Health and Safety
As students and staff return for the 2023-2024 school year, MSD remains committed to keeping our children and staff in school, learning without interruption to the greatest extent possible. MSD will continue to emphasize best practices, which include hand-washing and encouraging students and staff to stay home when sick, no matter how mild the symptoms may be. Mitigation measures shall remain, including increased sanitization and improved ventilation with open windows and air purifiers in classrooms, residence halls, and common areas.
MSD will continue to utilize available resources and multi-layered mitigation strategies to align with federal and state requirements and expectations of keeping schools open for in-person learning. Masking and distancing may be implemented should a change in local health metrics require additional strategies.
The Maryland State Board of Education has rescinded its statewide mask mandate in school buildings and voted to allow local schools to decide whether to require masks in their buildings at their discretion. Health professionals still recommend face coverings as an effective mitigation strategy.
MSD encourages mask use as a precautionary measure; any student, staff, or visitor may choose to wear a mask at school at any community risk level. Families and staff are empowered to make decisions for themselves and their families, and their choice will be respected.
Masking requirements in the MSD student health center will be determined and adjusted based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations. The community transmission level and individual's exposure/symptoms will be considered. School nurses, staff, students, and visitors will mask accordingly.
As part of the IEP process, considerations shall be given regarding students who have challenges wearing masks due to their age, disability, medical, or other need. Should the need to require masking arise again, the IEP team shall refer to the Tips to Support Mask-Wearing for Students with Disabilities resource to guide discussions on how to document needs and strategies for students on an individual basis.
MSD's main offices will continue to have masks available to all students and staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask recommendations offer information that people can use for extra protection with cloth and disposable masks.
Masking may temporarily be recommended or required in cohort outbreaks, large gatherings, high-risk situations, or when there is an increased transmission within the school or community.
Hand sanitizers are available at every school building and placed throughout all entry points, classrooms, hallways, and offices. Sanitizing stations are plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. Employees are strongly encouraged to wash their hands and clean shared spaces and appliances before and after use. Cleaning wipes are also available for use throughout all departments.
As MSD returns to pre-pandemic capacity and spacing, MSD will consider physical distancing when planning social experiences for students and staff and utilize outdoor spaces and virtual platforms as needed.
Signage is posted throughout campus to promote the significance of proper handwashing to stop the spread of germs, social distancing, and the use of face coverings.
In alignment with Maryland Governor's Office and the Maryland State Department of Health, MSD encourages all eligible students, staff, and families to remain up to date with recommended vaccinations to protect and help reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases. MSD will continue to share resources to vaccination clinics and testing centers with staff and families.
Remaining healthy is an important strategy against preventing the spread of COVID-19. Parents/guardians have a When to Keep Your Child Home resource guide as a reminder and guideline of when their child should stay home. Parents/guardians are responsible for screening their child for symptoms of infectious illnesses such as COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and gastrointestinal infections before sending their child to school. School staff are required to self-check for infectious illness symptoms before entering a school building. The school shall check body temperatures within departments as students and staff arrive. Students will continue to be observed throughout the day for any signs of infectious illness symptoms.
As defined by the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Department of Education, COVID-19 symptoms are any ONE of the following: fever of 100.4º or higher, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea or vomiting, new onset of severe headache (especially with fever), or new loss of taste or smell. For persons with chronic conditions such as asthma, the symptoms should represent a change from baseline.
If a student’s temperature reads 99.4º or higher and/or COVID-19-like symptoms are observed at any time during the school day, or in residence halls, the student will be sent to the Student Health Center to be assessed further by a school nurse. If the school nurse determines the student is showing COVID-19-like symptoms, a parent/guardian will be contacted for immediate pick-up. The school nurse will also notify the student’s assistant principal and the principal’s office.
Designated isolation rooms for students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school are located primarily in the Student Health Center.
Students and staff must stay home when experiencing any possible symptoms of COVID-19.
CONTACT TRACING, QUARANTINE, AND COMMUNICATING POSITIVE CASES
As masks are now optional in MSD's school buildings, contact tracing is no longer feasible. Individuals who test positive are still required to report their positive cases to the school as soon as possible. MSD administrators shall follow the K-12 School and Childcare COVID-19 Guidance provided by the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education for individuals in the classroom who show COVID-19-like symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19.
Parents/guardians must notify school leadership or a school nurse if their child is exposed to COVID-19 or receives a positive test result. When the school administration is made aware of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, MSD will inform and work with local health departments to support their contact tracing efforts.
MSD shall communicate laboratory-confirmed positive cases with the community through a COVID-19 Dashboard on our website at www.msd.edu/covid19dashboard/. The data dashboard will provide families, staff, and community members with a summary of student and staff COVID-19 positive cases broken down by campus, instructional level, department, and office within each campus.
The decision to quarantine a student/group of students may vary; MSD will refer to the Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19 guidance developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to guide our decision. MSD’s main offices shall send a letter to those who need to quarantine.