Hudson Valley Schools Can Reopen During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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New York State unveils its official guidelines on how local K-12 districts can open their doors for the fall semester.

8/7/20 update: Hudson Valley schools have the OK to open for the fall semester, since all regions are below the COVID-19 infection limit. Districts must submit plans to New York State for reopening approval. Schools must post remote learning and testing/tracing plans online and schedule discussions with parents, students, and teachers. Students must have masks with them at all times, and schools must provide masks for children who do not have them.

At long last, Hudson Valley, a guideline to reopening schools is here.

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While local colleges have already announced their plans and policies for fall semester, K-12 schools awaited approval from New York State. Now, they have it. Twenty-three pages of it, to be exact.

In an extensive document released on Monday, July 13, the New York State Department of Health unveiled its interim guidance for in-person instruction. In order to reopen, all BOCES, charter, private, and public schools must submit an affirmation that they have read and understand this guidance. In addition, they must prepare and submit plans detailing how they will reopen and operate safely by July 31. Plans should address how districts will address in-person instruction, monitor health, contain potential transmission, and close facilities to in-person instruction if need be.

The state will decide on official reopening dates for schools at the beginning of August. Until then, here’s what they – and you – need to know about the dos and don’ts of reopening in the region.

When Can Hudson Valley Schools Reopen?

Schools in Phase 4 regions can reopen as long as the area’s daily infection rate remains below five percent, according to the 14-day average.

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They must close if the infection rate surpasses nine percent during the seven-day average after August 1.

What’s Required for Students:

  • Social distancing whenever possible
  • Face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. Coverings can be removed during meals and instruction, as long as social distancing is maintained.
  • Distance of at least 12 feet during activities projecting the voice, playing a wind instrument, or involving aerobic activity with heavy breathing
  • Daily temperature checks prior to departing for school

What’s Required for the School District:

  • Proper spacing in classrooms and common areas
  • Social distancing and face coverings among faculty and staff
  • Limited occupancy in small spaces like elevators, supply rooms, and faculty offices
  • No occupancy above 50 percent
  • Increased ventilation to the greatest extent possible
  • Hybrid models of education in cases where in-person is not feasible. This could include finding alternate spaces or times, limiting in-person instruction, and staggering schedules.
  • Designated areas for drop-off and pickup
  • Extra face coverings for students and staff who need them
  • Hand sanitizer in common areas
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms and high-touch surfaces
  • Daily temperature checks for staff and faculty prior to departing for school

What Happens If There’s a COVID-19 Case

  • Close affected area and consult with local health department
  • Increase air circulation in area
  • Send student home
  • Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting space
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19

For more information or to read the full interim guidance on New York State schools and reopening, visit this page.

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