Back-To-School Plan 2021-2022

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District
Back-to-School Plan
2021-2022 School Year
(Updated Sept. 3, 2021)

 This plan will be modified as more information becomes available.  

Overall Goal 

The district’s goal is unwavering: we are committed to bringing back all Monroe-Woodbury students for in-person, full-time instruction in our school buildings for the 2021-2022 school year. Partnering with parents and community members, the district will maximize teaching and learning opportunities for all students and staff in a safe, supportive environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught school districts very important lessons. We have learned to adapt and adjust educational and operational strategies and activities, while managing the risks from COVID-19 for staff and students. The increasing infection rate and the spread of the Delta variant give rise to ongoing uncertainty as we prepare for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. These factors reinforce the need for flexibility, patience and a laser focus on doing all that we can to keep our students in school. 

Please note that this plan is a living document and will be altered as new guidance from the federal, state and local level becomes available. The district will continue to monitor community transmission as well.

Guidance and Resources

We will begin the year with all students being educated in-person while monitoring the local infection rates as the school year progresses. The NYS Department of Health has mandated masks statewide in public schools. In addition, the NYS Education Department released a “Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year in August 2021, from which the district plan was developed. On September 2, 2021, the NYS Department of Health shared “Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools during the 2021-2022 Academic Year,” which provided additional testing mandates for school employees.

General Guidelines 

  • All students will be expected to attend school five days a week, in-person, following a typical school schedule.
  • Although hybrid or fully remote instruction will no longer be offered to all students, we recognize there may be medical reasons that require appropriate accommodations. Parents/guardians should contact their child’s building principal to have their child considered for such accommodations. A district-wide committee will evaluate student circumstances and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
  • Monroe-Woodbury has stated that all staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks while in school buildings. Masks will not be required outdoors. The NYS Department of Health has mandated masks for all public schools. This mandate is endorsed by NYSED, CDC and AAP, who strongly encourage all students, staff and visitors to wear masks, while in school. This precautionary measure will help maximize protection, mitigate spread and reduce the need for quarantine. 
  • The CDC guidance document defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 
  • Exception in the K-12 indoor classroom setting: the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3-6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. 
  • Masks must be worn by all drivers and passengers while on district transportation.
  • Multiple prevention strategies including cleaning, disinfecting, physical distancing, etc., will be maintained (an extension of 2020-21 protocols).
  • All extracurricular activities and athletics will proceed in a typical fashion. Section IX requires athletes and spectators at indoor athletic contests to wear masks. Masks are not required, however, for athletes and spectators at outdoor events.

Social-Emotional Support

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District understands that the social-emotional well being of our students and staff is critically important, even more so as we deal with the effects of a long-term public health crisis. As a result, a number of social-emotional supports have been created to address the mental health, behavioral and emotional needs of the Monroe-Woodbury school community, including staff, students and families.

The district is committed to supporting M-W staff, families and students to help them identify, understand and respond to the pandemic stress. Monroe-Woodbury has been working with iOpening Enterprises to provide resources for students, staff and families. This collaboration with Dr. Pickens and iOpening Enterprises began in the spring/summer of 2020 as the impact of the pandemic and remote learning on students, staff and families became increasingly apparent. The objective is to provide support and coping mechanisms through a series of events and workshops for the staff as well as high school students and families, with a focus on resilience during these times.

While iOpening Enterprises’ work is focused primarily on the adults and older students in the district, the elementary schools are working with Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. In December 2012, Jesse Lewis was among the children who lost their lives so tragically at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His mother, Scarlett, soon thereafter began sharing the message he had left on her chalkboard: Nurturing. Healing. Love. Scarlett Lewis has visited Monroe-Woodbury several times to share her message with students, staff and families.

Choosing Love means choosing to live a life with Courage and Gratitude, practicing Forgiveness, and being Compassionate individuals. Being able to Choose Love promotes resilience in challenging times. Using a curriculum developed by educators and mental health clinicians, children learn personal responsibility and the understanding that they always have a choice in how they respond to situations and to others. They realize they can choose to love and show compassion. The Choose Love Curriculum helps teach children and adults how to make these thoughtful decisions.

“Choose Love” is currently being implemented in K-5 buildings. For parent resources, please visit: https://www.jesselewischooselove.org/choose-love-home/.

Visit the district’s social-emotional support page for additional resources for staff, students and families.


The M-W Back-to-School Plan includes a multi-tiered preventative approach that includes:

Masks

Aligned with the state DOH universal mandate and as recommended by NYSED, CDC and AAP, all students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks while inside school buildings. Exceptions may be made when students and staff are able to be greater than six feet apart, during scheduled mask breaks, and while eating lunch.

Masks must be worn at all times by drivers and passengers while on district transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required  outdoors. 

The CDC Guide to Masks is an excellent resource for families. It provides clear information about the “do’s and don’ts” of mask wearing, designed to help keep everyone in school buildings safe.

