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FAQs for Staff: Reopen ICSD

Click on the links below for answers to frequently asked questions regarding our plans to reopen for in-person instruction on October 5. (More information on the logistics of in-person and virtual teaching will be provided soon.)
Screening/Symptoms
How can I access the daily screening form if I deleted it from my email?
Should we fill out the daily form the night before or in the morning before we go to work?
If we are teaching remotely, do we need to fill out this form each day?
If I am community-based vs. in an ICSD classroom, do I still fill this out? Community sites have their own protocol.
If I know the cause of my symptom (for example - congestion due to on-going fall allergies), do I need to report the symptom on the form?
What happens if you’ve traveled from a restricted state?
What if you've traveled from a state on the restricted list, but your partner has been tested since returning and it's negative?
Are we taking employee temperatures each day?
What is the temperature threshold for an employee to come to work?
Will students have to complete a similar form? Will there be a massive daily clearance for them?
Who has access to the data we provide in the screening? 
What about students in the same household? If one has symptoms, would their sibling(s) also be asked to stay home?
Are substitutes also in that daily employer status report? Or how would the report work for subs?
Is completing the survey optional, or is following up optional?
Testing
Is there a plan for testing staff and students?
What are the testing criteria that make you qualify for free testing vs. when it's not covered?
Will there be a way for staff who live out of Tompkins county to get their tests for free?
I keep hearing that limits for testing have been lifted, and the phrase "medically necessary." Can someone clarify the idea that one can get a test any time, or only if medically necessary? 
Are in-person staff being tested prior to the start of school and twice weekly?
Are people who have tested and are waiting for results allowed to come to school? 
Am I to understand that the district is not covering testing for all employees on-site?
What if someone gets sick during the school day?
How do folks without reliable transportation access testing?
PPE/Sanitation/Air Quality/Facilities
How many people can take a mask break in a given room?
Can we have masks off during outdoor play?
Can you confirm that if children have masks on inside the classroom they still need to stay 6 feet apart?
Will each room have a bottle of cleaning spray to wash tables often during the day?
Will we be given the face shields or safety glasses if we work in elementary?
Are we going to receive special equipment e.g. plastic face shields which would make teaching easier?
Would hooks on desks work for hanging masks?
Who, when, and how are classrooms planned to be cleaned?
Do we need to use a new mask between each cohort?
Is the district providing students and staff with daily masks?
Can the district provide the U/V Wands to disinfect toys?
Can any staff clean desks in between classes?
Has anyone investigated daily antigen testing?
Why can't we use face shields in place of masks while we teach?
Will there be clear building-by-building safety plans released?
Insurance/Benefits/Sick Time
If we are not on the ICSD insurance, are we still able to access the telemedicine service? And if so, might we have a copay with our insurance, or is ICSD providing the service for free?
If we are told to quarantine are we required to use our own time?
Is there any coverage for members of the household that are uninsured or any coverage we can temporarily get them?
Would you accept a doctor’s note from a telemedicine health care provider?
If you have different insurance than ICSD, who covers tests and televisits?
In the event that we are required to quarantine and/or have a positive COVID-19 test, are we still required to report to work remotely? Will we be required to use our own sick time and get a substitute (if available)?
Who pays for CMC health provider consultation?
Substitutes
Who will sub in our class if we don't feel well once we get to work?
Should we test positive for COVID, are we still expected to teach from online or are we getting a sub for the time we are ill? Does the time we are sick get pulled from our sick days? 
Health/Safety Protocols with Students/Families
What happens when there is a positive case in a classroom?
Are there any specific actions we can take to keep the people that we live with safe as we return from the school building to home on a daily basis?
What is the protocol for interacting with families in person? Can I make a home visit or drop supplies off to a family of a student in my class?
What do families need to do before their children can come to school each morning? How will this info be presented? are there requirements or just suggestions?
In-Person/Virtual Teaching Logistics
Will families be able to change their choice once school begins Oct. 5th?
Where does lunch fit into the 88-minute classes at IHS?
Miscellaneous
Are families going to have a similar informational session?
Can children use the coatroom? If so, how?
For those who travel often to states that are on the Cuomo quarantine list, how is the district handling that?
 

