• (607) 272-3110
  • info@cascadillaschool.org
  • Ithaca, New York, USA

COVID-19 Plans

Reopening Safety Plan 2020-2021

Updated: September 1, 2021

Introduction

Cascadilla School is committed to providing the best education for all its students. To ensure a safe learning environment for students, faculty, and staff, Cascadilla School will follow all the guidance, protocols, and procedures set in place by NYSED, Local and State DOH, and the CDC. We promise to keep our community well informed, educated, and participating in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Below are the significant areas of concern for reopening. Each section addresses the school’s commitment to maintaining proper health standards while providing in-person quality education. 

Reopening

Communication:

Cascadilla School always has and will maintain excellent communication with and between students, families, faculty, and staff. Given our small size, we can contact individuals personally as well as through the following means:

  • Phone (including phone trees for both faculty and students)
  • Mailings
  • Email
  • WeChat and text messaging
  • The Cascadilla School website
  • Facebook
  • Zoom meetings
  • Signage

Families and students will be receiving information about reopening via email and posted to our website. Reminders to read this information will be sent to students and families via text messaging (WeChat) and Facebook with links to the website. 

Reopening information communication will include, but will not be limited to, instructions and training for how to follow COVID-19 protocols safely and correctly. Communications will encourage all to follow CDC and DOH guidelines for health, hygiene, and safety.

Families will have clear and effective ways to connecting with Cascadilla School to ask questions and give feedback.

To coordinate communications, Cascadilla School has assigned Jenna Kendall, Director of Student Services, as coordinator of communications for families and students and faculty and staff.

Capacity

  • Faculty and staff — Maximum 15
  • Student body — Maximum 50
  • Cascadilla School will stager entry and exit times to allow for social distancing (see Operating Activity)
  • Faculty and staff will report to Cascadilla School one week before classes start to participate in orientation and training

PPE and Face Coverings

  • All students, faculty, staff, and other individuals are required to wear a mask, or an appropriate PPE face covering must be used to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when on school grounds and in school facilities.
  • There will be a No-Entry Policy for anyone that does not have an appropriate PPE. This policy will be posted at entry points to follow if a person needs a mask.
  • Cascadilla School will provide a disposable mask to any person that does not have an appropriate face covering.
  • Cascadilla School will provide faculty and staff training in the use and disposal or laundering/disinfection of PPE. Protocols and procedures outlined by the CDC will be utilized in training as well as daily use.
  • Cascadilla School will provide training to all students during orientation in the proper use and disposal or laundering/disinfection of PPE. Protocols and procedures outlined by the CDC will be utilized in training as well as daily use. 
  • Additional PPE will be available for faculty and staff should they require additional coverage beyond the mandatory face covering (gloves, gowns, face shields, goggles, etc.).
  • As N95 respirators become more available, Cascadilla School will encourage and prioritize their use. Training of use and disposal will be made available during orientation. 

Social Distancing and Cohorting

  • 3ft. of physical distance between students, combined with indoor mask-wearing, will be observed unless safety or necessary activity requires a shorter distance.
  • Cohorting, or keeping people together in a small group and having each stay together throughout the entire day, may be used as an alternative method of social distancing.
  • Any time members of the Cascadilla community are less than 3ft. apart from one another, everyone must wear a mask or acceptable face coverings.
  • Tightly confined spaces will be occupied by only one individual at a time unless occupants are wearing face coverings. If occupied by more than one person, all persons will observe the posted occupancy. 
  • Cascadilla School will post social distancing markers using tape or signs that denote 6ft. of spacing in commonly used and other applicable areas.
  • Specific areas in the building have been identified as potential areas of congestion, and protocols for social distancing in these areas will be addressed with faculty and students during orientation.
  • Cascadilla School has established a designated area for pick-ups and deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

Cascadilla School follows all cleaning protocols and procedures set out by NYSED in consultation with the CDC and NYSDOH. 

Cascadilla has and will continue to follow the guidelines outlined in the March 9, 2020, joint memo for NYSED and NYDOH titled “School (PreK-12) Guidance: COVID-19” under Appendix C.

Cascadilla School uses only NYSED, CDC, and EPA-approved cleaning products to clean, sterilize, and disinfect (the list of approved products is in a link at the end of this plan).

Cascadilla School outsources schoolwide cleaning to a local professional cleaning company following all guidelines and procedures mentioned above. 

Between schoolwide cleanings, faculty and staff will assist, sanitize, and disinfect assigned designated areas of the school building during the day. Specifically, teachers and staff will be cleaning desks and chairs with approved cleaning products in between classes.

