Response to the Spread of COVID-19
Our Approach to the 2021–2022 School Year
Winchester Thurston School is committed to reuniting our community. We have consulted the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Allegheny County Health Department, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools to create this health and safety plan. Due to the nature of the pandemic, this plan will be flexible and adaptable to changing conditions, science, research, and requirements and will be continually reviewed and revised.
- Planning Teams
- Cleaning, Sanitizing, Disinfecting, and Ventilation
- Health Screenings and Practices
- Arrival/Dismissal Procedures and Transportation
- Physical Distancing and Other Safety Protocols
- Monitoring Student and Staff Health: Confirmed Cases Among Students or Employees
- Other Considerations for Students and Staff
- Return to Sports Action Plan
WT has established the following teams in the preparation for the school year.
The pandemic coordinator and team are responsible for facilitating WT’s planning process, monitoring implementation of our Health and Safety Plan, and monitoring of local health data to assess implications for school operations and potential adjustments to the Health and Safety Plan.
John Charney, Assistant Head for Operations/Pandemic Coordinator
Josh Andy, Ph.D., Upper School Faculty Member
Adam Brownold, Middle School Faculty Member
Steve Cooper, R.N., Physical Education and Health Teacher, Lower School
Scott D. Fech, Ph.D. Head of School
Carlynn Graves, R.N., School Nurse
Kristen Keller, Lower School Librarian
LuAnn Ringler, Transportation and Accounts Payable Coordinator
David Weisbord, E.M.T., Director of College Counseling, Upper School
A team of WT parents and others who have specialized expertise in Covid-19 treatment, research, and data will serve as advisors to the Pandemic Team and assist with assessing and implementing the WT Health and Safety Plan.
Dr. Louis Alarcon, MD, FACS, FCCM, Vice President Medical Affairs, Professor of Surgery and Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, WT Parent
Dr. Alicia K. Au, MD, MS, Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Assistant Professor, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, WT Parent
Dr. Kerry Bron '84, Board Certified Pediatrician and Pediatric Radiologist, Teleradiologist at AI DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, the Nemours Childrens Hospital In Orlando, FL, and the Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson Medical College, WT Trustee and Alumna
Dr. Miriam Cremer, Director of Global Health, Associate Professor, Women’s Health Institute, Cleveland Clinic, President/Founder of Basic Health International in Pittsburgh, WT Parent
Dr. Susan Kause, Board Certified in Emergency Medicine with 17 years clinical experience; trained in Internal Medicine and Sport Medicine; 5 years Utilization Management experience-currently a Medical Director at Aetna, WT Parent
Dr. Matthew Keller, MD, FAAP, School Medical Director, WT Parent
Dr. Janet Harrison Kuzmishin '87, MD, Assistant Professor Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenteroloy, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, WT Parent, Past Trustee, and Alumna
Dr. Scott Licata, Pediatric Anesthesiologist at UPMC Childrens’ Hospital, WT Parent
Dr. Jennifer Gonzalez McComb '89, MD, MPH, FACP, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Section Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Shadyside Hospital, Medial Director, UPMC Shadyside Critical Care Services, WT Parent, WT Trustee and Alumna
Dr. Alison Morris, MD, MS, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Division Chief, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Shadyside, WT Parent
David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, Professor; Director, Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center; Director, Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Program; Special Advisor, UPMC Enterprises; WT Parent
- All general cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection will be conducted by Central Maintenance and supervised by the Director of Buildings and Grounds. There will be an increased number of personnel charged with cleaning to accommodate the demands required at this time.
- All cleaning supplies in use are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against SARS CoV-2 and Material Safety Data Sheet documentation is available upon request.
- Electric Static Sprayers have been purchased and will be in use to assist in the cleaning and sanitation of all spaces to provide more complete application of sanitizing solutions.
- WT is being deeply cleaned and disinfected daily. Checklists for each classroom and office will be completed and signed off by the cleaning supervisor.
- Cleaning staff will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects within the school on a regular scheduled basis throughout the school day. This includes door and sink handles, water dispensers, desktops, railings, etc.
