Response to the Spread of COVID-19
In an effort to lessen the spread of COVID-19, and in accordance with guidelines from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Winchester Thurston School has adopted a Hybrid Learning Model for Middle School and Upper School and a fully on-campus model for our youngest learners in grades Pre-K - 5. All students have the option of learning fully remotely.
This page contains our plans for the 2020-2021 school year and will be updated as conditions change.
Please contact our Admission Team for any questions you might have about a WT education.
Plan for 2020–2021 School Year
Winchester Thurston School is committed to reuniting our community and in creating this plan, has 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. Due to the nature of the pandemic, this health and safety plan will be flexible and adaptable to the changing condition, science, research, and requirements and will thus need to be continually reviewed and revised. This health and safety plan provides guidelines for all instructional and non-instructional school reopening activities.
Our goal in implementing this plan is to mitigate the potential for the spread of COVID-19 in our community and acknowledging that we cannot completely eliminate it.
Depending upon the public health conditions in Allegheny County there could be additional actions, orders, or guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), and/or the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) requiring changes to the plan and implementation.
WT is currently operating in WT Yellow, a hybrid model.
- Learning Models
- 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
- Employee Professional Development
- Return to Sports Action Plan - Winter Season
There are several possible learning models that the school may move among at various points throughout the year.
Utilizing assistant teachers and specialists, class sizes are brought within levels recommended by the CDC guidelines. This model allows every Lower School student to be on campus every day. Learn more about our Lower School "WT Yellow" learning model.
WT has established several teams in the preparation for reopening for the school year.
- Pandemic Team and Pandemic Coordinator
- Medical Review Board
- Academics 2020 and Beyond Task Force
- Operations 2020 and Beyond Task Force
The pandemic coordinator and team are responsible for facilitating WT’s planning process, monitoring implementation of our Health and Safety Plan, and continued monitoring of local health data to assess implications for school operations and potential adjustments to the Health and Safety Plan throughout the school year. The Pandemic Coordinator and Team are responsible for the Health and Safety Plan Development, serving on the Pandemic Crisis Response Team playing a role in within-year decision making regarding response efforts in the event of a confirmed positive case or exposure among staff and students.
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. Robin P. Gehris, MD, FAAD, FAAP, Chief, Pediatric Dermatology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, 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. Dara D Mendez, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, WT Parent
Dr. Alison Morris, MD, MS, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Division Chief, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Shadyside, WT Parent
The Academics 2020 and Beyond Task Force is responsible for the development of the academic program related to the reopening of school. The Task Force is made up of the Head of School, the Division Directors, Director of Programs, Director of Academics and Representatives from each Divisional Faculty. In addition to the academic programming work, the group will serve as a resource for feedback and suggestions on the health and safety plan.
Joshua Andy, Upper School Faculty
Matthew Bachner, Upper School Faculty
Dionne Brelsford, Director of Programs
Randi Coffey, Lower School Faculty
Steve Cooper, Lower School Faculty
Rachel Cunningham, Lower School Faculty
Rebecca Farrand, Lower School Faculty
Anne L. Fay, Director of Upper School
Scott D. Fech, Head of School
Theresa Fox, Assistant Director of Lower School
Elizabeth Friedman, Lower School Faculty
Peter Frischman, Middle School Faculty
Desiree Jennings, Director of Academics
Barbara Holmes, Upper School Faculty
Sharon McDermott, Upper School Faculty
Dan Mendenhall, Lower School Faculty
Madeleine O'Donnell, Director of Library and Information Services
Michael Naragon, Upper School Faculty
Nicole Nesbitt, Upper School Faculty
David Piemme, Middle School Faculty
Nancy Rogers, Director of Lower School
Dan Sadowski, Associate Director of Middle School
Annie Tritsch, Summer Camp Director/Program Coordinator
Ben Tritsch, Lower School Faculty
Amanda Welsh, Director of Middle School
David Weisbord, Director of College Counseling
The Operations 2020 and Beyond Task Force is responsible for the development and implementation of operational adaptations for non-teaching positions and offices. The Task Force is made up of the Head of School, the Assistant Head for Operations, and representative members of the administration and non-teaching employees. The group will also serve as a resource for feedback and suggestions on the health and safety plan.