During orientation, proper handwashing and respiratory hygiene will be taught to all students, faculty, and staff—training materials from CDC. Several handwashing locations are available in the school building, and everyone will be expected to wash their hands upon entering the building.

Hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol or higher will be made available throughout the school in locations where handwashing is not available. 

Restart of Building Operations

Cascadilla School will be conducting extensive cleaning and disinfecting and adding signage to its facilities before the reopening. Key facility components like the heating system are annually inspected and certified by the state. Cascadilla School does not have an HVAC system. We heat the historic building with a boiler furnace system and radiators in each classroom. Cascadilla School is a well-ventilated school, and all classrooms have windows to the outside for fresh air and increased ventilation.

Vulnerable Populations

Cascadilla School’s students, faculty, and staff who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and individuals who may not feel comfortable returning to an in-person education environment, will be accommodated in the way that best fits their needs. Members of our community may request and be granted in-person accommodations like increased social distancing and additional PPEs.

Before and Aftercare

Cascadilla School will not be providing Before or Aftercare to the Cascadilla School Community. Students will arrive on campus no earlier than 30 minutes before the start of school and must leave campus no later than 30 minutes after their last class of the day.

Afterschool activities or extra time for help with schoolwork will be available this year. These events will be scheduled ahead of time, and all rules for mask-wearing and social distancing will be observed.

Extracurriculars

Cascadilla School will be offering several schoolwide extracurricular activities each semester. Students and teachers will follow Cascadilla School’s protocol and procedures for mask-wearing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene during these activities. 

Transportation

Cascadilla School does not provide transportation. Students must be dropped off or picked up by a parent, guardian, or approved persons.

During schoolwide extracurricular activities that take place off-campus, Cascadilla School will provide transportation to students. Masks will be required. According to the CDC, physical distancing is not required on school buses or school vehicles.

Food Services

Cascadilla School does not provide food services or have a cafeteria.

Students are dismissed at 12:30 for a 40-minute lunch break. All students and faculty will be encouraged to bring their lunches and eat outside, observing social distancing. Handwashing will be encouraged before eating.

Sharing of food or beverage is prohibited. Personal items must be clearly labeled.

Initially, students will not be allowed to go to Collegetown to purchase lunch. If this policy changes after careful consideration and risk assessment, permission slips will be sent home.

Cascadilla School will be setting up areas outside for use. When this is not possible, there will be protocols for indoor eating that include social distancing (minimum of 6ft distance), specific locations, and cleaning.

Upon returning to the building, all students will repeat the same protocol for entering the building that they did at 8:30 am, including hand washing.

Mental Health, Behavioral, and Emotional Support Services and Programs

During orientation and throughout the school year, there will be presentations and communications with the entire Cascadilla School community to address all factors that affect our population’s mental and emotional health.

Cascadilla School faculty and staff undergo professional development training to identify mental health, behavioral, and emotional issues that may arise. Clear lines of communication are established to report serious concerns by students, parents, faculty, and staff.

The Ithaca community has many excellent resources and mental health professionals available. Cascadilla School can provide information and referrals to members of our community in need.

Cascadilla School's Daily Operational Activity

  • 8:00 am: Faculty and staff will arrive at the school building, sign in, do self-screeing, handwashing, and report to their classroom. Faculty and staff will double-check classrooms have been cleaned, and all protocols and procedures are in place for the day.
  • 8:30 am: Students will arrive at the school building and follow signage. Within a safe distance, students will be individually screened and temperature tested at the main entrance. Students will immediately be screened and temperature tested at the main entrance. Students will immediately drop cell phones into clean Ziplock bags to be held in the office until lunchtime. They will then immediately wash their hands. Once this procedure is complete, students will report to their first-period class. Procedures for drop-off and dismissal will be sent home before the first day of school and reviewed during orientation. 
  • 9:00 am: Classes begin. Classes are one hour in length. Students will move through the daily schedule moving directly from one class to the next. In the hallway, students will maintain social distancing if necessary. 
  • In classes, students will maintain social distancing and will continuously wear their masks.
  • 10:00 am: Our Cascadilla schedule is yet to be determined. Initially, while students adjust to the prolonged wearing of masks, they will have a ten-minute break in which they can go to an approved designated area to remove their masks if they require a “mask break.” This area will be outside, and members of the faculty and staff will enforce social distancing.
  • 10:30 am: Classes continue hourly until 12:30.
  • 12:30 pm: Students will be dismissed for a 40-minute lunch break (see Food Service Section).
  • 1:10 pm: Students will return to the school building for afternoon classes. The morning entry procedure will be repeated. Classes will start and continue hourly until 3:10.
  • 3:10 pm: Dismissal. Students will collect their belongings and exit the building no later than 3:30 pm. Procedures for dismissal will be sent home before the first day of school and will be gone over again in orientation.
  • 3:30 pm: Faculty and staff will wrap up the day and exit the building no later than 5 pm to allow for cleaning and disinfection.
  • If there are any changes for the next day of school, families will be notified via text, email, and phone call from the communications coordinator.
  • If there are changes for the next day of school, faculty and staff will be notified via text, email, and phone call by the communications coordinator. 

