Facilities Guidance

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the school, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code.

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

The school plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Occupational Safety Inspections on time.

Upon reopening, the school plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

The school will revisit Emergency Response Plans, protocols, and procedures and make modifications in light of COVID-19.  

Describe the facilities reopening plan and activities, which will occur including:

  • Fire Code Compliance: The construction, alteration, relocation, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, maintenance, removal, and demolition of every building or structure, and every appurtenance connected or attached to any building or structure, must comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC), except as specified in 19 NYCRR 1221.2(d). Such activity may require building permits and review by local municipalities and/or code enforcement officials to ensure such compliance.  Schools should consult their local authority that have jurisdiction for code enforcement. Changes or additions to facilities may require review by local municipalities and/or code enforcement officials to ensure such compliance. 
  • Doorways: Many stair and corridor doors have closers with automatic hold opens. These doors are normally held in the open position and are automatically released by the fire alarm system. The function, position, and operation of those doors must remain unchanged. Fortunately, they need not be touched during normal use.
  • Time Management: School leaders should manage time and schedules to reduce student use of the corridors. The traditional practice of changing classes between periods results in congested hallways and may make social distance challenging. 
  • Leave Doors Open: To reduce the spread of the virus from touching door levers and knobs, doors may be fixed in the open position. This is only permitted at doors without door closers and doors which are not fire rated.
  • Plastic Separators: The use of light-transmitting plastics is recommended in locations where social distance or mask requirements cannot be complied with or easily regulated (e.g., to separate individual lavatory sinks from each other). Light-transmitting plastics must comply with Building Code Section 2606.
  • Alcohol-Based Hand Rub Dispensers: Religious and independent schools should assess each building’s capacity to provide adequate hand washing facilities and determine if the use of alcohol-based hand rub dispensers is required. Alcohol-based Hand-Rub Dispensers are permitted to be installed in rooms and corridors in limited quantities in accordance with the 2020 Fire Code of New York State (FCNYS) Section 5705.5.
  • Dividers at Doors and Other Points of Congregation: It may be advisable to use dividers at queue lines and other areas subject to overcrowding to control the groups. Consult your local municipality and/or code enforcement officials. Their review is necessary, because improperly placed dividers could obstruct escape during an emergency.
  • Work with engineers to establish proper filtration requirements (e.g., filters that your HVAC system can handle).
  • Alterations to the configuration of existing classrooms or spaces or the introduction of temporary and/or movable partitions, the change must be submitted to the local municipality and/or code enforcement officials for review.
  • Tents, both temporary and permanent are regulated by code and must be submitted for a building permit.
  • Minimum number of toilet fixtures that must be available for use in a building is established in the building code.
  • Drinking Water Facilities: Schools may wish to reduce the number of drinking fountains available, in order to facilitate frequent cleaning. However, drinking fountains are a code required plumbing fixture. One fountain is required for each one hundred occupants.
  • Maintain adequate, Code required ventilation (natural or mechanical) as designed.
  • If other air cleaning equipment (e.g. new technology) is proposed, submit to OFP for review and approval. 

Infection Control Strategies

The following Infection Control Strategies will be put into place:

  • 6 foot distance floor/ground markers inside and outside.
  • Dedicated one way up/down stairwells
  • Dedicated one way movement through hallways
  • 6 feet distance front to back of desks with code approved clear barriers when needed
  • Mobile hand washing stations in cafeteria and Great Hall
  • Access to alcohol based sanitizer in all rooms throughout the building
  • Every room will be supplied a sanitizing kit

With large classrooms and a small number of students we are easily able to maintain the 20 square foot per student NYSED guidance.

Facility Alterations and Acquisition

No major alterations are planned for any space within the school due to the large size of our building and open rooms available. The school will utilize available space in the cafeteria, gym, auditorium, and libraries (or sections thereof), as classroom space if needed. Minor alterations and the use of space dividers will be utilized in existing classrooms. The need for social distancing may be enhanced by alterations to a lobby or corridor and /or interior spaces/rooms. 

Space Expansion

At this time no space expansion is required for our building.

Tents for Additional Space

No plan to utilize outdoor tents will be necessary.

Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

  • Minimum number of toilet fixtures that must be available for use in a building is established in the building code
  • Drinking Water Facilities: Districts or other applicable schools may wish to reduce the number of drinking fountains available, in order to facilitate frequent cleaning. However, drinking fountains are a code required plumbing fixture. One fountain is required for each one hundred occupants.
  • if building has been unoccupied the water system must be flushed 
  • Best practices to implement in residential, shared (i.e., communal) bathrooms include, but are not limited to:
  • Physical barriers between toilets and sinks when six feet of separation is not feasible
  • Use of touch-free paper towel dispensers in lieu of air dryers.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure distancing rules are adhered to by using signage, occupied markers, or other methods to reduce restroom occupancy at any given time, where feasible.

Ventilation

  • We will maintain adequate, code required ventilation (natural or mechanical) as designed.
  • Responsible Parties will increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible (e.g., opening windows and doors) while maintaining health and safety protocols, particularly for younger students.

School Safety and Emergency Drills

The school will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. The school must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies. 

  • Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the district’s or other applicable school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.
  • Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration should be given to how a school may modify their drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to.
  • Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, students should be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

The school modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by the classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
  • If school reopens with a “hybrid” in-person model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, the school must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures, and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.

Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conduct lockdown drills in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing/using masks.
  • Conducting lockdown drills on a “staggered” schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing, however the school must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
  • Conduct lockdown drills in the classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.