Opening of school for the 2021-22 year

As a District, we are planning and prepared for a full opening of school, five days a week for all students this fall with the Elementary School hours of operation being 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and the Jr.-Sr. High School hours of operation being 7:40 a.m. – 3:10 p.m. Please know that the health and safety of our school community will always be our primary focus. Such will be illustrated in the following content. Furthermore, we recognize the importance of in-person education and social interactions for children. Therefore, given the aforementioned, the District will not be operating any hybrid learning schedule nor offering a remote learning structure for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

We are paying close attention to updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of variants from local, state, and federal sources, and we are reviewing the guidance being offered to us as we prepare for students and staff to return. While we understand and respect the many viewpoints surrounding COVID-19, we will comply with any law and the rules and regulations set forth by the New York State Department of Education, local and State public health experts as well as guidance from respected medical organizations. Moreover, we are fully cognizant of the required flexibility necessary during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and view the ensuing contents as fluid in makeup.

Our District has much to be proud of regarding our response to the pandemic in the previous school year. Additionally, we had some lessons learned as an educational community that we can draw from for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Please know that our main goal is to keep our children safe and healthy. We will strive to do such by combining best practices for maintaining public health and affording students the opportunity to be in school every day.

VACCINATION

The Delta variant puts everyone at increased risk. Those who have been vaccinated are still protected against moderate and serious illness and death. However, protection is not 100 percent. Vaccinated people can still get infected and be contagious to others. Vaccination with the COVID vaccine is the best way to prevent serious COVID-19 and stop the spread of the virus. To that end, the District will continue to promote the merits and opportunities for vaccination.

School officials who maintain documentation of students’ and workers’ COVID-19 vaccination status will use this information consistent with applicable laws and regulations – including those related to privacy – to inform contact tracing efforts and quarantine and isolation practices.

PREVENTION

If a child or staff member has a fever, please notify one’s health care provider and do not attend school or practice. If the child or staff member does not have a fever but are experiencing any of the other symptoms listed below, please don’t put others in jeopardy. Do not attend school or practice and consult one’s health care provider. Prevention is essential. Symptoms include:

  • Temperature of 100 degrees or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting, diarrhea

WEARING MASKS

In accordance with the Commissioner’s determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors must wear masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

People do not need to wear masks when outdoors unless it’s crowded and in close contact for a sustained period of time.

Masks will be worn on school buses by students and staff.

Masks will be worn for all indoor, school sponsored events outside the regular school day.

Mask breaks will be provided and mask breaks are not to occur in the classroom setting unless greater than 6 feet social distance can be maintained.

People do not need to wear masks when eating, drinking, singing, or playing a wind instrument; when masks are removed for these purposes, individuals must be spaced six feet apart. While it is preferable to maximize distance and abide by the 6-foot space between students during the aforementioned instances, there is flexibility when that is not possible. The guidance specifically states that schools should “implement physical distancing to the extent possible” indoors, “but should not exclude students from in-person learning in order to meet a minimum distance requirement.”

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

The goal is to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms combined with correct and consistent indoor mask wearing. However, the 3 feet of physical distance spacing is secondary to in-person learning.

Physical distancing is not required on school buses provided mask wearing. However, the District will have children of the same household seated together on school busses and physical distancing will be enforced whenever possible.

The District will maximize physical distance as much as possible when students are moving through the food service line and while eating in the cafeteria setting.

Students at both schools will have access to lockers in classrooms and hallways but the locker rooms will not be in use.

The physical distancing for band, chorus, and physical education will be 6 feet when indoors.

A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.

SCREENING AND TESTING

Temperature screenings or screening questionnaires will not be conducted by the District. Parents/guardians are asked to perform daily temperature checks at home.

Families will be reminded and encouraged to be mindful of indications their children may exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and to seek testing when such symptoms are present while not sending the student to school.

Periodic reminders will be issued to school personnel to stay home if they are showing signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19, and get tested.

Fully vaccinated don’t need to participate in screening testing and don’t need to quarantine unless symptomatic.

If a school is in a geographic area identified by the CDC as having low, moderate, substantial or high transmission rates, employees must be vaccinated, or be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.

There is no mandatory testing of students.

The District will have the capacity, either directly on-site or via referral, to provide diagnostic testing for any students, teachers, or staff who, regardless of vaccination status and community level of transmission per the CDC, are asymptomatic following exposure to someone with COVID-19.

HAND WASHING AND RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE

Hand sanitizer will be placed in all occupied areas.

Signs will be posted regarding proper handwashing techniques and respiratory etiquette and such will be reviewed with students.

CONTACT TRACING IN COMBINATION WITH ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE

The District will work with the Cayuga County Health Department (CCHD) on contact tracing and subsequent isolations and quarantines with the Cayuga County Health Department making final determination on whether to isolate or quarantine students and staff.

Fully vaccinated AND no symptoms – if exposed – do not need to quarantine but should self-monitor for symptoms. It is advisable that vaccinated people who are exposed get tested 3-5 days after exposure even if they do not have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following an exposure or until the test result is negative.

The District will utilize accurate classroom attendance records and seating charts, student/teacher schedules, cafeteria seating charts along with the cafeteria surveillance system, and bus student seat rosters for contact investigation and tracing.

CLEANING AND DISINFECTING

The District will clean buildings and buses at least 1x per day to remove surface germs.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the space they occupied will be promptly cleaned and disinfected once the space is unoccupied within a 24 hour period.

Disinfectant will be available in every occupied area.

VENTILATION

Child-safe fans can be used to bring in fresh air to circulate the air within a room.

Multiple windows will be permitted to be open to bring in fresh outdoor air – provided a safety hazard isn’t created and the weather conditions allow such.

During transportation, windows may be opened a crack to improve air circulation.

SPORTS AND OTHER EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Sports and extracurricular participants who are fully vaccinated can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if they are asymptomatic, facilitating continued participation in in-person sports and extracurricular activities.

Spectators attendance at contests is unlimited for the fall sports season.

REMOTE INSTRUCTION

The District will not be offering the same remote learning option that was offered during the 2020–2021 school year.

Based on the level of community transmission or widespread instance of isolation or quarantine, the District may have to transition into remote instruction.

The District will have a plan to continue instructional services for students in quarantine or isolation as mandated by the local county health department.

Resources Utilized

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools (Updated August 5, 2021)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (Updated July 28, 2021)

Letter from Upstate Medical University to Central New York School Superintendents (Dated August 11, 2021)

Letter from Aileen M. McNabb-Coleman, Chair of the Cayuga County Legislature to Cayuga County School District Superintendents (Dated August 11, 2021)

Health and Safety Guide for the 2021 – 2022 School Year from the New York State Education Department (Released August 12, 2021)

Commissioner’s Determination on COVID-19 Testing Pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.62 (Dated September 2, 2021)

Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools During the 2021 – 2022 Academic Year (Dated September 2, 2021)

Cayuga County Health Department Quarantine Guidelines for School Districts (Dated September 1, 2021)

BOE approved: 8/23/2021

BOE approved: 9/13/2021