School Closure and Safety Drills

School Closures

 

There are various scenarios in which a school with two or more confirmed positive COVID-19 cases may need to close. In collaboration with the health experts at DOHMH, there are five possible conclusions that may lead to partial or full closure during an investigation and after an investigation. While intermittent school closures may be disruptive to the school community, the CDC acknowledges that these types of closures are an essential part of limiting exposure to COVID-19. All schools in New York City will need to close if the percentage of positive tests are equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. In the event a school needs to close due to two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19, that decision will be made by NYC Test + Trace Corps, and Central NYCDOE will inform the principal and superintendent and will communicate the closure decision to the entire school community.

 

School Safety Drills

 

NYCDOE is taking active measures to protect both the health and safety of students and staff. Currently, all schools must implement a General Response Protocol (GRP) which provides specific directions that staff and students will take in an emergency that may result in an evacuation, shelter-in or lockdown. In accordance with New York State Education Law Section 807, all schools are required to conduct four lockdown drills per year in addition to eight evacuation drills, for a total of twelve emergency drills annually. All cohorts of students will engage in all safety drills throughout the year. 

 

Soft or hard lockdowns: In an actual soft or hard lockdown emergency, the priority is the immediate safety of all students and staff, and complying with physical distancing guidelines may not be possible nor should it be a priority. During a soft or hard lockdown drill, students remain in their seats, however, in an actual soft or hard lockdown, students and staff must move to the safe corner and remain there until it is safe to move. 

  • Students will be instructed to remain in their seats and remain silent instead of moving to the safe corner. 

  • All instruction and movement within the classroom must cease until the lockdown drill has been lifted. Health and Safety 2020–2021 NYC Schools Reopening Plan 25 

  • All classrooms and offices must be provided with materials to cover the door visual panel during a lockdown drill (i.e. shade, poster board, non-flammable fabric, etc.) 

  • In larger spaces such as the gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, or library, students will be required to remain seated and silent until the drill has ended. 

  • All physical distancing guidelines must be followed as students and staff re-enter the building after any evacuation drill or emergency. 

Evacuation drills:  In an actual soft or hard lockdown emergency, the priority is the immediate safety of all students and staff, and complying with physical distancing guidelines may not be possible nor should it be a priority. As mentioned above, during a soft or hard lockdown drill, students remain in their seats, however, in an actual soft or hard lockdown, students and staff must move to the safe corner and remain there until it is safe to move. All physical distancing guidelines must be followed as students and staff re-enter the building after any evacuation drill or emergency. 

  • Students will evacuate in stages by floor at different times of the day. For example, 1st floor and basement in the AM; 2nd floor in the PM.

  • Students should be instructed to maintain a distance of six feet to comply with physical distancing guidelines and to wear a face covering. 

  • While younger students may be accustomed to exiting the building holding hands, for now this must be discouraged. 

  • Older students should be instructed to refrain from congregating in groups and remain in single file lines while exiting the building. 

  • Expand street staging areas which might require extending current staging area to an additional block from the school. It is best to assess this in advance and inform all staff of any changes that must be made.

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It is the policy of PS 131 and the Department of Education (DOE) to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment that is free from harassment, intimidation and/or bullying and from discrimination on account of actual or perceived race, color, citizenship/immigration status, religion, creed, national origin, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or weight.  For more information, you may contact the PS 131 Respect For All (RFA) Liaisons, Ms. Cristina Marzello or Ms. Amy Fox.


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