As the start of a new school year approaches, Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials are working diligently on a reopening plan that strives to keep students and staff members healthy and safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said schools can follow reopening plans for in-person education in September if the region in which the school district resides is in Phase 4 and has a daily COVID-19 infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average. Reopening guidance was released by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) last week.
During the July 20 F-M Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Craig J. Tice shared the process school officials and stakeholder advisory groups are undertaking as they collaboratively develop the district’s reopening plan, which is due to the state no later than July 31.The state is expected to review the plans Aug. 1-7 and a decision to reopen schools to students in the fall will be made by the state at that time.
Dr. Tice said the district’s plan will apply to three learning environments, including in-person instruction, remote learning and a hybrid model that combines in-person and virtual schooling. It will also include the district’s plans for monitoring and containing any potential COVID-19 cases that occur in the school community and, in the event of an outbreak, how the district will conduct operations.
“Our work will be ongoing,” Dr. Tice said. “It doesn’t end once we hit the submit button on July 31. Keeping our students and staff members healthy and safe is a priority that will continue to evolve.”
F-M’s comprehensive reopening plan will be available on the district’s website no later than July 31. To learn more about the plan’s development process and the requirements it must meet, tune in to the previously-recorded board of education meeting below.
State Guidance for Reopening Schools
Here are some of the main requirements for reopening schools per NYSDOH and NYSED guidance:
- To be worn at all times by all individuals when six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained (except when eating/drinking, during instruction with social distancing, and during short breaks), and must be worn on the bus.
- Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, but individuals may wear their own as long as the masks cover both the nose & mouth.
- Extra face coverings will be available in each building.
Appropriate Social Distancing
- Six feet of space between individuals is needed in classrooms.
- Space out seating in the cafeteria, place tables/seating outside if possible.
- Physical education classes held outside.
Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfecting Practices
- Follow DOH hygiene/cleaning practices and perform rigorous and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting.
- Display CDC-provided signage; teach proper hand washing and appropriate face covering placement (nose & mouth).
- Soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer readily available.
- Daily disinfecting using both DOH-approved cleaners, misting equipment and solutions.
- Daily cleaning of restrooms and fixtures.
- Regular cleaning/disinfecting of frequently touched areas (i.e., desks, cafeteria tables, main office counters, door handles, etc.).
Daily Health Screenings
- Temperature reading of each individual prior to entering the building; 100 degrees or greater students must go to the health office/designated area; staff to return home.
- Daily remote/electronic screening questionnaire for staff.
- Rely on at-home checks, too. If a child has a fever, they should not attend school.
- The district must notify state and local health departments when they’ve been informed of any staff member or student who tests positive for COVID-19.
- Must adhere to the state’s Contact Tracing Program protocols and health department isolation/quarantine efforts.
- Confidentiality to be maintained, per federal and state regulations.
- Open windows and doors (without compromising safety) to increase airflow in buildings and rooms.
- Face coverings must be worn on the bus at all times by all individuals.
- Household members share the same seat on the bus.
- Social distance as much as possible; use every other seat but contingent upon bus population density.
- Students must ride the same bus every day, and there will be limited options for drop off and pick up locations.
- Strongly encourage parents to provide their own transportation to and from school if possible.