2022-2023 COVID-19 Policies (Revised)
Honoring our commitment to a safe and vibrant learning space, PHS’s approach to COVID-19 is cautious, science-minded, and informed by the needs of our most vulnerable members. We are making every effort to ensure that our mix of online and onsite courses are safe and accessible for all of us. When we are indoors together, those efforts include vaccination, masking, and air filtration.
In order to be onsite while PHS is in session, all individuals must be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Exceptions will be made to accommodate health conditions that preclude vaccination.)
We require a signed affidavit of vaccination status or medically necessary exemption for each community member intending to be onsite in any capacity.
Masks — specifically, N95/KN95/KF94 or equivalent respirators without vents — are required at all times when indoors at PHS or PHS-sponsored events. Masks stay on while speaking and during physical activities such as fencing. (See lunchroom policy below for mealtime-specific information.)
KN94 and KF94 masks are acceptable substitutes for N95 masks.
Students with sensory processing or other medical issues who cannot tolerate N95/KN95/KF94 or equivalent respirator masks may wear ASTM Level 1 procedure masks or ASTM Level 2 or Level 3 surgical masks.
No cloth masks are allowed.
Be wary of fraudulent or counterfeit masks.
Ensure that your mask fits well. It should completely cover your nose and mouth and fit against the sides of your face without gaps. A well-fitting mask will not slip down below your nose on its own — or fog your eyeglasses.
To ensure a good fit, your mask should have both adjustable ear loops or head straps and an adjustable nose bridge.
A poorly fitted mask will negate the mask’s filtering efficacy.
Never wet your respirator mask with alcohol or soapy water, as they can break down the electrostatic charge that is key to filtering small particles. You can rotate respirator masks by letting each one rest for 3 to 4 days between wearings or steam clean them in the microwave using distilled water. Procedure and surgical masks should not be used more than once.
Face shields are not a substitute for masks, but face shields or goggles may be worn in addition to masks.
No one should ever request or recommend that another person remove or lower their mask for any reason, indoors or outdoors.
If you need to remove or lower your mask for any reason, please go outside. If that is not possible, please step at least 6 feet away from any other person and put your mask back on as quickly as possible.
Signs at the building entrance, in the classrooms, and in the common areas will inform visitors (and remind community members) of our masking policy.
We have a small number of appropriate masks (including child-sized ones) available at the entrance. These supplies are maintained through donations from co-op members.
Any community members may remind others about these policies or ask an Onsite Volunteer to intercede if someone is not following them. As everyone present has agreed to this policy, a simple reminder should do the trick!
Weather permitting, lunch takes place outdoors. When it is necessary to have lunch in the Fellowship Hall, everyone must maintain 6 feet of distance from each other. Lunch on inclement weather days is the only time when masks may be removed inside PHS.
In an effort to reduce germs in the air, we will have Corsi-Rosenthal boxes in all classrooms that are in use, as well as a portable HEPA filter in the Fellowship Hall.
Faith UMC will set its HVAC system to circulate air continuously through its filters.
Windows may be opened for fresh air, even during colder weather. (Everyone is responsible for ensuring that all windows are closed and locked at the end of the day.)
Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms and at the entrance to our space.
Paper towels and general-purpose cleaners will also be available in all classrooms. Students should assist with wiping down surfaces (tabletops, chairs, counters, doorknobs, etc.) before and after class.
Keeping family members who are not taking classes or volunteering at PHS offsite when possible will help our community minimize potential sources of exposure.
Stay home if you feel ill or have any COVID-like symptoms, including but not limited to cough, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or loss of taste or smell.
If a student, instructor, or household member has symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive, all members of the household must be symptom-free and test negative before returning to PHS or any PHS-sponsored in-person event.
If a student, instructor, or household member learns that they have likely been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home from PHS for 5 days after that exposure and test before returning.
If you or your student tests positive for COVID-19, let our co-op’s Leadership Team know via an email to [email protected]. One of our co-op’s lead volunteers will make a general forum post that a member of our community has tested positive. If you are comfortable doing so and have the energy, also notify your contacts at PHS (your instructors, classmates, etc.) directly.
Instructors may set stricter policies for their own classrooms.
