The purpose of the plan outlined here is to ensure the collective health and safety of the Edwards-Knox Central School District students and staff in the 2021-22 school year. The health and safety of our students, staff and their families is our top priority and we remain committed to doing our part to minimize the potential health and safety impact of COVID-19.
This plan incorporates the latest guidance, recommendations and requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED), as well as the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department. It is a living resource and is subject to change based on new and evolving guidance. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making throughout the school year.
The Edwards-Knox Central School District will offer in-person instruction to all students five days a week, per the regular school schedule, in the 2021-22 school year.
Erin E. Woods, Superintendent will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator for the 2021-22 school year. Erin E. Woods will work closely with our local health department. She will serve as a central contact for the district and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Elementary Principal, Lura Hughes, High School Principal, Amy Sykes and School Nurse, Erin Geer will also be involved in all aspects of COVID-19 compliance.
- Health checks & screenings
- Social distancing, face coverings & PPE
- Infection control strategies
- Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring
- Health hygiene
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Vulnerable populations/accommodations
- Visitors on campus
- School Meals
- School Activities (e.g., athletics, extracurriculars)
Health Checks & Screenings
The District has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19. The CDC website updates it’s list of symptoms continuously. These include, but are not limited to:
- 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
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as they learn more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
The attached visual describes what to do if a child is sick or if a child is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Physical Distancing, Face Coverings & PPE
The District has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining physical distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds, and transportation.
The District continues to utilize directional as appropriate, maximum capacity signage for spaces, and reminders to social distance throughout the building.
Students, staff, and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors, including on the school bus. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, when outside, and for short breaks, so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will need appropriate documentation from their health care provider and have clearance from our school medical director.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings, such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn during mask breaks.
Face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than two years old
- Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
The District will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors, and vendors on:
- The proper way to wear face coverings
- Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
- Proper way to discard disposable face coverings
Infection Control Strategies
Social distancing will be maintained within classrooms at three feet of separation between students to the extent practicable. During meals, students will sit spaced apart by three feet. When working in groups in the classroom, teachers will physically distance students at 3 feet between desks to the extent practicable to reduce the risk of transmission. Social distancing is not required when on the school bus.
According to the CDC, districts and BOCES must ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors. However, the CDC advises that windows and doors must not be open if doing so poses a health and safety risk (e.g. falling, triggering asthma).
At a minimum, where temperature allows and no other means of ventilation is available, windows should be opened to allow for some minimum level of fresh air exchange into occupied spaces.
Window air conditioning units should be adjusted to maximize fresh air intake into the system. Air conditioner blower fans should be set on low speed and pointed away from room occupants to the extent possible. Window fans should be turned to exhaust air out of the window in the direction of the outdoors. Ensure that fans are not blowing out of windows directly into walking paths or areas where individuals may congregate. Window fans that blow air into a room or free-standing fans that only serve to circulate existing air around a room should not be used.
Management of Ill Persons, Contact Tracing and Monitoring
The District requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the Nurse’s Office. If there are several students waiting to see the School Nurse, students must wait appropriately socially distanced.
PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.
Nurse’s Office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health/medical equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health/medical equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.
Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).
If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
The District requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent home. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.
Please see the attached visual of what to do if your child is sick or tests positive for COVID-19.
Return to School after Illness
The District has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
- Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation
The District will refer to the New York State Department of Health regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
The District requires that individuals who are unvaccinated who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The District requires that individuals who are vaccinated who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus and have not developed symptoms will not be quarantined and can remain at school.
The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.
Viral tests approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are recommended to diagnose current infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests. Viral tests evaluate whether the virus is present in a respiratory sample. Results from these tests help public health officials identify and isolate people who are infected in order to minimize SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
An antibody test (also known as a serology test) might tell you if you had a past infection. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.
CDC recommendations for SARS-CoV-2 testing are based on what is currently known about the virus SARS-CoV-2 and what is known about it continues to change rapidly. Information on testing for SARS-CoV-2 will be updated as more information becomes available.
Employees may be required to furnish a negative test result prior to returning to work. A note from a healthcare provider denoting a negative test result may be required to be provided to the health office prior to returning.
If an employee receives a positive test result, they must immediately notify their supervisor, follow all orders from the Public Health Department, and furnish a negative result before returning. Testing for COVID-19 is covered under the District’s medical plan. Please call the testing site or your healthcare provider before you go for testing. If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test. If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.
In the event that large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the District’s administration will work with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, especially severe illness and death. Vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for people 12 years and older and is a two-shot series.
- The Moderna vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 years and older and is a two-shot series.
- The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is recommended for people 18 years and older and is a single dose.
For more information on the CDC’s vaccine recommendations, please visit their website.
Vaccines are free of charge and are available for anyone 12 years of age and older. For information on how to find a provider to receive a vaccine, search vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you.
