Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

The Newport News School Board voted for all students to begin the school year with virtual learning during the first quarter, Sep. 8 to Nov. 2.

FAQ: Health and Safety


Posted: August 5, 2020 (en español)

How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

Social Distancing: Stay at least six feet away from others, this is called social distancing, and avoid contact with people who are sick. In schools, six feet distances will be marked off and one-way traffic in the building will be indicated. Access will be through secured doorways.

Staff/Student/Visitor Daily Self-Screening Questionnaire: Staff, students and visitors will be asked to conduct a self-screening questionnaire daily before coming to school; if they answer YES to any of the questions, they must stay home. Visitors will be told about the questionnaire when they call for an appointment. The questionnaires will be posted at entrances, available online and explained over the phone. Visitors will be encouraged to make virtual appointments whenever possible.

All students, parents and staff are required to go over their respective questionnaire before coming to school in the morning. Parents/guardians should be sure that older children realize the importance of taking this wellness check before leaving the house; and that for most elementary and all preschool children, the parent or adult who sends them off in the morning should go over the questionnaire. Students need to stay home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (temperature of 100.4 or higher) or signs of fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance or sweating) as well as other symptoms, without the use of fever-reducing medicine. If symptoms get worse and/or increase in number, students should continue to stay home and parents/guardians should contact their health care provider. Parents/guardians should notify the school if their child is diagnosed with COVID-19, is suspected of having COVID-19, or has been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

Hygiene: Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is best, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. (Singing Happy Birthday twice is about 20 seconds).

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Be careful that young children do not use sanitizer unsupervised because of the alcohol content.

Cough/Sneeze Etiquette involves coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Education, demonstration and signage will be age appropriate and will include information about not touching your face with your hands.

Are face coverings required?

Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others. All staff, students and visitors are required to wear a mask. Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the tiny droplets we breathe out from traveling in the air and onto other people. If possible, parents and student should have an extra mask; disposable masks can be used for single day use. Refer to the section below regarding who should not wear a face mask.

Wear your face covering correctly.

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily

Take your face covering off carefully.

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place cloth coverings in the washing machine and dryer to clean, or wash by hand and air dry
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face covering and wash hands immediately after removing
  • At teacher's direction, students may take their masks off when at their desks, if more than six feet apart.

Should children or others who have breathing difficulties wear masks?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone two years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth in public settings when around people not living in your household, particularly where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like on a school bus.

All students, including preschool and young elementary school students, will be encouraged to wear a face mask on the bus and at school; students should be developing the ability to wear them for longer periods of time. Families are asked to send a clean cloth face mask or new disposable masks to school every day (an extra one in their backpack is helpful).

Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than two because of the danger of suffocation.

Anyone who has trouble breathing or a medical condition that causes difficulty breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance should NOT wear a mask.

What should I do if I or someone in my family gets sick?

Please plan ahead. Be alert and watch out for the symptoms of COVID-19:

  • fever of 100.4° or greater
  • new uncontrolled cough which causes shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from usual)
  • chills, fatigue, muscle or body ache
  • congestion or runny nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • nausea
  • vomiting or diarrhea

Symptoms should be new issues, not a known or diagnosed medical issue. Take your temperature and follow CDC guidance if you have symptoms.

Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. The CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:

  • Stay home when sick, except to get medical care.
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Provide your sick household member with clean disposable face masks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others in the household.
  • Limit visitors.
  • Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have questions.
  • You should follow the above information whether your diagnosis is symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test for COVID-19.

What if staff or students get sick at school? And who needs PPE?

If a staff person gets sick with suspected COVID symptoms during the school day, the staff person will be sent home. If they are symptom free the next day without any medication, they may return to work. If they are still sick, they should contact their medical provider and let their supervisor know that they are suspected to have COVID-19 and that they are starting isolation.

If a student or employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, an administrator or school nurse will move the individual out of the classroom or group setting, isolate him/her in a predetermined location, and inform the school health staff. Symptom screening will identify only that a person many have an illness, not that the illness is COVID-19. School health staff (and any other staff) must wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including an KN-95 face mask or surgical face mask and/or goggles, gown and gloves before entering the room to assess the individual. Students with fever of 100.4° or greater, and/or other symptoms will be sent home. Parents, family members, or designees of the student will be called and asked to come for the student as quickly as possible. Families will be given information on how to care for someone sick (isolation and quarantine) and what emergency signs to look out for. It is essential to reinforce the importance of students/staff staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (temperature of 100.4° or higher) or signs of fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance or sweating) as well as other symptoms, without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

It is very important for families to keep their contact phone numbers up to date and let their students know where they are during school time. Families should make plans with other relatives, friends or neighbors to help get their students home when sick.

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school, the local health department will work closely with school administrators to determine a course of action.

What does isolation involve?

When you are diagnosed either by symptoms or test for COVID-19, you will need to stay home and can return to work/school when:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • At least 24 hours have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
  • There is improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and
  • Note: NNPS employees may need a health care practitioner’s notice to return to work as directed by your supervisor.

However, some people may need emergency medical attention. Watch for symptoms and learn when to seek emergency medical attention.

When should you seek emergency medical attention?

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list does not include all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility and notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

What is quarantine? And who does it involve?

Self-quarantine: Contacts are asked to stay home from work, monitor their health, and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to the infected patient, in case they also become ill.

Who is considered a Close Contact? For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes whether they had a mask on or not, starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.

Cloth face coverings are meant to prevent someone from transmitting the disease to others, and not to protect someone from becoming infected.

If you have been around someone who was identified as a close contact to a person with COVID-19, you should closely monitor yourself for any symptoms of COVID-19. You do not need to self-quarantine.

What about my pets? The CDC states it appears that COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. Until we learn more about this new coronavirus, you should avoid contact with your pet and other animals.

Avoid contact such as petting, snuggling, being licked or kissed, and sharing food or bedding.

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.

If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a cloth face covering.

Where can I find more health and safety information?

For more information, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health.