River Valley Charter School
COVID Response Plan 2022-2023
As we begin the new school year we continue to face COVID-related challenges, fortunately they are less grim than in the past. In addition to the health risk that Covid can present to members of our school community, illness has a significant impact on our ability to keep classrooms staffed and children learning. Staff and student absences result in interrupted learning for students either because the children are not in attendance to learn or because their teachers are not present to teach. In any educational setting one priority is maximizing learning; another is minimizing absences. River Valley Charter School classroom teachers report that it can be less effective to provide lessons with few students present, and/or alternatively, it is less efficient to provide lessons multiple times in response to recurring absences.
In a Montessori learning environment, minimizing the spread of illness is more challenging- children work closely and often in groups. As of September 16, 2022 and during this school year, River Valley Charter School has had 24 cases of COVID including four staff members. More cases are presumed positive and awaiting test results. After consultation with the local Board of Health, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, our school physician, and the MDPH epidemiology department, RVCS has created a COVID Response Plan for the 2022-2023 academic year. This plan will be revisited regularly and changes will be made when necessary. The following protocols are components of the current board-approved Covid Response Plan.
● Stay Home if Sick As stated in the Family Handbook, caregivers should not send symptomatic students to school. Likewise, staff who are feeling ill will not come to school. Symptoms of illness include the following: fever, cough, sore throat, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea, nasal congestion/runny nose, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, body aches.
● Stay Abreast of School Communications When an individual in a classroom has a confirmed case of COVID, the school will communicate to the families of that classroom via email, in the same way we communicate about any other communicable illness. Given the revolving nature of the Middle School environment, when there is a confirmed case of COVID in the Middle School, all families of the entire Middle School will be notified via email. When an exposure can be ruled out due to absence, weekend, holiday, or vacation, families will not be notified.
● Isolate when Covid Positive COVID continues to be a highly transmissible illness. Per CDC, individuals who contract the COVID virus must isolate for a period of five full days (onset of symptoms is day 0), then may return to school on day six provided that they have been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and, all other symptoms have significantly improved. Upon returning, individuals must wear a well-fitting mask (preferably an N95) while in the building during days 6-10. On day 11, a mask is no longer required unless the individual remains symptomatic.
● Follow Mask Requirements* to Reduce In-class Transmission When there are two or more confirmed cases of COVID within a single classroom within three school days, we will institute masking for all individuals within that classroom for a duration of ten days following final exposure. This is intended to be a short-term mitigation tactic to reduce transmission and to keep students and teachers in school 1 . Reasonable accommodations for individuals with a documented disability will be provided.
● Mask* when Identified as a Close Contact River Valley Charter School has discontinued contact tracing and therefore does not identify close contacts. Close contact status however, can be established in other environments, such as home, playdates, sports teams, etc,. or when a student self-identifies as a close contact of another individual whom they know to be ill with coronavirus. Regardless of vaccination status, all close contacts of COVID positive individuals must wear a mask in the school setting for ten days from final exposure. This is CDC guidance and has been adopted by RVCS. Testing is recommended by CDC but not required by RVCS. Staff, caregivers and students are expected to report honestly.
● In the unlikely event that a classroom cannot be staffed due to substitute shortages and the inability to re-distribute staff, DESE would be notified and a temporary closure may occur. This would be specific to a classroom, and not be a school-wide closure. As a reminder, masking, good ventilation, and regular hand washing continue to be important inhibitors of transmission. DESE and MDPH encourage vaccination and boosting to protect individuals from contracting illness and/or to reduce the severity of symptoms
The symptoms list below applies to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals who experience any symptoms on the list below should follow the testing and quarantine response protocol for symptomatic individuals. Please note that, consistent with the MDPH Public Health Advisory Regarding COVID-19 Testing, these protocols have been adjusted to recommend, but not require, a COVID-19 test to return to school.
Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
New loss of taste or smell
Muscle aches or body aches
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Headache when in combination with other symptoms
Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
Nasal congestion or runny nose when in combination with other symptoms