Communicable Disease – Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan

This Continuity of Operations Plan has been developed to meet the requirements of subsection (2)(m) of Education Law §2801-a, which requires public employers to prepare a plan for the continuation of operations in the event that the governor declares a public health emergency involving a communicable disease. 

This plan is built upon the components of the BOCES-Wide School Safety Plan and the Building-Level Emergency Response plan(s). This plan includes elements of the COVID-19 Reopening Plan and will be updated regularly to reflect current guidance and best practices.

The District-Wide School Safety Team assumes responsibility for development and compliance with all provisions of this plan and implementation at the building level through the Building-Level Emergency Response Team.

Capital Region BOCES will work closely with the Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady, Saratoga and Clinton County Department(s) of Health to determine the need for activation of this plan. Capital Region BOCES will report suspected and confirmed cases of communicable diseases (e.g., influenza, coronavirus, etc.) on the monthly Communicable Disease Report, (DMS-485.7/93; HE-112.4/81) and submit it to the local health department. Depending on the severity of the disease, the district may be required to report information more frequently and in another format, (i.e., daily for COVID-19).

The local health department will monitor county-wide communicable disease cases and inform school districts as to appropriate actions.

BOCES-Wide School Safety Team

When this plan is activated, the BOCES-Wide School Safety Team may invite additional people to the meetings to aid in the planning efforts:

  • Senior Executive Officer
  • District Medical Director
  • School nurse(s)
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Deputy District Superintendent – Curriculum and Instruction (or designee)
  • Human Resources Director
  • Director Business Operations
  • Facilities Director
  • Food Service Director
  • Director of Communications and Public Relations  

Communication

Communication with parents, students, staff, and the school community is important throughout a pandemic outbreak. Communication methods will include postings to the BOCES website, general mailings, email, social media, school communication apps, and the public media. The Director of Communications & Public Relations has been designated to coordinate this effort. Communications will work closely with the Chief Technology Officer to ensure proper function of all communication systems.

Essential Positions/Titles

Capital Region BOCES has developed this plan to prepare for any future government ordered shutdowns that may occur, similar to the coronavirus shutdown in the spring of 2020. Attachment 1 includes a list of essential positions that would be required to be on-site or in district to continue to function as opposed to those positions that could work remotely. The list includes:

  • Title – a list of positions/titles considered essential (i.e., could not work remotely) in the event of a state-ordered reduction of in-person workforce.
  • Description – brief description of job function.
  • Justification – brief description of critical responsibilities that could not be provided remotely.
  • Work Shift – brief description of how work shifts of essential employees and/or contractors will be staggered in order to reduce overcrowding in the district.
  • Protocol – how precise hours and work locations, including off-site visits, will be documented for essential employees and contractors.

Working/Learning Remotely

Capital Region BOCES will assess technology needs of all non-essential employees and contractors in order to enable telecommuting.

  • Options for assessing CRB technology needs includes but is not limited to a survey to ascertain:
  • Who will need devices and/or peripherals at home;
  • What software if any will need to be added to these devices;
  • The availability of viable existing at-home Internet service;
  • Other items as related

Reducing Risk

Depending on the exact nature of the communicable disease and its impact, the CRB is prepared to use strategies to reduce traffic congestion and maintain social distancing. Examples include:

  • Limiting building occupancy to 25%, 50% or 75% of capacity or the maximum allowable by state or local guidance.
  • Remote working as applicable.
  • Restrict occupancy in common areas.
  • Forming employee work shift cohorts to limit potential contacts.
  • Limit employee travel within the building and/or between buildings.
  • Limit restroom usage to specific work areas.
  • Stagger arrival and dismissal times.
  • Alternate work-days or work weeks.
  • Limit or eliminate visitors to the building.

Capital Region BOCES may need to include additional strategies based on updated federal, state, and local guidance.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings

Capital Region BOCES will procure as necessary and available at least a six-month supply of face coverings and PPE required for essential work tasks.

PPE Type/Division and Role:

N-95 Respirators — Nurses/Nurses’ Aides, Cleaners/Custodians (based on disinfectants used)

Face Shields — Nurses/Nurses’ Aides, Special Education staff, as applicable.

Gowns — Nurses/Nurses’ Aides, Special Education staff, as applicable.

