Burrell School District hasn’t changed much from its original Health and Safety Plan at the beginning of the year and that’s because it’s working.
“The mitigation efforts that we put into place are serving us very well,” said Angela Dastolfo, RN, BSN, NCSN, MS, Coordinator of Health Services.
She notes that families still have the option of full in-person learning, full virtual learning, or the asynchronous option of eAcademy. In classrooms, desks are as far apart as space allows, and they are cleaned in-between every class change.
Everyone wears a mask all day except to eat lunch, and tables are carefully placed to allow for social distancing. In smaller spaces, like in the middle school, students are spread throughout the hallways to allow for more distance.
“It's not easy,” Dastolfo said. “It is a team effort between the school, the home, and the community. [Our ZIP code] 15068 has had a lot of COVID, but we have been able to keep our schools open. That’s because we are following all of the guidance that comes from the PA Department of Health.”
The PA Department of Health, based on guidance from the CDC, did issue new quarantine recommendations on December 4. These guidelines note that “quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.”
Burrell follows this recommendation by performing daily wellness screenings on all of its students and staff members. Families screen students at home. School nurses follow up on screenings and also do random screening to make sure no one is missed.
“If we know that somebody has been exposed, we pay closer attention and use the school district communication tools as a means between communication between families and nurses for COVID-19 status,” said Dastolfo.
“There’s been great cooperation of all parties involved. Families have been very good at communicating with nurses and providing contract tracing details. The teaching staff has been good at maintaining the mitigation efforts in the classrooms. The custodial staff has been wonderful, they’re always out cleaning handrails on stairwells and any frequently touched surfaces.”
As for how to handle the rest of the year, Dastolfo recommends that everybody stays the course.
“We need everybody wearing their masks, wearing them properly over the nose and mouth,” Dastolfo said “We need families to keep their children home when they have any symptoms at all and to communicate with the nurses in the school for additional guidance. And that is happening.”