Oak Hill School
The Oak Hill School has been working with stakeholder groups to develop a reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year. Stakeholders involved in the planning process included but not limited to Oak Hill teacher’s association, board members, local health officials, parents and component school district personnel. This process has been ongoing for the past several weeks via face to face meetings, emails, conference calls, as well as surveys to all parents whose child attends Oak Hill School. The process has been collaborative and inclusive with all stakeholders having input into the reopening plans. Paramount in our process is to ensure the health and wellbeing for all students and staff at Oak Hill School.
Governor Hoschul and The New York State Department of Health announced new guidance that coincides with CDC guidelines on September 2, 2021 for all New York Schools P-12 in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.
The reopening plan will be maintained on the OakHill website.
Teaching and Learning
Attendance will be collected daily in both the in person and virtual options of instruction. The educational program will continue to be aligned with the New York State Learning Standards in both models of delivery. Daily substantive interaction between teachers and students will occur with regularly scheduled times for students to interact, seek feedback and support from the teachers.
Students and families are encouraged to contact the school via phone or email with questions/concerns about instruction and/or technology.
In Person Instruction
All students and staff will attend for a regular school schedule with strict adherence to the Governor’s and NYS Department of Health Guidelines. The school schedule will be for 5 days a week on the regular school calendar operating under the regular school hours of operation.
Full Virtual Instruction
Parents who choose to keep their children out of school will receive full instruction five days a week at a rigor comparable to in class instruction. This option would also be utilized in the event the Governor and/or the Department of Health order school closure during the academic year.
At Risk Individuals
Any student or staff with increased risk for severe COVID-19 or live with individuals with increased risk will be provided accommodations to allow safe participation in the school based on their individual and specific needs. This may include but is not limited to virtual learning or employment, modified settings or additional PPE.
OPTION 1 IN PERSON INSTRUCTION
- Communication/Family and Community Engagement
Parents/guardians, staff and students will be provided with regular information regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic and the school reopening plan. Information will be available on the school website, via email, phone and posted signage throughout the school. Information will be provided in the native language spoken at home with accessibility for those with visual or hearing impairments.
- Health and Safety
Daily Health Screenings will be conducted for all students, staff, and visitors to the school buildings. Staff and visitors will be required to have a daily temperature check and complete a screening questionnaire. Students will be required to have a daily temperature check and periodic completion of a screening questionnaire. Parents are encouraged to take their child’s temperature before they leave for school. Any person with a fever or a positive response to the questionnaire will be isolated and sent home immediately with a referral to a health care provider and resources on COVID-19.
Students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness should stay home and be referred to their healthcare 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.
Any individuals with a temperature above 100 F and/or symptoms of COVID-19 will be immediately sent home with instructions to contact their health care provider for assessment and testing regardless of vaccination status or previous COVID-19 infection
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a list of current recognized symptoms on its website. Note that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus
As of 2/22/21 the following are listed as the most common symptoms:
- Fever/chills greater than 100F
- Shortness of Breath
- Muscle or body ache
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Please note that the manifestation of COVID-19 in children, although similar, is not always the same as that for adults. Children may be less likely to present with fever as an initial symptoms, and may only have gastrointestinal tract symptoms, which should be taken into consideration.
Students and staff will be taught and re-taught healthy hygiene habits including the following:
- Using a face mask over their mouth and nose
- Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, dispose of used tissues immediately, and wash their hands with soap and water
Signage will be posted throughout the school with instructions and reminders.
All staff and students will be expected to hand wash:
- Before and after snacks/meals, recess, and PE
- Upon entering the building/classroom
- Before and after using any shared object
- After using the bathroom
- Upon coming inside from outdoors
- Anytime hands are visibly soiled
Physical Distancing will be a required component in the school. We will ensure that appropriate physical distancing is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds, inclusive of students, faculty, staff.
Physical distancing may be reduced to the requirements of 3-feet between students in the classroom settings.