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

The CDC recommends that covering coughs and sneezes can help keep educators, staff and students from getting and spreading COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses.

The CDC recommends that educators and school leaders reinforce good etiquette in school by:

  • Encouraging adults and students to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; 
  • reminding everyone to wash their hands frequently and to assist young children with handwashing; 
  • and when hand washing isn’t possible, providing hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol for all adults and students who can safely use it.

The district will provide hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes in all classrooms.

Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

The district will maintain all cleaning and disinfecting protocols that were established during the 2020-2021 school year, which includes daily cleaning of desks and common areas. The CDC provides  guidance for cleaning and disinfecting schools.  Schoolwide cleaning will include classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, libraries, and hallways. Classrooms where quarantining is required will receive additional cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and areas must be constantly cleaned and disinfected with a school appropriate disinfectant. 

Ventilation in Schools

The district is committed to upgrading ventilation systems in the schools and will encourage teachers to open windows in classrooms when the weather allows.

Staying Home When Sick

The CDC recommends that:

  • Students and school personnel should stay home if they are showing signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19, and get tested;
  • Parents/guardians are encouraged to screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their child attending school each day;
  • Schools should encourage everyone in their school community to get tested when symptoms are compatible with COVID-19, as this will help with rapid contact tracing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at school.
  • Schools are reminded to follow Education Law § 906, which states: “[w]whenever…a student in the public schools shows symptoms of any communicable or infectious disease reportable under the public health law that imposes a significant risk or infection of others, in a safe and proper conveyance. The director of school health services shall immediately notify a local public health agency of any disease reportable under the public health law…the director of school health services, or other health professionals acting upon direction or referral of such director, may make such evaluations as teachers and any other school employees, school buildings and premises as, in their discretion, they may deem necessary to protect the health of the students and staff.”

Protocol for Identifying Sick Students and Staff 

The most commonly known symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.  A student or staff member who presents with any of these symptoms is immediately sent (or escorted) to a designated isolation room where a school nurse will assess them. A building administrator will be notified of an isolated student/staff member. A parent/guardian will be called to pick up the student and follow up with their Health Care Provider. Staff members should be directed to see their Health Care Provider as well. The Health Care Provider will determine if presenting symptoms warrant COVID-19 testing/isolation.

A separate log will be kept for all individuals entering or supervising the isolation room to help with contact tracing if necessary.

Social Distancing 

Social distancing of three feet is a priority when possible while students and staff are inside the school. Six feet is required during indoor physical education activity, music classes involving singing or wind instruments, and while eating lunch. 

Close Contacts and Students Who Quarantine 

The CDC guidance defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. However, in the K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition “excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected students and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.” This exception does not apply to teachers, staff or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.

Fully vaccinated persons who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure. Close contacts of positive cases of COVID-19 which do not fall in the exception detailed above must quarantine for 10 days and monitor symptoms through the 14th day. They should continue to wear a mask indoors for 14 days after the exposure or until their test result is negative. 

For individuals who are not fully vaccinated, quarantining may be necessary after an exposure. The close contact should quarantine for 10 days after a known exposure. They have the option to shorten that timeframe to 7 days if they receive a negative test result. The test must occur on day 5 or later after the exposure.   

Monroe-Woodbury will not be offering hybrid or fully remote instruction. However, there may be circumstances that may require us to pivot to remote instruction in the event a classroom needs to quarantine or a school needs to close. 

Since there is no remote option, we will be following a home instruction model for students that are confirmed to need to quarantine on an individual basis (regardless of whether the exposure happens in school or outside). Teachers will maintain a Google Classroom for every class and/or course, and if a student is required to quarantine, they will access classwork through a combination of Google Classroom and/or materials compiled by the teacher for the parent to pick up. Classes will not be livestreamed. However, students will also be given daily access to synchronous virtual instructional support by a certified Monroe-Woodbury teacher. This instructional support will be in addition to the weekly extra help that all teachers offer. 

Response to a Positive COVID-19 Case 

If a student/staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 and was in a school building: 

  • The student/staff member is immediately excluded from attending school (see below for Return to School procedure) 
  • The COVID-19 Coordinator immediately contacts the local DOH to report positive results. 
  • DOH will provide direction regarding closure of school/schools in the district if needed.  
  • Administration will notify families and staff of any positive case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality. All those who have had close contact with a positive COVID-19 student/staff member must be directed to stay home and self monitor for symptoms.   
  • The CDC has defined a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, starting from 48 hours (about 2 days) before illness onset until the time the person was isolated. Exception: In the 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(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. 
    • This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. 
  • Anyone who has been deemed a close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 10 days after exposure if they do not have symptoms based on the time it takes to develop illness. Should they develop symptoms they must notify school administrators and their Health Care Provider. 
  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not experiencing symptoms may return upon completing at least 10 days of isolation from the date of the positive test and with a release from isolation letter issued by the 
  • DOH.  
  • Return to school/work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 with symptoms: 
  • 72 hours with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms have improved and 10 days since symptoms first appeared. 
  • Student/staff member must present clearance prior to returning to school. This can be a “letter of release” from the NCDOH (if a confirmed case) or a clearance note from their Health Care Provider (if a suspected case). 

