COVID-19 Information Center

A Message from the Principal

 

I am pleased to present you with the Waldron Mercy Academy 2021-2022 Health & Safety Plan.

 

This plan was developed with our COVID-19 medical task force and guidance from national and local health authorities. Please be advised that many of the same mitigation measures from last year will be in place.

 

Some highlights of the plan are:

  • In-person learning for all students. 

  • Indoor masking for all, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Daily RUVNA health checks for all students and staff will continue (New families - you will automatically be texted and emailed a link to the health check each morning.)

  • Hand sanitizer will be available at entrances, in hallways, in classrooms, and in other high traffic areas throughout the school.

  • We are not requiring vaccinations at this time for any individuals, but we strongly recommend that all members of the WMA community who are eligible receive a vaccination against COVID-19.

 

Please understand that the plans and policies below are subject to change in accordance with guidance from the CDC, MontCo OPH, and in consideration of local and community conditions.

In Mercy,

 

Ann Marie Braca, Principal

AMB-Signature-First-Name.jpg
 

2021-2022 HEALTH AND SAFTEY PLAN

Health & Safety Plan Development


For the 2021-2022 school year, the plan developed last year has been revised reflecting the current healthcare guidelines and WMA’s instructional and operational needs. The plan was developed and approved by WMA’s Health & Safety Committee and the 2021-2022 WMA Advisory Committee. WMA’s Health & Safety (H&S) committee played the primary role in developing the plan, reviewing guidelines from the CDC, PA Department of Health, Montgomery County Office of Public Health and American Academy of Pediatrics and creating a plan specific to WMA’s student body and staff, facilities, and resources. The plan defined here is a result of that combined effort. All plans and policies are subject to change in accordance with guidance from the CDC, MontCo OPH, and in consideration of local and community conditions. 2021-2022 WMA Health & Safety (H&S) Advisory Committee

  • Dr. Nina O’Connor, Committee Chair, Chief Medical Officer of Penn Medicine at Home, Professor of Clinical Medicine
  • Lori McLaughlin, BOT, Attorney
  • Dr. Jacquelyn Aveta, CHOP Pediatrician at CHOP Primary Care, part of a larger physician group discussing this topic for school systems across the country
  • Dr. Kate Avitabile, CHOP Cardiologist and Pulmonary Hypertension Specialist
  • Anthony Creato, PA-C, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children Physician Assistant
  • Jennifer Babia-Espiritu, CHOP General Anesthesia Division
  • Dr. Eileen Everly, CHOP Pediatrician at CHOP Primary Care
  • Dr. Sarah Fesnak, CHOP Emergency Medicine Physician
  • Dr. Jennifer Tioseco, CHOP Neonatologist, Medical Director of CHOP Newborn Care at Atlanticare and Director of the CHOP Newborn Care Network
  • Dr. Delana Wardlaw, Family Medicine Specialist, Temple Health
WMA Health & Safety (H&S) Committee / Pandemic Response Team
  • Candace Flowers, WMA School Nurse; Committee Chair
  • Ann Marie Braca, Principal
  • Theresa Gannon, Vice Principal
  • Mark Murray, WMA Director of Finance and Operations
  • Kristen Romano, Director of Student Services and Support
  • Barb Scott, WMA Director of Innovation
  • Joanne Ferdinand, WMA School Nurse
  • Communications: Carolyn Leonard, WMA Communications Coordinator
Consultants
  • Joan Barone, Chairperson, Waldron Mercy BOT
  • Bill Lane, WMA security officer; head of WMA Safety Committee
As we enter the 2021-2022 school year, WMA’s H&S Committee/Pandemic Response Team (PRT) will oversee implementation of the plan’s policies and protocols as well as monitor any changes to healthcare or government guidelines that may affect the plan. In addition, the Health & Safety Advisory Committee will continue to act as consultants to the PRT.




Guiding Principles


In our mission statement, we acknowledge Waldron Mercy Academy as a diverse, faith community rooted in the gospel values of mercy and justice. One of the best attributes of WMA is that our students do not all come from the same neighborhood or similar backgrounds. Our students come from neighborhoods throughout Greater Philadelphia and represent a diversity of ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and religious beliefs. Accordingly, the committee was committed to developing a plan that would allow for safe, in-person instruction. The committee was also committed to creating a plan, policies and procedures that would conform to prevailing guidelines from healthcare authorities and the government. To balance these two objectives, policies and procedures in the Plan were guided by the following core principles:

  • The health and safety of WMA’s students, staff, and families will be the first consideration in all decisions;
  • WMA will continue to fulfill its mission to provide a Mercy-centered education;
  • In-person instruction and interaction among teachers and students remains our goal, as both are vital to the educational development and emotional wellbeing of our students.
Layers of protocols are key to the safe operations of school even with high community transmission.