John Charney, Assistant Head for Operations
Scott D. Fech, Ph.D., Head of School
Brooks Follansbee, Director of Admissions and Enrollment
Susan Freudenberg, Academic Department Coordinator
Monica Gay, Director of Advancement
Erin Prem, Assistant to the Director of Admission
LuAnn Ringler, Transportation and Accounts Payable Coordinator
Jane Schilling, Advancement Office Manager
Svetlana Shabalov, Director of Accounting Services
Kathryn Stadler, Director of Human Resources
Levi Tonet, Operational Technology Manager
David Wollam, Director of Finance
- 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, whether on-campus or virtual, 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, Grade 1||Molloy Posner Hall Morewood Entrance|
|Grades 2–5||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 9–10||Upper School Building Main Entrance|
|Grades 11–12||Upper School Building 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, Grade 1||Designated Kindergarten Classroom, Molloy Posner Hall|
|Grades 2–5||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.
Transportation will begin on Tuesday, September 8, supporting students as their grade level is phased in. (See Learning Models above.)
Families and students must remain vigilant for 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.
- Students are directed to sit one student per seat (except those from the same family), near the window. Students must stay seated and quiet 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.
- The first two seats on either side of the driver must be left vacant.
- Students must wear masks at all times.
- When possible windows should remain open.
- Adults within the school should attempt to maintain a distance of 6 feet from other people as much as possible. Office partitions and protective shields will be installed where needed for additional protections.
- Using the cohort model, limited numbers of students will be in classrooms at any given moment with some students learning from a remote location. Classroom seating will be arranged with physical distancing guidelines (6 feet of separation throughout the day) to the maximum extent feasible. Interaction among groups of students will also be restricted.
- Signage is being installed throughout the building to indicate directional movement in hallways and stairwells. Students and employees will be instructed on the importance of adhering to the signage.
- In Middle and Upper School, students will be instructed to maintain physical distancing during passing periods and faculty may stagger dismissals from class periods to minimize the numbers of students in the hallway at any given moment.
- Upper School students with free/unassigned periods will be scheduled into indoor and outdoor spaces to minimize large groups and violations of physical distancing.
- With the exception of physical education, all Lower School special classes (art, music, science, library, technology, etc.) will consider unique programming needs and plan activities using the same COVID-19 transmission risk-mitigation protocols outlined in this document and may deliver instruction in grade level classrooms and not in specialist classrooms.
- Student furniture and seating are being evaluated to ensure social distancing in classrooms.
- Large communal spaces (i.e. libraries, Hilman Dining Hall, Hilda Willis Room, auditorium), and outdoor spaces may be used as classrooms to allow for larger physically distanced groups of students.
- Students will be safely provided regular opportunities for physical education, outdoor play, and recess for students. When in communal or outside recess areas, emphasis will be placed on cohorting students and limiting the size of participating groups. Outdoor equipment will be cleaned and disinfected between group uses.
- Restroom occupancy will be limited, and students will follow physical distancing guidelines when transitioning to the restroom.
- No full-school or large group gatherings will be held in person and will be replaced by virtual gatherings when possible.
- WT school playgrounds and outdoor play spaces are for the use of students during the school day and are closed to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in consideration of school hours and after-school activity use of our facilities. For the healthy and safety of our school community, we ask that families respect physical distancing and face covering guidelines during the use of our playgrounds and outdoor play spaces at all other times.
All persons on campus will be required to wear face masks. Those failing to comply with this requirement will not be allowed on campus.
- Students may remove their masks with permission from an adult or when they are eating or drinking. When removing the face mask, students must place the mask in a sealed plastic bag brought from home.
- Employees will be provided 5 reusable face masks.
- 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.
- Hygiene, inclusive of hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, use of face masks, will be taught with the manner and frequency appropriate per grade and reinforced at the start of every day (via posters, video and live instruction) and throughout the day. Social distancing will be maintained during the daily entry process and face coverings must be worn.
- Hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol) stations are located throughout the building, and faculty and students will be instructed in their location and proper usage.
- Handwashing will be built into the school schedule.
- Touchless paper towel dispensers are installed in the restrooms.
- Water fountains will be disabled but water bottle filling stations will remain available.
- Signs will be posted on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 (properly washing hands, promoting everyday protective measures, and properly wearing a face covering) in visible locations throughout the buildings.
- WT will periodically share information from public health organizations such as the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health on hygiene and disinfection strategies for COVID-19 transmission prevention at home and in the community.
- Hygiene supplies including face coverings, soap, tissues, hand sanitizer, and paper towels to ensure adequate inventory in classrooms, restrooms, and spaces throughout the campus will be regularly monitored.
- The School Nurse and other staff members will monitor State, Allegheny County Health Department, and federal guidance on COVID-19 transmission in our community.
- All families will have the option to enroll their child(ren) in remote learning at any time for the protection of their vulnerable students or family members. Families will work with their division director on their needs.
- Families who have students in a high-risk health category should connect with the School Nurse to discuss reopening procedures and distance learning options.
- Staff who are in a CDC classified high-risk category should speak to the Director of Human Resources about their specific situation and about working options that may include working remotely.
- Remote Learning will include opportunities to videoconference into classrooms to participate in the academic program remotely. Students needing a fully virtual experience will receive regular check-ins from a teacher and/or counselor.
- 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.
- 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.
- Physical Materials and Resources
- WT will ensure that there are adequate supplies to minimize the sharing of high-touch materials as much as possible (e.g. textbooks, art supplies, science equipment, etc.) or limit the use of supplies and equipment to one group of students at a time and clean and disinfect between uses. For devices and materials that must be shared, they will be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
- Until further notice there will be no parents, guardians, or other guests permitted inside the school buildings. All meetings with teachers or administrators will be done remotely and by appointment.
- All essential services provided by outside agencies must schedule their visits in advance, as well as follow WT screening procedures before entry. When applicable, these individuals will list all of the contacts who received their services during that visit during sign-out.
- Deliveries will be left in the main entry.
- Exceptions to this policy due to medical conditions or other circumstances will be made on a case-by-case basis by the School Nurse and Division Director and/or Head of School.
- Students will take meals in assigned classrooms.
- All food purchased from Metz through the WT lunch program will be delivered to students in their classrooms. Limited box lunch choices will be available and must be ordered in advance.
- Meals purchased will be delivered by cart to the classrooms in closed containers.
- 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.
- Travel Restrictions:
- All overnight experiences are canceled until further notice unless special permission is granted by the Head of a School. If approved, all COVID-19 policies outlined in the plan must be followed.
- Travel that takes students or staff outside of Pennsylvania (domestic or international), requires that students and staff either MUST have a negative COVID-19 test (and send the results to the school nurse) within 72 hours prior to entering PA or MUST quarantine for 10 days upon entry into Pennsylvania. If a traveler chooses to get tested upon entering Pennsylvania, or is waiting for test results, the traveler must quarantine for 10 days, or until receipt of a negative test result, whichever comes first before returning to the WT campus. Students will be able and required to participate virtually while self-quarantining.
- If symptoms develop during the 10 days, individuals must follow the Quarantine and Social Absence Policy guidance for "Symptomatic Individual: No Test."
All employees will attend a train-the-trainer information session that describes the protocols for handwashing, covering coughs/sneezes, and face coverings. All professional development will follow the CDC guidelines. Teachers will then train their students on the protocols they learned during the aforementioned sessions and reinforce these protocols in age-appropriate ways throughout the year.
- This page will be continually updated as new information becomes available.
- WT will provide regular updates to families via email, video, social media accounts.
- The School Nurse will regularly disseminate information on COVID-19 prevention habits to families and provide regular reminders to students.
Following Governor Wolf's protective COVID-19 mitigation efforts announced on Thursday, December 10, all athletics programs are suspended until Monday, January 4.
