Background & Scope
All policies below are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Pennsylvania Department of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the 2021-2022 school year. Mastery will continue to update these policies as public health guidance evolves.
Where there has been any gray area identified in the aforementioned policies, the working group has elected to lean toward more rigorous policy in the best interest of safety. For more information call 215-866-9000.
This plan addresses seven primary areas:
Mastery is proud to be able to adopt state of the art safety measures – no other public school system in our region has yet made this investment in the health & safety of students, staff, and families. By testing weekly, we can find infections early, isolate them, prevent outbreaks and keep kids in school. In fact, recent research shows that once a week testing in schools can lead to a 60+% reduction in infection transmission.
In 2021-2022 we are proud to partner with the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Operation Expanded Testing. Through this partnership our COVID tests for all ages will be a gentle shallow nasal swab – two will be taken from each individual in case retesting is needed. If there is a positive result, you will be contacted as soon as possible. We will not be billing your insurance or seeking payment from you. Of course, we will not test students without their parents’ consent. Fully vaccinated staff can be excluded from weekly screening per current CDC guidance. Through a partnership with CHOP’s Project ACE-IT we have also been provided with rapid tests to use for diagnostic testing and when needed safe returns from quarantines.
Pooling—sometimes referred to as pool testing or pooled testing—means combining samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Each individual will submit two samples. One sample is combined with others in a pool for testing. The second is held in reserve in case a positive result is found from a pool and individual retesting is needed.
If a pooled test result is negative, then all the samples can be presumed negative with the single test. In other words, all of the people who provided samples can be assumed to test negative for COVID-19.
If the pooled test result is positive, the second sample taken will be tested individually. Test results will be available within 24 hours of arrival at the lab.
The school administrator and nurse will have access to results from each pool about 48 hours after the test is administered.
Since we are utilizing pool testing, you will not receive an individualized report for your child unless a positive individual result is found. This is to respect the privacy of the others that are within your child’s pool. You will only be notified by a clinician if your child tests positive for COVID-19.
Everyone age 12 and up is now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. While Mastery is not requiring anyone to take the vaccine at this time, we do recommend that families consider it. The vaccine is free – just bring a single proof of residency (a utility bill is fine.) Pfizer requires 2 doses and when you come in for your first shot you can discuss when to get your second shot. We recommend using https://www.vaccines.gov/ to find convenient vaccination locations.
Facilities Preparation & Supplies
- Each school’s front desk must have a plastic barrier in place. (Schools have discretion on assigning the number of staff at the desk based on social distancing protocols).
- The front desk shall have a hand sanitizer station.
- The front desk shall have a computer dedicated for guest sign-in.
Hand Sanitizer Stations
- Every school will have at least one hand sanitizer station near every entrance door into the school.
The following signage will be posted in every school to remind students, staff, and families about safety protocols and practices:
- Visitor Entry Requirements
- Student Admission Procedures
- Masks Required in Hallways
- Social Distancing Reminders
- School Quarantine Designated Area
- Handwashing Procedures
- Floor tape (Social Distancing cues)
- Doors should be propped open as often as possible.
- Stairwell doors cannot be propped due to fire safety compliance.
- Schools should consider propping doors open in bathrooms where doing so won’t compromise student privacy.
- Doors used for student entry and exit should be propped open during morning arrival and dismissal.
- Classroom doors should remain open.
Desk Spacing & Positioning
- All desks must be 3 feet apart to the maximum extent possible and when feasible face the front of the room.
- Each classroom should have disinfectant wipes or spray.
- Teachers are not expected to deep clean their classroom, however, they are expected to disinfect using a spray bottle or wipes.
- All classroom cleaning supplies must be kept locked and out of reach of students.
Hand Sanitizer Station
- Each classroom shall have hand sanitizer available (bottle or wall mounted units).
Ventilation – Classrooms with Central Air Conditioning
- CDC approved air filters will be used centrally (these filters help prevent COVID-19 transmission).
- Air filters will be changed monthly.
- The Building Engineer will run the HVAC system at maximum outside airflow for 1-2 hours before and after occupied times.
