Health and Safety

Information was updated Sept. 17 and is subject to change.

A top priority as PSD educates children

District and school leaders continue to work with and follow guidance and orders from public health officials to meet evolving health and safety requirements and to implement district COVID-19 protocols at all schools and sites. Throughout the year, procedures and expectations will be monitored continuously to ensure schools and district buildings are safe environments for everyone. All students, staff and families are expected to follow all health and safety protocols, guidelines and procedures this school year to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Local and state agencies the district works with and follows guidance from include the:

  • Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
  • Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE)
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
  • Colorado Governor's Office
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)2021 Fall Protocols COVID Flier Image

 

2021 fall protocols 

Students are expected to follow the three W’s when in school: Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands.

 

Masks required in PSD schools and buildings

Masks are required for students, staff and visitors in PSD schools and buildings. Masks are not required outdoors. Staff are required to wear masks even when students are not in school.

  • ​Families will be informed of changes or clarifications to this protocol as public health conditions evolve. PSD is committed to re-evaluating its universal masking protocol at least quarterly.
  • More information about masks is below in the Masks/Face Coverings section. 

 

General school health and safety procedures

Masks/Cloth Face Coverings, Requirements and Guidelines

All students are required to bring and wear cloth face coverings when on school grounds, including:

  • In school buildings - entering and existing and during transitions in schools.
  • Riding the bus - Students are not allowed to board a PSD bus without a cloth face covering.

Students may remove their cloth face covering:

  • During approved outdoor “mask breaks,” 
  • When outdoors, following public health guidelines, 
  • When eating and/or drinking while indoors during designated times (e.g., lunch), so long as they remain in their assigned seats and follow physical distancing, and
  • When eating outdoors and following physical distancing 

Student face coverings must comply with District Policy JICA - Student Dress. Students wearing a face covering prohibited by Policy JICA will be notified of the violation, asked to remove the face covering, and be provided with a substitute face covering that meets public health guidance. Habitual or serious violations of Policy JICA may result in more severe disciplinary consequences, including suspension or expulsion, or a transfer to Poudre Global Academy Virtual (PGAV), PSD 100% online option. 

Students are encouraged to keep an additional clean face covering in a plastic/Ziploc bag at school in the event the student’s face covering becomes damaged or dirty during the school day. Disposable cloth face coverings will be made available to students who forget to bring one or are unable to provide one. Students who habitually forget to bring a face covering to school may be subject to a parent conference with the school administrator and further disciplinary measures. 
 

Request for medical mask exemptions

There may be limited and rare circumstances where students with disabilities or certain medical conditions may not be able to wear a cloth face covering. Parents/guardians should notify their school principal if they believe their student is unable to wear a face covering at school. The school principal will engage in a process with the parent/guardian to consider the request and the student’s individual needs.

Specific medical documentation that is signed by a medical provider is necessary before an exemption is considered for approval. If a medical exemption is warranted, the principal and/or other appropriate PSD staff will work together with the parent/guardian to provide options or alternatives to the cloth face covering requirement. 

  • If a student is approved for a medical exemption, social distancing of three feet or more will be implemented. Additionally, if an adult(s) is working in close proximity to the student for support, the adult will wear appropriate PPE such as a mask and may include additional PPE such as gown, gloves, and eye protection.
  • Other potential accommodations or alternatives, depending on the unique circumstance of the request, may include different passing/transition times to maintain distance from other students or attendance at PGAV. 

 

Guidelines for face coverings: 

Face coverings should:

  • Be clean and in good repair.
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secure.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric (i.e. not lace, mesh).
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be on the wearer's face.

Face coverings should not:

  • Have anything hanging off the facial covering that would create a food safety hazard.
  • Have holes or tears. 
  •  Masks should not be shared with others.
  • Have only one layer of fabric. 
  • Made of a mesh material or lace; fabric should not have holes.
     

Decisions around wearing masks and protocols

District and school leaders will continue to work with and follow guidance and orders from public health officials to meet evolving health and safety requirements and to implement district COVID-19 protocols at all schools and sites.

