Nashoba Covid Guidelines & Protocols

Nashoba Regional School District

COVID-19 Guidelines and Protocols  

Hale Middle School 

Please read this update to Covid Guidelines for September 2021.
The purpose of these guidelines are to outline Nashoba Regional School District’s compliance with COVID-19 pandemic guidelines.  These guidelines have been carefully considered to address and promote the health and safety of all students and staff during in-person learning.  This outline complies with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the local board of health. Further included in this document are Hale Middle School specific protocols and procedures.

Parents and students should refer to the Self Check Screening Tool each day. By showing up for school, you are Self-Certifying that you have completed this screening check and that all answers are no. You DO NOT need to submit this form each day for approval. 

Students and staff must stay home if feeling unwell.  Everyone must do their part to protect others and not come to school if they are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms or are feeling sick.

Below is the full list of symptoms for which caregivers should monitor their children, and staff should monitor themselves:

❏ Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills

❏ Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)

❏ Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

❏ New loss of taste or smell

❏ Sore throat

❏ Headache when in combination with other symptoms

❏ Muscle aches or body aches

❏ Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

❏ Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms

❏ Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

If you answered YES to any one question above, you need to consider staying home. Please contact your supervisor and follow up by contacting your healthcare provider and ask to speak to a nurse to be sure that no further assessment is needed before coming to school/into the office. 

COVID-19 Symptoms and Response/Actions

COVID-19 symptoms while at school - If a staff member or student presents with symptoms while at school:  If a student presents with symptoms while at school, he/she/they should remain masked at all times, follow strict physical distancing, and notify the school nurse.  Once the school nurse is notified, the student will be instructed to stay in the medical waiting room which is separate from the Health Office where other ailments are treated.  Parents/guardians will be notified and should be available to pick up their student as soon as possible.  Parents/guardians will be notified and should be available to pick up their student as soon as possible. Students and staff with symptoms will be offered the Abbott-BinaxNOW test for COVID-19. If the student/staff is tested and tests positive, contact tracing will begin immediately. If the test is negative and/or the student/staff chooses not to be tested with the Abbott-BinaxNOW testing kit, the student/staff will be required to follow up with a PCR test before they may return to school. Staff members with symptoms should notify the school nurse, make sure there is coverage for their class, and then leave school to be tested.

COVID-19 Symptoms at home: If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms: If an individual is unwell and has COVID-like symptoms, he/she/they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19, have improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis (e.g., influenza or strep pharyngitis).

If a staff member or student has symptoms and they do not get tested:  If a student or staff member presents with COVID-19-like symptoms and chooses not to be tested, they may return to school 10 days from start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours prior to their return to school without the use of fever reducing medication.

COVID-19 positive – If a staff member or student tests positive:

If a student or staff member must remain home in self-isolation (except for medical appointments) monitor their symptoms, notify the school, notify personal close contact, assist the school in contact tracing efforts and answer the call from the local board of health or Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative.   For most people who have relatively mild illness, they will need to stay in self-isolation for at least 10 days AND until at least 3 days have passed with no fever and improvement in other symptoms without fever.

Definition of a close contact

A close contact is defined as only those who have been within 6 feet of distance of the individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting 2 days before illness onset until the time the individual is isolated;  or, for an asymptomatic individual, 2 days prior to test specimen collection.

For fully vaccinated individuals: 

Individuals who have received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine more than 14 days ago, the individual will not be required to quarantine following an exposure.

Please note that individuals who had COVID-19 in the last 90 days (from day of symptom onset or day of first positive test if asymptomatic), AND individuals who have received either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or a single dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, at least 14 days ago are not required to quarantine following an exposure.

Please see: General Ways to Stay Healthy

Student Arrival and Departure 

Student Arrival 

No early drop off will be permitted

Arrival (Bus)

  • Students will disembark from the school bus as directed by staff and access the portable hand-sanitizer station to sanitize hands located near entry points prior to entering one of the three front entrances to the school building.
  • Staff will supervise student social distancing and monitor students as they transition into the building. 

