Phase 2: Returning to In Person Safely

Phased School Reopening FAQ

Effective September 9, when the first phase of students returned to our schools, new health and safety measures have been added to our school routines to help keep students, staff, and their families safe. 

If our schools are to remain open for in person instruction, it is critical for everyone to monitor their health and remain home if they feel unwell. As a District, we will assume that every child who gets on a bus or walks into a school building is feeling well and not displaying any symptoms of illness. We will also assume that they have not traveled to an area requiring quarantine or have been knowingly exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part in keeping our community healthy.

Traveling Outside Pennsylvania

Updated March 1, 2021
Monday, March 1, Governor Wolf eliminated the out-of-state travel restrictions which previously required Pennsylvanians who were returning from visiting another state or country to provide a negative COVID-19 test or to quarantine for 10-14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania. The West Shore S.D. will follow this guidance and adjust our procedures accordingly.

Monitoring Student and Staff Health

When should a student stay home?
The most important thing families can do to help limit the spread of COVID-19 is to check their children daily for any symptoms and keep them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, that indicates a possible illness that may decrease the student’s
ability to learn and also put them at risk for spreading illness to others. Please check your child for these symptoms or signs of potential exposure:

  • Temperature 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/ asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
  • Had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person with confirmed COVID-19
  • Traveled to or lived in an area where the local, Tribal, territorial, or state health department is reporting large numbers of COVID-19 cases as described in the Community Mitigation Framework.
  • Live in areas of high community transmission (as described in the Community Mitigation Framework) while the school remains open

When in doubt, families should take extra care and keep their child home from school. A safe school is always more important than a perfect attendance record.

Will temperature screenings be conducted?
While not conducted by the District on-site, temperature screenings by families and staff should be part of your self-assessment or self-screening prior to arriving to school each day.

What if someone is sick at school?
If a student is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms, they will be sent to the nurse’s office. The school nurse will utilize PDE School Symptom Screening Tool assess status. If exhibiting one or more of the symptoms from group A or two or more in group B the student’s family will be notified to pick up the student, and the student will be taken to the designated isolation containment area until parent arrives. Staff will be directed to go home by a building administrator. It is important to remember that although students may be experiencing symptoms, they are not automatically presumed positive for COVID-19. 

Please refer to the COVID-19 Symptomatic Student or Staff Process Flow Chart for details on when students demonstrating symptoms may return to school. 

What if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
In our experience to this point, we have learned of positive cases directly through families or staff. Thus it is important that families and staff communicate with school officials. Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who shows signs or symptoms of illness should stay home. Quarantined staff and students may only return upon a medical clearance letter or a negative COVID-19 test. 

Click here for information on what families and staff can expect if the West Shore School District is notified of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case by parents, staff, or the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). Any individual who tests positive is to follow the directive of the Department of Health regarding isolation and returning to school.  

What will influence the District's decision to close a school?
  • PA DOH COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard
  • Input from local healthcare providers
  • Local context (number of school-related cases, number of COVID-19 related absences, most recent trend for community spread, etc.)
  • Experience of other local, regional, and national schools
  • Updated guidance and recommendations
If a decision is made to close a school or schools, the District will notify families as soon as possible so they can plan for their children being home. Distance Learning 2.0 will be put into place until it is safe to return.

Safety Protocols

student with mask
Will students and staff be required to wear masks? 
Updated November 17, 2020
Yes. On Tuesday, November 17, Secretary Levine issued an Order related to the wearing of masks (click here). This Order applies to all District facilities and on school buses. The updated Mask Order removed face shields from the definition of a face covering and instead, considers them an “alternative to a face covering.” Therefore, face shields will no longer be acceptable without appropriate documentation.

Staff – If a staff member believes he/she has a medical or mental health condition or disability that would permit him/her to wear an alternative to a face covering (i.e. a face shield), please reach out to Mrs. Suzanne Tabachini, Director of Human Resources, to begin the one-on-one process of determining if an accommodation is appropriate.

Students – PDE recommends any documentation provided be in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA of such medical or mental health condition or disability. If your child has a medical or mental health condition or disability that you believe would permit an alternative to a face covering (i.e. a face shield), and it has not already been documented, please reach out to your school principal to discuss your child’s need for accommodation.

For both staff and students, it is important to note that a doctor’s note alone is not sufficient documentation to exempt an individual from wearing a mask or to wear a face shield.

Parents are encouraged to provide a face covering for their child that the child is comfortable wearing. Masks will be available on buses and at buildings in case of need. Refusal to wear a mask will result in a student being sent home.