​Families will be informed of changes or clarifications to the mask protocol as public health conditions evolve. PSD is committed to re-evaluating its universal masking protocol at least quarterly.

Air Quality in PSD Schools and FAQs  

Many people have questions about air quality in Poudre School District schools, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is information about PSD's approach to air quality and answers to frequently asked questions.  

PSD's approach to address air quality:

  • Near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSD completed an inventory of ventilation systems across the district. Starting in April 2020, PSD installed MERV-13 filters in all but a few schools MERV-13 filters were installed where possible in order to and prevent the spread of the respiratory droplets that carry COVID-19 viruses. These filters have and will continue to be replaced on a recurring schedule, and they have added benefits beyond those related to COVID-19, including the filtration of smoke. 
  • As of September 2021, the district is working with an outside company to study whether additional air-filtration devices will provide benefit above and beyond the MERV-13-rated filters in most PSD schools. 
  • MERV-13 filters could not be installed in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of and existing systems in those facilities. MERV-13 filters are not typically compatible with older ventilation systems. Instead, ventilation is increased at those schools through use of fans and other means. 
    • To address this challenge, PSD is purchasing air purifiers for classrooms in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of those buildings and incompatability between MERV-13 filters and those building’s older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. 
  • In general, PSD is encouraging all schools to open windows and doors, weather permitting to increase ventilation. 
  • PSD’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems facilitate a full air exchange in classrooms a minimum of four times per hour. Due to this rate of exchange, PSD’s classrooms exceed recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).   


Frequently Asked Questions  

  • Has PSD considered buying air purifiers for the entire district? PSD determined it will not, as of August 2021, buy air purifier systems for all classrooms due to the high cost of such a purchase. Across the district, there are roughly 2,000 teaching spaces. The size of a room dictates the size of air purifier system needed, and air purifiers for the size of many PSD rooms cost about $1,000. They also require ongoing maintenance, including the replacement of filters that cost about $200 to $300. Weighing all the district's one-time and ongoing needs to respond to and prevent the spread of COVID-19, which includes but isn't limited to buying personal protective equipment, costs for staffing, and the academic and mental health supports needed for students, PSD determined that it will not purchase air purifiers for all rooms at this time.

    However, PSD is purchasing air purifiers for classrooms in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of those buildings and incompatability between MERV-13 filters and those building’s older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.  
  • Has PSD monitored air quality in its classrooms to gather data to support decision-making?Yes. PSD has monitored air volume and air changes per hour in many but not all district classrooms, as of fall 2021. Music classrooms, where there is known potential for high-risk activities such as band and choice, as defined by public health officials, were monitored in the 2020-21 school year.  
  • Can I buy an air purification system for my child’s classroom or school?Schools may not operate retail air cleaners that were not purchased by the district. As of September 2021, the district is working with an outside company to study whether additional air-filtration devices will provide benefit above and beyond the MERV-13-rated filters in most PSD schools. 

Other Safety Actions (hand washing, school safety features)

  • Hand washing and frequent cleaning practices will continue.
    • Handwashing is preferred over hand sanitizer.
    • Hand hygiene will happen upon arrival, after using the bathroom, before eating, after recess or completing activities that involved shared materials.
    • Students may bring their own hand lotion from home.  
  • Schools will have a designated precautionary room or area to separate anyone who exhibits COVID-like symptoms.
  • Hand-sanitizer and touchless water bottle-filling stations have been installed in schools. Water fountains were approved for use again by the health department in summer 2021.
  • All employees are trained on health and safety protocols.

Social Distancing and Interactions

  • Where possible, three feet of distance between students and desks will be followed.
  • Small groups consisting of different cohorts are allowed, provided three feet of distance is maintained.
  • Seating charts will be maintained for all classrooms and small groups. 
  • Cohort mixing during outside recess is acceptable.

Cleaning and Disinfection

PSD follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas
  • Utilize targeted disinfecting. Wide-area electrostatic spray use (i.e. the hydrostatic backpacks) is not recommended by the CDC. Backpack sprayers will be used intermittently (e.g. in areas where a positive COVID-19 case was, outbreaks, etc.) but not as a primary means of cleaning.
  • Disinfect in classrooms with known positives and in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms

Transportation

Masks are required on PSD buses: In accordance with federal law and CDPHE’s executive order, everyone must wear a mask on buses regardless of vaccination status. 

