Health and Safety FAQ
A parent's guide to student health
We have outlined some scenarios here to help you determine what to do if your child has had contact with a symptomatic person or positive case, as well as other scenarios.
Safety procedures at school
In order to reopen our schools, we will be implementing new procedures for safety and health. These procedures will impact how we live, learn and work together in the school building.
Based on guidance from health officials, these new procedures have been built around the following priorities:
- K-12 students and staff wearing cloth face coverings at school
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces throughout the day
- Monitoring symptoms and temperatures at home before attending school
- Maintaining social distancing whenever possible; keeping students in small groups and limiting the mixing of groups; staggered times for movement throughout the building
- Hand hygiene practices and education, including scheduled time for frequent hand washing and access to hand sanitizer throughout the building
- Increased circulation of outdoor air when possible
- Rearranging furniture to allow for social distancing whenever possible
- Cleaning buses between routes, wearing masks on buses, opening bus windows to increase air circulation, encouraging driving to school if possible
- Adjusting large events, activities and gatherings for social distancing
- Limiting the presence of visitors in Parkway buildings
Building these important habits into our routines will be our greatest opportunity to build and maintain a healthy community for our students and staff.
What will social distancing look like at school?
In the classroom, seating will allow for social distancing as feasible. Non-essential furniture will be removed to allow for extra space and seating will be rearranged. Classrooms with group tables will be modified to allow appropriate distancing of students. Your school will communicate additional details.
Extra care will be taken to keep students’ belongings separated. Frequently touched items will be cleaned regularly. Additionally, the sharing of materials such as school supplies, electronic devices, books, toys and equipment will be avoided.
Class time, travel within the building, lunch and recess times will be staggered and/or spread out to alternate spaces to allow for social distancing. When students travel in the hallways, there will be visual aids to direct students throughout the building. These visual aids will illustrate directional traffic flow and appropriate spacing to support social distancing.
Will students have time to wash/clean their hands at school?
Students will be encouraged to wash their hands often, including when entering classrooms, before lunch, after recess and after any activity outside of the classroom. We will take extra care to give students these opportunities to wash their hands during the school day. In locations where access to soap and water is limited, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be available. A limited number of students will be allowed in the bathroom at the same time.
How will you ensure proper air ventilation in schools?
This summer, we changed filters on HVAC equipment and our maintenance staff continues to ensure the equipment is operating correctly. Over the last five years, Parkway has spent over $25 million updating heating and cooling systems districtwide. The updates were done based on standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which are recommended by the CDC. These upgraded systems utilize the newest technologies and are integrated with a building control system that monitors their performance in real time. This ensures fresh outside air is brought in continually throughout the day, and that components such as fans and filtering systems are working correctly. System operation and ventilation will continue to be monitored and updated based on CDC and ASHRAE guidance.
If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms at school, what will happen and how will those symptoms be evaluated?
If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms at school they will be evaluated by the school nurse and then a decision will be made to send them home. Here is a quick reference developed by Washington University that outlines how we will evaluate symptoms.
If a student is kept home due to illness or sent home, what will be required of them upon return?
We will ask that students with symptoms that are consistent with a possible COVID-19 infection be evaluated by their healthcare provider and get clearance to return to school. Their healthcare provider will make the determination if a COVID-19 test is needed. We will also follow the guidance of the health department as to how long a student may be required to remain home.
What happens if a student or staff member who has attended school is diagnosed with COVID-19?
Parents and staff will be notified immediately if they have had close contact with anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. We will follow the guidance of public health authorities in making decisions to close classrooms or schools, or to quarantine specific groups of students or staff. Parkway is fortunate to have in-house contact tracers on our Health Services team with previous experience and also updated training in contact tracing.
Will parents and staff be notified of a positive case in their school or classroom if they were not a close contact?
Parkway will notify parents and staff if a positive case is identified in a classroom even if they are not determined to be a close contact. In addition, the parents of any students who have a health condition that makes them particularly at risk will be notified if a positive case is identified in a classroom or in the school. We will not notify the entire school for individual cases on a regular basis, unless there is a concern about the total number of cases school-wide.
Will Parkway publish information on positive cases among students and staff?
When students return to our buildings, Parkway will publish the total numbers of positive cases among students and staff on our Community Health Dashboard here. Strict confidentiality will be maintained for individuals who have tested positive and individually identifiable information will not be shared.
Will students or staff who have been in contact need to quarantine? Will the school/classroom close?
We will be in close consultation with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to make decisions about the need for individuals or groups of people to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19, depending on the exposure. The Parkway Health Services team will take responsibility for surveillance and follow-up with parents and staff.
