COVID-19 Information

Introduction

Thank you to all the families for choosing MCS for another year. As we continue down this road that began in the Spring of 2020, a number of our policies have been revised to increase safety on campus. We thank you for your cooperation in seeing that our campus is safe as it can possibly be during these difficult times. These policies and procedures will be followed whenever students, staff, and visitors to campus.

MCS students have benefitted from in-person learning, and keeping children and staff in school, while decreasing risk of transmission of COVID-19. Please know that all of our pandemic policies and protocols are subject to possible change. We will continue to review updates from the CDC and NCDHHS. If you have any questions, please contact admin@mcsjax.org or call the office at (910)-938-3826.

As the pandemic evolves, the most effective and appropriate public health tools for the current phase of the pandemic should be applied. The best tools right now are: Getting vaccinated and boosted, masking if you have COVID-19 or after an exposure, testing after exposure, ventilating areas, and staying home when sick.

Transmission and Symptoms of COVID-19

COVID-19 is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. It is thought that the virus may spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose or mouth, causing infection. Therefore, personal prevention practices (such as handwashing and staying home when sick) and environmental cleaning and disinfection are important principles that are covered in this document. Fortunately, there are a number of actions that K-12 and child care programs can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.


Symptoms* may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of specific and non-specific symptoms of COVID-19. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19 (but this list does not include all possible symptoms):

  • Fever** or chills

  • New cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

*People with COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms from no symptoms and mild to severe illness. Even people with no or mild symptoms can spread the virus. Children with COVID-19 may not initially present with fever and cough as often as adult patients.

**Fever is determined by a measured temperature of 100.4 °F or greater, or feels warm to the touch, or says they have recently felt feverish.

For more complete and up-to-date information about transmission, please go to: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019

Those considered to be high risk from exposure to COVID-19:

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant

  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)

  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

  • Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there is limited data and information about the impact of underlying medical conditions and whether they increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to severe)

  • Cerebrovascular disease (affect blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Hypertension or blood pressure

  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines

  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia

  • Liver disease

  • Pregnancy

  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)

  • Smoking

  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

What Happens if Someone Tests Positive or Has Symptoms for COVID-19?

Isolation at the Facility:

If it is identified that a person in the facility has tested positive for COVID-19, the individual will be immediately isolated. The person and any family members on campus will be sent home as soon as possible.


While waiting for a child who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 to be picked up, a caregiver will stay with the child in a place isolated from others and if possible ventilated to outside air. If possible, allow for air flow throughout the room where the child is waiting by opening windows or doors to the outside. The caregiver will remain at a safe distance from the child (preferably 6 feet or more) while maintaining visual supervision. The caregiver will wear a cloth face covering or a surgical mask. If the child is over the age of two and can tolerate a face covering, the child should also wear a cloth face covering or a surgical mask.


Notification to Local Health Departments:

  • MCS will Immediately notify the local health department of a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case(s) among children and/or staff (as required by NCGS 130A-136).

  • Local public health officials may continue requiring exclusion of exposed students and staff if determined necessary based on local conditions.

Notification of Individuals Potentially Exposed to COVID-19:

Although exclusion from school is no longer recommended following an exposure, when a COVID-19 case is identified in the school setting:

  • MCS will notify potentially exposed students or staff so they can receive appropriate public health guidance, testing, and access to any resources that might be needed; notification can be on an individual, group, or school basis.

Those who have been notified of an exposure should:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the last known exposure, unless an exemption to face covering applies.

  • Be tested immediately if symptomatic, and on day 5 after exposure. If school wide notification is done, at least weekly testing is recommended.

  • Because of the higher rates of viral transmission in settings that do not have other layered prevention strategies such as universal masking in place, exposure notification, masking after exposure, and testing of those exposed are highly recommended.

What if a student, family, or staff member has received the COVID-19 vaccine?

People who are vaccinated may not have to quarantine after an exposure to someone with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., at least 2 weeks after getting their 2nd dose in a two-dose series or 2 weeks after a one-dose vaccination)

Fully vaccinated people with 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.

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms following an exposure:

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms may 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.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html#anchor_1615143423092

Guidance for COVID-19 cases/Individuals with COVID-like symptoms

Exclusion from school for positive COVID cases is required following the specific criteria and exemptions listed below:

If the person has tested positive with an antigen test but does not have symptoms of COVID-19 and is not known to be a close contact to someone diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • If the person has a repeat PCR/molecular test performed in a laboratory within 24 – 48 hours of their positive antigen test, and that PCR/ molecular test is negative: the positive antigen test can be considered a false positive and the person can immediately return to school.

  • If the person does not have a repeat PCR/molecular test, or has one within 24 – 48 hours and it is also positive, the person can return to school 5 days after the specimen collection date of the first positive test, as long as they did not develop symptoms. The person must continue to mask for an additional 5 days to minimize risk of infecting others.

If the person has tested positive with a PCR/molecular test, but the person does not have symptoms.

  • Person can return to school 5 days after the specimen collection date of their positive test if they did not develop symptoms. The person must continue to mask for an additional 5 days to minimize risk of infecting others, unless an exemption to mask use applies.

If the person has symptoms of COVID-19 and has tested positive with an antigen test or PCR/molecular test

  • Person can return to school when: it has been at least 5 days after the first day of symptoms; AND It has been at least 24 hours since the
    person had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine);
    AND other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

  • The person must continue to wear a mask for 10 days after the first day of symptoms to minimize the risk of infecting others.

If the person has symptoms of COVID-19 but has not been tested for COVID-19 nor has visited a health care provider. Therefore, the person who has symptoms is presumed positive for COVID-19 due to the presence of a clinically compatible illness in the absence of testing.

