Dear Hoosick Falls School Community,
On August 5, we were informed the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) would not be releasing additional guidance to schools on reopening and to base our plans on the latest K-12 school recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Department of Education’s recent Return to School Roadmap. Today, August 12, we were provided the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year based on the same guidance
Due to the increase in hospitalizations and direct impact on children by the Delta Variant, we have created a reopening framework using the recommendations of the CDC, AAP and the NYSED. This is a fluid document. Any changes by the CDC, NYSDOH or the NYSED will be updated and communicated as soon as we are made aware. The following are addressed in this letter:
- Physical Distancing
- In-Person Learning
- Contact Tracing/Quarantine
- Cleaning and Disinfection
- Athletics & Extracurricular Activities
Per the CDC, AAP and NYSED recommendations, all teachers, staff, students and visitors must wear appropriate facemasks when inside the school building or bus garage, regardless of vaccination status. Mask breaks will be given periodically to students throughout the day. Masks will not be required for outdoor activities.
Physical distancing between students will be reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet in classrooms. We are awaiting further information on increased social distancing for Physical Education, Chorus and Band.
The goal of the CDC, AAP and NYS is to provide in-person learning for all students. Hoosick Falls is planning a 100% return to in-person learning with no option for remote learning. Students who are deemed medically vulnerable, with paperwork provided to the district by a medical professional verifying this, are exempt from this provision. In these cases, a remote learning program will be assigned which may not be administered by Hoosick Falls CSD. Plans will also be in place to shift to full remote learning if a full or partial closure is required due to COVID-related issues.
Physical distancing will be maximized to the greatest extent possible in areas where food service takes place. Mask removal will be limited only while students eat to limit potential exposure.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks while on a school bus. Physical distancing is not required on school transportation, but will be maximized to the greatest extent possible and seating charts established to assist with contract tracing. Windows will remain open to maximize ventilation in dry weather above 45⁰F.
Contact Tracing & Quarantine
We are planning to follow the contact tracing and quarantine protocol recommended by the NYSED. If a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, the impacted staff, students and families will be notified as soon as possible about the exposure and the need to quarantine. The Rensselaer County Health Department will be informed to ensure proper contact tracing is carried out. Students will be provided a virtual learning option if required to quarantine due to COVID-19.
Cleaning & Disinfection Protocols
Cleaning and disinfection protocols similar to those instituted during the 2020-2021 school year will continue in the coming year. Daily disinfection (fogging) of classrooms, handwashing breaks and provision of sanitizer will continue.
Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
The Capital Region Workgroup is working to establish guidelines for varsity, junior varsity and modified athletic programs. At this time, the NYSPHSAA is basing their recommendations on the guidance provided by the NYSED. Athletes should be prepared to be tested to participate in sports if a region is labelled as an area of moderate, substantial or high community transmission. Information on the level of community transmission in Rensselaer County is available on the CDC website.
In states across the nation, approximately 95% of hospitalizations due to COVID are from unvaccinated individuals. Vaccinations are still the best layer of protection against the virus. For those 12 years of age and older, the best option to maintain the health of our community and to minimize disruptions in educational programming is to be vaccinated. The Rensselaer County Department of Health will continue to offer the Johson & Johnson single shot vaccine at ‘Pop Up Clinics’ through the end of August.
Thank you for your support and patience while we continue to navigate these troubled waters. A public forum will be held at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 17 to review this plan. A new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section will also be added to our website. Updated information will be released as soon as it becomes available.