Recent Posts

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Helping Children Cope with Change in School Routines

8/13/2020 (Permalink)

The COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful for most of us, especially our children. Fear and anxiety about what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, cancelation of school sports and remote learning can make children feel isolated and lonely leading to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Parents, however, understand that these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe.

As communities finalize their academic plans for the coming school year it is clear that, whatever the solution is, returning to a traditional school setting is not an option. Regardless of your child’s age, this realization can have traumatic effects on them. They may feel upset, depressed or have other strong emotions. Some children react right away, while others may show signs of difficulty much later.

According to the CDC, creating a support system and helping our children cope with the stresses resulting from the changes in our lifestyles caused by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic is vital to their mental wellbeing. The following highlights influential factors to a child's emotional wellbeing, common reactions children exhibit, and how to help them cope. 

NOTE: According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Factors that Influence the Emotional Impact on Children During a Pandemic

The prolonged separation from school, family, and friends can create a great amount of stress and anxiety for children. The emotional impact of a pandemic on a child depends on a child’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the family and community, and the availability of local resources. Not all children respond in the same ways. Some might have more severe, longer-lasting reactions. The following specific factors may affect a child’s emotional response:

  1. Direct involvement with the pandemic (i.e. have they or someone they care about been infected)
  2. Previous traumatic or stressful event
  3. Belief that the they or a loved one may die
  4. Loss of a family member, close friend, or pet
  5. Separation from caregivers
  6. Physical illness
  7. How parents and caregivers respond
  8. Family resources
  9. Relationships and communication among family members
  10. Repeated exposure to mass media coverage of the pandemic
  11. Ongoing stress due to the change in familiar routines and living conditions
  12. Cultural differences
  13. Community resilience

Common Reactions

How a child reacts and the common signs of distress can vary according to the child’s age, previous experiences, and how the child typically copes with stress. The common reactions to distress will fade over time for most children. Children who were directly exposed to the effects of a pandemic can become upset again; behavior related to the event may return if they see or hear reminders of what happened. If children continue to be very upset or if their reactions hurt their schoolwork or relationships then parents may want to talk to a professional or have their children talk to someone who specializes in children’s emotional needs. Learn more about common reactions to distress:

  1. Infants to 2 Year Olds
    • Infants may become more cranky. They may cry more than usual or want to be held and cuddled more.
  2. 3 to 6 Year Olds
    • Preschool and kindergarten children may return to behaviors they have outgrown. For example, toileting accidents, bed-wetting, or being frightened about being separated from their parents/caregivers. They may also have tantrums or a hard time sleeping.
  3. 7 to 10 Year Olds
    • Older children may feel sad, mad, or afraid that the pandemic will never end. Peers may share false information with them, worsening their fears. Parents or caregivers must correct the misinformation as soon as possible. Older children may focus on details of the pandemic and want to talk about it all the time or not want to talk about it at all. Also, they may have trouble concentrating.
  4. Preteens and Teenagers
    • Some preteens and teenagers respond to stressful situations by acting out. This could include reckless driving, and alcohol or drug use. Others may become afraid to leave the home. They may resent the inability to spend time with their friends. They can feel overwhelmed by their intense emotions and feel unable to talk about them. Their emotions may lead to increased arguing and even fighting with siblings, parents/caregivers or other adults.
  5. Children with Special Needs
    • Children who need continuous use of a breathing machine or are confined to a wheelchair or bed or are at a higher risk of infection, may have stronger reactions to pandemic such as COVID-19. They might have more intense distress, worry or anger than children without special needs because they have less control over day-to-day well-being than other people. The same is true for children with other physical, emotional, or intellectual limitations. Children with special needs may need extra words of reassurance, more explanations about the event, and more comfort and other positive physical contact such as hugs from loved ones.

How to Help Children Cope with a Pandemic

While it is necessary for parents to stay informed about the effects of the pandemic to their local communities and the world around them it is equally important to understand that children can become more distressed if they see and hear constant, negative reminders of the current reality in the media. Parents should consider limiting the amount of exposure your children get to media coverage. 

Setting a good example for your children by managing your stress through healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol, is critical for parents and caregivers. When you are prepared, rested, and relaxed you can respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interest of your family and loved ones.

The following tips can help reduce stress before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event such as a pandemic.

Before

  1. Talk to your children so that they know you are prepared to keep them safe.
  2. Review safety plans. Having a plan will increase your children’s confidence and help give them a sense of control.

During

  1. Stay calm and reassure your children often.
  2. Talk to children about what is happening in a way that they can understand.
  3. Keep it simple and appropriate for each child’s age.

After

  1. Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they think about it.
  2. Encourage them to share concerns and ask questions.
  3. Encouraging them to take action directly related to the pandemic. For example, they could make masks or hand sanitizer. This will help your children feel a sense of control and enable them to better manage their feelings. 
  4. It is difficult to predict how some children will respond to traumatic events. Because parents, teachers, and other adults see children in different situations, it is important for them to work together to share information about how each child is coping after a traumatic event.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, How to Prepare for an Outbreak

8/12/2020 (Permalink)

As it becomes closer to the decision making point for local communities and parents regarding the 20-21 academic year it is important to note that no amount of preparation and mitigation will eliminate the risk of potential transmission of COVID-19 within our school systems. Therefore, it is important for communities to have a response plan in place and for parents to be aware of the plan. The following is CDC's guidance for school administrators and community leaders to follow when developing their response plans.

