MCPS Safety and Health Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wash Up Mask Up Back Up

Updated April 15, 2021

 

Informational Videos

Reimagine, Reopen, Recover: Health and Safety

Reimagine, Reopen, Recover: School Building Preparations

Face Coverings, Masks: Best Practices

Hand Hygiene: Best Practices

Physical Distancing: Best Practices

Return to R.A.I.S.E. (Athletics Safety/Health Procedures)

 

Face Coverings, Masks

What is a face covering?

Who is required to wear a face covering at MCPS facilities?

Why do we need to wear face coverings at MCPS facilities?

When and where do we need to wear face coverings at MCPS facilities?

What kinds of face coverings are permitted by MCPS?

What is the best way to wear a face covering?

How do you clean face coverings?

More information

 

Hand Hygiene 

Why do we need to keep our hands clean?

How can we keep our hands clean?

What is the proper way to wash hands with soap and water?

What is the proper way to use hand sanitizer?

When should you clean your hands?

Are there any other safety and health issues related to hand hygiene?

More information

 

Physical Distancing 

What is physical, or social, distancing?

Why do we need to practice physical distancing?

How can we practice physical distancing at MCPS facilities?

Are there times or places when we cannot practice physical distancing?

Are there any other safety and health issues related to physical distancing?

More information

 

School and Facility Cleaning and Disinfection 

Routine school and facility cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection of areas occupied by people with confirmed COVID-19

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for cleaning and disinfectant products

 

Building Ventilation 

Building ventilation, Indoor Air Quality, air filters, and portable air cleaners

 

Supplies (Masks, PPE, Cleaning Products, Signage)

Supplies allocation

 

COVID-19 Related Accommodations and Leave

Applying for COVID-19 related ADA accommodations and leave

 

Health Screening and Attestation (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Students and Employees Who Become Sick or Report COVID-19 Exposure  

What to do if a student becomes sick at school or reports a new COVID-19 exposure

What to do when students have non-COVID health care needs

What to do if an employee becomes sick at work or reports a new COVID-19 exposure - Under construction

 

Health Room and Triage Room (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Access to Schools and Facilities (this section is under construction)

Parent and family access to schools - Under construction

Contractors and visitors - Under construction

 

School Arrival and Dismissal (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

School Buses 

PPE and face coverings

Seating

Cleaning

Bus staff

 

Restrooms, Hallways, Stairways, and Lockers (this section is under construction)

Restrooms

Hallways and stairways

Lockers - Under construction

 

Student Meals (this section is under construction)

Eating at school

Meal distribution 

 

Recess and Playgrounds 

Recess procedures

 

Emergency Drills (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Special Education (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Athletics 

COVID-19 procedures for Athletics

 

Physical Education and Health (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Fine Arts (this section is under construction)

Under construction

 

Science

Considerations for In-Person Science Activities

General Classroom and Lab Considerations

Lab Equipment and Materials Safety

Health/Physical Distancing Considerations

Safety/Safety Equipment

Considerations for At Home Science Activities  

 

School Libraries 

Safety/health considerations in regards to the school library media program

Personal safety

Shared materials safety

Physical distancing

Library book checkout

Returned library materials - quarantine procedures

 

 

 

Informational Videos

Reimagine, Reopen, Recover: Health and Safety

 


Reimagine, Reopen, Recover: School Building Preparations

 

 

Face Coverings and Masks

 

 

Hand Hygiene

 

 

Physical Distancing

 





2. Inform

2. Inform

2. Inform

 

 

 

Face Coverings, Masks

What is a face covering?

 

Face coverings are masks or material worn over the nose and mouth to block and slow down respiratory droplets released when exhaling, coughing, sneezing, talking, shouting, and singing.  When an infected person wears a face covering, the face covering acts as a barrier (or source control) to that person's respiratory droplets.  This protects other people from the infected person's respiratory droplets.  Face coverings are not considered respiratory protection.  They do not prevent the wearer from inhaling particles from the environment as effectively as a properly-fitted respirator, and they are not tested to any accepted standard for respiratory protection.  Remember the saying, "My mask protects you, your mask protects me."

 

Who is required to wear a face covering at MCPS facilities?

 

Anyone who enters an MCPS facility is required to wear a face covering.  This includes all MCPS students, employees, contractors, volunteers, and visitors over the age of two (2).  Students and employees who are unable to wear a face covering because of an impairment, disability, or medical condition may request an exemption, permitting them to enter MCPS facilities without a face covering.  Employees may request an ADA accommodation using MCPS Form 270-6.  Students and families may work with their IEP teams to determine if they should not wear a face covering at school.

 

Why do we need to wear face coverings at MCPS facilities?

 

Face coverings are required as part of MCPS' ongoing efforts to protect students, employees, visitors, and the community from COVID-19.  Face coverings are also required for compliance with county requirements (Montgomery County Executive Order 122-20 AM).  

Please remember that face coverings are not a substitute for 6-foot physical distancing.  Even while wearing a face covering, people must still stay 6 feet apart to effectively protect against COVID-19.  

 

When and where do we need to wear face coverings at MCPS facilities?

 

Face coverings must be worn at all times at MCPS facilities, with certain exceptions.  Exceptions (when face coverings do not need to be worn, but physical distancing is still required):

  • When eating or drinking at a personal workstation, designated eating area, empty indoor area, or outdoors.
  • When employees are alone in an enclosed room or office with the door closed.  A face covering should be readily available to put on if another person enters the room.
  • When alone in a vehicle that only you and members of your household use.  Face coverings are required in shared county vehicles, such as school buses and pool vehicles.
  • When on an authorized outdoor mask break.
  • When performing an activity where a face covering can create a safety hazard, including:
    • Certain sports activities for students under the age of eighteen (18) as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (wrestling, cheerleading involving tumbling/stunting/flying, swimming and diving while in water);
    • Swimming and other water sports where the face covering can become wet and difficult to breathe through;
    • Nap or rest periods when children might fall asleep; 
    • Receiving medical or emergency care, at the provider's discretion;
    • Operating machinery or equipment that can entangle or entrap face coverings;
    • Strenuous work activities;
    • Certain activities associated with heat stress, especially strenuous activities in hot temperatures; and
    • Work activities for which a respirator is required.
     

Additional exceptions may be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Office of Operations and the Department of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management.

 

What kinds of face coverings are permitted by MCPS?

 

MCPS will provide face coverings, meeting CDC and county recommendations, for all MCPS students and employees.   Students and staff may bring in their own face coverings, if they meet MCPS requirements.

