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Ewing Schools “Return to School” Update: Operations and Facilities July 17th 12:15PM

Immediate Release

July 17th, 2020 12:15PM

Dear Ewing School Community,

As we continue to prepare for the reopening of our schools, we wanted to provide you more information on what our schools will look like when we welcome back students on Tuesday, September 8th.

As you may recall, we shared a broad overview of our proposed school opening plan here:

https://www.ewing.k12.nj.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=598&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=6603&PageID=1

The district is also offering an entirely remote Virtual Learning Program 2.0 for families with health fragilities or vulnerabilities.  Details on that plan can be found here.

https://www.ewing.k12.nj.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=598&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=6604&PageID=1

Next week we will provide further information on our reopening plans, including a description of what the student day will look like in our proposed reimagined elementary school, but for this update we wanted to share some Frequently Asked Questions on how they will operate on September 8th.

Will masks be required in school?

Masks will be required for all staff, students and anyone who enters the school building.  Science tells us the best way to prevent the spread of this disease is social distancing and masks, so both will be emphasized/mandated. Remember, please work with your child over the summer on wearing a mask for extended durations.

Will students be required to provide their own mask?

Families will be asked to provide their child with an appropriate mask for each day of school.  We will also be giving each student a school district logo-embroidered washable mask.  The district will have additional PPE to issue to students if they do not have an appropriate mask, if their mask gets wet or dirty, or if they do not have access to PPE.

Will there be “mask breaks” for students during the day?

We will look for opportunities, particularly at the elementary school level during our enrichment cycle, which will feature outdoor learning experiences, to give students socially distanced mask breaks.  This will also be a feature of our secondary level physical education classes.

What supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) measures has the district taken to prepare for a return to school?

The district has purchased the following PPE for use this fall: 

Quantity

Items

Face Masks

12,000

3-ply medical masks (in stock)

6,000

3-ply children’s size medical masks (in stock)

5,800

KN95 masks (in stock)

5,000

Cotton/Poly masks (in stock)

500

Standard dust masks (in stock)

100

Clear masks (ordered 1-2 week lead time)

1,500

2-ply cotton w/ Ewing logo loop backs (ordered 2-3 week lead time)

2,500

2-ply cotton w/ Ewing logo loop backs (ordered 2-3 week lead time)

Gloves

10,000

5 ml. Nitrile gloves-Small (in stock)

12,000

5 ml. Nitrile gloves-Medium (in stock)

15,000

5 ml. Nitrile gloves-Large (in stock)

12,000

5 ml. Nitrile gloves-XLarge (in stock)

100

10 ml. Rubber Gloves (Custodial Grade-in stock)

Hand Sanitizer & Dispensers

36 cases

12/case 7.5 ml Hand Sanitizer Spray Bottles

300

New manual hand sanitizing dispensers, wall and stand mount (ordered)

50

New Auto hand sanitizing dispenses, wall and stand mount (ordered)

50

New hand sanitizing stands (entry door stations)

Face Shields

580

Face Shields (in stock)

Non-Contact Forehead Thermometers

68

Non-contact Forehead Thermometers (in stock)

Sneeze Guards

25

Sneeze Guards (in stock)

6

¼” 4’ x 8’ clear plexiglass sheets (in stock)

     

 Will staff and students be screened prior to entering the school building?

The  state’s “Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” requires a daily screening for staff and students before arriving at school.  The district has created a questionnaire that must be completed each morning by staff and students.  For staff, by signing into work, employees will acknowledge that they have completed the survey.  For students, we are still working on the logistics with regard to the attestation of completing the daily screening.  The daily screening will consist of the following questions:

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms? Fever, Cough, Sore Throat, etc.

Have you had close contact with or cared for someone who is currently sick?

Have you or someone in your house been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past three weeks or have reason to believe you/they have COVID-19?

We are asking families to take the temperature of each child prior to sending students to school.

The administrative and nursing staff at our schools will have a secondary screening process that will focus on students who have not provided proof of survey completion or random health screenings of staff and students.

It should be emphasized that if a student or staff member shows any symptoms of being ill during this public health crisis, they should stay home and isolate.  We are currently working with our own policies and the Department of Education to add flexibility and accommodations to our attendance standards.