NOTE: According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

How to Develop a COVID-19 Response Plan

Schools should be prepared for COVID-19 outbreaks in their local communities and for individual exposure events to occur in their facilities, regardless of the level of community transmission, for example a case associated with recent travel to an area with sustained COVID-19 transmission. The pictured decision tree can be used to help schools determine which set of mitigation strategies may be most appropriate for their current situation.

When a Confirmed Case has Entered a School

Any school in any community might need to implement short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in a school building. If this happens, CDC recommends the following procedures regardless of the level of community spread:

Coordinate with Local Health Officials. 

Once learning of a COVID-19 case in someone who has been in the school, immediately notify local health officials. These officials will help administrators determine a course of action for their child care programs or schools.

Dismiss Students and Most Staff for 2-5 Days. 

This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school and allows the local health officials to help the school determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.

  1. Local health officials’ recommendations for the scope (e.g., a single school, multiple schools, the full district) and duration of school dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in the community.
  2. During school dismissals, also cancel extracurricular group activities, school-based afterschool programs, and large events (e.g., assemblies, spirit nights, field trips, and sporting events).
  3. Discourage staff, students, and their families from gathering or socializing anywhere. This includes group child care arrangements, as well as gathering at places like a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or the local shopping mall.

Communicate with Staff, Parents, and Students

Coordinate with local health officials to communicate dismissal decisions and the possible COVID-19 exposure.

  1. This communication to the school community should align with the communication plan in the school’s emergency operations plan.
  2. Plan to include messages to counter potential stigma and discrimination.
  3. In such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Clean and Disinfect Thoroughly

  1. Close off areas used by the individuals with COVID-19 and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  2. Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
  3. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  4. For disinfection most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    1. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
    2. Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
    3. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.  
    4. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
      1. 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
      2. 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  5. Additional information on cleaning and disinfection of community facilities such as schools can be found on CDC’s website.

Make Decisions About Extending the School Dismissal. 

Temporarily dismissing child care programs and K-12 schools is a strategy to stop or slow the further spread of COVID-19 in communities.

  1. During school dismissals (after cleaning and disinfection), child care programs and schools may stay open for staff members (unless ill) while students stay home. Keeping facilities open:
    1. Allows teachers to develop and deliver lessons and materials remotely, thus maintaining continuity of teaching and learning
    2. Allows other staff members to continue to provide services and help with additional response efforts.
  2. Decisions on which, if any, staff should be allowed in the school should be made in collaboration with local health officials.
  3. Child care and school administrators should work in close collaboration and coordination with local health officials to make dismissal and large event cancellation decisions. Schools should not be expected to make decisions about dismissal or canceling events on their own. School dismissals and event cancellations may be extended if advised by local health officials. The nature of these actions (e.g., geographic scope, duration) may change as the local outbreak situation evolves.
  4. Administrators should seek guidance from local health officials to determine when students and staff should return to schools and what additional steps are needed for the school community. In addition, students and staff who are well but are taking care of or share a home with someone with a case of COVID-19 should follow instructions from local health officials to determine when to return to school.

Implement Strategies to Continue Education and Related Supports for Students

  1. Ensure continuity of education.
    1. Review continuity plans, including plans for the continuity of teaching and learning. Implement e-learning plans, including digital and distance learning options as feasible and appropriate.
    2. Determine, in consultation with school district officials or other relevant state or local partners:
      1. If a waiver is needed for state requirements of a minimum number of in-person instructional hours or school days (seat time) as a condition for funding
      2. How to convert face-to-face lessons into online lessons and how to train teachers to do so
      3. How to triage technical issues if faced with limited IT support and staff
      4. How to encourage appropriate adult supervision while children are using distance learning approaches
      5. How to deal with the potential lack of students’ access to computers and the Internet at home.
  2. Ensure continuity of meal programs.
    1. Consider ways to distribute food to students.
    2. If there is community spread of COVID-19, design strategies to avoid distribution in settings where people might gather in a group or crowd. Consider options such as “grab-and-go” bagged lunches or meal delivery.
  3. Consider alternatives for providing essential medical and social services for students.
    1. Continue providing necessary services for children with special healthcare needs, or work with the state Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Decision Making Tool

8/11/2020 (Permalink)

As schools begin to reopen across the nation, parents, guardians, and caregivers will be making decisions based on numerous factors, such as individual preferences, health concerns, work situations, and school considerations. When making decisions about school for your family, there are many things to think about beyond academics, such as access to school meal programs, social services, extended day childcare, extra-curricular activities, social-emotional support from peers and educators, and transportation. Parents, guardians, and caregivers will be thinking about numerous factors, such as individual preferences, health concerns, work situations, and school considerations.

Many schools are offering parents and guardians a choice between in-person and virtual modes of instruction. CDC's Decision-Making Tool for Parents and Guardians is designed to help you think through school re-entry and the choices that your child’s school is offering.

According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Household and Community Risks for COVID-19

If you, your child, or a household member are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, you will need to weigh the benefits, risks, and feasibility of the educational options available. The table below will help you to assess your risk for COVID-19. If your response to any of the following 3 scenarios it true the risk of COVID infection is high. 

  1. My child has an underlying condition that increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  2. I live with someone, or my child’s caregiver, is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to age or underlying medical conditions.
  3. The level of community spread in my area is high.

Decision-Making Tool 

Choosing whether or not to send your child back to school can be difficult. When weighing decisions about your child returning to school, it is important to consider your family’s unique needs and situation and your comfort level with the steps your school is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Some considerations may include the specific risks to members of your household if a child were to become infected in school, as well as access to school meal programs, social services, extended day childcare services and extra-curricular activities, social-emotional support from peers and educators, and school transportation.