- Classroom Cleaning: Classrooms will receive deep cleaning every evening. Additionally, periodically throughout the day, as classrooms are not occupied, cleaning staff will enter the room to provide interim cleaning. The cleaning staff supervisor will sign off to certify that each room has been appropriately cleaned.
- Office Cleaning: Offices will be given a deep cleaning every night and during the day as needed. The cleaning staff supervisor will sign off to certify that each room has been appropriately cleaned.
- Restrooms: Restrooms will be cleaned hourly throughout the day. Tracking sheets will be used in each restroom to document cleaning.
- Availability of Additional Supplies: Each classroom and office will be provided with disinfectant wipes to be used as needed/desired.
- Outdoor spaces and equipment will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular scheduled basis.
- WT will make every effort to limit the amount of touching of shared equipment. When possible staff will clean and disinfect the equipment between uses.
- Water fountains will be disabled and water bottle filling stations will still be available.
- Where possible, windows will remain open to provide additional air circulation. Doors will also remain partially open (except when students are eating lunch in the room) to allow for more air circulation.
- Individual air filtration devices will be available in classrooms and offices.
- Home Health Screening: All employees and families must complete a home health assessment through Ruvna prior to the start of the school day. All members of the WT community must complete the screening. Each day, employees, parents/guardians and Upper School students will receive an email and text alert at 6:15 a.m. with a link to the screening tool. A reminder message will be sent at 6:45 a.m. Once complete, individuals will receive an electronic clearance to come to WT or be directed to remain at home. Learn more about the Daily Screening Process.
- Any person with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher or showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent home immediately. Students must be picked up within one hour of parent notification.
- A parent or guardian must complete the screening for Lower School and Middle School students.
- Upon arrival, individuals with smart devices must show the clearance code to the staff member at the entrance. Students who do not have devices will be checked in by a staff member.
- The screening must be completed before the start of each school day. Random checks on temperature and symptoms may occur throughout the day.
- Anyone coming to school who exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not be permitted to remain on campus.
- Siblings of the student with possible COVID-19 symptoms should also remain at home until there is a confirmation of diagnosis from a healthcare provider for the potentially ill student.
- The School Nurse and the Pandemic Team will monitor Allegheny County Health Department, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and federal guidance on community transmission. If the school is aware of an increase in COVID-19 symptom-related absences or an increase in community spread, increased surveillance may be implemented.
- Home Health Screening: Prior to leaving home, all students must complete a home health screening through Ruvna. Upon arriving at school, each student must show the QR clearance code to a staff member. Parents may forward the QR students to their child’s device or, for younger children, show the code to the staff member upon arrival. Students who do not have devices to show their pass or who did not complete the screening will be checked in by a staff member. Learn more about the Daily Screening Process.
- Arrival Locations: To allow for appropriate physical distancing, arrival locations are staggered around the campus. Arrival Door Assignments are listed below. No student may arrive before 7:30 a.m., and parents/guardians/caregivers may not enter the building with students.
- Designated Gathering Areas: Students arriving between 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. must proceed to the Designated Gathering Area described below after being checked in. Students are not allowed in classrooms until 8:00 a.m. unless they have a previously scheduled appointment with a teacher.
- Students arriving after 8:00 a.m. must proceed directly to their classrooms from their designated entrance.
- Members of the same family or carpool may enter through the same door. Please select the Arrival Door Assignment for the youngest student.
Arrival Door Assignments
|Grade Level(s)||Assigned Entrance|
|Pre-K, K, Grades 1–2||Molloy Posner Hall Morewood Entrance|
|Grades 3–5||Molloy Posner Hall Ellsworth Entrance|
|Grades 6–8||Molloy Posner Hall Stadium Scoreboard Entrance|
(Enter the back parking lot from Ellsworth and slowly proceed to the stadium scoreboard entrance of the gym.)