Will students be given time to wash their hands?
Students and staff will be encouraged to wash hands frequently, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Additional reinforcement and monitoring of hand washing will be provided prior to lunch and upon return from breakfast, snack, and recess. Classrooms at all levels without sinks will be provided with hand sanitizer bottles. Hand sanitizing products will be readily available in common areas and students may bring their own sanitizers to school as well.

Additionally, posters will be placed around the school to remind students and staff to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible, avoid contact with people who are sick, cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into their upper sleeve or elbow, and wash their hands after coughing and sneezing.

Will the District require social distancing?
Yes. Our goal is to maintain a minimum of 3-6 feet of distance in all areas. We will follow new procedures to promote physical social distance to the greatest extent possible on buses, in the hallways, cafeteria, and classrooms.  To assist with staggering use of communal spaces, students are encouraged to use backpacks. Lockers will be assigned upon request.

How will classrooms look?
Desk and tables will be spaced to accommodate as much physical distancing as possible. The District will actively reduce the number of high touch areas and limit shared materials, objects, and supplies. Weather permitting, outdoor learning spaces will be utilized where available.

How will lunch and recess work?
Physical distancing will occur to the greatest extent possible. Buildings may create additional dining spaces, including outside spaces where appropriate. Time for hand washing will be provided prior to lunch and upon return from breakfast and recess. Hand sanitizing stations will be available, and high touch areas including tables, sanitized after each lunch.

Will transportation be provided for students?
Yes. We will have students sit with families and social distance to the extent possible. Buses will be disinfected at the conclusion of the morning, mid-day, afternoon, and extracurricular runs. This includes handrails, bus seats, and other high touch surfaces. Windows and roof hatches will be open whenever possible for increased ventilation

How will music, libraries, and assemblies look?
The music department is developing a plan for socially distanced ensemble rehearsals. They will also establish procedures to clean/sanitize equipment and spaces following each use as appropriate. Unfortunately, assemblies, grade level events, etc. will be discontinued. This will be reevaluated as the COVID-19 landscape changes. 

What will these changes mean for assemblies, family nights, extra-curricular activities, and other events? 
Currently these events will not occur. This will be reevaluated as the COVID-19 landscape changes.  The District has approved an Athletic Health and Safety Plan for resuming sports during COVID-19.

Can parents and others still volunteer at school?
Unfortunately, no. The District will work to significantly reduce outside visitors unless it is critical for a student’s needs.

Cleaning and Ventilation

How does the District clean and disinfect?
The District will be using products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2. Occupied areas (offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, workrooms, bathrooms, etc.) and high-touch surfaces (water fountains, door handles, light switches, etc.) will be cleaned each day while students and/or staff are present. Safe cleaning products (ex. soap and water) for use on individual or shared learning spaces and materials will be provided for staff and student use throughout the day/between class transitions. 

Will any adjustments be made to school ventilation?
Adjustments to HVAC systems and building procedures will be made, where possible, to increase the amount of fresh air exchange. HVAC systems will run for a minimum of two hours prior to and following occupancy in all spaces per ASHRAE, EPA, and CDC guidance. HEPA filtration (air scrubbers) will be provided  for each nurse’s office, as recommended by ASHRAE.

CDC Daily Screening Tool

Parents, please complete the CDC's daily home screening checklist (available as a PDF file below) each morning before your child leaves for school. If your child has any of the symptoms listed, that indicates a possible illness that may decrease their ability to learn and also put them at risk for spreading illness to others.

COVID-19 Resources


Click here to watch a video from the CDC on identifying COVID-19 symptoms. 

In order to promote and sustain an awareness of COVID-19 symptoms, all staff and students should conduct a self-assessment before arriving to school each day.

Parents will be asked to support school health by keeping children home if they are sick or symptomatic. As a result, increased levels of absenteeism is expected and the enforcement of attendance policies will be adapted as needed to ensure personal and public health is the clear priority. 

What can I do to prevent COVID-19?
You can reduce your risk by taking simple steps, including the following.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Parent Resources

What resources can I use to talk about COVID-19 with my child?
As adults, it’s important we remain calm with our actions and words, and share factual information. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is critical. One of the ways we can protect our community from illness is to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.

Here are some resources you may use to talk about COVID-19 with children:

Mental Health Supports

mental health
Students will be returning and some may have experienced trauma, anxiety, loneliness and fear. A team of teachers and administrators will work to provide resources for staff, students, and families to help with the transition back to school and staff will engage in training prior to the first student day and throughout the school year.
The District will utilize CASEL as the foundation for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and The Resilient Educator for trauma informed practices. Elementary schools have morning meetings each day and middle and high schools have an advisory period where staff and students can work through the transition. Counselors are available for both students and staff and there will be a variety of messages and activities for students and staff to de-stress.
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