Screening/Symptoms

How can I access the daily screening form if I deleted it from my email?
ICSD staff can access the daily COVID-19 screening form here: https://forms.gle/2A4Cs9cAzfE7XvAt9.
Should we fill out the daily form the night before or in the morning before we go to work?
Each employee fills out the daily screener every morning before they report to an ICSD school building.
If we are teaching remotely, do we need to fill out this form each day?
No. However, if you need to return to the building for any reason, such as retrieving materials, we ask that you complete the screener form.
If I am community-based vs. in an ICSD classroom, do I still fill this out? Community sites have their own protocol.
If you are reporting to an ICSD facility, you must fill out the screener. Other places may have their own process, and we'll comply with those procedures as well. 
If I know the cause of my symptom (for example - congestion due to on-going fall allergies), do I need to report the symptom on the form? 
You know your body and symptoms. If you have an ongoing issue such as allergies, you will likely know when the onset of these symptoms begins. Pay attention to changes in symptoms, and whether you suddenly feel different. If any of the symptoms listed develop, and it's unusual, indicate "yes" on the form and contact your healthcare provider.
What happens if you’ve traveled from a restricted state? 
New York State law requires anyone entering NYS from a restricted state to quarantine for 14 days.
What if you've traveled from a state on the restricted list, but your partner has been tested since returning and it's negative?
New York State law requires anyone entering NYS from a restricted state to quarantine for 14 days.
Are we taking employee temperatures each day?
Each employee must take their own temperature each morning before filling out the screener and reporting to work.
What is the temperature threshold for an employee to come to work?
A temperature of 100.0°F (37.78°C) or greater would require you to stay home from work or leave work if a fever developed.
Will students have to complete a similar form? Will there be a massive daily clearance for them?
Yes. Caregivers or students (e.g. secondary) will be required to complete a daily screener before reporting to school. The school nurse and building principal(s) will have access to a report which indicates who has or has not completed the screener. If not screened at home, students will be screened on site by the school nurse.
Who has access to the data we provide in the screening? 
The building principal(s) or department director, the school nurse, and the Coordinator of Health Services and Wellness.
What about students in the same household? If one has symptoms, would their sibling(s) also be asked to stay home?
Anyone who has symptoms listed on the screener must stay home that day. If anyone lives in the same household as an individual with symptoms listed on the screener, but they do not have symptoms, they can continue to go about their day as normal. If anyone in the household tests positive for COVID-19, however, the TCHD will very likely require testing of those within the household.
Are substitutes also in that daily employer status report? Or how would the report work for subs?
Everyone with an ICSD email address will receive the screening survey daily. Substitutes would complete it any day they are reporting for work in an ICSD building.
Is completing the survey optional, or is following up optional?
Completing the daily screening survey is mandatory if you are reporting to work and anytime you experience a change in your status (e.g. symptoms, known exposures, a positive test result) during or outside of the work day. Whether you decide to use the telehealth consult offered by CMC is up to the individual employee, as an employee may prefer to consult with their primary care provider.
 

Testing

Is there a plan for testing staff and students?
While schools play a role in identifying students, faculty, and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have had recent known or potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2, school staff are not expected to directly administer SARS-CoV-2 tests. It is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct universal COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. The ICSD will only mandate that a student be tested for COVID-19 if such testing is consistent with guidance from a healthcare provider and/or the Tompkins County Department of Health.  

NYSED guidance also indicates testing alone is insufficient to combat the spread of COVID-19, and so we are focusing on implementing multiple prevention and mitigation strategies, which include temperature and symptom screening, promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining healthy environments and operations, and preparing for when someone gets sick. According to the CDC:
Universal SARS-CoV-2 testing of all students and staff in school settings has not been systematically studied. It is not known if testing in school settings provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, cloth face covering, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting). Therefore, CDC does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff. Implementation of a universal approach to testing in schools may pose challenges, such as the lack of infrastructure to support routine testing and follow up in the school setting, unknown acceptability of this testing approach among students, parents, and staff, lack of dedicated resources, practical considerations related to testing minors and potential disruption in the educational environment. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-testing.html

Additionally, pursuant to New York State Public Health Law, the Ithaca City School District is legally prohibited from administering a COVID-19 test to a child in the absence of parent consent. See: N.Y. Pub. Health Law Section 2504

