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. 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.
As you most likely are aware, health and safety guidance from the state and local health departments related to COVID-19 continues to evolve. As always, we remain committed to keeping our students in school, while providing a safe learning environment for all. We also remain committed to providing staff and families with clear, updated information on the latest guidance as it relates to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and isolation.
Effective immediately, Oak Hill School will use the following protocols when allowing students to return to school if they have symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19 or are considered exposed to an individual with COVID-19. These protocols are based on the most recent updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health and local health departments. Feel free to click the following link for the updates from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html
Please know that this information is subject to change at any time. If you have specific concerns or questions regarding your child, please contact our school nurse.
The reopening plan will be maintained on the OakHill website.
One of the biggest changes you can expect is that the New York State Department of Health will no longer conduct contact tracing. This means that individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be contacted by their local department of health. Going forward, we will no longer be collecting information about contacts to report to county health departments.
However, we will continue our due diligence with regard to notifying impacted staff and families if we learn about a positive case. This type of notification will ask staff and families to monitor for symptoms, but will not necessarily result in anyone being identified as a close contact and being excluded from school. In a situation like this, you can expect a phone call from our school nurse, notifying you of the potential exposure so that you can monitor your child for symptoms, and information about getting them tested if symptoms should arise.
Please note that there will be situations when the need to identify close contacts is warranted due to a direct COVID exposure. Particular attention will be paid to staff and students at high risk for severe disease, as well as those times and locations where there may be fewer layers of mitigation in place (e.g., classes with students who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented medical issue and/or disabilities). These situations may result in a student or staff member being excluded from school and asked to stay home and quarantine for five to 10 days.
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.
There may also be times when a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
Regardless of whether or not there is a known exposure to COVID-19, it is very important that students who are sick do not attend school.
Any individuals with a temperature above 100.4 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
- Regardless of vaccination status, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms they must have a lab negative NAAT(PCR), lab antigen test(rapid), or two negative Over-the-Counter (i.e., at-home or take-home) antigen tests taken 36 hours apart, in order to return.
- If parents/guardians are presenting the district with two negative Over-the-Counter antigen tests, they must also present the following attestation signed by a parent or guardian.
- In addition to a negative test result(s), students must be well enough to participate in school, meaning:
- Not have rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask wearing difficult or unhygienic;
- Be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidance above.
- Please also note:
- There is no exemption to the testing requirement for symptomatic students.
- Students with symptoms that are attributable to pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., migraines, allergies) and are not new or worsening do not require school exclusion or testing.
- If a healthcare provider makes a diagnosis of a confirmed non-COVID-19 acute illness (e.g., laboratory-confirmed influenza or strep throat) AND COVID-19 is not suspected, then a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis may be provided to allow a student, teacher, or staff member to participate in school without COVID-19 testing.
- If a student is up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations, as defined by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html they may come to school. Up to date means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible.
- If a student tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, they may come to school.
- If a student is not up-to-date on their COVID vaccination and has not tested positive in the last 90 days, they will be excluded from school for at least five days after their last close contact with an individual with COVID-19.
- For example:
- Day 0: Date of exposure.
- Day 1: Stay home
- Day 2: Stay home
- Day 3: Stay home
- Day 4: Stay home
- Day 5: Stay home
- Day 6: Return to school as long as no symptoms have developed.
- For example:
- State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the date of exposure.
- Regardless of vaccination status, if a student tests positive for COVID-19 they must isolate for a full five days. Students may return to school after day five if they are asymptomatic or if symptoms are resolving.
- For example:
- Day 0: Symptom onset or tested positive.
- Day 1: Stay home
- Day 2: Stay home
- Day 3: Stay home
- Day 4: Stay home
- Day 5: Stay home
- Day 6: Return to school if asymptomatic, or if symptoms are resolving.
- For example:
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and took an Over-the-Counter (i.e., at-home, take-home) antigen test, parents/guardians should report the results to their local department of health as well as our school nurse.
- In order for students who have tested positive and have had symptoms to return to school after five days, they must:
- Be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
- Have no runny nose.
- Have no more than an infrequent, nonproductive cough that is not getting worse. Students with a cough must be able to tolerate continuous mask use as breaks are not allowed.
- Have not experienced excessive or unusual fatigue.
- Have no persistent headache or muscle aches.
- Have no nausea, diarrhea or vomiting for at least 24 hours.
- State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the first day of symptoms (or the date of a positive test, if the student is asymptomatic).
- Anyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised should follow the standard 10-day isolation guidance issued previously.
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
Additional quarantine and isolation information can be found on your local county department of health websites, as well as the New York State Department of Health and CDC websites:
- Schenectady County: https://www.schenectadycounty.com/COVID19
- Albany County: https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19
- Saratoga County:
- Greene County: https://www.greenegovernment.com/response-to-the-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-in-greene-county-ny?CB=9850
- Montgomery County: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/
- Rensselaer County: https://www.rensco.com/departments/public-health/
- Warren County: https://warrencountyny.gov/healthservices/coronavirus
- Washington County: https://washingtoncountyny.gov/1147/Coronavirus-Information
- New York State Department of Health: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html
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.