Health, Safety and Training
Health and safety encompass all aspects of district operations including training, facilities, transportation, nutritional services, instruction and classroom operations, and impacts all people within the district. The regulations, rules and guidance are based upon the most current information from various governing authorities outlined in the introduction.
The CDC states “Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.” Hand hygiene is performed by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol content until the content dries.
Hand sanitizing dispensers and/or bottles are located throughout the facility/campus where sinks and other hand washing facilities are not readily available. Handwashing or use of sanitizer should occur:
- Upon entering and exiting the school building and when transitioning within the school environment
- When individuals have close contact with other people
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (encourage individuals to cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow, not onto their hands)
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before and after touching your face (encourage individuals to avoid touching their face with their hands)
- After any type of playing or physical activity
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child who needs help with a coat or face covering, supporting an individual with special needs)
- Before putting on and after removing masks and gloves
- After touching frequently touched areas (e.g., doorknobs, handrails, shared computers)
- When individuals provide close contact services they should perform hand hygiene before and after contact with each person, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and after removing PPE, including gloves. Hand hygiene after removing PPE is particularly important to remove any pathogens that might have been transferred to bare hands during the removal process.
Detailed hand washing information can be found on the CDC website for When and How to Wash Your Hands.
Face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
In response to the governor’s order requiring face coverings, the Department of Health issued guidance for employers and has also issued guidance for schools in conjunction with L&I and OSPI on the wear and use of appropriate face coverings. The information below is based on the Which Mask for Which Task document and the most recent guidance including the Employer Health & Safety Requirements for School Scenarios issued on Sept. 30, 2020. This guidance includes the following key points and provides protocols on a variety of face coverings types to match a low, medium or high risk scenario:
- The overall transmission risk for the typical K–12 in-person instructional setting is classified as low risk. There are other scenarios in the school setting where the risk level may be higher or lower.
- In low risk situations, staff may wear a cloth face covering.
- In medium risk situations, L&I’s long-standing guidance allows for several different protection options, including a face shield with a cloth face mask, a surgical-style mask, a hobby dust mask, a KN95 mask, or a KN90 mask.
- For high risk or extremely high risk situations, an N95 respirator or equivalent should be used. If an employer cannot reasonably obtain an N95 or equivalent, they may use a face shield plus an FDA-approved surgical mask, procedural mask, or KN95 mask.
- Specific program-based classrooms will be assessed collaboratively by Special Services, Safety, Head Nurse, and the building administrator to determine and assign a transmission risk level specific for PPE. The appropriate PPE will then be issued to the staff in those rooms based on that determination.
Given the importance of wearing a face covering, cooperation from all individuals who are in-person is critical. All students, at all grade levels (preschool through grade 12), staff, and other approved personnel shall properly wear a face covering that covers the chin, mouth, and nose while at any district facility or in any district vehicles (e.g. buses) that have more than one occupant. Studies have shown that neck gaiters and bandanas are not effective face coverings. Please consult the “Which Mask for Which Task” document linked above for examples of effective cloth face coverings.
Exceptions for Required Face Coverings
For staff, masks must be worn at all times by every individual not working alone. Someone is considered to be working alone when they are isolated from interaction with other people and have little or no expectation of in-person interruption. How often an employee is able to work alone throughout the day may vary.
Examples of working alone include:
- A single staff member inside a vehicle
- A person by themselves inside an office or classroom with four walls and a door
- A person alone inside of a cubicle with four walls (one with an opening for an entryway) that are high enough to block the breathing zone of anyone walking by (generally understood to be at least six feet high), and whose work activity will not require anyone to come inside of the cubicle.
Even if a staff member is in an area listed above, they must put on a mask and maintain social distancing of six feet if another person enters that area at the same time. Also, when a staff member leaves their office, classroom, or cubicle, they need to put on their mask. This includes when walking in hallways or within other common areas as libraries, gyms, cafeterias, and staff rooms.
Students may remove face coverings to eat and drink or when they can be physically distanced outside. If students need a “mask break,” take them outside or to a large room such as a gym or cafeteria where there is sufficient space to ensure more than six feet of physical distance between people.
Student-specific situations where masks may not be able to be worn because of medical situations or other qualifying exemptions will be reviewed by appropriate personnel including, but not limited to, the site supervisor, IEP team, district administration, district nurses and the Safety Department. The parties will help determine any additional protective measures needed for the student and others. When a cloth face covering cannot be worn in circumstances as provided by regulations or law, students and staff will use a district-provided face shield as an alternative to a cloth face covering. Face shields should extend below the chin, to the ears, and have no gap at the forehead.
Younger students must be supervised when wearing a face covering or face shield. They will be supported and educated on the health and safety protocols. Students will need help with their masks and getting used to wearing them, and this type of interaction will be allowable based on current guidance for the definition of close contact.
Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
During the summer of 2020, Mukilteo School District procured and issued three reusable cloth face coverings to all staff. The district also has approximately one million youth, three-ply, disposable surgical masks as well as one million adult, three-ply, disposable surgical masks on hand for use whenever a student, staff member, or authorized visitor is without one or needs a replacement. All buildings and school buses have masks on hand. Building mask supplies can be replenished by custodians using regular supply ordering procedures. Additionally, N95, KN95 masks and other types of PPE including face shields, gowns, goggles, and gloves have also been purchased.
