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UNITED LISBON COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN

United Lisbon Covid-19 Response Plan

United Lisbon International School maintains three basic scenarios for providing a high-quality program in the face of issues such as the COVID pandemic, but also other events which might cause partial or full school closures. Our bottom line is to support student learning, provide quality experiences, and support families and students when faced with unforeseen school closures for a variety of reasons. This is considered “a living document”, meaning that it will be updated when the DGS (General Direction of Health) publishes new guidelines or if circumstances change.

In the case of COVID, we follow the Instructions of the Portuguese “Serviço Nacional de Saude” (DGS) and closely watch the guidelines and mandates of the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), WHO and EU for controlling the virus within schools.

Our goals are:

  • Maintaining the health and safety of our community members
  • Maintaining our educational program
  • Developing and implementing a regular and thorough cleaning schedule
  • Promoting practices which reduce the risk of spreading the virus

While we maintain three basic operating modes, we also understand that they will need to be adapted to address specific situations. The three scenarios/modes are:

  • Normal School Operation: This is, of course, our desired one. It involves operating the school under “normal” circumstances, despite situations which warrant monitoring. That means that all of our students and faculty are able to access the school facility. We will, or course, be following all safety precautions advised by local health authorities. Most importantly, school will take place as normal on school grounds.
  • Blended Learning: This combines both on-campus and on-line teaching / learning options to address the potential of some students and/or faculty unable to enter Portugal or access the school facility due to personal circumstances. This scenario will be followed if a group of students (“bubble”) is forced to quarantine while the rest of the school is having normal classes. Any safety precautions put in place for the previous scenario will be implemented in this scenario as well.
  • On-line Learning:  This is our plan should there be a resurgence of COVID or other issue forcing the closure of schools by the Portuguese authorities. Using SeeSaw at the elementary school level and Microsoft Teams at the upper school level, full class and small group meetings will take place, along with individual conferences between students and teachers. Activities will be posted using SeeSaw or Teams, with attention given to the amount of screen time each day, and a balance of online teaching/discussion and offline activities reinforcing learning.

Screening and Temperature Check:

  • All students and faculty should check for symptoms and temperature each day prior coming to school. Please do not bring your child to school should they exhibit any symptoms or have a fever above 37.5o
  • Keep your child at home if there is any concern that they or any family member has been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID or tested positive
  • Students are dropped off and enter their “bubble group”. Parents do not enter campus at any time (except parents from children in EC), except by appointment.
  • Students, faculty, and staff will be checked for temperature prior to entering the school facility
  • An isolation room has been created in case a student exhibits any symptoms or a fever. Students will be placed there, and parents required to immediately pick up their student.
  • COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. However, the most common symptoms are:
    • Fever (37.5oC or higher)
    • dry cough or shortness of breath
    • tiredness or muscle aches
    • loss of taste or smell
    • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • It is very important to reinforce that students and staff must not attend school if they are sick. This will help ensure the safety and wellbeing of all members of the community.

Masks:

  • Faculty are required to wear masks at all times, except when eating (away from students)
  • All students in grades 3 to 9 are required to wear masks when entering/exiting the building, or when in transit within the building
  • In accordance with the DGS (General Direction of Health) instructions, the use of face masks is mandatory for students in 5thGrade (10 years old) and older. Students in grades 5-9 are required to wear masks, covering mouth and nose, at all times unless physical distancing of 2 meters can be maintained in classrooms and common areas
  • Masks may be removed for eating in the cafeteria once students have arrived at their “bubble group” designated eating space
  • Masks are to be worn between the cafeteria and playground, and playground to classroom
  • Masks should also be worn during playground and PE times when distancing may be limited
  • Maintain hygiene of reusable face masks.

Physical distancing
United Lisbon is in the unique and one-time position of having smaller class groups and limited number of grade level sections. Our classrooms are large, and class sizes in year one are relatively small.

To facilitate physical distancing, each stair of the school has been reserved for either up or down flow.

Students are grouped into “bubbles” that have homeroom classes physically distant from each other.

Students maintain their bubbles for lunch and recess areas. Bubbles sit in the cafeteria maintaining distancing, and with a minimum of 4 meters distance between bubbles.

In early childhood and primary the specialist teachers, other than PE, come to the room for their lessons. Each grade level has a homeroom classroom for the core subjects.

Cleaning and disinfection
All classrooms have new ventilation system that is continuously exchanging indoor air with outside air.

Every night the classrooms and common areas are cleaned and disinfected. Tables, desks, and reusable materials are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Classrooms and tables in the cafeteria used by multiple groups are sanitized before the next group enters

Classrooms and common areas are equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant products to wipe down high-contact surfaces during the day.

Other School-Wide Measures

  • Limiting contact with “non bubble” people within the school
  • Lunches and snacks provided by one food service, continually screened for the virus
  • Limiting after school activities provided by teachers who are not school employees
  • Co-curricular activities are offered to individual bubbles.
  • Access to campus is restricted. Parents of students in grades 1-9 may not enter the facility without prior appointment. We encourage parents to have virtual meetings with teachers and administrators.
  • Students arriving must go directly to their homeroom without moving through other parts of the building.
  • Teachers and administrators are helping during arrival and exit times to ensure safety movement within the school.

Should a student or adult on campus exhibit symptoms typical of COVID, or have a fever above 37.5 C, steps taken at the school will include:

  • Being taken to an isolation room in the ground floor
  • Informing the parent (in case of a student) will and asking them to pick up the student immediately
  • Adult being sent home not using public transport
  • The National Health Service as well as the local health authority SNS 24 –808242424will be notified by the parent or the school nurse. The health service will prescribe the COVID test and provide further directions.
  • Any individuals in immediate proximity to the suspected case will be separated from the rest of the school population and preventatively isolated.
  • Cleaning and disinfection after evacuation of the suspected case from the isolation area, in the terms of 014/2020 General Directorate of Health’s (DGS) orientations
  • The school nurse will contact the families and explain the need of keeping student home until symptom / fever free
  • Requiring proof of a negative COVID test result prior to returning to school and allowing the bubble to return to normal activities
  • If a student tests positive, 14 days of home isolation is required, along with a negative result COVID test and a medical clearance are needed prior to returning to school.
  • Individuals who have been in unprotected contact with infected persons must stay home for at least 14 days and must be free of symptoms for at least 48 hours before returning to school.
  • Local health authority may determine additional measures for suspected cases.

We recognize that we are dealing with different cultural norms in terms of aversion to or acceptance of risk, but we all share a common goal: to safeguard our children and the people who care for them.

We are all in this together. Therefore, we will need to rely on parents to assist by:

  • Checking each student as well as all family members for COVID symptoms or fever each day before sending students to school.
  • Reinforcing the same messages and protocols at home that we are enforcing at school.
  • Helping children come to terms with a new normal, which might involve a curtailment of some of the freedoms they have previously enjoyed.
  • Respecting the boundaries, we may need to impose regarding parental access to our campus.
  • Working with us as we build our new United Lisbon community while implementing creative solutions to deliver the best learning environment in difficult circumstances.