COVID-19 Protocols

Telra Institute COVID-19 Protocols

Updated:  February 17, 2022

Context

COVID-19 presents an evolving challenge for schools, businesses, and other institutions. While the disease environment, treatment options, and public health guidance are in flux, we understand families want some clarity on expectations for the new school year so that they can prepare. With that in mind, Telra Institute has established this protocol to guide our school opening plan.

Goals

Our primary goals in establishing this protocol are:

  • Health and safety of our students and staff

  • Continuity of in-person learning in the Telra model

  • Allowing a “normal” school experience as much as possible

These goals naturally involve trade-offs, and our challenge is to find the right balance among these goals as community conditions and data about COVID-19 change.

 
 

Implementation Detail on Key Protocols

Face coverings

  • Telra encourages teachers to use outdoor time to provide students with frequent mask breaks and to enable mask-free time each day. We will use opportunities during recess, lunch, PE, and outdoor learning (as lesson plans and weather permit) to maximize “face” time. 

  • In circumstances where face coverings are required, individuals should follow the mask specification guidance provided by the CDC. i.e., a 2+ ply fabric worn over the nose and mouth.

  • Face coverings are required on school buses by CDC Order.

  • Students with a bona fide medical or behavioral condition that prevents proper mask usage can be exempted from wearing a face covering. Securing an exemption requires the completion of a Telra Face Covering Exemption form, signed by a medical authority, and reviewed and approved by the School Administration Team.

Physical distancing

  • Telra classrooms are configured such that grades K-1 will typically have ~3 ft of spacing while grades 2-3 will have 5-6 ft of spacing.

  • However, children do move around and this distancing cannot be guaranteed at all times, which is why we employ multiple layers of protection

  • Students will be assigned seats in classrooms to minimize exposure to nearby classmates

Ventilation

  • All Telra classrooms are outfitted with HEPA air purifiers capable of 5-6 air changes per hour.

  • Teachers are instructed to crack windows and doors to increase ventilation, but they have the discretion to close them if it interferes with a comfortable classroom environment

Sanitization and hand washing

  • High-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

  • Proper and frequent hand washing will be modeled and encouraged.

  • Water fountains remain, for the time being, closed. We ask all students to pack enough water for the day, including extra if they participate in an afterschool program.

Stay at home if you are sick

  • Students or staff should not come to (and will not be allowed on) campus when they are sick or showing symptoms of being sick. Students or staff who present symptoms consistent with COVID, including congestion, fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea, will be required to leave school until they meet the return to school criteria defined in the NC Strong Schools toolkit:

    • Option 1:  A negative test for COVID-19 or an alternative diagnosis and at least 24 hours since the person had a fever and felt well for at least 24 hours. (A negative antigen test may be used to satisfy this criteria if the person has a low likelihood of COVID-19 infection, e.g., no known or suspected exposure, fully vaccinated, or recent COVID-19 infection.)

    • Option 2:  5 days since the first day of symptoms and at least 24 hours since the person had a fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

  • Telra will require all staff and families to complete an attestation that they understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and that they must inform the School Administration Team if the staff member or student has exhibited these symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19, or been in proximate contact with anyone who has tested positive for or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 5 days.

  • School staff will check student temperatures with a quick forehead scan upon arrival by car or bus. We will monitor this operation and make adjustments if necessary.

Quarantine and return to school

  • Positive individuals:  If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to quarantine away from school. The return to school protocol will be determined based on the StrongSchoolsNC toolkit (or other updated health guidance). Currently, this protocol requires all of the following

    • At least 5 days from the start of your symptoms (or the date of test if you don't have symptoms)

    • and - It has been 24 hours since your fever is completely gone (without using medicine)

    • and - Your symptoms are improving.

  • Exposed individuals

    • In general, an asymptomatic "close contact" of someone who has COVID-19 is required to quarantine for 5 days from the date of last exposure, if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. If the day of last exposure is "Day 0", this means 5 days at home and a return to school on Day 6.

    • However, there are several exemptions that can eliminate the quarantine requirement

      • Vaccine exemption - Individuals with up-to-date vaccinations are exempted from quarantine in the event they are exposed to COVID-19. ("Up-to-date", for those over 18, requires having a booster.)

      • Face covering exemption - Individuals who were wearing masks are exempted from quarantine if a student or staff member tests positive who was also properly masked during what would otherwise be considered a close contact in a school setting.