The District will notify St. Lawrence County Public Health Department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the District. Information regarding duration of existing closures, nature of precipitating events, and plans for re-entry must be shared immediately and widely.
To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the District has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Districts may assist with contact tracing by:
- Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
- Ensuring student schedules are up to date
- Keeping a log of any visitor, which includes date, time, and where in the school they visited
- Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program
If/when COVID-19 cases are discovered in the school, in consultation with the local public health department, the District will do the following: review seating charts and document students who may require quarantines. The District will contact families, and the child will be sent home. A list of names and contact tracing information will be sent to the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in- person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.
In the event of a closure where the district must pivot to remote instruction, synchronous learning will occur for all students.
Should students be quarantined and unable to attend school in person, work will be sent home to quarantined students and tutoring hours will be provided via Zoom after school.
The district will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.
- Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.
Hand washing should occur:
- Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
- After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
- After using a tissue.
- Before and after using shared materials.
- Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
- After coming in from the outdoors.
- Anytime hands are visibly soiled.
The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.
Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.
- Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
- If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
- Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include
- Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
- Health offices, isolation rooms
- Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
- Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
- Playgrounds (cleaning only)
- Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.
The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:
- For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
- For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
- Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.
We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities.
We will work with each family and student to determine what a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) looks like for each student and family during COVID-19. It may be different from the individualized education program (IEP) developed preCOVID-19. We will use the District’s model for all students as the basis for establishing FAPE. The District will ensure children with disabilities are included in all offerings of school education models by using the IEP process to customize educational opportunities and provide support when necessary. We will continue to use annual IEPs to plan for the traditional school year.
Visitors on Campus
Visitors and volunteers will be limited on the school campus to reduce exposures to individuals infected with COVID-19. All visitors will be required to wear an appropriate face covering. Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.
Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.
For students onsite, meals will be provided while maintaining appropriate social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.
The district will ensure social distancing between individuals while eating in the school cafeteria. Meals may be served in staggered meal periods to ensure social distancing (to the extent practicable) and proper cleaning and disinfection between students. Students will be seated socially distanced at 3feet at tables.
The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household. Adequate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals.
The district will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and should maintain appropriate physical distancing to the extent practicable.
Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering, but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses.
All buses that are used every day by districts and contract carriers will be cleaned/ disinfected once a day. High contact areas will be wiped down after the morning (AM) and afternoon (PM) run depending upon the disinfection schedule.
School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.
Whether school is in session remotely or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out of district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions.
All students are entitled to transportation by the district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.
School Bus Staff
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield.
Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Transportation departments/carriers will need to provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages.
Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.
When temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, school buses should transport passengers with roof hatches or windows slightly opened to provide air flow.
Both the CDC and NYSED recognize that school-sponsored sports and extracurricular activities provide students with enrichment opportunities that can help them learn and achieve and support their social, emotional, and mental health. To ensure the health and safety of students during these activities, the CDC recommends the following:
- Due to increased exhalation that occurs during physical activity, some sports can put players, coaches, trainers, and others at increased risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky. Similar risks might exist for other extracurricular activities, such as band, choir, theater, and school clubs that meet indoors.
- Prevention strategies during these activities remain important. At a minimum, students and adults should follow the same school-day policies and procedures during athletic and extracurricular activities.
- Students should refrain from these activities when they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and should be tested.
- Schools are strongly encouraged to use COVID-19 screening testing for student athletes, students participating in extracurricular activities or other activities with elevated risk (such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, and exercise that could lead to increased exhalation), and adults (e.g., coaches, teachers, advisors) who are not fully vaccinated and participate in or support these activities to facilitate safe participation and reduce risk of transmission – and avoid jeopardizing in-person education due to outbreaks. Screening testing may become available to districts in the Fall through the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department. Parental consent for screening testing would be required for student athletes if the district takes part in screening testing procedures.
- 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.
- Coaches and school sports administrators should also consider specific sport-related risk factors. Based on the CDC, the following factors affect COVID-19 transmission risk:
- Setting of the sporting event or activity. In general, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower when playing outdoors than in indoor settings.
- Consider the ability to keep physical distancing in various settings at the sporting event (i.e., fields, benches/team areas, locker rooms, spectator viewing areas, spectator facilities/restrooms, etc.).
- Physical closeness. Spread of COVID-19 is more likely to occur in sports that require sustained close contact (such as wrestling, hockey, football).
- Number of people. Risk of spread of COVID-19 increases with increasing numbers of athletes, spectators, teachers, and staff.
- Level of intensity of activity. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases with the intensity of the sport.
- Duration of time. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases the more time athletes, coaches, teachers, staff, and spectators spend in close proximity or in indoor group settings. This includes time spent traveling to/from sporting events, meetings, meals, and other settings related to the event.
School-sponsored extracurricular activities will be allowed to resume on a case-by-case basis. These decisions will be based upon the ability of the activity to resume within the established guidelines of health and safety, as well as with direction from the CDC, the NYSED, SLCPH, and/or NYSPHSAA.