Health & SafEty Protocols

The CDC has highlighted specific mitigation strategies to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. PPS will adhere to the following enhanced protocols and precautions:

What happens if there is an outbreak in our school?

We will communicate promptly to staff, students, and families in the event that local health conditions warrant cohort or school closure or a change in instructional delivery.

In the event of closure, PPS will implement an emergency model of full-time online instruction for all students.


What happens if a student gets sick during the school day?

Students experiencing symptoms will be guided to dedicated isolation areas. Emergency contacts will be notified and will be expected to pick up their student as soon as possible. Students will not be allowed to return to school until they have been cleared by a physician.

How will quarantine situations be handled?

If an individual student is required to quarantine, they will be provided the option to transition into remote learning, if physically able, and those days will not be counted as absences.

If a classroom or multiple classrooms are required to quarantine due to a positive test, impacted students will transition into remote learning during the quarantine period. If a student is physically able to participate, those days will not be counted as absences.

How will spread be prevented? (Contact Tracing)

Trained health department staff work with persons diagnosed with COVID-19 to help them recall everyone who they had close contact with while they were infectious. Health department staff will notify person(s) who may have been exposed (contacts) as quickly as possible to prevent additional spread of the disease.

HYGIENE

  • All students and staff must wash hands or use sanitizing gel upon entering the school, before and after eating, before and after donning or removing a face mask, after using the restroom, before and after use of playgrounds and shared equipment, and upon entering and exiting a school bus.

  • Hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels will be made easily accessible.

  • The number and location of sanitization stations has been increased throughout buildings and classrooms.

  • Signage will be posted throughout the building to encourage appropriate health and safety practices.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

  • Adults must maintain 6 feet of distance from students at all times.

  • Maintaining 3 feet of distance is acceptable between and among elementary and middle school students when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements. In classrooms, 3 feet of distance should be measured from ‘edge of chair to edge of chair’. High school students should maintain 6 feet of physical distancing at all times.

  • 6 feet of physical distancing is required for students while eating breakfast and lunch, as students will be unable to wear masks at that time.

  • Groups in any one area, room, or classroom will not exceed the Governor’s gathering size limits. This will result in changes to many traditional school events such as games and programs.

MASKS / FACE COVERINGS

  • Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering.

  • Students four years old and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth

  • Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus.

  • Face shields may be an alternative for those students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears. Medical documentation is required for anyone who is unable to wear a mask.

  • Students should bring their own face coverings, but PPS will provide face coverings for students without them, as needed.

  • PPS will provide face coverings for all staff and face shields for the appropriate staff members.

  • Please ensure your child’s mask is labeled and be sure to discuss the importance of not sharing masks with others.

  • Face coverings should cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of your face. Cloth face coverings should have multiple layers of cloth. For additional information about face coverings, review U.S. CDC guidance on how to make cloth face coverings, wear and remove masks/face coverings, and wash cloth face coverings.

STABLE COHORTS

  • Small, consistent groups (i.e. pods, teams) of students will be assigned to consistent staff member(s) to minimize exposure and facilitate contact tracing.

  • Elementary schools should aim to keep students in the same group throughout the day for the duration of the academic term/curriculum. Middle and high schools should minimize mixing student groups to the extent feasible.

  • Schools should divide students into small groups that remain with each other throughout each day. Schools should look for ways to isolate cohorts of students and prevent inter-group contact to the extent feasible.

  • Faculty and staff should remain with a specific cohort to the extent possible.

  • When in classrooms, all students should have assigned seating.

  • Schools will adhere to the physical distancing requirements outlined by the Maine DOE Portland Public Schools’ classroom spaces will be laid out to meet the 3-foot or 6-foot distancing requirements as needed.

INCREASED CLEANING

  • Special attention is being placed to disinfect high-touch points including door knobs, countertops, handrails, light switches, restroom fixtures, desks and phones, etc.

  • Restrooms, communal spaces, front desk and lobby areas will be cleaned with increased frequency.

  • EPA-registered chemicals will be used for disinfection.

  • As permitted in Governor Mills executive order 7, the Portland Public Schools will be using powered electrostatic sprayers to more effectively and efficiently disinfect our schools. The cleaning product being dispensed, Vital Oxide, is on the EPA approved COVID-19 list and has an HMIS (Hazardous Materials Identification System) rating of zero.

VENTILATION & OUTDOOR LEARNING

  • Air ventilation will be maximized to promote circulation of outside air into buildings through HVAC systems.

  • Every classroom will have at least one way of bringing in outside air or have an air purification system.

  • Duct ionizers will be installed to clean air as it is being circulated in buildings.

  • Specialized UV light fixtures are being installed in nursing areas and will be installed in most spaces without outside air sources when possible.

  • Some spaces not commonly used for classrooms may be utilized to allow for 6 feet of separation, including cafeterias, gym spaces, and other rooms.

  • Outdoor spaces will be utilized as frequently as possible within the instructional day.

  • The CDC has eased requirements on wearing masks outdoors. PPS will continue to require individuals to wear masks when on school grounds. When eating or drinking, individuals must maintain 6 foot distancing.

FACILITY UTILIZATION & ACCESS

  • Access to facilities is limited to students and essential staff. Parents and other visitors are not allowed to enter the school buildings.

  • Facilities are organized for distinct entrance/exit areas for specific groups of students.

  • Limited facility usage and movement through the facility during the day.

HALLWAYS & COMMON SPACES

  • Use of hallways and common spaces will be staggered to reduce the total number of people in any given space at any one time Face masks must be worn at all times and physical distancing must be observed.

  • Access to facilities is limited to students and essential staff. Parents and other visitors are not allowed to enter the school buildings.

  • Facilities are organized for distinct entrance/exit areas for specific groups of students.

  • Limited facility usage and movement through the facility during the day.

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

Vaccinations are now available at walk-in clinics at the Portland Expo, 239 Park Ave on Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9am- 3pm. Currently, Pfizer vaccines currently are available at this site for anyone 16 years of age and older. You can also make an appointment here. Types of vaccines and availability may change week to week, depending on supply.

Individuals should bring an insurance card if you have one (you can still get a vaccine if you don't have insurance) and an ID (or a piece of mail with your name and address on it). If you are 16 or 17 years old, you also need to bring a parent/guardian OR have a parent/guardian available to be called and give consent.

Other vaccination sites can be found through this here.

More information and multilingual resources can be found here.

Only Pfizer is approved for 16 and 17 year olds.

Use of Lockers

Students will not be using lockers and are discouraged from bringing a backpack to reduce soft surfaces that may harbor germs.

Access to Drinking Water

Drinking fountains are limited to bottle-filling use only. We encourage your child to bring a labeled water bottle to fill throughout the day. Please talk to your child about the importance of not sharing or using another student’s water bottle.

Restrooms

Restrooms will be monitored and cleaned more frequently throughout the day. Students will be assigned a specific restroom to limit use.

Isolation Spaces

Health isolation spaces have been created in each building should a student or staff member begin to experience or display potential COVID-19 symptoms during the course of the school or work day. Be available to pick up your child at school if your child becomes sick during the school day. If it will be difficult for you to pick your child during the school day, have an “emergency plan” ready for another family member, friend or neighbor to dismiss your child from school. Please contact your school to update your child’s profile with this emergency contact information.