Under Mayor Bowser’s Executive Orders, the District of Columbia has initiated its phased re-opening. It is important to note that this does not mean that the pandemic has ended or that we can be any less cautious in our interactions. In fact, it is more important than ever to be thoughtful, diligent, and respectful of others. The below plan is intended to establish and explain the policies, practices and conditions necessary to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DC Department of Health (DCDH) guidelines for COVID-19, as well as federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Additionally, we are happy to share a PDF of the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan from Bernstein Companies (1990 K Management) that thoroughly addresses the engineering and administrative controls for physical distancing, cleaning, disinfecting, decontamination and ventilation in our building.
We are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment as a foremost priority. We are all responsible for implementing this plan. The collective goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our workplace, and that requires full cooperation among our clinicians and clients. Only through this collaborative effort can we generate the best opportunity for safety and wellness.
Scheduling an Assessment
Consultation with educators, administrators, physicians, and public health experts has culminated in our decision to continue with successful virtual work for the foreseeable future. Guidance also dictates that we try to accomplish as much in-person work as possible prior to the likely resurgence of a health threat later this year. We ask that clients contact us early to develop assessment plans that allow for us to limit your trips to the office, reduce potential exposure, and yet still receive results in a timely way.
Safety Measures within WPA Offices
Screening to address signs and symptoms of COVID-19
The following policies and procedures are being implemented to assess health status prior to entering our office and to report feeling sick. Every clinician should record her temperature on the morning of an appointment, review the CDC symptom checklist, and share that information with the client (via phone, email, etc.). The same is expected of the client. If this has not been done prior to the appointment, you will be asked to have your temperature taken upon arrival at the suite, which is not optimal. If either clinician or client has any concerns at all about health, they are expected to stay home and we will prioritize rescheduling. If either clinician or client is aware of exposure to someone with COVID-19, has any possible symptoms, or has recently visited a "hot spot", they are expected to remain home and an appointment can be made via telehealth or rescheduled once 14 days has elapsed if no symptoms emerge or a negative COVID-19 test is rendered after sufficient wait time (optimally 5 days post potential exposure).
Masks are required at all times in suite 635 and are also required in the common areas of 1990 K. Clinicians and others may additionally choose to wear face shields.
In most cases, we will utilize virtual test administration to promote optimal health and reduce stress. When that is not possible, we will convene in person if the client can be reasonably expected to follow social distancing protocols. At this time, that excludes very young children. Only one clinician will be in the office per day. There will never be more than one client in the office at the same time. We ask that if it is necessary to accompany the testing participant to the office that only one person remain in the waiting area. We will maintain 6+ feet space as best as possible in the assessment interaction, but all clients should know that there are likely brief intervals of closer contact (i.e. to retrieve/switch materials). Objects such as pencils, pens, computer and testing equipment, and other work tools will not be shared and will be cleaned and disinfected before being put away. Testing participants may be provided with a pointing implement to promote physical distance.
Hand washing and sanitizing
Our bathroom is shared and steps have been taken to make its use safer. Everyone is expected to wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water upon arrival to the building and whenever it makes sense during the day. Hand-sanitizer dispensers have been installed in the building and are plentiful in our suite.
Cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
Regular housekeeping practices have been amplified, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces, equipment, and shared spaces such as restrooms and lobby areas. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted by clinicians in high-touch areas such door handles, computers, copy machines, testing materials, etc. Our suite will continue to utilize its Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier and has added additional, similar systems. The building team has also made adjustments such that the maximum amount of fresh air is being brought into the workplace, air re-circulation is being limited and ventilation systems are being closely monitored. Steps are also being taken to minimize air flow blowing across people.
Toys, books, and most other shared materials have been removed from our waiting area. However, some handouts remain. We ask that you please take what you review home with you and to refrain from unnecessary touching of common items.
Communicate. It might be hard, but we ask that anyone who later finds out that they were in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 or perhaps becomes symptomatic themselves, let us know. There’s no blame or shame. There is risk of preventable harm if you do not disclose. We will be transparent in the office, and ask the same of our clients.
We closed our office as COVID-19 news hit because we care about individual/personal welfare and felt a deep commitment to the larger wellness of our community. Our single biggest job right now is to respect the guidelines and try to be brave, smart, and compassionate. We miss high-fives, unmuffled laughter, and real interactions but we'll get there when the time is right.
We remain in regular contact with leaders in the assessment field, test publishers, and related colleagues to make decisions about best testing practices during this pandemic. We are offering a variety of options that are guided by client best interest, research data, and safety first! If you have any questions at all, please ask!
Need more support? In addition to testing, we are consulting to help determine needs and get a sense of how check-ins might be most effective for your family. We'll send and collect information in advance, keep our talk or video time short, and develop an action plan that makes sense for your family. Please call or email so that we can share some initial set-up requirements and next steps.
What does the check-in look like?
Parent consultation will guide how we can be most helpful. We can use our website platform, Zoom, and FaceTime to connect. We want to be able to fill in to provide developmentally-appropriate supports where they're needed. You may want help understanding how your kids are making sense of their new daily lives. You may need someone else to help them organize themselves for the day. You may just need someone who can chat and play when you can't. Kids often show us how they're doing before they tell us. We can help them reflect on how they're thinking, feeling, and acting. We can support them in finding and using their own tools for success in new and changing circumstances.
- We help kids organize themselves (i.e. immediate “to do”, daily plans, school requirements)
- We pay attention to how kids describe what is working well for them right now and what is not. This can be shared with parents and caregivers, but it is also a prime opportunity to practice structured problem-solving.
- We can provide scaffolding as kids do schoolwork or other activities
- We can suggest strategies for success (i.e. art, exercise, self-care, communication, adaptation of IEP and 504 strategies)
- We can bolster connectedness and help kids feel supported in these new circumstances
Please be in touch early and often! Public health officials advise that there are still many unknowns. We're doing the best we can but talking and planning together is key.