Preschool through Grade 12

Health and Safety

How will the school provide a safe environment for students on campus?

The most important way to prevent the spread of the virus is to follow the CDC and state guidelines for keeping physical distance, wearing masks, frequently and thoroughly washing hands, staying home when sick, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Please expand on the topics below for details.

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How will use of shared bathrooms be managed?  

Masks will be mandatory in the bathrooms. We will encourage single use of the bathroom during class periods and not in between classes. There will be a “token” system at the entrance of each bathroom to determine occupancy prior to entry. To the extent possible, stalls will be assigned to a particular cohort or small number of cohorts, and floors will be marked to guide safe distancing. Bathrooms will be frequently cleaned during the day, at a minimum twice a day, and bathroom windows will be open where possible.

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I am concerned whether children could be expected to practice the safety protocols at all times. What will the school do to reinforce safe behavior?

  • ISB faculty and staff have been trained on safety protocols before the school year began, and teachers will go over the safety routines with students on a daily basis. Posters and infographics will be placed prominently around the school as a constant reminder how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Classroom floors will be marked with blue tape in 6-foot space increments to help students navigate the space safely. 
  • There will be training and in-person demonstrations of handwashing, respiratory etiquette, masks, and social distancing at the beginning of the year.  For our youngest students, there will be hands-on activities, instructional videos, and fun experiments to help them understand and remember the new procedures.
  • We expect all of our students and faculty to be ready to follow the protocols and we will help everyone understand them in the first days of school. We will be extremely vigilant about enforcement, including the possibility of sending students home, in order to ensure the health and safety of all.
  • Families can also help their children practice handwashing and safely wearing masks in the weeks preceding the start of the school year. These practices will become part of a normal daily routine for every student. Please see the guidelines for additional age-appropriate resources.    

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What happens if a student/staff tests positive for COVID-19? 

Even as we remain vigilant, and Massachusetts infection rates remain relatively low, the risk of an eventual case of COVID-19 in the ISB community is possible, even likely.

  • If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the instructions from the health authorities for safe return to work or school. They should notify the ISB school nurse and answer the call from the local board of health or MA community tracing collaborative. They must remain at home at least 10 days and until at least 24 hours have passed with no fever and improvements in other symptoms, without the use of fever reducing medication, and until they have received clearance from public health authorities.
  • Once the school is notified of a case, we will promptly close off areas where the COVID-19 positive individual was present for cleaning and disinfection. We will communicate to families that there has been a confirmed case, protecting the privacy of the individual student or staff member who tested positive. 
  • Students and staff who are close contacts should be tested, and they must also self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of their own test result. Close contacts are those who have been within 6 feet of distance of the infectious individual for at least fifteen minutes. The infectious period begins 2 days prior to symptom onset. If someone is asymptomatic, the infectious period is considered to begin 2 days prior to the collection of their positive test.  It is likely that in Elementary school, this definition may include the entire cohort. 
  • Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, the latest CDC guidance (as of Sept 18, 2020) reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented COVID-19 infection. 
  • Sibling of a student or spouse of a teacher who would test positive would be considered close contacts and would need to isolate for 14 days as well.

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How will the school manage contact tracing?

Close contacts are individuals who spent at least 15 cumulative minutes less than six feet from a positive case over a 24-hour period. ISB will go over the cohort lists, seating plans, and schedules to facilitate contact tracing, which is conducted by the MA Community Tracing Collaborative.

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What should one do if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

  • The single most important thing to do if experiencing any of the listed COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, is to stay at home and get a test for COVID-19 prior to returning to school. 
  • If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19, have improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return tos school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis. 
  • Those with symptoms who do not wish to be tested will need to stay at home for 10 days after onset of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.

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What should I do if my family plans to travel over school vacation weeks?

ISB Travel Advisory - Effective March 23, 2021

Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. The following travel restrictions apply to all ISB students and faculty and staff. This protocol is subject to change based on state and local guidance. 

