Nativity's COVID-19 Protocols
The Nativity of Mary COVID-19 Task Force has been meeting weekly since July to create and update Nativity’s Pandemic Preparedness and Readiness Plan (PPRP) based on the Archdiocesan Protocol Framework that was provided on July 7. The 13 person COVID-19 Task Force includes 3 parents who are part of our School Action Council, 4 teacher representatives (one each from Preschool, K-2, 3-5, and Middle School), 4 other Nativity staff members including our school nurse, Father Nathan, and Principal Ryan Pajak. We will be working together, using guidance from the Archdiocese, CSCOE, MDH, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts, to create a plan that is safe and thorough. The task force is also coordinating with neighboring Catholic schools to share ideas, policies, and guidelines.
We will take a four-phase approach during the upcoming school year. We will start in Phase 2. Our task force will meet throughout the school year to review our PPRP and analyze the need/opportunity to move into a new phase.
Phase 1: Distance Learning- as experienced last spring, but with enhancements based on our staff’s review and reflection on our spring session. This may be necessary at some point in the year and our task force will look to guidance from the archdiocese and MDH in making this decision.
Phase 2: In-person learning with a combination of restrictions and strategies to reduce risk of transmission. This is where we will begin the school year.
Phase 3: In-person learning with reduced restrictions and strategies. We will roll back some of the restrictions and strategies from Phase 2 in order to provide a more robust learning environment while keeping some in place to maintain a safe environment.
Phase 4: In-person learning with no restrictions or mitigations strategies needed for safe operation of our school. We recognize some strategies may become the new normal and will continue as we enter Phase 4.
We have made the decision to offer both in-person and remote learning to students this fall. We are not offering a hybrid model because we believe that while it adds protection to student interactions, it does not add protection to staff. In the hybrid model, student interactions reduce, but the number of interactions between staff and students does not. Should the number of cases rise to a point of needing to pause in-person learning, we will shift to distance learning and not a hybrid model.
While we will use the county number as a guide, we will also need to consider the number of cases within our own school community. In the event that we have a positive case of COVID, we will be contacting the MN Department of Health for direction. There may be a need to temporarily close part or all of school for a day in order to deep clean. We also expect that the MDH will guide us as to the need to move to distance learning should the number of cases within our own building rise to a certain level. This is similar to guidance from the department during flu season. At this time, we do not know the exact number of cases in our school building that will cause a shift to distance learning.
*Preschool and Creative Club will continue to operate under the guidance of the MDH.
We believe that as a community that acts and works together, we can maintain a safe environment. Although confirmed cases in our community are inevitable, following the decision tree will play a critical role in continuing in-person education. We are asking any staff member, student, or parent (including other members of your household) who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 to notify the Nativity Health Office. The Health Office and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will work together to evaluate the situation and provide guidance to both the individual/family and the school. If notifications are necessary, Nativity will communicate with the parents and staff that are impacted while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with state and federal law.
Our health office and administrative team will work with the MDH should a student or staff member have a positive COVID test. Together with the MDH, we will determine:
- How to best conduct contact tracing
- Cleaning procedures
- Notification/communication within the community
- Who needs to quarantine and for what period of time
- The ability of the student to participate in remote learning
- Which staff member or substitute teacher will continue to teach the students should a teacher test positive for COVID
To make this even more complicated, there are many different possible scenarios after a diagnosis. There is no one single answer because the response is dependent on the exposure to others. Different scenarios include:
- The entire family/household of the positive case needing to quarantine.
- One class/cohort needing to quarantine for a period of time.
- Part or all of the school building needing to close for a 24 hour deep clean.
While we understand that any change in the school day can cause stress to a family, we are cognizant of the fact that getting students in and out of the building safely may take a bit longer than it has in the past. We are still working on specific details, but we will likely extend the drop-off and pick-up times by 5-10 minutes. We will be providing a recommended drop-off and pick-up window based on last name. We recognize, that this won’t always work for families and simply ask that you adhere to your time if you are able. Students who attend Creative Clubhouse or use busing will not be affected.
A family that chooses to withdraw from Nativity may re-enroll for the following year when registration opens, assuming there is room in the grade for which the family is enrolling.
Classrooms will be capped at the following numbers for the 2020-2021 school year:
K/1st – 18
2nd/3rd – 19
4th/5th – 20
6th-8th – 21
We currently have waitlists in grades K, 1, 2, and 6.
A study came out very recently stating that fleece gaiters as face coverings were not effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19. As we are all familiar with the rapidly changing circumstances around COVID, we will adjust our plan to match the best data available. With this new information, gaiters will no longer be allowed to serve as a face covering during the school day. We are aware that there are products on the market made with materials that would decrease the spread of COVID-19; however, just eliminating the use of gaiters completely is the easiest way for all of us to stay safe.
Here is a summary of the expectations regarding face coverings.
- All students and staff will be required to wear a face covering throughout the day.
- A face covering can be a mask or a face shield plus mask
- A shield without a mask can be worn by a teacher while teaching if it is the best option for the learning situation.
- Students and staff will have access to a mask lanyard to wear around their neck; this keeps the mask safe and clean while not wearing it.
- Face coverings can be removed in the following scenarios:
- While eating or drinking
- When outside and social distancing
- During recess and phy ed.
