RCS HEALTH AND SAFETY PLAN
RCS Health and Safety Plan
What To Do When Sick
Posted January 25, 2023
Staff, students, or other persons who are exhibiting symptoms of illness, such as COVID-19 or gastrointestinal illness, must stay home until they are well enough to participate in regular activities.
Self-isolation is no longer required. Staff, students, or other persons can attend school if their symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition (e.g., seasonal allergies) or symptoms have improved enough to where they feel well enough to return to regular activities and any fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g. acetaminophen, ibuprofen).
Communicable Diseases Protocols
Posted: August 25, 2022
The Government of BC and the Ministry of Education have communicated to all BC schools (public and independent), updated guidelines for the 2022-23 school year. RCS has updated our Health and Safety Policy specific to communicable diseases to align with these guidelines.
For more information, please visit the BC Covid-19 Safe Schools website.
Schools will adjust their guidelines as required by the PHO (Public Health Officer).
COVID-19 will continue to circulate in our population, and as long as cases occur within our communities, K-12 students and staff members will continue to be affected. However, BCCDC notes that transmission within K-12 school settings accounts for a minority of COVID-19 cases, even amongst students and staff. Moreover, with high immunization rates in BC and treatment options for people at higher risk of serious disease, public health advises that COVID-19 can be managed as are other serious respiratory infections in the community.
Daily Health Checks
All staff, other adults entering the school, parents, caregivers, and students should not come to school if they are sick and unable to participate fully in routine activities. It is the recommendation of the BCCDC that everyone continue doing a health check.
A health check means a person regularly checking to ensure they (or their child) are not experiencing symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms) that would limit their ability to participate fully in regular activities before coming to school to prevent spread of communicable diseases, such as COVID-19, within school settings.
What to Do When Sick
Staff, students, or other persons who are exhibiting new symptoms of illness (including symptoms of COVID-19 or gastrointestinal illness) must stay home and follow the BCCDC guidance outlined below:
If the person is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms:
- Staff, children, or other persons in the school setting who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the guidance on the BCCDC website as to how long they should self-isolate.
- They can return to school when they no longer need to self-isolate as long as symptoms have improved, and they are well enough to participate in regular activities.
If the person is experiencing other symptoms, isn’t recommended to take a COVID-19 test (most people) or tests negative for COVID-19:
- Staff, children, or other persons can attend school if their symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition (e.g., seasonal allergies) or symptoms have improved enough to where they feel well enough to return to regular activities and their fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen).
What To Do When Sick at School
If a staff member, student, or other person develops symptoms of illness at school and is unable to participate in regular activities, they will be required to go home until their symptoms have improved
The BC Centre for Disease Control states the following:
Vaccines are important tools to protect against many serious communicable diseases. Vaccination protects from serious illness due to COVID-19 and is the most effective way to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our communities. All COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada protect against serious complications, including from the omicron variant. It is important to get all recommended vaccine doses to get the most effective protection against serious cases of COVID-19. People 6 months and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available from the BCCDC website. Students and staff are also encouraged to ensure they are up to date on all recommended vaccines for other communicable diseases, including COVID-19 vaccines
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Cleaning of frequently touched surfaces should occur in line with regular practices and when visibly dirty.
RCS will follow these procedures when cleaning and disinfecting:
- Always wash hands before and after handling shared objects.
- Items and surfaces that a person has placed in their mouths or that have been in contact with bodily fluids should be cleaned as soon as possible and between uses by different people.
- A dishwasher can be used to clean and sanitize dishwasher-safe items if the sanitize setting is used with adequately hot water.
Frequently Touched Surfaces
- Cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces will occur at least once in a 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.
- Frequently touched surfaces are items touched by larger numbers of students and staff. They can include doorknobs, light switches, hand railings, water fountains and toilet handles, as well as shared equipment (e.g., computer keyboards, PE/sports and music equipment), appliances (e.g., microwaves) and service counters (e.g., library circulation desk), and may change from day to day based on utilization
Cleaning & Disinfecting Bodily Fluids
RCS will Follow these procedures when cleaning and disinfecting bodily fluids (e.g., runny nose, vomit, stool, urine):
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning blood or body fluids.
- Wash hands before wearing and after removing gloves.
- Follow regular health and safety procedures and regularly used PPE (e.g., gloves, protective or woven sleeves) for blood and bodily fluids (e.g., toileting, spitting, biting).
RCS will use regular laundering practices.
General Ventilation and Air Circulation
RCS will think of HVAC systems holistically, factoring in both outdoor air supply and filtration. The combination of outdoor air supply and filtration can significantly influence indoor air quality.
RCS will regularly maintain HVAC systems for proper operation. RCS will also consider when possible:
- upgrading filters to finer grain filters such as MERV 13 (if possible)
- increasing air exchanges by adjusting the HVAC system
- managing air distribution through building automation control systems
- where possible, opening windows if weather permits and HVAC system function will not be negatively impacted
When using air conditioners and fans in ventilated spaces, air should be moved from high places to lower places instead of blowing air directly from one person’s breathing zone to another’s. Avoid horizontal cross breezes.
Natural ventilation (operable windows, etc.) and portable HEPA filter units may be considered in regularly occupied classrooms that do not have mechanical ventilation systems.
RCS will facilitate regular opportunities for hand hygiene:
- This can include using portable hand-washing sites and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers containing at least 60% alcohol
- Ensure hand hygiene supplies are always well stocked including soap, paper towels (or air drier) and where appropriate, alcohol-based hand rub with a minimum of 60% alcohol
Parents and staff can teach and reinforce good respiratory etiquette practices among students, including:
- Cough or sneeze into their elbow or a Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene.
- Refrain from touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed
- Refrain from sharing any food, drinks, or unwashed
RCS will use classroom and learning environment configurations and activities that best meet learner needs and preferred educational approaches.
RCS school buses will follow normal seating and onloading/offloading practices.
Buses used for transporting students will be cleaned and disinfected in line with the cleaning and disinfection practices outlined above.
Bus drivers and students will be encouraged to practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
Bus drivers, teachers and students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 may choose to wear masks or face coverings when they are on the bus.
Visitor Access/Community Use
RCS will welcome visitors and the community use of all school facilities following applicable communicable disease prevention measures outlined in this health and safety plan.
Curriculum, Programs and Activities
RCS will implement communicable disease prevention practices (e.g., cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette) specific to the activity.
With the appropriate measures in place, all RCS curriculum, programs and activities will continue, including:
- Field Trips
- Music/Physical & Health Education (PHE)
- Outdoor Education
- Food & Culinary
- Theatre, Film & Dance
- other Shared Equipment Programs
- School Libraries / Learning Commons
Students will be encouraged to practice proper hand hygiene before and after shared equipment use. Equipment that touches the mouth (e.g., instrument mouth pieces, water bottles, utensils) or has been in contact with bodily fluids will not be shared unless cleaned and disinfected in between uses.
Masks and Face Coverings
The decision to wear a mask or face covering is a personal choice for staff, students, and visitors. Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask because they are more comfortable wearing a mask or because they, or someone in their family, may be at higher risk and want to take extra precautions. Some may choose to continue to wear them throughout the school day, or only during specific activities. A person’s choice will be supported and respec