Face Coverings | Substitute Teachers | Social Distancing | Drop/off pick up plan | Screening | Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection | Transportation | Food Service | Mental Health, Behavioral, and Emotional Support Services | Extracurricular Activities
Any and all discussions about how to safely and effectively reopen our schools requires us to understand the how of safely reopening. For us to safely reopen, there are four major areas that need to be considered – face coverings, social distancing, hygiene, and screening – all of which will be covered throughout the course of this planning document. As a baseline, we are required to: maintain six feet of distancing in most scenarios, wear appropriate face coverings, maintain proper hand hygiene and adhere to the CDC’s and Department of Health’s guidance as they relate to the cleaning and disinfection of our classrooms. We will perform screening of all staff, students, and faculty members as they enter, or prior to their entry into the building. In order for us to safely reopen, we need to be able to achieve and maintain these requirements; throughout the course of this document we will explain and explore the process through which we will accomplish these requirements.
The school district has designated Patricia Morris, Superintendent, as its COVID-19 Safety Coordinator. This individual shall be responsible for the continuous compliance with all aspects of the school’s reopening plan, as well as any phased-in reopening activities necessary to allow for operational issues to be resolved before activities return to normal or “new normal” levels.
The school district has designated Patricia Morris, Superintendent, as the primary point of contact upon the identification of a positive COVID-19 case and to be responsible for subsequent communications. This person shall be responsible for answering questions from students, faculty, staff, and parents or legal guardians regarding the COVID-19 public health emergency and the plans being implemented in the school.
Face Coverings (Updated Jan. 2021)
The district began implementing additional masking requirements on Jan. 19, 2021. This change means that all students and staff will wear masks during class. Mask breaks will be given as needed. We will continue to mask during all transitions, when within six feet of one another and on the bus.
Students will not be required to wear a mask:
- while eating lunch or snack
- when playing an instrument and 12-feet or more away from others
- during a mask break
All students and staff must wear acceptable face coverings; excluding students and staff who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering. If parents believe that their child is unable to medically tolerate a face covering, they should contact their building principal. A doctor’s note will be required.
This change is due to an increase in the 7-day county average, a new strain of the virus in our county and upcoming schedule changes that will increase the number of people in our buildings daily. Most importantly, the changes to our masking protocol should decrease the rate of transmission in our schools during the winter months, thereby minimizing the number of potential quarantined students and staff due to exposure and keep our hybrid learning plan in place.
The school district will remind staff, faculty, students, and visitors of this process through training, signage, verbal communication, and other means throughout the school year.
While the school district will encourage all staff, students, and faculty to provide their own face coverings, the school district will continue to maintain an adequate stock of disposable PPE for their emergency use or by request. In order to ensure that stock is maintained, the Director of Facilities will be responsible for performing periodic checks of supplies and orders of more as needed across the district. The school district worked throughout the spring and summer of 2020 to supplement the stock of PPE for the upcoming school year and continues to do so throughout the school year. The school district will also maintain a supply of disposable face coverings on each of the school buses for students who have forgotten, broken, or soiled their face coverings. Tom Murphy, Director of Transportation, will ensure that protocols are in place for bus drivers to assess need and access additional PPE as needed. The school district also encourages students, staff, and faculty to keep a replacement mask(s) at the school district in case their initial mask fails or becomes soiled throughout the school day.
Substitute teachers will be provided with appropriate guidance on protocols and procedures for working in the district as it relates to the specificity of this plan. COVID-19 training for substitutes will be given by our WSWHE BOCES teacher registry.
For safe school operations, we must attempt to maintain social distancing to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus while on school grounds and in school facilities. To facilitate this, our school district has redesigned our classroom spaces, common areas, and other rooms throughout the buildings for appropriate social distancing. Specifically, appropriate social distancing means six feet of space in all directions between individuals or the use of suitable physical barriers between individuals that do not adversely affect air flow, heating, cooling, ventilation, or otherwise present a health or safety risk.
The only time where social distancing requirements may be relaxed in the school district is when the safety of an activity or the core activity requires a shorter distance or individuals are of the same household. To promote this type of behavior, the school district has instituted measures such as: placing six-foot distance markers around the school district, changing traffic flow patterns to reduce bi-directional foot traffic, staggering the school schedule to reduce the amount of students in the hallway at any given time, designating certain stairwells as “up-only” or “down-only” to prevent close contact and explicit social distancing signage throughout campus buildings.
Furthermore, the school district has evaluated smaller spaces in the school building, such as elevators, break rooms, and faculty offices, and will be limiting the use of these spaces. These identified spaces will require the use of face coverings and occupancy should not exceed 50% of the maximum, unless the space is designed for use by a single occupant. In addition to the above noted changes, our school district has evaluated the feasibility of modifying existing areas of mass assembly, such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, and cafeterias, to provide additional learning spaces for students that are more easily appropriately socially distanced.
