoors while on school property when social distancing of six feet or more is not possible. Students between the ages of two and four will be encouraged to wear masks while indoors, but will not be forced or receive consequences for not keeping a mask on. Masks will not be required while eating or sleeping.
Cleaning: Natural Steps will continue to clean and sanitize all surfaces multiple times throughout the day with a bleach water solution. Toys will be sprayed with the same bleach water solution and allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes before being used in play again. Playground equipment will be cleaned and sanitized between use of different pods.
Hygiene: Hand washing and sanitizing will be encouraged frequently throughout the day and classrooms have built several handwashing times into their daily routine.
Pod and Floater Isolation: Natural Steps will continue to isolate classrooms and pods from other classes in the building and limit the mixing of classes outdoors on the playgrounds. Natural Steps will limit the sharing of designated “floater” staff between pods as much as possible. Floaters will wash their hands thoroughly and sanitize when switching between classes to limit transmission of germs from room-to-room.
Vaccinations: While many of our staff members have reported their full vaccination status regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, Natural Steps will not require staff or parents to receive the vaccine nor report their vaccination status to the school for employment or enrollment at this time.
*Shared from Next Steps Behavioral Center