Districts do have a responsibility to identify who in the community is responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing (e.g., local health department testing sites, physician offices, hospital systems) and to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking care or undergoing testing.
What are the testing criteria that make you qualify for free testing vs. when it's not covered? 
All ICSD employees, regardless of their insurance, will receive testing free of charge.
Will there be a way for staff who live out of Tompkins county to get their tests for free?
All ICSD employees, regardless of their insurance, will receive testing free of charge. NYS run testing sites in Syracuse and Binghamton offer testing free of charge, regardless of whether individuals meet testing criteria. Contact the NYS Hotline for information about testing in your area: 1-888-364-3065.
I keep hearing that limits for testing have been lifted, and the phrase "medically necessary." Can someone clarify the idea that one can get a test any time, or only if medically necessary? 
Anyone who lives in Tompkins County can receive a COVID-19 test regardless of an order from a healthcare provider or the health department, through November 10, 2020.
Are in-person staff being tested prior to the start of school and twice weekly?
Not at this time.
Are people who have tested and are waiting for results allowed to come to school? 
No.
Am I to understand that the district is not covering testing for all employees on-site?
The ICSD is not sampling students or staff at district sites. For those staff with insurance coverage through the district, any co-pays incurred as a result of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 will be covered by the ICSD.
What if someone gets sick during the school day?
Students or staff who develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or those with a positive response to the questionnaire during the school day will be assessed by the school nurse, with the district medical director available for consultation, as needed. Following assessment by the school nurse, any students or staff with a temperature of 100.0°F (37.78°C) or higher, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the screening questionnaire will be directed to a dedicated isolation area, where students will be supervised prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home.

Isolation areas in each school building were identified prior to school closure in March 2020 and are again in place in advance of school reopening. An outdoor isolation space will also be identified for use, as feasible, based on the weather and availability of staff supervision. In the event that a caregiver or other designated adult is unable to pick up their student from the school (because, for example, they are under quarantine or isolation orders, serving as a primary caregiver for another member of the household, or lack transportation), the school nurse and/or building principal will work with district transportation to arrange for travel from the school site to the student’s home. Caregiver consent will be secured and confirmation of arrangements will be communicated by phone, email, or text and documented by school staff.
How do folks without reliable transportation access testing? 
At this time, CMC is not providing mobile testing, so individuals must utilize public or private transportation, walk, or bike to the CMC testing site.
 

PPE/Sanitation/Air Quality/Facilities

How many people can take a mask break in a given room?
It depends on the square footage of the room and the number of students/staff in the space. As long as everyone has enough space to adequately distance using 6 feet between students/adults mask breaks can occur.
Can we have masks off during outdoor play?
Yes. If the activities of students support physical distancing.
Can you confirm that if children have masks on inside the classroom they still need to stay 6 feet apart?
All students and staff must wear masks even while 6 feet apart from one another, with exceptions for structured mask breaks.
Will each room have a bottle of cleaning spray to wash tables often during the day?
Each room has "Flexwipes" available for any adult's use, and our school district has secured more than a 30-day supply of these.
Will we be given the face shields or safety glasses if we work in elementary? 
Yes, face shields will be available to staff but are recommended for those activities which require close physical proximity and have a higher risk of exposure (e.g. assistance with feeding, toileting, dressing, grooming, nursing assessments, etc.). Face shields are not a replacement for masks and should be used in addition to a mask.
Are we going to receive special equipment e.g. plastic face shields which would make teaching easier? 
Yes, face shields will be available to staff but are recommended for those activities which require close physical proximity and have a higher risk of exposure (e.g. assistance with feeding, toileting, dressing, grooming, nursing assessments, etc.). Face shields are not a replacement for masks and should be used in addition to a mask.
Would hooks on desks work for hanging masks?
Yes, people can use the hooks on desks to hang masks, or affix other hooks to hang masks as well.
Who, when, and how are classrooms planned to be cleaned?
Definitions: Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing
In the ICSD, we utilize the following definitions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):  
 
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
 
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
 
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
 
Standard Operating Procedures - Sanitizing of District Facilities
The following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for sanitizing district facilities and protocols to effectuate compliance have been developed and implemented: training of staff has occurred; expectations have been delivered to appropriate staff (with each custodial staff attesting thereto by signature to the June 15, 2020 memorandum titled, “Standard Operating Procedures - Sanitizing of District Facilities”); systems of accountability (logs, inspections, etc.) have been developed; and fidelity will be closely monitored and re-training will be liberally administered to effectuate full compliance with these SOPs.
 
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, these SOPs are now the “normal course” of custodial operations and all custodial staff have been trained and understand that these SOPs are to be carefully and thoroughly followed. 

