Multi-Sensory Education | K-8th | North Bethesda, MD
(301) 299-4602

Health and Safety

Enhanced Health and Safety Measures for Our Return to Campus

A Shared Responsibility

Families and staff play a vital role in helping the school maintain safety on campus. The number one safety measure is to keep a child home if they are sick or for staff to stay home if they are sick. We want to work with families and staff to support our students' and staff’s adherence to safety measures while they are on campus as well as at home. To support this effort, prior to the start of school, we will provide extensive training as well as an orientation to all staff, parents and students on all safety/health procedures and to ensure the safest and smoothest transition to campus. As a community that prioritizes health and safety, we must all do our part to adhere to state health recommendations and regulations to control disease transmission and potential future outbreaks.

Moreover, there may be times when we will ask families/staff to comply with broader safety measures and we greatly appreciate your cooperation in this regard. Diener will incorporate enhanced COVID-19 safety measures for our return to campus that align with CDC as well as State and local guidelines, outlined below and subject to change.

Diener administrators are responsible for overseeing all staff and students and their adherence to all COVID-19 related procedures and policies. Matt Murphy and Alicia Evers are responsible for overseeing the daily health screening. Matt Murphy and Kathy Chumas are responsible for overseeing parent adherence to all COVID-19 related procedures and policies.

Failure to comply with any COVID-19 related procedure and/or policy will be subject to appropriate consequences as outlined in the Staff and Parent Acknowledgment.

The best defense against the virus is vaccination. Vaccination provides the least interruption to school life and reduces the risk of transmission throughout our community. We will be requiring all students and staff to provide us their vaccination status and proof of vaccination, if applicable.

We will be asking parents and visitors to share their vaccination status if they choose, however, we cannot require this information.

We urge, as strongly as we can, that all eligible individuals get vaccinated.

Each morning, before arriving on campus, students will be required to complete a daily wellness screening. This will include answering a set of questions about symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19. Completing the daily wellness screening should take no more than 1 minute and will be an essential part of our overall health and safety plan.

A student/staff member may be asked to stay/return home and seek medical attention/quarantine if:

  • The student is experiencing COVID-19 symptom(s)
  • A household member is experiencing COVID-19 symptom(s)
  • The staff was exposed to COVID-19
  • The staff or household member tests positive for COVID-19

We have carefully examined our physical spaces and how we organize and run the school day. Best practices such as social distancing, limiting transitions and ensuring good hygiene at all times are paramount for optimal safety and will be enforced here at Diener. We realize that social distancing may not always be feasible and therefore, we will practice and maintain all additional safety measures during this time. When the weather permits, we plan to utilize outdoor space as much as possible throughout the day. Classes such as Fitness may be held outdoors. When students are indoors, windows/doors may be kept open to provide additional ventilation.

The CDC recently updated their guidance and unveiled a community level tool which takes into account vaccination rates, hospitalizations, and case numbers per county.  It provides a ranking of low, medium, or high.  Universal masking is now only recommended when community levels are high. 

Montgomery County has been identified by the CDC as a low community level. You can check the status any time here. 

On January 5, 2022, an updated state regulation was released which included an off-ramp towards unmasking.  This requires 3 specific metrics to be met for unmasking to occur.

The county of the school is at least 80% vaccinated.

At least 80% of eligible students and staff are vaccinated. 

The county where the entity identified in Regulation .01 of the chapter is located has sustained 14 consecutive days of moderate or low transmission rates of COVID-19 cases, as reported in Centers for Disease Control data.

We are pleased to announce that The Diener School and Montgomery County meet all the above off-ramp criteria. 

As of Monday, March 14th, The Diener School moved to a “mask optional” policy.

The framework of the mask-optional policy is as follows:

  • Masking will be optional for students, staff, and guests on campus in all indoor and outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Individuals who wish to continue masking will be encouraged and supported. The decision for a student to wear a mask at school is between the parent/guardian and the child and will not be enforced by the school.
  • Masking will remain optional unless necessary in accordance with quarantine and isolation guidelines.
  • Staff or students that become ill during school will be required to wear a mask while on campus.

** If families continue to what their child to wear a mask at all times, please have them email their classroom teacher and to make this request **

The CDC recommends for each person to clean their hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Diener will require all staff/students to wash their hands at the following times:

  • Upon entering/exiting a classroom or office
  • Before and after eating/drinking
  • After a facemask has been touched/taken off
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching a shared surface area or supply/material
  • Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth

All Diener classrooms have a sink and soap dispenser for hand washing.  In addition, there are 1-2 sinks in each bathroom that staff/students can use. When soap and water is not accessible, students and staff will be required to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Diener has a large supply of hand sanitizer (gel, spray, wipes) on hand for staff/students’ use and will be replenished when necessary. Each classroom/office will have a hand sanitizing station outside of the entrance to the room and anyone entering/exiting the room/office will be required to use the sanitizer. All staff will carry a travel-size hand sanitizer with them at all times, as well.

All classrooms will be set up to allow for social distancing (at least 3 ft) while students are at their desk/seat.  Faculty, staff and students may also choose to have a sneeze guard mounted to their desk.

Students will stay in their homeroom or “cohort” during most of the school day however, there may be exceptions including but not limited to, Language Arts, Math, Middle School Electives and After School Clubs.

Each cohort will be made up of two classes.  Elementary school cohorts may be together at outdoor lunch, recess, in-house activities and field trips. Middle school cohorts may be together at outdoor lunch, recess, art, fitness, in-house activities and field trips. 

