Skip To Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 MITIGATION MEASURES

What types of face coverings should be used in the school? 

Acceptable coverings means covering the nose and mouth with material that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. When selecting masks please consider the following:

  • Have two or more layers of breathable fabric
  • Completely cover the nose and mouth
  • Fits snugly against the sides of the face and does not have gaps
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask

Masks should not be chosen that are made of a fabric that makes it hard to breath, have exhalation valves or vents, or are prioritized for healthcare workers (i.e., N95 respirators). 

Children two years and older are required to wear a face-covering unless they have a medical or mental health condition or disability, documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA, that precludes the wearing of a face covering in school. Accommodations for such students should be made in partnership with the student's health care provider, school nurse, and IEP/504 team. 

The District will provide face masks for students and staff as an option. All students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks when indoors, with the exception of time for eating or other designated “mask break.” Face coverings are also required for all students, regardless of vaccination status, riding the bus to/from school as per the CDC order.

What are the District's procedures for quarantine?

Fully vaccinated close contacts should be referred for COVID-19 testing. If asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine at home following an exposure (they can continue to attend school in-person and participate in other activities). In addition to correctly wearing masks in school, they should wear a mask in other indoor public settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

 

Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated should be referred for COVID-19 testing. Regardless of test result, they should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure. Options to shorten quarantine provide acceptable alternatives of a 10-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine combined with testing and a negative test result.

 

The CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days. However, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • Quarantine can end after Day 7 with a negative diagnostic test and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The test may be performed on the fifth day after the exposure or later. Quarantine cannot end before day 7. , but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.

In both cases, additional criteria (e.g., continued symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14) must be met and are outlined in the full text.

Who is a “close contact”? 

In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.

This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. Adult close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a consecutive total of 15 minutesAn infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days before the positive test results), until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation.

Except in certain circumstances, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine. However, the following people with recent exposure may NOT need to quarantine:

What procedures will be in place for handwashing/sanitizing?

Students will participate in observed handwashing/sanitizing at regular intervals. Schools will have supplies of hand sanitizer and soap to allow for frequent handwashing and classrooms and school facilities will be disinfected regularly.

How will social distancing be attained in a classroom? 

Classrooms will be set up to follow the health and safety guidelines in our approved plan. 
 

If a student or staff member is confirmed positive, what are the steps to follow? 

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) will be notified immediately. As part of all COVID-19 case investigations that will be directed by the ACHD, the information will be quickly obtained from the student or staff member as to their close contacts since the onset of their symptoms. The actual nature of the contacts will be explored in detail, and multiple variables (i.e., was the individual symptomatic during school or did they only develop the illness at home) will be considered by the Health Services Staff and the ACHD. Once the information is gathered, students and staff considered close contacts to the case (if any) will be notified of their exposure. Any mitigation steps in the school will then be directed by the ACHD. The individual would then need to isolate for 10 days after symptoms appeared or after a positive test if asymptomatic. A return to work/school is possible if the individual remains symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
 

What will the daily symptom screening process look like?

Parents, faculty, and staff will be asked to complete a symptom pre-screening at home. Students/staff with a temperature of 100 degrees or above will not be able to remain at school. Students and staff should stay home if they are known to be ill (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, headache).

What if my child has allergies or another chronic medical condition that often causes some of these same symptoms?

Parents should communicate ahead of time (if possible) with the school nurse and alert them to these conditions so that a plan is in place in the event symptoms develop during school. For example, in order to differentiate between asthma and COVID-19 related shortness of breath, when a student uses his/her inhaler, the symptoms should improve as expected. Or a student with chronic allergies having a mild cough and runny nose whose symptoms may be explained through clear improvement with an antihistamine. 
 

What happens if a student or teacher becomes symptomatic during school hours? 

The student or teacher will leave the classroom immediately and report to the health office. The nurse will assess the individual, including a temperature check and questions about any pre-existing conditions that may explain the symptoms. As the situation warrants, the nurse will contact a parent/guardian to arrange for transportation off-site. Staff and students with elevated temperatures will leave the building regardless of cause. The student or teacher’s desk area will be sanitized prior to further usage. The student or teacher would then need to either get a COVID-19 test or medical clearance to return to school. Contact tracing would be commenced depending on testing results.

What if a student or teacher is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Staff and students that are sick will not be permitted to return to school until they are healthy. We want to minimize the spread of infection and we will continue to follow the guidelines put forth by the health department.

How is the District taking steps to improve ventilation and airflow in schools?

Proper ventilation and improved airflow are important to diluting virus particles indoors. Our HVAC systems have been adjusted to maximize outdoor airflow and bipolar ionization systems were added to most units. Classroom doors will remain propped open and locked in case we need to lock down classrooms quickly. All exterior doors in buildings will remain closed, locked, and monitored. Also, filters for our HVAC systems will be changed quarterly for cleanliness and also improve airflow in our buildings. Teachers will be encouraged to use outdoor areas to conduct classes; as examples, physical education classes, music, social studies, or science activities can be conducted outside ensuring better social distancing for our students and staff.