Operating Senarios


At WMA, we believe in the importance of in-person learning for all students to support their ability to learn and grow with their peers. Because of this, at this time WMA is not offering hybrid or distance learning options for students. However, while the goal of the plan is full in-person instruction, there is a possibility that we will need to shift to distance learning at some point during the school year. Consequently, WMA has concurrently established plans for fully in-person learning, fully distance learning, and hybrid in-school/distance learning in circumstances where students cannot be physically present in school. These circumstances may include:

  • A shift in government guidelines reducing the number of students allowed in the building at one time. If we have to reduce the capacity of the school, a hybrid schedule, a combination of simultaneous in-person and distance learning, will be implemented.
  • Pandemic-related quarantines that may result in individual students or complete cohorts having to be home for a certain period of time.
  • Pandemic-related full-school shutdowns. In the case of a full-school shutdown, WMA will resume distance learning from home for the entire student body.
In light of the above, WMA has developed the following scenarios: Green - Primary WMA plan In-person learning for all students with face coverings, increased hygiene and physical distancing to the extent feasible, as detailed in this document. Yellow Hybrid with half the students in-person on Mondays and Wednesday and half on Tuesday and Thursdays with alternating Friday attendance. Distance learning on the non-in-person days. Red - only as dictated by significant health conditions and/or governmental authorities School is closed; all distance learning. Distance learning will continue to apply best practices based on educational research and sound pedagogy. In the situations where distance learning is required, WMA will provide the following:
  • Computer/iPad access for students in PK, K, and grades 1-8.
  • The use of Seesaw and Google Classroom to centralize materials, lessons, instruction, assessments, feedback, and communications.
  • Direct instruction on a daily basis. Instruction will be a combination of synchronous/asynchronous.
  • Live-stream instruction by teachers directly from the classroom if other children remain in school. Students at home will be able to view the classroom instruction from home.
  • Materials that are age and grade appropriate.
  • Timely assessment and feedback.
  • Regular communication with parents/guardians.
WMA will provide distance learning:
  • To those students who are isolating after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • For unvaccinated students who are required to quarantine because of an exposure.
The school will require up to 48 hours to support students transitioning to distance learning, but will strive to react as quickly as possible.




WMA-Family Partnership


As a private, Catholic elementary school, WMA relies on our families in many ways to be partners in providing a Mercy-based education for students. This partnership is still crucial as we enter this new school year. We know that this school year will continue to bring unique challenges for the students, faculty and families. Since the health and safety of all is contingent upon this partnership operating knowledgeably and successfully, we will ask all families to participate fully in the health and safety protocols that are outlined in this plan.





General Building Principles and PPE

  • Masks - At this time, and until further notice, all individuals (regardless of vaccination status) will be masked while indoors with a properly fitting surgical or cloth mask that completely covers the nose and mouth and void of any messaging. 

  • Students will not be masked when outdoors.  This is subject to change according to updated guidance from the CDC, local transmission/positivity rates or according to the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.

  • Mask breaks will be planned into the school day.  Please talk to your student before the start of school about wearing a mask.

  • Individuals will be encouraged to remain physically distant. 

  • Hand sanitizer will be available at entrances, in hallways, in classrooms, and in other high traffic areas throughout the school.

  • Students will enter the building in the morning and go directly to the hallway outside their classrooms (with supervision), and into their classroom once the teacher has arrived.  Afternoon carline dismissal will occur in each classroom.  These procedures will eliminate any large mixed gatherings.

  • A plexiglass barrier remains at the front desk.  

  • Students’ desks are all distanced 3 feet apart. Desk shields may be used at the discretion of the teacher. Desk shields will always be used to create physical barriers on each desk when students are eating snacks/lunch inside.

  • The elevator will not be used unless required to accommodate a physical disability for a student or staff member or to transport materials. A maximum of 2 people will be allowed in the elevator at a time, to be distanced as indicated by floor markings.

  • Each student and staff member must bring a water bottle to school since drinking fountains will remain turned off. Staff members can assist students to safely refill water bottles as needed.

  • Signage will be placed in each classroom and throughout the building to remind the school community about symptoms of COVID-19 and measures to prevent transmission including masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing.  

