Wide shot of Reservoir campus buildings

Reopening Campus

Risk Management in a COVID-19 Environment

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 plan for a 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, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the DC Department of Health, and the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, 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 summer and 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.

Protocols for the Daily Operations of the School

We are following a layered approach to risk mitigation and will employ the below practices.

  • Health checks of all students, faculty, and staff will need to be submitted daily before leaving home for the campus.

  • While we are still developing our morning procedures, we are testing a mobile app that will collect information about temperature, symptoms, and exposure.

  • Compliance with the daily health check is a requirement to enter the bus or the campus.

  • The health check reporting will need to begin 14 days prior to return to campus. We hope to have the app operational in early August so we can circulate it for use.

  • In preparation, please make sure you have a reliable thermometer at home.

The CDC and the DC Department of Health have advised that travel increases one’s chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19.   The DC Department of Health recommends staying home for 14 days after international travel or travel to an area experiencing widespread community transmission.  

DC Department of Health COVID 19 Guidance for Travel

For this reason, the School has suspended all School-related travel at this time, 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. 

Travelers are advised that they are expected to follow applicable law in the jurisdictions that they travel in, including following quarantine procedures between states.   All families and employees are also strongly advised to wear masks, wash their hands frequently, practice social 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 may be asked to produce a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. 

  • All students and faculty/staff must bring and wear facemasks 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.

  • 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.

  • Parents should have their child practice wearing masks so that this is not a distraction when the student returns to campus.

  • Breaks from wearing masks may be taken throughout the day as determined by the School and during meal times. Breaks will occur only when students and employees are able to be at least six feet away from other members of the Lab School community and appropriate ventilation can be assured.

Handwashing and hand sanitizing opportunities will be frequent. In preparation, 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 in which air dryers were previously installed

  • Students and faculty/staff will be asked to clean hands:

    • 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.

The CDC recommends six-foot spacing.   Lab School is reducing density further by designing our spaces to allow for that as a minimum.

  • 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. 

  • Social Distancing requires foot traffic patterns.  

    • We are designing and installing signage to guide and reinforce safe distancing.

    • Corridors will have directional signage where possible.

    • Some stairwells will be UP only, others designated as DOWN only;  

    • We will be circulating more information to familiarize you with the plans.  

  • All in-person group events, performances, athletics, and assemblies have been cancelled until further notice. 

  • In preparation, parents should continue to model social distancing for children so that this is not a new concept in the fall.

We are offering Fleet bus transportation to and from Lab School.  In order to mitigate risk, the following procedures will be in place for both the Fleet buses and for Lab buses:

  • The driver, the shuttle attendant and all students will:

    • need to provide a successful health check before boarding;

    • sanitize hands when boarding the bus;

    • wear a mask at all times on the bus;

    • sit at distanced locations; and

    • sanitize hands when disembarking.

  • Between groups of riders, the bus will:

    • be cleaned; and

    • undergo electrostatic spray surface disinfection. 

In order to reduce contact, we are planning to stagger drop off and pick up times by Division.

Elementary 

  • Instruction will start at 8:00am and dismissal will be at 2:30pm.  

  • Students will enter and dismiss through the Foxhall Road door.

Intermediate 

  • Instruction will start at 8:00am and dismissal will be at 2:30pm.  

  • Students will enter and dismiss the building through the Middle School Terrace Door. (behind the Castle building) 

Junior High 

  • Instruction will start at 9:15am and dismissal will be at 3:45pm.  

  • Students will enter and dismiss through the Athletics/Theater Building Courtyard Door.

High School 

  • Instruction will start at 9:15am and dismissal will be at 3:45pm.  

  • Students will enter and dismiss through the High School Bridge Door.

  • 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.   
  • Tutoring and Outpatient clients who are not Lab School students must be served 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. At the Foxhall Campus, items must be left outside of the rear entrance from the parking lot door.  Call the Receptionist (202) 580-7055 to retrieve the item in a contactless fashion.   
  • No food deliveries unless organized by the school will be accepted until further notice.

