School Safety

in person learner

COVID 19 Resources, Health & Safety Measures & Protocols

safety priority

SAFETY: Student and staff safety are critical.


CARE: Our most vulnerable students and staff need to be at the center of our plan.


LEARNING: Student academic learning and social, emotional, behavioral and mental health are imperative.


FLEXIBILITY: We will be nimble, flexible and emotionally balanced in our approach.  We must rapidly respond to updated guidelines and feedback and have contingency plans.


EQUITY: We make decisions with equity as our guiding light.

Each morning families should symptom-check their children at home prior to leaving to identify signs and symptoms that may be related to COVID-19.  Likewise, all HPS staff should self-check their symptoms prior to leaving in the morning.  To serve as a guide for symptom-checking, the nursing team has developed a Daily Screening Tool.  Download and print the Daily COVID-19 Screening Tool (PDF) and remain home if you have symptoms. Considering symptoms, exposure, and travel, this tool provides guidance as to when in-person learners and staff should stay home and when they should go to school. It also provides guidance for remote learners when they should contact their school nurse with symptoms or COVID-19 positive results.  You may also be interested in watching this short video about self-checking symptoms.
student or staff member must remain at home and not attend school if any of the following are true:
1) The individual may have been exposed to COVID-19.
2) The individual shows symptoms of COVID-19
3) The individual is waiting to get tested or waiting for COVID-19 results.
4) A household member has symptoms and is getting tested for COVID-19.
5) The individual tests positive for COVID-19. 
If a student or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19, they must stay at home and away from others and we recommend contacting your health care provider and notify the school nurse.  
Students and staff members may still need to stay home for other illnesses that have symptoms that are similar to COVID-19, such as the flu, strep throat, pink eye, upset stomachs, or the common cold. Contact your health care provider for guidance and the building’s nurse for information about when the student or staff member can return to school in these situations.
Regarding travel, those families and HPS staff who plan to travel should work with the building nurse to plan ahead for return to the district.  Travel information can be found here and reach out to your school’s nurse for more information.

In order to keep students and staff who are physically present in our buildings as safe as possible, HPS has implemented a detailed plan which includes:   

  • Masks for all while in school buildings and on buses (except while outdoors, eating, and on mask breaks),
  • A personal responsibility Personal Responsibility Pledge for Students and Families (PDF) to stay home when ill and follow all other precautions, required of each student, family and staff member,
  • Encouraging all eligible people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including hosting clinics, COVID-19 testing offered in schools through routine COVID safety checks (previously referred to as pooled) and rapid testing for symptomatic individuals,
  • COVID-19 testing is offered in schools through routine COVID safety checks (previously referred to as pooled testing) and rapid testing for symptomatic individuals,
  • Proper ventilation through open windows and HEPA air filtration machines,
  • Physical distancing as much as possible in the classroom and lunchroom,
  • Cohorting students when possible to limit cross-group exposure,
  • Staying home when sick and using a daily COVID-19 Screening Tool,
  • Contact tracing when possible exposure to COVID-19 has occurred and quarantining as per DESE/district protocol,
  • Teaching and ensuring students participate in healthy practices like handwashing and covering coughs/sneezes,
  • Limiting visitors to school buildings and promoting virtual and outdoor opportunities for family engagement (e.g. IEP meetings, back to school events, etc),
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures, 
  • Use of other personal protective equipment (PPE), and
  • Teaching and ensuring students participate in healthy practices of handwashing, covering coughs/sneezes, etc.

HPS is taking prudent and practical preventative measures, in alignment with CDC and DESE guidelines, to improve air quality in our buildings and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.

We have recently invested in new equipment to improve air quality in our buildings. Read our 1-27-21 press release about HEPA filters:City of Holyoke Invests in Air Quality Improvement Devices for HPS Classrooms. We have also invested in air purifying ionizers that have been installed throughout the district. These “bipolar needle ionizers” are one of the few HVAC technologies that have been tested as proven neutralizers of the COVID virus and also destroy other common forms of bacteriological microorganisms that can cause respiratory irritations. They significantly improve the air quality in our buildings, are self-cleaning, and are long-lasting compared to disinfecting UltraViolet light bulbs which have a much shorter lifespan. We have also invested in, and installed air purifiers in any room without windows or rooms with windows that do not open.

Furthermore, we have purchased top-of-the-line disinfectant sprayers that dispense a mist spray electrostatically to all touchpoints and have a very short dwell time (less than 3 minutes). This is the latest technology available, and we are excited to have it for use in our deep cleaning process.


  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) preventative maintenance is conducted as prescribed by the recognized industry standards and established preventative maintenance procedures.
  • Building maintenance staff is working with service providers to ensure timely service of all equipment in our buildings.
  • Ensure we are ever vigilant in checking and increasing outside air exchange rates to the specific equipment’s full potential.
  • Maintain and review with regularity all preventative maintenance and inspection records to ensure and confirm that maximum HVAC efficiencies have been provided.
  • Upgrade and replace air filters with greater regularity to reduce COVID-19 transmission potential.
  • HPS has air conditioning in many of its buildings, most of them are window units. Where possible, we will ensure that all classroom windows are functioning properly so that windows can be opened to allow increased ventilation and fresh air into the classrooms. In areas that may be of concern, we will work to secure air purifiers to circulate clean air. In addition, cleaning and disinfecting is being done daily to ensure spaces safe for learning.