Gloves — Nurses/Nurses’ Aides, Special Education, as applicable, Cleaners/Custodians, Maintenance/Mechanics.

Cloth Face Coverings* — All faculty, staff and students.

* Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment, however, cloth face coverings are important as a source control for COVID-19 and provides some protection to the wearer. As such, OSHA strongly encourages workers to wear face coverings.

Those individuals that are required to wear N-95 respirators will be fit-tested and medically screened prior to use to ensure they are physically able to do so.

The use of cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of communicable diseases is important to the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected (asymptomatic) and are essential when physical distancing is difficult. Information will be provided to faculty, staff and students on proper use, removal, and cleaning of cloth face coverings. All faculty, staff and students will be encouraged to utilize their own personal face coverings but CRB will secure and provide face coverings as needed.

PPE and face coverings will be stored in a manner which will prevent degradation. These supplies will be monitored to ensure integrity and track usage rates.

Continuity of Operations

Continuity of operations could be severely impacted by a loss of staff. The table below describes the procedures for maintaining essential functions and services by planning for backup personnel.

Role/Topic and Tasks

Overall Operations — Have decision-making authority for the organization. Create policies and procedures to reflect crisis response.

Person/People Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • District Superintendent
  • Senior Executive Officer
  • Deputy District Supt & Chief Operating Officer
  • Deputy District Supt. – Curriculum & Instruction
  • Assistant Superintendent – NERIC
  • School Attorney

Business Office — Maintain overall business office function. Monitor utilization of supplies, equipment, contracts and provided services and adjust as necessary.

Person Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • Director of Business Operations

Facilities — Keep administration informed of staffing issues and of the point at which buildings can no longer be maintained; Provide building administrators with procedures for maintaining essential building functions (e.g., HVAC system operation, alarms, security, etc.) along with a list of telephone numbers of outside companies and alternates for repair and maintenance of these systems; Meet with staff and monitor their ability to maintain essential function

Person Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • Director of Facilities

Human Resources — Monitor staffing and ensure appropriate delegation of authority; Plan for emergency use of personnel in non-traditional functions and changes in the normal work-day such as alternate or reduced work hours, working from home, etc.

Person Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • Director of Human Resources

Continuity of Instruction — Will be implemented in the event of significant absences or school closure. Alternate learning strategies will include:

  • Hard copy, self-directed lessons.
  • Use of mobile media storage devices for lessons.
  • Online instruction; web based resources; online textbooks.
  • Communication modalities for assignment postings and follow-up: LMS, telephone; postal service; cell phone, cell phone mail, text messages; e-mail; automated notification systems; website postings.

People Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • Deputy District Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
  • Director of Special Education
  • Coordinator of Special Education
  • Director of Educational Support Services
  • Director of Career and Technical Education
  • School/Program Principals

Capital Region BOCES Technology Support — IT team assigned to handle all tech requests throughout the organization.

People Responsible for Identifying Back-Up Personnel:

  • Chief Technology Officer

Response

The BOCES-Wide School Safety Team will meet to determine the need for activation of a pandemic response based on internal monitoring and correspondence with the local health department and other experts.

  • The Incident Command Structure at both the District and Building level will be informed that the response effort has been enacted. These individuals will meet to discuss the plan’s activation and review responsibilities and communication procedures.
  • Communications will work closely with Chief Technology Officer/CRB Tech Team to test all communication systems to ensure proper function. The BOCES-Wide School Safety Team and Building-Level Emergency Response Teams will assist in this effort.
  • An alert will be sent to the BOCES/school community upon activation of this plan. The communication will be based on the latest information from federal, state and local health authorities.
  • If the decision is made to close a school building, the BOCES will notify the NYS Education Department.

Capital Region BOCES will assign a Communicable Disease Safety Coordinator for the organization, whose responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the BOCES reopening plan and any phased-in reopening activities necessary to allow for operational issues to be resolved before activities return to normal. The Coordinator shall be the main contact upon the identification of positive communicable disease cases and is responsible for subsequent communication. The Coordinator or his/her designee shall be responsible for answering questions from students, faculty, staff, and parents or legal guardians of students regarding the public health emergency and plans implemented by the BOCES.

