Please note: This document may be updated as additional information and resources become available.
Know where to find local information on COVID-19 and local trends of COVID-19 cases and review the CDC guidance for opening schools.
School staff performing essential work over the summer should follow this guidance and any work should align with the DOE priority guidance defining Essential Work and the MEA guidance regarding returning to buildings this summer. Local Associations should work with District Administration to be sure that procedures and plans are in place before any additional people are allowed into school buildings over the summer.
Prior to opening: In addition to following the CDC decision tree for schools, the District must be able to answer “Yes” to each of the following questions:
- What are the current state and local orders related to COVID-19? Can the school community realistically follow them?
- Is there a plan in place to accommodate employees who are at an elevated risk of severe illness? Has this plan been communicated to employees?
- Has the school district secured an adequate and ongoing supply of PPE and other health and safety materials for all staff?
- Will the District screen every person entering upon arrival, and maintain a record of entries and contacts?
- Has the District adopted a policy requiring all visitors and vendors entering buildings to wear PPE?
- Is there a process in place for handling a COVID-19 infection in the building?
Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. What accommodations will be made for staff and visitors in these risk categories? Higher risk employees, according to the CDC, may include:
- Individuals over 60 years of age.
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People with hypertension
- People who are immunocompromised:
- People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
- Inform staff, vendors and community members of COVID-19 policies and procedures in advance, if possible, via website, newsletters, social media assets, newspaper, etc.
- Modify building traffic flow and establish traffic patterns to minimize contact between staff, vendors, and visitors
- Establish a single point of entry to each building.
- Limit activities that require staff and/or visitors to enter within 6 feet of another person, regardless of whether physical barriers are installed.
- Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells. Consider limiting the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designating one directional stairwells, if possible.
- Prominently place posters to remind staff, vendors, and community members regarding face coverings requirements, hand hygiene, and physical distancing.
- Provide services and conduct business by phone or internet to the greatest extent practicable
- Make sure you have a safe process to receive supplies and other deliveries.
- The Employer must provide hand soap, cloth face coverings, gloves, tissues, paper towels, and a designated trash bin to dispose of used items.
- Provide access to hand washing areas for staff, vendors, and community members.
- Provide hand sanitizer (at least 70% alcohol) in multiple locations around ALL work and public spaces including at the entrance of the building.
- Face-to-face staff meetings should be limited and follow current physical distancing recommendations
- Consider staggered work schedules and expanding hours to reduce number of individuals working together at the same time and spread out the contact with members of the public.
- Increase electronic workplace communications (texts, emails, instant messaging, phone calls) with staff to reduce frequent face to face contact.
- Adjust break/mealtimes to limit contact between employees.
- Discourage employees from using colleagues’ phones, desks, workstations, radios, handhelds/wearables, or other office tools and equipment.
- Provide employees training on:
- physical distancing guidelines and expectations
- monitoring personal health
- proper wear, removal, and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- laundering of face coverings and uniforms: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry (CDC)
- cleaning protocols, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies: Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)
Self-Screening and public entry monitoring:
Require that employees and community members answer the following questions to screen for illness EVERY TIME THEY ENTER THE BUILDING and POST a PLACARD on all entryways requiring guests and visitors to complete and submit a written or electronically submitted (via an app, electronic form, etc.) self-assessment before entering:
- Have you had a cough or sore throat?
- Have you had a fever, or do you feel feverish?
- Do you have shortness of breath?
- Do you have a loss of taste or smell?
- Have you been around anyone exhibiting these symptoms within the past 14 days?
- Have you been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
- Are you living with anyone who is sick or quarantined?
- Have you been out of state in the last 14 days?
It is recommended that each school building require a written questionnaire to be completed and monitored by approved staff prior to any employee, student or visitors entering a building. This information should be maintained on a rolling basis
- LAMINATE one form, use erasable ink, photograph the completed form, and erase and sanitize after each use or use individual paper forms and follow safe handling protocols.
- Require the use of gloves while completing the checklist and provide a poster to show how to don and remove gloves and safely discard them or require the use of hand sanitizer – apply, let dry, and proceed with the form.
- OR Designate a staff person to ask the questions above and record the answers from the employee, student or visitor with their contact information.
Physical Distancing, Hand Hygiene, and Face Coverings
- Maintain 6 feet physical distancing for staff, community, and vendors.
- When social distancing is not possible or when an employee requests it, require employees to wear EMPLOYER PROVIDED cloth face coverings or shields.
- Cloth face coverings are intended to prevent transmission.
- The degree to which cloth face coverings, masks, and face shields are recommended is based on proximity and duration of contact. Please see specific CDC guidance.
- Face coverings are not required when individuals are alone in personal offices.
- Practice good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of disease. The best hand hygiene is frequent handwashing. Frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing especially between contact with community members and common items (tools, pens, equipment etc.). HOT WATER IS BEST FOR APPROPRIATE HYGIENE.
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing
Please review the CDC guidance Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility: Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for Employers
In each classroom/work area:
- Provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene such as tissues, no touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 70% alcohol, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.
- Ventilate workspace with open windows and doors to the extent possible.
- Disinfect phones, shared tools, scanning devices, and other shared items regularly.
- Discourage shared use of desks, offices, or phones.
- Require single-use disposable gloves when handling shared files.
- Disinfect classroom surfaces, desks, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures at each class change
- Clean surfaces using soap and water. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
(High touch surfaces include: Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.)
- Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use disinfectant. (EPA-registered household disinfectant is recommended. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used or diluted household bleach if appropriate for the surface.)
- Soft surfaces: For soft surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.
- Launder items (if possible) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely OR disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant.
- Electronics: Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, etc. Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting. If no guidance, use alcohol- based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.
In Case of Illness
- Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Know what to do if staff become symptomatic at the workplace.
- Require employees to stay home and notify workplace administrators when sick (workplaces should provide non-punitive sick leave options to allow staff to stay home when ill).
- Consider conducting thermal temperature checks (optional)
- Review, update, or develop workplace plans to include leave policies for people with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Instruct employees to not come to work with symptoms of COVID-19 like illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- If someone becomes ill on the job or while at your school:
- Have a plan for a room or space where the person can be isolated until transferred to home or health care facility and provide a facemask, if available and tolerated.
- Call 911 for guidance/assistance.
- Notify personnel who came into contact with ill person of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Returning to work
- Refer to the current CDC guidance for employees infected by COVID
- Avoid out of state travel.
- Non-essential business travel should be limited as much as possible. Consult Maine CDC website for current travel advisories.
- Limit staff travel between multiple locations.
Contact your Local Association Representative if you have concerns or questions about any of these recommendations or your safety while you are at work this summer.