We have developed a COVID-19 response protocol for when an individual who displays symptoms similar to COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19.  This response includes working closely with the Holyoke Board of Health and the HPS response team which will consist of the school/building Nurse, Director of Health, Wellness, and Nursing, Human Resources, and Custodian. 

Any child who becomes ill must report to the nurse immediately, who will contact the parents/caregivers for pickup. At each school, a specific room (isolation room) is maintained for students with COVID-19 symptoms that is separate from the nurse’s office or spaces where other ailments are treated per DESE’s operations and facilities guidelines (July 22).

At each school building, the school nurse is the primary point of contact for COVID-19 concerns;  School Nurse Contact Information.

While specific responses may vary, there are some common elements for each possible COVID-19 scenario.  

  • For suspected COVID-19 symptoms, the nurse will evaluate symptoms, separate the symptomatic individual from others, the custodian will clean and disinfect spaces visited by the person, the individual will be referred for COVID-19 testing and advised to stay at home while awaiting results. 

COVID-19 Weekly Public Health Report contains weekly information about cases in Massachusetts (Search for Holyoke)

This data includes:

  • Case and testing information by city/town
  • Contact tracing cases and outreach
  • Individuals released from isolation (recovered)
  • Cases and case rate by age for last two weeks
  • Probable cases
  • Cases and deaths in Long Term Care Facilities
  • Infection control survey results at nursing homes
  • PPE Distribution


Trusted Resource Sites

School Safety Efforts & Protocols in the Event of an Unforeseen Emergency

We would like to remind you of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of our students and staff and to inform you of our protocols in the event of an unforeseen emergency.  The Massachusetts State Police, Holyoke Fire and Holyoke Police Departments are strong partners with whom we collaborate with regularly to review appropriate safety protocols in our schools.  These protocols focus on the appropriate awareness, prevention, preparation, and response to incidents. We conduct drills and review emergency procedures throughout the school year to test preparedness as part of monthly District Crisis team meetings.  Our staff has been trained in school evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, and will soon be trained in reunification procedures.

Please see below for more detailed information about these protocols and how you can help.

School Evacuation Information (On-site and Off-site)

On-site Evacuation: If an incident occurs that requires a temporary evacuation from the building, students will follow fire drill procedures and convene at a planned location on the school premises. This type of evacuation may or may not interrupt school communication, dismissal and instructional time.


Off-site evacuation: When an incident occurs that requires us to move students to an off-site location, we will communicate directly with families about a designated reunification location to pick-up their children. In such an event, we ask that families present a photo ID and sign-out a child before they are allowed to be dismissed.  Clear signs will be posted to provide specific directions to families.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Enhanced Lockdown or Shelter-in-Place

Lockdown or shelter-in-place are used when the conditions outside of classrooms or buildings require that students remain in their current location.


  • Lockdown procedures are utilized when there is an imminent and serious internal threat to the safety of students and staff in the building (i.e. intruder). Staff and students are asked to remain in their current location and are given direction on how to remain safe.
  • A shelter in place may be needed in the event of a medical emergency, a chemical spill, low-level school threats or police activity around a school. In these cases, students are generally asked to remain secure in their present location, but normal school functions (such as teaching and learning) can continue.


During these events, it is not possible for anyone other than public safety officials to enter or exit a building.


The lockdown or shelter in place is not lifted until the school leader or emergency personnel communicates an “All Clear” message to the school.


Parents will be notified of an emergency action in the event that it has an extended impact on the school day or if the incident impacts student safety.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How can you help?

  • Update your school’s nurse if there are any changes to your child’s health and/or medication status.
  • Please keep your emergency contact information updated with the school: cell, email, work and home numbers.
  • Notify your school office if the adult responsible for picking up your child has changed. During an emergency, we would ask that you do not call the school as phone lines need to be kept open for emergency communication.  We will inform you via our district-wide notification system once we know that all students and staff are safe.
  • It is important that all families who enter our schools visit the main office first. We will then ask you to follow our visitor sign-in and identification procedures.  If you have any questions or concerns about a school’s procedures, please do not hesitate to contact the principal.
  • In the event of an emergency, please do not immediately drive to your child’s school. Extra congestion will preclude emergency personnel from accessing a school.  We will provide information through the media and our district-wide notification system.  Students and staff will not be able to access their cars during a lockdown or evacuation.
  • If you are aware of any threats to our schools, please contact your child’s principal immediately. You might have information that could prevent a potential safety issue at a school.

Also, as a reminder, schools will conduct searches of student clothing, desks, lockers and/or automobiles in the interest of safe-guarding students, their property and school property, as per the HPS handbook.  We appreciate your partnership and cooperation as we take important steps to ensure that all children in Holyoke are educated in safe and nurturing school environments.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Please see our Annual Asbestos Notification for the SY 21-22.

Facilities Safety Videos

Our facilities team is hard at work maintaining a safe and healthy environment for staff and students.  View the videos below that show all the steps we are taking at HPS. (Also, please read our 1-27-21 press release: City of Holyoke Invests in Air Quality Improvement Devices for HPS Classrooms to learn more about the HPEA filters that have been installed in all classrooms, as well as cafeterias, gymnasiums, and other district locations.

Covid-19 Vaccine and Kids – Hear from the Experts:Download this video | Download video from zip file

La vacuna de COVID-19 – Segura y eficaz para todas las personas mayores de 12 años:Download this video| Download video from zip file

Webinar for HPS Staff about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Print Friendly, PDF & Email