- How will the school provide a safe environment for students on campus?
- Will masks be required at school?
- Will students still be required to physically distance?
- Will students and Faculty & Staff still be frequently washing and sanitizing their hands?
- 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?
- Will the ventilation upgrades be maintained?
- What are the cleaning and sanitizing protocols at school?
Testing and Contact Tracing
- What are the DESE testing programs and will ISB participate in them?
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- What should one do if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
- What happens with individuals who develop symptoms at school?
- What happens if a student/staff tests positive for COVID-19?
- What is the definition of a close contact?
- What is the protocol for close contacts?
- How will the school manage contact tracing?
- What is the protocol for relatives of close contacts at ISB?
- If I, as a parent, am awaiting COVID-19 test results, should I still send my children to school?
- Will ISB offer regular surveillance testing for students, faculty and staff?
- What should I do if my family plans to travel over school vacation weeks?
Vaccine Related Questions
On-campus operations will resume in September 2021 with updated health and safety protocols in place. They will also include social, emotional, and practical support for our students, faculty, and staff.
It is possible, even likely, that our health and safety protocols could evolve throughout the year based on the student vaccination rates and the levels of local community transmission. All protocols will be designed with the goals to minimize interruption in teaching and to protect the unvaccinated school population (more than half of our students are not yet eligible for vaccination). The School will benefit from the knowledge of what worked or did not during last school year, and will be able to select from a menu of options in order to find the right balance and achieve these goals. The protocols will include the following layered prevention strategies:
- Required masking
- Physical distancing
- Enhanced cleaning
- Handwashing and sanitizing
- Air ventilation
- Isolation of symptomatic individuals
- Routine testing
- Daily health attestation via Magnus Application
- Masks are among the most important single measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
- In compliance with the Cambridge Public Health Department mandate, all students from PK to 12th grade, even fully vaccinated ones, will be required to wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth, while indoors, except during meals and mask breaks. Students who are unable to wear masks due to medical or behavioral challenges will be exempt.
- All Faculty & Staff will be required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
- The Cambridge Public Health Department guidance is currently issued until January 2022 and will be revisited before then.
- In compliance with CDC guidance, masks will be required on school buses, regardless of vaccination status.
- In general, masks will not be required when outdoors, unless during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated or if transmission increases. The School will be fully supportive of people who choose to continue to wear a mask outside.
- Visitors will be required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
- Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask. We anticipate having some flexibility about mask enforcement for PK to Grade 1 students. Children in this age group who cannot tolerate a mask should wear a face shield. Please note that face shields are not an adequate or officially approved substitute for masks for those who can safely wear them.
- We ask that students bring their own clean/washed masks to school each day, clearly labeled with their names. Students should also bring a backup mask in a sealed plastic bag should the first one become wet or soiled. We recommend surgical or 3 or 4 - ply cotton masks, with a “design” (if any) that is appropriate for a school setting.
- Please do not use bandanas, scarves, or masks with a valve since the valve allows for air to be exhaled without being filtered.
- The School will have a supply of disposable masks at the front desks and in the nurse’s office for situations where masks were forgotten or soiled during the day.
- Classrooms and common spaces will be redesigned to allow for at least 3’ of space between students. In most classrooms, desks will be arranged in rows and most common seating tables will be removed, except in the Media Center.
- To the extent possible, each student will have an assigned seat in the classroom to further reduce the risk of transmission and help with tracing if necessary.
- Multiple staircases will be used to minimize students congregating.
- Lunch will be held in classrooms to avoid congregation in the cafeteria.
- During lunch or mask breaks, students will keep a minimum distance of 3’.
- When outdoors, individuals should distance as feasible, especially if participating in higher respiration activities or seated together (i.e., lunch).
- Students will be allowed to go to the bathroom one person at a time.
- Use of student lockers will be permitted; each division will design procedures to ensure students do not congregate at the lockers.
- We will use virtual platforms during academic instruction and student activities, where necessary, for large group events, in order to keep in-person contact at safer levels.
- Parent-teacher conferences and meetings/coffees will most likely take place remotely for the most part. Information will be shared in the Weekly Updates.
- Yes. This is still a foundational step in fighting COVID-19 or other contagious diseases.
- Students will be reminded to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and young children will be assisted with handwashing.
- If handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizer pumps with at least 60 percent alcohol will be available in all classrooms, lobbies, and bathrooms, along with free-standing hand sanitizer stations on wheels that will be placed strategically throughout campus. Brands of hand sanitizers used at ISB: Safety First and Germs Be Gone Hand Sanitizer Clean and Fresh.
- We will also remind the community of respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes).
- We know from this past school year that students adapt and follow protocols easily.
- 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 around the school as a constant reminder how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- There will be training and in-person demonstrations of hand-washing, respiratory etiquette, masks, and social distancing at the beginning of the year, as applicable. 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.