Read more on CDPHE’s site >> 

In accordance with federal law and CDPHE’s executive order, everyone must still wear a mask on buses regardless of vaccination status. 

Bus health and safety protocols:

  • Windows and vents on the bus are left open or slightly open at all times for improved ventilation.
  • Buses are disinfected daily and between routes

Students who use PSD buses are expected to follow these protocols: 

  • Students must wear masks or face coverings at all times when on the bus. Students are not permitted to board a PSD bus without a face covering/mask. 
  • Parents are expected to take their child’s temperature and symptom screen before leaving the house and to ensure that an ill student does not ride the bus.
  • Students entering the bus will load the bus from the rear to the front of the bus and unload the school bus from the front of the bus to the back when possible.
  • Students are not permitted to eat or drink on the bus.

For information about busing, visit the Transportation web page.
 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Schools and Sites

PPE items include:   

  • Face shields
  • Chalk-based spray paint and a marking stick for outdoor social distancing marking 
  • Small hand sanitizer bottles for classrooms 
  • One “Under the Weather” tent to isolate individuals who become symptomatic during the day 
  • Gloves in a variety of sizes 
  • Disposable non-surgical masks for adults and children 
  • Spray bottles of sanitizer for each classroom and microfiber towels 
  • Social distancing stickers 
  • Push broom sweepers for each classroom 
  • PSD health and safety signage in English and Spanish 

 

 

Procedures for meals, specific classes, school events and athletics

Information posted is subject to change. Updated information for the 2021-22 school year will be posted when available. 

Meals at Schools

Eating meals at school:

  • Students may eat in the cafeteria utilizing both sides of a table in a staggered manner that maintains 3 feet of distance.
  • Seating charts for lunch will be maintained.
  • When weather permits, outdoor eating is encouraged in a physically-distanced manner. 

Performing Arts

Please contact your school or teacher with any questions. 


Performing Arts performances and events  

  • Masks and bell covers are not required for auditions or performances, indoors or outdoors, when occurring after school hours. 
  • For indoor performances during the school day, masks must be worn, and bell-covers must be used. 
  •  When not singing or playing an instrument during an indoors performance or audition, masks are required. 
  • Masks and bell covers are not required for outdoor practices. 
  • Masks and bell covers are required for all indoor practices and rehearsals. 
  • A seating/standing chart must be maintained. 
  • Maximize distance between performers as much as possible within a performance setting. 
  •  When unmasked, those within 6 feet of a positive case may receive quarantine orders, whether inside or outside. 
  • Stage performers should be 25 feet from audience members, 12 feet from audience if outdoors. 


Pep and marching band 

  • Masks and bell covers are not required for auditions or games, whether indoors or outdoors, after hours. 
  • When not singing or playing an instrument during an indoors game or audition, masks are required. 
  • Masks and bell covers are not required for outdoor practices. 
  • Masks and bell covers are required for all indoor practices and rehearsals. 
  • For indoor performances during the school day, masks must be worn, and bell-covers must be used. 
  • Bands are allowed to sit in the stands. 
  • A seating/standing chart must be maintained. 
  • When unmasked, those within 6 feet of a positive case may receive quarantine orders, whether inside or outside. 
  • Maintain 12 feet of separation from spectators. 

 

Theaters and musicals  

  • Masks are not required for auditions or performances, indoors or outdoors. 
  • Masks are not required for outdoor practices. 
  • Masks are required for all indoor practices and rehearsals. 
  • For indoor performances during the school day, masks must be worn. 
  • A seating/standing chart must be maintained. 
  • Maximize distance between performers as much as possible within a performance setting. 
  • When unmasked, those within 6 feet of a positive case may receive quarantine orders whether inside or outside. 
  • Stage performers should be 25 feet from audiences if indoors and 12 feet if outdoors. 


String performances  

  • Students should be in masks for performances and rehearsals (because they are not singing). 
  • Maximize distance between performers as much as possible within a performance setting. 