Face coverings must:

  • Be constructed of tightly-woven fabric or material;
  • Have at least two layers of material;
  • Permit normal breathing;
  • Fit snug, but not uncomfortably tight;
  • Cover the face from the bridge of the nose to under the chin, fully covering the nostrils and mouth; and
  • Be properly maintained: kept clean, dry, and in good condition (no excessive wear, tears, holes, damage).  Note: MCPS Fine Arts has approved certain masks with coverable openings that may be used while playing wind instruments.

Face coverings with air filters may be used; however, use only filters designed for face coverings.  Do not make your own face covering filters from filters designed for machines and equipment (vacuum bags, HVAC/furnace filters, automotive air filters, industrial equipment filters, etc.) because these filters can contain fiberglass fibers or they can be treated with tackifier chemicals (sticky chemical products designed to help filters trap air particles), antimicrobial chemicals, and fire retardant chemicals.  Inhaling fiberglass fibers or tackifier, antimicrobial, and fire retardant vapors can be harmful.

 

Acceptable types of masks and face coverings:

  • Disposable surgical-type masks, KN95s, KF94s, and other similar masks.
  • Cloth masks with multiple layers (at least 2) of breathable, tightly-woven fabric.  Filter pockets are acceptable.
  • Bandanas (worn bandit-style) that are multi-layer (they can be folded over to create multiple layers) and fully cover the nostrils, mouth, chin, and throat.
  • Gaiters that are multi-layer (they can be folded over to create multiple layers) and fully cover the nostrils, mouth, chin, and throat.
  • Clear window masks, where necessary for communication with people who need to see the wearer's mouth, including people who are deaf or hard of hearing, have disabilities, or are learning to read.

 

Unacceptable types of masks and face coverings:

  • Face coverings that do not have at least 2 layers of material.
  • Face coverings made of a loosely-woven, knit, or mesh material.
  • Face coverings with any openings in the facepiece material (exhalation valve, drinking straw hole) because these can permit unfiltered exhaled air to pass through.  Note: MCPS Fine Arts has approved certain masks with coverable openings that may be used while playing wind instruments.
  • Face coverings that are difficult to breathe through because of the type of material or design.
  • Bandanas that are single layer or do not fully cover the nostrils, mouth, chin and throat when worn bandit-style.
  • Gaiters that are single layer or do not fully cover the nostrils, mouth, chin, and throat.
  • Face coverings that are inconsistent with the employee code of conduct or student dress code, such as face coverings with offensive images or language printed on them.

Respirators, like N95s, and surgical masks intended for medical use should not be used for general use – these should be reserved for people who need them, like first responders and medical professionals.

 

Double masking, wearing a mask on top of another mask, is permitted if both masks meet MCPS requirements.  Double masking should NOT be performed if:

  • It interferes with normal breathing.
  • It causes excessive discomfort or facial/ear irritation.
  • It interferes with proper fitment of the bottom mask.
  • It negatively affects proper mask cleaning and storage practices.  If storing two reusable cloth masks during the day (before putting them back on together later), ensure the outer surface of each mask does not contact the inner surface of the other mask. 

 

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What is the best way to wear a face covering?

 

Before putting a face covering on, identify the outside and inside, top and bottom. Remember to only handle face coverings with clean hands before putting them on:

  • Surgical-type masks: the inside surface is usually white and the earloops are usually attached to the inside surface.  Look and feel for a moldable nose wire along the top edge of the mask.
  • Cloth masks: Look at the shape of the mask and how the earloops or head ties are attached to find the inner and outer surfaces.  Some have an inner filter pocket.  Some also have a moldable nose wire along the top edge of the mask.

 

Putting the face covering on:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer.
  • Inspect the face covering for damage (loose, torn, worn earloops or straps; tears or holes; excessive wear) and ensure it is visibly clean and dry.
  • When putting on a mask, handle only the earloops, head straps, or head ties as you position it on your face.
  • Place the face covering over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Fit it snugly against the sides of your face, but not uncomfortably or painfully tight.
  • If the face covering has adjustable earloops or head straps, tighten them for a snug, but not uncomfortable, fit.  If the face covering has head ties, tie them tight enough for a snug, but not uncomfortable, fit.
  • If the face covering has two head straps or head ties, ensure the top strap or tie goes over the crown of the back of your head and the lower strap or tie goes under your ears.  This will ensure a more secure fit.
  • If there is a nose wire, mold it to the bridge of your nose and tops of your cheeks.

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Wearing the face covering:

  • Ensure the face covering stays in place, snug but not excessively tight.   If it keeps sliding down off your nose, it is probably too loose - you will need to tighten it (if it is adjustable) or replace it with a different face covering that fits better.
  • Ensure you can breathe normally while wearing the face covering.  If you have difficulty breathing after you put the face covering on, you should replace it with a different face covering that allows you to breathe normally.
  • Try not to touch your face or the face covering after putting it on because you might transfer virus particles to your hands and then to your eyes, nose, or mouth.

 

Taking the face covering off:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer.
  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the earloops or headstraps away from your head.
  • While handling only the earloops, headstraps, or ties, pull the face covering away from your face.
  • Pull gaiters off carefully, trying not to touch your face and head with the outer surface.
  • Fold outside corners of the face covering together or fold it inside out.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, face, and mouth while removing the face covering.
  • Place reusable cloth face coverings directly into a washing machine or sink for cleaning.  If you are away from home and need to put the face covering back on later, place it in a pocket, purse, or paper bag.   If the cloth face covering is visibly dirty or wet, place it inside a sealed bag until you are ready to clean it.
  • Discard disposable face coverings in the trash.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer after handling the face covering.
 

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Test the fit of the face covering:

When you have a new face covering, check that it fits you properly before wearing it in public.  Everyone's face is shaped differently, so not every face covering will fit you properly.  Some will be too tight and others will be too loose.  You can check the fit of a face covering by putting it on and seeing if it moves out of place, slides down off your nose, or creates discomfort while:

  • Talking for a few minutes.
  • Moving your head side to side and up and down several times.
  • Smiling and frowning.
  • Taking one or two slow, deep breaths.

If the face covering does not stay snug and in place, try adjusting the fit (if it is adjustable) or replace it with a different face covering that fits better.

 

Practice:

If you are not used to wearing a face covering all day, it can be uncomfortable when you first start wearing one all day at work or school.  You can practice wearing a face covering at home before you need to start wearing it all day in public.  You can build up your comfort level by wearing a face covering for longer and longer periods of time over several days or a few weeks.