- Teachers will identify appropriate times to give students a break from wearing their face covering.
- Several of us are dealing with masks + glasses, which tend to fog up. There are some sprays for glasses and suggestions on mask fitting being shared to help address these concerns.
- There will be times the face coverings are a distraction or bothersome to students. Teachers will deal with this issue as they handle other behaviors in the classroom. They will give reminders and partner with parents to ensure the child understands the importance of compliance with this.
Since wearing a mask in the building is a school rule, this will be enforced similarly to how other rules and expectations are enforced. If a child removes his/her mask and refuses to put it back on, the child will be reminded to put it back on. If the child does not cooperate, s/he will be sent to the school office. Wearing a face covering is a matter of safety, is not optional, and will be strictly enforced.
Teachers will have different methods and organization tools to keep supplies and manipulatives separated. It will look a little different in each classroom. Please make sure to label all of your student’s individual school supplies before you drop them off.
To help our students adjust to our new designated hallway routes, we will add markings to the floor. As with other procedures, students will be taught about them and practice the routes with their class during the first weeks of school. Student locker assignments will be staggered to allow for more distancing and classrooms will have routines for going to their lockers to reduce the number of students in the hallway simultaneously.
Students will be seated 6 feet apart from each other in the cafeteria. We have removed the round tables from the cafeteria and added more rectangular tables to allow for better spacing with students facing the same direction.
The recess area will be divided into multiple zones (e.g., playground, soccer field, etc) to ensure ample social distancing. K-5 students will be separated into different zones by class. Middle school students will be separated into different zones by grade. Throughout the week, classes/grades will rotate through all of the zones so that every student has access to every recess area while maintaining social distancing.
To start the year, our middle school students will remain in their homerooms and teachers will rotate to them. Although this is not how we ideally want to see the middle school program long-term, we do feel this is the best option at this time. Students will use lockers for their coats and phones but will bring all necessary school items to the classroom in their backpacks. This will eliminate students in the hallways unnecessarily. Middle School students will not be changing into gym uniforms for physical education during Phase 2.
Students will still go to PE class, using the outdoors as much as possible and will use the gym when the weather does not allow for an outdoor class. Students will not be required to wear masks during PE, yet will be required to keep proper social distance. Middle school students will not change into gym uniforms during Phase 2.
Music in K-4 and Art in K-8 will be taught in homeroom classrooms to reduce the number of transitions and hallway use by students. Band and Music in grades 5-8 will be held in the band and music rooms, with at least 15 minutes between each class in either room. Normally, our 5th-8th grade students who are not in band would have a choir class. With the research we have about singing, we are not going to have choir during Phase 2 and instead will offer a variety of musical activities in a general music class.
Library class will be temporarily suspended but we are working on a way to get students safe access to be able to check out books.
We are blessed to have a newly updated Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Nativity’s HVAC system was updated last fall and has been evaluated by HVAC professionals in the summer of 2020. The CDC recommends circulating fresh air into spaces as often as possible. We are getting more details from our installers on the rate of circulation.
High-touch areas will be cleaned at least twice per day, including bathrooms. The entire school will be cleaned and sanitized each day after school. Teachers will also be provided with an approved disinfectant solution which will be used as appropriate throughout the school day. Cleaning logs will be developed and utilized to document proper cleaning procedures throughout the school day.
Upon arrival, students will have their temperature screened via a tablet and will receive hand sanitizer. Teachers will teach students proper handwashing techniques and respiratory etiquette and will incorporate handwashing routines throughout the day.
While we are so excited to be returning in person, school will look and feel different. There are several ways you can help to prepare your student(s).
- Have them start to practice wearing a mask. Have them wear it when watching tv, reading, etc. Try to build stamina for periods of time to be wearing the mask.
- Set a positive tone at home about wearing masks, and having to primarily sit at desks at school. These practices are what make it possible for us to return to in-person learning.
- Talk to your student(s) about social distancing, and how they can help by monitoring their own personal space and noticing the markings in the building to help remind them!
- We are so fortunate to have a growing school community! Remind your student(s) that they will be meeting and welcoming new friends and teachers!
- We have shifted doors for arrival:
- ONLY Preschool should enter at door #12
- Grades K-4 enter at door #13
- Grades 5-8 enter at door #14
- Only preschool parents should park and cross the parking lot for pick up/drop off.
- Remember to enter the parking lot and form 2 lanes. Merge to form one lane as you approach the sidewalk.
- Once near the sidewalk, pull up as far as possible to prevent backups.
- If you arrive after 9:30, please have your child go through door #14 and check-in at the office.
- The school has purchased four sanitizer/temperature check stations that will be located at entrances for arrival. Parents are still expected to do a home health check each morning by taking their children’s temperature and monitoring for other symptoms. Upon arrival to school, students will have their temperature checked and will be required to use the automatic dispensing hand sanitizer. These stations will be re-positioned during lunch and students will have a temperature checked prior to eating lunch.
- The school has purchased break-away lanyards for every student as a way to hold their masks when not in use. These will be distributed on the first day of school.
- Hot lunch will be available for students. We encourage families to bring cold lunch if it works for their family, but there will be no requirement to do so. Students will be 6 feet apart while eating in the lunchroom.
- MDH Decision Tree LINKED HERE
- Nativity Summary of Lab-Confirmed COVID case routine LINKED HERE