Although L&I has assigned most school staff in the general instructional setting to the low transmission risk category for PPE, Mukilteo School District is issuing instructional staff in the school building setting a minimum of the medium risk PPE. Medium risk PPE includes either a cloth mask in use with a face shield, or a KN95 mask. Staff in non-student district facilities, such as the District Office or District Support Services Center, have been issued cloth masks in accordance with the low-risk category.
Staff who are in positions/roles that meet the defined high-risk situations outlined in the above guidance will be provided with the appropriate and allowable PPE. Student-specific situations where masks may not be able to be worn because of medical situations or other qualifying exemptions will be reviewed by appropriate personnel including, but not limited to, the site supervisor, IEP team, district administration, district nurses and the Safety Department. The parties will help determine any additional protective measures needed for the students and others.
The use of face coverings along with social distancing protocols, frequent handwashing, and other health and safety mitigation measures outlined in this guide work together to create a multi-layer approach to reducing transmission of COVID-19.
The State of Washington and Department of Health advise schools to provide appropriate physical distancing standards whenever possible. This is a six foot space between every person and will be followed in our schools and facilities. This standard does not apply to school buses, although precautions and protocols have been developed and will be in place.
- People should maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others whenever possible. It is understood and allowable that there will be intermittent, brief periods of time (less than 15 minutes cumulative in duration) when six feet of distance cannot be maintained continuously.
- People should avoid gathering in large groups within the school and on campus. Directional signage and indicators will be used to reinforce social distancing measures for access to and transition through common areas.
- Administrative and reception areas have been equipped with plastic barriers where six feet of distance cannot be maintained. In areas where it is not feasible to equip plastic barriers, staff should be trained to use the areas that have been set up with plastic barriers for functions that require it.
- Meetings will be held virtually whenever possible including any parent-school meetings and meetings involving staff (e.g. child study teams, department meetings, building leadership teams). Small and informal impromptu gatherings of two or three people of short duration may be held, but require face masks and social distancing.
Both Department of Health and Labor & Industries require students and staff to receive a health screening before entering a school or facility. DOH and L&I follow guidance from the CDC, which allows for health screening at home before school or on-site. Mukilteo School District has adopted the following attestation process for students.
Parents and guardians will sign agreements and will receive information about preventing COVID-19 and how to complete the wellness check. Each month, Mukilteo School District will provide a monthly supply of paper attestation forms to families prior to the first day of in-person instruction. One attestation form will be filled out and turned in each day upon the student’s arrival at school. Schools will have designated arrival and/or entrance points with staff members assigned to collect the forms and take student temperatures. Students who arrive without an attestation form will be sent to a waiting area while the school contacts the parent or guardian to resolve the attestation requirement. If a student’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees, per the Department of Health temperature screening guidelines, they will be escorted to the school Care Room to await pick up by an authorized guardian.
The daily health screening attestations and logs and resulting health information will be handled confidentially to protect staff and student medical information.
Visitors are not permitted beyond the office area except for:
- District staff who are not assigned to the work site and who need to conduct essential work such as facility maintenance and cleaning, and addressing a student’s physical or emotional well-being and care. This includes district staff who work at more than one location.
- A scheduled or routine outside delivery service
- Personnel necessary for emergency response including guardians in an emergent situation
All visitors are required to complete the health screening protocols through a sign-in process in the school front office.
Volunteers for any on-site purposes will not be permitted until further notice.
Incident Reporting/Response Plan
Mukilteo School District has a COVID-19 Building Response Plan, created by district nurses and the Safety Department consistent with guidance from Snohomish Health District. The plan provides clear and consistent direction for responding to situations where a student or staff member displays COVID-19 related symptoms and/or has a positive case of COVID-19. It also provides clear next steps for communication to others.
General steps include:
- Screening the individual’s symptoms against guidance in the plan
- Separating the individual from others if they need to leave the site (students will be supervised at an appropriate distance)
- Closing any affected rooms for appropriate and timely cleaning and disinfecting
- Consulting with Snohomish Health District for any reported positive cases for next steps and contact tracing
Staff and student health information is protected by law and others should respect the confidentiality associated with such information.
Health and Safety Training Overview
Training and education are key components to creating and maintaining a safe learning and working environment. Each person contributes to the overall health and safety of the school environment. In order to build awareness and understanding of the health and safety measures put in place to support staff and students to return to school, district staff are developing videos. The videos will provide a picture of procedures in place during the school day. These will address the following focus areas for students and families:
- Helping parents understand what the school day will look like using COVID-19 restrictions including bus transportation, arrival and dismissal, and classroom safety measures
- Providing information on available personal protective equipment
- Instructional videos for students on school safety procedures such as handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks
As new regulations or guidance are published, the district will ensure site supervisors and all staff are informed and trained.
Training videos will be provided to support safety at schools. Students will be taught social distancing, handwashing, mask wearing and general health measures, as well as building procedures that support safety and related protocols. These building procedures will include such areas as restroom usage, traffic patterns throughout the building and in the classroom, lunch expectations, arrival and dismissal protocols, movement breaks and other areas as needed. Re-teaching and continuous reinforcement by staff of expected safety behaviors are crucial.
Families will recieve videos and support materials that will educate them on COVID-19 safety precautions as well as building safety measures. These materials will provide families with an overview of the school day, COVID-19 symptoms and when to keep children home, the attestation process, mask wearing, handwashing, bus riding, arrival and dismissal processes and building safety measures. Also, families will be informed of the process to follow if they are notified that their child exhibits COVID-19 symptoms while at school.