- Absolutely! Improving ventilation in the classrooms is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Airflow and renewal of air will be enhanced by opening doors and windows, which will all be operational. Boxed window fans have been installed for exhaust of stale air. Window AC units will be operable but will only be used if needed and always with one window open a few inches.
- All filters in existing unit ventilators or central AC where available use MERV 13 filters.
- Custodians will open windows in each classroom approximately 2 hours before school starts in the morning.
- During bus transportation, windows will be kept open a few inches at all times, except in extreme weather.
- During cold days, windows will be closed down with the exception of one window that will be left open one inch or so. They will be closed in extreme weather conditions.
- To the extent possible, some classes will be held outdoors.
What are the cleaning and sanitizing protocols at school?
ISB will follow CDC recommendations, which now indicate that in most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. Frequently touched surfaces such as school entrance doors, railings etc. will be cleaned frequently throughout the day. The entire school facility will be cleaned once a day when no persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space.
The School has been accepted into the 2021-22 statewide COVID-19 testing program announced on August 11th, 2021 as organized by DESE and delivered by CIC Health. Services are expected to start after August 30th, 2021 and parents will be informed when the testing programs will start and what they cover.
Programs offered by DESE include:
- Symptomatic Testing: (for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples will be collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test.
- "Test and Stay" (close contact testing): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test. Tests are administered daily from the first day of exposure for 7 days.
- Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school and put into a single tube (maximum of 10 samples per tube). If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW.
- By law, these testing programs are optional and, as part of the back-to-school documents, parents will be asked to opt in or opt out. Consent information will be posted on the Parents Portal after August 30th, 2021.
DESE has slightly modified the symptoms for the school year 2021-22. Please familiarize yourself with the revised list below:
- Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
- Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
- Headache when in combination with other symptoms
- Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms.
- The single most important thing to do if experiencing any of the listed COVID-19 symptoms, and even if you are fully vaccinated, is to stay at home and get a test for COVID-19 prior to returning to school.
- Please call the school nurse to discuss symptoms. List of testing sites can be found at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test.
- If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19 from a PCR test, have improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
- A rapid Antigen test is acceptable for very minimal symptoms (e.g., isolated runny nose/nasal congestion, isolated headache, not meeting COVID-19 criteria) but will remain presumptive.
- 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.
- If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to 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.
- Any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and tested if indicated.
- Students and Faculty & Staff who feel ill will be isolated in a designated space and will follow specific discharge protocols. As a reminder, individuals who feel sick should stay home.
- There will be one isolation room designated for triage and assessment of COVID-19 like symptoms during the school day until the student is picked up. The room has windows and direct access to the outside. Individuals placed in the isolation room will be asked to put on a school-provided surgical mask, for extra safety.
- The nurse’s health offices will be used for other non-COVID matters.
- The students will be picked up by the Nurse in their classroom.
Testing of symptomatic individuals at school
- The DESE testing program includes testing of symptomatic individuals at school.
- The School will use the rapid test Abbott BinaxNOW (shallow nasal swab) for use on symptomatic students and staff if they experience the onset of symptoms at school. Results are available approximately 15 minutes after completion of the test. As of now, BinaxNow remains effective in detecting viral loads on symptomatic individuals for recent variants of the virus (especially since viral loads tend to be higher).
- The rapid test cannot be used for broad-scale asymptomatic testing in school according to DESE. Results are presumptive, not diagnostic; a PCR test may be used to definitively confirm that the individual does or does not have COVID-19.
- The Nurse will call parents to authorize the administration of the antigen test, unless consent has already been given.
- Any symptomatic individual who tests positive on the BinaxNOW test will be treated as a positive COVID-19 case and managed accordingly.
- If a symptomatic individual has a negative BinaxNOW test, they will be sent home anyway. Parents will be asked to follow up with their healthcare provider and consider PCR testing before the student or the staff can return to school.
Even as we remain vigilant, and Massachusetts infection rates remain low, the risk of an eventual case of COVID-19 in the ISB community is possible.
- 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 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.
- Individuals will be identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 positive person if they were within 6 feet of them while indoors, for at least 15 minutes, while they were symptomatic, or within the 48 hours before symptom onset. Individuals will also be identified as a close contact if they were within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of someone while indoors, who tested positive for COVID-19 in the 48 hours before their test was taken or anytime in the 10 days after the test.
- According to CDC guidance, individuals are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities, even without the use of masks. As a result, the period of time that a student or staff is outside does not count as a close contact. The identification of a close contact is ONLY attributable to the time spent indoors.
- According to DESE protocols. the following close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols:
- Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts: Individuals who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.
- Classroom close contacts: An individual who is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom while both individuals were masked, so long as the individuals were spaced at least 3 feet apart, is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols. This does not apply if someone was identified as a close contact outside of the classroom or bus (e.g., in sports, extracurriculars, lunch, etc.) or if masks are not worn by both persons at the time of the exposure.
