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Updated September, 2021
As we enter the 2021-22 School Year, it’s important that all families are aware of TEA’s policies and protocols as of fall, 2021. As always, the information below is decided upon with the foremost intention of keeping our students, faculty, staff and community as safe and as healthy as possible. This resource, our COVID-19 FAQ page, is based on up to date scientific information from the health departments listed below:
1) Center for Disease Control (CDC)
3) Placer County Department of Health
Important Note: Confidentiality is Critical
All personal health information the school will collect and use to make decisions will remain confidential.
General Information and Resources
Where does TEA get its information?
TEA Leadership continues to work with local agencies like the Placer County Health Department as well as follow County, State and CDC Guidelines to create and update its policies and procedures.
CA Department of Public Health
How often does TEA update its policies?
TEA Leadership and COVID TEAm will continue to adapt and iterate throughout the year as new guidance and information becomes available.
Are we subject to Federal, California and Placer County Mandates and Guidelines?
As an independent school, we are not required to follow guidance from the CA Department of Education. However, we are required to follow county and state mandates. Tahoe Expedition Academy is located in Placer County, and adheres to the mandates issued by the Placer County Department of Health.
What precautions is the school taking to address this situation and be as proactive as possible?
- Regular and frequent Covid testing on campus available to all families, faculty and staff.
- Communications from parents to the School regarding exposure and/or positive Covid tests.
- Masks worn when indoors and during school transportation.
- Outdoor classes and activities whenever possible.
- Contact tracing, if/when necessary.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout campus.
- Updated air filtration systems and units for indoor learning.
- Ongoing consultation with medical experts, county health officials, legal, HR and other experts as needed.
- Communication protocols with faculty, staff and families, including ongoing updates to our policies, procedures and protocols as the situation develops.
Information About Cases, Exposure, Contact and Action Steps by the School
What is Case Investigation for COVID?
Case investigation is the process of working with a person (patient) who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to discuss their test result, understand their symptom history and health status, and provide instructions and support for self-isolation and symptom monitoring. This interaction is the first step to review the activity history of the person diagnosed with COVID-19, while infectious, and identifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Will the school conduct a Case Investigation?
Yes. The school will continue to track, investigate and assess any COVID related illnesses. The family of a student exposed to someone with COVID, or assumed to be exposed, will be contacted by an assigned school administrator. The administrator will check on the well-being of the individual exposed, contact trace within the school community, and follow next health steps, as guided by the Placer County Department of Health. Health information shared during this process will remain confidential and will only be shared with the Placer County Department of Health.
Will the school report a positive case to Placer County?
Yes. The school is in ongoing contact with local agencies and will report positive cases to the Placer County Department of Health.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing: Contact tracing is the subsequent identification, monitoring, and support of a confirmed or probable case’s close contacts who have been exposed to, and possibly infected with, the virus. The infected patient’s identity is not discussed with contacts, even if asked. All information shared during this process is confidential and will not be disclosed (except to Placer County Department of Health as required).
Will the school conduct contact tracing?
Yes. The school will continue to do its best to track each person’s whereabouts while on campus via carefully monitoring who is on campus, daily attendance, assigning designated areas for cohorts to utilize and potentially other tools that are being researched.
The school has created contact tracing maps to determine with whom faculty and staff operate in close contact on a day to day basis. This information will help the school do its best to isolate cohorts and cases, so as to keep as much of the school open for in person learning as possible.
What is the most up to date definition of ‘close contact’ with someone who has COVID-19?
A close contact is determined by on or more of the following:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over the course of a 24 hr period.
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils.
- The infected individual sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
Am I considered close contact if I am wearing a mask?
Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a mask while you were around someone with COVID-19. Masks are meant to protect other people in case you are infected, and not to protect you from becoming infected.
If I am in close contact with someone, should I get tested?
While doing the contact tracing after a positive test, the administration will notify anyone who was within close contact of a person testing positive. If you are contacted, you will be directed as to next steps, including testing.
If your test is positive, you should continue to stay home and self-isolate away from others and monitor your health. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and they worsen or become severe, you should seek emergency medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face. Someone from the health department may call you to
- Check on your health,
- Discuss who you have been around, and
- Ask where you have spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others.
