Horseheads Central School District 2021-22 Opening of School
Health and Safety Guide
Approved by the Board of Education: September 1, 2021
Updated September 16, 2021
Horseheads CSD approach to preventing and monitoring transmission of COVID-19
The health and safety of the children and adults in our schools are paramount. Health and safety considerations must always come first in every decision made and every action taken by our schools.
Schools have an important role to play in educating and communicating with our community about the precautionary actions the district is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Prevention is accomplished by following the recommendations of health authorities.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend schools should consider many factors as they prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, including the level of COVID-19 transmission and vaccination coverage rates in both the community at large and in their school community.
Horseheads Central School District will continue to consult with state agencies, local health officials, and monitor community transmission through multiple national, state, and local data sources, as well as vaccination coverage, screening testing, and/or occurrences of local outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies.
Horseheads will use multiple prevention strategies in a layered approach to promote safer in-person learning and care. This is particularly significant due to the fact that students under age 12 cannot receive the vaccine at this time.
These strategies include but are not limited to:
- Consistent and correct use of masks;
- Physical distancing;
- Screening testing to quickly identify cases;
- Improved ventilation;
- Proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette;
- Staying home when sick and getting tested;
- Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine;
- Routine cleaning with disinfection; and
- Promoting vaccination;
Horseheads will continue to monitor levels of community transmission by regular discussions with the Chemung County Health Department and County Executive, as well as evaluating multiple points of data, including data provided by the Chemung County Health Department.
Universal Indoor Educational Masking
Horseheads Central School District requires universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in PreK-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels at the time. The New York State Health Department directive now requires that masks that cover both the nose and mouth be worn at all times while in PreK-12 school buildings. The Horseheads district requires that masks be multi-layered.
Single-layered masks and gaiters are not acceptable face coverings.
Outdoor Educational Masking
Horseheads Central School District recommends for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to PreK-12 schools who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings and/or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people and physical distancing is not possible. When appropriately distanced in outdoor activities during the school day (e.g., outside physical education class and recess), students and staff may choose to remove their masks.
Universal Mask use on School Transportation
Horseheads Central School District abides by the CDC Order issued January 2021 that requires universal masking on school buses/school transportation. The CDC’s Order regarding masks requires that “[a]ll passengers on public conveyances ... traveling into, within, or out of the United States ... regardless of their vaccination status, are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth.” Passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses regardless of vaccination status. Passengers and drivers in all district vehicles occupied by more than one person must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
Event Masking Indoors
Horseheads Central School District requires universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to PreK-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels at this time. The New York State Health Department directive requires that masks, which cover both the nose and mouth, be worn at all times while in these preK-12 school buildings for any event/activity.
Event Masking Outdoors
Horseheads Central School District recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings and/or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people.
Music Masking Indoors
Horseheads Central School District requires universal indoor masking. However, for instrumental music, students should maintain six feet distancing, when possible, if unmasked when playing an instrument. Likewise, vocal music should maintain six feet distancing, when possible, if unmasked when singing. If masked, singing can occur at three-foot distancing.
Horseheads Central School District will maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19.
A distance of at least six feet must be maintained between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated when not engaged in instruction.
Hallways and Movement
All teachers, staff, students, and visitors to PreK-12 Horseheads Central School District schools will physically distance, when possible, in hallways and when moving about the buildings. Masks are required when in the buildings.
Horseheads Central School District teachers, staff, students, and visitors will mask and maximize physical distance as much as possible when students are moving throughout the food service line and while eating. Horseheads teachers, staff, students, and visitors should continue to wear their masks while moving through the cafeteria until seated and eating. When teachers, staff, students, and visitors are finished eating indoors, all are required to wear their masks.
School Buses and Other School Transportation Vehicles
Pursuant to the CDC's order, physical distancing is not required on school buses or other school transportation vehicles. Physical distancing will be maintained where possible on school buses and transportation vehicles. This will be combined with universal mask wearing on all school-related transportation.
Horseheads Central School District will require spectators who are not engaged in the event/activity to physically distance six feet between adults/household families, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels at the time. Masks covering both the nose and mouth must be worn at all times while in PreK-12 school buildings for any event/activity.
Horseheads Central School District highly recommends outdoor spectators/household families physically distance at least six feet.
