Safe Return To School

COVID Safe Return to School

IMG_8022.JPGSterling’s priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our students, employees, and school community, as well as social, emotional and academic learning. Sterling plans to remain in-person throughout this school year. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, Sterling will continue to use the StrongSchoolsNC document to guide our  COVID-19 health measures recommended by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and to determine what precautions are needed to keep our students, staff, and community healthy in a safe and welcoming environment for our new school year.

In the event of a classroom exclusion from school, Sterling will have a temporary learning plan in place. In the event of a state school closure, Sterling will have virtual learning plans prepared.

Stay Home When Sick

All students and staff will follow our sick protocol as detailed in our Parent Handbook.  Please communicate with your level director if your student has been diagnosed with COVID, or has symptoms which include:

  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The CDC has updated their quarantine period for positive cases to 5 days.  For any positive case, we will refer to the scenarios presented in the StrongSchoolNC tool kit (table on pages 15-16) for guidance on quarantine period.  The guidelines for exposure in our masked classrooms remain the same as described above. 

Students or staff who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other school setting if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person do NOT need to be excluded from school, regardless of vaccination status.

IF YOU ARE VACCINATED

If you have symptoms and tested positive with an antigen test or PCR/molecular test you can return to school when:

  • It has been at least 5 days since the first day of symptoms AND
  • It has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without fever reducting medicine) AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

You do not have to be excluded from school if:

  • 2-dose vaccine - It’s been at least 2 weeks since you received the second dose OR
  • Single-dose vaccine - 2 weeks since you received the the single-dose vaccine OR
  • Eligible for booster (*ages 16 and older) - 2 weeks since you received the booster dose (there must be at least 6 months between your last vaccine dose of the 2-dose vaccine and at least 2 months between your last dose of the single-dose vaccine to be eligible for the booster dose)
  • AND you have not developed symptoms since your exposure to COVID-19

You should continue to wear a mask for 10 days after exposure to minimize the risk of infecting others and should get tested on day 5, if possible.

DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19 and NO SYMPTOMS

You may return if it has been 5 days since you were diagnosed with COVID-19 AND you have not developed any symptoms.  You must continue to mask for an additional 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

Currently, following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, PK3-4 Academy students may return after 10 days of exclusion from school.

WITH COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND NOT MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS or COVID-19 TEST
  • You may return to school if It has been at least 5 days since you first had symptoms AND 
  • It has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine) AND 
  • Symptoms have improved

You must continue to wear a mask for 10 days after the first day of symptoms to minimize the risk of infecting others.

Currently, following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, PK3-4 Academy students may return after 10 days of exclusion from school AND it has been at least 24-hours since student had a fever.

WITH COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND AN ALTERNATE MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS

You may return if you have a confirmed diagnosis other than COVID-19 (like a stomach virus, ear infection, etc.) from a healthcare professional to explain the COVID-19-like symptoms AND

  • It has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine) AND 
  • You have felt well for 24 hours. The health care provider is not required to detail the specifics of the alternate diagnosis
WITH COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND A NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST

If you have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have COVID-19 symptoms you may return if:

  • You have a negative PCR/Molecular or rapid antigen test AND
  • It has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine)  AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have COVID-19 symptoms you may return if:

  • You have a negative PCR/Molecular test AND
  • It has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine)  AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
SYMPTOMS DUE TO COVID-19 VACCINATION
If you experience side effects during the first few days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, you should stay home until you are no longer experiencing symptoms and it has been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). You are not required to present an alternate diagnosis, negative COVID-19 test, or stay home for 5 days in order to return to school or work.
SYMPTOMS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH COVID-19
Following Sterling's sick policy, If you are experiencing symptoms not on the NCDHHS COVID-19 symptom list  (like ear ache, stomach ache), you may return to school after you have gone at least 24 hours without a fever or the use of fever-reducing medicine, AND your symptoms have improved.
EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH COVID-19 WITHIN THE LAST 2 WEEKS
  • Not vaccinated or have not received booster (if eligible) 
    • Exclusion from school (stay away from others) for 5 days
    • The 5 days of exclusion from school to begin on the day after the last known close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual
    • Complete 5 days of strict mask use when returning from 5-day exclusion from school
    • Should test on day 5, if possible
  • Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet been boosted
    • Exclusion from school (stay away from others) for 5 days
    • The 5 days of exclusion from school to begin on the day after the last known close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual
    • Complete 5 days of strict mask use when returning from 5-day exclusion from school
    • Should test on day 5, if possible
  • Vaccinated, and have either received a booster or are not yet eligible for a booster 
    • You do not need to be excluded from school (stay away from others) 
    • Complete 10 days of strict mask use

Currently, following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, PK3-4 Academy students may return after 14 days of exclusion from school. The 14 days of exclusion from school to begin after the last known close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual. Alternatively the student may complete a 10-day exclusion from school if the student is not presenting symptoms of COVID-19 after daily at-home monitoring, or they may complete 7 days of exclusion from school if they report no symptoms during daily at-home monitoring, and the individual has received results of a negative antigen or PCR/molecular test on a test taken no earlier than day 5 of exclusion from school. 