        • For this reason, it is imperative that all students wear face coverings consistently and properly. COVID-19 cases are inevitable, and we want to minimize the number of children impacted by any quarantines.

      • Prior infection exemption - Individuals who were confirmed to have had (and recovered from) COVID-19​ in the last 90 days are exempted from quarantine in the event they are exposed to COVID-19.

      • Test-to-Stay exemption - Individuals who are participating in the Test to Stay program are exempt from quarantine in the event they are exposed to COVID-19

Close contact

  • Close contact is typically defined as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period

  • In a school environment, children are not considered close contacts if they are properly masked

  • The guidance does not distinguish between indoor and outdoor for these purposes. Individuals in close proximity for extended times, even outdoors, can be considered close contacts.

  • A few common outside-of-school situations are presumptively close contacts:

    • Living in the same house

    • Ridesharing in the same vehicle

    • Playdates without masks

 

COVID-19 Testing

 

Overview

Telra Institute offers no-cost COVID-19 testing for our students and staff. Participation in testing is entirely optional and requires parental or guardian consent, however we recommend families and staff opt-in to the testing program to support our goal of keeping kids in school, in-person, as much as possible. We know that making a COVID-19 testing appointment or finding a home test kit can be harrowing, time-consuming, and expensive. Offering free, on-site testing is one more way Telra strives to serve and protect our community.

Testing Situations

Telra does not have a random screening program. We perform COVID-19 tests only in the following situations:​​

1.  Symptomatic individuals – Students or staff who present symptoms associated with COVID-19 can, in many cases, avoid being required to leave school if they can present a negative test result.

2.  Close contacts – Students identified as close contacts who are not otherwise exempt (due to masking or vaccination) can eliminate quarantine if they participate in the Test to Stay program. 

3.  Family request – Telra will perform a COVID-19 test on a student upon request of their parent or guardian. This may be desired upon return from travel or just for piece of mind following a suspected possible exposure.

Testing Types and Consent Forms

COVID-19 tests are simple, comfortable, and non-invasive. Collections are done with what is called a lower anterior nasal swab, which is a collection swab about the size of a Q-tip that is placed just into the lower part of the nose and swirled around 3 times to collect the sample. This approach is much more comfortable and is not the collection method where the swab is placed deep into the nose. Adults can self-administer the test, but Telra’s young students will require a trained staff member to collect the sample.

Telra uses Rapid Antigen Tests which provide a result in 10-20 minutes 

  • Fill out COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing Consent Form (one form per student)

  • Return the form via email to frontdesk@telra.org

    • Please include COVID-19 testing consent in the email subject line

    • Include the student name(s) in the body of your email

  • We ask parents to complete this consent before you need it. If your child is symptomatic, they will have to pulled out of class and isolated while we call you to ask you to complete this form. Help us keep them learning!

Test To Stay

Telra Institute was one of the first schools in North Carolina to partner with Duke University's ABC Science Collaborative on a pilot of the Test To Stay protocol in Nov 2021. Results after the first six weeks of the study are shared here. This protocol builds off of a randomized trial study published in the Lancet that found that daily testing of school-based contacts was equivalent to self-isolation for control of COVID-19 transmission in school. In Jan 2022, North Carolina approved a broader roll-out of Test to Stay for all schools. 

Protocol – The updated Test to Stay protocol allows individuals who remain symptom-free to remain in school following a close contact, provided they continue to test negative in a series of COVID-19 tests. The duration and frequency of testing differs depending on the type of exposure:

  • In-school or non-household exposures (e.g., visiting a friend, exposure at gymnastics class)

    • Test on Day 1 or day of exposure notification

    • Test again on Days 2, 3, 4, 5

  • Household exposures (e.g., a COVID-positive parent or sibling who lives in the same home) 

    • Test on Day 1 or day of exposure notification

    • Test again on Days 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 following the known exposure

 

Individuals who wish to participate in Test to Stay must complete two consent forms:

  • Rapid Antigen Testing consent

  • Research participation online consent (write in "Telra Institute" where the form asks for a school district). This form must be completed again for spring 2022 even if you already completed one last year.​​

 

 
 

Comments/Questions?

This protocol will continue to be updated as we deploy additional tools and resources to reduce risk and maximize flexibility and resilience of our learning model.

 

If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us directly at frontdesk@telra.org