NYSUT is applauding the State Education Department's, Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year that was released yesterday.
Some portions that from the SED guide that I found interesting:
The CDC states that “vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.” Furthermore, many schools serve children under age 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at the time this guide was published. Therefore, reflecting CDC guidance, this document emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (i.e., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and other members of their households.
Verifying Vaccinations CDC guidance states:
• Administrators who maintain documentation of students’ and workers’ COVID-19 vaccination status can use this information, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to privacy, to inform prevention strategies, school-based testing, contact tracing efforts, and quarantine and isolation practices.
• Schools that plan to request voluntary submission of documentation of COVID-19 vaccination status should use the same standard protocols that are used to collect and secure other immunization or health status information from students.
• The protocol to collect, secure, use, and further disclose this information should comply with relevant statutory and regulatory requirements, including Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) statutory and regulatory requirements.
• Policies or practices related to providing or receiving proof of COVID-19 vaccination should comply with all relevant state, tribal, local, or territorial laws and regulations
Thus, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels.
Click here for OSHA regulations.
Back to SED:
• The CDC recommends that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as cohorting.
• A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.
• The CDC states that cohorting can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, and particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. The use of cohorting can limit the spread of COVID-19 between cohorts but should not replace other prevention measures within each group.
• Pursuant to the CDC's Order, physical distancing is not required on school buses. The CDC states that, permitting large groups of students to eat in the cafeteria should be based on community transmission rates. Schools should maximize physical distance as much as possible when students are moving through the food service line and while eating (especially indoors). Using additional spaces and outdoor seating can facilitate distancing. Schools should consider limiting meals to classrooms in areas with substantial or high transmission rates.
On Covid testing:
For COVID-19 Testing in schools the CDC recommends screening testing:
• In areas with substantial or high community transmission levels;
• In areas with low vaccination coverage;
• For certain higher risk activities;
• In schools where other prevention strategies are not implemented; and
• For participants who are not fully vaccinated and seek to participate in sports, extracurricular activities, or other activities with elevated risk (such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, and exercise that could lead to increased exhalation).
NYSED reminds schools:
• To obtain written parent/guardian consent prior to conducting any COVID-19 tests (for diagnostic or screening purposes) of students.
*Question: What happens if a parent do not give consent to allow their child to be tested? Does that child just stay untested or is he/she sent for home instruction?
On Remote instruction:
The Department’s position on remote instruction, pursuant to the memo to the field from Commissioner Rosa on July 29, 2021, is as follows:
• So long as allowed by public health officials, schools should be open for in-person teaching and learning, and students should be in school.
• In case of school closures due to a declared public health emergency, schools must be prepared to provide remote instruction.
• While the Department will not require schools that are open for full-time, in-person instruction to provide on-line or remote instruction, districts may work with students and families to offer remote options if it is deemed to be in the best educational interest of the student.
• Districts should consider the value of on-line capacity developed in response to the pandemic to expand programmatic offerings and to offer remote learning opportunities that are responsive to student needs. This can be done directly, through cooperative agreements with other school districts, or through Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. This can help where documented medical conditions prohibit the safe return for students to in-person instruction and where students who have otherwise struggled have excelled with remote learning.
Remote instruction consistent with both the July 29, 2021 memo and existing regulations count for state aid purposes towards the minimum instructional hours and days.
There is much more in the document. Please, tell us what you think.