COVID-19 Screening Testing to Promptly Identify Cases, Clusters, and Outbreaks
COVID-19 screening testing identifies people infected with COVID-19, including those with or without symptoms, who may be contagious. In PreK-12 schools, COVID-19 screening testing can promptly identify and isolate cases, help quarantine those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated, and identify clusters where the virus exists.
Horseheads CSD will employ screening testing when appropriate as a mitigation strategy after consultation and cooperation with the Chemung County Health Department:
- For certain higher risk activities. See Sports and Extracurricular Activities.
- 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). See Sports and Extracurricular Activities.
- If Horseheads is determined to be an area of high community transmission levels by evaluating multiple points of data including data provided by the local health department.
- If Horseheads district staff/students are determined by local health authorities to have low vaccination coverage.
- If other prevention strategies are not implemented.
Horseheads will obtain written parent/guardian consent prior to conducting any COVID-19 testing of students.
Horseheads Central School District has already implemented the New York State requirement to provide adequate ventilation, both natural and mechanical, in our buildings and on our buses.
Proper Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette
Horseheads Central School District continues to provide training to all students and staff on best practices in hand washing and respiratory etiquette. This includes handwashing periodically throughout the day and before/after eating.
Staying Home from School When Sick and Getting Tested
Students and school personnel should stay home from school and get tested if they are showing signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19. See chart at bottom of page.
Parents/Guardians/Staff who are coming onto district property including district buildings, fields, and transportation, are expected to self-monitor daily for any COVID-19 symptoms. This includes both during the school day and activities/ events outside school hours.
If a student or staff member shows signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19, to re-enter our schools and buildings, they need to:
- Be 24 hours symptom-free with no fever-reducing medication and produce a doctor's note stating they have a negative test result.
- Be 24 hours symptom-free with no fever-reducing medication and produce a produce a copy of a negative test result.
- Be 24 hours symptom-free with no fever-reducing medication and produce a doctor's note with an alternative diagnosis.
- If refusing to take a COVID test or see a physician, choose to be presumed positive and complete ten days quarantine through the Chemung County Health Department.
No One With Symptoms Should Enter District Property.
The CDC has outlined COVID-19 symptoms as follows:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Horseheads encourages everyone in our school community to get tested when symptoms are compatible with COVID-19. This will help with rapid contact tracing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at school.
Horseheads will comply with Education Law § 906, which provides that:
“[w]henever…a student in the public schools shows symptoms of any communicable or infectious disease reportable under the public health law that imposes a significant risk of infection of others in the school, he or she shall be excluded from the school and sent home immediately, in a safe and proper conveyance. Parents/Guardians are expected to immediately come to school and pick up their student. The director of school health services shall immediately notify a local public health agency of any disease reportable under the public health law. … The director of school health services, or other health professionals acting upon direction or referral of such director, may make such evaluations of teachers and any other school employees, school buildings and premises as, in their discretion, they may deem necessary to protect the health of the students and staff.”
Contact Tracing, in Combination with Isolation and Quarantine
New York State Department of Health requires that all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for ten days from the date of test, or date of onset of symptoms, whichever is sooner.
Horseheads Central School District requires proof of a release from isolation/quarantine from the local health department in order to be able to return to work/school.
At-home COVID-19 tests are for screening purposes only. Individuals who take at-home COVID-19 tests outside of a health care setting and receive a positive result must go to a medical provider for a confirmatory test and report their results immediately to the Chemung County Health Department in order to receive a release from isolation to be able to return to work/school.
New York State Department of Health requires that unvaccinated close contacts of positive individuals quarantine for ten days from exposure. Fully vaccinated individuals DO NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.
A close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual five-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).
Exception: In the PreK-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within three to six feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. (This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.)
Contact tracing will be done by the Chemung County Health Department in cooperation with Horseheads Central School District. All final quarantine and isolation orders/releases will come from the Chemung County Health Department.
The Chemung County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health may update/adjust isolation and quarantine requirements. Any such adjustments would supersede this guidance.
Routine Cleaning (with Disinfection)
Horseheads Central School District has the necessary cleaning agents, and continues to purchase products, to clean and disinfect schools and transportation vehicles. A list of products used can be found here. Beyond these routine cleanings and disinfection, we also clean frequently touched spaces throughout the school day (e.g., door handles, desks, tables).
