School Reopening Plan

Introduction

The purpose of this plan is to ensure the collective health and safety of Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District students and staff throughout the 2021-22 school year. The health and safety of our students, staff, and their families continues to be a priority, and we remain committed to doing our part to minimize the potential health and safety impact of COVID-19.  

As we approach the beginning of the school year, we know that many of our Fayetteville-Manlius CSD teachers and staff are vaccinated, and a number of students in grades 7-12 are also vaccinated. In fact, over 70% of eligible Onondaga County residents (ages 12 and up) are fully vaccinated. This is good news and provides protections for our students and staff. However, the complexities of operating schools during the pandemic are continuously evolving, and there will be some protocols from last year that will remain.

This reopening plan incorporates the latest guidance, recommendations and requirements from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Education Department (NYSED), as well as the Onondaga County Health Department. This plan emphasizes a layered approach to safety measures in all schools and classrooms. The plan is dynamic and subject to change based on new and evolving guidance. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making throughout the school year.

First and foremost, Fayetteville-Manlius CSD will offer in-person instruction to all students five days a week, per the regular school schedule, as it was prior to the onset of the pandemic.  Because of this expectation, there will be no remote (or hybrid) instructional options this academic year. 

Guiding principles of the reopening plan

  • The health, safety and well-being of the children and adults is paramount.
  • Educational equity will be at the forefront of decision-making.
  • Return all students to school, full-time, five days a week.
  • Support students’ social, emotional and mental well-being.
  • Prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students.
  • Communicate regularly with all stakeholders, including staff, families, students, and the community.
  • Ensure flexibility to meet the needs of all students regardless of changing circumstances.

Content outline

Click on the links below to jump to specific sections of the plan or continue to scroll down. 

COVID-19 vaccinations

According to the CDC, high levels of COVID-19 vaccination among eligible students, as well as teachers, staff, and household members, is one of the most critical strategies to help schools safely resume full operations. Vaccination sites are available across Onondaga County.

Masks and social distancing

Update Oct. 6, 2021: Masks made of mesh or lace material are not acceptable face coverings for school and should not be worn on campus.

Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear masks indoors. Furthermore, masks are required on the school bus. Students will be allowed to remove masks during meals and for short breaks. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a mask will not be required to wear one. Medical documentation is required and will be reviewed by the school physician.  Those who submitted notes from their physician last year need not do so again for 2020-2021.

Students and staff will be required to wear a mask in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school.

Masks are not necessary outdoors, but students and staff are welcome to wear a mask if desired.

Masks will be provided at no cost to students and staff as needed. Students who refuse to wear masks will be in violation of the District’s Code of Conduct and the Gubernatorial mandate governing the wearing of masks inside of school buildings.

At least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms and other areas of the school will be maintained where possible. While the physical distance of 3 feet is not required when students are being transported on school buses, students will be separated as much as possible and will be required to wear masks in accordance with the federal mandate governing public transportation.

Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring

Families should NOT send their children to school if they are exhibiting COVID-related symptoms. Students, teachers and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their health care provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of schools and prevent spread to others. 

The district requires students who are exhibiting COVID symptoms to report to the nurse’s office where they will immediately be sent home (there is no longer an isolation room in each school building). Faculty and staff should immediately leave the building and call the office to inform them that they are experiencing symptoms. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. 

School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.

Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable thermometers, disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometer sheaths/probes, or disposable otoscope specula).

Return to school after illness

The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:

  1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
  2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic PCR (NAAT/molecular) test result (an antigen test does not meet this requirement)
  3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

*Please note, COVID-19 Home Test Kit results are not accepted at this time.

The district will refer to the New York State Department of Health regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus (defined as three feet or less of distance from infected individual and unmasked) complete quarantine requirements as governed by the Onondaga County Health Department protocols and flow chart which distinguishes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals)  before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

COVID-19 screening testing

COVID-19 screening testing identifies people infected with COVID-19, including those with or without symptoms, who may be contagious. We will work with the Onondaga County Department of Health to offer testing of students and staff at each of our buildings. More specific information will be provided as plans are developed. Forms from the Onondaga County Health Department will be provided to our families so that they may indicate their consent for either the diagnostic and or surveillance testing.

Per an Emergency Order issued by the Onondaga County Executive, all Fayetteville-Manlius staff must be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. This emergency order may be superseded in the near future by a gubernatorial Executive Order.

