Face masks will be required indoors on F-M school grounds; reopening plan to be presented Sept. 2

When Fayetteville-Manlius School District students and staff begin in-person classes in September, they will be required to wear face masks when indoors on school grounds. 

At the F-M Board of Education’s Aug. 17 meeting, the full board supported Superintendent Craig J. Tice’s recommendation that the district follow a universal face mask policy for everyone indoors regardless of their vaccination status. Masks will be optional outdoors. The new masking requirements take effect Sept. 1. 

To inform the district’s development of its 2021-22 School Reopening Plan, Tice met on Aug. 16 with the district’s Medical Advisory Committee, which it convened prior to the start of the 2020-21 school. The 14 health care providers who were in attendance specialize in such areas as pediatrics, anesthesiology, pediatric endocrinologists and emergency medicine. 

“They were adamant about requiring masking indoors in order to have all of the children return to school for five days per week,” Tice said.

On Sept. 2, Tice expects to present the district’s reopening plan, which will outline the COVID-19 health and safety recommendations that the district will have in place when classes begin Sept. 8 for grade 9 students and Sept. 9 for all other grades. The district is planning for all students to attend school in-person five days a week and to offer all pre-pandemic extracurricular activities as well as interscholastic athletics. 

Administrators are developing the plan’s health and safety precautions based on recommendations and guidance from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Onondaga County Health Department and the New York State Education Department. The plan will be available on the district website. 

Administrators may adjust the plan throughout the school year if new COVID-19 guidance and recommendations are put forth.  

COVID-19 vaccination/testing requirement 

On Aug. 17, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an executive order requiring all school employees to be vaccinated or to provide evidence of weekly COVID-19 testing. Administrators will be meeting with legal counsel and union stewardship to determine how best to comply with the county’s directive. 

Remote/Homeschooling instruction

The district does not have the staff capacity to offer a remote instruction model; however, to accommodate parents and guardians who have concerns about sending their students to school for in-person instruction because of their student’s health status, the district is partnering with OCM BOCES to offer remote instruction. It is anticipated that students meeting the enrollment eligibility will be placed in the BOCES program for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year. 

“I am grateful for this collaborative effort between the school districts to find a venue for our most medically-fragile students,” Tice said. “Our families will be expected to commit to the OCM BOCES program for the entire year.” 

To be eligible for the BOCES program, students must have a signed physician statement indicating that the student cannot return to in-person school due to a documented, pre-existing medical condition. Physician statements must be signed, dated and sent to Amy Evans, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, by Sept. 1, 2021. Questions regarding remote instruction through BOCES may also be directed to Evans at aevans@fmschools.org or 315-692-1203.

Families considering homeschooling may contact Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Mary Coughlin at mcoughlin@fmschools.org or 315-692-1202.