Keeping GCS Healthy and Safe

April 11, 2024

Groton Community School has offered fun and engaging educational experiences for young children while implementing protocols and strategies to keep our children, families and staff healthy and safe.  We have found that the essence of Groton Community School has remained the same during the coronavirus pandemic, and now beyond as we resume normal activities once again.  All that we learned as educators while operating remotely has broadened our horizons beyond the classroom, and this knowledge continues to help us stay connected with families and our community.

The following protocols are currently in place:



Groton Community School works diligently to adhere to current state and licensing requirements and recommendations regarding COVID-19, and works closely with the local Board of Health, the MA Department of Public Health, and our licensing agency the MA Department of Early Education and Care, to provide a healthy and safe environment at our school.  We take protecting our children, families, and staff very seriously.  We provide information on our school website with important information families should know.

Families can communicate COVID-19 related information (symptoms, exposure, positive cases in the family or testing results) to the school via our email. 



Parents/ guardians are required to monitor their child’s health and any close contact with COVID-19 on a daily basis prior to arrival at GCS. Staff will likewise monitor their own health and contacts daily, as well as monitoring the health of children throughout the day for potential COVID-19 symptoms.

No one (regardless of vaccination status) is permitted or can remain in the program with the following symptoms: 

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Sore throat when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Fatigue when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in
    combination with other symptoms

Individuals with symptoms of concern should notify the school and get tested for COVID-19.  GCS requires a negative test result (rapid antigen or PCR) or a doctor’s note to return due to the symptoms listed above.  Please see information below regarding Testing. 

If tested negative, the staff member/child can stay or return to school if conditions are met in our  Child Illness Policy for non-COVID-19 related illnesses.  



Please be sure to refer to our GCS Exposure and Isolation Policy for details regarding exposure to COVID-19 in the community or positive cases in your family.  

Our GCS Exposure and Isolation Policy is informed by the MA Department of Public health (MDPH) and our Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) licensing agency.  Updates are made on an ongoing basis.

An infected person can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 starting 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for people without symptoms, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date).

Helpful information from the state is available to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

Please note that GCS requires a conversation with an administrator regarding return to school for COVID-19 positive or exposed individuals.



Proof of a negative rapid antigen home test is permissible in the case of symptoms, or after exposure (if properly timed).

Please note, a positive result for a rapid antigen home test is considered COVID-19 positive.  Please inform your doctor and GCS ASAP.

To submit information regarding home testing, please include the individual’s name and date of test, as well as describing the reason for testing in your email. 

All test results should be emailed to 


People who had COVID-19 in the last 90 days should test with a rapid antigen test, not a PCR test.  People who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 30 days ago are not recommended to test unless they have symptoms.


Families are urged to consult with their doctor for testing guidance.  Massachusetts residents have a number of options to get tested for COVID-19. For more details, visit  Other options may be found by entering “COVID test near me” in Google.



At this time, masking is not required for children or adults under normal circumstances, regardless of vaccination status.  Anyone who wishes to wear a mask – child or adult – will be supported in that decision. Please know that we may need to make an adjustment to reinstate the mask protocol if things change with regard to the prevalence of the virus.

At this time, masking is welcomed for a brief period of time after exposure for all those who can do so to protect themselves and those around them.  Masking is required for a brief time when returning after testing positive for COVID-19.

*An individual is up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination if they have received all recommended doses in their primary series COVID-19 vaccine, and a booster dose when recommended.



Our EEC licensing agency and the MA Department of Public Health strongly recommend that all educators and children receive the COVID-19 vaccine primary series and all boosters, as they become eligible for them.   All GCS staff are strongly encouraged to be up-to-date* for COVID-19 vaccination, and we gladly welcome vaccination for children.

COVID-19 vaccination status for staff and children is maintained with other immunization records in staff and children’s files.

*An individual is up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination if they have received all recommended doses in their primary series COVID-19 vaccine, and a booster dose when recommended.



COVID-19 testing is required if individuals develop COVID-19 symptoms before, during, or after travel.

Consider getting a COVID-19 test if you:

  • Will be traveling to visit someone who is at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • Were in a situation with a greater risk of exposure during travel (e.g., in an indoor, crowded space like an airport terminal while not wearing a mask).

 We ask for your cooperation and care in following these guidelines, as we are all responsible collectively for the health and safety of our GCS Community.



We welcome visitors to our programs as long as they have no symptoms of any kind.

During the pandemic, GCS Teachers and Staff warmly greeted children in the lobby, and escorted them to their classrooms.  With a downward trend in close contacts and cases early spring 2022, GCS took the next step toward gradually opening up the school to GCS families, and has been open to the public since the fall of 2022.



Classroom groups are now permitted to interact freely with each other indoors and outdoors.

Previously, children remained with their classroom group (cohort) throughout the pandemic, and did not intermingle with other groups.  However, classroom groups could gather together outdoors if adequate distancing was maintained between each group.



Our normal practice requires children and staff to wash their hands with soap and water at arrival time, and we have procedures in place throughout the day for handwashing, as well.  Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers and manual pumps are also available for adults, in addition to adult and child sinks in every classroom.



At this time, there is no need for physical distancing.

During the pandemic, we preferred using the phrase “physical distancing,” instead of “social distancing,” as we were still very social together!  Children and staff interacted with one another, engaged in great conversations, and shared in activities together.  Teaching strategies, gentle guidance and structuring the environment accomplished physical distancing.



As a children’s center, cleaning and disinfecting is something that we naturally do, and we have continued our enhanced efforts due to COVID-19 beyond the pandemic.  We clean and disinfect in classrooms each day.


Our newly renovated and expanded school has a state-of-the-art HVAC system.  Each classroom is equipped with an efficient air purifier that runs 24-7 in addition.

Groton Community School has always valued outdoor play each day. In addition to unstructured playground time (swings, climbing structures, trike track, sand area, balancing logs, pretend play, music experiences, gardening, grassy areas), nature “hunts”, “story walks” and other outdoor games and activities provide structured experiences.



We have returned to sharing family-style snacks (instead of children bringing their own food exclusively due to COVID-19).  Families are asked to provide a healthy snack for their child’s classroom on a rotating basis.  Teachers provide a snack calendar at he bginning of each month.  Children in Full-Day classes bring a lunch and also their afternoon snack from home.

Children are invited to bring their own water bottle, and Teachers will happily refill them.

We ask all families to avoid peanut and nut products due to the prevalence of food allergies to these items.  An Individual Health Care Plan is created in partnership with families and medical professionals for children with allergies or specific nutritional needs.



Please stay tuned for further Groton Community School updates regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

We pay close attention to communications from the Board of Health, the MA Department of Public Health, our licensing agency (the MA Department of Early Education and Care), our GCS Health Care Consultant, and the Governor’s office.  We ask families (and staff) to please continue to be responsible in monitoring possible COVID-19 symptoms and exposure for their household, to be safe with their interactions within the community, and to please get vaccinated if possible.

Please contact Groton Community School if you have questions about our protocols and policies.