Contact tracing

The district will notify the state and local health departments immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff and visitors of the district.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training and tools provided through the New York State Department of Health.  

The district will maintain a record when a positive case occurs in a building. Data on the number of positive cases will be available on the district website and we will endeavor to include a link to any NYSDOH dashboard as it becomes available.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

School closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

The district will announce any changes to the regular daily schedule using the school district website, the SchoolMessenger alert system and local media. Local media will also be used (major television and radio stations, newspapers, etc.) when schools are closed due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances. 

Quarantined students

A student who is quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 will have access to his or her classwork and assignments via Schoology, See Saw and/or print materials supplied by the classroom teacher. Quarantined students will have access to their school issued iPad (grades K-2) or Chromebook (grades 3-12) as well as all classroom software programs.

Health hygiene

The district will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school, and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:

  1. Stay home if they feel sick.
  2. Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
  3. Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
  4. Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
  5. Follow hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  6. Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Cleaning, disinfecting and ventilation

The district will continue to maximize the flow of outside air into the buildings. The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and NYSDOH. 

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
  • Health offices, isolation rooms
  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
  • Breakrooms
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens
  • Computer labs
  • Science labs
  • Classrooms
  • Maintenance offices and work areas
  • Bus garage
  • Buses, school vehicles
  • Libraries
  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily or more frequently as needed. 

In addition to providing masks and other PPE for students and staff, alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer will be made available for use in accordance with NYSED regulations.

Visitors on campus

Visitors to schools must follow all safety protocols as listed above.

School meals

Students do not need to wear masks when seated and eating. Social distancing in the cafeterias will be maintained to the greatest extent possible but will be a minimum of three feet. Where individual desks are unavailable, some buildings will use the plastic barriers to divide up larger rectangular or round cafeteria tables. Each cafeteria will be equipped with larger and more powerful air filtration machines that are similar to the hospital-grade air purification units currently being used in classroom since the onset of the pandemic.

Transportation

Students and school staff must wear acceptable masks at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) regardless of vaccination status and should maintain appropriate social distance to the extent practicable.

In an effort to maximize instructional time at school, families are encouraged to utilize district transportation. 

All buses that are used by the district will be cleaned/disinfected twice a day. High contact areas will be wiped down after each morning (AM) and each afternoon (PM) run. 

Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Sports and other extracurricular activities

Fayetteville-Manlius will work with the Onondaga County Department of Health, Section III and our league to develop protocols for safe participation in athletics programs for students and coaches. According to the CDC, certain high risk sports remain at increased risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. Close contact sports and indoor sports are considered high risk.

For indoor sports, the district may increase physical distancing between players on the bench or spectators in the crowd. The district may also reduce capacity for spectators or not allow spectators at indoor sports based on determinations made by state or local authorities.

Students and adults should follow the same school-day policies and procedures during athletic and extracurricular activities. 

Remote learning

While we believe that in-person instruction, five days a week best meets the academic and social and emotional needs of our students, we recognize that some parents and guardians have concerns about sending their students to school for in-person instruction because of their child’s health status. To accommodate those families, we are partnering with OCM BOCES to offer a limited remote instruction option for students with a signed physician statement indicating that the student cannot return to in-person school due to a documented, pre-existing medical condition. 

Remote instruction will be provided by New York state-certified teachers employed by OCM BOCES, and students meeting the enrollment eligibility will be placed in the remote learning program for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year. Physician statements must be signed, dated and sent to the building principal and Amy Evans, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services. Questions regarding remote instruction through BOCES may be directed to Amy Evans at 315-692-1203.  

Parents of, or persons in parental relation to, compulsory school age children have the legal right to instruct their children at home (homeschool instruction). Parents who wish to homeschool their children must follow all New York state regulations and provide written notice of intent to the school district superintendent. Questions regarding homeschool instruction may be directed to Dr. Mary Coughlin, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, at 315-692-1202.

In the event that schools are closed by local, state or school officials due to a spread of disease or lack of available staffing resources, schools may have to temporarily shift to a remote learning platform. Classroom teachers will be prepared to switch to remote learning quickly. In the event that schools are closed for in-person learning, students will be expected to login from home and follow their normal school schedule via video conferencing tools and online learning platforms provided by the district.