The following information comes from the guidance and recommendation from the office of Governor Tom Wolf:
Guidance for All Sports Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees, Athletes, and the Public
The virus that causes the Coronavirus 2019 Disease (“COVID-19”) is easily transmitted, especially in group settings, and it is essential that the spread of the virus be slowed to safeguard public health and safety.
COVID-19 can be transmitted from infected individuals even if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are mild, such as a cough. It can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. This guidance document addresses the procedures sports organizations and teams must follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 to the extent they are permitted to conduct in-person operations.
This guidance will be updated as more public health data and other information is available.
Organizations Subject to This Guidance
The Commonwealth is employing a regional and industry-specific approach to reopening non-life sustaining businesses. For more information, and up to date county designations, please refer to the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening website.
All sports in Pennsylvania, including professional, collegiate, Pre-K to 12 school athletics, and amateur and recreational sports, are covered by this guidance.
Sports organizations and teams may only conduct in-person operations if they are able to do so in accordance with all applicable guidance.
Everyone involved in sport activities must wear a face covering, such as a mask, unless they fall under an exception listed in Section 3 of the Secretary of Health’s Universal Face Covering Order. Coaches, athletes, and spectators must wear face coverings unless they are outdoors and can consistently maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Athletes are not required to wear face coverings while actively engaged in workouts and competition that prevent the wearing of face coverings (i.e., swimming), but must wear face coverings when on the sidelines, in the dugout, etc. and anytime 6 feet of social distancing is not possible.
In accordance with the Pennsylvania Governor’s recommendations and guidance, the following Return to Sports Action Plan has been created by the Winchester Thurston School Athletics Task Force:
- Quarantine Expectations After Travel
- Pre-Season Training and Conditioning (November 1–November 19)
- Director of Athletics and Athletic Trainer Expectations
- PIAA Winter Competition Considerations
Pregame Protocol (2019-2021 NFHS Officials Manual, page 16, 1.8)
- Limit attendees to the referee, head coach, and one captain from each team with each coach standing on the center circle on each side of the division line.
- All individuals maintain a social distance of 6 feet or greater at the center circle.
- Suspend handshakes prior to and following the Pregame Conference.
Participants allowed during each HOME contest at WT:
- Every contest will have the following individuals present for competition: 10 players (per team), 4 coaches (per team), 3 officials (could be 2), 1 time keeper, and 1 official scorebook official.
- Due to space constraints, no spectators from either team will be allowed in the gym either for practice or competitions. Games will be livestreamed.
- The WT Athletic Trainer will have a designated, socially distanced location in the gym.
- Parents/guardians must meet their child/children outside and may not enter the building.
- Coaches and Athletes should adhere to the most current orders from Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health Order
- All members of the coaching staff must complete the health screening as well as all game personnel (officials, scorekeepers, etc.)
Officials Table (2-1-3)
- The host should sanitize the table before the game and at half time.
- Place officials table sufficiently away from the sideline to allow for additional space for substitutes.
- Limit seats at the table to essential personnel which includes home team scorer and timer with a recommended distance of six feet or greater between individuals. Other personnel (visiting scorer, statisticians, media, etc.) may not be deemed essential personnel and consider an alternate location for them.
- Table personnel should adhere to the current Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health Order
Pre and Post Game Ceremony
- Suspend the pregame introduction handshakes.
- This includes shaking opposing head coaches and officials prior to the game.
- Suspend post game protocol of shaking hands.
Due to the perpetual fluidity of COVID-19, these guidelines are subject to change. In order to participate in practices and competition, ALL participants must adhere to these guidelines to ensure its strategic implementation and the safety of our student-athletes, coaching personnel, WT staff, and our WT community.
Any student who has traveled outside of Pennsylvania is expected to self-isolate in accordance with the Winchester Thurston School pandemic plan guidelines prior to a return to sports-related activities.
The question of recent travel needs to be asked on a questionnaire by the coach to determine means of tracking.
- Masks MUST be worn at ALL TIMES during training and conditioning.
- Training will involve individual skill development, cardiovascular training, and team activities.
- Coaches MUST tailor their training sessions to include social distancing as much as possible when student-athletes are not participating.