 

Common problems:

  • Eyewear fogging while wearing a face covering with eyeglasses, safety glasses, or sunglasses. This can interfere with your ability to see your surroundings and create a safety hazard, especially if you need to wear a face covering and eyewear while driving a vehicle.  To prevent fogging, you should ensure a snug fit along the bridge of the nose and tops of the cheeks.  If the top of the face covering fits too loosely, more exhaled air will blow onto the eyewear and cause more fogging.  To prevent eyewear fogging, you can:
    • Wear a face covering with a moldable nose wire that you can shape to your nose and cheeks.  A tighter fit along the top of the face covering will reduce the amount of exhaled air that reaches your eyewear and causes fogging. 
    • Use hypoallergenic tape to fasten the top of the mask to the bridge of your nose and cheeks.  Use only a tape designed for this purpose and if it causes irritation, discontinue use.
    • Apply anti-fog spray on your eyewear.  Use only products designed for this purpose and follow the product directions for applying it.
     
  • Skin or ear irritation. If you experience irritation to your ears from mask earloops, you can try using a face covering without earloops (masks with head ties or head straps, gaiters, bandanas).  You can also try wearing an 'ear saver headband'.  These are headbands with buttons attached to each side that can be used, instead of the ears, to hold the earloops.  If you experience facial irritation, try a different type of face covering and ensure it does not fit too tightly.  Consult your healthcare provider, as needed, for assistance with any irritation issues.
  • Dirty or damaged face coverings. If possible, have a spare face covering available in case your face covering becomes damaged, dirty, or wet during the day.  Remember to always inspect your face covering for damage or defects before putting it on, after taking it off, and after washing it (if it is a reusable cloth face covering).  Discard disposable face coverings at the end of each day or when they get dirty, wet, or damaged.

 

How do you clean face coverings?

 

It is important to keep your face covering clean.  If you don't, you can cause skin irritation or even get sick from bacteria or mold that can grow on a dirty face covering.  To keep your reusable cloth face coverings clean, you SHOULD:

  • Clean cloth face coverings whenever they get dirty or wet.  At a minimum, you should clean them at the end of each day you wear them.
  • Clean cloth face coverings in the washing machine: wash with regular laundry; use regular laundry detergent and settings appropriate to the fabric; dry in a warm or hot dryer as appropriate to the fabric or air dry.
  • Clean cloth face coverings by hand: wash thoroughly with tap water and laundry detergent or soap; rinse thoroughly with water to remove the detergent or soap; dry in a warm or hot dryer as appropriate to the fabric or air dry.

Never apply chemical disinfectants (like bleach, alcohol, disinfectant wipes) to a face covering, because chemical residue can cause skin and respiratory irritation when the face covering is put back on.

If your face covering uses a filter that is inserted into a filter pocket, replace the filters periodically and when they get wet, dirty, or produce a noticeable odor.  

Disposable masks should be discarded when dirty or wet.  Even if not visibly dirty, you should discard disposable masks at the end of each day when worn.  They may be placed in regular trash.

 

More information

 

More information about face coverings is available from these sources:

 

 

Hand Hygiene

Why do we need to keep our hands clean?

 

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.  Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.  Regularly washing hands with soap and water not only keeps you healthy, but prevents the spread of illness to others. 

Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you: 

  • Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands.
  • Touch a contaminated surface or objects, like door handles and push plates, light switches, stair railings, furniture, elevator buttons, and shared appliances. 
  • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into your hands and then touch other people’s hands or shared objects and surfaces.
 

How can we keep our hands clean?

 

The best way to keep our hands clean is to regularly wash them with soap and water.  Handwashing with soap and clean water physically removes germs and other contaminants.  Effective handwashing can be done using any hand soap and clean water.  Antibacterial soap is not needed and hot water is not needed (warm and cold water work too).

When you do not have easy access to soap and clean water, you can use an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.  Hand sanitizer kills germs, but does not remove contaminants, like chemicals, dirt, and grease.  As a result, hand sanitizer should not be used instead of handwashing with soap and water whenever your hands need to have potentially harmful contaminants removed.  Wash your hands with soap and water instead of using hand sanitizer:

  • When hands are visibly dirty, greasy, or sticky.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • Before eating.
  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After touching pets, animals, animal feed, or pet food.
  • After handling hazardous chemicals, even if you wear gloves. 

 

What is the proper way to wash hands with soap and water?

 

When washing your hands, you can use any hand soap with clean water.  Antibacterial soap is not needed, and any temperature water is okay.  To wash your hands:

  • Step 1: Wet hands thoroughly with clean, running water. 
  • Step 2: Dispense soap into your wet hands.  If you are using a bar of soap, do not share that soap with others.
  • Step 3: Lather up the soap by vigorously rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds, paying particular attention to the backs of the hands, fingertips, under the nails, cuticles, spaces between the fingers, and under jewelry.  Make sure you wash above the wrist level and also include your thumbs.  It is important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure you thoroughly clean all surfaces of your hands.  Try humming the 'Happy Birthday' song twice while you wash your hands to make sure it takes at least 20 seconds. 
  • Step 4: Rinse your hands thoroughly with clean, running water. 
  • Step 5: Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel.  You may use the paper towel to turn off the faucet, but this is not necessary.  Avoid the use of shared towels.    

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What is the proper way to use hand sanitizer?

 

In order to effectively kill germs, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.  MCPS will have ample supplies available throughout offices and schools.

  • Step 1: Apply the hand sanitizer to your hands.  Use enough hand sanitizer to fully cover your hands.
  • Step 2: Rub your hands together, making sure you get the hand sanitizer all over the back of your hands, palms, nails, spaces between your fingers, and your thumbs.  Continue rubbing until your hands are dry.  This should take about 20 seconds. 
  • Step 3: Make sure to let the hand sanitizer dry on your hands.  Do not wipe or rinse off the hand sanitizer. 

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When should you clean your hands?

 

You should clean your hands whenever necessary to protect yourself from hazardous substances, including: 

  • Before and after touching your face covering.
  • Before and after touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • When entering or leaving a public place, like your school or office.
  • After touching an item or surface that is frequently touched by others, such as door handles, light switches, hand rails, furniture, gas pumps, and shopping carts.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • Before and after eating.* 
  • Before, during, and after preparing food.* 
  • After using the bathroom.* 
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.*  
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound for yourself or someone else.*  
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.*  
  • After touching an animal, animal feed and pet food, or animal waste.* 
  • After touching garbage.*   
  • When your hands are visibly dirty, greasy, or sticky.* 
  • After handling hazardous chemicals, even if you wear gloves.* 

*Wash hands with soap and water, do not use hand sanitizer.

 

Are there any other safety and health issues related to hand hygiene?

 

Fire safety

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is flammable, so it is important to use and store it safely.  Always keep hand sanitizer away from heat, sparks, and flames.  Allow your hands to completely dry after applying hand sanitizer if you are going to work with heat, flames, static electricity, or sparks.  And be careful not to spill hand sanitizer on your clothes or any equipment.

