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School Healthy Practices and Policies (COVID)

It is imperative to note that a healthy return to school only works if every family and staff member is committed to a suite of good practices. The Hopkinton Public Schools stresses that single mitigation strategies alone will not serve; rather, a combination of strategies, when employed with fidelity, will substantially reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The Hopkinton Public Schools requests that for 14 days prior to the start of school families self-quarantine at home.

The Hopkinton Public Schools are committed to the following healthy policies and practices:

  • Beginning each school day with a morning message about health and safety protocols;
  • Stressing hand hygiene and providing frequent handwashing opportunities (soap and water for at least twenty seconds), and hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent ethanol or at least 70 percent isopropanol) when handwashing is not feasible. Students and faculty will sanitize hands whenever entering/exiting a new space or joining/leaving a person or cohort or eating lunch or removing the masks or using the bathroom or dismissing for the day; 
  • requiring staff, students, and families to monitor their own health, checking for symptoms and staying home if experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Offering students and staff instruction on how to wear a mask that adequately covers the nose and mouth properly;
  • Requiring a minimum of six (6) feet (current CDC guideline) of social distancing space when possible; in classrooms, a six (6) foot measurement will be the expectation; 
  • Implementing virtual or telephonic staff/parent meetings whenever possible;
  • Discouraging and disallowing nonessential mingling, space sharing, equipment sharing;
  • Ensuring students and staff occupy their own desks, and use their own materials and supplies (including electronics), with sharing minimized to the extent feasible.

Drinking Fountains
Students will be asked to bring their own full water bottle to school each day. Drinking fountains will be closed. Bottled water will be provided to students, as/if needed.

Food and Beverage
Water or like beverages may be consumed where students can safely remove the mask staying 6 feet apart.  Water breaks will be encouraged during mask break time in order to reduce frequency of touching mask/face. Food may be consumed during supervised meal and snack times where students are 6 feet apart. In the case where students require sustenance for medical purposes, teachers will plan with HPS nursing staff to ensure students’ needs are met within safety protocols. We advise students to have a healthy breakfast to sustain them for the day.  

The District has taken several steps to increase ventilation and improve air quality in our buildings and classrooms. Our practices reflect recommendations from ASHRAE.

  • “Increase outdoor air ventilation (disable demand-controlled ventilation and open outdoor air dampers to 100% as indoor and outdoor conditions permit).”
  • “Improve central air and other HVAC filtration to MERV-13 (ASHRAE 2017b) or the highest level achievable.
  • “Bypass energy recovery ventilation systems that leak potentially contaminated exhaust air back into the outdoor air supply.”
  • “Keep systems running longer hours (24/7 if possible).  Maintain temperature and humidity as applicable to the infectious aerosol of concern.”

The District will complete a comprehensive inspection, cleaning, disinfecting, and repair of all systems prior to students returning to school. Additionally, the District has ordered five large tents, one for each school, to provide outdoor learning and break spaces for students. Teachers will increase outdoor air circulation by opening windows and doors and using fans, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Interior doors will remain propped open during the day, to reduce the number of people touching the door and to increase ventilation.

Sinks, Hand-Sanitizing Stations, and Touchless Trash Cans
The Marathon and Elmwood Schools have sinks in each classroom. Regular handwashing can be conducted in those locations. Hopkins, HMS, and HHS will require students to use sinks in bathrooms for handwashing. In these three schools, hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in every classroom. All classrooms and common areas have touchless trash cans.

The following bulleted list highlights all efforts taken to ensure safety. The HPS has developed a Cleaning and Disinfecting procedural document.

  • Shutting down communal drinking fountains or water bottle refillers; 
  • Conducting more frequent and deeper cleaning/disinfecting, particularly high touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, restrooms, computer/lab/gym equipment, playgrounds, supplies, etc.; 
  • Disinfecting every classroom and office space every night;
  • Cleaning every bathroom in every building multiple times per day, keeping an accurate record of the times of each cleaning; disinfecting/deep cleaning every bathroom every night
  • Writing a disinfection plan to be implemented in the event of a positive diagnosis in a school community; 
  • Optimizing airflow and ventilation; opening windows when doing so is feasible and not a safety risk; 
  • Frequently changing air filters in buildings’ HVAC systems and monitoring for circulation of air; 
  • Ensuring water and HVAC systems are safe for use after a long system shutdown;
  • Posting signs regarding hand washing and sanitizing protocols with text and explanatory pictures in classrooms, hallways, doors and other visible building locations, on school/district websites and on school/district social media platforms; 
  • Ensuring line spacing and floor markings to serve as reminders and assist with social distancing; creating a one-way flow of foot traffic whenever/wherever possible; staggering class and school entry and dismissal times to the extent possible; 
  • Posting signage about social distancing in classrooms and in other visible locations; 
  • Installing physical barriers where appropriate/needed, including space for teachers at the front of the classroom; 
  • Utilizing additional non-classroom spaces in school buildings (gyms, cafeterias, libraries, auditoriums, etc.) to aid with distancing.