Health and Safety

Patrick Carruth, President and Headmaster

Guidance

The health and safety decisions surrounding our plan to return to campus are guided by the standards of care, guidelines, and protocols set forth by public health agencies and governmental authorities, namely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH), King County Public Health (KCPH), the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS), and The Bear Creek School health team. The policies, procedures, and guidelines (detailed on the school website and in the Family Handbook) support the health and wellness of our faculty, staff, students, and community while allowing us to resume in-person operations. They are intended to reduce transmission and spread of the virus through strategies of screening, cleaning, distancing, and hygiene. As the pandemic continues to evolve, these policies may be modified.

Screening

Daily Symptom Reporting: Students and employees will be required to self-report COVID-19 related symptoms each day before entering school through the Magnus Health mobile app. In-person temperature checks for anyone entering the building after the school day begins will also be a part of our daily screening protocols. If you have a question about what to do if your child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or shows symptoms of the virus, please refer to the COVID-19 Symptom Decision Tree (click or tap to enlarge):

decision tree graphic

International Travel: Students, faculty, staff, and visitors (including parents) may not enter a school building for 14 days after returning from international travel.

Limited Visitation: Visitation to campus is limited to appointments and emergencies only, and screening is required prior to visitors entering any school building. Prospective families are invited to make an appointment to learn about the school virtually through a conversation with our Admissions team.

Health Facilities: The health room in the Main building has been expanded to allow for any potential increase in students needing to see the school nurse while also providing a separate space to individually care for students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms on campus.

Cleaning

cleaning surfaces

Daily Cleaning and Nightly Disinfecting: Faculty are cleaning flat surfaces such as desks and chairs in their classrooms at least every two hours, using EPA-approved cleansers. In the Upper School, each time a group of students leave a classroom, the teacher cleans the desks and chairs before the next group enters. Doors are left open to reduce contact with door handles. Frequently touched common surfaces in the buildings are cleaned a minimum of every two hours throughout the day by our Facilities staff. Cleaning supplies and training have been provided to all classroom teachers and aides to be used as needed in addition to the existing protocols. In addition, our janitorial vendor cleans and disinfects all classroom surfaces nightly per state and CDC guidelines.

Hand-Washing and Sanitization Stations: Touch-free, foot pump operated sanitizing stations are located at every entrance. Staff sanitize students’ hands as they enter the building, including after recess. Drinking fountains have been disabled and converted to water bottle filling stations. 

Bathrooms: All bathrooms at the Main building, Upper School, and Preschool now have touch-free faucets and toilet mechanisms. A maximum of three students are allowed in the bathroom at any time, with social distancing markers in place outside the restroom for those who are waiting. Bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected by Facilities staff every two hours per CDC guidelines. The team is utilizing airless sprayers to make the process more efficient. We fog the bathrooms with disinfectant, leave them closed for five minutes while it evaporates, and then open them back up when safe to enter. Our janitorial vendor cleans and disinfects all bathrooms nightly.

HVAC Enhancements: We have also upgraded the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filtration and increased air circulation. Our HVAC vendor completed air balance testing, which optimized the working condition of all units. Our building is designed for six air changes per hour (ACH) per rooftop unit. This means that fresh air is circulated into the buildings every 10 minutes. We have also set our building controls to allow for the maximum flow of outside air possible. Lastly, Facilities purchased an air quality monitor to test classroom air quality in the initial phases of the Step Start Plan. Full classes of 12 – 15 students had carbon dioxide outputs that were consistently below the average parts per million. This indicates success across all our HVAC changes, namely for increased fresh air flow. Masking, proper cleaning and disinfecting, and maintaining social distancing is the overall recommendation of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) which is the governing body of all things HVAC. The adoption of those procedures, along with our structural HVAC changes, ensure safe air quality inside buildings.

Materials Handling: Students have their own materials and do not share whenever possible. Necessary shared items, such as laptops, percussion sticks, etc. used in class, are checked out to the student, and then cleaned and disinfected before being issued to another student. Students wash or gel their hands before and after touching shared materials. Our guidelines include having books and other papers allowed to sit untouched for 24 hours before being handled by someone else.

Distancing

Physical Distancing: Student classrooms, common areas, and other physical spaces are arranged to maintain six feet of physical distance between individuals. Social distancing markers, arrows, signage, and reminders from faculty and staff help students maintain six feet physical distance whenever possible (e.g., changing classes, passing in hallways, etc.).

Face Coverings: All students, age 5 through grade 12, will wear face coverings inside school buildings, as required by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for any school (public and private) that offers on-campus learning All adults also wear face coverings inside school buildings. Students do not need to wear masks when outside and at least six feet physically distanced. See Face Coverings on School Supply Lists page.

Indoor/Outdoor Classrooms: We have been blessed with campus open space and have set up three outdoor classroom areas in large tents that teachers may use for classes throughout the day. We have added outdoor play and walking areas to allow students to be socially distanced at recess and also provide the opportunity for classes to “walk and learn” if desired. 

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): Health and Facilities personnel who may come in contact with students who demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19 and must be isolated until they can go home, or who are responsible for more extensive cleaning, have been provided with appropriate PPE for their protection. All faculty and staff were given face masks to wear.  Additional disposable masks are available in the building for students or adults who need one.

Eating

Since students eat lunch with their cohorts in their classrooms, we have temporarily transitioned to a "no-nut" school, and our food-from-home guidelines have been revised accordingly. The cafeteria offers a daily option of a cold sandwich or hot entrée sack lunches, which are delivered to classrooms. See Food Services page for more information.