How can students and staff help to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Bottled hand sanitizers will be available for student/staff use and an emphasis will be placed on handwashing with soap and water. Each of our elementary classrooms have sinks in the classroom. 

Water bottle filling stations will be available in secondary schools and sinks are available in elementary classrooms. Students and staff will be encouraged to bring their own water bottles to school. Water bottles should be labeled. Signs will be posted throughout our buildings obtained through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) to remind students and staff of ways to protect themselves, like regular hand washing and social distancing. Students who are taking regular medications will do so in a “well check” area or entrance in our nurses’ offices to minimize any risk or exposure to students who may be ill and waiting to be picked up by parents/guardians.

What are the typical symptoms of COVID-19 that parents/guardians should be screening for BEFORE sending their child to school?

This information, taken from the most recent publication sent out by the Allegheny County Department of Health lists the most common signs and symptoms as follows: fever greater than 100 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, headaches, body aches, fatigue, loss/altered sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, and runny nose/congestion. Students will be reminded of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, with a prompt to go to the nurse immediately if feeling symptomatic.

Here is a link to the CDC’s website with more information and a “symptom checker” tool that may be helpful to you: Symptoms of COVID-19

Will Hampton Online Academy still be available?

Yes. In HOA the students are able to learn from home, asynchronously, at his/her own pace and schedule, via Waterfront Learning in partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
 

Can my child move from one option to another throughout the school year? 

Yes. Students will be able to migrate in and out of options on a quarterly basis. Please contact your building principal if you wish to request a change prior to the end of the nine weeks.

CAFETERIA AND RECESS

How will meals be served? 

The district will return to regular meal service including salad bar at the secondary level. 
 

How will recess be facilitated? 

Scheduled recess will be facilitated by recess monitors. Students will be positively reinforced for maintaining physical distancing during playground time. Students and staff will have to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after being on the playground. 
 

TRANSPORTATION

What procedures will be in place for bus transportation?

Students will be required to wear masks while using District-provided transportation. Drivers will also wear masks while on the bus, unless alone and driving to a destination. Students will be seated at a maximum of two students per seat or less; siblings or other family members who reside in the same household will be seated together when possible. Many buses will have fewer students traveling this way as the District is strongly encouraging parent transportation to and from school. Licensed high school students (11th and 12th grade) will be permitted to drive themselves. Personal protection equipment and hygiene products, such as hand sanitizer, will be provided to all bus drivers. Buses will be cleaned thoroughly as indicated by the District’s Health & Safety Reopening Plan. 
 

Will parents need to drop off their student(s) to ensure social distancing on the bus?

District transportation will be provided. To assist the District with increased social distancing on our buses, parents/guardians who are able to drive their child(ren) to school are encouraged to do so. Safe carpools with families are also encouraged. 
 

If I choose to transport my child(ren), can I have them ride the bus at a later time?

Yes, but please give as much notice as possible so the District can plan accordingly.  
 

CLEANING & DISINFECTION

How has the District updated its cleaning procedures & protocols? 

The District has developed a detailed and extensive schedule of cleaning procedures to be implemented in all buildings. High touch and high traffic areas will receive additional attention throughout the school day and before and after school is in session. When an individual in the building is found to be positive for COVID-19, the custodial staff will be alerted and directed to those specific areas for thorough cleaning following the 
 

Will water fountains be accessible? 

The District will continue to operate zero-touch bottle refill stations where students can bring their personal container to fill and hydrate as needed. The elementary buildings have sinks in the classrooms where students can fill personal containers. Conventional water fountains will also be available.

What will hallway traffic look like? 

Students will be instructed on how to maintain social distance in the hallways, and transitions/locker use will be staggered to reduce the number of people in the halls at one time. Hallway posters will remind students and faculty of traffic flow and social distancing. Additional hallway options have been added at the High School to reduce congestion during class changes.

What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 who is in my child’s school?

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, a notification will be sent to families and staff who may have had contact with that individual. The Allegheny County Department of Health will, through contact tracing, work with the school district to determine with whom that individual had contact. In order to assist in the contact tracing investigation, students will be assigned seats on buses and in classrooms. If a student drives non-family members to school, the driver will also need to know who they drove to school each day.
 
We will not be permitted to identify the individual in our communications, and the individual who tested positive may be permitted to return to school only after the Department of Health has provided affirmation to the school nurse and administration that they may do so. Our counselors and administrators will work with affected families and students to promote a positive return to school following quarantine.

What mental health supports are in place for students and staff?

In addition to the expanded services provided by the school-based mental health provider, Family Behavioral Resources (FBR), our teachers, school counselors, administrators, and other staff have participated in a number of professional development opportunities over the past few years in areas of mental health. Most recently, our team has participated in trauma-informed training facilitated by the University of Pittsburgh. The District also works in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh to offer our Student Assistance Program (SAP). This program is designed to identify students with potential mental health needs and refer them to appropriate health providers.

Also, because our staff members may need support as well, our District offers an employee assistance program for our staff and their family to contact as we gear up to deliver instruction during the upcoming school year.

COMMUNICATION

How can I view the District’s Health and Safety Plan? 

The District’s Health and Safety Plan was approved by the board of directors and will be sent to the PA Department of Education.  The plan can be accessed here.