  • Developmentally appropriate approaches will be used to remind students each day to practice physical distancing, proper hand washing, proper wearing of masks, and the importance of staying home when sick.  In particular, we will provide reminders daily through our morning announcements, and continue to encourage frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing throughout the school day.

  • When possible, non-essential furniture, materials, or equipment will be removed from classrooms to create additional space for physical distancing of desks.

  • All on campus events and programs may be delayed, adjusted, or offered virtually upon being reviewed for feasibility in consideration of changing guidelines and protocols.

Visitors and Vendors

  • Until further notice, visitors and vendors will be limited to before or after school hours as much as possible.

  • All visitors will require scheduled appointments to enter the building.

  • Visitors and vendors will enter and exit through a designated door and be recorded in a daily log to assist with contact tracing.

  • All visitors and vendors will be asked health screening questions prior to entry and will be required to wear masks at all times while on the school campus. 

  • Programs such as inviting visitors to Community Gathering and Math Explorations will be held when the H&S team feels it is safe to do so.

  • Proof of vaccination status may be required for visitors to enter the building, particularly when working with students.

Health Monitoring

Ruvna Screening

All staff and students, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to complete a Ruvna health assessment before leaving for school each day.  This should be completed no later than 7:30am each school day.

 

Masking Policies

In accordance with the CDCs current guidance, we are requiring all individuals to wear a properly fitting mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status. At this time, masks are not required to be worn outdoors.  The outdoor masking policy is subject to change according to updated guidance from the CDC, local transmission/positivity rates or according to the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.

  • Masks must be clean and well fitting over the nose and mouth.

  • Surgical or cloth masks may be worn.

  • Cloth masks should be at least double layered.

  • Masks must not have any valves and no neck gaiters are permitted.

  • Masks may be solid colors or patterned and void of any messaging.  

  • Masks should be worn on all vans and buses, as cohorts are mixed.

 

Physical Distancing

  • All classrooms are able to seat students 3 feet apart

  • Desks are all facing in the same direction

  • Desk shields will be used when students are unmasked for snack and lunch. When students are unmasked while eating, they should all be facing the same direction and encouraged to eat with little talking

  • We will continue to use outdoor spaces for learning and eating as weather permits, still adhering to keeping the students 3 feet apart.

  • Recess is supervised and the staff will monitor activities to encourage distancing while still allowing the students to play.

Testing
This year WMA will employ a testing strategy in conjunction with the MontCo OPH to support safe operation of our school. We may conduct surveillance testing for students and employees as recommended by our Health and Safety Committee throughout the year. The small percentage of unvaccinated staff will be required to test weekly.

Vaccination Status
All staff and students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must supply a physical or digital copy of their vaccination card to the Health Office.  These will be confidential and held in a locked location.  This information will be used when contact tracing with the MontCo OPH.

When to stay home
If you have a confirmed case of Covid-19, been exposed to someone with Covid-19, or someone in your house is being tested for Covid-19, please contact the nurse’s office 610-664-9847 x112 and follow the directives in the section below.

If you or anyone in your family is sick, please stay home.  In particular, you (a student or staff member) should stay home if:

 

  • you or someone in your household has experienced a temperature above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit within the last 24 hours.

  • you have not passed the Ruvna app for any reason.

  • you or your parents are unsure whether you are unwell.

  • you are required to quarantine or isolate as directed by the MontCo OPH (Montgomery County Office of Public Health)

 

Please note this is not a comprehensive list.  If you are unsure whether or not the student/staff member should come to school, please contact the nurse’s office 610-664-9847 x112.

 

Sending students/staff members home
If a student or staff member becomes sick at school, or we learn they have been exposed to Covid-19 and are unvaccinated, he/she and their family members attending WMA will be immediately taken to an isolation room that is NOT the nurse’s office.  In addition:

  • The individual will remain properly masked at all times as they are able.

  • Employees will be directed to leave the building immediately.  Student’s parents will be notified ASAP, and prompt pick up will be required. 

  • Students will be accompanied by the nurse for observation, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and escorted out of the building to their car.

  • Students and staff sent home from school with possible COVID-19 symptoms must be evaluated by a health care provider to determine whether COVID-19 testing is indicated prior to returning to school.  Documentation from the health care provider must be provided to school prior to returning, with a decision for a safe return to school to be determined by Waldron Mercy Academy nurses, Candace Flowers and Joanne Ferdinand.

  • After a sick student has been picked up, contaminated supplies and surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected by an adult staff member using products that meet EPA disinfectant criteria, followed by hand hygiene using hand sanitizer for 20 seconds. 