These policy decisions honor the preferences of the majority of our members as well as guidance from epidemiologists and other public health experts in an effort to ensure PHS not only survives but continues to thrive. Our community is what it is because of the compassion, generosity, and respect extended to each other by members, lead volunteers, and instructors, not just in ordinary times but in extraordinarily challenging ones: so, thank you!
Inclusion in the following list does not imply an endorsement by PHS volunteers.
The WellBefore KN95 Adjustable Mask for Kids and Petite Faces has adjustable ear loops and an adjustable nose bridge and comes in various colors and three sizes to fit ages 2–4, 5–8, and 9–12.
The SoftSeal N95 respirator mask without valve (with adjustable head strap and adjustable nose bridge) is available in child and adult sizes; it has a soft silicone seal that some find to be more comfortable but may not work well with eyeglasses.
Some people report finding a KF94 respirator mask to be more comfortable than an N95 or KN95.
For those who cannot tolerate an N95/KN95/KF94 or equivalent respirator mask, the WellBefore Kids surgical-style mask also has both adjustable ear loops and an adjustable nose bridge.
The difference between an ASTM Level 1 procedure mask and an ASTM Level 2 surgical mask is the resistance to fluid spray, not filtration. An ASTM Level 2 surgical mask will resist a spray at arterial pressure (120 mm Hg) and a Level 3 will resist 160 mg Hg, while a Level 1 procedure mask will only resist a spray at venous pressure (80 mm Hg).
- “What Doctors Wish Patients Knew About Wearing N95 Masks,” by Sara Berg, M.S. with Louito Edje, M.D. and Luis Seija, M.D., for the American Medical Association’s What Doctors Wish Patients Knew series, 2022 Jun 24. (Advice on fit and comfort.)
- “COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Workers Need Respirators,” American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). (FYI: ACHIH sets workplace exposure standards.)
- “Types of Masks and Respirators,” CDC.
- “N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, Face Masks, and Barrier Face Coverings,” FDA.
- “Clinical Resources / Medical Face Mask Protection Standards & Information for Use,” PriMed Medical Products.
- “Counterfeit Respirators / Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval,” CDC. (A running list of counterfeit masks.)
- “N95 Respirator Cleaning and Reuse Methods Proposed by the Inventor of the N95 Mask Material,” by Pascal S.C. Juang, M.D. and Peter Tsai, Ph.D., The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2020 May..
- Microwave-Generated Steam Decontamination of N95 Respirators Utilizing Universally Accessible Materials, by Katelyn E. Zulauf, Alex B. Green, Alex N. Nguyen Ba, Tanush Jagdish, Dvir Reif, Robert Seeley, Alana Dale, and James E. Kirby, mBio (American Society for Microbiology), 2020 May-Jun.
- Air Cleaners, HVAC Filters, and Coronavirus (COVID-19), EPA.
- Ventilation and Coronavirus (COVID-19), EPA.
- “IAQ Research-Practice in Action: The Corsi/Rosenthal Box Air Cleaner,” by Jim Rosenthal, Tex-Air Filters.
- “How to Improve the Efficiency of the Corsi-Rosenthal Box Air Cleaner,” by Jim Rosenthal, Tex-Air Filters.
- “Characterizing the performance of a do-it-yourself (DIY) box fan air filter,” by Rachael Dal Porto, Monet N. Kunz, Theresa Pistochini, Richard L. Corsi, and Christopher D. Cappa, Aerosol Science and Technology, v.56:no.6, 2022:April.
- COVID-19 by County (COVID-19 Community Levels)
- Types of Masks and Respirators, updated Jan. 28, 2022.
- When and How to Wash Your Hands.
- Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19, updated Aug. 11, 2022.
- Symptoms of COVID-19, updated Aug. 11, 2022.
- Understanding Exposure Risks, updated Aug. 11, 2022.
- Factors That Affect Your Risk of Getting Very Sick from COVID-19, updated Aug. 11, 2022.
- People with Certain Medical Conditions, updated May 2, 2022 (under review).
- Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, updated Aug. 11, 2022.
- Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning, updated Aug. 11, 2022 — PHS is not a school, but this particular document contains the details that are most relevant to a homeschool co-op.
- Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs, updated Feb. 26, 2021 (under review).