Horseheads Central School District has, and will continue to, provide locations within our schools for the local health department to host Chemung County directed vaccination clinics for eligible staff, parents, students, and all community members.
For the 2021-22 school year, Horseheads CSD will be open to five days a week of in-person learning for all students. At the heart of teaching and learning are the relationships that students have with their peers, teachers, and school community members. A return to regular in-person instruction provides the normalcy of positive routines and welcoming environment that supports students during this unpredictable time.
Students will be required to attend in-person all five days of the week. As in any other school year, if a student is unable to attend school, the parent/guardian is required to provide an excuse. There is no remote option available for students. Therefore, all registered students are required to attend school when it is in session.
As a reminder, if students are feeling ill, they should stay home. Parents/guardians should contact the school nurse. Students will need to proceed through COVID-19 protocols to return. If it is determined to be a non-COVID illness, students should only return to school no sooner than 24 hours after all symptoms have resolved.
During instances when a student has been placed in a quarantine or isolated as a result of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, learning will be made available via the itslearning platform. Click here for the itslearning Quick Start Guide for Students.
First, students should focus on their health before engaging in learning. Teachers will provide students with work to engage in during the school day while at home. There may be a 24-hour delay in transitioning a student to this learning to give the necessary time to gather and send necessary materials for the student. The materials provided will be accompanied with explicit information that provides clear directions and/or videos for students to follow. Teachers will check in with students regarding both academic and social-emotional health while students are quarantined or in isolation.
Preparing for 100% Remote Instruction
If the district is required to move to remote instruction, the remote instructional schedule will be the same as the daily in-person schedule, unless otherwise changed by the district. Students and parents will need to be prepared to transition to daily remote instruction upon notification by the district.
Technology and Devices
A survey identifying the need for technology at home will be sent to families. Needs to be identified will be for both laptops and hotspots.
For parents/guardians who would like to purchase a device for their students, click here for information on technical specifications and recommendations.
Sports and Extracurricular Activities
Horseheads Central School District recognizes that school-sponsored sports and extracurricular activities provide students with enrichment opportunities that can help them learn, achieve, and support their social, emotional, and mental health.
To ensure the health and safety of students during these activities, Horseheads will follow the following protocols:
- Students participating in sports and extracurricular activities are required to bring a mask to all practices/contests/performances.
- Masks are required to be worn while traveling on school transportation to and from events.
- For teams and extracurricular activities that operate indoors, all student-participants, advisors, coaches, spectators, and participants are required to wear masks at all times. Students who are swimming are required to wear a mask when not in the pool. Indoor physical distancing of six feet is required for adult spectators (outside of the same household). Physical distancing is also highly recommended for athletes and student participants.
- For outdoor practices, student-participants must wear masks when not engaged in activity and on the sidelines when physical distancing cannot be maintained. All advisors and coaches must be masked at all times.
- For outdoor sports and activities, student-participants are not required to wear masks while in competition/performance or on the sidelines, but may elect to do so if they choose. All advisors and coaches must be masked at all times. Physical distancing is highly recommended for all student-participants, advisors, coaches, and spectators.
- Students, advisors, coaches, and spectators are not to attend extracurricular activities if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
- COVID-19 screening testing serves to facilitate safe participation, reduce the risk of transmission, and avoid jeopardizing in-person education and activities due to outbreaks. Horseheads will use COVID-19 screening testing for student-athletes and students participating in extracurricular activities with elevated risk (such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, and exercise that could lead to increased exhalation. All students participating in these activities will need parent/guardian consent to testing in the event the district must test all participants in order to continue participating in these activities. The initial focus will be on testing those students who are unvaccinated. Adults who support these activities (e.g., coaches, teachers, advisors) will also be tested. Horseheads will participate in county-determined COVID-19 testing protocols for each group on a weekly basis. If authorized, the district will make adjustments to the testing schedule after evaluating multiple points of data.
- People who are fully vaccinated can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if they are asymptomatic, facilitating continued participation in in-person learning, sports, and extracurricular activities.
- The opportunity for spectators to attend events, as well as capacity limits for venues, will be continuously evaluated and updated as appropriate for physical distancing recommendations.
The district administration will adjust this plan as appropriate and reasonably needed or as directed by state and local health departments, until such time that the Board of Education approves the changes.