How New York State Schools will Plan for Reopening
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health released a series of guidelines that must be included in each district’s plans for reopening in-person schooling.
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Schools are required to plan how they will track the health of students and faculty coming in and out of facilities. Each district’s plan must include how the school will:
Conduct mandatory health screenings of people who enter school grounds
Test individuals who are either symptomatic or have interacted with someone infected
Identify who is responsible for administering COVID-19 tests
Define the early COVID-19 warning signs to look out for
Containment protocols must address how the school will respond to a positive test and what they will do to prevent the virus from spreading school-wide. Schools must, at a minimum, address:
How they will care for a student or faculty member who has tested positive during the school day, and the protocol for parent-pick up
Procedures for infected individuals to isolate themselves, and for anyone who has been exposed to quarantine before returning to in-school instruction
Promoting hygiene and disinfecting all exposed public areas
Supporting local contact-tracing efforts
Closure plans must address how the school will halt in-person education if necessary, which conditions would result in limiting or ending in-person instruction, and which activities would be decreased or ended should in-person instruction end.
School districts in Westchester have begun finalizing plans for a hybrid-learning model that include a combination of remote and in-person education.
“If we do see plans for a return in September, administrators will have a limited amount of time to make crucial decisions about how to provide a quality education for our students, while maintaining their health and safety, which will always be our top priority," Westchester County Executive George Latimer told the Daily Voice.
The state has advised school districts to plan for three potential outcomes:
- A district-wide virtual model where students are at home full time
- A district-wide hybrid model where some students learn daily at home and others attend in school
- A district-wide full return model where all students return to school in person
School districts on Long Island are beginning to finalize plans as well, with a mix of all three potentials currently in place for varying schools but subject to change.
In order to help schools create their reopening plans, the state provided the guidance regarding people, places, and processes. The guidance that falls under the category people includes information about social distancing, face coverings, space configurations, schedules, signage, meals, small spaces, faculty and staff meetings, ventilation, common areas, cohorts, in-person instruction, drop-off and pick-up, deliveries, faculty staff entrances and exits, and shared objects.
The guidance that has been offered for places includes information about PPE, hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, coordination and phased reopening, communications, and residential living.
Lastly, guidance that has been offered by the state for processes includes information about health screening, temperature checks, positive screen protocols, in-person screening, school health offices, tracing and tracking, and quarantine.
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