If your test is negative and you have symptoms, you should continue to self-quarantine away from others for 10 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. Additional medical consultation and a second test may be needed if your symptoms do not improve.
In the event of a positive case for COVID in the TEA community, what steps will the school take?
The school will conduct a Case Investigation that includes the following steps:
- Communicate directly with anyone in the TEA community suspected to be in close contact with the person who tested positive for COVID to see how they are doing and ask them to follow these steps:
- If in close contact, the individual will be quarantined for 10 days from the date of exposure.
- Get tested and report back the test to the school as soon as possible.
- Communicate with the impacted cohort/s, and if necessary the entire TEA community, regarding the situation, keeping all health information confidential.
- Communicate with the Placer County Department of Health and report the case as well as those in close contact. Placer County Public Health will coordinate to do contact tracing outside of school.
- Contact trace the incident and determine the amount of closure needed at the school and communicate with the community as soon as possible.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: All of these steps are situationally dependent. The school’s COVID Task Team will conduct contact tracing and make a determination as soon as possible. Also, since we are working with Placer County Health Department, who is contact tracing outside of school, this effort may or may not affect the school’s decision to close certain cohorts or the entire campus.
Will the entire school close in person learning if there is one positive COVID case?
- When the school can confidently isolate the case and close contact to a particular cohort, then the school will continue to be open.
- When we need more time to contact trace and the school cannot confidently isolate the positive case and/or those in close contact to a particular cohort, then the school will close in person instruction for a 10 day period OR until we can contact trace and reopen certain cohorts OR until those in close contact report back a negative test, whichever comes first. Those in close contact will need to contact the School to determine if a 10 day quarantine period is necessary.
In the event of positive COVID case or close contact COVID-19 exposure, what should the person do?
Anyone in our community who either tests positive or has had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID should report this information to the school as soon as possible to email@example.com. The name of the individual who tested positive will not be revealed to protect their private health information.
Who needs to quarantine?
People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months and those who are fully vaccinated, see below.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
What if someone in my household has COVID?
Those living in a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID, must report this to school as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those in close contact would need to test before returning to school.
After recovering from COVID-19, when is it safe to be around others and return to school?
The below qualifications must be met in order to physically return to school.
- 10 days of quarantine has passed and
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*
*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation
Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others; however, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.
Note that these recommendations do not apply to persons with severe COVID-19 or with severely weakened immune systems (immunocompromised). These persons should follow the guidance below for “I was severely ill with COVID-19 or have a severely weakened immune system (immunocompromised) due to a health condition or medication. When can I be around others?”
Testing Info and Resources
Does the school mandate testing for students?
When returning from a break such as the summer vacation, fall break, November break or the winter holiday, all students will be tested. The School will offer this option on campus at no cost, and parents preferring to get tested off campus may choose that option as well. The School will also require testing before overnight fieldwork. This is to ensure to the staff and participants on the trip that all precautions have been taken to lead to a safe and successful experience for all. Additionally, as per the CDC recommendation, the school recommends anyone in close contact with a positive COVID case get tested.
Will the school conduct regular testing for community members and/or staff?
Yes, the school is working on conducting testing on campus for community members and non-vaccinated staff every week. Staff will be expected to get tested after breaks and before overnight field work, as well.
Where should I get tested?
In addition to our regular testing schedule and on-demand testing on campus, there are a number of options for our families and staff, including, but not limited to:
How to Protect Yourself and Others
Know How COVID Spreads – The CDC updated COVID transmission data on October 28, 2020, click here details.
COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks.
- Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
- People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
Less common ways COVID-19 can spread
- Under certain circumstances (for example, when people are in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.
- COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
Wash Hands Often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- It’s especially important to wash:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
- Outside your home: Put 3 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
- Stay at least 3 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
Cover Coughs and Sneezes
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and Disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
Monitor Your Health Daily
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
- Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
What physical distancing and other procedures can reduce the risk of disease transmission in schools and other community settings?
- Minimizing the number of people who come into contact with each other.
- Maximizing the physical distance between people.
