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. For the 2022/23 academic year, Sterling will continue to follow the COVID-19 health measures recommended by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and use those guidelines to determine what precautions are needed to keep our students, staff, and community healthy in a safe and welcoming environment. 

Our Children's House Program follows the guidelines outlined by NCDHHS and ChildcareStrongSchoolsNC, which does affect timelines and guidance for returning to school. 

In the event of a classroom exclusion from school, Sterling will have temporary learning plans 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 Section/Level director and attendance@sterlingmontessori.org 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

NCDHHS has determined that general exclusion from school period for positive cases to 5 days.  For any positive case, we will refer to the scenarios presented below for guidance on the exclusion from school period.  The guidelines for exposure in our masked classrooms remain the same as described below. 

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.  Because Children's House classrooms have both masked and unmasked students and many are unvaccinated, we are assessing timelines for exclusion from school based on reliabity of mask wearing. 

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.

For Children's House students, and following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, determining when students can return is dependent on reliablity of mask wearing.

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.

Following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, Children's House students may return after 5 days of exclusion form school AND it has been at least 24-hours since student had a fever and symptoms are improving.  The determination of if students need to be excluded for an additional 5 days is dependent on reliablity of mask wearing.

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 

Following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, Children's House students may return to school when it has been at least 24-hours since student had a fever and are symptom free.

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.

Following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, Children's House students may return to school when it has been at least 24-hours since student had a fever and are symptom free.

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) 
    • As of February 21, 2022 exclusion from school for exposure only is no longer recommended
    • Complete 10 days of highly recommended mask use and continue to watch for symptoms, with immediate testing if symptomatic.
  • Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet been boosted
    • As of February 21, 2022 exclusion from school for exposure only is no longer recommended
    • Complete 10 days of highly recommended mask use and continue to watch for symptoms, with immediate testing if symptomatic.
  • 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 highly recommended mask use and continue to watch for symptoms, with immediate testing if symptomatic.

Following NCDHHS SafeSchool for Childcare, Children's House students must be excluded from school for 5 days after diagnosis of COVID-19. Students may return to school after exclusion if symptoms are improving or they are asymptomatic, but must continue to wear a mask for an additional 5 days, for a total of 10 days after diagnosis. If the student cannot wear a mask for the remaining 5 days, they must continue to be be excluded from school for 10 days after the day of last diagnosis.  The mask can be removed during napping, eating and drinking.

Exposure to COVID no longer requires exclusion from school, unless symptoms develop.  Students should test on day 5, if possible. If symptoms occur, students should immediately isolate until a test either confirms COVID-19, or a negative result rules it out.

 

Face Coverings

Beginning March 7, 2022, Sterling will become a mask recommended but not required campus for staff, students and visitors, including children under 5 years old, while individuals are indoors or outside.  While face covering will be optional in classrooms with no known COVID case,  Sterling will continue to follow StrongSchoolsNC recommendations on exposure or confirmed cases of COVID-19, which includes masking for up to 10 days after last known exposure.  Sterling staff will continue to notify families of confirmed cases within the classrooms, and the plans for temporary masking to mitigate any further spread.

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 communicate 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 attendance@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 no longer runs an on-site tesing program. Families and staff can order four (4) no-cost rapid antigen at-home COVID-19 tests to be sent to their residential address at USPS.com

Students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and contact their healthcare provider, use other available testing sites, or use at-home antigen tests for diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 and have not developed symptoms should:

  • Be tested on day 5 after exposure, unless the person tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days.
  • If the person develops symptoms, he/she should stay home and get tested immediately.
  • The individual may also choose to test immediately upon notification of exposure to start isolation period sooner if the test is positive.
  • Individuals can use a healthcare provider, other available testing sites, or use at-home antigen tests for testing for COVID-19.
  • Individuals who have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days and develop symptoms should consult with health care provider about testing. 
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 continue to report to classrooms, and as a weekly count, the number of positive cases on campus.

Begining February 21, NCDHHS no longer recommends individual contact tracing for K-12 Students, although notification of potential exposure remains a priority.  If there is a positive case in a classroom, families and staff will be notified through our messaging system. Sterling will also report any cases weekly in the Friday Message.

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 ages 6 months and older 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.