|Grades 9–12||Upper School Building Main Entrance or Student Entrance|
|Lower and Middle School Bus/Van Arrival||Molloy Posner Hall Bayard Entrance|
|Upper School Bus/Van Arrival||Appropriate Upper School Building Grade Level Entrance|
Before School Designated Gathering Areas
Prior to 8:00 a.m., students must proceed directly to these designated locations and must adhere to physical distancing guidelines in these spaces.
|PK, K, Grades 1–2||Room 115 (Lower School Science classroom), Molloy Posner Hall|
|Grades 3–5||Falk Auditorium, Molloy Posner Hall|
|Middle School||Finkel Library and Designated Classrooms, Molloy Posner Hall|
|Upper School||Hilda Willis Room (max 25) or Dorrance Library (max 25), Upper School Building|
A Dismissal Zoom channel will be established to communicate to all classrooms. Faculty will dismiss students to carpool and/or bus/van when students names are called.
- Walk-Up: Parents/Guardians who walk and arrive at dismissal time should proceed to the assigned exit for their child. Parents/Guardians must be masked and maintain appropriate physical distancing.
- Car/Carpool: Lower School and Middle School students who arrive/leave by car must exit at the assigned exit listed below. Families with more than one student should use the assignment of the youngest student for arrival and dismissal. Please display carpool sign distributed with school materials on dashboard; Students will be called to come to your car upon your arrival.
- Bus/Van: All bus/van students must exit on Bayard Street.
- Supervised Study/WT After Care: Students must report directly to the designated location.
- Athletics, Fine Arts, and Extracurricular Activities: Students must report directly to their designated locations.
- Upper School students who do not have a class last period may leave campus by signing out in the Upper School Office.
|Grade Level/Division||Assigned Exit|
|Pre-K, K, Grade 1||Molloy Posner Hall Morewood Exit|
|Grades 2–5||Molloy Posner Hall Ellsworth Exit|
|Grades 6–8||Molloy Posner Hall Stadium Scoreboard Exit|
(Enter the back parking lot from Ellsworth and slowly proceed to the stadium scoreboard entrance of the gym.)
|Grades 9–12||Either Upper School Exit|
|Lower and Middle School Students Leaving by Van/Bus||Molloy Posner Hall Bayard Exit|
|Upper School Students Leaving by Van/Bus||Either Upper School Exit|
We do not recommend carpooling with other families to school. However, we understand there may be some instances when it is necessary. Should you have to do so, we ask that you please follow the Center for Disease Controls steps, "to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19":
- Stay home if you are sick or had close contact with someone who has the coronavirus.
- Everyone in the car must wear a mask.
- Everyone in the car must wash or sanitize their hands.
- Keep the car windows lowered to increase ventilation inside the car.
- Run the car's ventilation system in non-recirculation mode.
Families and students must remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and must follow all guidelines for reporting symptoms and remaining home from school as outlined in the Division Handbooks and in the Procedures Regarding Exposure to COVID-19.
- Drivers and students must wear masks appropriately at all times.
- Students must stay seated during the bus ride. Students will face forward for the duration of the trip.
- Students will seat the bus/van back to front during loading, and exit front to back when they are unloading.
- Students will get on or off the bus/van only at their assigned stop.
- When possible windows will remain open
- Drivers will clean their bus or van each morning and afternoon.
All persons on campus will be required to wear face masks. Those failing to comply with this requirement will not be allowed on campus.
- Masks are required for everyone indoors (vaccinated or unvaccinated) as per CDC guidelines.
- Students may remove their masks with permission from an adult or when they are eating, drinking, or outside.
- Students are required to bring in their own face masks. Face masks must be plain or with a simple pattern or design with no words or slogans. Acceptable designs include: patterns, logos or brands (i.e. sports logos, athletic or fashion brands), WT branding.
- Masks may not have scary/violent/sexual images nor words, brands, logos, prints or images that do not align with WT’s credo or Equity and Inclusion statement.
- Exceptions to this requirement due to medical conditions or other circumstances will be made on a case-by-case basis by the School Nurse in conjunction with physicians, mental health professionals, and the appropriate school administrator(s).
- Face masks may not have any valves.