State performing arts events  

  • Students/staff from other districts follow PSD protocols if PSD is hosting. If students attend events elsewhere, we expect that they will follow PSD protocols where the hosting district’s guidelines are less stringent.  
  • Mask-free for auditions and performances 
  • Any audience should be distanced (25 feet for performance). 
  • If we allow overnight travel to state performing arts events, no more than two students are allowed per room; students should wear masks when they are not sleeping. 
  • Maximize distance between performers as much as possible within a performance setting. 

Science Labs and Art Classes 

Updates posted when available. 

  • Educators will limit the use of shared science and art equipment that would be shared among students during a class period.
  • To the extent possible, adequate supplies will be provided to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (art and lab supplies, equipment, etc.). Equipment will be cleaned/disinfected between uses.
  • Individualized digital tools will be utilized, when possible, to lessen students sharing equipment.   

Physical Education Classes

Updates posted when available. 

  • Classes will be conducted in a way that students and staff can respect physical distancing guidelines, when possible, classes will be conducted in outdoor spaces. 
  • Educators will limit the use of shared PE equipment and eliminate the use of equipment that would be passed among students during a class period.
  • When used, equipment that is touched or handled by a student will be cleaned/disinfected between students/classes.
  • Students will be advised to dress in clothes that are appropriate for participation in PE to reduce or eliminate the need for lockers.

Athletics

  • Masks: 
    • Athletes wear masks during practice and on the sidelines, except gymnastics and cheerleading during stunts
    • No masks during games, competitions or performances
    • Spectators are required to wear masks indoors, but not outdoors, per PSD protocol
  • Testing: PSD is still considering the possibility of required weekly testing for athletes, but no decision has been made yet.
  • Digital tickets: PSD is shifting to digital tickets (contactless and for faster delivery) for football, volleyball, basketball and wrestling at the comprehensive high schools 
     
  • PSD follows guidelines provided by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) regarding team sports and activities.
  • All parents/students participating in athletics will sign a release indicating their understanding of the health and safety risks and protocols in place to reduce the exposure to the coronavirus.
  • In compliance with any health orders, it's possible that students may be asked to withdraw from participating in athletics.
  • All sport season timelines and athletic schedules are tentative and subject to change based on CHSAA, State of Colorado, Larimer County and PSD guidelines and restrictions. All athletic teams/programs could be subject to calendar and schedule modifications that will impact scheduled opponent’s, length of the sport season, locations, dates, times and total number of scheduled games and practices.

 

    


 

   

 

Monitoring symptoms, quarantine, PSD protocols for COVID and vaccinations for youth

Please visit the PSD Protocols web page for complete information. 

What happens if a student has symptoms while in class? What happens when there is an outbreak?

What does it look like if a child in my student’s class starts experiencing symptoms?  Students who don't feel well will go to the Health Office to visit with staff. If it is determined that their symptoms meet the CDPHE Return to Learn guidance for going home, the parent or guardian will be contacted to pick up the child from school. Health Office staff will consult with the parent to determine when a student can return based on Return to Learn guidance.   

Flowsheet for Addressing Symptoms at School 

What happens when there is an outbreak?  

When outbreaks occur, PSD works with LCDHE to determine the appropriate response. This could include additional distancing, testing, contact tracing and quarantining. 

For more information, please visit the PSD Protocols COVID-19 web page, PSD Contact Tracing and Investigations web page and the PSD COVID-19 Data and School Information web page. 

Staff symptom monitoring and protocols

Employees are expected to self-monitor for symptoms and remain at home if they are ill or are experiencing COVID symptoms. Staff no longer need to submit an online daily symptom check before entering a PSD building.

Visit the PSD Protocols for COVID web page to see all protocols and learn about state and county guidance and what happens when there is a COVID-19 case in PSD.

Student Symptom Monitoring

Student symptom and temperature checks are the responsibility of parents/guardians and should be done prior to students getting on the bus or entering school.

Visit the PSD Protocols for COVID web page to see all protocols and learn about state and county guidance and what happens when there is a COVID case in PSD.