The following social distancing requirements will be in place:
- Classroom cohorts will be as self-contained as possible, being pre-assigned groups of students with reasonable group sizes
- Reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that cohorts are fixed – meaning contain the same students – for the duration of the school year
- Common areas will have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer available nearby to disinfect surfaces between uses
- Desks will be positioned 3-6 feet apart facing in the same direction to reduce transmission of virus containing droplets
- Students will be provided individual belongings and individual storage space
- Visitors will be limited. Meetings will be held virtually with non-school staff wherever possible.
- The CDC no longer recommends physical barriers for mitigation where physical distancing cannot be maintained
4-Levels of Indicators and threshold for community transmission
- In counties with low and moderate risk of transmission: elementary, middle, and high schools can maintain physical distancing of at least three feet between students in classrooms.
- In counties with substantial risk of transmission: elementary, middle, and high schools can maintain physical distancing of at least three feet between students in classrooms and cohorting is recommended when possible.
- In counties with high risk of transmission: elementary schools can maintain physical distancing of at least three feet between students in classrooms and cohorting is recommended when possible. However, in middle and high schools three feet between students in classrooms is recommended only when schools can use cohorting. When schools cannot maintain cohorting, middle and high schools must maintain physical distancing of at least six feet between students in classrooms.
Exceptions Where A Minimum of Six Feet of Distance Must be Maintained
- Six feet is always the required distancing between adults (teachers, staff, visitors) and between students and adults
- Six feet of distance is required when eating meals or snacks, or drinking, or other times masks must be removed
- Individuals participating in activities that require projecting the voice, playing wind instrument, or aerobic exercise must be six feet apart and these must be six feet of distance between the performers and the audience during performances
- Six feet of physical distance must be maintained in common areas and outside of the classrooms, where possible.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Face masks are meant to protect other people in case the wearee in unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. All individuals in schools or on school grounds must be prepared to put on face masks if social distancing cannot be maintained. Face masks must be worn over the mouth and nose.
All staff, students and visitors are required to wear a face indoors, regardless of vaccination status. People with medical or developmental conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask may be exempted from mask requirements, as documented by a medical provider.
People do not need to wear masks when eating, drinking, singing, or playing a wind instrument; when masks are removed for these purposes, individuals must be spaced six feet apart.
Staff and students will be provided face masks or may choose to provide their own.
Physical Education and Choice Time
In general, people do not need to wear masks when they are outdoors (e.g. participating in outdoor play, recess, and physical educations activities). CDC recommends those who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with others.
Masks will need to be worn when participating in indoor physical education or choice time within the gymnasium.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocol
Increased cleaning will be conducted throughout each school day to include the following:
- Limit the use and increased cleaning of high touch surfaces (hallway hooks, laptops, notebooks, touchscreens, writing utensils, chalk and dry erase boards, musical instruments, tools, toys, desks, tables, chairs, light switches, handrails, door handles, faucets, equipment handles and buttons, any shared equipment and electronics, etc)
- Closed common areas and common use items (library, kitchen, staff room, and water fountains)
- Hand sanitizing stations throughout the building
- Increased cleaning of health office, classrooms, gym, bathrooms, kitchen, library, speech room, OT/PT room, and high traffic areas
A full time COVID-19 Safety Coordinator, Susan Vine, has been hired to provide support throughout the school day. She will also be responsible for screening all staff, students and visitors on a daily basis. She may be reached at [email protected]
Management of Ill Persons
Any person exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 will be immediately isolated and sent home immediately with instructions to contact their health care provider.
If any confirmed cases of staff or students occur, any area of the school used by the individual will be closed for cleaning and disinfection.
The school will follow the Center for Disease Control guidance for allowing a student or staff member to return to school after exhibiting symptoms or testing positive. Decision to return to school will be coordinated with the local health department.