These questions address your views about how your school is preparing for school year 2020-2021 and are designed to help you weigh the risks and benefits of available educational options before you make decisions. If you answer “unsure” to any items regarding your school’s plan, consider reaching out to your school administrator for more information.

  1. I feel comfortable with my school’s reopening plans for reducing risk of spreading COVID-19.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  2. I believe my school has the resources needed to effectively implement their reopening plan (e.g., staffing, supplies, training).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  3. I feel comfortable with my school’s plan if a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  4. I believe my school has a plan to provide an effective program of instruction every day of the regular school week (generally five days).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  5. I am satisfied with how my school communicates with families about the changes it is considering.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  6. I am satisfied with how my school is addressing parents’ or caregivers’ concerns and questions.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  7. My child knows how to properly wear a mask and understands the importance of doing so.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  8. My child can wear a mask for an extended period of time, if required by the school.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  9. My child has a reliable mode of transportation to and from school (e.g., school bus, carpool, walk/bike, public transit).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  10. I am comfortable with how my child’s mode of transportation to and from school is reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 (e.g., decreased bus/transit capacity, wearing masks, increased cleaning and disinfecting practices).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree

Virtual/At-Home Learning Feasibility

These questions assess whether learning would be feasible for you and your child.

  1. I am able to work while my child is not in school (i.e., can still successfully do my job or I am able to telework).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  2. I have access to reliable internet and a device, such as a computer or tablet, which my child can use for virtual learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  3. I can supervise or identify someone who can supervise my child during periods of virtual/at home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  4. My child has a space where I live that is free of distractions during school hours.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  5. My school provides a virtual learning option that allows students to have real-time interactions with their teachers (e.g., have live instruction).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  6. My child’s learning style and needs are compatible with digital modes of learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree

Academic and Social-Emotional Wellbeing

These questions assess your belief in your child's ability to succeed, both academically and socially, in a remote learning environment.

  1. My child will be able to keep up academically through virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  2. My child will receive quality education through virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  3. My child will be sufficiently engaged during prolonged periods of virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  4. My child will be able to stay socially connected during prolonged periods of virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  5. My child will be able to keep up academically through virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  6. My child will receive quality education through virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  7. My child will be sufficiently engaged during prolonged periods of virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  8. My child will be able to stay socially connected during prolonged periods of virtual/at-home learning.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  9. If my child needs specialized adaptive communication devices, equipment, or learning aides, I am able to have them where I live.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree

School-Based Services


These questions review some school-based services that your family may be using. You may want to consider whether you have been able to access these services through a virtual/at home learning option, your satisfaction with the services to date, and whether you would prefer to receive these services in school. If your child is at higher risk for severe illness and relies on school-based services that are only available on site, you may want to have additional conversations with your school to address concerns you may have.

  1. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or other specialized learning or behavior plan…
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  2. My child is able to receive the required IEP learning accommodations through a virtual/at-home learning option that meets my family’s needs.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  3. If your child receives school-based learning services (e.g., tutoring before or after school) …
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  4. My child is able to receive needed school-based learning services through a virtual/at-home learning option that meets my family’s needs.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  5. If your child receives school-based nutrition services (e.g., school breakfast or lunch) …
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  6. My child has an alternative to the nutrition services provided in schools that adequately meets our family’s needs (Your school district’s child nutrition website may have this information).
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  7. If your child receives school-based behavioral services (e.g., social skills training, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy) …
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  8. My child is able to receive needed behavioral services through a virtual/at-home option that meets my family’s needs.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  9. If your child receives school-based emotional or mental health services…
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  10. My child is able to receive needed emotional or mental health services through a virtual/at-home option that meets my family’s needs.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  11. If your child attends after care (including after school clubs and activities) provided by the school…
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree
  12. My child has an alternative to the after-care services provided by schools that adequately meets my family’s needs.
    • Does not Apply
    • Disagree
    • Unsure
    • Agree

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Barbeque Fire Safety

8/10/2020 (Permalink)

This time of year most of us enjoy cooking outside. Weather you choose gas or charcoal to cook with, if not you are not careful, both both can cause fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), misuse of grills, hibachis and barbecues will cause an average of 8,900 home fires. The most common injury is thermal burns. According to the NFPA:

  1. Gas grills cause almost 9,000 structure and outdoor fires each year in the U.S.
  2. An average of more than 18,000 Americans are injured each year by grill fires.
  3. 97 percent of grill fires occur between May and August.

There is still plenty of time to enjoy a weekend barbecue or two! Follow the tips below to do so safely.

General Grill Safety

  1. Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors. This will minimize the risk of fire and exposure to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  2. Position the grill several feet away from house siding and deck railings. Don’t locate it under eaves and overhanging branches.
  3. Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic. Keep children and pets from the grill area by creating a three-foot safety zone around the grill.
  4. Use long-handled barbecue tools. Wear short sleeves or roll them up when cooking on the grill.
  5. Periodically clean out the grease or fat that has built up in trays below the grill.
  6. Keep a bucket of water near your grill.

Charcoal Grills

  1. Always make sure your grill is clean and free of ash and grease. 
  2. Purchase the appropriate starter fluid and store it out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  3. Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid.
  4. Never add charcoal starter fluid after coals or kindling have been ignited.

Propane Gas Grills

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  2. At the start of grilling season, check the burners for clogs, make sure all hoses and connections are secure, and restock the propane if needed.
  3. Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A soap and water solution applied to the hose will bubble up to reveal escaping propane. If you detect a leak, turn off the tank and grill. If you can stop the leak, don’t use the grill until you have it serviced by a professional. If the leak won’t stop, call the fire department.
  4. If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  5. Use only propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 with overfill protection devices (OPD).
  6. Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages.

We Are Here For You

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham have specialized training and experience in fire restoration services. Call SERVPRO of Framingham at (508) 370-4400 if fire damage strikes your property. We will make it "Like it never even happened."

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Communication and Planning for Cases

8/10/2020 (Permalink)

As the state, local communities and families struggle to understand and plan for the best, safest, course of action to take regarding the reopening of our schools we will be doing our best to share with our communities the most up-to-date guidance regarding best practices to reopen our school systems in the most responsible and safe way possible.

According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

The following highlights CDC's guidelines for regular communication between community leaders and parents as well as the anticipation of and planning for potential cases of COVID-19.

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Communicate with Families, Staff, and other Stakeholders

When preparing to go back to school, regular communication should be used to update students, families, teachers, and staff about academic standards, meal program services, and access to other school-based essential services that students and families rely on.

Regular communication with families, staff, and other partners should include:

  1. Updates about the status of COVID-19 in the school and community
  2. Notification when there are COVID-19 cases in the school (when communicating about the health status of students, schools should take care to avoid disclosing personally identifiable information and should follow all applicable privacy requirements, including those of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
  3. Explanation of what parents, students, teachers, and staff can expect when returning to school; in particular, communicating about:
    1. The importance of staying home when sick and staying home to monitor symptoms if close contact occurred with a person who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
    2. Considerations for COVID-19 symptom screenings
    3. Types of social distancing measures being implemented
    4. When students, teachers, staff and/or visitors will be expected to wear cloth face coverings and whether cloth face coverings will be available from the school.
    5. Everyday healthy hygiene practices that will be implemented upon reopening (e.g., students, teachers, staff staying home when sick, hand hygiene, cleaning frequently touched surfaces)
  4. Actions being taken to prevent SARS-Cov-2 transmission in buses, school buildings and facilities
  5. Actions that families and households can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
  6. Actions families can take to manage anxiety about COVID-19
  7. Decisions about operational status, potential use of virtual learning if COVID-19 cases are identified among students, teachers, or staff, and
  8. Guidance on caring for someone who is sick and for parents, guardians, and caregivers who are sick
  9. Guidance on how to reduce stigma. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma, which is negative attitudes and beliefs toward people, places, or things

Families and students who had to make alternative arrangements with community providers to receive services (e.g., physical or occupational therapy, speech therapy, mental health services) during periods of school closures may need additional support and communication to establish a transition plan upon returning to school. Additionally, some families may have experienced significant hardship that now increases the number of students who need or qualify for some services, such as school meal programs. Schools can take actions to identify, support, and communicate with families who need to initiate new services as schools prepare to open.  Administrators can work with community partners to plan for additional school-based services and programs during the transition back to normal schedules in anticipation of an increased need for mental health services.

Expect, and Plan for, Cases of COVID-19 in Communities

International experiences have demonstrated that even when a school carefully coordinates, plans, and prepares, cases may still occur within the community and schools. Expecting and planning for the occurrence of cases of COVID-19 in communities can help everyone be prepared for when a case or multiple cases are identified.

Schools should be prepared for COVID-19 cases and exposure to occur in their facilities. Collaborating with local health officials will continue to be important once students are back to school, as they can provide regular updates about the status of COVID-19 in the community and help support and maintain the health and wellbeing of students, teachers, and staff. Having a plan in place for maintaining academic instruction and ensuring students have access to special services is also critical.

Making Decisions About School Operations

Administrators should make decisions in collaboration with local health officials based on a number of factors, including the level of community transmission, whether cases are identified among students, teachers, or staff, what other indicators local public health officials are using to assess the status of COVID-19, and whether student, teacher, and staff cohorts are being implemented within the school.

There are specific strategies schools can implement based on the level of community transmission reported by local health officials:

  1. If there is no to minimal community transmission, reinforcing everyday preventive actions, ensuring proper ventilation within school facilities, including buses, and maintaining cleaning and disinfection practices remain important. These actions can help minimize potential exposure. Schools should also monitor absenteeism among teachers, staff, and students to identify trends and determine if absences are due to COVID-19, symptoms that led to quarantine, concerns about being in the school environment and personal health and safety, or positive test results. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should stay home and self-isolate for the timeframe recommended by public health officials. Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has tested positive or is symptomatic for COVID-19 should be tested and stay home until receiving a negative result, or stay home and monitor for symptoms.
  2. If there is minimal to moderate community transmission, schools should follow the actions listed above, and continue implementing mitigation strategies such as social distancing, use of cloth faced coverings, reinforcing everyday preventive actions, and maintaining cleaning and disinfection. This also can include ensuring that student and staff groupings/cohorts are as static as possible and that mixing groups of students and staff is limited.
  3. If there is substantial, controlled transmission, significant mitigation strategies are necessary. These include following all the actions listed above and also ensuring that student and staff groupings/cohorts are as static as possible with limited mixing of student and staff groups, field trips and large gatherings and events are canceled, and communal spaces (e.g., cafeterias, media centers) are closed.
  4. If there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations. The health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff and their families is the most important consideration in determining whether school closure is a necessary step.  Communities can support schools staying open by implementing strategies that decrease a community’s level of transmission. However, if community transmission levels cannot be decreased, school closure is an important consideration. Plans for virtual learning should be in place in the event of a school closure.

Reminder

Each community is unique. Appropriate mitigation strategies should be based on the best available data. Decision making will vary based on the level of community transmission and local circumstances.

  1. No one strategy is sufficient.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Mitigation Across Settings and Sectors

8/7/2020 (Permalink)

As the state, local communities and families struggle to understand and plan for the best, safest, course of action to take regarding the reopening of our schools we will be doing our best to share with our communities the most up-to-date guidance regarding best practices to reopen our school systems in the most responsible and safe way possible.

According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

The following highlights CDC's recommended mitigation strategies to consider in communities with local COVID-19 transmission across settings and sectors when developing your communities' plan to responsibly and safely reopen school systems.  

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Mitigation Across Settings and Sectors

Cross-cutting community mitigation strategies can be organized into the following categories:

  1. Promoting behaviors that prevent spread
  2. Maintaining healthy environments
  3. Maintaining healthy operations
  4. Preparing for when someone gets sick

Presuming a community is not sheltering-in-place, cross-cutting strategies outlined below should be implemented to the extent possible, and in accordance with the amount of ongoing community transmission. 

Important NoteNot all bullets are relevant to each setting or sector.  The bullets are meant to be illustrative of community mitigation measures to consider. 

Promote Behaviors that Prevent Spread

  1. Educate people to stay home when sick or when they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19
  2. Teach and reinforce practicing hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  3. Teach and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings to protect others (if appropriate)
  4. Ensure adequate supplies are easily available (e.g., soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, paper towels) to support healthy hygiene behavior
  5. Post signs or posters and promote messaging about behaviors that prevent spread

Maintain Healthy Environments

  1. Intensify cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces
  2. Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air
  3. Ensure all water systems are safe to use
  4. Modify layouts to promote social distance of at least 6 feet between people – especially for persons who do not live together
  5. Install physical barriers and guides to support social distancing if appropriate
  6. Close communal spaces, or stagger use and clean and disinfect between use
  7. Limit sharing of objects, or clean and disinfect between use

Maintain Healthy Operations

  1. Protect people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  2. To cope with stress, encourage people to take breaks from the news, take care of their bodies, take time to unwind and connect with others, particularly when they have concerns
  3. Maintain awareness of local or state regulations
  4. Stagger or rotate scheduling
  5. Create static groups or “cohorts” of individuals and avoid mixing between groups
  6. Pursue virtual events. Maintain social distancing at any in-person events, and limit group size as much as possible
  7. Limit non-essential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations, especially with those who are not from the local area
  8. Encourage telework and virtual meetings if possible
  9. Consider options for non-essential travel in accordance with state and local regulations
  10. Designate a COVID-19 point of contact
  11. Implement flexible and non-punitive leave policies
  12. Monitor absenteeism and create a back-up staffing plan
  13. Train staff on all safety protocols
  14. Consider conducting daily health checks such as temperature screening or symptom checking
  15. Encourage those who share the facilities to also adhere to mitigation strategies
  16. Put in place communication systems for:
    1. Individuals to self-report COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test for COVID-19, or exposure to someone with COVID-19
    2. Notifying local health authorities of COVID-19 cases
    3. Notifying individuals (employees, customers, students, etc.) of any COVID-19 exposures while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with privacy laws
  17. Notifying individuals (e.g, employees, customers, students) of any facility closures

Prepare for When Someone Gets Sick

  1. Prepare to isolate and safely transport those who are sick to their home or to a healthcare facility
  2. Encourage individuals who are sick to follow CDC guidance  for caring for oneself and others who are sick
  3. Notify local health officials of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  4. Notify those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and advise them to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop
  5. Advise individuals who are sick when it would be safe for them to return based on CDC's criteria to discontinue home isolation
  6. Close off areas used by someone who is sick. Wait >24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of EPA-approved disinfectants, including storing products securely away from children.

Reminder

Each community is unique. Appropriate mitigation strategies should be based on the best available data. Decision making will vary based on the level of community transmission and local circumstances.

  1. No one strategy is sufficient.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Mitigation Levels and Factors to Consider

8/6/2020 (Permalink)

Wile things have improved as emergency orders have loosened, the news cycle constantly reminds us that we are not in the clear. On the contrary, one slight miss step and a new COVID-19 "hot spot" emerges on the map. For the vast majority of our "Planning to Reopen" series of blogs our main focus has been on sifting through the tsunami of information and sharing that which would best help the business owners of Commonwealth protect themselves, their employees, and their customers. We feel, now, it is time to pivot. 

As the state, communities and families struggle to understand what this all means and the best, safest, course of action to take we will be doing our best to share with our communities the most up-to-date guidance regarding best practices to reopen our school systems in the most responsible and safe way possible.

According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

The following highlights CDC's recommended levels of mitigation and factors to consider when developing your communities' plan pertaining to safely reopening our schools.  

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Level of Mitigation 

The goal of community mitigation is to slow the potential spread of COVID-19 and to protect all individuals, especially those at increased risk for severe illness, while minimizing the negative impacts of these strategies. We all know that every community presents unique challenges. The guidance below will help decision makers formulate the appropriate levels of mitigation based on their community specific transmission characteristics.

  1. Mitigation Level - Shelter In Place
    • Community Transmission Level
      • Substantial, uncontrolled transmission
    • Identifiable Community Characteristics
      • Large scale, uncontrolled community transmission, including communal settings 
  2. Mitigation Level - Significant mitigation
    • Community Transmission Level
      • Substantial, controlled transmission
    • Identifiable Community Characteristics
      • Large scale, controlled community transmission, including communal settings 
  3. Mitigation Level - Moderate mitigation
    • Community Transmission Level
      • Minimal to moderate community transmission
    • Identifiable Community Characteristics
      • Sustained transmission with high likelihood or confirmed exposure within communal settings and potential for rapid increase in cases
  4. Mitigation Level - Low mitigation
    • Community Transmission Level
      • No to minimal community transmission
    • Identifiable Community Characteristics
      • Evidence of isolated cases or limited community transmission, case investigations underway; no evidence of exposure in large communal setting

Factors to Consider

Decision making will vary based on the level of community transmission and local circumstances. The guidance below identify factors for decision makers to consider when formulating the appropriate levels of mitigation based on their community specific transmission characteristics.

