Herkimer CSD Reopening Plan for 2021-22

Contents

1 – Reopening of School Facilities for In-Person Instruction
2 – Monitoring Health Conditions
3 – Containment
4 – Closure of School Facilities

1 – Reopening of School Facilities for In-Person Instruction

The Herkimer Central School District is prioritizing efforts to return all students to in-person instruction in the safest, most equitable manner possible. Following guidance received from the New York State Department of Education that is based on recommendations from the United States Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Herkimer CSD is implementing a layered approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in its school buildings; by combining these layers of protection Herkimer CSD has more flexibility depending on the situation which makes full-time, in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic possible and safer.

Based on the dynamic nature of local community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and local vaccination rates these efforts may change throughout the year. Transmission thresholds can be found here:  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html and the county’s current rate can be found here: covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.

Capacity

Herkimer CSD will consider factors such as ability to maintain appropriate physical distance, personal protective equipment (PPE) availability, local medical capacity, and availability of safe transportation.

Full-time, in-person instruction in each of its buildings is a priority for Herkimer CSD. The capacity level of the district’s buildings was determined using the following factors:

  • Appropriate physical distancing for everyone in the buildings
  • PPE & Face Coverings availability
  • Availability and capacity of transportation options
  • Local hospital capacity

Each building in the district was canvassed to identify existing and potential additional instructional spaces to maintain room occupancy that meets physical distancing requirements.

Herkimer CSD is making available PPE and face coverings to its Students, Faculty, and Staff.  It is estimating the amount needed during in-person instruction using the NYS Education Department’s “PPE Burn Rate Calculator.” The calculator recommends one (1) disposable mask per week per student.

Herkimer CSD has maintained a direct line of communication with the local health department to monitor the capacity of local and regional hospitals.

Physical Distancing

Herkimer CSD has developed a written protocol to ensure all persons in school buildings maintain appropriate social distancing by keeping a social distance of at least three (3) feet whenever possible.

The guidelines for distancing, as of August 2021 are, in general, three (3) feet in all directions, but may be increased or decreased based on the availability of other strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The district also determined that according to the CDC a distance of six (6) feet in all directions is to be maintained as much as possible between individuals while participating in activities that require projecting the voice (singing, etc.), playing a woodwind or brass instrument, or aerobic activity resulting in heavy breathing (gym classes, etc.). This distance may change throughout the school year based on various factors, including the level of community transmission and local vaccination rates.

The district will maximize the amount of space to the greatest extent possible when individuals are eating in a school cafeteria and prohibit the sharing of food and beverages. Eating may be restricted to classrooms at times throughout the year based on various factors, including level of community transmission and local vaccination rates.

Gatherings in small spaces (elevators, supply rooms, faculty offices, conference rooms, etc.) shall be limited and all individuals in the space at the same time must wear acceptable face coverings.

PE/Masks

Herkimer CSD  has a plan for ensuring that an appropriate supply of face coverings is available for its Students, Faculty, and Staff. The district is estimating the amount needed during in-person instruction using the NYS Education Department’s “PPE Burn Rate Calculator”. The calculator recommends one (1) disposable mask per week per Student.

Guidance from both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics as recommended by the NYS Education Department states: The wearing of face masks will be required at all times in all school buildings, in both classroom and non-classroom settings; except during meals and official mask breaks. Based on the layered approach Herkimer CSD is using: removal of masks may also be permitted based on other forms of mitigation, such as appropriate social distancing. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a mask, including students where such mask would impair their physical health or mental health are not subject to the required use of a mask.

Herkimer CSD will train all Students, Faculty, Staff, contractors, and vendors on how to adequately put on, take off, clean, and discard PPE.

Hygiene/Cleaning, and Disinfecting

Herkimer CSD has developed a written protocol to instruct Staff and Students in appropriate hand and respiratory hygiene. This protocol will be reinforced with signage in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings.

Students and staff will be instructed on how to practice good hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The district will plan time in the school day schedule to allow for hand hygiene. Hand hygiene includes:

  • Traditional hand washing (with soap and warm water, lathering for a minimum of 20 seconds)
    Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% alcohol or greater) when soap and water are not available, and hands are not visibly dirty
  • Providing hand sanitizer throughout common areas (e.g., entrances, cafeteria), near high touch surfaces, and use touch free dispensers when able
  • Signage will be placed near hand sanitizer indicating visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water
  • Students or staff who are unable to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers for health reasons will be permitted to wash their hands with soap and water

Additionally, since COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, Students and Staff will be instructed on how to practice good respiratory hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Instructing Students and Staff cover their mouths or noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue appropriately
  • Providing a supply of tissues and trash cans nearby should be available in each room

If no tissue is available, Students and Staff will be instructed to use the inside of the elbow (or shirtsleeve) to cover the mouth or nose and to always perform hand hygiene after sneezing, coughing and handling dirty tissues or other soiled material.