  • Person can return to school when: it has been at least 5 days after the first day of symptoms; AND It has been at least 24 hours since the
    person had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine);
    AND other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

  • The person must continue to wear a mask for 10 days after the first day of symptoms to minimize the risk of infecting others.

If the person has symptoms of COVID-19 but has received a negative test for COVID-19 or has visited a health care provider and received an alternate diagnosis that would explain the symptoms of COVID-19.

Person can return to school when: It has been at least 24 hours since the person had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND they have felt well for at least 24 hours.

Face Coverings

NCDHHS no longer recommends universal mask requirements in school or other lower risk settings like child care programs. MCS will move to voluntary masking beginning March 7th 2022, but continues to support any community members and staff who choose to wear masks. Staff will work with families to follow their guidance for children in the classroom.

NOTE: Guidance has not changed for anyone who is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Students/staff who have tested positive may return after 5 day quarantine, as long as their symptoms are improving and they have not had a fever for 24 hours. They must continue to wear a mask for days 6-10 upon return.

  • Students/staff should wear a mask for 10 days following an exposure to a person with COVID-19.

  • NCDHHS recommends that Students/staff who are at high risk for severe disease, are unvaccinated or are not up to date on vaccines, should wear a mask in indoor settings.

Voluntary Masking Recommendations:

Children ages 2 years and older can wear masks or respirators to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Choose a well-fitting and comfortable mask or respirator that your child can wear properly. A poorly fitting or uncomfortable mask or respirator might be worn incorrectly or removed often, and that would reduce its intended benefits.

  • Choose a size that fits over the child’s nose and under the chin but does not impair vision.

  • Follow the user instructions for the mask or respirator. These instructions may show how to make sure the product fits properly.

  • Some types of masks and respirators may feel different if your child is used to wearing cloth or disposable procedure masks.

  • Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance

  • CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters, face shields, or bandanas.

For more information, see CDC’s Masks web site. For information on the sources for our mask guidance, see Recent Studies For more information, visit CDC’s How to Wash Masks web page.

Lunch Time Protocol

Classrooms are highly encouraged to eat all snacks and meals outside, whenever possible. We know that one of the greatest chances for exposure comes during eating times.

  • Students will social distance while eating.

  • All lunches and snacks must be brought from home. Students may not share their lunches with each other.

  • When unable to eat outside, classes will eat immediately prior to outdoor time, to allow the room to ventilate while occupants are outside (ideally with windows open) OR open the windows fully for 15 minutes.

  • On the playground, classroom cohorts are no longer restricted at the discretion of staff (effective March 7, 2022). Outdoor areas, including the playground, can be divided for use into areas for cohorts to separate, if necessary.

Vaccination

Vaccination, including getting a booster if eligible, is currently the leading public health prevention strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People 5 years and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Three vaccines against COVID-19 are currently authorized or approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices - the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (authorized for people 5 and over) and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine (authorized for people 18 and over). Learn more about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11 at NCDHHS “Kids Have a Spot to take their Shot” website.

The vaccine is widely available across the state.

Children ages 5 to 11 can get vaccinated at any location that has the smaller dose of Pfizer available, including at their pediatrician or doctor’s office, hospitals, local pharmacies and grocery stores—this is unlike other childhood vaccines and we hope makes it even easier for parents to find a convenient location. There are hundreds of locations in North Carolina that will carry Pfizer for 5 to 11-year-olds and plenty of vaccine available.

Vaccination is free.

COVID-19 vaccines are always free, regardless of insurance and immigration status. The only thing required is parental consent.

Temporary and minimal side effects.

Children may experience a sore arm and feeling tired or achy for a day or two. The risks of serious side effects from the vaccine are far less than the risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Schedule a vaccination appointment on the NCDHHS' “Kids Have a Spot to take their Shot” website.


Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Resources:

Click here to see Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe and Effective for Everyone Five and Older

Protect Your Children Against COVID-19 with the Vaccine

Ask Your Pediatrician About Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine

NCDHHS’s website on Vaccines for 5-11 year olds

CDC’s COVID- 19 Vaccine for Children and Teens.

Safety Steps

  • NC Strong Schools Toolkit, NCDHHS guidance, CDC guidance

  • Prioritize Hand Washing

  • Cleaning Hard Surfaces & opening windows

  • Frequent outdoor time, outside for eating snacks & lunch whenever practical

  • Fenced areas to separate younger students

  • Small class sizes

  • Staggered drop-off and pick-up times

  • School Immunization Requirements for Enrollment

  • All MCS Staff are CPR, First Aid, AED Certified

  • Classroom cohorts are no longer restricted at the discretion of staff. Outdoor areas, including the playground, can be divided for use into areas for cohorts to separate.

  • Eat outdoors whenever possible; If eating must occur indoors, keep time to a minimum by washing hands, setting up tables, unpacking lunchboxes (including unwrapping food items). Focus on eating rather than socializing during mealtimes.

  • When unable to eat outside, classes will eat immediately prior to outdoor time, to allow the room to ventilate while occupants are outside (ideally with windows open) OR open the windows fully for 15 minutes.

  • Filtration Systems, air purifiers, EPA approved Disinfectant Sprays

Additional Information & Websites

Please be aware that this is an evolving process. As we receive more information, some items are likely to be added to this list; while others will possibly change. MCS will be basing all decisions based on requirements and recommendations from the CDC and NCDHHS. Below are links to each for more information. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we move forward.


https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/childcare/NC-Interim-Guidance-for-Child-Care-Settings.pdf


https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/


https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html

Click here to see Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe and Effective for Everyone Five and Older

Protect Your Children Against COVID-19 with the Vaccine

Ask Your Pediatrician About Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine

NCDHHS’s website on Vaccines for 5-11 year olds

CDC’s COVID- 19 Vaccine for Children and Teens.