Drop-off and pick-up plan
To limit contact at arrival and dismissal times, the district has set certain protocols. At arrival, all students will be screened prior to entering the building. For parents who drive students to school and/ or pick up students from school, students will access/ exit the building at a single point of entry/exit.
To ensure that sick or ill students, staff, and faculty are not allowed on campus, the school district has adopted a strict screening policy which includes temperature checks for students, faculty, and staff, daily screening questionnaires for faculty and staff, and periodic screening questionnaires for students. There will be daily temperature checks for everyone at each entrance to the buildings, prior to entry. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees F or greater may be sent home after further assessment. The district has built additional time into the schedule to allow for student screenings. The school district will also require screenings for contractors, vendors, and visitors who will be entering the school building. We will encourage at-home screenings to occur before individuals reach the school building; should an individual fail the screening or feel ill, they should remain home. Furthermore, we ask that parents and guardians remain vigilant in observing their students for signs of illness and to keep them home when they are ill. If an individual wants to enter a school building or facility, they will be required to complete an in-person screening. Designated personnel will supervise the screenings and students waiting their turn for screening. Trained screening staff will be provided with masks, face shields and gloves to ensure their safety and well-being.
Our district’s screening process will meet all of the requirements as set forth by the state, where a temperature at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or a failure of the screening will result in that individual either not gaining entry into the school or being immediately escorted to an isolation room (waiting room). If the individual who fails a screening is a staff member, faculty member, or outside visitor, then they will be instructed to leave the school facility and see their health care provider. If the individual who fails a screening is a student, then they shall be taken to that building’s isolation room to be assessed by the school nurse and await a parent, guardian, or emergency contact who can bring them to a health care provider for further evaluation. The isolation room shall require appropriate social distancing to be maintained, an increased cleaning and disinfection schedule from the school district’s buildings and grounds staff, and constant visual supervision. We will provide all required PPE to the individual(s) who will be supervising the isolation room to ensure their safety. When an individual’s parent, guardian, or emergency contact arrives at the school district to pick up their student, we will once again remind them that their student is required to be seen by a health care provider in regards to the failed screening. The school district will also instruct staff and faculty members to observe for signs of illness in others and require that staff report symptomatic persons so that they can be assessed by the school nurse.
The school district has worked with and remains in communication with our county health department to determine the specific return requirements of individuals who fail a screening, test positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test, or have come in close contact with or have been exposed to somebody who tests positive for the COVID-19 virus. After a failed screening, the school district will require, at a minimum, documentation from a health care provider of a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result and symptom resolution. If, after a failed screening, that individual tests positive for COVID-19 from a diagnostic test, then the school district will work with our county department of health to determine their minimum standards for return to the school district. In addition, the school district shall work with our county health department to determine the process for the provision or referral of diagnostic testing for students, faculty, and staff, should that become necessary. The school district has also worked with our county department of health to determine what metrics will serve as early warning signs that COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level, both within our schools or within the larger local community. Please refer to Appendix I of this plan for more information on reporting protocols.
The school district has identified Clint Froschauer, K-12 Assistant Principal, as the individual(s) who will serve as the central point of contact and who is responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all screening activities on a daily basis. This individual shall also be identified as the contact for individuals to notify if they later experience COVID-19 related symptoms during the day or have COVID-19 exposure, as noted on their questionnaire.
For Testing and Contact Tracing protocols, please see Appendix V of this plan.
Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection
Our school district has instituted, trained on, and follows the CDC and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidelines on the hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection of school buildings and materials. We have developed extensive procedures and protocols for school-wide cleaning and the disinfection of classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, libraries, playgrounds, school buses, and all other school facilities based on the CDC guidance. We have also identified the areas of buildings that will require additional cleaning and disinfection, such as bathrooms. Throughout the course of the year, our district will maintain cleaning and disinfection logs which identify the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection for those areas. We have also developed and maintained a list of commonly touched surfaces throughout the school district, with a cleaning and disinfection schedule assigned to individuals and positions for these surfaces. Please refer to Appendix II of this plan for specific cleaning and disinfecting protocols and procedures. We will also be increasing ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible based on the outdoor air temperature and the capabilities of our HVAC system. Lastly, the school district shall continue to conduct or complete the process of performing its required Lead-in-Water testing as required by NYS DOH regulation 67-4.
Our school district also understands that for us to maintain a safe and healthful school environment, we need to promote and encourage proper hand hygiene throughout the day. In order to achieve this goal, we will be installing hand hygiene stations throughout common areas of the building so that students may sanitize their hands while they are in transition and at times where they may not be able to clean their hands with soap and water throughout the school day. We will also be training students, faculty, and staff on proper hand hygiene throughout the school year and provide continued education for individuals through proper signage at all levels of the school district. Throughout the course of the school day, we will also require students, staff, and faculty to wash or sanitize their hands frequently. For example, hand washing shall occur: before and after eating, upon arrival, upon arriving in a new classroom or learning space, upon transitioning throughout the building(s), etc.