Travel Overseas: Students and faculty and staff who travel overseas will need to stay home until day 11 after return to Massachusetts or until they produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test result that has been administered no earlier than 4 days after their arrival in Massachusetts. The test result must be emailed or presented to the school nurse prior to arrival in school. Please note that airlines or immigration authorities may have additional testing requirements.

Domestic Travel: Students and faculty and staff who travel in the USA outside of Massachusetts will need to stay home until day 11 after return to Massachusetts or until they produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test result that has been administered on or after their arrival in Massachusetts. The test result must be emailed or presented to the school nurse prior to arrival in school.

Exemptions from these domestic travel restrictions include:

  • Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.

  • Individuals who have received either 2 doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine 14 days or more prior to travel. In order to be exempt from ISB travel restrictions, proof of vaccination must be presented to the school nurse.

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Has ISB considered COVID-19 testing for students? 

ISB coordinates semi-regular, optional, COVID-19 testing for students age 2 and above. The test is a simple anterior nasal swab - quick, non-invasive, and painless -  administered by clinicians of Cataldo Ambulance. The Broad Institute will conduct the testing and results are expected within 24 hours of the test being taken. The cost of the test is $65. Registration and payments are processed on the Parent Portal.  Learn more about the test. To find out when we will be hosting the next optional testing, please refer to our Weekly Update.

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What should I do if my child is experiencing COVID symptoms (even mild ones), and we get a No Go on Magnus?

If your student is not feeling well, please keep him/her at home and call the school nurse to discuss symptoms. If advised, call the pediatrician and have the student tested. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Protocols recommend that testing of symptomatic individuals should be the default practice. Symptoms, especially respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or fever should almost always receive a negative COVID test before returning to school.

Also, current pediatrician protocol for students with sore throat is COVID test first, then if the sore throat worsens: strep test. As both have similar symptoms and both are contagious, the strep test helps to eliminate any doubts.

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If I, as a parent, am awaiting COVID test results, should I still send my children to school?

If you are awaiting a test result after experiencing symptoms or after a potential exposure, please refrain from sending your students to school until you have your own negative test results. If you are being tested as part of routine surveillance and have no symptoms, your child can come to school unless they have symptoms.

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The CDC has updated the guidelines for close contacts - those who were within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period. Close contacts must quarantine for at least 7 days, and may be cleared to return after the 7 day quarantine, provided all of the following conditions are satisfied: 

  • They are tested on day 5 or later from their last exposure to the positive individual and receive a negative PCR test result.
  • They have not experienced any symptoms within the 7 day quarantine.
  • They conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate if new symptoms develop past the initial 7 days.

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What is the protocol for siblings of close contacts at ISB?

Siblings of close contacts must remain at home until they test negative and their sibling who is close contact tests negative as well. Other contacts of close contacts (who are not siblings) are not considered at high risk of transmission, and they are not required to self-quarantine.

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Where can I get tested?

  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)  offers an interactive map with information about COVID-19 test sites in Massachusetts. It also includes a downloadable full list of test sites. Information continues to evolve quickly, so contact a site prior to arrival. Sites may also require pre-screening, a referral, and/or an appointment. Usually the cost of testing for individuals displaying symptoms can be processed through the health insurance provider. Please check with each testing site. 

  • The State of Massachusetts has set up free testing sites across Massachusetts where even asymptomatic individuals can get tested for free. For details and locations please consult the Stop the Spread program website.

  • CIC Health is another economical option for testing.

  • The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) are offering free COVID-19 PCR tests for Cambridge residents. See the schedule to book an appointment.

  • ISB also facilitates occasional  COVID-19 testing testing of students for students aged 2 and above and their immediate families at $65 per person per test. Testing will take place on ISB campus and the cost of the test is $65. To find out when we will be hosting the next optional testing, please refer to our Weekly Update.

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This page was last updated on: March 26th, 2021.