Safe Return To School Plan
Our top priority in all decisions is the health, safety, and well-being of our students, employees, and school communities. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, the district adheres to all COVID-19 health measures required by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and consults with Wake County Public Health to determine what precautions are needed in our schools to keep our students, staff, and community healthy in a safe and welcoming environment.
North Carolinians age 12 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov for more information and to find a free vaccination site in your area.
Stay home when sick.
You may not enter a WCPSS facility if you have been:
- Instructed to quarantine
- Sick or experiencing any of these symptoms of illness
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When students can return to school
Students who are not feeling well but do not have one of the COVID-19 symptoms listed above may return to school 24 hours after they have a fever (without the use of fever reducing medicine) AND they have felt well for 24 hours. The health care provider is not required to detail the specifics of an alternate diagnosis.
View wcpss.net/WhenToReturn for requirements to return after a COVID-19 diagnosis, exposure, or symptoms.
As announced on August 3, 2021 face coverings are required for all elementary, middle and high school students when indoors and on school-provided transportation, including school buses, activity buses, and vendor transportation.
For Pre-K students, face coverings are strongly recommended for ages 3-4 and required for age 5.
Face coverings are optional outdoors.
Face coverings are also required for visitors when indoors at schools or district buildings, including visitors to Board of Education and committee meetings.
If your student cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability, you may request a face covering accommodation by submitting an Accommodation Request Form to your student’s principal. The form requires medical certification, which must be completed and signed by a licensed health care provider. Students are required to wear a face covering in school while their request is under review. Regional program students and students with accommodations in 2020-21 are not required to request an accommodation for 2021-22.
- Face Covering Accommodation Request Form for Students
- Requisito de protector facial contra el COVID-19 Formulario de solicitud de adaptaciones para los estudiantes
Face coverings should:
- Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps
- Be reasonably comfortable
- Allow you to breathe easily
- Be secured safely over nose, mouth and under your chin and completely cover your nose and mouth
- Be changed if it becomes soiled or wet
- Cloth face coverings should be washed as needed
- Wash face covering in washing machine using soap and water
- Dry face covering in a dryer or allow to air dry
Face coverings should not:
- Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape.
- be constructed of mesh fabric.
Layering Face Coverings
You have the option of layering face coverings, but it is not required.
The CDC provides two options for layering face coverings:
- Use a cloth face covering that has multiple layers of fabric. All cloth face coverings provided by DPI and WCPSS to students and staff have multiple layers.
- Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth face covering. The cloth face covering should push the edges of the disposable mask against your face.
Surgical masks are acceptable.
Do not combine two disposable masks. Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
Do not combine a KN95 mask with any other mask. Only use one KN95 mask at a time.
Gaiters and Face Shields
If you choose to wear a gaiter, choose one with two layers, or fold it to make two layers.
Face shields are not a replacement for face coverings, but should be worn in addition to a face covering. Face shields protect the wearer from droplets getting into their eyes. Since a face shield is open at one end, a face shield by itself will not protect the wearer from breathing in germs or from spreading germs if the wearer is infected and doesn’t know it. A face shield is available for any employee who wants or needs one.
Schools are taking actions to ensure all campus spaces and buildings support health and safety, including asking students to maintain as much physical distance as possible. Signs and spacing markers are posted throughout our campuses to remind everyone of physical-distancing practices.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. The CDC recommends everyone wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Teachers will be teaching handwashing in the classroom, incorporating handwashing breaks into the school day, and reinforcing handwashing during key times throughout the school day such as before eating, using the restroom, and touching shared objects.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, individuals are encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
If your child has sensitivities to hand sanitizer, communicate this with your child’s teachers so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean their hands.
Eating on Campus
NC Department of Health and Human Services does not provide health guidance about students eating in schools. To help reduce the number of students required to quarantine if a classmate becomes infected, most elementary and middle schools will group students when moving from the classroom to the cafeteria and use assigned seating during meals. Students may talk during meal times.
Buildings will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day and every evening. Disinfecting supplies will be provided to each classroom.
Well-maintained HVAC systems are also important in reducing risks associated with COVID-19. Our school’s HVAC systems have been designed in accordance with the NC mechanical code and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations. In response to the pandemic, we’ve upgraded to MERV 13 air filters, an important risk-reduction strategy for COVID-19.
COVID-19 reporting and contact tracing
Even with thorough measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on school campuses, anyone in the community could be exposed to the virus through everyday interactions on-campus or off-campus. To assist with maintaining a healthy school community, we ask students, employees, and visitors to notify your school as soon as possible if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
WCPSS is required to report cases of COVID-19 to Wake County Public Health and work with them to conduct contact tracing, which will determine who, if anyone, will need to quarantine. Only individuals who had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to quarantine. WCPSS and Wake County Public Health will work together to ensure that individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 are notified.
- View reported COVID-19 cases on WCPSS campuses.
- View COVID-19 clusters on WCPSS campuses.
- Learn more about reporting and contact tracing.
Only essential visitors will be allowed on school campuses in an effort to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Visitors will be required to strictly follow all health measures, including wearing face coverings indoors and physical distancing as much as possible.
Because of COVID-19, students are not allowed to drink directly from water fountains. Students may bring a refillable water bottle.