Risk Management in a COVID-19 Environment
Summer School 2021 - Updated June 2021
The emergence of COVID-19 has forced The Lab School, like other schools around the world, to reevaluate nearly every aspect of its educational practices. As we return to campus our top priority is the safety of our students and our faculty and staff. Lab School has enacted a number of protocols to reduce the risks to our community.
Our planning has been guided by the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the DC Department of Health (DCDOH), and the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), as well as our own public health nursing staff and our physician medical advisor. We have consulted numerous additional experts – educational, medical, architectural, code and ventilation engineering, and cleaning—to help us develop these protocols.
Due to the novel nature of COVID-19, we are learning more about the virus every day, and expert guidance about best practices has continued to evolve accordingly. Therefore, these protocols are subject to change throughout the course of the year. The School will promptly communicate any changes to these policies with the community. However, it is important for community members to appreciate that there are no strategies that can eliminate transmission risk entirely. These policies are designed to help keep risk of transmission as low as possible among our community, while keeping students as engaged in the learning process as possible.
Lab School strongly recommends that all eligible members of the community take the full course of the COVID vaccination. Once the vaccinations are moved from Emergency Use Authorization to full FDA approval, they will be required for all eligible faculty, staff and students. The School has coordinated the vaccination of all faculty/staff and is offering vaccination clinics for all eligible students.
Additional information on the vaccines and their administration can be found at the following:
Protocols for Daily Operations of the School
We are following a layered approach to risk mitigation and will employ the below practices.
Daily Health Checks
- Health checks of all students, faculty, and staff need to be submitted each school day, regardless of whether the student or adult anticipates being on campus.
- The Magnus Health app must be loaded to a mobile device. Completion of the report is required every school day by 7:15am.
- Compliance with the daily health check is a requirement to enter the campuses or school buses.
Use of Face Coverings – Following DCDOH requirements:
- All students and faculty/staff must bring and wear face masks while on campus.
- Please ensure you have an adequate supply of clean, comfortable, well-fitted masks so that you or your student can wear a clean one, and bring a spare, to campus each day.
- Reusable masks need to be laundered daily.
- Lab School does not permit gaiters, scarves, handkerchiefs or vented masks
- For more specifics about cloth face coverings specifications please consult: CDC Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings
- Masks must comply with Lab School dress guidelines: no references to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, vaping, smoking, the occult, sexual innuendo, violence or obscenities.
- Breaks from wearing masks will occur for meals, and only when students and employees are able to be at physical distance from other members of the Lab School community, and are outdoors.
Physical Distancing in Classrooms, Corridors, Offices, Common spaces
Following CDC and DC Department of Health guidelines, The Lab School has reduced density in our spaces.
- We have reconfigured spaces to allow for a prudent distance between individuals – this includes reducing classroom occupancy, modifying new spaces into larger classrooms, using clear separation panels where appropriate, and implementing other measures to ensure each occupant has enough separation and airflow to mitigate risk.
- The school has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure project to make more of our outdoor spaces Wi-Fi accessible. Teachers and advisors may use outdoor spaces for instruction and other activities as appropriate. Every space has been evaluated to determine the number that can be accommodated with physical distancing.
- Physical Distancing
- We have designed and installed signage to guide and reinforce safe distancing.
- Corridors have directional signage where possible.
- Some stairwells will be UP only, others designated as DOWN only;
- All in-person group events, performances, athletics, and assemblies have been reevaluated to meet DCDOH and CDC guidelines.
- Students at unvaccinated grade levels are grouped in homerooms to minimize interaction with others. Generally, the combined homerooms include no more than 18 students and consistent faculty/staff to facilitate contract tracing if necessary.
Students will eat their meals outdoors in designated spaces. We are suspending our lunch service for the year. Students and faculty will need to bring lunches from home that do not require refrigeration or reheating. There will be no on campus food delivery or high school off campus lunch privileges for the foreseeable future. The Lab School does not allow the sharing of food between students. Due to the practical impossibility of wearing a mask while eating, all members of the School community must maintain appropriate physical distance from each other while enjoying their meals outdoors.
Additionally, the following guidelines must be followed:
- Students must wash hands before and after eating, and may not share utensils, cups, or plates;
- Staff must wash hands before and after preparing food, and after helping students eat; and
- Tables and chairs must be cleaned and sanitized before and after the meal.
Handwashing, Hygiene, and Respiratory Etiquette
Handwashing and hand sanitizing opportunities are frequent. Parents should continue to enforce 20-second handwashing for children.
- Foot pump operated hand sanitizing stands have been installed at all entrances to the buildings.
- Smaller hand sanitizers are installed in more than 100 locations around the school.
- Paper towel dispensers have been returned to the restrooms.
Students and faculty/staff are encouraged to clean hands multiple times a day including when they board or disembark from a bus – Lab or Fleet; when they arrive on campus; between all activities; before leaving or returning to a classroom; before and after eating; before and after touching shared objects; before and after using the restroom; before and after transitioning inside from the outdoors; after blowing their noses, coughing, or sneezing; before and after removing or putting on a face mask; and before they leave the campus.