Hand Hygiene

Faculty, staff, and students will be trained on proper hand hygiene. Information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce hand hygiene at home.

  • For hand washing: soap, running water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where hand washing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

Communicable Disease Exposures

Capital Region BOCES must be prepared for communicable disease outbreaks in their local communities and for individual exposure events to occur in their facilities, regardless of the level of community transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) have provided recommendations for strategies to follow after an exposure:

  • Close off areas used by a sick person and not using these areas until after cleaning and disinfection has occurred;
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfection. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person suspected or confirmed to have a communicable disease, such as offices, classrooms, bathrooms, lockers, and common areas.
  • Once the area has been appropriately cleaned and disinfected it can be reopened for use.
  • Individuals without close or proximate contact with the person suspected or confirmed to have a communicable disease can return to the area and resume school activities immediately after cleaning and disinfection.
  • If more than seven days have passed since the person who is suspected or confirmed to have a communicable disease visited or used the facility, additional cleaning or disinfection is not necessary, but routine cleaning and disinfection should continue.

Contact Tracing

Capital Region BOCES will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive communicable disease diagnostic test result by an individual within BOCES facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.

BOCES may assist with contact tracing by:

  • Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members.
  • Ensuring student schedules are up to date.
  • Keeping a log of any visitor that includes date and time, and where in the school they visited.
  • Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program.

Capital Region BOCES, in consultation with the local health department, will determine what process will be followed when communicable disease cases are discovered in the school (e.g., how many individuals will be quarantined, closing of areas or classrooms, etc.).

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

Returning After Illness

Capital Region BOCES has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for communicable disease symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:

  • Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation.
  • Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result.
  • Symptom resolution, or if positive for a communicable disease, release from isolation.

Capital Region BOCES will refer to the NYSDOH’s “Pre-K to Gr 12 COVID-19 Toolkit” and other applicable guidance regarding protocols and policies for faculty, staff, and students seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed communicable disease case or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with a communicable disease.

Capital Region BOCES requires that individuals who were exposed to a communicable disease complete quarantine and have no symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

Cleaning/Disinfecting

Capital Region BOCES will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and NYSDOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection – Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes” and other guidance, as applicable.

Attachment 2 describes cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures for the BOCES. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.

Capital Region BOCES will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.  

Capital Region BOCES has determined employee procedures for available leave in the event of the need of an employee to receive testing, treatment, isolation, or quarantine. These procedures are consistent with existing federal, state, or local law, including regarding sick leave or health information privacy.

Housing for Essential Employees

Emergency housing for essential workers is not considered to be required for school faculty and staff.  The need for emergency housing will be determined with direction from the local department of health.  

Recovery

Re-establishing the normal school curriculum is essential to the recovery process and should occur as soon as possible.

  • Work toward a smooth transition from the existing learning methods to the normal process.
  • Use the described communication methods to keep the school community aware of the transition process.
  • Work closely with the New York State Education Department to revise or amend the school calendar as deemed appropriate.
  • Evaluate all building operations for normal function and re-implement appropriate maintenance and cleaning procedures.

Each Building-Level Post-incident Response Team will assess the emotional impact of the crisis on students and staff and make recommendations for appropriate intervention. The BOCES-Wide School Safety Team and Building-Level Emergency Response Teams will meet to de-brief and determine lessons learned with input from all essential functions. The BOCES-Wide School Safety Plan and Building-Level Emergency Response Plans will be updated accordingly.

Curriculum activities that may address the crisis will be developed and implemented.