Ventilation – Non-central Air Classrooms
- Increased fresh air ventilation helps prevent virus transmission.
- Therefore, teachers shall run the air conditioner unit in their room to circulate fresh air into the classroom continuously.
- The air conditioning unit should be placed in a mode that enables fresh air to be pumped into the room (rather than recirculated air).
- If a teacher is uncertain how to do so, contact the building engineer.
- Teachers can also open windows at their discretion.
- The CDC’s current guidance is that surfaces are not a viable transmission route for covid. High traffic areas such as doorknobs will be cleaned on an accelerated cleaning schedule, but shared materials such as math manipulatives can be used.
- Schools should order a three month (13 weeks) supply of mask, gloves, plastic face barriers,
hand sanitizer, and disinfectant supplies.
It is everyone’s responsibility to vigilantly maintain a clean and safe environment for each school.
- Mastery has increased the size of cleaning crews at each of its schools.
- Additional day porters will at least double the regular allocation.
- High touch point spaces (bathrooms, doors, water fountains, front desk counter tops) will be disinfected frequently throughout the school day by the day porters.
- Day porters will seek to clean high touch areas every 1-2 hours.
- The cleaning crew shall conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire school building each evening.
- The Building Engineer will utilize a check-off list of each area to review routine cleaning.
- Each evening, the cleaning crew shall be directed to check-off each area that was
- Busses should be disinfected prior to departing the bus yard at the start of route, to be completed by the bus vendor.
- Busses should be disinfected immediately upon the end of the bus route, to be completed by the bus vendor.
Policies for Students, Staff, Parents, Visitors
Masks / Face Coverings
- All students, staff and guests must wear a mask indoors to enter the building and throughout the day except for breaks (Ex. eating, drinking, where proper social distance is maintained and if one is alone in a space). Please use a common sense approach to managing masks and breaks.
- The front desk will provide a mask to guests if they do not have one.
- Parents are asked to send students to school with a mask.
- A “Mask or “Face covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face.
- Neck gaiters, bandannas and similar masks are not acceptable. Masks with only one layer of fabric are not acceptable. Acceptable masks include but are not limited to:
- Cloth masks with two or more layers
- Surgical masks with three layers
- N95 or KN95 masks with no valves (masks with valves to release air are not protective according to CDC)
- Teachers can provide breaks at least once per classroom period of no more than 10 minutes, ideally with as much space as possible between students.
Student Non-Compliance with Social Distancing/Mask Use
- Schools should devote time at the beginning of the school year to ensuring students
understand the science behind why mask wearing and social distancing is important.
- Schools should establish a normed language for reminding members of the school community to follow safety guidelines.
- If a student is not complying with social distancing or wearing a mask, staff should remind the student of the safety expectation and rationale.
- Staff should model what it looks like to meet expectations (Ex.: demonstrate proper mask
wearing and/or outreached arms to show what appropriate social distancing looks like).
- If a student is not wearing a mask, the student should be provided with a mask.
- Staff should provide positive reinforcement to student for accepting the redirection and
complying with the health and safety guidance.
- Students who refuse to comply with social distancing and/or mask wearing,
despite all of the above steps taking place, should be referred to the dean.
- Field trips, larger meetings and extracurriculars can be scheduled in line with current safety guidance from Mastery, NJDOH and Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
- All visitors to our school offices are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment.
- Principals have the discretion to accept non-scheduled visitors or to request that those visitors return after making an appointment.
- Visitors/guest should self-monitor themselves prior to coming into our schools and avoid visiting our buildings if they are sick or have a temperature of 100.5.
- Front desk will request guests put on their mask, or if not available, supply a mask.
- Guest will use the hand sanitizer station placed at the front desk.
- Visitors/Guests will register on a computer placed at the front desk.
- The front desk staff shall wipe down the computer with disinfectant wipes after each use.
- All visitors will need to wear a visitor’s badge and should present identification to our front desk staff members.
- All visitors to our school offices must remain in the front office or lobby area until your meeting time and the person that you are visiting escorts you to another location.
