MASSENA — The Massena Central School District remains on track to provide five days of in-person instruction when school reopens in September, but there will be room to move to remote instruction if necessary.
“Students and staff will return to a five-day-per-week in-person learning schedule. A plan to pivot to remote leaning will be in place where a classroom, grade or entire school may need to shut down due to quarantining issues,” Superintendent Patrick Brady said in his superintendent’s update, which will be discussed during Thursday’s board of education meeting.
He also plans to hold a virtual meeting with staff and parents to obtain their input and feedback.
He said regional superintendents met twice to coordinate plans based on recently released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Education Department. They also met with St. Lawrence County Public Health officials.
“As we look ahead to the start of the school year it is our goal to bring students back into as much normalcy as possible given what we have all been through with the pandemic over the last year-and-a-half,” Mr. Brady said.
However, he said, the delta variant is now on the rise in the county, with positive cases going up significantly, and that could impact reopening plans.
“According to Dr. Andrew Williams (president of the St. Lawrence County Board of Health), the delta variant has followed a pattern of coming in strong, reaching a high peak and then going away. This process can last about nine weeks. It is not clear when the county cases will peak, but they are on a steep climb at this point, placing reopening of schools plans in a very challenging situation,” Mr. Brady said.
The current reopening plan calls for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to district schools to be masked, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required for outdoor activities such as recess or physical education classes, but social distancing measures will need to be in place. Masks will be required on buses and at indoor athletic activities.
Social distancing will be maintained at 3 feet between students “as practicable to resume normal activities,” Mr. Brady said. That includes eating in lunch areas as well as band, chorus and physical education classes. Six feet of social distancing will be required between students and staff, also within the bounds of practicality to provide instruction and other regular school activities.
Mr. Brady said they will request voluntary submission of vaccination status from students and staff to assist with contract tracing in the case of a close contact.
“Vaccinated individuals who are close contacts who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine upon proof of vaccination, but it is recommended that they be tested within three to five days of exposure,” he said.
Students and staff will be expected to complete a daily COVID-19 screening, including temperature checks. However, the screening will no longer be facilitated and tracked by the school. Anyone who answers “yes” to a screening question will be required to stay home and contact the school. Periodic reminders of the screening process will be provided by the district.
“The district will continue to collaborate with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department to contact trace in instances where there are potential close contacts to a positive COVID-19 person,” Mr. Brady said.
He said the district is also collaborating with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department on the potential for COVID-19 testing of students and staff in schools.
These protocols are subject to change based on the level of transmission, he said.