What will the school bus look like when school reopens for students?

The Ewing Schools will offer bus transportation as per normal during this public health crisis.  However, we acknowledge that it may be difficult to maintain social distancing on some of our runs.  Consequently,  parents are encouraged to drive their students to school if possible so that we can create as much distance between students on the bus as possible.  We will work with our schools to enhance flexibility with regard to arrival windows.

It is mandated that families ensure that their students pass the district’s health screening protocol at home prior to going to the bus stop. If a child has symptoms, is sick, or does not pass the home screening, do not go to the bus stop.

Children from the same household are encouraged to sit together on the bus. All other students should socially distance to the greatest extent possible.

At the bus stop students and caregivers should maintain strict physical and social distancing from one another. When boarding the bus, they should do so in an orderly manner and quickly find a seat as far away from the other passengers as possible. Take your seat and put on your seat belt quickly.

Children should remain seated and as quiet as possible during the bus ride in order for the driver to get everyone to school in a safe and efficient manner.

All drivers, aides, and students will be required to wear a mask for the duration of the bus ride.

How will the busses be cleaned?

All district owned buses will be cleaned daily using an electrostatic cleaner which uses electricity to produce a disinfecting mist that can quickly and efficiently clean surfaces. This will be done at the end of each day and in between individual bus runs to the extent possible.

The majority of our district bus runs are completed by our bus contractor partners. We are emphasizing to them the importance of the same level of cleaning especially before the start of a new bus run. 

How will the school’s classrooms, hallways and other areas be cleaned?

The Ewing Public Schools works with Hillyard Environmental as our supplier of all of our cleaning supplies and equipment. We follow their protocols for cleaning and Pre-Pandemic, we were following their protocols for Schools/Public Institutions. Post-Pandemic we are now following their guidance for Hospital level cleaning. Hillyard has modeled this new program to meet the requirements of the Center for Disease Control (CDS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The focus of this higher level cleaning protocol is Enhanced High-Touch Surface Cleaning and Disinfection. These areas include but are not limited to door-knobs, keyboards, water fountains, etc. It involves the use of hospital-grade High-Volume Disinfection System. We have such systems already in use at each school and are ordering additional units.

The district is purchasing the necessary equipment to produce this high-level of cleaning and all district custodial staff will be trained in the use of this program and equipment from Monday, July 21st through Friday, July 24th.

Cleaning Checklist cards will be utilized for each area as part of the new procedure to maintain documentation of the cleaning done in each area and to ensure that all required areas and surfaces have been cleaned/sanitized.

What is the difference between your typical cleaning and the enhanced “Enhanced High-Touch Surface Cleaning”?

There are a number of differences but simply it breaks down high-touch hot spots into categories for examples door handles, light switches, and faucets are a category 1 surface that pre-pandemic would have been cleaned daily. The new protocol focuses on cleaning that area 3 times per day at minimum.

Because the protocol breaks down surfaces and places them in categories with an established practice that meets CDC and EPA guidelines it makes it easier for the district’s custodians to focus on those areas that might come in contact with more people and therefore pose more risk.

There is also a strict documentation step associated with this protocol, that forces accountability in cleaning areas in accordance with the protocol.

Will the reopened schools have a Breakfast Program?

Yes, each school will offer a breakfast program that will provide a quick, “grab and go” breakfast that students can obtain from designated areas in the morning.  The program will be cashless and food options may be limited.

How will the School Lunch program work?

Lunch will be provided to the Elementary Schools and to students at the O’Brien Academy. No lunches will be provided to students attending Fisher Middle School or Ewing High School. 

The lunch offered will be a daily main entrée with the same three alternate meals every day. No hot lunch will be provided.

Lunch will also be cashless. Note that food variety options may be limited.

Ewing High School and Fisher Middle School families eligible for the Federal Lunch Program will receive food in a process similar to the one instituted during the public health closure.

Will students who are eating lunch at the elementary schools eat in the cafeteria?

At this time lunch will be distributed in a “grab-and-go” manner in several predetermined (by classroom) locations in the building.

At lunch time, students will go to those locations while maintaining physical distance from their peers, go to a table with the pre-packaged meals, make their selection and return to their classroom or designated area to eat.  Masks should only be off while consuming food and drink.