 

Face Coverings

All Sterling staff, students (age 5 and older) and visitors will be required to wear a cloth face covering while indoors, even if they are vaccinated.  Masks will be optional for children under 5 years olds and for everyone while outside.  Sterling will regulary review face mask requirements.  County health officials state that a much larger percentage of students must be vaccinated before requirements can be relaxed.

Exceptions to face coverings are people who:

  • Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behaviorial condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance; 
  • Is/are seeking to communicated with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
  • Is/are giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
  • Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
  • Has found that his or her face coverings is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
  • Is a child whose parent, guardian or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child's face.

All students, staff and visitors at Sterling are expected to wear cloth face coverings while indoors, except while actively eating or drinking or during designated mask breaks. Requests for exceptions to this rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students/staff with a medical condition or disability that renders mask-wearing harmful or medically inadvisable.  Students or staff who previously received a face covering accomodation during the 2020-21 school year do not need to reapply. In order to be approved for a face covering exemption, Sterling requires staff or student Parents/Guardians to submit a Medical Exemption Form with a licensed healthcare provider completing the relevant sections. Exemption requests should be emailed to jspreher@sterlingmontessori.org.

Physical/Social Distancing

When possible, Sterling will continue to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

For lunchtime, students will have the opportunity to eat outside, when possible.  When eating indoors, screens will be provided, when necessary. 

Handwashing

Sterling will continue the practice of hand washing during key times: Upon arrival to classroom, before and after food, after restroom, after blowing nose or coughing/sneezing, after touching objects used by multiple people and after recess.

If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be provided. If your child has sensitivities to hand sanitizer, please communicate this with your child’s teachers so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean their hands.

To learn more about CDC recommendations, click here.

Healthy Spaces

Sterling’s buildings and classrooms, especially high-touch areas, will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day and every evening with the use of EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Current cleaning and disinfectant protocols will continue to be reviewed and enhanced in terms of frequency and intensity. 

Water Fountains

In response to COVID-19, Sterling students will be prohibited from drinking directly from water fountains. All students are encouraged to bring their own bottled water or reusable water bottles. All water bottles should be clearly labeled with the student's name.  It is the student's responsibility to keep track of their water bottles and take them home for regular cleaning.

Testing

Sterling does offer voluntary PCR testing for COVID for students and staff.  If interested, please contact your  level director and they can help get your student registered and tested. The PCR test is a quick and gentle anterior nares nasal swab (at the nasal opening, not far up the nose). This will be administered by trained Sterling administrators. Swabs will be sufficiently packaged and sent to a local MetaLab DX where results will be available within 24-48 hours. 

COVID-19 Reporting and Contact Tracing

Each individual’s health information is a private matter. No one should publicly declare another employee or student as sick. In the event others need to be notified of a suspected or positive case of COVID-19, local health officials will notify them and provide them further instructions. To protect individual privacy, notifications will not identify anyone by name or contain information that could be used to identify them.

Sterling will report positive cases of COVID-19 to Wake County Public Health authorities and work with them for follow up and contact tracing. Families are notified through our messaging system when there is a positive case in their student's. classroom. Sterling will also report any cases weekly in the Friday Message.

If any person with COVID-19 was on Sterling's campus, while infectious, we will coordinate with local health officials to notify employees and families who were in close contact with the positive person while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with FERPA. NCGS130A-143, and all other state and federal laws.

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. 

In the event of a case of COVID-19 at Sterling, the affected area will be systematically disinfected. Our disinfectant is EPA-approved for SARS_CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Visitors

Visitors will be allowed on Sterling's campus, provided they follow all safety protocols listed here.

Vaccinations

At this time, Sterling will not be requiring proof of vaccination or regular testing.  We will continue to follow guidance from NCDHHS on COVID symptoms and quarantine period.

North Carolinians age 5 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. We also recommend receiving your booster shot, if eligible.

Visit  YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov for more information and to find a free vaccination site in your area.