Guidance for Schools with Identified Cases of COVID-19

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March 12, 2020

While there are no locally identified cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Scotia-Glenville schools wanted to outline the procedures of what will happen if there is a case:

The local health department will notify schools if and when a school must close due to COVID-19 and when a school can reopen. School administrators should work in close collaboration and coordination with the state and local health officials to close school and/or cancel large events. Schools are not expected to make decisions about closing or canceling events due to COVID-19 on their own. Schools can seek specific guidance from the state or local health officials to determine if, when, and for how long to take these steps. This does not limit the statutory or regulatory authority of a school board to close a building for other circumstances. The nature of these actions (e.g., geographic scope, duration) may change as the local outbreak situation evolves.

When a student or staff member has attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case, New York State Department of Health requires an initial 24-hour closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the school environment. That investigation will inform the plan determined by the local department of health as to any further required closure, or other necessary precautions to take for specific classrooms, or for specific individuals. Such plan must recommend actions for future positive COVID-19 cases as well.

During that initial 24-hour closure the school shall immediately take steps to clean and disinfect the school building(s) where the student or staff had contact prior to testing positive for COVID-19. That disinfection must be in accordance with NYS DOH guidelines and must be complete before accepting returning students.

Schools should work with the state and local health departments to communicate the possible COVID-19 exposure. This communication to the school community should align with the communication plan in the school’s emergency operations plan. In such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

If a student or staff member has been identified as testing positive for COVID-19, school and program administrators should notify state health officials to determine what additional steps are needed for the school community. In addition, students and staff who are well but are taking care of, or share a home with, someone with a case of COVID-19 must not attend school and must follow precautionary quarantine instructions from State health officials, who will determine when it is safe for them to return to school.