I hope that you are enjoying a fun and restful summer. As we continue to prepare for the 2021-22 school year, our focus remains opening our schools on September 9 for Full-Time In-Person instruction for all students according to our regular daily schedule. To do so successfully, we must acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a part of our lives and continue to take proactive measures to mitigate its spread in our schools and greater community.
With that in mind, our administrative team has worked diligently to review our protocols from last spring while also reviewing updated guidance for schools released by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. As I stated last week, the New York State Department of Health will not be providing updated guidance for schools, however we will continue to review any regulations or recommendations issued by the New York State Education Department and the Westchester County Department of Health.
This past Wednesday, August 11, our Reopening Advisory Task Force, which includes administrators, teachers, community members, Board of Education members and medical experts, reconvened to review our plans, ensuring that the protocols in place for the upcoming school year have been vetted by a broad group of stakeholders. These initial plans, which will continue to be reviewed throughout the remainder of the month and during the school year, are as follows:
School Protocols/Daily Schedule/Arrival
- All schools will return to the regular daily schedule that was in place prior to last year:
- Elementary Schools Begin at 8:20am and dismiss at 3:05pm
- Middle and High School begin at 8:15am an dismiss at 2:51pm and will follow the regular bell schedule
- All individuals, including staff, will be required to submit a daily health screening form attesting that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 prior to entering school
- Families must complete this form (via the ezSCRN app or paper form) on behalf of their children
- All visitors will also be required to complete a screening form prior to entering a school.
- All staff and families will be required to complete a daily health questionnaire prior to entering school attesting that their child does not have COVID-19 symptoms and has not been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Recognizing that our students and teachers are most successful when learning in person, the fully remote learning option will be discontinued this school year and livestreams of classes will not be available.
- The Pelham Public Schools strongly urges all eligible teachers, staff and students (ages 12+) to be vaccinated against COVID-19 recognizing that the vaccines are safe and effective and critical to reducing the spread of the virus and mitigating severe disease and hospitalization.
- Importantly, fully vaccinated individuals are not currently required to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 if they are asymptomatic.
- The District is pursuing options to conduct COVID-19 testing for staff and students, especially those who are not vaccinated, during the school year and more information will be forthcoming.
Masks and Physical Distancing
- Consistent with recommendations from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, all students and staff will be required to wear masks covering the nose and mouth when indoors. Families are strongly encouraged to ensure that their children have a comfortable and tight-fitting mask. Masks must have at least two layers. (Students who do not have a mask will be provided one prior to entering their school building)
- Masks will not be required when students/ staff are outside
- Students will be spaced 3-feet apart in classrooms to the extent possible
- Air purifiers and window exhaust fans will be available in all classrooms to improve air quality
- Portable barriers will no longer be used.
- Students will be spaced 6 feet apart when eating lunch
- Schools will make use of available outdoor space for eating, weather permitting
- Pre-packaged meals will continue to be available to all students from the cafeteria free of charge.
- All elementary schools will continue to be nut-free for the 2021-22 school year.
- The District will notify families if their child is required to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 at school as determined by Westchester County Department of Health regulations.
- The Westchester County Department of Health is expected to issue revised quarantine regulations shortly, which we believe will greatly reduce the number of students required to quarantine if exposed. More information will be forthcoming. As a reminder, students/staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine if they are exposed and are asymptomatic.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor local COVID-19 infection data and await further guidance. Please know that we remain committed keeping our students and staff as healthy as possible while providing a robust academic experience aligned with our mission of Inspiring a Standard of Excellence for All Students. As the school year approaches, we will continue to update all families about our plans as more information becomes available.
Please enjoy this final month of summer and we look forward to welcoming all students back on September 9.
Cheryl H. Champ, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools