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Safety Standards and Control Plan: Occupational Schools and Testing Centers

Mandatory reopening safety standard and a COVID-19 Control Plan template checklist for occupational schools and testing centers.

During Phase II of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan, occupational schools and testing centers are permitted to open their brick-and-mortar premises to the public for the limited purposes of permitting students to complete a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion.

These COVID-19 safety standards are minimum requirements only and are not exclusive or exhaustive. The public health data and matrix for disease prevention upon which these guidelines are based can and does change frequently.  The operator of the occupational school and testing center is accountable for adhering to all local, state and federal requirements and for staying abreast of any updates to these requirements.

The following specific safety standards are organized around four distinct categories covering Social Distancing, Hygiene Protocols, Staffing and Operations, and Cleaning and Disinfecting.

Table of Contents

Social Distancing

  • 8 persons (including staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible, indoor space; or
  • 40% of the occupational school or testing center’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder
  • Schools and Testing Centers for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may rely on the 8 persons per 1,000 square feet method
  • In person instruction may be required only for portions of the class requiring in-person participation
  • In classrooms/testing centers, ensure six feet of physical distancing among all participants (e.g., move desks and tables, use distance markers to assure spacing).
  • Physical partitions must separate seating that cannot be separated by 6 feet or more (partitions must be at least 6 feet in height). 
  • To the maximum extent feasible, administrative staff and other employees should work remotely.
  • Stagger any on-site class schedules to reduce contact among students in different classes.
  • Stagger work schedules for on-site instructors, and any other employees, for whom it’s not feasible to work remotely.
  • In Occupational Schools assign each person to designated areas (e.g., classroom, offices, floor) where possible to limit movement throughout the school premises and limit in-person contact between students, instructors and staff.
  • Improve ventilation for enclosed classrooms, clinic area, offices, and other enclosed spaces where possible (e.g., open doors and windows).
  • Use visual social distancing markers to encourage all persons to remain six feet apart (e.g., lines to speak with instructors or administrators, lines to use the restroom) and physical barriers where possible.
  • Close or reconfigure common spaces and high density areas where students, instructors or administrators are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms, eating areas) to allow 6 feet of physical distancing; redesign classrooms and all other areas to ensure physical distancing (e.g., separate tables, use distance markers to assure spacing).
  • Cafeterias must practice physical distancing and appropriate hygiene measures and may reopen for take-out food only; self-serve, unattended buffets, topping bars, drink stations and other communal serving areas must remain closed
  • Establish directional hallways and passageways for foot traffic, if possible, to minimize contact. Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies.
  • Limit visitors, where feasible, and avoid congregation in common areas (e.g., lobbies).
  • Stagger lunch and break times to regulate the maximum number of people in one place and ensuring at least six feet of physical distancing.
  • Minimize the use of confined spaces (e.g., elevators, conference rooms, vehicles) by more than one individual at a time.
  • Require all students/test takers and staff to wear face coverings except when this presents a health risk due to a health condition or disability.
  • Contactless payment methods are encouraged.

Hygiene Protocols

  • Ensure access to handwashing facilities on-site, including: soap and running water, wherever possible, and encourage frequent handwashing; allow sufficient break time to wash hands frequently. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol may be used as an alternative.
  • Supply students and instructors with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes).
  • Require cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch areas such as workstations, door handles, and restrooms at least twice a day, during hours of operation.
  • Avoid sharing of materials and equipment, and disinfect equipment between use (e.g., telephones, copy machine touch screens, lab equipment, tools, machinery, and fax machines).
  • Post visible signage throughout the school to remind students, instructors and all others of the hygiene and safety protocols.

Staffing and Operations

  • Establish and communicate a worksite specific COVID-19 Prevention Plan for all school locations, including:
    • Contact information for local health authorities, including the MA Department of Public Health, and your local / municipal health authority.
    • Regularly evaluate all workspaces to ensure compliance with all federal, state and local guidelines.  
  • All individuals present in the school must wear face coverings at all times, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability
  • School administrators are encouraged continue to telework if feasible. Meetings with external parties should be remote to reduce density in the school.
  • Provide training to students, instructors, and administrative staff on up-to-date safety information and precautions, including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission. Specifically, this training should include:
    • Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings;
    • Self-screening at home, including temperature or symptom checks;
    • Importance of not coming to work if ill;
    • When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe; and
    • Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus.
  • Limit visitors and limit service providers on-site. Shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas away from common areas and classrooms.
  • Students, instructors and staff are encouraged not to appear for an exam, work or class if feeling ill.
  • Students, instructors and staff who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control should be encouraged to stay home and schools are encouraged to arrange an alternate class schedule or distance learning as accommodation.
  • Students, instructors, and staff are encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the school.
  • Students, instructors and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to disclose this result to the school for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing.
    • If the school is notified of a positive case at the workplace, it must do the following:
      • Notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) where the school or testing center is located and work with the LBOH as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts and workers to isolate and self-quarantine
  • Post notice to students, instructors, staff and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures, as outlined in government guidelines.
  • Log everyone who comes in contact with the site to enable contact tracing, including temporary visitors (e.g., those doing material drop-offs).

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site.  
  • Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning.
  • Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, elevator buttons, staircases, vending machine, bathrooms) during hours of operation.
  • Clean shared spaces (e.g., conference rooms) between use and supply cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes).
  • In event of a positive case, shut down the entire school facility for a deep cleaning and disinfecting, in accordance with current CDC guidance.

COVID-19 Control Plan Template / Checklist

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