Opening Plans for 2021-22 School Year

Opening Plans for 2021-22 School Year
Posted on 09/01/2021

Hello, Fort Ann students and families, we hope that you have all had a relaxing and enjoyable summer.  We are eager to be back together as one school community for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.  The following reopening protocols have been put together to help us educate our students as safely as possible. Please note that the plans outlined here have been developed in conjunction with medical providers, the Washington County Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health, and the Center for Disease Control guidance documents, these protocols are current as of September 1, 2021, and are subject and will likely change as the pandemic evolves throughout the year. 

Our overarching goals for 2021-22 include: Being in-person, all the time, at every grade level; Preventing the spread of COVID-19 among students, staff, and families; while focusing on meeting the academic, social-emotional, and general health support for all students.

Starting with the first day of school on Wednesday, September 8th, students will return to “typical” school schedules in each building. The All-Virtual or Hybrid instruction model will not be offered this year. Every student will come to school every day!

If a student is home under mandatory quarantine by the Washington County Department of Health, they will have access to a remote or online assignment platform.

Due to the importance of in-person learning, schools are being asked to implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures but should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.

At school, students will be spaced at 3 feet or more, for social distancing. Our classrooms have been re-configured to a more “typical” layout at 3 feet of separation. Gyms are back to full utilization for P.E., and cafeterias are back to full availability for lunch. Windows will remain open for fresh air as much as temperatures allow. The air filters in classroom units remain at the highest MERV filtration level each unit can handle.

The district will continue regular cleaning and disinfection daily or more frequently, as needed, along with frequent cleaning and disinfection of shared objects and surfaces as well as high transit areas, such as restrooms and public areas.  Use of hand sanitizer and the practice of good hygiene will be taught and encouraged.

Health officials stress that the best mitigation strategies are vaccines for everyone eligible, and universal indoor masking. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington County Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control all recommend that children age 12 and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. All Fort Ann students, staff, and visitors must wear face masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks can be removed outdoors during recess, with social distancing encouraged. Masks will be removed for eating/drinking. All individuals must wear masks on the bus, following federal mass transit rules.

Unvaccinated adults and children account for a large proportion of current COVID-19 cases, with this in mind, the district will be implementing layered prevention strategies to keep students, faculty, and staff safe, this may include weekly testing of unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty if mandated by the state.

We will continue to utilize the daily Pinpoint electronic screening tool for all students and staff, as well as implementing the symptom screening questionnaire and temperature checks at the entrance doors. It is expected that students, parents, and staff members continuously monitor themselves for any signs of illness, and stay home if symptoms arise.  If a student feels sick during the school day, they will see the nurse for immediate evaluation. 

Targeted academic support will help students level up and complete unfinished learning this year. We anticipate preserving all co-curricular activities, extracurricular activities, and interscholastic athletics for students.

All athletics will run, with some additional measures
Outdoors: Athletes, Coaches, Staff must wear a mask when not competing
Indoors: Athletes, Coaches, Staff must wear a mask at all times
We recommend that unvaccinated individuals and spectators wear masks and practice social distancing

Band, Chorus, and Orchestra programs will run in their full capacity, with some additional measures:

To help keep students nourished, strong, and ready to learn, all school meals remain free to every student through June of 2022. Breakfast is available on the way to school, and complete lunch meals will be served.  Lunch will be served in the cafeteria or at other pre-determined locations.

These protocols are necessary due to the high transmission rate for COVID-19 in Washington County. The health department is documenting significant local spread among unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, with a particular concern for those under age 12.

Your family can stay healthy by committing to these practices:

Do not come to school if feeling ill; stay home

Get tested if any symptoms arise

Vaccinate every eligible family member

Please see the Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year, that the New York State Education Department released last week.

Thank you for your continued flexibility, patience, and positive outlook as we begin a new school year in Fort Ann! Updates to these protocols and procedures will be communicated widely as they become necessary.

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