A Return to “Normal” - Back to School, September 2021
Daily Screening: All students, staff and visitors will continue to complete the Daily Symptom Tracker at the start of each school day prior to entry. This will continue to be delivered via email, with a direct link available on our website. This daily symptom tracker will inquire about COVID-related symptoms and exposure. There will be no travel questions on the tracker, as we are no longer requiring a quarantine following travel.
Face Coverings: In accordance with the Governor’s Order applicable to K-12 schools in NJ, all students, staff and visitors (over the age of 2 years) will be required to wear a face mask while on premise and indoors. Masks are also required on all school buses and transportation vehicles. Masks are not required outdoors, during aerobic/anaerobic activity (physical education class, athletics, etc.), or during instrumental music (if suitable face masks are not available). Masks may be removed while eating/drinking, and in conditions of high heat (when “Feels Like” temperatures are 85 F or higher).
Hallways and Lockers: The use of lockers will resume, as will the use of select rooms for specialized instruction such as art, music, physical education, and library/media instruction. At TMS and THS, students will pass in the halls at the bell while being monitored and encouraged to avoid lingering or huddling in the hall, thereby using the time to move on to their next classroom.
Facilities Cleaning and Airflow: Building and Grounds Personnel are trained in the disinfecting, cleaning, sanitizing and floor maintenance of our school buildings. Each building is maintained on a consistent cleaning and disinfecting cycle, including the thorough and frequent disinfecting of common touch points during the school day. Restrooms are also routinely cleaned throughout the school day. Cleaning routines are monitored and adjustments are made in the event of a COVID-positive report in a given area of the school to ensure priority is given to the affected area(s).
Disinfectant wipes and cleaners that meet/exceed state standards for schools are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. As per the NJDOE and NJDOH, the effectiveness of alternative surface disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light against the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been fully established. The use of such methods to clean and disinfect is discouraged at this time.
All HVAC systems and filters are maintained according to manufacturer recommendations. These systems are routinely inspected and monitored to ensure optimal working conditions. To enhance ventilation, the district uses the highest possible level of MERV in its selected filters as supported by the individual system. Recirculated air will have a fresh air component, be it through the unit ventilator system and/or through the opening of windows. Compatible A/C units are further equipped with microbial and carbon filters (currently over 110 units utilize these additional filters).
As per the NJDOE and NJDOH recommendations, we will continue to improve airflow to the greatest extent possible, which may be achieved through several strategies:
- Bringing in as much outdoor air as possible through open windows. The NJDOE and NJDOH indicates that even just the cracking open of a window or door helps increase outdoor airflow, which helps reduce the potential concentration of virus particles in the air. We will not open windows or doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (such as falling, exposure to extreme temperatures, or triggering asthma symptoms), or if doing so would otherwise pose a security risk.
- Utilizing school-approved fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows and
- Utilizing exhaust fans in restrooms and kitchens.
School Schedule: All students will be provided with full day, onsite instruction for the 2021-22 school year. Options for full-virtual learning programs no longer exist.
The Instructional Day: The curricular program will be delivered in traditional, Tenafly style to promote critical thinking and engagement, incorporate peer collaboration, and support individualized achievement through differentiated instruction for all students in the classroom. We will strive for 3 feet between students whenever possible and space in all learning environments will be optimized to the greatest extent possible.
Lunch: We will follow lunch as indicated on each respective school’s daily bell schedule. Cafeterias, gymnasiums, and other designated locations previously used for lunch will be utilized. When possible, schools may also offer additional spaces for eating.
When serving students, we will practice expediency and opt for “grab and go” meals whenever possible. Students are not to share their food with other students. An individual’s eating area is to be cleared promptly after their meal is finished, disposing of all meal-related articles. Students are to resume mask wearing immediately upon meal completion.
Areas designated for lunch are intended primarily for lunch purposes, not socialization. Whenever possible, students/classes will move on to recess or another designated area in the school promptly following meal completion. All eating areas will continue to be cleaned before, in-between, and after mealtimes.
Students will be routinely reminded and monitored for the demonstration of healthy practices during lunch which include, but are not limited to:
- Sanitization/hand-washing prior to and following their meal
- Designated space for eating will be optimized. Seated students will be spaced apart as much as possible, be it at tables and/or between tables
- Students eating at non-table areas are to keep healthy distance between them during meal time
- Schools will offer outdoor eating areas to students/classes whenever possible
In schools where student seating choice is permitted, lunch tables will be identified by number or other system. Students should note the number of the table they eat at each day, as this will assist in any potential contact tracing that may be required in the event of a COVID case.
SACC, Clubs and Extracurricular Activities: Before and After-School Child Care (SACC) will run in its usual format this year, as will clubs and extracurricular activities. The procedures and protocols in place during the school day will carry over into all of these school-supported and school sponsored activities. School-sponsored clubs at all levels will also proceed in an in-person format. At the elementary level, clubs sponsored by HSAs will operate at the discretion of each respective HSA and families should await updates on this from their school’s HSA.
Athletics: Athletics will take place in their traditional format, abiding by the protocols in place for our schools. This includes the wearing of masks when indoors and NOT engaged in high aerobic/anaerobic activities. Tenafly Athletics may have additional precautionary measures in place which all athletes are expected to follow for participation in their respective sport.
Contact Tracing: The district remains required to contact trace following reports of positive COVID cases received by the District. These COVID cases must be reported to the local health officials who then provide recommendations on following actions. Exposure continues to be defined as being within 6ft of COVID-positive individual during their period of infectivity - which is within 48 hrs of symptom onset or positive test - for 15+ minutes in a 24-hour period. The actions that follow then depend on the exposed individual’s vaccination status.
Vaccination: Vaccination has been deemed the greatest protection against COVID-19 to date. All individuals are considered unvaccinated until they have provided a copy of their vaccination record OR documentation to support a positive COVID diagnosis within the past 90 days. Students' vaccination cards are to be emailed to the building principal and school nurse. The nurse should also be in receipt of documentation for any student who has been diagnosed with COVID in the past 90 days. These individuals, as well as any vaccinated individual, do not have to quarantine or be exempt from any class, sport or activity if they have close contact exposure to COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic. Any staff or student who does not have a vaccination card or proof of a positive test within the past 90 days on record will be deemed as unvaccinated and will be required to follow the *related regulations in the event of exposure. As vaccination opportunities are presented to our district, we will communicate them to the community members who may benefit from them.
PK-12 School Personnel: In accordance with the Governor’s Order applicable to K-12 schools in NJ issued on August 23, 2021, all school staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021 or undergo regular testing.
Virtual Participation Offerings for COVID-related Absences: The protocols followed for absent students will be differentiated between absences specifically related to COVID and all other absences. As per the NJDOE and the NJDOH guidance for K-12 Schools in The Road Forward, COVID-related absences meet specific criteria, as outlined in *COVID-Exclusion Criteria and Timeframes. These instances only will afford the absent student the opportunity to attend class virtually ONCE the absence has been verified as such by the school nurse, principal or designee. A classroom teacher does not have the authority to offer virtual instruction to a student until the absence has been approved by the school nurse, principal or designated staff member.
Once an absence has been deemed COVID-related, a link to virtual class participation will be enabled and shared with the student/parent as soon as possible. This may not always be provided at/before the start of the school day, and virtual participation may not be available in every class.
Since instruction will be designed for in-person instruction, the extent to which a virtual student will be able to participate may be limited and virtual links may not be available for all courses every day. Depending on the learning activities, work may be sent home for the child and/or alternative at-home activities may be provided by the teacher. As with any student absent due to illness, the student/parent is encouraged to email the teacher(s) with any questions and/or for assistance.
In the event an absence exceeds 3 school days, and depending on the individual student’s needs, the teacher may recommend offering individualized virtual instruction on/after day 4 of the COVID absence. If this is recommended by the teacher, it is expected that the parent/student will make every effort to accommodate the time that the teacher is able to offer. This may be during the teacher’s assigned prep time, lunch or after school hours.
The health of our students remains our primary concern. Students absent due to COVID who are not well enough for school participation should not be encouraged to attend via the virtual link. Rather, their health should be tended to and proper rest and care provided until such time they are healthy enough to participate in virtual fashion.
All Other Absences: TBOE Policy and Regulation 5200 will apply to any absence that does not meet the *COVID- criteria as outlined; such absences will not result in virtual attendance to class.
Potential Large Group/Class Quarantines and School Closures: All COVID cases will continue to be reported to the local health officials for review and recommendation for action. In the event COVID reporting results in the recommendation by the local health officials to quarantine a widespread group, like a classroom(s) or school, virtual instruction will be provided to the affected group in ways commensurate with the district’s in-person instructional program. The daily schedule will continue to be implemented to the greatest extent possible. Students who may face this situation should be prepared to participate in the instructional day in a remote fashion for the duration of the quarantine as determined by the local health officials in order that these school days count towards the district’s 180-day requirement in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9.2.
Students with Documented Individualized Education Plans: Modifications of these protocols, in accordance with relevant policies, may be made for students who have a documented Individualized Education Plan. Parents are encouraged to reach out to their child’s case manager with any questions relative to their child’s specific learning plan.
Special Circumstances: If you have a concern regarding a specialized circumstance, please reach out to the main office of your child’s school to be properly and promptly assisted. Our administration will do its very best to promote the daily operations of our schools while mitigating COVID risk on behalf of the health and safety of our Tenafly community.