 

Travel
International travel is still strongly discouraged.  Please contact the school nurses to discuss before making any plans involving unvaccinated WMA students or staff.

Local domestic travel is not restricted but masking is encouraged when interacting with the local population.

Domestic travel by air or to states with significant Covid-19 transmission will follow the CDC guidance as stated here
 

COVID-19 Exposure / Confirmed Cases

Quarantine - Per CDC directives

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.

Isolation - Per CDC directives

Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).

School Isolation & Quarantine Guidelines - Per MontCo OPH directives

The current school guidelines that WMA is following are the guidelines supplied by the MontCo OPH and can be found here

Parents should notify Waldron Mercy COVID-19 officials (Candace Flowers at cbflowers@waldronmercy.org; Joanne Ferdinand at jferdinand@waldronmercy.org) of COVID-19 cases or possible exposures.  In all cases, if a positive case of COVID19 is diagnosed, contact tracing will be implemented with the assistance of the Montgomery County Office of Public Health and/or the CDC/PA DOH.

 

Students/staff who are considered close contacts of a positive case in school will be informed of their exposure without using a name and limiting identifying information (grades/classes) will be disclosed) of the person with COVID-19. WMA will communicate the existence of positive cases to all staff and families without using a name or identifying information of the person with COVID-19 testing. 

 

In both known COVID-19 cases or possible exposures, WMA officials will notify and partner with health officials from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health to determine necessary next steps, including risk assessment, isolation, and quarantine requirements.  While determining next steps, WMA will clean and disinfect potentially contaminated areas prior to reuse and evaluate, using the MontCo OPH guidance, whether requiring school exclusion for the cohort is necessary until next steps have been determined.

 

In both known COVID-19 cases or possible exposures, WMA officials will recommend the staff member or student’s parents contact their physician for directives.

Facilities Cleaning and Ventilation

  1. All air handlers have been upgraded to include MERV 11 air filters which remove a higher percentage of contaminants in the air and increase indoor air quality.  These filters are replaced each quarter as part of the ongoing maintenance plan.  

  2. Mini Split Air Conditioning units have been retrofitted with bi-polar ionization bars which remove not only pathogens such as viruses, but also allergens and other airborne micro-particles.

  3. Air purifiers have been installed in each room.

  4. All rooms and touch points, including desks, within the school building will be disinfected nightly using vital oxide.  Vital oxide has been approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19 and kills 99.999% of viruses.

  5. Bathrooms and high touch surfaces (e.g., door knobs, railings, and light switches) will be cleaned ongoing during the school day. 

  6. As weather allows, classroom windows will be left open to increase air exchange. As weather and curriculum allows, teachers may take classes outside for certain lessons. 

  7. Each classroom will be stocked with the appropriate cleaning supplies, including clorox wipes.

  8. Hand sanitizers will be located throughout the building.

  9. Any shared classroom toys will be frequently cleaned.  

School Day Logistics

  • Students who are home sick, whether from Covid-related quarantine and isolation or other illnesses, may not begin distance learning until the teachers and the student have the ability to obtain necessary materials and create appropriate plans.  Transfering to distance learning requires approval from the nurse and the principal and may take some time to accomplish.

  • Students will be marked as attending school whether attending in person or attending virtually if isolated/quarantined at home. Only when children cannot or do not participate in any of the distance learning will they be marked absent. 

  • Attendance will be taken each morning.  If your student(s) is quarantining or isolating at home and attending school virtually, they will be required to attend homeroom each morning or be marked as absent.  Please be mindful of how your student is feeling, if he/she is sick, they need to remain at home, rest and get well. 

  • Schedules will allow students and staff to easily shift between in-school and distance learning if need be for an affected cohort and/or individual(s). 

  • Desks will be placed as far apart as classroom space will allow, with a spacing of at least 3 feet. Desks will all face the same direction, and will be staggered when possible. 

  • Sharing of materials in the classroom will be kept to a minimum wherever possible.  

  • When sharing does occur, hands will be washed/sanitized before and after the specific activity. Devices such as iPads and Chromebooks will be assigned to specific students. 

  • Masked group singing will resume this year. Whenever possible, students may sing outside unmasked socially distant.

  • No outside food will be brought in by anyone for sharing. This includes food treats for birthdays/holidays. 

Recess and Lunch

Lunch and recess play an important part in the day of both students and staff, and for the 2021-2022 school year we want to maintain as much of a sense of normalcy as possible. 

 

For lunch: