Frequently Asked Questions
Throughout the current pandemic, Visitation Academy has been closely monitoring the best ways to deliver an excellent education while at the same time making sure members of our community are safe. This effort has been led by a task force that consists of the school’s leadership team. Please feel free to reach out to our school nurse with any specific concerns. In addition, we have been working with a number of experts in public health, medicine, and education to make sure we are on top of the latest developments in this ever-changing and evolving situation. We are coordinating our efforts and pooling expertise with such organizations as the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, and the Independent Schools of St. Louis. Our top priority in all of this is the safety of our community.
Below is a series of questions that we have received along with our answers. Please take a few moments to read this over. As always, let us know if you have any further questions. A more detailed set of information about academic and athletic plans can be found on the COVID-19 resource page on the Viz website. As new information becomes available, guidelines may shift, and the community will be notified of any changes to these guidelines.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19? (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Our nursing staff, faculty, and staff are all being trained to identify and appropriately respond to the following symptoms:
- MINOR RISK SYMPTOMS:
- Fever (>100.0°F)
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose*
- MAJOR RISK SYMPTOMS:
- Loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing*
*These symptoms are listed as new onset symptoms. If a student or faculty member has allergies, asthma, or any other medical condition with these pre-existing symptoms, it is advised that you let us know ahead of time to minimize confusion. A note from your family physician would be helpful for our nursing staff.
If your child has any of these symptoms, you should not, under any circumstance, send them to school. We recommend that you contact your family physician for guidance in medical care.
If your student starts to display one or more minor risk symptoms, they will be assessed and monitored for 30 minutes by our nurses, if symptoms do not resolve, they will be sent home.
If your student starts to display two or more minor risk symptoms, or one major risk symptoms, they will be sent home immediately, and so will any siblings who also happen to attend.
If you keep one student at home for any of these symptoms, the sibling students should also be kept home to contain the possibility of spreading any contagion to another student/faculty member.
Students who exhibit these symptoms should remain home until the child has been symptom free for 72 hours without use of antipyretics, antiemetics, or other medications that suppress the active symptoms.
How will Visitation Academy monitor COVID-19 symptoms?
- Faculty, staff, and parents are required to submit a health surveillance attestation. A symptom self-attestation involves an individual or parent reviewing a list of symptoms and declaring the presence or absence of those symptoms. The health surveillance attestation will be submitted every Monday morning by 7 a.m. on the Viz Portal. Faculty, staff, or students who do not have a valid health surveillance attestation will not be admitted on the campus.
- There will be COVID-19 symptoms posted throughout campus as a reminder to the community.
- The faculty and staff are trained to identify COVID-19 symptoms and how to properly respond when someone develops or shows potential symptoms of COVID-19. Because COVID-19 is a rapidly changing and evolving disease, Visitation is proactively staying abreast of all new reported information regarding COVID-19 per CDC guidelines and the National Institutes of Health.
How is Visitation Academy making sure the building itself is safe?
- We are implementing a strict regimen of disinfecting the campus as this is the best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 in community settings.
- The school is sprayed daily with an industrial-strength or EPA-registered disinfectant.
- All bathrooms will be bleached daily.
- All classrooms and offices will be wiped down and disinfected following each use.
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout campus. The use of hand sanitizer by younger children will be closely supervised by the faculty and handwashing will be the primary option when available.
- Handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds will be strongly recommended as the primary choice for hand hygiene.
- High-touch surfaces (such as door knobs, handrails, desks/tabletops) will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.
- The cafeteria and vending machines will receive focused cleaning and disinfection based on use patterns by the students.
- The locker rooms will be disinfected nightly, as well as the bleachers after any evening games.
- The students will be asked to refrain from sharing or using one another’s laptop or books.
What about mask usage?
- ALL students will be required to wear masks beginning Wednesday, September 16. This includes Toddlers.
- All students will be instructed how to properly wear a mask and each child’s mask must be labeled or easily identified so that it may not be interchanged or mixed-up.
- All students will be required to bring and wear a mask during the day when social distancing is not possible.
- Masks may not have logos, messages or advertisements of any kind except for approved Visitation Academy logos.
- Masks with valves and neck gaiters have statistically been proven ineffective and should not be used on campus as they do not prevent the possibility of spreading a disease (common flu or COVID alike).
- All students will be required to wear masks when they walk to the cafeteria, but not when they are seated at their lunch tables. Social distancing will be encouraged and enforced during these times.
- School staff will be provided medical-grade face masks and will be required to wear a face mask or face shield on campus, especially when within six feet of another individual; they will be instructed in the proper manner a face mask should be worn.
All faculty and staff will be required to wear a mask during the day when on campus, especially when social distancing is not possible.
Visitors on campus will be limited to those deemed essential and , and especially when social distancing is not possible. There will be no exceptions.
- If you or your child has a condition that impedes you from wearing a mask, you and your child should not be on campus for the protection and health of the members of our community per the St. Louis County mandate. Please reach out to your child’s principal as soon as possible in order to make arrangements.
Under what circumstances would we close school?
- If there is an Archdiocesan, state, local, or federal mandate to close the school, Visitation Academy will close until the authorities deem it safe to reopen.
- If a member of the Visitation Academy community contracts COVID-19, a determination about whether and how long we would close the school will be made in accordance with St. Louis County Health Department officials and the members of the Administrative Council. According to the St. Louis County Health Department and CDC COVID-19 exposure guidelines:
- If an individual within a school building tests positive for COVID-19, schools must work with their local health department.
- Identify who the individual was in contact with, within a six-foot space, for at least 15 minutes. If specific contacts cannot be identified, quarantine everyone who was in the same room or other areas.
- The St. Louis County Health Department suggests that if over five percent of the student body in a building or district test positive any day, four percent test positive over two days in a row or three percent test positive for three days in a row, then that building or district closes for 10 days (percentages may change when better scientific data becomes available).
Given the ever-changing set of circumstances, these recommendations may change based on updates from the CDC and Missouri/St. Louis Department of Health.
What will Viz do if a student is sick? (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Our priority, if we identify someone as sick, is to isolate, and we will require immediate transportation home or to a healthcare facility.
Click here to view our School Nurse Algorithm Screening Tool in a new window.
- Students, faculty, and staff and their families or children should not come to school if they are sick or they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
- Students, faculty, and staff who share a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are considered in close contact and should not report to school for any circumstance until they have been quarantined for 14 days after the last time of contact, per the St. Louis County Health Dept.
- Students, faculty, and staff and their families should notify school officials if they or their child or their families become sick 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.
- We will immediately separate staff and students with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) at school. Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility depending on how severe their symptoms are and follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick.
- If Visitation Academy health staff identify a student as needing to go home, parents or guardians have one hour to pick them up. No exceptions.
- We have an isolation room or area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive but does not have symptoms. We are using Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions from the CDC when caring for sick people.
- If a member of the community is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will clean and disinfect the school. This involves:
- Closing off areas used by a sick person until after cleaning and disinfecting.
- The area will be closed for at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
- We will immediately notify health officials and close contacts of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
- Per the CDC: “For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.”
- If someone tests positive and your child is identified by the school as someone who was in close contact, the school will determine, at its sole discretion, that your child must stay home for 14 days. This may cause a child care issue so parents will need to have a plan to address this situation should it arise.
- The infected individual will not be identified, therefore, your child’s level of contact with the infected person will not be open for discussion.
- Even if your child tests negative for COVID-19, he or she will still need to stay at home the entire 14-day period.
- The 14-day quarantine also will preclude participation in any school related event, whether sporting, religion, or social related.
Does Visitation Academy have adequate supplies of PPE?
- We have closely assessed our specific needs as an academic community and spent the past several months stocking up on the necessary supplies to be able to provide a safe educational environment for our faculty, staff, and students for the 2020-2021 school year.
How will Visitation Academy ensure that we are keeping population density low in the building?
- The principals are creatively working on maximizing usage of classrooms and large spaces, both indoors and outdoors. We will try to utilize outdoor space while the weather permits, which allows for open space and good ventilation.
- Viz community gatherings such as all-school Masses and assemblies will be conducted virtually until the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
- Students will be prohibited from congregating in the hallways and will be required to be in classrooms.
- Bathroom access policies will be modified.
- Students cannot go in groups.
- Handwashing is a MUST when visiting the bathroom.
- When students arrive in the morning, they will be required to go to a classroom with limited occupancy.
- Students who arrive early will have to go to designated classrooms and spaces.
- Classroom transitions will be closely monitored and regulated to ensure minimal congestion in the hallways.
- Students will only be in the hall during the day to change classes and to access their lockers. There will be no standing, stopping, or congregating in the hallways.
- Visitor access, including parents, will be strictly limited.
- Except for emergencies, parents will not be allowed access to the campus.
- Deliveries will be closely monitored.
- All essential visitors (i.e., admission visitors and service technicians) will be required to sanitize before entry and will be required to wear masks. In addition, the receptionist will administer health screening questions to these essential visitors before admitting them (i.e., if you or anyone you are in close contact with have (1) fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or cold-like symptoms, (2) returned from an area with known local spread of COVID-19, or (3) been exposed to anyone testing positive for COVID-19). The visitor will then be required to sign a form that confirms their response to these questions.
With the school no longer providing students and staff with food service, how will students and staff have access to food and water?
- Students and staff should bring their own lunch each day.
- If your child forgets to bring lunch, there will be a few options.
- Lower School students will be provided a very light alternative.
- Lower School students will still receive a snack.
- Middle and Upper School students will have some options. Details to follow in the coming weeks.
- NO FOOD DELIVERIES WILL BE ACCEPTED from delivery services or any others.
- Water fountains and bottle fillers will be closed, so make sure your students bring adequate water to campus.
What if my child is immunocompromised?
- If students cannot come to campus due to health conditions, we will be providing distance-learning options for them.
We have many challenges ahead of us, and these guidelines are designed to help us navigate them as best we can as a community. As new information becomes available, guidelines may shift and community members will be notified of any changes to these guidelines. As such, we ask that you keep the lines of communication open. Reach out with any concerns or any questions. Also, please be sure to follow our guidelines. We need to work together so we can keep everyone safe.