To ensure that we have the safest environment for our students, staff and families, we will test ALL students and staff on a bi-weekly basis no matter their vaccination status. If a student or staff member is absent on the day of testing, they will be required to get a test off-campus within 24 hrs. Capital Diagnostics will administer and process all tests at NO cost to Diener or families.

All students will be provided with individual/personal basic school supplies. If any material or supply (game, activity, whiteboard, etc.) has been used in the classroom, it will be thoroughly washed and sanitized before next use.

Diener has a large supply of disinfecting wipes and spray that can be used on all surfaces. In addition, we have purchased 2 UV Disinfectant Light wands to use on smaller surfaces. All high touch surface areas (bathrooms, doorknobs, light switches, hand railings) will be cleaned and sanitized AT LEAST every 2 hrs by custodial staff. Teachers will be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces in their classrooms throughout the day. Sprayers will be used to disinfect any outdoor surfaces that need it after each use.

In addition to the daily screening, Diener has updated the health policy to adhere to the CDC and state recommendations that include the following:

  • Any student that needs medication/emergency medication/medical attention for anything other than COVID-19 symptoms/first aid will be brought to a private area in the classroom to be given aid by a certified medication technician.
  • Diener has Thermal Scanners, Temporal Lobe and Ear Thermometers for fever detection to be used (if needed) during the school day.
  • The isolated health rooms for students experiencing any symptoms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use. This room is directly beside an exit door where parents will come to pick up.

Families and Staff are required to report:

  • A positive case of COVID-19 in the household
  • Exposure to COVID-19
  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Travel Outside of MD, DC or VA
  • Upgrades to our HVAC system to include MERV-13 air filters have been installed for improved circulation.
  • Air purifiers have been placed in all classrooms and isolated health rooms.
  • Visitors will be required to complete a COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire before entering the building.
  • Teacher Workroom/Break Area supplies and equipment will be cleaned and sanitized between each use.
  • All water fountains in the building will be taped off and not used. Students and staff will be using individual water bottles throughout the day.
  • Hallway traffic will be limited and monitored and overseen by a designated staff member.
  • Bathroom(s) traffic and use will be limited to two people at a time (middle stall closed for students) and monitored and overseen by faculty and staff.
  • Lunch and snacks will be eaten in the student’s homeroom at the student’s desk or outdoors (when feasible). Students will have access to microwaves but only homeroom teacher(s) may operate the microwave.
  • All desks in homerooms will be at least 3 ft. apart from each other.
  • A Sneeze Guard may be requested by staff, parents or students.

Proper signage will be placed in all areas of the Diener School facility, including but not limited to hallways, classrooms, offices, bathrooms, etc. Signage will include:

  • Social Distancing/ Reminder to keep 3 ft. apart
  • Proper handwashing technique
  • Practicing good hygiene (wash your hands, wear a face cover, cover coughs/sneezes, social distancing)
  • COVID-19 related tips for the protection of spreading germs

Please be sure to keep your phone with you at all times and check your email regularly.

  • Matt Murphy and/or Kathy Chumas will communicate with the community about current local conditions and school protocols and policies as needed.
  • Phone calls will be made regarding the health of individual students. Email will be used for all other communications, including emergency alerts.
  • All families will be alerted immediately if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the school community.
  • Anyone (student or staff) who has had direct contact with a known confirmed case of COVID-19 will be alerted immediately.

**See Response to a Confirmed Case of COVID-19 or COVID-19 Like Illness at School for more detailed info.

All students will participate in field trips with their homeroom or cohort. 

Students will be dropped off and picked up outside of the building, in a carpool line around the main entrance circle. Each classroom on the first floor has a direct door to the outside and students in these classrooms will only use their designated classroom door. All students whose classroom is on the second floor will be entering/exiting through two designated doors. A staff member will assist to ensure that no more than one person is entering/exiting at a time.

If a student is going to be dropped off late or picked up early, the parent/guardian/caregiver must escort their child to the main/front entrance and sign them in/out.

International Travel for All Students and Staff:

  • All students and staff traveling internationally (vaccinated or unvaccinated) MUST notify Laurie Aaronson of travel plans.
  • VACCINATED student/staff must monitor for symptoms upon arriving home. No additional test will be required upon return as all airlines require a negative test before traveling back to USA.
  • UNVACCINATED student/staff must quarantine and get a PCR Covid-19 test 3-5 days after arriving home and a negative test result MUST be submitted to Laurie Aaronson before student/staff may return to school/on campus. **Any test taken before 3-5 days after arriving home will not be accepted.

Domestic Travel for Unvaccinated Students/Staff:

  • All UNVACCINATED students and/or staff must report all domestic travel, outside of MD, DC or VA to Laurie Aaronson.
  • All UNVACCINATED student/staff must quarantine and get a PCR Covid-19 test 3-5 days after arriving home and a negative test result MUST be submitted to Laurie Aaronson before student/staff may return to school/on campus. **Any test taken before 3-5 days after arriving home will not be accepted.

**Vaccinated student/staff should monitor for symptoms upon return of travel, however, no quarantine or testing will be required.

Diener's Dedicated COVID-19 Contact

In the event a student, staff member, or student/staff household member has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or related symptoms or has been told to quarantine/isolate by a medical professional OR to report upcoming travel, please contact:

Matt Murphy or call (301) 299-4602

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