Please see the following message from Superintendent Chevrier. It contains the final, board-approved COVID-19 Reopening Plan for the 2021-2022 School Year and explains the protocols that will be in place when students return for the first day of classes on September 8, 2021.
All 2021-2022 school reopening news and COVID-19 updates can be found on the district’s 2021-2022 Reopening Updates page here.
Dear Schodack Community,
I, the faculty and staff are looking forward to welcoming back all of our students for the first day of classes on Wednesday, September 8. Before the start of the Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to check in with you about our final reopening plans and protocols for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
After our new governor, Kathy Hochul, took office a couple of weeks ago she stated that the New York State Dept. of Health would provide school districts with some additional directives to assist with their reopening plans. It is likely that further directives will be released, but at this time the NYSDOH did make a determination on masks in schools. On August 27 NYSDOH released a notice stating that “universal masking of teachers, staff, students, and visitors to P-12 schools over age two” is required until further notice.
At last night’s (September 1) board meeting I presented a slideshow summarizing a proposed final reopening plan for the 2021-2022 school year. After careful review and discussion, the Board of Education voted to approve this final version of the plan. It incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
You can see the full board approved COVID-19 Reopening Plan for the 2021-2022 School Year document here but some highlighted points are summarized below. As with last year, our protocols will likely be adjusted accordingly through the school year in response to COVID-19 community transmission and any updated guidance from our local and state departments of health.
Full-Time In-Person Instruction for All K-12 Students
All K-12 students will return to a full-time in-person instruction schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. There is not an option for parents to choose remote or in-person instruction this year. The only exception is that families with medically vulnerable or immunocompromised students may request their students be enrolled in the Questar III BOCES Virtual Learning Academy in place of in-person instruction.
Per the New York State Department of Health directive, appropriate face masks covering both the mouth and nose will be required for all students, staff and visitors inside Schodack schools and buses regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be optional when outdoors on school property. Students will be provided mask breaks when seated in class and physically distanced in accordance with guidelines and in an effort to minimize potential exposure to prevent being identified as a close contact.
We will reduce physical distancing between students from 6 feet to 3 feet in the classrooms this year. In some instances, physical distancing may not be possible. We will strive to implement physical distancing to the extent possible in every situation in an effort to return students to full-time, in-person instruction.
We will be running our buses at full capacity but all students and staff must wear appropriate face masks covering the nose and mouth while on them regardless of vaccination status. Windows and roof hatches will be open much of the time to increase ventilation and buses will be cleaned/disinfected daily after each run. Students riding the bus will be given assigned seats & asked to sit with their household when possible. Parents/guardians may still choose to drive their children to and/or from school.
Students will be eating lunch in the school cafeterias and possibly other designated large spaces this year. There are seating arrangements and charts to ensure as much physical distancing as possible within the individual space constraints. Students will be asked to keep their face masks on except when they are eating or drinking. Whenever possible there will be increased ventilation in the cafeterias to maximize airflow and cafeterias will be disinfected/cleaned between lunch periods. Breakfast will remain “grab and go” this year and will not be eaten in the cafeteria.
Students will participate in regular, full interscholastic sports seasons. There will be surveillance COVID-19 testing on consenting student-athletes as an added mitigation measure. Student-athletes are encouraged to participate in COVID-19 testing as a way to help ensure the safety of their teammates, coaches, officials, and opponents. The COVID-19 vaccine is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the pandemic so all eligible individuals, including student-athletes, are encouraged to consider the vaccine and discuss it with their child’s pediatrician. Like last year, we will continue to discuss COVID-19 mitigation measures further within our athletics league and the NYS Public High School Athletic Association and will make adjustments accordingly.
Contact Tracing & Quarantine
Contact tracing, identification of close contacts, and quarantining will play a big part in the decision-making process as the goal is to keep our students in school to the best of our ability. Schodack CSD makes all decisions regarding the identification of close contacts and quarantine through consultation with the Rensselaer County Department of Health. View the “Contact Tracing & Quarantine” section of the full 21-22 Reopening Plan to see what information was shared with Rensselaer County school district leaders about those processes for the start of the year.
I appreciate your patience over the summer as we worked to create the best plan for getting all our students safely back in school this year.
Jason M. Chevrier
Schodack Central School District