MCPS schools and facilities must ensure hand sanitizer is not misused and must also comply with fire safety requirements.  These requirements include:

  • Hand sanitizer dispensers may not obstruct walkways or doorways.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers may not be installed in hallways that are less than 6 feet (1.8 meters) wide.
  • Maximum dispenser capacities are: 0.32 gallons (1.2 liters) for hallways and 0.53 gallons (2.0 liters) for rooms that are not open to hallways.
  • Dispensers must be at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) apart.
  • Dispensers may not be placed directly above carpeted floors, except where there are fire sprinklers in the area.
  • Dispensers may not be installed within 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) of ignition sources (like stoves and Bunsen burners) or combustible materials (such as paper and cardboard).
  • Quantities of 5 gallons (18.9 liters) or more may not be stored in a single room or closet in a school or office building.
  • Hand sanitizers containing more than 95% alcohol are not permitted. 

 

Chemical safety

Keep hand sanitizer in the manufacturers’ containers.  Do not transfer it to unlabeled bottles or other containers because people might not know what it is and some containers, which are not designed to hold hand sanitizer, can leak.  For your safety and to ensure effectiveness, do not try to make your own hand sanitizer and never mix different hand sanitizers together.  This can result in a mixture that does not kill germs effectively or is hazardous.  

 

Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer

  • Ensure students know how to properly use hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure students do not swallow hand sanitizer or spill it on the floor, which can cause people to slip and fall.  
  • Place hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer dispensers for students in locations that can be monitored by school staff.  
  • Ensure hand sanitizer dispensers are positioned well below face height for young children, so they do not splash their eyes and face. 

 

Methanol contamination

Some hand sanitizers have been recalled for being contaminated with methanol, also known as wood alcohol, a toxic chemical that can cause harm when absorbed through the skin or swallowed.  In some cases, swallowing methanol-contaminated hand sanitizer can cause blindness or death.  

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled a list of hand sanitizers that have been recalled for methanol contamination.  You can check if your hand sanitizer is on FDA’s recall list: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-consumers-should-not-use.  If you do have a hand sanitizer product that is on the FDA recall list, you should stop using it immediately.  Discard it or return it to the seller.  All hand sanitizers supplied by MCPS have been checked against this list, and recalled products are not purchased.  

 

Skin dryness and irritation

To prevent hand dryness or skin cracking, apply moisturizer or hand lotion throughout the day.  You can also try washing your hands with cool or warm water instead of hot.  Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

 

More information

 

More information about hand hygiene is available from these sources:

 

 

Physical Distancing

What is physical, or social, distancing?

 

The CDC advises that minimizing close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  For the purposes of contact tracing, close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or longer during a 24-hour period.  Examples of close contact: 

  • You and a co-worker, who unknowingly has COVID-19, stand next to each other, closer than 6 feet, for 20 minutes during a shift.
  • You have a conversation with a co-worker, who unknowingly has COVID-19, and you stand closer than 6 feet apart for 10 minutes one afternoon.  You and the same co-worker sit next to each other, closer than 6 feet, for 5 minutes the next morning.  Because you and the co-worker have spent a total of 15 minutes closer than 6 feet during a 24-hour period, you have been in close contact and are at risk for becoming infected.  

According to the CDC, being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period means you were in close contact regardless of whether or not you and the other person wore a face covering.  No face covering can ensure 100% protection from respiratory droplets that might contain the COVID-19 virus.  

Physical distancing, also called “social distancing,” is the practice of staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ lengths) away from other people.  By consistently practicing physical distancing in public, you will reduce the possibility that you will become sick from contagious diseases, like the flu, colds, and COVID-19.

To practice physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) apart from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.  If members of your household are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19, you should try to stay 6 feet apart from them also, if possible.

To protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus, you should practice physical distancing along with:

  • wearing masks in public;
  • frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • not touching your face with unclean hands;
  • avoiding crowds, especially in indoor areas:
  • keeping your workspace and home clean; and
  • working with your supervisor on ways to work from home, if possible.

Remember, wearing a face covering or mask is not a replacement for physical distancing.  Even if everyone wears a face covering, you still need to stay 6 feet apart to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

 

Why do we need to practice physical distancing?

 

By consistently practicing physical distancing in public, you will reduce the possibility that you will become sick or spread contagious diseases, like the flu, colds, and COVID-19.

We all release small respiratory droplets whenever we talk, sing, yell, cough, or sneeze. According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads mainly when an infected person releases virus-containing respiratory droplets which land in, or are inhaled into, the noses and mouths of people nearby.  By staying at least 6 feet apart and wearing masks, we can dramatically reduce everyone’s exposure to these respiratory droplets.  This is especially important because the virus can be spread by infected people who may not know they are infected because they do not have any serious symptoms.

If you are sick or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should stay at home and contact your supervisor.  Close contact is defined as being within 6-feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period regardless if face coverings were worn or not. 

Please note, even if you receive the COVID vaccine, the CDC currently advises that you should continue the practice of mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing.

 

How can we practice physical distancing at MCPS facilities?

 

As MCPS reopens schools and buildings, classrooms and other work spaces are being transformed to foster physical distancing.  With preparation and creative thinking, most work tasks can be performed while practicing physical distancing.  Depending on the task, this might require modifications to the workplace or changes in work practices.  Signs and floor markings can also be used to continuously remind everyone to practice physical distancing when at MCPS facilities.   

It is a challenge to maintain physical distancing, but we must gently remind ourselves, our co-workers, and our students to keep at least 6 feet apart.  If others are too close to you, take a few steps back and gently remind them that we must adhere to physical distancing, even when masks are worn.  Remember, wearing a face covering or mask is not a replacement for physical distancing. 

When evaluating a task for which you believe physical distancing is not possible, or might be challenging, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it absolutely necessary for this task to be completed now or can it be delayed until the spread of COVID-19 in the community has become very low?
  • Is it possible to make work practice changes so this task does not need to be completed?
  • Is it possible to perform this task in a different way, so it does not require people to be within 6 feet of each other?
  • Is it possible for this task to be performed by contractors, rather than by MCPS employees?

 

Examples of how tasks can be performed by MCPS employees with physical distancing:

  • Rearrange workstations, furniture for adequate spacing (more than 6 feet apart and not facing each other, where feasible).
  • Move some workstations out of rooms if they are too small to allow them to be placed at least 6 feet apart. 
  • Stagger work schedules to reduce how many employees are in the same room together. 
  • Incorporate telework and virtual meetings.
  • When manually transferring items to customers, place the items on a table and stand back while the customer retrieves them or place the items in the customer's trunk while the customer waits in the vehicle. 
  • To lift and carry heavy objects that ordinarily require two or more people: 
    • Break down heavy objects into smaller pieces that can be managed safely by one person, such as disassembling large furniture into smaller components, cutting large logs into smaller pieces, breaking up trash into multiple small loads rather than one large load requiring multiple people to carry.
    • Use material handling equipment (like furniture dollies, pallet jacks, or forklifts) to permit a single person to lift and carry heavy objects (Note: workers may only use equipment if they are properly trained and the equipment is appropriate to the task).
    • Hire a contractor to perform the task.
     