- Reducing the time that people spend in close proximity to others.
- Measures to minimize dispersion of droplets and aerosols (e.g., using face coverings and covering coughs and sneezes).
*Public health experts have generally recommended that these all be used collectively where possible.
Why is it important to wear a face mask?
Face masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when face masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, hosting learning, adventures and other activities outdoors, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
In line with the State of California requirements for public spaces and gatherings, we must ensure that face masks (cloth, 2 ply minimum, no exhaust valves) or surgical masks are utilized or we must prohibit entry to premises. A face mask may not completely protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
What kind of mask should you wear?
According to the CDC, most people should wear a cloth mask or face coverings.
- Wear masks with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.
- Do not wear masks intended for healthcare workers, like an N95 respirator.
- The CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters or face shields. The CDC is still evaluating them and their effectiveness is unknown.
Are face shields allowed and permitted in lieu of approved masks?
Face shields are not permitted, unless worn with an approved face mask as well. It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks.
Clear face masks (not shields) are available to teachers who need these to ensure proper learning, especially for younger readers learning to read.
How do you wear your face mask correctly?
- Wash your hands before putting on your mask
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
- Make sure you can breathe easily
- CDC does not recommend use of masks or cloth masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent
When are face masks required on campus?
- Everyone must use face masks when inside even if they are vaccinated.
- Students may voluntarily wear a mask in the outdoors as well if they prefer.
- According to the California Department of Health face masks are required when individuals are in the high risk situations found in “Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings”.
- Students excluded from face mask requirements include:
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance.
- Students with special needs who are unable to tolerate a face covering.
- Students excluded from face mask requirements include:
What is the policy when physical distance or mask wearing is breached on campus?
Students indoors and in school-sponsored transportation should be masked at all times. In denser group settings, such as Friday Forum, students should be masked, as well.
What is the policy when students are involved in Fieldwork?
Students scheduled to attend overnight fieldwork need to be tested within 72 hours of departure. This testing is meant to provide confidence to leaders and members of the fieldwork that the trip has begun with all participants Covid- free. During fieldwork, masks will be worn indoors and during transport.
Sickness / Illness / Attendance Policies
What is our student sick policy for Communicable Diseases (including COVID-19)?
- Parents must keep students home when not feeling well and until it is determined that no contagious illness is present.
- If the student or someone in the student’s household has COVID like symptoms, the student must not come to school until it is determined that no contagious illness is present.
- Children may be excluded if the illness prevents the child from participating comfortably or if there is a risk of spread of harmful disease to others.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- New loss of taste or smell
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Note: The CDC has a self checker available. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
What do we expect of parents and families if a case is detected?
- Parents are asked to screen their children each morning for COVID symptoms.
- Parents are asked to contact the school office and email email@example.com when communicable diseases are present in the child or in the immediate household.
- Designated school staff shall report certain communicable diseases to the local health authorities.
What will happen if/when a student gets sick?
If your child falls ill with any symptom during the school day they will be isolated and sent home as a precaution to teachers and other students. The student can return to campus after 24 hrs of being symptom free.
What is the school’s attendance policy for students and families?
Excused absences are valid when a written note is provided by a parent / guardian for up to two consecutive days and with a written doctor’s note after 3 consecutive days of missing school.
We have adjusted our attendance policy to include family members, such that all members of a household would be excused if one member of their household is sick.
Cleaning, Monitoring and Check In Procedures
What cleaning will be done in the classrooms?
Staff and faculty will clean and disinfect spaces they use. Emphasis is placed on frequently touched hard surfaces (e.g., tables, desks, chairs, door handles, light switches, phones, sinks/faucets) and shared objects whenever used (toys, games, art supplies, STEAM equipment, books) pursuant to CDC guidance. All classrooms will be provided with cleaning/disinfecting supplies such as approved cleaning agents, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.
We have hired a full time custodian to improve the frequency and quality of daily cleaning.
What cleaning will be done on campus?
Our campus will be professionally cleaned and disinfected by our school custodian.
Who will be responsible for cleaning the campus?