Attachment 1 – List of Essential Employees

  • District Superintendent – Administrative Operations. Oversees the organization wide development of plans, employment, policies and procedures for emergency planning, mitigation and recovery. Justification: The Superintendent, Senior Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy District Superintendents oversee emergency planning, daily operations and community/district communication.
  • Senior Executive Officer – Administrative Operations. Oversees the organization wide development of plans, employment, policies and procedures for emergency planning, mitigation and recovery. Justification: The Superintendent, Senior Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy District Superintendent oversee emergency planning, daily operations and community/district communication.
  • Deputy Superintendent – Administrative Operations. Oversees the organization wide development of plans, employment, policies and procedures for emergency planning, mitigation and recovery. Justification: The Superintendent, Senior Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy District Superintendent oversee emergency planning, daily operations and community/district communication.
  • All Directors, Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors. Oversees the Division level development of plans and procedures for emergency planning, mitigation and recovery. Justification: Required to operationalize response at the division level.
  • Principals. Oversee the building level development of plans and procedures for emergency planning, mitigation and recovery. Justification: Required to operationalize response at the division level.
  • All Central Administration Business Office Staff. Oversees organization wide fiscal continuity, emergency planning, mitigation and recovery.  Justification: Required for business continuity and to operationalize response at the organization-wide level.
  • All Central Administration Human Resources Staff. Oversees organization wide staffing and benefits continuity, emergency planning, mitigation and recovery.  Justification: Required for business continuity and to operationalize response at the organization-wide level.
  • All Facilities Services & Operations and Maintenance Staff. Provides daily cleaning, maintenance and repairs. Justification: The director oversees facilities staff, establishes task priorities, and coordinates the supplies; staff members perform maintenance duties within the building, including repairs.
  • All Food Service Staff. Provides breakfast and lunch to students who participate in all models of learning (In person, remote, and hybrid). Justification: The food service director establishes the food menu, organizes staff, and coordinates food distribution; food service staff prepare meals on-site and assist with food distribution.
  • Central Administration Communications Staff. Oversees all internal and external communications. Justification: Required for business continuity and to operationalize response at the organization-wide level.
  • Technology Staff. Supports the network hardware and provides technical assistance for remote students and staff. Justification: The supervisor establishes all priorities for IT tasks and organizes staff; IT staff members provide support in setting up hardware and software, network management, and help desk support. 

Attachment 2 – Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols and Procedures 

Details in this attachment include: Room Types/Areas, Cleaning Frequency, Disinfection Frequency, Responsible Party and Additional Information.

  • Classrooms — cleaning 2x daily, disinfecting 2x daily by custodial staff. Responsible party and additional Information: staff and teachers, doors, desks, chairs and floors.
  • Restrooms — cleaning 3-4x daily, disinfecting 3-4x daily by custodial staff. Additional Information: Doors and sinks will be done twice daily. Floors will be done once daily.
  • Health Offices/Isolation Rooms — cleaning after each use, disinfecting after each use. Responsible party and additional Information: Nursing staff; Custodial staff. Cots, bathrooms and health office equipment will be cleaned after each use. Floors will be done once daily.
  • Breakrooms — cleaning 2x daily, disinfecting 2x daily. Responsible party and additional Information: Custodial staff, Doors, tables, chairs and floors.
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens — cleaning 2x daily, disinfecting 2x daily. Responsible party and additional Information: Custodial staff; staff and teachers
    Tables and chairs will be cleaned/disinfected in between each group’s use. Floors will be done once daily.
  • Computer Labs — cleaning 2x daily, disinfecting 2x daily. Responsible party and additional Information: Custodial staff; staff and teachers
    Equipment to be cleaned/disinfected between each use. Doors, tables, chairs and floors will be done once daily.
  • Playgrounds — cleaning as needed, disinfecting as needed. Responsible party and additional Information: Custodial staff, playgrounds not used frequently.
  • School Vehicles — cleaning after each use, disinfecting after each use. Responsible party and additional Information: Staff using vehicles.
  • Administrative Offices — cleaning daily, disinfecting daily. Responsible party and additional Information: Custodial staff. Doors, desks, chairs, and floors.
  • Large Meeting Areas (e.g., gymnasiums, auditoriums, music rooms) — cleaning N/A, disinfecting N/A, responsible party N/A. Additional Information: These areas are not going to be used. When these areas will be returned to use, then an appropriate frequency for cleaning/disinfection will be established.
  • Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, copy machine buttons, handles, etc.) — cleaning 3-4x daily, disinfecting 3-4x daily by custodial staff.
  • Shared frequently touched surfaces (e.g., keyboards, desks, phones, laptops, tablets, remote controls, etc.) — cleaning after each use, disinfecting after each use by staff using shared surfaces.
  • Shared equipment (e.g., hand tools, facilities equipment, groundskeeping equipment, golf cart, etc.) — cleaning after each use, disinfecting after each use by staff using equipment.