Monitoring for COVID-19

Vaccinations

At Cascadilla School, all faculty and staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For the 2021-2022 school year, Cascadilla School required that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19. Students will be required to show proof of vaccination and submit their proof along with their regular immunization records as are necessary for school attendance.

Screening

Protocols and procedures for mandatory health screenings include temperature checks of students, faculty, and staff, will be adhered to daily. Faculty and staff will utilize screening tools available through the CDC and NYSDOH. Cascaillda School will keep a daily screening log for each member of the Cascadilla School community that enters the building.

No visitors will be allowed on campus until further notice. If it is necessary to have someone enter the building for maintenance or another essential service, they will be required to follow all our safety procedures to entering the building. 

Testing Protocols

In consultation with local health department officials, Cascadilla School requires testing of symptomatic individuals, close contacts, suspected or confirmed individuals, and individuals with recent international travel or travel within a state with the widespread transmission of COVID-19. For information regarding those states, please refer to the New York State Travel Advisory. Any individual in this situation must provide a negative test before returning to campus. Testing will not be conducted by Cascadilla School but by medical professionals in the local community.

Testing Responsibility

The local health department, physician offices, and hospital systems are responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing as needed.

Early Warning Signs

Cascadilla School will consult local, county, state, and acceptable national levels of COVID-19 infections. School officials will daily monitor any changes in the local infection rate. Cascadilla School will look to these establishments for guidance and updated procedures if the local infection rate reaches a concerning level.

Containment of COVID-19

School Administration

School administration will act on protocols for safely caring for a student, faculty, or staff member if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. Appropriate PPEs will be available and used along with containment guidance and procedures as outlined by the CDC, including but not limited to barriers, distancing, and isolated location. 

Local health professionals will be notified. Using the guidance and recommendations of the health professionals, the symptomatic individual will be safely transported from campus. Cascadilla School will do everything in its power to isolate, notify energy contacts and health officials, and facilitate transportation. 

Isolation

Cascadilla School Administrations will immediately separate and isolate individuals who screen positive upon arrival or symptomatic individuals should they become symptomatic while at school.

Cascadilla School will be providing appropriate PPE for school staff caring for the symptomatic individual. Individuals must maintain distance between the individual and the member of the administration.

Cascadilla has identified a classroom removed from the general population that can be used for isolation. Protocols will then be implemented, including new signage and alternative travel routes in the school to distance the general population from this individual further while the individual is assessed and transported off-campus. 

Collection

Cascadilla School will arrange for safe transportation and make pick-up arrangements for symptomatic students, faculty, and staff.

Cascadilla School requires that a parent or legal guardians immediately pick up their student and be instructed that a health care provider see the student. This protocol will be outlined in our reopening communications to parents and students before they arrive at school.

Infected Individuals

Cascadilla School requires that any persons who have tested positive, completed isolation, and have recovered, and are not a risk of transmitting COVID-19, must provide documentation from the attending physician or local health department before returning to attend in-person classes. Discharge from isolation and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department. 

Exposed Individuals

Cascadilla School requires that individuals exposed to the COVID-19 virus follow the guidance of the local health department that oversees tracing for all cases of infection and exposure. When and how to return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department. Protoco may vary between fully vaccinated persons and unvaccinated persons. 

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

Cascadilla School will adhere to the guidelines set forth by DOH and CDC, including strategies for cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas and appropriate notification to occupants of such regions.

Contact Tracing

Cascadilla School will support local health departments in contact tracing efforts.

Communication

Cascadilla School will be sharing protocols and safety measures taken by the school with all relevant parties, including parents/legal guardians, faculty, staff, students, and the local community as required.

Communication coordinators will relay all the necessary information and required steps to the Cascadilla School community practically, professionally, and timely.

Closure Due to COVID-19

If the local or state DOH advises Cascadilla School that reducing in-person education or closing the school is a necessary and prudent course of action, Cascadilla will follow the guidance of health officials in an orderly manner. The details of these decisions will be communicated internally and externally throughout the closing process. 

Resources