Are there times or places when we cannot practice physical distancing?

 

Being closer than 6 feet from others for very brief periods of time, like walking past people in a hallway or restroom, is not believed to increase the risk of getting infected.  There might be times, however, when you need to be close to others for an extended period of time, such as when:

  • Assisting special student populations with toileting, lifting or physical therapy.
  • Intervening in a physical altercation.
  • Providing first aid.
  • Fingerprinting new employees.
  • Performing some manual tasks that cannot be safely conducted by a single person.

To protect employees engaged in activities like these, MCPS has developed procedures involving specialized training, personal protective equipment, modified work practices, and hiring trained and equipped contractors.

 

Are there any other safety and health issues related to physical distancing?

 

When rearranging and relocating furniture, workstations, materials, and equipment to support physical distancing, it is important not to create new hazards, by:

  • Blocking/obstructing emergency exits, halls, and doorways (which can cause people to trip and fall and can also prevent people from evacuating quickly during an emergency).
  • Stacking furniture or other items unsafely (which can cause objects to fall onto people).  
  • Moving combustible materials like paper or boxes into hallways, stairways, or mechanical rooms (creating fire hazards).
  • Moving equipment and running electrical cords through walkways, doorways, ceilings, or windows (which creates tripping, electrical shock, and fire hazards).

If your facility designates one-way halls or stairways, all students, staff, and visitors must be aware that people should travel in any direction necessary during an emergency evacuation to ensure everyone can exit the building in a rapid and orderly manner.  This should be stressed during emergency drills.   


More information

 


Cleaning and Disinfection

Routine school and facility cleaning and disinfection

 

Building service staff are cleaning and disinfecting building and room surfaces in all MCPS schools and facilities using EPA-approved List N chemicals, which are effective for inactivating the COVID-19 virus.  Special attention is given to surfaces that are touched frequently, such as door handles, light switches, hand rails, faucet handles, water bottle filling stations, and elevator buttons.  Restrooms are also cleaned and disinfected more frequently throughout the day.  Additional information about building cleaning and disinfection procedures can be found at the Department of Facilities Management's Facilities and COVID-19 webpage.  To assist in ensuring clean and healthful buildings, all MCPS employees will also be provided cleaning and disinfectant products that they may use for their rooms and workstations.  


Cleaning and disinfection of areas occupied by people with confirmed COVID-19

 

As soon as an MCPS Division of Maintenance and Operations area supervisor is informed that a person who has either been exposed to or has tested positive for COVID-19 has been inside an MCPS facility, a confidential COVID-19 Exposure Report is created.  Trained building service teams respond by performing an intense cleaning and disinfection of every area where that person spent time.  Special equipment, like electrostatic sprayers, allow the virus-killing chemicals to cover every surface of an impacted area.  Additional information can be found at the Department of Facilities Management's Facilities and COVID-19 webpage.

 

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for cleaning and disinfectant products

 

Various cleaning and disinfectant products have been provided to MCPS schools and facilities.  Product SDSs are below:

 

Building Ventilation

Building ventilation, Indoor Air Quality, air filters, and portable air cleaners


Information about building ventilation; Indoor Air Quality (IAQ); heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) air filters; and portable air cleaners can be found at the Department of Facilities Management's Facilities and COVID-19 webpage.  Information about HVAC air filter upgrades and portable air cleaners can also be found here

 

 

Supplies (Masks, PPE, Cleaning Products, Signage)

 

 

PPE kits (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes) have been delivered to all schools to support staff and any others entering the building.  These kits were compiled using a formula based on the number of staff members per building, with a percentage of overage to accommodate any additional need. 

Distribution of student masks is based on school enrollment numbers, with a percentage of overage.  Initial school allocations will provide each student and employee with two cloth masks per quarter, and additional disposable masks to supplement throughout the year.  The Department of Materials Management will replenish the PPE kit supplies on a quarterly basis directly to schools and will work with principals if additional needs arise.  The Division of Maintenance and Operations will continue to order supplies directly through FMS for all building service staff throughout the district.  

PPE (including goggles, faceshields, and gowns) and specialized face coverings (such as clear masks) needed for special interactions (including working with special education students and students/staff with disabilities) have been and will continue to be purchased and allocated according to specific program, staff, or student needs.  

 

 

COVID-19 Related Accommodations and Leave

Applying for COVID-19 related ADA accommodations and leave


Information about applying for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) workplace accommodations, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave, and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave can be found here

 

 

Health Screening and Attestation

 

Under construction.

 

 

Students and Employees Who Become Sick or Report COVID-19 Exposure  

What to do if a student becomes sick at school or reports a new COVID-19 exposure

 

Schools will work closely with School Health Services (SHS) health room staff and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) when students become sick at school or report COVID-19 exposure.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include: cough, fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, feeling tired, and unusually poor appetite.  Symptoms requiring immediate care include: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and bluish lips or face.  

If a student displays signs of illness consistent with COVID-19 or reports to school having been exposed to COVID-19:

  1. The teacher or staff calls the school health suite to consult with designated DHHS SHS personnel regarding the student's symptoms.  If a student shows EMERGENCY SYMPTOMS (trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face), IMMEDIATELY call 911 and notify your administrator and SHS staff.
  2. SHS provides guidance to the teacher/staff if the student should be sent to the health room or the triage/care room.  The teacher/staff excuses the student from the classroom as advised.
  3. SHS notifies the student's parent/guardian that the student is ill and takes the student to a designated area until transportation can be arranged to send the student home or to seek immediate medical attention.
  4. The parent/guardian picks up the student.  SHS advises the parent/guardian to consult with their healthcare provider or provides information on accessible COVID testing sites.
  5. SHS notifies the Montgomery County Department of Health to report a possible COVID case.
  6. If the student receives a NEGATIVE COVID-19 test result, the student returns to school following existing school illness management protocols. 
If a student who has been sick at school receives a POSITIVE COVID-19 test result or does not get tested:
  1. The student is newly identified as having COVID-19.
  2. SHS works with teacher/staff to identify close contacts of the student.  SHS provides a list of close contacts to the school administrator and DHHS.
  3. The school administrator notifies the OTLS director and MCPS contact tracing point of contacts via the confidential COVID notification portal.
  4. The school administrator works with DHHS to assess transmission levels and assist with contact tracing.  DHS advises on quarantine of students/staff and room or school closure, if necessary.  
  5. The school administrator/SHS notifies identified close contacts to inform them of the need to quarantine for 14 days and recommend contacting their healthcare provider. 
  6. The school administrator informs staff/students/parents of the positive COVID-19 case at the school. 
Actions following notification and during quarantine period:
  1. School administrators work with DHHS and the MCPS Office of Student and Family Support and Engagement to identify and secure any needs for staff/students/families in quarantine.
  2. Building Service staff deep clean classroom(s) and other areas where the student positive for COVID-19 had contact.  Windows are opened fully to increase air flow.  Class is relocated to an alternate classroom if needed.
  3. Staff and students in quarantine may return to the school after meeting the criteria to end quarantine.  
The steps described above are illustrated in the process map below.  Download the process map: What to do if a STUDENT becomes sick at school or reports a new COVID-19 exposure   