This year students will not share common supplies such as pen/pencils/markers, art supplies, science instruments, musical instruments, or club costumes.  If these items are to be used in the curriculum they will be assigned to an individual student and disinfected before assigned to another student.

Students will eat their meals in their classrooms. 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 at least six (6) feet of physical distance from each other while enjoying their meals. 

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.

While it is our goal to have every student on campus during the 2020-2021 school year, it is possible that The Lab School will need to close campuses for a period of time due to a COVID-19 exposure or a government order. Additionally, some members of the School community will be required to self-quarantine when school campuses are otherwise open, under circumstances described above, and will be able to access virtual learning while they do so. When virtual learning is required, students and faculty are expected to participate in both virtual and hybrid programs in a manner similar to how they would for on-campus classes. This means that all members of the community will be expected to attend programs in a timely, non-disruptive, and respectful manner. The Lab School’s Code of Conduct will remain fully in effect during all virtual learning opportunities. Cyber-bullying and harassment will not be tolerated. Students who violate the Code of Conduct may be assigned various consequences in the sole discretion of the Lab School, including work related to restorative justice and/or suspension from either on-campus or distance learning opportunities. 

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 at least six feet apart during in-person sessions, students and clinicians will be separated by a clear barrier and may be required to wear masks.
 

  • Tutoring or outpatient clients who are not enrolled at Lab School will not be allowed entry to the buildings.  These services will continue to be provided virtually.  
  • Evaluations may be provided on campus in a specially designed space, however parents will not be able to wait in the buildings.
     

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

Steps include:

  • Nightly, the cleaning staff will 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 will utilize Peroxide-based disinfectant for high touch common areas and restrooms.
  • In the event that classrooms where occupants rotate are permitted during the course of the year, teachers will spray non-irritating cleaner and students will 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, will be 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, will not only be wiped down but will also be misted with electrostatic spray surface cleaning between uses.

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 will be 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 will provide disposable towels and non-irritating cleaner for students to clean their own desks prior to and after use.

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 are increasing 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.

Each campus will have two nurse offices: one for isolation of suspected COVID-19 patients and one for daily health room operations. Both offices will allow for social distancing and will be appropriately ventilated. Suspected COVID-19 patients will be isolated until they can be picked up from school by their parents/guardians.

In addition to masks, employees who work in the nurse offices will be 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 will seek to 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 DC Health. 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 may 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.

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.

Every individual member of our community – be it student, parent, faculty, or staff member – is responsible for our collective safety.  We are counting on each of us to follow public health guidance consistently, while on campus and off.  In order for Lab School campuses to open, each of us commits that: 

  • We will require all jurisdiction required vaccinations prior to the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year to avoid the risk of another disease outbreak on campus;

  • While outside our homes we will wear masks, wash and disinfect hands frequently, and mind physical distancing norms;

  • We will follow self-screening guidelines for symptoms of illness and refrain from coming to campus when symptomatic; and

  • We will comply with self-quarantine rules regarding exposure to COVID-19 and recent travel overseas or to domestic hot zones.

While it may be tempting to resume normal activity once students return to school we need to remember that these mitigating practices need to be followed outside of school as well.  If students have play dates, sleep overs or otherwise congregate together outside of school, or if adults relax their social distancing practices, that will undermine all the efforts we are making to limit transmission of the virus. Please be mindful of your responsibility to the whole school community. Failure to meet the School’s expectations may result in appropriate consequences, as determined by the School.

We are fortunate to have two nurses who serve as medical point of contact for COVID-19 questions.  
Please direct your medical questions to:

Ruthanne Neary (Reservoir)        
202-944-3078     
ruthanne.neary@labschool.org 

Adriana van Breda (Foxhall)        
202-580-7053     
adriana.vanbreda@labschool.org  

For Lab School Operations questions please contact:

Laurelle Sheedy McCready        
202-454-2248    
laurelle.mccready@labschool.org

Dan Lutsky                
540-656-0073    
dan.lutsky@labschool.org