Appropriate Accommodations

Students may be considered for appropriate accommodations based on medical conditions. Parents/guardians should contact their child’s building principal, who will gather more information about the student. Parents/guardians may be asked to complete a questionnaire providing more details. A medical note should be submitted to the student’s building principal as well. 

This information will be reviewed by a districtwide committee consisting of administrators and health personnel who will make a final determination.

Should a student be deemed exempt from in-person learning due to a medical condition, arrangements will be made for home instruction.


Staff Vaccination Status & Testing (Staff, Students)

The “Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools during the 2021-2022 Academic Year,” which was released on September 2, 2021, includes a new state law related to COVID-19 testing in school

Page 12 of the Guidance (please see attached) reads:

Screening testing:

Requires unvaccinated teachers and staff working in a P-12 school setting, as defined in the determination, to get tested once per week when a school is operating in a geographic area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has having low, moderate, substantial or high transmission rates.

P-12 schools are required to offer screening testing to students once per week, with appropriate parent and guardian consent for minors, when such schools are operating in geographic areas identified by the CDC as having moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates.

Diagnostic testing:

Requires that schools have the capacity (either directly or via referral) to provide diagnostic testing for students, teachers, and staff, regardless of vaccination status and community level of transmission when such individuals are either (1) symptomatic; or (2) asymptomatic with an exposure to someone with COVID-19.

The district will verify employees’ vaccination status and require proof of vaccination. Individuals who are not vaccinated will be required to complete a COVID-19 test on a weekly basis. Testing will be administered in all school buildings and at the Bus Garage. 


Lunch 

Schools will use cafeteria spaces and additional spaces in the buildings to create as much physical distance among students as possible to mitigate the spread of infectious illness. Each school has developed its own plan of maximizing its indoor and outdoor space for the purpose of providing school meals to students in the safest way possible.

  • HS – Students will be offered lunch in three areas: two cafeterias and the wrestling room; students will be 3 feet apart using desks and chairs (no lunch tables); IDs will be scanned to facilitate contact tracing.
  • MS – Students will be seated at lunch tables with barriers. Students will be encouraged to eat outdoors, weather permitting, and the gym will be used as a contingency location. Students will sign in to their seating location, where they will remain all year, and seating charts will be created to facilitate contact tracing.
  • CV – Students will be seated at desks in the two cafeterias and the former computer lab, six feet apart. Seating charts will be created by class. Barriers will not be used.
  • NM – Lunch periods are split in half, alternating lunch and recess. Students are sitting at horizontal tables  5 feet apart. Barriers will not be used.
  • PT – Students will sit at octagonal tables, three feet apart, sitting at every other seat. The lunch/recess schedule will be structured to maximize use of the cafeteria space. Students are cohorted by class/assigned to tables by classroom. Seating charts will be created by class and students will be encouraged to stay in the same seat for the remainder of the school year. Barriers will not be used.
  • SC – Students will sit at cafeteria tables, every other stool, three feet apart. Barriers will be in place. Seating charts will be created by cohort/classroom.
  • SE – Students (UPK, K, 1) will sit at cafeteria tables, every other seat, three feet apart. Seating charts will be created by cohort/classroom. 

Protocols for Visitors, Contractors, and Vendors 

Visitors will be required to wear a mask while indoors.   

Open House & Large Gatherings 

We will make all attempts to avoid large gatherings indoors where social distancing is not possible. Open house, concerts, and performances will be conducted virtually for the time being.   

Field Trips 

Field trips can take place and they will be approved on a case-by-case basis by administration. 

Sports 

 The fall sports season will begin on time and follow a regular schedule. Per Section IX proposed guidelines, athletes and spectators at indoor athletic events are required to wear masks at all times. Spectators may attend outside sporting events with no restrictions.  

Clubs and Activities 

Clubs and activities will meet in person in all schools with social distancing and masks. 

Transportation 

Students and staff on district transportation are required to wear masks. Students with a disability that might prevent them from wearing a mask will not be required to wear one, provided they have been granted a medical exemption. When the temperature is 45 degrees or higher bus windows/hatches will be ajar to allow for fresh air circulation. It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child(ren) is (are) not experiencing any signs of COVID-19 prior to boarding a school bus. The NYS Education Department has allowed flexibility with social distancing on school buses. We expect no more than two students per seat.


Facility Use by Outside Organizations 

 The school district will continue to allow use of outdoor facilities by outside organizations during September 2021. Indoor facility use will not be permitted at this time. These protocols will be evaluated and updated on a monthly basis, based on updated health and safety guidelines and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region. The district’s priority remains on protecting the well-being of students, staff and community members.