  1. Epidemiology
    1. Level of community transmission: more extensive mitigation will be needed when there is greater community transmission
    2. Number and type of outbreaks in specific settings or with vulnerable populations, including, but not limited to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, meat and poultry processing plants, and the homeless population
    3. Severity of the disease
    4. Impact of the level of community transmission and any outbreaks on delivery of healthcare or other critical infrastructure or services
    5. Epidemiology in surrounding jurisdictions
  2. Community Characteristics
    1. Size of community and population density
    2. Level of community engagement and support
    3. Size and characteristics of vulnerable populations
    4. Access to healthcare
    5. Transportation infrastructure (e.g., availability and use of mass transit)
    6. Type of business or industry
    7. Congregate settings (e.g., correctional facilities, homeless shelters)
    8. Planned large events/gatherings, such as sporting events
    9. Relationship of community to other communities (e.g., transportation hub, tourist destination, volume of commuting, and other attributes)
  3. Healthcare Capacity
    1. Healthcare workforce
    2. Number of healthcare facilities (including ancillary healthcare facilities)
    3. Testing activity
    4. Intensive care capacity
    5. Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  4. Public Health Capacity
    1. Public health workforce and availability of resources to implement strategies (e.g., resources to detect, test, track, and isolate cases)
    2. Available support from other state/local government agencies and partner organizations

Reminder

Each community is unique. Appropriate mitigation strategies should be based on the best available data. Decision making will vary based on the level of community transmission and local circumstances.

  1. No one strategy is sufficient.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, Goals and Guiding Principals

8/5/2020 (Permalink)

This has been an unprecedented year. Wile things have improved as emergency orders have loosened, the news cycle constantly reminds us that we are not in the clear. On the contrary, one slight miss step and a new COVID-19 "hot spot" emerges on the map. For the vast majority of our "Planning to Reopen" series of blogs our main focus has been on sifting through the tsunami of information and sharing that which would best help the business owners of Commonwealth protect themselves, their employees, and their customers. We feel, now, it is time to pivot. 

As the state, communities and families struggle to understand what this all means and the best, safest, course of action to take we will be doing our best to share with our communities the most up-to-date guidance regarding best practices to reopen our school systems as safely as possible.

According to the CDC, in lieu of a vaccine or therapeutic drug, mitigation is the greatest weapon communities can wield to slow the spread of a virus with pandemic potential such as COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new, (and some data suggests evolving) coronavirus.

The following highlights CDC's recommended goals and guiding principles to be considered when formulating our plans to reopen our schools.  

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Goals

The goal of community mitigation is to slow the potential spread of COVID-19 and to protect all individuals, especially those at increased risk for severe illness, while minimizing the negative impacts of these strategies. 

Implementation is based on:

  1. Emphasizing individual responsibility for implementing recommended personal-level actions
  2. Empowering businessesschools, and other settings to implement appropriate actions
  3. Prioritizing settings that provide critical infrastructure services
  4. Minimizing disruptions to daily life to the extent possible and ensuring access to health care and other essential services.

Guiding principles

Each community is unique. Appropriate mitigation strategies should be based on the best available data. Decision making will vary based on the level of community transmission and local circumstances.

  1. No one strategy is sufficient.
  2. Protecting the public’s health is paramount
  3. Until broad-scale testing is widely implemented or we have a more comprehensive and precise measure of disease burden, states and communities should assume some community transmission or spread is occurring
  4. Mitigation strategies should be feasible, practical, and acceptable; they should be tailored to the needs of each community and implemented in a manner that minimizes both morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and does not create or exacerbate any health disparities.
  5. Community mitigation efforts must aim to reduce the rate at which someone infected comes in contact with someone not infected, or reduce the probability of infection if there is contact. 
  6. The characteristics of the community and its population, health system and public health capacity, and the local capacity to implement strategies are important when determining community mitigation strategies. 
  7. As communities adjust mitigation strategies, they should ensure that the healthcare system capacity will not be exceeded.
  8. Precautions should be taken to protect health care professionals and other critical infrastructure workers. Communities need to assure healthcare systems have adequate staffing, a surplus of inpatient and ICU beds, and critical medical equipment and supplies such as PPE.
  9. Public health system capacity relies on detecting, testingcontact tracing, and isolating those who are or might be sick, or have been exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 cases; it is important to stop broader community transmission and prevent communities from having to implement or strengthen further community mitigation efforts.
  10. Attention should be given to people who are at higher risk for severe illness when determining and adjusting community mitigation strategies.
  11. Certain settings and vulnerable populations in a community are at particularly high risk for transmission. This includes but is not limited to congregate settings such as nursing homes and other long-term care facilitiescorrectional facilities, and the homeless population.
  12. Progressively evaluate mitigation strategies to scaled up or down, depending on the evolving local situation, and what is feasible, practical, and legal in a jurisdiction.
  13. Any signs of a cluster of new cases or a reemergence of broader community transmission should result in a re-evaluation of community mitigation strategies and a decision on whether and how mitigation might need to change.
  14. Presuming a community is not sheltering-in-place cross-cutting community mitigation strategies can be organized into the following categories:
    1. promoting behaviors that prevent spread
    2. maintaining healthy environments
    3. maintaining healthy operations
    4. preparing for when someone gets sick. 
  15. Community mitigation strategies should be layered upon one another and used at the same time—with several layers of safeguards to reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of another spike in cases and deaths.
  16. Communities need to decide the level of risk that is acceptable and make informed choices about implementing mitigation plans accordingly.
  17. Individuals make choices about following the behavioral practices that are recommended. Compliance (and NonCompliance) to community mitigation decisions must be monitored closely as they will have a direct impact the overall success of any mitigation plan to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  18. Travel patterns within and between jurisdictions will impact efforts to reduce community transmission. Coordination across state and local jurisdictions is critical – especially between jurisdictions with different levels of community transmission.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Our Schools