- All visitors must practice social distancing. All in-person meetings must allow participants to socially distance themselves at least 6 feet from another person or person(s).
- If staff members have recently traveled or will travel to any locations (including airport layovers or cruises), please follow the state of PA, NJ’s and CDC’s travel restriction guidance. Employees should please reconsider any non-essential, non-work related travel.
All external service providers will comply with all Mastery health and safety policies. Schools should
make every effort to limit or reduce the use of external providers in order to limit possible exposure.
Examples of external service providers include:
- Substitute Services
- TSS & STS Staff
- Other External Staff
Policies for Persons Presumed to be Symptomatic
- Schools will have full-time nurses present during the school day.
- The school nurse shall wear full PPE.
Students Presenting Symptoms
- A student presenting symptoms or who presents with a temperature shall be sent to the school nurse.
- If the nurse is not immediately available to assess the student, the nurse may send to the student to wait in the School Quarantine Area.
School Quarantine Area (SQA)
- Each school shall designate a School Quarantine Area.
- SQA area should be labeled with signage.
- Social distancing should be practiced in the SQA.
- The aide and/or nurse shall wipe down the SQA the after each student has left the area.
- When calling parents for pick up, nurse will follow the pickup policy listed in the Mastery Health Guide.
- Child MUST be picked up ASAP, they should not travel home alone.
- The student shall wait in the SQA while awaiting pick-up.
Non-compliant Parent Procedure (Refusal to pick up Sick Child)
- Staff should contact the student’s family and/or emergency contact, reiterating the current school policy on sick student being picked up.
- Sick student must be monitored by a nurse or other designated staff person until parent/emergency contact arrives.
and Transition Policies
Self-Monitoring at Home
- Families must monitor their students daily before sending them to school.
- If your child has symptoms of COVID they must stay home. They can return to school after a rapid or PCR test clears them.
Multiple Entries for Students
- Schools should utilize multiple entrances to the school to limit the overcrowding of students
and comply with social distancing guidelines.
- Note that for the 2021-2022 school year, it is no longer recommended to do temperature checks upon entry – so Mastery schools will not be taking temperatures at the door.
- Recess may be scheduled.
- Students shall be instructed to play while following social distancing guidelines and remaining six feet apart.
Transitions Between Classes
- Schools should minimize any student movement or transitions between classrooms and student spaces; when possible, teachers instead of students are recommended to transition to their assigned classes and spaces.
NOTE: Middle schools and high schools will likely not be able to organize their student cohorts to minimize transitions. Schools shall organize transitions as best circumstances allow.
- Students shall use the water hydration stations located on each floor.
- Students shall use water bottles, rather than drink from the fountain individually.
- Student shall be given a Mastery water bottle.
- Our policies are designed to limit bathroom usage and ensure close contact does not happen within bathrooms.
Bathroom Passes & Procedure
- Schools are expected to develop a disposable or touchless hall passes system to
- Lockers cannot be used by students.
- Schools should develop a plan that supports storing student belongings.
- Parent must monitor their student daily before boarding the school bus. If the student has a temperature of 100.5 (or higher) or are feeling ill (sore throat, coughs, or troubled breathing) they must stay home.
Capacity & Seating
- Bus seating & capacity will be set by the bus company following current public health guidelines.
- Riders of the same household are permitted to sit together.
- All students, aides, and drivers must wear masks while on the bus, at all times. Students will not be permitted to board or ride the bus without a mask covering both nose and mouth.
Food & Drink
- Consumption of food or beverages is prohibited on bus.
- Parents and non-student bus riders are not permitted to board the bus for any reason.
Boarding & Seat Assignments
- Student riders must board the bus one at a time with as much distancing as possible.
- Windows should be down (open), weather permitting, to allow for air circulation.
- Busses should be disinfected prior to departing the bus yard at the start of route,
to be completed by the bus vendor.
- Busses should be disinfected immediately upon the end of the bus route, to be
completed by the bus vendor.
- Staff member must be stationed outside to receive students off the bus.
- Students must remain 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing when getting off the bus and walking into the building.