Safety Protocols to Protect Custodial Staff
  • Follow all protocols related to personal protective equipment (PPE) as they relate both to the products being used and mitigating the risk of exposure to COVID-19 virus.
  • Read, understand, and follow all directions found in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each product utilized.
  • If you do not understand the information found in the SDS for any product, contact the Director of Facilities prior to using the product.
  • Use products in accordance with directions found on the product labels.
  • Report accidents, injuries, and exposures to your supervisor as soon as possible.
Areas to be sanitized: The following items/areas will be sanitized at least once every twenty-four (24) hours when a building is in normal operation. Custodial staff will respond to requests for more frequent sanitizing as needed. Sanitizing will be the primary mode of operations and will take precedence over duties related to aesthetics only. The following list is not exhaustive:
  • High Utilization Touch Areas: Door handles, railings, filing cabinet handles; appliance handles (refrigerators, microwaves, etc), light switches; paper towel dispensers; soap dispensers; all sink faucets (bathrooms, classrooms, kitchens); water dispensers (towers and fountains); locker dials and handles; fitness equipment; chairs, lavatories
  • Flat Working Surfaces: Desk tops, table tops, staff desk tops, counter tops
Equipment and Supplies
  • SDS for all products used
  • Gloves (required)
  • Masks (required as directed by COVID-19 protocols)
  • Aprons (as requested)
  • Eye protection (shields/goggles), as requested
  • Disinfectant
    • Oxivir, QT3 or non-acid restroom disinfectant/cleaner
  • General cleaners
    • Spic and Span, 64, or SM-1
  • Green back sponges
  • Spray bottles, buckets, paper towels, razor blade scrapers
  • C3 cleaning companions(bathrooms/locker rooms)
Sanitizing Procedures
  • Step 1: Thoroughly clean any of the surfaces with a general cleaner to remove any visible soiled areas. Use a greenback sponge and wipe the surface dry. Removing the dirt will allow the disinfectant to be effective by directly contacting the surface.
     
  • Step 2: Disinfect the cleaned surface by using a spray bottle of disinfectant. Apply the disinfectant to wet the surface thoroughly. Allow the disinfectant to remain wet for 10 minutes, then dry the surface with a paper towel. A C3 machine can be used to apply the disinfectant in bathrooms and locker rooms.
Audit Control: It is vital to maintain fidelity to these cleaning and sanitizing procedures. As part of the process to ensure fidelity, custodial staff will maintain an accurate and up-to-date log with the date, time and areas that were sanitized. Appropriate supervisor(s) will review logs daily.
 
Supervision: Supervisors will immediately notify their direct supervisor of any “non-compliance” to these protocols and appropriate resolutions will occur, consistent with collective bargaining agreements.
Do we need to use a new mask between each cohort?
No. Masks require replacing if they become soiled, damaged, or wet. Continuous mask-wearing is advised to reduce the handling of your mask and touching your face. Hand hygiene before and after removing a mask is required to prevent contamination.
Is the district providing students and staff with daily masks?
Yes. Single-use surgical masks are available to staff and students. We currently have an estimated 90-day supply of surgical masks for students and staff. 
Can the district provide the U/V Wands to disinfect toys? 
No. Direct UVC exposure to human skin or eyes may cause injuries. There have been reports of skin and eye burns resulting from improper installation of UVC lamps in rooms that humans can occupy. There is some evidence that UVB radiation is effective at inactivating other SARS viruses (not SARS-CoV-2). However, it is less effective than UVC at doing so and is more hazardous to humans than UVC radiation because UVB radiation can penetrate deeper into the skin and eye. UVB is known to cause DNA damage and is a risk factor in developing skin cancer and cataracts. Most UV products being marketed by manufacturers for consumer use are not FDA approved. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-covid-19-and-medical-devices/uv-lights-and-lamps-ultraviolet-c-radiation-disinfection-and-coronavirus
Can any staff clean desks in between classes?
Yes. When students change classes, we will take an “all hands on deck” approach to cleaning desks.
Has anyone investigated daily antigen testing?
There is limited data to guide the use of rapid antigen tests as screening tests on asymptomatic persons to detect or exclude COVID-19, or to determine whether a previously confirmed case is still infectious.
Why can't we use face shields in place of masks while we teach?
NYSDOH and NYSED guidelines require both a face mask and a face shield if someone is choosing to wear a face shield.
Will there be clear building-by-building safety plans released?
Yes. These will be released soon. Please ask your building principal if you have any questions in the meantime. 
 