8/4/2020 (Permalink)

This has been an unprecedented year. Wile things have improved as emergency orders have loosened, the news cycle constantly reminds us that we are not in the clear. On the contrary, one slight miss step and a new COVID-19 "hot spot" emerges on the map. For the vast majority of our "Planning to Reopen" series of blogs our main focus has been on sifting through the tsunami of information and sharing that which would best help the business owners of Commonwealth protect themselves, their employees, and their customers. We feel, now, it is time to pivot. 

Six months ago we were forced to do the unthinkable, close our school systems with the hope that, come fall, we would be able to reopen them and return to our normal. We now know that is not a viable option. 

As the state, communities and families struggle to understand what this all means and the best, safest, course of action to take we will be doing our best to share with our communities the most up-to-date guidance regarding best practices to reopen our school systems as safely as possible.  

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

Below we have provided excerpts from the CDC's white paper weighing the importance of reopening our schools versus the risks of doing so. To view the complete paper, click here

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

According to the CDC, it is important to consider the full spectrum of benefits and risks of both in-person and virtual learning options. 

Known Physical Risks

The best available evidence indicates if children become infected:

  1. They are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms
  2. Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults 

Known Non-Physical Risks

At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant. 

The in-person school environment does the following:

  1. Provides educational instruction
  2. Supports the development of social and emotional skills
  3. Creates a safe environment for learning
  4. Addresses nutritional needs
  5. Facilitates physical activity

Known Inequities

Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. 

COVID-19 and Children

The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children.  Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults. 

As of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for:

  1. Less than 7 percent of COVID-19 cases
  2. Less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths

Current data collected from scientific studies and international studies suggests the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially when proper precautions are followed.  Additionally, there have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members which is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing. This data suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community.

Educational Instruction

Extended school closure can lead to severe learning loss, particularly for students with heightened behavioral needs. We know that, for many students, long breaks from in-person education are harmful to the learning process. Many studies document the adverse effects summer breaks have on students academic progress, this is known as “summer slide.”

The Unfortunate Reality of Remote Learning

Disparities in educational outcomes caused by school closures are a particular concern for low-income and minority students and students with disabilities.  Many low-income families do not have the capacity to facilitate distance learning (e.g. limited or no computer access, limited or no internet access), and may have to rely on school-based services that support their child’s academic success. Data showed that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half, with the negative impact more pronounced in low-income communities. 

Furthermore remote learning makes absorbing information more difficult for students with disabilities, developmental delays, or other cognitive disabilities.  In particular, students who:

  1. Hard of hearing
  2. Deaf
  3. Have low vision
  4. Blind
  5. ADHD (and other learning disorders)
  6. As well as other physical and mental disabilities 

Social and Emotional Skill Development

In addition to a structure for learning, schools provide a stable and secure environment for developing social skills and peer relationships, particularly the development of language, communication, social, emotional, and interpersonal skills.

In an in-person school environment, children more easily learn how to develop and maintain friendships, how to behave in groups, and how to interact and form relationships with people outside of their family.  In school, students are also able to access support systems needed to recognize and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, appreciate others’ perspectives, and make responsible decisions. Such routine in-person contacts provide opportunities to facilitate social-emotional development that are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate through distance learning.  

Additionally, extended closures can be harmful to children’s mental health and can increase the likelihood of:

  1. Lower levels of depression
  2. Thoughts about suicide
  3. Social anxiety
  4. Sexual activity
  5. Lower levels of self-esteem
  6. Increased likelihood of substance use 

Negative Impacts of Prolonged Quarantine

Studies have conducted on pandemics around the world suggest a strong association between length of quarantine and:

  1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  2. Avoidance behavior
  3. Anger

Mental Health and Social Services

In-person schooling provides children with access to a variety of mental health and social services, including speech language therapy, and physical or occupational therapy to help the physical, psychological, and academic well-being of the child. School counselors are trained in the mental health needs of children and youth and can recognize signs of trauma that primary caregivers are less able to see because they themselves are experiencing the same family stresses.  

Without in-person schooling, many children can lose access to these important services. For those individuals who have a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional condition that substantially interferes with or limits their social functioning, schools play an integral role in linking them to care and necessary support services.

For children with intellectual or physical disabilities, nearly all therapies and services are received through schools.  These vital services are difficult to provide through distance learning models.  As a result, more children with disabilities have received few to no services while schools have been closed.

Safety

Extended school closures deprive children who live in unsafe homes and neighborhoods of an important layer of protection from neglect as well as physical, sexual, and emotional maltreatment and abuse. 

Nutrition

Schools are essential to meeting the nutritional needs of children with many consuming up to half their daily calories at school.  Nationwide more than 30 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program and nearly 15 million participate in the School Breakfast Program.  While schools have implemented strategies to continue meal services during this pandemic the sad reality is that these strategies are not sustainable in the long term. 

