Health and Safety at NNPS
The goal of Newport News Public Schools’ Health Services Department is to provide a healthy school environment to foster greater academic achievement and healthier lives for students and staff.
Newport News Public Schools COVID-19 health and safety protocols address daily health screenings; physical distancing in classrooms; cleaning and disinfecting; the recommended use of face masks; and educating students and staff on behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 and hygiene practices.
Mask use is optional for all students in schools and on school buses in accordance with Senate Bill 739 signed into law by the Governor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s revised order for public transportation.
No documentation or parental notification is required for students to be masked or unmasked. Parents/guardians are asked to discuss mask preference with their children to make sure they are aware of parental expectations. NNPS staff will not be responsible for student mask use or nonuse. However, students who are wearing masks may be asked to wear them correctly. Additionally, principals will not be able to accommodate requests for changes in classroom seating assignments or school bus seating assignments due to mask preference.
The wearing of face masks is optional for all non-health services NNPS employees who are fully vaccinated and up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccine.
All Health Services employees must continue to wear a face mask due to possible exposure to COVID-19 during their job responsibilities. In addition, all employees working in the COVID isolation room must continue to wear face masks.
NNPS employees who are not fully vaccinated or up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccine must continue to wear a mask in schools, offices and on school buses.
Visitors and Volunteers
Wearing a mask is optional for parents/guardians, visitors, volunteers and tutors while inside schools and administrative offices and on school buses.
Important Information for Everyone
Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID test or who have been exposed to someone with COVID should wear a face mask and follow isolation and quarantine guidelines. Masks will be required to be worn by all individuals while in the school clinic.
Masks are still encouraged to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.Disposable masks will be available to individuals who need or request one.
Newport News Public Schools remains committed to the health and wellbeing of all students, staff and visitors.
Classroom wellness supplies will be delivered to all schools. Each classroom will receive two bottles of hand sanitizer, a tub of disinfectant wipes, anti-bacterial hand soap, and a supply of disposable masks. Classrooms will be restocked when these items run low.
A building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system provides clean air by bringing outside air into the building and filtering the air. The organization that provides regulatory guidance for HVAC systems, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends five air changes per hour; this is a standard supported by Harvard Healthy Buildings, a program of the Harvard University School of Public Health. In buildings where there are relatively new HVAC systems, NNPS is meeting this standard. In other NNPS buildings where HVAC systems are not able to meet this standard, the Plant Services team is implementing two options to improve ventilation in classrooms.
For classrooms and offices that have windows, opening them just a small amount can increase the air exchanges, but the team knows some buildings do not have windows or the windows are not operable, and on some days, the weather does not permit this option. To address the need for increased ventilation in classrooms, NNPS has purchased portable air purifiers for each classroom in all buildings where the HVAC system does not meet the ASHRAE standard. These air purifiers have HEPA filters which remove small particles to include viruses and bacteria from the air.
Newport News Public Schools has partnered with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to offer free, pooled COVID-19 testing through the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program.
All testing will be completed through pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which can detect the virus that causes COVID-19. Testing will begin with student athletes in middle school and high school with additional students and staff added at a later date. Participation is voluntary. Every participant must have a signed consent form on file with the school site where testing occurs.
Parents/guardians who are interested in having their student athlete participate in this testing program are asked to contact their school's athletic director or athletic coordinator.
Students: All parents/guardians should conduct a health screening of their child each day (daily health questionnaire) before the child reports to school or boards a school bus. Before leaving home, parents/guardians will ensure that their child does not have a fever or have any other symptoms of COVID–19 and has not been exposed to anyone who exhibits symptoms of the virus.
Staff: All NNPS staff will be required to ensure that they do not have a fever or any other COVID–19 symptoms and have not been exposed to anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 before reporting to work.
Students and staff with a temperature above 100.4 degrees, and/or who are exhibiting any possible signs of illness including a cough or body aches, should not report to school or work until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications, show improvement in respiratory symptoms, and can ensure that 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.
To ensure the health and safety of all, students, parents/guardians and Staff should:
- Stay home when sick
- Wear a cloth face covering
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Practice proper hand hygiene
- Maintain physical distancing
- Answer the daily health questionnaire before leaving for school or work
Newport News Public Schools has created a COVID Response Team to address potential and confirmed positive cases within the school division. When a case or potential case is reported, the COVID Response Team (comprised of the supervisor of health services, the executive director of plant services, the supervisor of custodial services, the supervisor of environmental safety, the coordinator of employee relations, the director of human resources and the chief finance and operations officer) will begin its protocols.
If the employee or student is at work or school when the symptoms appear or the positive case is confirmed, the individual will be isolated from others. Students will be placed in the COVID isolation room until a parent/guardian can pick them up. The school nurse, health services supervisor or NNPS contact tracers will conduct contact tracing and personally notify all close contacts. Custodial services will clean and sanitize all areas the ill individual has occupied. The school community (staff and parents) and/or worksite staff where the individual is assigned will be informed of the positive case via email or letter.
The NNPS leadership team has reviewed the recent updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quarantine and isolation guidelines. At the recommendation of the Peninsula Health District, beginning Monday, January 3, 2022, NNPS is implementing the new CDC guidelines.
The revised CDC guidelines recommend a shortened isolation time for people with COVID-19 from 10 to 5 days if they are asymptomatic or with symptom improvement, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. Additionally, individuals who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are unvaccinated should quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. People who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. Note: the Virginia Department of Health recommends wearing a face mask on days 6-10. If a student is unwilling to wear a face mask on days 6-10, a full 10-day isolation or quarantine is recommended. For all those exposed to COVID-19, the CDC recommends COVID-19 testing at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately isolate until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
Students, staff or visitors with a temperature above 100.4 degrees, and/or who are exhibiting any symptom of COVID-19 should not report to school or work, or visit any NNPS facility, until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications, have had an improvement in symptoms, and can ensure that 5 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.
To promote the safety, health and welfare of students and staff, classrooms will be prepared with the following safety measures:
- Schools will increase space between students during in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible (at least three feet).
Teachers will turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
Teachers will modify learning stations and activities as applicable so there are fewer students per group, placed at least 3 feet apart if possible.
School staff may provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to ensure that staff and students remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times (for example, guides for creating "one-way routes" in hallways).
Elementary schools will aim to keep students in the same groups throughout the day and secondary schools are encouraged to minimize mixing student groups and stagger student movement throughout the building to the extent feasible.
Newport News Public Schools' cleaning schedules and practices comply with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting public facilities.
Cleaning and sanitizing will occur daily. All frequently touched areas including doors, countertops, knobs, hand railings and windows will be cleaned throughout the day while buildings are occupied. A deep cleaning and disinfecting will occur twice weekly in all schools and offices.
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be available at the main entrance of each facility and at other locations throughout our schools and offices.
In addition, bus drivers will clean and sanitize buses following each route.
NNPS has an online dashboard to keep families, staff and the community informed about positive COVID-19 cases within Newport News Public Schools. The dashboard provides the number of positive COVID cases by location each week, in addition to the level of COVID-19 community transmission in Newport News as reported by the Virginia Department of Health, which evaluates statistics to identify reliable trends.