Facility Usage During Practice Sessions
- Teams are allowed to have up to 25 individuals per training session (indoors). This includes coaching personnel. ONLY WT coaches are allowed to conduct these training sessions.
- Coaches will determine which student-athletes will participate in each Pod. Coaches may also make the determination to have less than 25 individuals. Working in smaller groups indoors is encouraged.
- Weight room will be open for use ONLY in groups of five or less. This includes the coaching personnel (coaches MUST be in the weight room to supervise).
Use of Athletic Equipment
- Officials Uniform and Equipment
- Long-sleeved shirts are permissible.
- Electronic whistles are permissible (supplies are limited).
- Choose a whistle whose tone will carry inside.
- Cloth face coverings are permissible.
- Officials should have face coverings readily available in the event they will be conversing with players/coaches/game personnel within six feet.
- Gloves are permissible
- If a student-athlete is unable to gain access to necessary equipment for his or her training session, he or she should reach out to their head coach prior to the training session. Equipment, clothing, or shoes WILL NOT be shared.
- Equipment Considerations
- Jersey (designated for each student-athlete for the season)
- Individual Towels
- Mouth Guards
- Each student-athlete and coach will bring his or her own water bottle. Suggestion: Fill a 1-gallon milk container with water and freeze 24-hours prior to each training session. Remove from the freezer the night before the training session.
Permitted Physical Activity
- Limited during pre-season conditioning period
Campus Entrance and Exit Strategies
- Student-athletes should dress at home if they are in an alternate week or learning or hybrid learning. Bring ANY additional clothing, equipment, and water bottles with them for each training session.
- Student-athletes CANNOT arrive more than 15 minutes prior to the start of their training session.
- Student-athletes should enter through the main gym entrance when they arrive for practice. They will exit through the gym exit at the rear of the gym.
- Coaching personnel MUST wear masks at all times in the presence of student-athletes.
- No spectators will be allowed (this includes practices and/or competitions).
- Students must leave campus within 15 minutes of the conclusion of practice. No loitering around campus.
Pre-Training Session Screenings
- Each head coach will be responsible for executing screenings and recording attendance.
- Every student-athlete participating in any training session will have his or her temperature checked.
- Every student-athlete participating in any training session will fill out a short questionnaire.
- If a student-athlete has a temperature higher than 100.4, he or she will be sent home and not be allowed to participate in sports-related activities until the temperature is below the CDC standard for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing medication. The student-athlete will need a doctor’s note to return. The doctor’s note should be given to the Director of Athletics or Assistant Director of Athletics.
- EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES
- Ball shall be sanitized as recommended by the ball manufacturer and not used for warm-ups.
- The host school should ensure that the ball is sanitized during timeouts and between quarters. ·
- Sanitizer should be provided by the host team at the table.
- Cloth face coverings are permissible for players.
Coaching staff and other bench personnel shall follow the current Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health
- A “COVID Caddy” will be distributed to each head coach. The caddy will include:
- Non-touch Thermometer
- Face masks
- Sanitation wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Return to Sports Folder
- Screening questionnaire
- Attendance and Tracking Sheet
- Procedures for positive screen
- Prior to and after every practice or competition, student-athletes will use hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes to wipe down equipment.
- Student-athletes and coaches will use hand sanitizer during all water breaks.
- After the training session is completed, every student-athlete will reapply his or her mask.
- ONLY coaches will handle equipment (i.e. cones, ladders, hurdles, etc.).
- 25-person max inside the gym (during training sessions). This includes all coaching personnel and players.
- To promote social distancing, we will move our “benches” to the bleacher side of the gymnasium, so the extra players can be spread out on the bleachers and not along the one wall.
- Masks inside the building are mandatory. This includes while playing.
- The equipment MUST be cleaned before and after practices. Cleaning supplies will be in the COVID caddy.
- Mask breaks can be done during practice OUTSIDE. There are three ways to exit the building from the gym that are convenient.
You can learn more about our age-appropriate remote learning by exploring our 2019-2020 remote learning culminating moments.
Review the procedures by which we will address cases of exposure to, and infection of, COVID-19 in students and staff members.