Students and faculty/staff are practiced in respiratory etiquette including handwashing and proper covering of coughs and sneezes.
Drop Off and Pick Up Times and Procedures
Before students exit their vehicles they must show the green “GO” button from the Magnus health app. Please DO NOT arrive in the neighborhood before stated arrival or dismissal times.
- Lower School and Summer Project
- Instruction will begin at 8:30am. Students may arrive between 8:00am and 8:25am.
- Dismissal at 12:30 (except for students staying for related services) allows for pickup between 12:30pm and 12:45pm.
- Instruction will start at 8:45am. Students may arrive between 8:30am and 8:35am
- Dismissal at 12:30 (except for students staying for related services) allows for pickup between 12:30pm and 12:45pm
- Students Riding Jurisdiction Buses
- Students will enter and dismiss through the Whitehaven doors to the Athletics/Theater Building.
Restricting Visitors to Campus
- Only enrolled students, currently employed faculty/ staff and essential vendors will be allowed in Lab School buildings until further notice.
- Any visitors that the School permits on campus will be required to complete a health check prior to entering the campus and must comply with all other protocols.
- Parents’ meetings, IEP meetings, admissions tours and lecture series will continue to be held virtually.
- We will not be holding group gatherings or meetings on the Lab School campuses.
- Parents who are dropping off forgotten items at the Reservoir campus, must leave them outside the Castle Reception Door and call the Receptionist (202) 965-6600 to retrieve the item in a contactless fashion.
- No food deliveries, unless organized by the school, will be accepted until further notice.
The CDC and the DC Department of Health advise that travel increases one’s chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. For those who are not fully vaccinated, the DC Department of Health requires self-quarantine for seven days after travel outside of the tri-state area.
For this reason, the School has suspended all School-related travel and strongly discourages families and employees from engaging in any non-essential personal travel during the pandemic. The School recognizes that some essential travel may be necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. The School has therefore adopted this COVID-19 Travel Policy, which is subject to change as guidance surrounding the pandemic continues to evolve:
For individuals not fully vaccinated, the school requires a seven day quarantine during which the individual monitors for symptoms following travel. In addition, in accordance with DC mandates, the School requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered no sooner than five days following return from travel. The results of that test must be submitted to the School nurse in order to receive clearance to return to campus.
- Travelers are advised that they are expected to follow applicable law in the jurisdictions in which they travel, including following quarantine procedures between states. All families and employees are also strongly advised to wear masks, wash their hands frequently, practice physical distancing, and follow other best practices related to COVID-19 when and if they must travel, particularly to an area experiencing an outbreak.
- Upon return from personal travel, students and employees will need to comply with the DC Department of Health seven day quarantine policy.
The School recognizes that related services play a critical role for supporting our students’ experience at the School. The School will continue to offer related services to students with options for both in person or virtual meetings, even when both the clinician and student are physically present on campus.
Where the related services clinician and students are unable to remain a prudent distance apart during in-person sessions, students and clinicians will be separated by a clear barrier and may be required to wear masks.
Enhanced Facilities Cleaning
Our cleaning protocols are guided by the CDC, which outlines everyday steps, as well as actions in the event of contamination. To read that guidance, see CDC Guidelines on Cleaning and Disinfecting your Facility
- Nightly, the cleaning staff utilize Peroxide based disinfectant for high-touch common areas, restrooms, and classroom and office surfaces, including tables, desks and chairs.
- Periodically during the day, Operations staff utilize Peroxide-based disinfectant for high touch common areas and restrooms.
- In classrooms where occupants rotate, teachers spray non-irritating cleaner and students wipe down their desk and chair before use.
- High-touch surfaces, such as copier and coffee machine touch pads, elevator buttons and other such surfaces, have been covered with NanoSeptic skins, which utilize mineral nano crystals to kill coronavirus germs. In addition, disinfectant wipes are provided near each surface so the user can wipe before and after using.
- Buses, both Lab School and Fleet, are wiped down between uses.
- In classrooms or spaces where a student or faculty/staff member has been confirmed COVID positive, the space is left dormant for 24 hours and then the night cleaning staff, wearing protective gloves, utilize Peroxide based disinfectant to clean all surfaces.
Enhanced Building Ventilation and Water Safety
To meet the needs of this emergency we engaged an HVAC consultant to evaluate building systems and improve ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning across all our buildings. As a result:
- We have increased outdoor air ventilation wherever possible;
- For rooms with unit ventilators we have installed advanced air cleaning with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI);
- In other areas we have increased the level of filtration to MERV13 or higher on recirculated air;
- We are increasing the frequency of all filter changes;
- We have recommissioned the high school building ventilation; and
- We have installed new exhaust fans in multiple spaces.