 


COVID student process map

 

When a student displays COVID-19 symptoms in the classroom or has reported exposure to COVID-19, teachers and school staff should:  

1. Separate the student  

If a student shows EMERGENCY SYMPTOMS (trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face), IMMEDIATELY call 911 and notify your administrator and SHS staff.

  • Be discreet and calm.
  • Make sure you and the student are wearing masks and remaining 6 feet apart. 

2. Inform

  • Contact the SHS health professional to inform them the student is displaying COVID-19 like symptoms, or has disclosed an exposure.
  • Following the SHS provided guidance, have the student escorted to the appropriate health area.

3. Identify Close Contacts

  • Write down where the student was seated relative to other students in the classroom.
  • Note if any person or student was within 6 feet of an infected student for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  • Work with SHS and school administrators on close contacts in accordance with applicable privacy laws.

4. Clean and Disinfect

  • Once the student with COVID-19 like symptoms is no longer in the classroom, place a visual aid at the desk or area the student was using to remind students to not use that space.
  • Open windows, if possible, to increase ventilation.
  • If advised by SHS and school administration, relocation of the classroom may be necessary.
  • Building Services will deep clean the classroom when all staff and students are no longer in the classroom space, to avoid any allergic or health related reactions.

5. Plan for Virtual Instruction

  • Make sure the student has all necessary materials to access virtual instruction for the next 10-14 days.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: You MUST contact the School Health Services health professional prior to sending ANY student (COVID-19 like symptoms, or other injury or illness) to the identified health area.

 

Download the Teacher's Quick Reference Guide for when a student displays COVID-19 symptoms in the classroom 

 

 

What to do when students have non-COVID health care needs


Support to students in the health room will continue to be provided by the School Health Room Technician (SHRT) or School Community Health Nurse (SCHN), based upon their assignment.

Students with Individualized Health Care Plans who require specialized care, medication administration or emergency care will be seen in the health room. Parents will be required to bring in medications needed to support their student during the school day prior to or on the first day of school.

ALL staff members MUST call or contact the health room prior to excusing a student from the classroom. Students should NOT be sent directly to the health room without consultation from School Health Services (SHS) or other on-site healthcare employees. 

If a student has a NON-COVID related health concern or minor injury:

1. Contact the health room

  • Be discreet and calm.
  • Any life-threatening emergency will be addressed immediately by SHS.
  • The health room staff will determine if social distancing requirements allow for students (without symptoms of COVID) to come to the health room at that time.
  • The health room staff will review symptoms (if the student is ill) using the Evaluation for Covid Like Illness (CLI) checklist to triage the student. The health room staff will determine if the student should come to the health room or be taken to the Triage Room for further evaluation.
  • The School Health Room Technician will communicate immediately with the School Community Health Nurse per guidance on the checklist.

2. In-Classroom Care Needs

  • Teachers will be provided with first aid supplies such as band-aids, Vaseline and gloves, to provide simple first aid for minor paper cuts, chapped lips etc. to minimize the numbers of students coming to the health room.
  • SHS will advise staff on other minor care needs that may be necessary to handle in the classroom if social distancing prevents a student from receiving care in the health room. Examples of this type of care may include:
    • Allowing a student to put their head down and rest
    • Providing bandages to a student with a small cut or bruise
    • Providing feminine hygiene products to students
     

Download the NON-COVID Related Student Health Care Needs: QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE 

 

 

What to do if an employee becomes sick at work or reports a new COVID-19 exposure

 

Under construction.

 

 

Health Room and Triage Room

 

Under construction.

 

 

 

Access to Schools and Facilities

 

Under construction.

 

 

 

School Arrival and Dismissal

 

Under construction.

 

 

 

School Buses

 

PPE and face coverings

  • Bus operators and attendants will wear face coverings at all times while on the bus.
  • Bus staff who work with students who struggle to control saliva and other bodily fluids will have enhanced PPE available, such as gloves, faceshields, and/or medical style gowns.
  • Students will be required to wear face coverings on the bus except where schools determine a student with special needs cannot or should not wear a face covering.  Bus teams must continue to exercise and demonstrate patience and compassion while working students with special needs.
  • Buses will be operated with at least two front and two rear windows partially open to promote fresh air circulation.  Heat and air-conditioning (where equipped) will be used to keep internal bus temperature as comfortable as possible.  Passengers may need coats inside the bus during cold temperatures.
  • Extra masks and hand sanitizer will be available for both students and staff.

 

Seating

  • Students and bus attendants, if applicable, will sit one person in every seat.
  • Students who reside in the same household may sit together in a seat to increase bus capacity.
  • The seat behind the driver will remain empty.

 

Cleaning

  • Regular cleaning protocols continue.
  • Additional cleaning due to COVID:
    • Bus staff will wipe frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant between each load of students.
    • Each evening, all school buses used that day will be sprayed with disinfectant using a high-power sprayer so disinfectant reaches all interior surfaces of the bus. 
     

Bus staff

  • Each school bus operator and bus attendant has been trained on the latest information about COVID-19 and how to best prevent its spread.
  • Employees will conduct a health self-assessment before reporting to work each day. 

 

 

Restrooms, Hallways, Stairways, and Lockers

Restrooms

 

To prevent congregating and support physical distancing, the number of people allowed in a restroom at one time will be limited.  Schools may monitor restroom use, as needed, to prevent students from congregating.  Some teachers routinely take their classes to the restroom before specials or after recess, which can assist with restroom monitoring.  Schools should consider providing single-access restrooms for special population students who have difficulty practicing physical distancing in the restroom.  Handwashing before and after restroom use should continue to be encouraged.  

Physical barriers should not be installed in restrooms, but signage may be used to support distancing at sinks and urinals.  To ensure good ventilation, schools and facilities should continue performing routine maintenance for exhaust fans that serve restrooms.  It is not necessary to clean and disinfect restroom touchpoints (such as faucets and toilet handles) between uses.       