Herkimer CSD will ensure adherence to cleaning and disinfection recommendations from the CDC. Most surfaces and objects in school buildings will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and door knobs will need to be cleaned once a day to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects.

If someone in the school building has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in the building within the last 24 hours, any spaces they were in will be cleaned and disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs in those spaces.

Students will not be present when disinfectants are in use and will not participate in cleaning and/or disinfection activities.

Extracurriculars

Herkimer CSD has developed safety protocols for its extracurricular activities. The protocols address a number of aspects of sports/extracurriculars, including:

  • Number of Spectators
  • Scheduling
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Contact Tracing
  • Positive Case Response/Return to Play
  • Transportation

In order to maximize, full-time, in-person learning during the 2021-2022 school year, extracurriculars/sports may be cancelled or rescheduled or have additional restrictions around participation and attending events based on the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 Pandemic and local conditions, including level of community transmission and local vaccination rates.

If Herkimer CSD is closed for in-person instruction during the school year due to an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, school sponsored sports and extracurriculars will be suspended until in-person education is resumed.

Vulnerable Populations

Alternate plans will be created in consultation with school health personnel on how to meet the needs of a child at higher risk, while keeping social distancing which may include:

  • Additional PPE for Staff caring for such students
  • Assigning only one staff member to care for the student
  • Decreased students in a classroom, alternating schedules, and provision of related services to an individual instead of group setting
  • Any modifications will be made with the intent to minimize the COVID-19 exposure risk for students, faculty, and staff, to the greatest extent possible.

Transportation

In order for full-time, in-person instruction to take place, no capacity limits will be implemented on Herkimer CSD’s school busses. As a result, and in agreement with the CDC and APA guidance, all passengers and staff on school buses must be masked at all times. As much as possible, buses will be loaded from the back to the front and unloaded in reverse. While on the bus, as few students as possible will sit in the same seat or row, unless students live in the same house together, and Herkimer CSD may implement assigned seating on each bus.

Food Service

Herkimer CSD will continue to provide school breakfast and/or lunch to students who were previously receiving school meals.

For students on-site, Herkimer CSD will provide meals while maintaining the maximum physical distancing between students as possible. While eating on-site, students do not need to wear masks when seated and eating.

Herkimer CSD faculty and staff will stress the importance of proper hand hygiene before and after eating. Sharing of food will be prohibited. If Herkimer CSD can utilize a common area to eat, it will be cleaned and disinfected according to CDC and APA guidelines.

All food service activities in the school buildings will operate in accordance with the latest guidance.

Mental Health/Behavioral/Emotional Support Services and Programs

The mental health and well-being of the students, faculty, and staff of Herkimer CSD are of the utmost importance, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic and as the district transitions back to full-time, in-person learning.  In order to address those needs, Herkimer CSD has the following resources available for its school community:

  • Three school counselors
  • Two school social workers
  • A prevention counselor through Catholic Charities
  • As well as additional counseling outside the school day

Communications

Herkimer CSD will communicate the importance of adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as applicable protocols to Students, Parents, Legal Guardians of Students, Staff, and potential visitors.

This information will be shared in a variety of ways, including letters sent home, emails, social media posts, and through the use of the district’s “all call” messenger system, Parent Square. Herkimer CSD  has also developed a COVID-19 Information website (https://www.herkimercsd.org/about/reopening-plan) the topics covered in the communications and on the website will include:

  • Face Covering and Social Distancing requirements
  • Trainings the district will be providing related to COVID-19

Specific messages related to potential changes to protocols/requirements will be sent as needed and added to the district’s website.

Signage has been placed at the entrances to each of the district’s buildings regarding COVID-19 and face covering requirements. The district has also placed posters in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings regarding; social distancing requirements, hand hygiene, face coverings, and COVID-19 symptoms.

The Herkimer CSD has designated Superintendent Robert J. Miller as the COVID-19 safety coordinator with identified responsibilities that include:

  • Continuous compliance with all activities of Herkimer CSD’s reopening plans

The COVID-19 Safety Coordinator will coordinate activities with the local Public Health Department and the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Safety Service to ensure consistency across the region.