  • Students will follow directional arrows upon entry into the building. 
  • Doors will be open to eliminate unnecessary contact points with door handles.
  • Students in the bus line will disembark, by bus, and go in the rear bus entrance of HMS. Students will enter the building one bus at a time.
  • Students transported to school via specialized transportation (vans) will be dropped in the front of the building ahead of the parent drop off area.Middle Connections staff will meet their students in the front of the building to support students from the vans to the classroom.

Arrival (Parent Drop Off)

  • Parent drop off for arrival will occur in the front of the building. 
  • Staff will be in place to help guide cars and students from the vehicle to the sidewalk to ensure continuous flow of traffic and safety.
  • Students will be directed by staff assigned on duty to exit the car.
  • Upon entry, students will sanitize their hands using one of the portable hand sanitizer stations available near the entrance.
  • If parents need to contact the office they are asked to remain in their car and call the numbers listed on signage out front of the main entrance

Arrival (Walkers/Bike Riders)

  • Walkers and bike riders should wait by the bike rack area until directed by staff to enter the building.

  • Students are expected to wear a mask and maintain 6 ft. of social distancing (marked) until they are cleared to enter.

Student Departure

At the end of the day the bus riding students will depart first, then the pick-up students, followed by walking and bike riding students.

Dismissal (Bus)

  • Bus-riders will be dismissed at one time with staff supporting in the hallways and to help with social distancing.

  • Students will use hand-sanitizer prior to getting on the school bus. Portable hand-sanitizer stations will be located along the rear exit points.

Dismissal (Parent Pick Up)

  • Parent pick up for dismissal will occur in the front of the building.

  • Parents must display the last name of their child in the window of their car.

  • Parent pick up will be called after students are called to their respective buses.

  • Staff will communicate via walkie-talkie to facilitate departure per car.  

  • Students will keep their masks on and remain six feet from each other practicing social distancing during this end of the day transition.

Dismissal (Walkers/Bike Riders)

  • After the bus and car pick-up students have been dismissed from their classrooms, walkers/bike riders will be dismissed leaving through the front entrance of the building.

Late Arrival and Early Dismissal of Individual Students

Students arriving late to school should be dropped off at the front entrance and ring the front entrance doorbell. Parents/guardians should wait in their car until the student is admitted into the building. Parents/guardians will not be allowed to enter the building.

Students being dismissed from school in the middle of the day will be called to the office at the time of dismissal. Parents/guardians will be asked to either remain in their car in front of the building and call the main office or come to the front door and identify themselves for student dismissal. Parents/guardians should be prepared to show ID. 

Except in the case of an emergency or illness, parents/guardians will not be allowed to enter the building.

Parent Drop-Off of Items: The process for parents to drop off materials (eg. forgotten lunch or school books) to their child will be:

  • A table will be placed outside the front door.

  • Parents should place items on the cart and buzz the office to announce materials are being dropped off. All materials must be marked clearly with the student’s name.

  • Main office will retrieve items to distribute to students.

Visitors to HMS

Visitor access to HMS will be by appointment only. The exception would be for contracted service providers for the purpose of special education, required support services, program monitoring as authorized by the school or district or an outside vendor who may be working within the school during a predetermined time. In these cases, the following protocol will be followed:

  • Visitors will hand-sanitize upon entry and complete the designated COVID-19 health screener.

  • All visitors must log their visit by completing the COVID-19 State of Emergency Precautions Visitor Log, which will be outside the main office door. 

  • A log of all visitors will be kept and maintained for 30 days, with the date, contact phone number, arrival/departure times, and areas visited within the building for each visit to be referenced as needed for contact tracing Individuals entering the building will wear masks covering their nose and mouth at all times and will be made aware of any other health and safety protocols for the school.

  • The administration will recommend only one guardian to visit a building when necessary and continue to utilize virtual communication options with families when possible.

Health Office 

Health Office Visits:  In order to prevent potential exposure to vulnerable students receiving care for other medical treatments, all student visits to the Health Office will be triaged.

  1. Staff will be asked to call the Health Office with a request for a student visit. 

  2. Nurse will prioritize the student for a visit and direct them to  proceed independently (if able) to the Health Office or to stay in class and be directed to the first aid kit in the classroom. 

  3. Students and staff will not be able to use the bathroom in the Health Office       unless they are already in the Health Office due to illness.

Isolation Room

Isolation rooms/Medical holding: An isolation room has been identified in the Hale Health Office Suite. This separate isolation room will be utilized should a student or staff develop signs or symptoms of potential infection. If it is determined that a student should be sent home due to possible COVID-19 infection, the student will remain in the supervised isolation room or in an outdoor space with a staff member until the student can be transported home by the family. 

Regular Cleaning, Sanitizing, Disinfecting, and Disposal Protocols

The Nashoba Regional School District will ensure that facilities and surfaces are regularly cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected in accordance with health and safety guidelines and that hazardous materials are disposed of properly. Use of shared objects should be limited when possible and cleaned between use.

Hepa filters have been added to all classroom and office spaces. Windows will further be kept open to support air circulation throughout the space. 

No fans will be allowed in classrooms. 

Use of Elevators: Use of the elevators by more than two people at one time is prohibited except in the case of emergency. Signage in the elevators will alert users to these expectations. In front of the elevators, markers on the ground will instruct prospective users to remain socially distanced.

Face Coverings and Masks

Students and staff must wear face coverings or masks, with exceptions only for those students or staff for whom it is not safe to do so due to medical conditions or other considerations. Please see NRSD Face Covering Policy. Those who are unable to wear a mask must have a physician’s note stating that the individual is medically exempt from wearing a mask. Parents will be responsible for providing students with face coverings or masks. The student should arrive at school wearing a mask and should have a second one as a backup in their backpack.  NRSD will have backup disposable masks available for students who need them. All face coverings or masks must adequately cover both the nose and mouth. Masks with exhalation valves will not be allowed.

Mask breaks:  Outdoor class mask breaks have been built into the master schedule (minimum 2 per day). These built in mask breaks should be held outdoors, weather-permitting. Teachers may elect to have students take additional mask breaks within the classroom with windows and doors open.  Taking a 5-minute mask break every thirty minutes is suggested but will be left up to the discretion of the teacher.  Physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet is still imperative when outside without a mask. If a student needs a mask break outside of scheduled mask break times, it is okay for that student to go out into the hall ALONE for 2 minutes.  Teachers should check to make sure there is no one else in the hall before that individual goes out. Masks are to be worn inside even if everyone is 6 feet apart.

Mask Removal and Placement on Face:

  • Students and staff should adhere to the proper procedure for the removal and placement of masks on their face. Click here.

  • Students will be encouraged to use a break-away mask lanyard and/or provide an appropriate mask container from home.

Please see Proper Face Mask/Covering Protocol

Hand Hygiene

Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing: All students and staff must engage in frequent handwashing, including upon arrival, before and after eating, after bathroom use, after coughing or sneezing, before and after taking off/putting on face coverings or masks, and before dismissal. Effective hand washing requires that all individuals use soap and water to wash all surfaces of their hands for at least 20 seconds, wait for visible lather, rinse thoroughly, and dry with a disposable towel. If handwashing is not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or 70% isopropanol will be provided. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed into all surfaces of both hands until dry and should not be rubbed off onto clothing. 

Please see Hand-Washing Protocol

Hand Washing/Sanitization

Students and staff are encouraged to use hand-sanitizer/hand-wash throughout the school day. 

  • Students and staff will sanitize their hands upon arrival, before eating, before putting on and taking off masks, and before leaving the building.

  • Each classroom is equipped with a hand sanitizing unit on the wall near the door. There are also units in the hallways. 

  • Portable hand-sanitizers will be positioned near entry points during arrival and dismissal.

  • Note: Families may opt out of hand-sanitizer use for their child. This information will be provided to families at the beginning of the school health packet. 

  • Any student requesting to wash his/her/their hands, should be permitted to do so. 

Physical/Social Distancing

Maintaining 3 feet of separation while within classrooms: All students and staff must maintain a social distance of 3 feet to the greatest extent possible. We are revising the use of available indoor spaces to create 3 feet of physical distance in classrooms.  Students will be seated in assigned seats in the classroom at least 3 feet apart and facing the same direction. All students and staff will maintain a social distance of 3 feet when entering and exiting the building and moving through the school (including to and within restrooms) when feasible.  Students will NOT be allowed to roam the hallways or classroom areas. We plan to group students to minimize contacts between and among students and teachers. Students will not gather in large groups.“However, for short periods of time (eg 15-20 minutes several times per day), students may face each other for a “turn and talk” or other group activity. During these short periods, students should refrain from singing or engaging in activities that involve increased respiration.” (DESE Guidance on In-person Learning and Student Learning Time requirements- 3/9/21). “During meals, and any other time students and adults are not wearing masks, districts and schools must plan for a strict six feet of physical distance between individuals.” (DESE Guidance on In-person Learning and Student Learning Time requirements- 3/9/21). Students will all be separated at 6ft or more during lunch. During PE, “If outdoors with masks required, these activities can occur with 6 feet of distance between individuals. If indoors with masks required, these activities can occur with 6 feet of distance between individuals.” (Guidance for Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations for Fall 2020 (updated on March 1, 2021). During Band,“Instruction for musical instruments that require air blowing (e.g., flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, trombone) can occur outdoors or indoors, if in-person school is occurring, when individuals are at least 10 feet apart. These instruments will not be shared.” For musical instruments that require air blowing, the use of bell covers and instrument masks are encouraged. Instrument masks are regular masks with a slit or hole cut for the mouthpiece.[i] Spit valves should be emptied onto a disposable, absorbent pad rather than the floor so that contents can be contained. “Instruction for musical instruments that do not involve air blowing (e.g., strings, percussion, piano) may continue indoors or outdoors as long as health and safety requirements are met.” Students will be encouraged to clean their instruments regularly, especially the mouthpiece and high-touch surfaces, such as finger pads. For cleaning guidelines specific to each instrument, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Association for Music Education, and the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation have published COVID-19 Instrument Cleaning Guidelines. (DESE Guidance for Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations for Fall 2020, Updated March 1, 2021) “Teachers and staff should maintain six feet of distance from students and other staff when feasible. For short periods of time (e.g. helping a student individually, walking between desks, etc) teachers and other staff may be less than six feet away from others.” (DESE Guidance on In-person Learning and Student Learning Time requirements- 3/9/21). 

Signs and Messages:  Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., school entrances, restrooms) that promote everyday protective measures such as properly washing hands, social distancing, and how to properly wear a face covering or mask.  School-wide communications will be made via email or all-school calls unless an individual situation warrants a phone call to a parent/guardian.  

Hallway Movement & Student Transitions

HMS will follow a strict physical distance protocol of maintaining 3 feet when transitioning and moving within the hallways.

  • Hallways at HMS have been divided into two lanes.

  • Hallways have been marked with 6 ft. social distancing decals. 

  • Hallway travel will follow a uniflow design.

  • This uniflow will be followed whenever possible. 

  • Transition times will be staggered to avoid students crossing over uniflow travel patterns whenever possible.

  • Students will walk in single lines in the hallways.

  • Students will be limited in their movements and transitions during the school day as they will stay together in their instructional group throughout the school day; this will include the classroom, cafeteria, recess, and some transitions.

  • Students will be limited to other transitions to the office, health office, counselor office; the students will transition to those spaces only after staff coordination has been predetermined to monitor and track students.

  • Water fountains have been shut off at this time and will not be used.

Movement Breaks (for students with accommodations)

Students with a movement accommodation may access a break only under the supervision of an available adult. 

Inside the classroom: Students will take a break within the classroom in a preselected space (or manner) that will be determined by the teacher in each classroom. Students will continue to social distance from others in order for the student to be able to regroup and reset for a few minutes quietly amongst their peers.

Outside the classroom:  If there is only one teacher/staff member in the classroom and a movement break out of the classroom is necessary, the staff member should contact the office for support. 

Students/staff accessing a movement break out of the classroom should follow uniflow  hallway routes and do so in single file. Upon reentry to the classroom, students and staff must hand-sanitize or wash hands. 

Use of the Restroom

All restroom visits will be documented to ensure single usage of the restroom and to provide documentation for contact tracing as needed.

  • Two students will be allowed into the restroom at a time.

  • All hall pass requests must be granted permission by the teacher prior to the student leaving the classroom. This is to ensure minimal interaction in the hallway and to further ensure that no more than one student is using the restroom at a time.

  • Students should “sign out” of classrooms and then sanitize their hands when leaving the room. No “sign in” is required.

  • If the bathroom is in use, students should wait in the hall on one of the designated spots marked on the floor.

  • Students should notify their teacher in the event of an emergency. In these cases, exceptions will be granted.

  • There will be some students who will need accommodations due to IHCP or 504 which specify unlimited access to the bathroom or nurse. Individual students plans will be developed to support these accommodations as needed. 

  • Students should follow proper hand-washing procedure after restroom use.

  • Students must use the hand-sanitizing station upon entry and exit to the restroom.

Sharing of Materials and Equipment

Student/teacher/staff sharing of equipment will be minimized. Students will be provided individual materials/resources to use whenever and wherever possible. 

  • Individual grade level student supply lists were provided to families during the summer of 2020. Additional supplies will be provided for students on an as needed basis by the school. 

  • Lockers usage will be prohibited. Students will use a backpack to contain their possessions neatly and in a classroom put on the back of the chair, on the floor, or under the desk. (Note: student cell phones should be turned off prior to morning announcements to eliminate learning disruptions).

  • In the event that equipment is shared, students/staff must wash or hand-sanitize their hands.

  • Equipment that is shared between class sections must be cleaned prior to use whenever possible.

  • Books do not need to be sanitized or disinfected. Students should wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after checking out books. Library books may be checked out if students clean their hands before and after use and if students only select books from the shelves, instead of the return area. Books and other paper-based materials are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional cleaning procedures.


  • Students and staff will sanitize their hands prior to transitioning to recess 

  • Four recess areas have been designated and marked to reduce students from co-mingling with other sections 

  • Class sections will have limited interactions with other class sections. 

  • While at recess, students will be able to play and socialize maintaining a 6 ft. social distance (without mask). Some students may opt to keep their mask on.  (ex., two students will be able to pass a ball back and forth)

  • Students will sanitize prior to transitioning back into the building.

  • Students will line up in a social distancing format in their groupings and enter the building one class at a time led by staff.

  • Students will sanitize their hands prior to transitioning to the cafeteria 

  • Each class section will have a recess bag the items of which will be cleaned between cohort usage.


Outdoor dining has been prioritized over indoor dining. Students will be asked to remain outside for lunch and recess whenever possible. During inclimate weather conditions students will eat lunch indoors. Students will have an assigned seat and will be required to stay in their seat during the lunch session unless they are using the restroom. Students must request to use the restroom before departing. Students will be separated by 6ft. 

  • All students will hand-sanitize prior to entry.

  • Students will sit in an assigned seat.

  • Students who are buying lunch will pick up their meal in the serving line with proper spacing and wearing masks. All lunches will be prepackaged. Two to Three options for lunch will be offered for students on a daily basis. 

  • Once seated at their designated seat, students may remove their masks using appropriate mask removal protocol (lanyard or container). 

  • Students will have access to potable water as needed. 

  • Students will remain in their assigned seat for the duration of the lunch period.

  • Duty staff will circulate in the cafeteria to check on students, answer any questions, or provide support as needed.

  • Duty staff will assist students with the discard of trash by moving barrels to each table for the students to throw away trash individually. This is to eliminate travel within the two lunch area spaces.

  • Students will raise their hands and ask the duty staff if they are in need to use the restroom; a log will be kept for all students who leave the cafeteria to use the restroom.

  • Custodial staff will complete all cleaning tasks between lunch sessions. A 5 minute cleaning period has been built into the master schedule.

  • Students will sanitize their hands prior to leaving the cafeteria to use the restroom or go outside to recess.

  • Students will put their masks on prior to going outside for recess using appropriate mask application protocol.

  • Teachers will dismiss one section of students at a time to line up to go outside for recess.


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