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; cleaning and disinfecting; and educating students and staff on behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 and hygiene practices.
The use of face masks is optional for all students and staff with the exception of individuals who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at school or work, staff caring for symptomatic individuals, and individuals returning to school or work after isolation on days 6-10. For those who are unwilling/unable to wear a mask on days 6-10 after 5 days of home isolation, the VDH recommends two negative test results. The first test should be taken on day 6, and the second test should be taken 48 hours after the first test.
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 implemented the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) updated guidance for schools.
Students and staff regardless of vaccination status, who develop any of the following symptoms should not report to school or work and should begin isolation at home and test for COVID-19 as recommended by their healthcare provider:
- Temperature of 100° F or higher
- Cough/shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Muscle/Body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- Poor feeding/loss of appetite in children
Individuals who choose not to test must isolate at home for 5 days after symptoms begin.
Individuals who choose to test for COVID-19 and/or see a medical provider may return sooner after providing proof of a negative test, alternative diagnosis or note from the provider indicating they are cleared to return, provided symptoms are improving and the individual has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Positive COVID-19 Test Results
Everyone who tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate at home for at least 5 days. Individuals may leave isolation after day 5 if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving and they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. Those who are able to wear a mask should do so from day 6 through day 10. For those who are unwilling or unable to mask, the VDH recommends 2 negative test results after 5 days of isolation. The first test should be taken on day 6, and the second test should be taken 48 hours after the first test.
COVID-19 Exposure/Close Contact
Quarantine is no longer recommended. Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, who has had close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, may continue to attend school and work as long as symptoms have not developed. Masks are optional for the 10 days following exposure. The last day of exposure to the positive person is considered day 0. Individuals may consider testing on or after day 5 of the exposure (or sooner if symptoms develop). Anyone who develops symptoms after a known exposure should isolate and contact their medical provider.
Traditional contact tracing with quarantine and isolation may take place under the direction of regional and local epidemiologists if a school or facility is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19.
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.