The COVID-19 Safety Coordinator will also be:

  • The main point of contact upon identification of positive COVID-19 cases and responsible for subsequent communication (see section 2 “Monitoring”)
  • Responsible for answering questions from Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents/Legal Guardians regarding the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and plans implemented by the school.

2 – Monitoring Health Conditions

In order to keep our students and staff safe and healthy and maintain full-time, in-person learning, Herkimer CSD will be proactive regarding students and staff who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Students and staff should stay home if they are showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Parents should screen their children for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to school each day. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

All school students, teachers, and staff with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 must be excluded from school, regardless of vaccination status, and either ( a) provide a negative COVID test result, or (b) remain excluded from school for a minimum of 10 calendar days from symptom onset, prior to returning to school. If student, teacher, or staff symptoms are improving AND they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicines, they may return to school with either a note from the healthcare provider indicating the test was negative OR a copy of the negative test result. A negative nucleic acid amplification test (known as a PCR test) is the acceptable diagnostic test.

Testing Protocol & Responsibility

The district will comply with New York State testing and screening protocols.

Any member of the school community who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, is a direct contact of a person identified as having COVID-19 or has been otherwise exposed to COVID-19 should immediately seek diagnostic testing. Herkimer CSD  will make sure families without regular access to healthcare know where in the community to find testing if needed.  Regional testing sites may be found through the NYSDOH’s website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

Based on changing conditions of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Herkimer CSD may implement additional testing and screening procedures based on CDC guidance. If needed, with coordination from Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES, Herkimer CSD could implement a screening and/or diagnostic COVID-19 testing program in order to identify and isolate cases of COVID-19 within the district as quickly as possible to minimize the disruption of full-time, in-person learning and maintain as safe and healthy a school environment as possible.

3 – Containment

Herkimer CSD will implement protocols and procedures for how to respond to positive or presumed-positive cases of COVID-19, as well as preventative practices.

School Health Offices

Herkimer CSD has developed processes and protocols for safely caring for a student, faculty, or staff member if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. These processes and protocols follow CDC and AAP guidelines.

Isolation

Herkimer CSD has developed a written protocol that will require any Students or Staff with a temperature, or signs of illness to be sent directly to a predetermined, supervised isolation area, separate from the school’s health office.

This isolation area will be monitored by an LPN or RN while it is occupied by Students. That Staff will be outfitted with appropriate PPE. Students in the isolation area will have access to rest rooms.

Collection

Students should be escorted from the isolation area to their Parent/Guardian. The Parent or Guardian be instructed to call their health care provider, or if they do not have a health care provider, to follow up with a local clinic or urgent care center.

Infected/Exposed Individuals

Herkimer CSD has a written protocol, that complies with Centers for Disease Control guidance, for the return to school/work for Students and Staff following an illness, or diagnosis of confirmed case of COVID-19, and following a quarantine due to contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Students who are being sent home will be immediately separated from other students and supervised, in the isolation area, until their parent/legal guardian or emergency contact can retrieve them from school.

The duration of any quarantine, as well as who will be placed in quarantine, will be determined by the local health department and the district will follow the local health department’s guidance.

If a Student/Staff is not diagnosed by a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) with COVID-19 they can return to school:

  • Once there is no fever, without the use of fever reducing medicines, and have no symptoms for 24 hours
  • If they have been diagnosed with another condition and has a healthcare provider written note stating they are clear to return to school.

If a Student/Staff is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider based on a test they should not be at school and should stay at home until:

  • It has been at least ten (10) days since the individual first had symptoms
  • It has been at least three (3) days since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine)
  • It has been at least three days since the individual’s symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.
  • Prior to being sent home, any ill Students or Staff will be assessed by the School Nurse.  Staff will be instructed to follow-up with their healthcare provider.

Herkimer CSD will work with any student on quarantine to minimize learning loss during that time.

Vaccination

Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated (14 days post final vaccination injection) individuals (students or staff) DO NOT need to quarantine and may remain in the school building if exposed to COVID-19, but must monitor for symptom development; Herkimer CSD should be notified if the fully vaccinated student develops any COVID-19 symptoms.

Previous COVID-19 Infection

Asymptomatic individuals who have recovered from a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection during the previous three (3) months DO NOT need to quarantine and may remain in the school building if exposed to COVID-19, but must monitor for symptom development; Herkimer CSD should be notified if the individual develops any COVID-19 symptoms.

Hygiene/Cleaning and Disinfection

Herkimer CSD has developed a written protocol to instruct Staff and Students in appropriate hand and respiratory hygiene. This protocol will be reinforced with signage in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings.