Students are also permitted to bring meals from home if preferred. Be advised that refrigeration and/or the ability to heat anything up will not be available.

My child has a food allergy, how will the district manage students with allergies?

The district’s food serve point of sale system contains any student allergy information that has been communicated to the district. If you are not sure if you have communicated your student’s needs, please contact the food service department at (609) 538-9800 Ext. 7106 or foodservice@ewingboe.org.

In concert with our building level administration, the district will work to ensure that students with severe allergies will remain safe from their particular allergen.

Will the school be offering a before and after school care program for Elementary students through the Extended Day Program (EDP)?

At this time the district is preparing to maintain its extended day program for before and after school care. That stated, during this difficult time many challenges have emerged and continue to emerge as we work through issues. We will do everything we can to run this very helpful and beneficial program for our school community.

How are we going to provide proper ventilation for schools?

All Ewing Schools have air conditioning. This spring the chillers at Fisher Middle School, Parkway Elementary School, and Antheil Elementary School were replaced with brand new, modern equipment.

Schools will increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, and other methods when indoor and outdoor conditions safely permit.

We have a team dedicated to evaluating new information related to COVID-19 and air quality within buildings. We will continue to implement and recommend best practices for minimizing heat in schools, while also working with local health officials and industry experts to ensure proper air movement and air quality in all buildings to keep students and staff as safe as possible.

This summer, the district Maintenance Department did a comprehensive review of all HVAC equipment to test for proper operation and made any necessary repairs so that they could enter a preventative maintenance phase on all of this equipment.

What other steps has the district taken to promote healthy and safe indoor air quality?

Each classroom has a unit ventilator, rooftop unit, or air handler which serves as that classroom’s heating, cooling, and ventilation unit. Each of these units has an air filter associated with it similar to what you have in your homes.

The district recently upgraded our filters in these units from a MERV 8 to a MERV 13. The MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a system of evaluating how efficient an air filter is at collecting particles of various size. This upgrade was recommended by the CDC and EPA.

Filters will be changed more frequently on a monthly basis.

The district has purchased a number of air purifiers for schools that can be deployed as needed. These units are effective at disinfecting the air specific location like a classroom, nurse’s office, etc.

The Ewing Pubic Schools has also purchased 20 Ultra-Violet light air purifying carts. These devices utilize UVC band light to disinfect hard surfaces and the air in a given space.

The district’s grounds personnel, on top of keeping up with the lawns and flower beds are enhancing their focus on any bushes or trees near any outdoor vents connected to the system. Keeping all intake vents clear, in particularly at the lower levels of our buildings, will extend the life and effectiveness of our air filters.

How will the nurse’s office be set up in the schools?

For screening and seclusion purposes during the school day every building will have two auxiliary nursing locations staffed by health professionals. Staff and students who are presenting symptoms of being sick will be screened and sent home as soon as possible if positive potential symptoms are identified. If a student cannot be picked up they will be quarantined until parent transportation is available. These locations will be kept separate from the nurse’s office and typical day-to-day nursing operations. They will be located, when possible, near separate entrances to reduce interaction with other students and staff members. Each location will be used every other day, be deep-cleaned and have continuous air purifiers running 24 hours a day.

How will social distancing be maintained in the hallways and during arrival and dismissal? 

With reduced capacity, we will work to limit some hallways to one way, as well as place signage and barriers, as appropriate, to assist with hallway movements.  Entrance and exit from school will also be modified.  Remember, EHS and FMS will be operating at half-student capacity, and will also not have the students who opted for the Virtual Learning Program.

If a school is suspected of having a COVID-19 case, what will happen?

Contact tracing will be critical if a staff member or student is suspected of having the virus. Currently the district’s four School Safety Specialists (Michael Nitti, David Hauserman, Brian Parker, Matthew Knight) have completed a training course and are certified contact tracers, and other district personnel will soon complete training.  District contact tracers will work closely with county health officials throughout this process and determine the scope of concern. There is the possibility that certain students will be asked to quarantine or that a school could be closed for a period and pivot to virtual learning.

If you have any further questions, please contact Theresa Hullings at thullings@ewingboe.org.