- Education will be provided to staff and students on the proper use of face masks to cover the nose and mouth, how to maintain hand hygiene when removing face masks for meals and physical activity, and for replacing and maintaining (washing regularly) face masks.
- Unvaccinated employees and students must remain home if they or anyone in their households are ill with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
- Vaccinated employees and students must remain home if they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
- Please see the Procedures Regarding Infection and Exposure for specific guidance.
- Employees and families must notify the school nurse of any positive cases of COVID-19 in their households or if anyone in their household has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
- Should an employee or student get sick, the Procedures Regarding Infection and Exposure must be followed to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Partners, contractors, and other visitors
- In order to reduce the number of people on campus, meetings with teachers, staff, or administrators that occur during the regular school day will be done remotely and by appointment.
- Educational Partners (i.e. City as Our Campus, etc.) will be allowed into the buildings for educational purposes only. We strongly encourage being vaccinated. Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and perform a health screening upon entry.
- Admission tours will occur in two phases, a virtual appointment and a brief on-campus tour in common spaces only. We strongly encourage being vaccinated. Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and perform a health screening upon entry.
- All essential service contractors must schedule their visits in advance, as well as follow WT screening procedures before entry.
- Deliveries are accepted at the front security desk.
- Dining services will be available. Lower School and Middle School students will have meals in the Dining Hall in Molloy Posner Hall; Upper School students will have meals in the Hilda Willis Room in the Upper School Building.
- All students in all grades should bring a reusable water bottle to and from school each day. Water bottles should be labeled and kept in a student’s designated space (desk/table), cubby, or locker.
- Students may not share food or utensils. They should wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after eating.
- All overnight experiences will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Pandemic Team. If approved, all COVID-19 policies outlined in the plan must be followed.
Winchester Thurston School Athletics will follow the CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools for Sports and Extracurricular Activities. Following the recommended prevention strategies will help to ensure health and safety standards for the season.
These protocols will be in effect throughout the season and are subject to change.
August 16 - August 29 (subject to change)
- All student-athletes arriving on campus prior to Ruvna restarting for the school year will complete a health screening with their coach upon arrival. This includes taking the athlete’s temperature and completing a questionnaire.
August 30 - November 20 (subject to change)
- Starting August 30, 2021, all students must complete their home health screening through Ruvna. Upon arriving at school, each student must show the QR clearance code to a staff member. Parents may forward the QR code to their child’s device or, for younger children, show the code to the staff member upon arrival. Students who do not have devices to show their code or who did not complete the screening will be checked in by a staff member. Learn more about the Daily Screening Process.
- Any person with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher or who has a positive pre-participation screening will be sent home immediately. Students must be picked up within one hour of parent notification.
- If student-athletes present any COVID-19-related symptoms, please keep them at home.
For potential exposures, we will follow the school’s procedures for exposure to COVID-19.
Travel (Practices and Competitions)
- Masks are required for everyone indoors (vaccinated or unvaccinated) as per CDC guidelines. Masks will be required for individuals using the restroom, locker rooms, and for teams choosing to practice indoors.
- All student-athletes riding a bus provided by WT are required to wear masks in route to and from practices and competitions. The mask may be removed (outdoors only) once the student-athlete exits the bus.
- The athletic trainer will provide water during practices and games. Student-athletes are responsible for bringing their own water bottle.
- Spectators will be allowed to attend Winchester Thurston School athletic outdoor contests for the sports of: Cross Country, Field Hockey, Boys Golf, Boys and Girls Soccer, and Girls Tennis. Physical distancing outside of the immediate family is encouraged.
- Any spectator experiencing one or more of the following symptoms should not attend any athletic contest:
- Fever (above 100.4) or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Masks are NOT required to attend the athletic contests as long as the contests are outdoors.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
- The athletic trainer will disinfect equipment during and after each practice session. Any equipment that needs to be disinfected after completion of contests will be sanitized by the athletic trainer.
- Hand sanitizer will be available to coaches and student-athletes throughout each practice and competition.
Review the procedures by which we will address cases of exposure to, and infection of, COVID-19 in students and staff members.