K-12 School COVID Safe Opening Plan*

*Subject to change pending updated NYSDOH, CDC and NYSED reopening guidance and the on-going changes that are expected with the COVID pandemic.

Essex County Health Department, BOCES leaders, and area school superintendents continued meeting all summer to plan for the 2021-2022 year.  Our goal is to return to full in-person learning with fewer disruptions to learning, sports, activities, and home life

Essex County districts and this Department are in agreement about safe in-person learning and are committed to following the guidance given by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics.  These documents are available by clicking the links below.

Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year, NYSED;

Guidance for CVODI-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, CDC;

COVID-19 Guidance for Safer Schools, American Academy of Pediatrics.

SUMMARY OF ESSEX COUNTY SCHOOL COVID SAFE OPENING PLAN

VACCINATION  

Eligible?  Please get vaccinated.  It’s the best way to safely get students to full in-person learning and activities. The Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval for two doses, three weeks apart, in people 16 and older. It remains available under emergency use authorization for adolescents ages 12 to 15.

MONITORING OF COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

district meet with Essex County weekly to stay on top of our local risk. 

WEARING MASKS

Districts are requiring universal masking for all indoor areas.  This means everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is masking.  This includes all indoor areas – classrooms, hallways, and buses. 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

Schools are making efforts to keep a 6’ distance between people in school, whenever possible.  This prevents students from being close contacts of anyone that becomes sick.

SPORTS AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Districts are following the same school-day policies and procedures for athletic and extracurricular activities.

TEMPERATURE AND DAILY HEALTH CHECKS

Please do a health check at home. Do not send a sick child to school.  Do reach out to arrange for COVID testing.  We now have a free school-based testing option!

SCREENING TESTING

Districts will be offering free screening testing to unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students following CDC’s recommendations.  Testing is done at school with results in 24-48 hours!  Click here to watch a short video about this test or visit https://vimeo.com/565777507/db8a04ad90

SYMPTOMATIC TESTING

Free rapid testing will be available for faculty, staff, and students who have COVID-19 symptoms. Testing is done at school with results available in 15 minutes! Click here to watch a short video about this test or visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqICkkOaNKo

ISOLATION, CONTACT TRACING AND QUARANTINE 

Following new guidance, students identified as close contacts in the K-12 school setting don’t need to quarantine if everyone was wearing masks. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

SCHOOL-BASED COVID-19 TESTING PLAN

This 3-Part Testing Plan is part of a layered approach to stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Parent/Guardian consent is needed for all aspects of this School-Based Testing Plan.

PART 1: SCREENING TESTING

We will be on site of schools to conduct Screening Testing following the CDC’s Level of Transmission in Essex County for any given week. Parents/guardian consent is needed through an online parent portal.  The Test, called Clarifi COVID-19 Test is a very easy oral swab and results are available in 24-48 hours.  The test is being conducted by Quadrant Lab at Upstate Medical. Schools are asked to support testing by identifying eligible people for screening testing, securing consent, and providing space & a school liaison for testing.

Table: Screening Testing Plan for K-12 Schools by Level of Community Transmission; Source CDC

Part 2: Symptomatic Testing for Sick Student/Faculty/Staff at School

We will provide on-site testing supplies for use by school nurses or other trained staff at the school.  This allows any sick student, faculty or staff member to be easily tested right at school by your trusted school nurse and get results immediately.  It removes access to testing barriers like making appointments or slow turn-around time waiting for results.  It allows for isolation of COVID cases quickly and returns all others to the school community quickly and safely.  The Test, called Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 Test is a very easy nasal swab and results are available in 15 minutes. 

Part 3: Exposure-Based Screening Testing for Sick Student/Faculty/Staff at School

Another test, called the Abbott Binax Now, is also a very easy nasal swab and results are available in 15 minutes.  ECHD will offer this exposure-based screening option for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff following an exposure to a positive case during high-risk school-based activities. These activities can include close contact and/or indoor sports, band, choir, theater, and indoor school clubs. This exposure-based screening testing is considered when including exposed individuals in the screening testing option (Part 1) is not possible at 3-5 days following exposure.  Schools are asked to support ECHD by identifying the person/s who will be trained to use the testing supplies and work with the health department for reporting and response (contact tracing) efforts.