- All faucets, showers, water fountains and other water features have been and continue to be run regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Everyone Taking Responsibility for a Clean Facility -- Good Housekeeping
While the Operations staff will be aggressively cleaning, we do need all members of the community – student, faculty, and staff – to do their part to protect us all.
- Teachers and Therapists –
- In order to facilitate cleaning in classrooms, common spaces, and all other spaces that are visited by students, we ask teachers and therapists to remove or put away all items on their desks and other furniture, including papers, binders, and other personal items so that disinfectants can be applied nightly; and
- If students or faculty/staff will be rotating through a space during the day, we ask each occupant to spray and wipe down desks and chairs before and after use.
- Students –
- We need to engage students in the cleaning process as they start and finish activities.
- We provide disposable towels and non-irritating cleaner for students to clean their own desks prior to and after use.
COVID-19 Medical Response
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
In addition to masks, employees who work in the nurse offices are required to wear protective eye gear, and may wear additional personal protective equipment, such as gloves and gowns, as necessary and appropriate under the circumstances. Items may be brought from home in the discretion of the faculty and the Lab School. Otherwise, all PPE items will be provided by the Lab School.
- The School nurses have been active participants in reporting and contact tracing with the DCDOH and will continue to follow that practice.
- The nurses note and track all information regarding students and employees who have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, are suspected to have COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19, and may communicate this information with and follow all directives from DCDOH. Student and employees health information relating to COVID-19 will be kept confidential to the extent practicable, in accordance with applicable state and federal privacy laws
- In the event of a positive test or suspected diagnosis, it may be necessary to report this event to other members of the School community, so that the School can implement additional precautions and other members of the community can also be tested. This is particularly true where a student or faculty member has been in classes with a small group of other students on a daily basis. While the individual student or faculty member’s name/identity will not be affirmatively disclosed to other members of the School community, the identity of such individual may be readily discernible to other members of the community due to context cues.
- Where a case of COVID-19 is confirmed, exposure tracing may commence and members of the School community with high-risk of exposure to the infected individual (whether on or off campus) may be instructed to quarantine and get tested in accordance with CDC guidelines. Students and employees are advised that they may be asked to quarantine themselves for a period of days or weeks before they are able to be meaningfully and effectively tested for COVID-19.
Return to School After COVID-19 Exposure, Symptoms, or Diagnosis
- Community members who contract COVID-19 or experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who otherwise are exposed to COVID-19, may be permitted to return to campus when they are symptom free and the School determines, in consultation with appropriate public health officials and/or health and medical experts, that the individual does not pose a risk of transmission to the School community.
- Depending on the circumstances, the School may require the community member to provide negative COVID-19 tests from a doctor before returning to school.
Shared Responsibility -- Our Community Agreement
By participating in on-campus teaching and learning, community members agree to adhere to the safety practices outlined here.
Lab School community members (all students, faculty, staff, and administration) are expected to adhere to these requirements for coming to campus:
- Complete and submit the daily health check by 7:15am through the MagnusApp each school day (regardless of attendance on-campus).
- Parents/students will be required to show the “Green Go Light” for the health check at drop-off each morning. (To speed up this process, we recommend taking a screenshot when you get the “Green Go Light” on the app).
- Any community member who receives a “Red Stop Light” on the daily health screening is required to stay home. The School Nurse will reach out to parents or faculty and staff members when this happens, and everyone is expected to follow instructions if follow-up is needed.
- Notify the school nurse immediately if anyone in your household(s) has a positive COVID-19 test or known exposure to COVID-19. Community members must participate in contact tracing practices by their jurisdiction.
- Follow the directions of the school nurse if exhibiting symptoms of illness, including picking up a student promptly as requested.
- When in proximity to others, at all times wear a face mask that meets the CDC recommended guidelines. During eating or drinking outdoors, maintain appropriate physical distancing.
- Maintain prudent physical distancing in classrooms and shared spaces.
- Practice good hygiene, including frequent hand-sanitizing, especially after using the restroom, before and after eating, and after any coughing, sneezing, or nose-blowing.
Lab School community members are expected to adhere to risk mitigating practices when off-campus, including:
- Follow the guidance of DC public health officials regarding risk mitigation, including staying home, wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and frequent hand-washing.
- Adhere to DC requirements regarding travel and avoid non-essential travel.
- Consult with your personal physician if anyone in your household shows symptoms of COVID-19.
- Refrain from participating in gatherings and events that do not follow CDC and DC guidelines for risk mitigation, including physical distancing and mask-wearing.
- Refrain from outside activities, including athletics teams, clubs, etc., that do not require risk mitigation practices that align with the protocols required at school.
- During periods of in-person learning, avoid gatherings such as sleep-overs. If hosting a playdate or small gathering, use risk mitigation practices that align with the protocols required at school.
- Unless counseled otherwise by a physician, get a flu vaccine for all family members.
COVID-19 Points of Contact for Questions
For Lab School Operations questions please contact: