(August 26, 2021)
Dear Catskill CSD Community:
All Pre-K-12 students will return to full time in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, according to the Catskill Central School District’s preliminary school opening plan which was shared with the community at a public Board of Education meeting last week.
The first day of school is scheduled for Monday, September 13, 2021. The finalized plan was reviewed and approved by the Board of Education at the August 25, 2021 Special Meeting. At this meeting, the Board also approved our District’s Code of Conduct and District-Wide Safety Plan. Presentations on the plans are provided in the links below for you to review with your children.
The Catskill Central School District’s preliminary opening plan outlines specific health and safety guidelines, such as physical distancing in classrooms, face coverings for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting.
The District will present the school opening plan to stakeholders and respond to feedback prior to the start of the upcoming school year. A list of individual school-based virtual parent meetings can be found on the last page of this document. The opening plans will be adjusted as needed in response to the evolving situation regarding COVID-19 and community transmission levels.
Multi-Layered Mitigation Strategies
Many of the health and safety guidelines put in place last year, which helped prevent COVID-19 outbreaks and school closures, will continue indefinitely to ensure the safety of students, staff and families:
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of school buildings and buses
- Temperature checks and surveys for visitors and substitutes
- Improved ventilation in all school buildings
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Respiratory etiquette – cough or sneeze into your mask or use a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Stay home when sick and call your family physician. It’s imperative that parents monitor the wellness of their children. We strongly encourage staff and students to remain at home if they are not feeling well.
- Potential surveillance and point of care testing of students and staff in schools
In accordance with CDC and NYSED recommendations, face masks covering both the mouth and nose will be required for all students, staff and visitors inside schools and on school buses regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be optional when outdoors on school property.
Students will be provided mask breaks when seated in class and socially distanced.
*Importantly, CDC guidance also indicates that in the Pre-K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student correctly and consistently wore well–fitting masks the entire time.
Given this guidance from the CDC, the district anticipates that fewer students will likely be quarantined by adhering to the recommendation to require mask wearing in our schools regardless of vaccination status.
Schools will maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms. All schools within the District are able to comply with this guidance and fully accommodate all students for instruction.
All students and staff must wear face masks while riding on a school bus regardless of vaccination status. CDC guidelines permit busses to operate at full capacity. Windows and roof hatches will be open to increase ventilation on the bus. Cleaning and disinfecting will continue following each bus run daily.
All students will be placed on a bus route for the upcoming school year. However, if parents plan on driving their children to and/or from school, they are asked to please inform the Transportation Department to assist with our planning. Please call 518-943-4550 or email Ms. Rebecca Van Alstyne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Appropriate physical distancing will be maintained in cafeterias and eating areas to provide necessary meals to all students in attendance. Seating arrangements for students are being made to ensure as much physical distancing as possible within space constraints. Layered mitigation protocols will include hand washing or hand sanitizer before and after meals; limiting mask removal to the duration of eating; cleaning and disinfection between lunch periods; providing increased ventilation of seating areas.
Interscholastic sports will be offered to students this Fall. In accordance with CDC guidelines, it is recommended that schools currently located in regions classified as a “high” transmission zone must either cancel higher risk sports or ensure that all students participating in higher risk athletic teams are fully vaccinated. For the Fall season, this requirement affects participants in Girls’ Volleyball, Football and Cheerleading. The District is conferring with other schools within our league and the NYS Public High School Athletic Association to examine this requirement. Parents of all students including those registered for interscholastic athletics are encouraged to consider vaccination in consultation with your child’s primary care provider.
The District is also reviewing requirements to implement a surveillance testing program of student athletes among other students in accordance with CDC recommendations.
Parent/Guardian consent for testing of students is required in all cases and needed for students to participate in athletics.
Band and chorus will continue to maintain the 6 feet social distancing of students during instruction. Wind and brass instrumental instruction will make use of musician masks / bell covers for instruments to prevent aerosol spread similar to the end of last school year. Orchestra instruction will maintain 3 feet social distancing of students. Outdoor instruction will be considered as weather permits.
When indoors, students should maintain 6 feet social distancing during physical education instruction. Physical education teachers will prioritize outdoor activities as weather permits.
Classroom Desk Cleaning
In accordance with CDC recommendations, in general, cleaning once a day is sufficient to remove potential viruses that may be on surfaces. Daily disinfecting removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection. Classroom desks will not need to be disinfected after each period at Catskill High School and Catskill Middle School. Surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff. High touch surfaces will be given additional cleaning and disinfecting.
School-based decision regarding the use of lockers.
The District is discussing contact tracing and quarantine protocols with the Questar III Health and Safety team and the Greene County Department of Public Health. More details are expected on the contact tracing and quarantine requirements next week.
The district is working with Questar III BOCES, other schools and the county health department to develop and implement a voluntary Covid-19 testing program for students and staff. More details will be released about the testing program(s) next week.
Catskill CSD is committed to restoring as many in-person school events as possible this school year, including welcome back events, open houses, parent-teacher conferences, etc. Face masks would be required for any indoor events and they would be optional for outdoor events.
Full Remote Program
A Full Remote Program through Questar III BOCES is in development for medically eligible students. This program would be a regional Full Remote Program for K-12 students taught by Questar instructors. Course options may be limited at the 7-12 level.
The COVID-19 vaccine is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the pandemic. All eligible individuals are encouraged to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Currently, there are three vaccines available (Pfizer-ages 12+, Moderna-ages 18+ and Johnson & Johnson-ages 18+). If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your family physician.
The District will be sharing the school opening plans at the following upcoming events:
- Catskill Elementary School Parent Meeting (virtual) – Thursday, August 26 at 6:30 p.m.
- Catskill Middle School Parent Meeting (virtual) – Monday, August 30 at 6:30 p.m.
- Catskill High School Parent Meeting (virtual) – Tuesday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m.
The virtual invitations are included on the District’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
We look forward to partnering with you for a successful 2021-22 school year. As always, please contact me directly with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at (518) 943-4696.
Dr. Ronel Cook Superintendent of Schools