Student Dismissal & Boarding of Bus
- Schools shall create a dismissal procedure where students remain in classrooms until their bus is called or wait in another suitable area (or outside) such that students are not in large groups and maintain social distancing.
- Students shouldmaintain 6 feet distancing in halls.
- Board bus from back to front.
Student SEPTA Riders
- Student SEPTA riders must adhere to state guidance for riding public transportation.
- Students will be encouraged to maintain social distancing and required to wear a mask while using SEPTA.
Routine COVID Testing & Return to School Policies
- Research shows that once a week testing in schools can lead to a 60+% reduction in infection transmission. For school year 2021-22, we will continue to offer free, weekly testing to all students and staff.
- If there is a positive result, staff or parents will be contacted by a clinician as soon as possible. Mastery will not bill insurance or seek payment.
- Students may return to school in-person whether they opt-in for testing or not, but we strongly encourage all families to consider the benefits of having their student tested at school. By testing weekly, infections can be found early, patients can be isolated and we can prevent outbreaks and keep kids in school. Students will not be tested without their parents’ consent.
- Questions regarding testing can be sent via email to [email protected]
Mastery follows the Department of Health requirements for determining when students and staff can return to school in person if they test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
For quarantines due to confirmed positive exposure that are asymptomatic
- Masks and/or barriers do not preclude an individual from being identified as a close contact to a COVID-19 case.
- If the exposure happened in a Mastery classroom:
- No additional quarantines are required unless close contact (15 mins of contact over a 24 hour period with less than 6’ of distance) was achieved.
- If two students were at least 3 feet apart and consistently had masks on, this does not qualify as a close contact according to the CDC
- In PA, if the exposure happened outside of a Mastery classroom to an unvaccinated individual, there are three ways to complete quarantine:
- For a test to stay quarantine, the individual can take 3 rapid tests on nonconsecutive days in the 7 days following exposure. As long as the test is negative the individual can remain at school.
- The individual can pause in-person instruction for a full 10 days if testing is refused.
- The individual can test out early from the 10 day quarantine:
- Quarantine for a full 7 days following their exposure (exposure day is day 0).
- Seek testing (PCR or rapid) up to 48 hours before they plan to end quarantine, but still must quarantine for a full 7 days, no matter what.
- As long as no symptoms occurred during quarantine, and as long as test results come back negative, contacts can leave quarantine after day 7.
- Must wear a mask and monitor for symptoms for a full 14 days.
- In NJ only, the state requires that quarantine period varies based on the level of community transmission (which is Yellow as of 8/5/21):
- High (orange), exposed close contacts should be excluded from school for 14 days.
- Moderate or Low (yellow or green), exposed close contacts should be excluded from school for 10 days (or 7 days with negative test results collected at 5-7 days).
- Schools serving medically complex or other high-risk individuals should use a 14-day exclusion period for the exclusion of these individuals or those who work closely with them when identified as close contacts throughout all risk levels.
If a staff member or student tests positive:
- Staff member or student guardian will receive a call to share the result and identify anyone outside of the classroom who may have been exposed.
- Anyone who was within six feet for 15 minutes or more over the course of a 24-hour period is considered exposed and must quarantine.
- Mastery will not share any identifying information with the community.
Return to School Policy after testing positive:
Students or staff members who test positive for COVID-19, or are diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider based on their symptoms, should stay at home until all of these criteria are met:
- It has been at least 10 days since the individual first had symptoms; AND
- It has been at least three days since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND
- It has been at least three days since the individual’s symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.
In summary, any individual who tests positive will need to isolate for 10 days and can return to school once it has been 72 hours since their symptoms have resolved and they are fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine. If the individual is asymptomatic they can return 10 days after the positive test result.
If staff or students are exposed to someone who tests positive:
- Families will receive a call and supports from the school
- Staff will receive a call from their direct supervisor or another Mastery leader.
Return to school policy after exposure:
We will consider someone to have been exposed if they spent at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period within six feet of someone who has tested positive.
Fully vaccinated staff members or individuals who have tested positive for COVID in the last 90 days do not need to quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19 in both NJ and PA.