 

Hallways and stairways


Schools and facilities should minimize congestion and congregating in hallways and stairways, and physical distancing should be practiced.  Hallways and stairways may be designated for one-way traffic; however, this is not required.  Being closer than 6 feet from others for very brief periods of time, such as when walking past others in hallways and stairways, is not believed to increase the risk of infection (especially when people are wearing face coverings).   

Schools can reduce congestion by having students remain in classrooms as much as possible and by staggering class dismissal.  Floor decals can be used as visual distancing cues.  Signage, training, and practice can be used to educate students and staff about expectations for hall/stair travel (walk to the right, don’t congregate, physically distance front-back and side-side, keep face coverings on, etc.).  Schools should consider having staff monitor and provide direction, at least for a period following reopening.

If schools and facilities designate one-way hallways or stairways, they must ensure students and employees are aware these restrictions do not apply during emergencies, such as building evacuation or lockdown.  During emergencies, building occupants should always take the closest and safest path of travel. 

 

Lockers

Under construction

 

 

Student Meals

 

Eating at school 

 

Students will be permitted to eat in a variety of locations throughout schools, including classrooms and large spaces, such as the cafeteria, as long as 6-foot physical distancing and appropriate seating arrangements are implemented (students should not be seated facing each other while eating).  Students may bring their own meals or receive grab-and-go meals served by the school.  To support good COVID-19 exposure prevention practices, handwashing will be required before and after eating and students will not be permitted to share food.  Additionally, schools will continue to review food allergy and 504 plans to ensure the safety of students with food allergies.   

 

Meal distribution 

 

In addition to providing meals for students receiving in-person instruction, MCPS will continue to provide breakfast and lunch meals to students at designated food distribution sites throughout the county.  MCPS employees involved in meal distribution use face coverings, physical distancing, and hand hygiene to minimize exposure risk for customers and employees.  Face coverings and gloves are also used, in addition to standard food safety practices, during meal preparation.  Information about meal service programs can be found here

 

 

Recess and Playgrounds

Recess Procedures:

 

Recess and play is an important part of elementary school.  The following guidance is provided to schools to inform their planning.

Outdoor play area use will be permitted. Schools are responsible for ensuring students perform hand hygiene before and after use and maintain 6' distancing.  Schools will need to be able to limit group sizes on playground equipment and have enough supervision to be able to maintain distancing at all times.

  • Students may play together and on playground equipment.

  • Playground hard space does not need to be taped off. 

  • Cones and other demarcation aides should be used to create stations or play areas that encourage reduced numbers in common play areas.  Schools are encouraged to use a station approach to have a variety of designated play areas for students to use.

  • Schools may want to consider a rotating schedule to outdoor recess in order to avoid large numbers of students competing for the same play space and making physical distancing difficult.  For example, a grade level may be assigned to outdoor recess on certain days of the week and indoor or gym play time on other days to reduce the load on outdoor only play areas.

  • Face coverings should be worn properly at all times by students and staff.  Consider stocking spare masks so students can replace face coverings that become wet, dirty, or damaged during play.  Only masks with earloops should be worn when playing on playground equipment.  Gaiters, bandanas, masks with head ties or head straps, and masks with earloops equipped with 'ear saver' straps or ties that wrap around the back of the head should not be worn because they can create a strangulation hazard if they get caught on the equipment.

  • Handwashing before and after recess is essential and required.  Playground equipment cleaning with basic cleaning supplies (like soapy products, water) is generally sufficient.  If there is suspected contact involving an infected person, targeted disinfection can be performed on high-touch components like grabs bars and rings and railings.  A challenge with disinfection is that there is a possibility for slippery residue, which creates safety hazards, and component damage from regular exposure to disinfectant products (especially for ropes and bolts).  Spillage of disinfectant on the wood chips, which some students put in their mouths, is also a concern.

  • Shared items (like balls) may be used as long as contact is restricted to feet/legs.  At this time, shared items must be cleaned (or isolated for 3 days) by school staff after recess.  Cleaning may be performed using soap and water or MCPS-approved cleaning/disinfection products.  Face coverings, 6' distancing, and hand hygiene before and after recess must continue to be practiced by all students and staff. 

  • Hand sanitizer may be used when hands are not visibly dirty, greasy, or sticky.  Consider bringing hand sanitizer to recess so it is readily available.

  • Staff are encouraged to develop a hand signal to alert students when they are too physically close to peers.  Staff are not expected to use yard sticks or tape off play space, rather use judgment and best guidance to support safe and appropriate play.  Students who demonstrate challenges with physical distancing should be approached through a teachable moment approach and non-disciplinary, unless it appears to be willful disobedience of understood expectations. 

  • Consider the use of portable megaphones or other auditory alert sounds in lieu of whistles for attention signals.

 

 

Emergency Drills

 

Under construction.

 

 

Special Education

 

Under construction.

 

   

Athletics

COVID-19 procedures for Athletics


Safety and health procedures for MCPS Athletics can be found at the COVID-19 Athletics Information webpage.

 

 

Physical Education and Health

 

Under construction.

 

 

Fine Arts

 

Under construction.

 

  

Science

 

Considerations for In-Person Science Activities

 

(Note: All teachers have received recommendations and training from the PreK-12 Science team.)

  • Prioritize specific laboratory experiences as per scope and sequence documents provided by PreK-12 science team.
  • Prepare alternative methods for other labs to limit the amount of student to student contact. 
  • Assign specific roles for students that allow for physical distancing: (as recommended by the PreK-12 science team).
  • Alternate roles either daily to provide all students the opportunity to do hands-on activities or during the lab itself if shared equipment is not necessary. 
  • Continued use of technology tools like Google Docs for group data collection are encouraged to limit direct interaction with students during lab activities. 

 

General Classroom and Lab Considerations


  • Students and teachers must wash hands before and after hands on/lab activities.
  • Maintain 6 feet distance from others:
    • Move desks apart: may need to remove desks in classrooms that use two person desks. 
    • Limit number of students at one lab station. (PreK-12 Science team recommends no more than three students per lab group).
    • Stagger seating based on 6 feet distancing, being mindful of where students are placed at each lab station. 
     
  • All must wear face coverings at all times. 
  • Students keep belongings separate from others.  Note: For elementary, consider providing science materials ‘bins’ for each student. 
  • Consider reducing class size/staggering lab days/creating student cohorts to reduce the need for sharing of lab materials and provide sufficient time for disinfection. 

 

Lab Equipment and Materials Safety

 

Elementary:

  • Consider providing science materials ‘bins’ for each student.