- Bus close contacts: Individuals on buses must be masked according to federal requirements. As such, individuals who are masked on buses when windows are open are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.
- Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days: An individual who has been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and then becomes a close contact of someone with COVID-19 is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols if:
- The exposure occurred within 90 days of the onset of their own illness, AND
- The exposed individual is recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms.
NEW THIS YEAR!
- Protocol for asymptomatic school-based close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine protocols:
- Included in the DESE statewide COVID-19 testing program is a new Test and Stay protocol option to minimize the amount of time individuals are out of school for quarantine. This testing and quarantine response protocol has been shown to be generally equivalent to quarantine for school-based contacts, and a safe alternative to at-home isolation. If parents choose not to participate in the statewide COVID-19 testing program, unvaccinated individuals will follow the traditional quarantine protocol detailed later.
- School-based close contacts will be able to remain in school and not have to quarantine, as long as they:
- Are asymptomatic.
- Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e., when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.
- Take BinaxNOW rapid antigen test administered at school by trained professionals on each school day and receive a negative result. The duration of the Test and Stay program is 7 days from the date of exposure. When the 7 days from date of exposure include weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school be tested immediately. If the individual remains negative, they can stay in school. On the 8th day, the individual will exit the Test and Stay protocol, assuming all tests were negative, and they remain asymptomatic.
- Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop.
- For school-sponsored events and sports that take place on non-school days, testing is necessary on those days for close contacts to participate. If these close contacts do not consent to testing, individuals may not participate.
- This protocol does not apply to individuals identified as a close contact while at home (closed contacts arising from exposure outside of school). Quarantine for at least 7 days is still recommended for individuals outside of school settings.
- Protocol for asymptomatic close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine protocols but choose not to participate in the Test and Stay program or when exposure arose outside of school settings:
- Close contacts must quarantine for at least 7 days, and may be cleared to return on Day 8, 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 or Antigen 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.
- Close contacts must quarantine for at least 7 days, and may be cleared to return on Day 8, provided all of the following conditions are satisfied:
Unvaccinated relatives of a student or member of Faculty & Staff who has been identified as a non-school based close contact will be asked to stay home until we receive the test result of the close contact. Fully vaccinated members of the same household will be able to go to school without waiting for the test result of the close contact provided they remain asymptomatic. Other contacts of close contacts (who are not members of the same household) are not considered at high risk of transmission, and they are not required to self-quarantine.
If you are awaiting a test result after experiencing symptoms or after a potential exposure, please refrain from sending your students who are not fully vaccinated 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.
- As part of the DESE statewide COVID-19 testing program presented above, students, Faculty & Staff, regardless of their vaccination status, will have the option to participate in regular routine safety checks conducted at school. Participation in routine testing is voluntary per DESE and consent will be required from parents. Participation for unvaccinated individuals is strongly recommended. Training and information will be provided to students.
- Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab samples will be collected at school and put into a single tube (maximum of 10 samples per tube). If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection will occur at school with BinaxNOW antigen rapid test.
- If a pooled test result is positive, then all individuals in the pool must quarantine at home until they are retested individually and a positive case is identified.
- The test is performed with an anterior nasal swab. Pooled testing involves mixing 10 test samples together in a “pool” and then testing the pooled sample with a PCR test for detection of COVID. Pooled testing is a highly effective tool to identify positive cases in areas with low transmission, which is currently the case in Massachusetts. This approach increases the number of individuals who can be tested using the same amount of resources as a single PCR test. Collected specimens are delivered to approved laboratories via same-day delivery, and results are returned within 24 hours to the School (not the individual being tested). The size of the pool may be decreased depending on prevalence either at school or in the community. To the extent possible, “membership” in the pool will remain constant.
- Students, Faculty, and Staff do not need to quarantine while awaiting pooled test results and should be in school unless they become symptomatic.
- Once established with DESE and CIC Health, we will communicate to you more detailed information, including the starting date and the frequency of this routine program (likely weekly). Services are expected to start after August 30th.
After September 1st, 2021, there will be no testing requirement after travelling before returning to school. This guidance is subject to change during the school year. However, travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that you delay travel until fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for unvaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html
Will the School offer vaccination clinics for students on campus?
At this time, due to ample local availability of the vaccine, the School does not anticipate holding a vaccination clinic on-site.
- Information on COVID-19 vaccination in the Boston area can be found at https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-updates-and-information.
- Vaccination sites in Massachusetts can be found at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/.
Yes. We kindly ask that you provide a copy of the COVID-19 vaccination proof (CDC card for instance) if your student is already vaccinated by emailing it to the School Nurse.
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated.
This guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g. AstraZeneca/Oxford).