We recognize that transportation will present its own unique set of challenges for this upcoming school year and as a school district we are committing ourselves to providing a safe and healthful school environment at all phases and stages of the school day. In order for us to maintain this safety, face coverings will be required while students are entering the bus, exiting the bus, and are seated on the bus, unless a student is not physically able to wear a face covering. We will also maintain social distancing to the greatest extent possible while on the bus unless individuals are from the same household. If a student tries to enter the bus without a proper face covering they will not be denied service or entry – instead they shall be provided with a disposable face covering that is kept on the bus. Furthermore, transportation will not be denied to students with disabilities that would prevent them from wearing a mask nor will they be forced to do so during transportation.
The school district shall commit to ensuring that all buses that are used during the day are cleaned and disinfected at least daily and that all high-contact points shall be wiped down after each run. Students and personnel on the bus will also be authorized to carry personal-size bottles of sanitizer, whose contents should not exceed 8 ounces in volume. We will ensure that hand sanitizing or hand washing stations are provided for all staff in transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/breaks rooms, and bus garages. Furthermore, we will provide all required PPE for transportation department staff and require the use of a face covering. Should a driver, monitor, or attendant be required to have direct physical contact with a child, they will be required to wear gloves, which the school district shall provide to ensure their safety and healthfulness. These employees will also be required to complete the daily self-health screening prior to arriving at work to help ensure the safety and healthfulness of their fellow employees. Employees will also receive periodic refreshers on the proper use of PPE and social distancing expectations.
Social distancing protocols will be followed as students embark and disembark from the bus as well as from their personal vehicles for drop-off and pick-up. We recognize that this will increase the time required to load and unload buses and vehicles at school in the morning and afternoon. Staggered arrival times will ensure that social distancing protocols can be followed and maintained. In addition, loading and unloading procedures will be provided to encourage a systematic flow of persons entering and exiting the buses.
If our school district is in remote session or otherwise, we will continue to maintain transportation services to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools, or students whose Individualized Education Program has placed them out of district to schools who are meeting and conducting in-person session education when/if the district is not.
Regardless of the educational model chosen by our school district and the dynamic nature with which that can change, our school district shall continue to provide school breakfast and lunch to all students who were previously receiving school meals – both on-site and remotely. While on-site, we will maintain social distancing during the course of our meals and provide food service in multiple locations, including, but not limited to: the classroom, the cafeteria(s) or other large capacity spaces as determined to be conducive for socially-distanced eating. Procedural expectations as provided to students for social distancing while obtaining meals, eating and disposing of waste will be enforced.
The District utilizes the Nutrikids System for meal management and child nutrition. This system safeguards students with special dietary needs and restrictions by flagging such needs/restrictions upon login. Meal service workers are trained to ensure these safeguards are followed. The Nutrikids System will be installed on a device for meal access outside of the cafeteria.
- How hand hygiene will be promoted before and after meals
- How the sharing of food and beverages will be discouraged
- How common areas will be cleaned and disinfected prior to the next group students arriving for meals, if food is being served in a common area.
Mental Health, Behavioral, and Emotional Support Services and Programs
Our district currently has a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Team that has been working on district-wide implementation of effective, efficient and evidence-based practices and strategies for all students.
We shall make every effort to provide and address the mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty and staff when school reopens for in-person instruction. This is a priority. We recognize that the beginning of the school year will be particularly challenging for some students and staff. Our plan is to immediately provide intensive social/emotional for those school community members who are in need. Throughout the course of the school year, we will identify and support staff and students who are having difficulty transitioning back into the school setting by providing: 1:1 support, practical strategies to help deal with stress and emotional fatigue, community resources and monitoring to assist with identifying at-risk staff and students. We will also provide periodic training for faculty and staff on how to support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. We will also provide information on developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff during training or through written materials.
Field trips and special congregate events: When practicable, the district will resume field trips and voluntary in-person congregate events. These trips/ events will follow DOH guidance to provide a safe experience for all participants. This includes: required PPE, social distancing and expectations for hand-washing. Required congregate events, such as K screening, bus safety, etc. will also follow all DOH guidance to provide a safe experience for all participants.
Extracurricular activities and athletics: The ability to participate in extracurricular, sports and recreation activities is determined by a combination of the risk for COVID-19 transmission (1) inherent in the sport or activity itself and (2) associated with the “type of play.” District extracurricular activities and athletics will resume when practicable and permissible. Allowable activities and sports will be considered as appropriate. The District will comply with the NYSPHSAA recommendations.
Before and aftercare programs: The district does not offer any of these programs. For childcare, the District refers families to the Stillwater Area Community Service Center for before/ aftercare programming. Information can be found at https://www.sacc.online/
Facilities for public use: The District recognizes that our community enjoys the use of District fields, playgrounds, the fitness center and the hallways during winter months for the Stillwater Steppers Program. At the time of inception, this plan allows for District field use for recreation, so long as guests follow social distancing and PPE guidelines. Other District facilities as cited above are not open at this time.