Students and staff will be instructed on how to practice good hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The district will plan time in the school day schedule to allow for hand hygiene. Hand hygiene includes:

  • Traditional hand washing (with soap and warm water, lathering for a minimum of 20 seconds)
  • Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% alcohol or greater) when soap and water are not available, and hands are not visibly dirty
  • Providing hand sanitizer throughout common areas (e.g., entrances, cafeteria), near high touch surfaces, and use touch free dispensers when able
  • Signage will be placed near hand sanitizer indicating visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water
  • Students or staff who are unable to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers for health reasons will be permitted to wash their hands with soap and water

Additionally, since COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, Students and Staff will be instructed on how to practice good respiratory hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Instructing Students and Staff cover their mouths or noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue appropriately
  • Providing a supply of tissues and trash cans nearby should be available in each room

If no tissue is available, Students and Staff will be instructed to use the inside of the elbow (or shirtsleeve) to cover the mouth or nose and to always perform hand hygiene after sneezing, coughing and handling dirty tissues or other soiled material.

Herkimer CSD will ensure adherence to cleaning and disinfection recommendations from the CDC. Most surfaces and objects in school buildings will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and door knobs will need to be regularly cleaned once a day to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects.

If someone in the school building has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in the building within the last 24 hours, any spaces they were in will be cleaned and disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs in those spaces.

Students will not be present when disinfectants are in use and will not participate in cleaning and/or disinfection activities.

Contact Tracing

In the case of an individual testing positive for COVID-19, Herkimer CSD has developed plans to support the local health department in tracing contacts of that individual related to their time in a school building or during school-sponsored events/activities. These plans include:

  • Definitions of close and proximate contacts from the local department of health
  • Notifying the local health department to determine what steps are needed for the school community.
  • Forwarding all appropriate information to the Public Health Department to help determine the extent of potential quarantines.
  • Return to school/work protocols.

Due to HIPPA protections and NYS Education Department guidelines, the district will not necessarily notify the community of a positive COVID-19 test in the district, though individuals will be alerted if they have been identified as coming into close or proximate contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. Any announcement or notification will come from the local Public Health Department.

Communication

Herkimer CSD will communicate the importance of adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as applicable protocols to Students, Parents, Legal Guardians of Students, Staff, and potential visitors.

Herkimer CSD will communicate internally and externally in a variety of ways regarding potential changes in the way it is operating, including letters sent home, emails, the district website, and through the use of the district’s “all call” messenger system, Parent Square. Herkimer CSD has also developed a COVID-19 Information website (https://www.herkimercsd.org/about/reopening-plan/)the topics covered in the communications and on the website will include:

  • Face Covering and Social Distancing requirements
  • Trainings the district will be providing related to COVID-19

Specific messages related to potential changes to protocols/requirements will be sent as needed and added to the district’s website.

Signage has been placed at the entrances to each of the district’s buildings regarding COVID-19 and face covering requirements. The district has also placed posters in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings regarding; social distancing requirements, hand hygiene, face coverings, and COVID-19 symptoms.

4 – Closure of School Facilities

The goal of the 2021-2022 school year at Herkimer CSD will be to maintain full-time, in-person learning for as many students as possible for as long as possible while maintaining a safe and healthy environment.

In case the local situation changes dramatically, and in order to be prepared and provide a safe, high quality educational experience for its students, Herkimer CSD has developed contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education, or closing its buildings to in-person activities and/or instruction as a result of increased numbers of COVID-19 cases, community transmission, exposures, etc.

Operational Activity

Herkimer CSD will make all decisions based on which operations will be decreased, or ceased and which activities it may conduct remotely based on the level of community spread, local vaccination rates, and directions from the local health department, as informed by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. This could be any of the following, depending on the situation:

  • Cancelling of Extracurricular Activities/Sports
  • Limiting capacity of buses
  • Implementing screening COVID-19 testing protocols for unvaccinated students and staff
  • Switch to Remote Learning (fully or hybrid)
  • Implementing diagnostic COVID-19 testing
  • Closing of Building(s) to all outside visitors
  • Implementing strict cohort models
  • Other actions as determined in conjunction with Public Health

Communication

Herkimer CSD will communicate internally and externally in a variety of ways regarding potential changes in the way it is operating, including letters sent home, emails, the district website, and through the use of the district’s “all call” messenger system, Parent Square. Herkimer CSD has also developed a COVID-19 Information website (https://www.herkimercsd.org/about/reopening-plan) that will include needed information regarded closures to in-person learning and/or the phased closure of school activities.

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