Our response and subsequent immediate action steps will be dependent on the situation. For example, the Health Department might recommend a school closure for 2-5 days for cleaning, or they might recommend quarantine for 14 days for a small group of people who had close contact with an infected person. Close contact is defined by health officials as an individual who has been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes of time (cumulative). Wearing a face covering may decrease the risk of close contact.
We will work with the County Health Department and err on the side of caution to decide when students/staff may need to quarantine and/or a classroom or school should be closed.
When a Case is Identified
If an individual within a school building is tested positive for COVID-19, schools must work with their local health department but could expect some of these parameters to be put in place:
- In consultation with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, identify who the individual was in close contact with, within a 6-foot space, for at least 15 minutes (cumulative). It is possible that everyone who was in the same room, bus or other areas may need to quarantine. (Parkway will keep seating charts and bus logs in order to assist with contact tracing).
- The St. Louis County Health Department suggests that if over 5 percent of the student body in a building or district test positive any day, 4 percent test positive over 2 days in a row or 3 percent test positive for 3 days in a row, then that building or district closes for 10 days (percentages may change when more scientific data becomes available).
- In the event a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is determined to have been in the building and poses a risk to the staff or students, a school may close for 1-2 days for cleaning and disinfection of that building or exposed area if unable to clean during the nighttime closing.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, when can they return to school or work?
If someone tests positive for COVID-19, or if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, medical clearance would be required prior to returning to school or work. Current CDC isolation protocols require that individuals stay home for at least 10 days after symptoms begin and that they are fever-free for at least 24 hours prior to returning to contact with others. If someone tests positive for the virus but does not have any symptoms, current protocols require that they isolate for 10 days from the date of their positive test.
If a student or staff member is a close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, when can they return to school or work?
When someone is identified as a close contact with an individual who is positive for COVID-19, current public health protocols require that they stay home for 14 days from their last day of contact with the positive individual. This can last much longer if, for example, it is a family member who has COVID-19, and the positive individual is not able to isolate from family members. In this situation, the close contact would need to quarantine for the duration of their family member’s isolation period, and then an additional 14 days.
If my child is sick or quarantined at home, will they access learning until they can return?
If a child is feeling well and quarantined at home, teachers will work with you to ensure your student can stay caught up and complete assignments at home. Teachers will continue to maintain Schoology pages with assignments and learning materials so we can support students who are quarantined. This will also help maintain learning in the event of a classroom, school or district closure due to illness in our schools.
If a child is ill for an extended period, the school principal and teacher(s) will work with parents to determine how their child can make up work when they are feeling well.
If an entire class is quarantined, will students move to distance learning online with their teacher during the quarantine?
Yes, if an entire elementary class was quarantined at the same time, the teacher and class would move to distance learning online together during the quarantine. If the teacher is ill, a sub would be provided. For middle school students, this would not be possible as students have multiple teachers/classrooms. In that case, teachers will work with you to ensure your student can stay caught up and complete assignments independently at home during the quarantine period.
What health screenings are in place for students and staff?
Staff are required to complete a daily health screening prior to coming to work. Parents are asked to screen their child(ren) before they leave for school. We have created a simple form to complete this staff and student screening which is available at https://pkwy.info/screeningtool.
We ask that parents check their student for fever, a sense of having a fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, new loss of smell or taste, muscle aches, diarrhea or vomiting. Not all children who have COVID-19 will have a fever, so parents should check their children closely for any of the other symptoms.
Anyone, staff or student, with a fever of 100.4º F or higher, or any of the screening symptoms, should not attend school.
If any of the COVID-19 symptoms occur, please take the following actions:
- Keep your child at home
- Call your child’s school to report the symptoms your child is experiencing
- Call your child’s health care provider for advice on managing the illness
We will not take students’ temperatures when they arrive at school. Taking temperatures at school would be challenging to complete in a safe and timely manner, given the number of students and supervision that would need to be in place. The most effective, evidence-based strategies to prevent the spread of illness are hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing and staying home when you are sick.
Will students or staff be required to quarantine if they travel?
We will be following the guidance of the St. Louis County Department of Health and the CDC when it comes to recommended quarantines for travel. Currently, there are no travel restrictions in our area for travel domestically in the US or internationally. COVID-19 is a very fluid situation and this can change. The CDC does recommend caution when traveling. You can find updated travel information on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.
What about those of us that have chronic allergy or sinus issues?
The individual who has a known diagnosis or explanation for a symptom (e.g. chronic pain from arthritis, or seasonal allergies) does not need to stay home for those particular symptoms. New unexplained symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.