OSWEGO COUNTY – As might be expected, county school districts’ reopening COVID-related plans are taking on a very similar look to one another, especially since newly-installed Gov. Kathy Hochul reversed the state’s hands-off policy on issuing reopening advice and issued a mask mandate.
All districts therefore list masking regulations. It is notable none of the districts talk about requiring vaccinations for faculty and staff. Gov. Hochul has said she is talking with teachers’ unions and the state legislature about mandating those vaccinations through legislation as she does not have the power to issue an executive order mandating them.
These then, are three of the county’s 10 districts’ plans in our third installment on how the districts intend to reopen this fall. This article will detail the plans of the Mexico, Phoenix, and APW school districts.
Superintendent Donna Runner issued the following:
“As much as we wanted a more traditional start, we are still navigating some tricky waters of the pandemic. We will begin with some stricter safety protocols and look forward to relaxing them as we are safely able to do so based on the guidance we receive from the Department of Health and our Medical Director. We review our plans frequently and will make changes as needed.
Pre-K-12 students will attend in-person learning five (5) days per week with school hours listed below.
High School: 7:43 a.m.-2:10 p.m.
Middle School: 7:30 a.m.-1:57 p.m.
New Haven, Palermo, and Mexico Elementary: 8:50 a.m.-3:05 p.m.
Masks are required for all individuals (staff and students) for all indoor activities and while on school buses regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be provided for those who need them. Frequent mask breaks will be provided throughout the day.
Masks are not required for any outdoor events.
Physical distancing will be maintained at six feet for certain activities, such as eating and drinking and Physical Education and Music classes, whenever possible.
Temperature checks will be completed before entry to our buildings and on to school buses.
No staff member or student should enter our buildings when having any symptom of COVID-19 (temperature of 100 degrees or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea)
Quarantine and isolation orders come from the Department of Health. MACS assists with contact tracing by providing information about close contacts, duration of exposure, vaccination status, and mask-wearing.
Vaccinated individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID- positive individual are not required to quarantine, as long as they do not have symptoms. Individuals who have been exposed to COVID should monitor closely for symptoms.
Unvaccinated individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID- positive individual will be required to quarantine.
Breakfast and lunch will be offered at no charge to all students.
“I encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher first this year if you have any questions or concerns, and then the Building Principal if you need further assistance. Check out the Let’s Talk tabs on the District website to share any comments, questions, or kudos with us!
“Would you please complete the transportation survey to ensure a smooth first week of student pick-up and drop-off, if you have not done so? I have provided a link to the survey below.
“I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we partner to educate the children of this community. Contact me if you have any questions or if I can be of support to you. Enjoy the next few weeks and see you in September!”
Next, from Phoenix School District Superintendent Christopher Byrne:
“After considering recommendations from our district’s medical director, in alignment with the updated Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools and the recent guidance provided by the New York State Education Department, here are our current plans for the fall (some of which was shared last week and some of which is new and/or updated this week):
• All PreK-12 students will attend in-person learning five days a week.
Masks are required for all individuals (faculty, staff and students) for all indoor events, regardless of vaccination status – effective Monday, August 23rd - Masks may be removed for eating. Masks may be removed for mask breaks when provided by a staff member. Masks may be removed when you are alone in an office, workspace or classroom. Masks must be put back on when any other individual enters your office, workspace or classroom.
Masks are not required for outdoor events - This includes recess, physical education classes, athletics, etc.
Masks are required for all individuals when on busses - We no longer have to socially distance 6 feet on busses; this allows us to transport all students to school without a problem.
Daily Screening, Monitoring and Temperature Taking - Updated - Effective immediately, the district will no longer require students or staff to complete daily temperature screenings and/or screening questionnaires as the CDC no longer recommends them at school.
Physical Distancing - Physical distancing of three feet indoors is recommended, where possible. This means that we will be socially distanced 99% of the time, but if on occasion students are closer than 3 feet, it is acceptable according to guidance; as mentioned previously, they will still be masked. There are a few exceptions - physical distancing of six feet indoors is recommended, where possible, between individuals while participating in activities that require projecting the voice (e.g., singing), playing a wind instrument, or an aerobic activity. If and when these distances can’t be maintained, additional prevention strategies will be implemented (e.g., increased handwashing, more regular cleaning, etc.).
Classroom Seating Charts / Assigned Seat Assignments - These will be highly recommended to be used in all classrooms when school begins. These help with contact tracing and greatly reduce the number of individuals required to quarantine if and when there is a positive COVID-19 case. Typically, it reduces the number of students needing to be quarantined from an entire class to 3-5 individuals.
Athletics & Extracurriculars - At this time, we are excited and looking forward to resuming all athletic and extracurricular activities for the 2021-2022 school year. Students and adults will follow the same school-day policies and procedures during athletic and extracurricular activities. You can sign up for fall sports by visiting the athletic webpage at
https://www.phoenixcsd.org/domain/1040 and selecting “Register for a Sport” –
Varsity and JV Sports start Monday, Aug. 23.
Modified Sports start Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Phoenix CSD Transportation Form – Fall 2021 - If your child(ren) rode a bus to school last year, you do not need to complete the following survey. We already have your information in our system. If you completed this form last week, you do not need to complete it again. If your child(ren) did not ride the school bus to school last year and will be riding a bus to school this fall, please fill out the following form once for each child in your family - https://forms.gle/n7CtyeoMtShxjVCr7
Stay Home When Sick and Get Tested - Please be sure to monitor yourself /your children each day. Students and staff experiencing any of the following COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and be tested for COVID-19; this applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals: A temperature greater than or equal to 100 Shortness of breath or trouble breathing Feel feverish or have chills Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea Cough Muscle pain or body aches Loss of taste or smell Headaches Fatigue / feeling of tiredness Nasal congestion / runny nose Sore throat Please understand that things could change in the future based on guidance we receive and/or community spread. Enjoy the remaining days of summer and thank you for your time and continued support of our school district!!”
And lastly, from APW Superintendent Lynn Rhone:
“I hope you are all enjoying the summer months. I know that many students are looking forward to returning to school. I am looking forward to seeing students back on campus and returning to as “normal” a school year as possible.
“We are ready to welcome staff and students back using our enhanced protocols for cleanliness. We will also continue to promote good hygiene for handwashing and most importantly, encourage families to keep their children home when sick.
“Our main goal for this school year is to have all students, PK – 12 in school, five days per week, while following guidelines which are meant to minimize risk of COVID-19 to our students, staff and their respective families.
“We are teaching and learning experts; most of us do not have a background in science or medicine and disease control. Therefore, when putting together plans for the upcoming school year, we felt it best to use the advice of experts in the fields of medicine and disease control. Plans for students and staff members for the 2021/2022 school year are in accordance with the CDC’s current guidance, which will include the following:
All PreK-12 students will attend in –person learning 5 days a week – regular (pre-pandemic) school hours;
Masks are required for all individuals (faculty, staff,students and visitors) while indoors, regardless of vaccination status;
Masks will not be required for outdoor events;
Masks are required for all individuals when on buses; (we no longer need to socially distance 6’ on buses; this allows us to transport all students to school, every day, without a problem.)
Physical distancing of three feet indoors, where possible, with local discretion (this means that we will be socially distanced 99.0% of the time, but if on occasion students are closer than 3’, it is acceptable according to guidance; as mentioned previously, they will still be masked).” “It is important to note that information and data regarding the transmission level of COVID-19 in our county, as well as throughout the United States, is changeable. As conditions change, our intentions for the unknown are to continue to look to the CDC for their expert guidance. “We continue to keep the health and safety of all staff and students in the forefront of our decision making process. “As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.”