Any unvaccinated symptomatic individuals, close contacts of COVID-19 suspected or confirmed individuals, and individuals with recent international travel as designated through the New York State Travel Advisory, before allowing such individuals to return to the school.
Oak Hill School will notify Schenectady County Department of Health of any positive test results. Testing will occur at a location determined by the individual’s physician or the County Department of Health.
The school will maintain a list of staff and students based on county of residence to assist Schenectady County Department of Health and the Department of Health from the county of residence. Oak Hill school will cooperate and follow the guidance from the Department of Health.
To be considered “exposed”, an individual must have been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
Individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 virus must complete their mandatory quarantine. If by the end of their quarantine period they have not developed symptoms, at that point they may return to school.
P-12 Teachers and staff have been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since January 11, 2021. Asymptomatic fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19 unless they also present possible symptoms of infections; however, they should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and must wear a masks anytime indoors, even off school property, for 14 days or until they receive a negative diagnostic test result.
Previous COVID-19 Infection
Asymptomatic individuals who have recovered from laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection during the previous 3 months do not need to be quarantined if exposed to COVID-19.
Return to School for Individuals Displaying Symptoms of COVID-19
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 results, 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.
The COVID-19 Safety Coordinator, Susan Vine, along with the School Nurse, Kaleigh Congdon, BSN, RN and Executive Director, David Mitchell will collaborate with the Schenectady County Department of Health and the Department of Health from the county of residence regarding contact tracing.
The school will maintain a list of staff and students based on county of residence to assist Schenectady County Department of Health and the Department of Health in the home county. Oak HIll school will cooperate and follow the guidance from the Department of Health.
If COVID-19 cases develop, access to school facilities will be restricted, particularly in affected areas to avoid full school closures.
Classrooms where an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily moved to a remote/virtual format until all contacts can be identified, notified, tested, and cleared in order to return.
Affected classrooms and any affected areas will have/be:
- Outside doors and windows opened to increase air circulation
- Cleaned and disinfected
In the event of a school closure due to COVID-19 the following will occur:
- The entire school will be cleaned and disinfected
- The school will cooperate with the local Health Department to assist in contact tracing if applicable
Ventilation and Filtration
The MERV-13 filtration system has been installed within the school and a fresh air ventilation system has been installed within the gymnasium to improve indoor air quality and decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread.
We will increase ventilation by increasing outdoor air and decreasing recirculated air as much as possible.
School Safety Drills
School safety drills, such as fire drills and lock down drills, will continue to be conducted. Students and staff will be instructed in maintaining social distancing during the drills.
The school will continue to provide snacks on arrival and mid-morning for all students in prepackaged servings. Additionally, students will continue to bring lunch from home or receive lunch through the free/reduced meal program.
Students will eat lunch in their classrooms without intermingling with other cohorts and maintaining 6-foot social distancing while eating. Hand washing before and after meals will be promoted. Protection for those with food allergies will be assured, sharing of food or beverages will be discouraged.
Masking is required on public transportation in accordance with the CDC recommendations. To that end, passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, regardless of vaccination status.
Transportation is provided by the student’s home school district. Students and families should consult the home district reopening plan for additional information.
Social Emotional Well Being
The School Counselors will be focused on in class instruction and individual support in issues surrounding COVID-19 and its impact.
Additionally, the school team will continuously assess individual students, families and staff needs to develop appropriate supports.
FULL VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION
In the event schools are not allowed to open or we are closed by the Governor due to a rise in COVID 19, we will return to full virtual instruction.
Technology and Connectivity
A survey of family technology resources has been conducted to determine student and staff access to a device and high speed internet.
In the event a student or staff does not have adequate resources, the school will work with the family and home school district to provide access and a device.
Alternatively, options for alternative methods of instruction for student participation and demonstration of mastery not dependent on technology will be provided for those students who are not able to access sufficient internet resources.
All related services will continue to be provided via teletherapy per the student IEP.