TEA has hired a full time custodian to conduct frequent cleaning of the campus. Also, teachers and staff will be equipped with ample non-toxic cleaning supplies to conduct frequent cleanings of high touch areas.
Will there be hand sanitizer available for students and staff?
Yes. We will equip each classroom space with hand sanitizer.
Will there be hand washing stations around campus?
No. Each class has designated bathroom facilities for handwashing.
How are we monitoring the health and safety of our people?
If a student does not feel well in school or is showing symptoms of communicable disease, then they should be brought or sent to the office. Parents will be called to pick their child up as soon as possible, and the student will remain isolated until they can be escorted off campus.
Individuals who have been sick may return to campus so long as they have been symptom free for 48 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications).
When a COVID-19 incident occurs, the Head of School will make a decision in conjunction with the Mitigation Team following our Pandemic Prevention Plan to determine steps for contact tracing, communicating to the community and TEA will transition immediately to TEA@Home.
What role will teachers play in monitoring the safety and well-being of students?
If a student or staff experiences difficulty wearing his/her face covering, allow the individual to remove his/her face mask for a short period of time – while outside.
Will the school provide face masks for students and staff who lose their face masks or forget to bring them to school?
All classrooms will be provided with a supply of disposable masks in case a mask breaks or other incident. Each student will be expected to provide their own face masks for daily use. We will include this equipment in the classroom supplies list.
Program Accommodations, Classroom Modifications and Off Campus Activities
How will we support students and families if we have to transition to TEA@Home?
During classes teachers will mainly be using Zoom as our tool to keep distance learners involved during the school day. Other digital tools and platforms are allowed and Google Classroom will be used fully along with Gradebook. We will differentiate screen time based on what is developmentally appropriate. Students will be supported socially/emotionally through intentional crew check ins, weekly mentor check ins, frequent teacher check ins and opportunities to touch base with our student success team. We are not offering hybrid learning this year.
What is the difference between TEA and a childcare operation?
TEA is an accredited school and is required to follow the state and county guidelines set out for schools. These guidelines may be different from a childcare operation.
Is TEA providing childcare for essential workers?
No, TEA is not staffed for or designated as a business that can accommodate childcare.
How will students eat lunch and what measures will be taken to reduce risk of virus low?
- Students are not allowed to share water bottles, food, plates, utensils etc.
- As usual, students will bring their own snack, lunch and water bottle to school.
- We will not have Dine-in-Days. Sharing of foods is strictly prohibited.
What will extracurriculars and after school activities look like during in person learning @ TEA?
This Fall, TEA will offer clubs and athletics with modifications to reduce the risk of spread. Approved offerings included disc golf, mountain biking, xc running, lacrosse, art and Spanish.
We hope to offer a full complement of athletic activities in the winter and spring seasons.
Transportation, Logistics and Resources
What bus protocols are being implemented?
For student safety, we have adopted the following best practices for school transportation:
- The bus shall be disinfected after every trip. There is time built into transportation schedules to allow drivers to disinfect.
- All occupants of the bus will use face coverings at all times.
- All riders will use hand sanitizer on entering the bus.
- To the extent possible, students in the same cohort will be grouped in the same section of the bus.
What if I’m fully vaccinated but have COVID-19 symptoms?
Although the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with COVID-19 is low, any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and tested for SARS-CoV-2 if indicated. The symptomatic fully vaccinated person should inform their healthcare provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.
Do I need to quarantine if I’m fully vaccinated with no COVID-like symptoms following an exposure to a COVID-19 positive person?
Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as their risk of infection is low.
Fully vaccinated people who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated, and inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.
From where has this information been sourced?
For transportation, we have worked over the summer directly with the California Highway Patrol and Department of Motor Vehicles to determine our uses and risk mitigation protocols. For our program, in addition to CDC, State and County Mandates and Guidelines, we have looked at a variety of schools, NAIS, CAL-ISBOA, and used materials when they are in line with our values, policies and procedures. Sage Ridge School, for example, has done a fantastic job communicating about the COVID pandemic, and we utilized some of the information from their site. We have also communicated with Placer County Health Officials as well as our Medical Advisor to vet and ensure our policies, procedures and protocols are in line with best practices.