Insurance/Benefits/Sick Time

If we are not on the ICSD insurance, are we still able to access the telemedicine service? And if so, might we have a copay with our insurance, or is ICSD providing the service for free? 
Telemedicine services are part of the negotiated ICSD health plan and can legally support only employees who are members of the Plan.
If we are told to quarantine are we required to use our own time?
The first 10 work days will be covered by ICSD; you will not have to utilize your own benefit time. (It is very unusual for quarantine or isolation to last for more than 14 calendar days. Ten work days equate to a minimum of 14 calendar days.)
Is there any coverage for members of the household that are uninsured or any coverage we can temporarily get them? 
The ICSD Health Plan is a negotiated benefit with the bulk of the cost covered by ICSD taxpayers. Unfortunately, benefits cannot be extended to cover employees who have not enrolled in the Plan.
Would you accept a doctor’s note from a telemedicine health care provider? 
Yes. If the provider is able to clear you for a return to work, then their documentation would be acceptable. Remember to submit such documentation to Human Resources and do not return to work until cleared, in writing, by Human Resources.
If you have different insurance than ICSD, who covers tests and televisits? 
Your health insurance would, according to your Plan. ICSD will cover any copays incurred for testing by any employee who is not currently enrolled in an ICSD insurance Plan.
In the event that we are required to quarantine and/or have a positive COVID-19 test, are we still required to report to work remotely? Will we be required to use our own sick time and get a substitute (if available)? 
The first 10 work days will be covered by ICSD; you will not have to utilize your own benefit time. (It is very unusual for quarantine or isolation to last for more than 14 calendar days. Ten work days equate to a minimum of 14 calendar days.) After the first ten days, if you are working remotely, but are actually too ill to work, you would "call in sick" using normal protocols, and would utilize your own benefit days.
Who pays for CMC health provider consultation?
Your insurance will be billed if you opt to have a telemedicine consultation with a CMC provider.
 

Substitutes

Who will sub in our class if we don't feel well once we get to work?
Each building leader will find coverage for a classroom in the event that someone falls ill during the school day.
Should we test positive for COVID, are we still expected to teach from online or are we getting a sub for the time we are ill? Does the time we are sick get pulled from our sick days? 
If you are too unwell to teach, you do not need to teach remotely. Federal law allows all employees to take 10 work days away from work if they test positive for COVID-19, without utilizing sick time. After the first ten workdays, if you are actually too ill to work, you would "call in sick" using normal protocols, and would utilize your own benefit days.
 

Health/Safety Protocols with Students/Families

What happens when there is a positive case in a classroom?
The county health department conducts an extensive interview with the student or staff member to identify their movements and close contacts over a period of days based on the timing of symptom onset or a positive test result. Using this information, the health department will advise the district as to whether a classroom, grade level, or entire building needs to close to provide time to conduct their contact investigation. For instance, an elementary classroom might be required to quarantine immediately and a school site may close for a day until the health department identifies who else may be subject to quarantine.
Are there any specific actions we can take to keep the people that we live with safe as we return from the school building to home on a daily basis?
We can all practice good hand hygiene immediately upon entering our homes, and if requiring extra precautions, remove clothing and take a shower upon entry.
What is the protocol for interacting with families in person? Can I make a home visit or drop supplies off to a family of a student in my class?
First ensure the family is comfortable with receiving you on their property, however briefly, as some may be more restrictive in their contact with others outside their immediate household. Additionally, if visiting a student's home, you are advised to remain outdoors, maintain physical distancing and wear a mask. Keep your encounters brief, as being with others for more than 10 minutes could identify you as a 'close contact' and subject you and/or the student and their family to quarantine if anyone present were to test positive for COVID-19.
What do families need to do before their children can come to school each morning? How will this info be presented? are there requirements or just suggestions?
Each morning, families must take their children's temperatures and fill out a daily screener. The questions are here: Student Health Screening Guidance for Parent/Guardian.
Top of Page
 

In-Person/Virtual Teaching Logistics

Will families be able to change their choice once school begins Oct. 5th?
We asked families to make and maintain their selections for at least the semester.
Where does lunch fit into the 88-minute classes at IHS?
The IHS schedule will be adjusted to ensure lunch for all.
 

Miscellaneous

Are families going to have a similar informational session? 
We plan to hold informational sessions for students and families about district-wide protocols for health and safety, yes.
Can children use the coatroom? If so, how?
Yes, students can use coatrooms, and we continue to support 6-foot physical distancing by limiting the number of students in at a time, signage and floor markers, explicitly teaching the routine, etc. Additionally, although coatrooms are permitted for use, we encourage folks to utilize students’ personal desk spaces as much as possible, in order to minimize contact.
For those who travel often to states that are on the Cuomo quarantine list, how is the district handling that? 
NYS law dictates that everyone traveling from a state on the list must quarantine for 14 days once in NYS.