Physical Activity

Many children may not be sufficiently physically active outside of the context of in-school physical education (PE) and other school-based activities.  With schools closed, children may not have sufficient opportunities to participate in organized and safe physical activities such as those existing within the within our school systems, such as:

  1. Recess
  2. Classroom engagements
  3. Safe, organized sports
  4. After school programs

Conclusion

Schools provide safe, supportive learning environments and critical services for students and families that, studies have shown, can not be equitably duplicated with remote learning. The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that, in areas with low community transmission, COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus. 

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

Planning To Reopen - Phase 3, Construction, Part 4

7/31/2020 (Permalink)

As we continue to execute Phase 3 of Governor Charlie Baker's administration's plan to reopen the state of Massachusetts for business it is paramount that we remain steadfast in our resolve to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when and wherever possible. The following outlines the workplace safety standards pertaining worker infection protocol, identification of exposure, notification, quarantine and sanitation requirements and returning to work for Construction Businesses.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following guidance were updated based on the new COVID-19 Travel Order (July 24):

  1. Construction (below)
  2. Indoor and Outdoor Events
  3. Laboratories
  4. Lodging
  5. Manufacturing
  6. Office Space
  7. Theater & Performance Venues

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

These standards are minimum requirements only and are not exclusive or exhaustive. The public health data for disease prevention upon which these guidelines are based can and does change frequently, it is the responsibility of each Construction Business owner to stay abreast of any updates to these requirements.

(See our "Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Do all you can to maintain your good health by: getting adequate sleep; eating a balanced, healthy diet, avoid alcohol; and consume plenty of fluids. Please Note: This document is not intended to replace any formalized procedures currently in place with the General Contractor.

Where these guidance does not meet or exceed the standards put forth by the General Contractor, everyone shall abide by the most stringent procedure available.

A site-specific COVID-19 Officer (who may also be the Health and Safety Officer) shall be designated for every site. The Contractor’s site specific project COVID-19 Officer shall submit a written daily report to the Owner’s Representative. The COVID-19 Officer shall certify that the contractor and all subcontractors are in full compliance with these guidelines.

Any issue of non-compliance with these guidelines shall be a basis for the suspension of work. The contractor will be required to submit a corrective action plan detailing each issue of non-conformance and a plan to rectify the issue(s). The contractor will not be allowed to resume work until the plan is approved by the Owner. Any additional issues of non-conformance may be subject to action against the contractor's prequalification and certification status.

Worker Infection Protocol

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place and for staff and workers to adhere to the following at all times:

  1. Zero tolerance for sick workers reporting to work.
  2. Employees should be instructed that even those with mild symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) or fever should stay off work.
  3. Contractors shall take immediate steps to limit infections at the job site in the event that a worker discovered to have tested positive for COVID-19 or has COVID-19 related symptoms.

Although it is understood that contractors are enforcing Work Site Risk Prevention Practices including social distancing rules and use of PPE, consistent with guidelines it is also recognized that there may be occasions where someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has COVID-19 symptoms has been present in a work area. Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, vendors, visitors, and others at a worksite.

Identification of Exposure

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place and for staff and workers to adhere to the following at all times:

  1. The Business owner or Contractor shall direct workers with COVID-19 related symptoms to leave the jobsite immediately and contact their healthcare provider. The Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) or a local board 8 of health will make appropriate notifications to those who had direct prolonged contact with the COVID19 positive workers.
  2. The business owner or Contractor shall work with the local board of health to identify any potential job site exposures, including: 
    1. Other workers, vendors, inspectors, or visitors to the work site with close contact to the individual
    2. Work areas such as supply cabinets and designated work stations or rooms
    3. Work tools and equipment
    4. Common areas such as break rooms and tables, vending machines, and sanitary facilities

Notification and Quarantine Requirements

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place:

  1. As provided by law, the identity of the worker must be kept confidential
  2. Upon learning of an infection, the contractor must immediately notify the designated COVID-19 safety officer, the site safety officer, and the owner

Sanitation Requirements

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place:

  1. After a worker with COVID-19 related symptoms has been asked to leave the job site, the contractor shall take immediate steps to sanitize common areas and direct work places. This includes all on-site bathrooms facilities, any break facilities, and any other common areas on the job site that may have been in close contact with the infected worker.
  2. Sanitation will be conducted with personnel, equipment, and material approved for COVID-19 sanitization.
  3. Identified areas should remain isolated from workers until sanitation process has been completed and area is deemed safe for use.

Returning to Work

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place:

  1. All impacted workers should follow CDC and DPH recommended steps concerning return to work. Workers who are considered close contacts to a COVID-19 case by public health authorities should not return for 14 days and are subject quarantine by public health.
  2. Workers who leave during the work day due to COVID-19 symptoms and develop COVID-19 as confirmed by laboratory testing or diagnosis by a healthcare provider shall not return to the site until either released from isolation by healthcare provider or public health official.

In All Cases

It is the responsibility of approved construction business owners, and/or general contractors to have the following protocols in place:

  1. Keep all employee names confidential as required by law
  2. Other employees may be sent home while a workspace is being cleaned but will return to work after cleaning unless advised otherwise by a health care provider
  3. Other employees should be asked to contact their health provider if they have any questions
  4. Remind other employees to continue to practice proper sanitation and monitor for flu like symptoms

Additional Link;

Construction Business MA COVID-19 Checklist

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEA and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for reopening. Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every business has access to the resources necessary to meet these strict guidelines. For those businesses, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal, everyday cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!