PSD Volunteers and Community Partners - Symptom Screening, Masks and COVID Protocols

Parents, volunteers and school visitors

  • Masks are required for all visitors to PSD schools and buildings.
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms is still required before entering a building. 

Volunteer duties at schools may be designed to limit the potential for close contact as much as possible. Examples of volunteer opportunities:  

  • Traffic (drop-off and pick-up, crosswalk duty) and recess monitoring outside 
  • Grading, shelving library books or making copies while distanced from others

Reporting if you are exposed to or have COVID

If you volunteer and experience one of the following, please report it to the school as quickly as possible so the COVID Response Team can follow district protocols for cases:  

  • You are identified as a close contact of an individual who tested positive or probable for COVID-19, or 
  • You test positive for or are considered probable for COVID-19 yourself. 
  • Go to the PSD Protocols for COVID-19 web page for information about returning to school. 


Community Partners: 

  • To ensure safety for community partners, students and staff, community partners must complete and submit this planning form for approval by PSD prior to scheduling their event. School COVID-19 Response Teams will review all submissions prior to approval.
  • Principals have the authority to make the final decision about which community partners are allowed in their school, following all established protocols. 
  • Those with questions should contact their respective assistant superintendent, who may consult with the Central Office COVID-19 Response Team.

    earn more about volunteer COVID protocols and symptom screening on the PSD Volunteers web page

    What does it mean to self monitor? Can students and staff go to school if they don't feel well? 

    What does it mean to self-monitor?  Student symptoms and temperature checks are the responsibility of parents/guardians and should be done prior to students getting on the bus or entering school. Staff members are also expected to complete symptom and temperature check before entering a PSD facility or bus.  

    Anyone experiencing symptoms (runny nose, new or worsening cough, fever, etc.) should stay home. PSD will strictly follow CDPHE’s updated Return to Learn guidance

    Can students and staff go to school if they do not feel well? No. Staff and students must stay home if they have any symptoms. Parents/guardians should call the school health office to consult about their return based on the CDPHE updated Return to Learn guidance. 

    COVID testing

    COVID Vaccinations

    Vaccinations are not required, but highly encouraged, for those who are eligible. 

    For more information, please visit the PSD COVID Vaccination web page or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment website. 

    Why can PSD share my or my student’s information with the public health department for a contact tracing investigation. Doesn’t the district need my consent first?

    PSD works with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment to support the agency’s contact tracing investigations, a critical tool to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our schools and community. Part of that work involves identifying close contacts (individuals who were within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more). For investigations, our two organizations exchange information to support this important health safety work. Yes  

    The following is posted publicly on the district’s COVID-19 Protocols web page, under the section labeled “How PSD and LCDHE work together on contact tracing and investigations”: “PSD may need to share some student information requested by LCDHE staff completing contact tracing investigations that includes but isn't limited to parent/guardian name, parent/guardian phone number(s), student name, student grade, student school of attendance, and student date of birth. PSD will never share parent/guardian or student social security numbers. All disclosures will be made in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”

     District Policy JRA/JRC - Student Records / Release of Information on Students states PSD may disclose student education records or personally identifiable information without written consent of the parent/guardian or eligible students under several circumstances, including if the disclosure is in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of the information disclosed is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons. 

    Additionally, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “Schools are required to disclose names of people with COVID-19 to public health authorities. Schools should not disclose the name(s) of students, teachers or staff members with COVID-19 to other teachers, staff, students, parents, the media, or anyone outside public health. Public health staff are trained in how to manage health information in order to protect your privacy. They will never share your information without your permission, and they store records securely and keep them safe.” 

    The district has and will continue to train and build the capacity of our school and department COVID-19 Response Teams. We work collectively to provide only the necessary information to support a contact tracing investigation, which includes parent/guardian contact information and the student information listed above. The health department uses this information to issue quarantine orders to those individuals identified as close contacts, as a result of the investigation.  

    LCDHE quarantine orders are always issued in the name of either the confirmed case or identified close contacts. They are not issued in someone else’s name (even if they are a minor) because they apply only to the directly impacted individual. 

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