Secondary:

  • Online student safety quiz will be provided in February.
  • Students will not share hard to clean equipment (such as Bunsen burners, springs, pipettes) unless the equipment can be quarantined, in sealed containers, for at least 72 hours between uses by different people.   
  • Guidelines for goggles and microscopes:  one to one if possible.  
    • Note: MCPS will purchase additional goggles to support science classroom instruction in the school year 2020-2021. 
    • Note: Goggles may be cleaned using warm soapy water (do not use soap with abrasives, like grit or microbeads).  After cleaning, goggles may be disinfected using 70% alcohol. 
    • Note: Goggle sanitizing cabinets are not known to effectively inactivate the COVID-19 virus. 
     
  • Minimize and modify shared equipment: for example, replace beakers between student groups, as recommended by PreK-12 Science Team. 
  • Disinfect shared equipment after each student using provided MCPS-approved disinfectants (such as 70% alcohol). 
  • Teachers will be trained on storage and use of disinfecting/cleaning equipment. 
  • Wearing gloves is not a replacement for cleaning or disinfection practices.  Teachers are trained on safety protocols. 
  • Allow equipment to dry for at least 30 minutes before use. 
  • Remove unneeded equipment and materials from lab areas and shared spaces. 


Health/Physical Distancing Considerations

 
  • Wash hands.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others: 
    • Limit number of students at one lab station. 
    • Assign specific roles for students that allow for physical distancing when students are completing virtual data collection activities. 
     
  • Wear face coverings at all times. 
  • Keep belongings separate from each other. 
  • Reduce class size/stagger lab days/create cohorts. 

 

Safety/Safety Equipment

    
  • No equipment or chemical materials can be used without the presence of a trained science teacher.
  • Cleaning and disinfectant products, such as alcohol wipes, must be stored in a locked cabinet or closet within the school building. 
  • Any hands-on activities should follow safety considerations: 
    • Assess all potential hazards and address accordingly. 
    • Creation of safety quiz tailored to the activity is recommended. 
     
  • Teachers teaching virtually to in person students, who are supervised by a para/supervisor (virtual support model), may want to allow students engaging in in-person instruction to complete hands-on portions of labs that do not have safety considerations, however, preparation of lab materials would need to be done ahead of time. 
  • Teachers must not work alone in schools with flames or chemical hazards, or in chemical storage rooms. 

 

Considerations for At-Home Science Activities  

 

(Note: All teachers have received recommendations and training from the PreK-12 Science team.) 

  • Limit activities that require students to leave the confines of home (nature walks/hikes, environmental assessments, etc.) and present risks for physical distancing.
  • MCPS remote learning does NOT include investigations using household chemicals (regardless of common uses). 
  • Teachers must assess all potential hazards for non-chemical based investigations and address accordingly. 
  • Teacher and video demonstrations must demonstrate safe practices. 
  • A tailored safety quiz prior to an investigation will best support science safety for that investigation. 

 

 

 

School Libraries

 

Safety/health considerations in regards to the school library media program

 

School library media centers should be set up to ensure safe use of space and resources in regards to health and safety guidelines.  Refer to guidance from MSDE on continuation of school library support in the recovery plan.  (All information below should be reviewed, regardless of level, as many aspects can be adapted for to ES, MS or HS)
  • Damascus HS summary of library setup here
  • Lakelands Park MS summary of library setup here
  • Strawberry Knoll ES summary of library setup here
  • Damascus HS video of library preparation, below (1:07):

      

Personal safety

 

  • All library staff must wear face coverings.
  • All library staff should practice frequent handwashing, especially after handling returned materials.
  • All library staff should continue to practice physical distancing.

 

Shared materials safety

 

  • Library Media staff members will create contactless browsing displays throughout the library and students should only touch books they borrow.  Replace aesthetic displays of books with contactless browsing displays by including brief summaries and/or QR codes to book trailers.
  • Shelf markers should not be used (primarily used at the elementary levels).
  • Materials that cannot be disinfected easily (stuffed animals, puppets, pillows, upholstered furniture, etc.) should be removed or blocked from use.
  • Magazines and newspapers should not be displayed.
  • Library staff should regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces (desk tops, countertops, door handles) between classes and patrons.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available for everyone who enters the library.
  • Shared materials (Maker Space items, VR goggles, headsets, etc) should be initially removed, but can be reintroduced after a plan for reintroduction is composed.
  • Self-checkout stations should be suspended or configured so that they provide contactless interaction (automatic scanner placed on a stand, student uses their own device, keypad removed from checkout station, etc.).

 

Physical distancing

 

  • Signage promoting physical distancing and handwashing should be prominently displayed
  • Visual cues should be used to assist learners with physical distancing (markers on floor for queuing in line and sitting on the floor).
  • Furniture should be rearranged to accommodate physical distancing.
  • Traffic flow must be planned to minimize contact (entering/exiting, checkout, seating order).
  • Minimize student/class visits to the library.  Classes that do visit the library should be staggered to allow entering and leaving without contact.
  • The number of students permitted in the library at one time should be limited based on local guidance.
  • Open library times should be cancelled (before and after school, open periods, lunchtimes).

 

Library book checkout

 

  • Browsing should be conducted online in Destiny and/or by contactless displays to limit touching of books.
  • Students should be taught how to place holds through the online Destiny library catalog. 
  • Depending on the school programming & media staffing assignments, three options are available for book checkout: 
    • Curbside checkout - Library staff should pull holds for students, bag and label them and deliver them for pick up outside of the school. 
    • Holds-to-Go checkout (for the hybrid and face-to-face models) - Library staff should pull holds for students, bag and label them and deliver them to students in their classes. Alternatively, a cart of books can be brought to the classroom and students can individually check out books from the cart. 
    • Library visits for checkout (for face-to-face model) - It may be possible for small groups of students to visit the library in staggered intervals to select books or pick up holds. Contactless browsing should be the default browsing experience.  Students should be reminded to only touch books they borrow.  After checkout, students should sanitize their hands then line up in spots designated for physical distancing. 
     

Returned library materials - quarantine procedures

 

  • Establish a quarantine area for returned materials and ensure staff knows where it is located to avoid contact.
  • Non-latex gloves may be worn but are not required. Prepare a slip for the cart for incoming materials, noting the date and time. Add additional signage to the cart as needed so that staff do not accidentally handle the materials. 
  • Retrieve materials from the book drop or designated return area. Place items on a book cart. 
  • Avoid contact with door handles and other contact points after materials have been touched. Move the cart to the identified quarantine area. 
  • Promptly wash hands. If gloves were worn, wash hands after removing gloves. 
  • After items have been on the cart for a minimum of 72 hours, check in the items using the circulation system and shelve them as normal. 
  • Library Media Staff Members should refer to the REALM project research to guide the quarantine process.