Overall Commitment to Health and Safety
The health and safety of our students, staff, and their families is our top priority. The New Paltz Central School District (NPCSD) will continue to work with the Ulster County Department of Health (UCDOH) for local guidance. This reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatric (AAP), as well as Governor Kathy Hochul.
The following sections will be used for students, faculty, staff, and other individuals to ensure appropriate protocols, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), are used to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when on school grounds and in school buildings.
Monitoring Community Transmission
The NPCSD will follow the CDC guidelines as they relate to the multi-layered approach to promoting a safe environment for in person instruction. The strategies include but are not limited to:
- Promoting vaccination
- Consistent and proper use of masks
- Maintaining physical distancing
- Continuing the use of good hand hygiene
- Encouraging all members of the community to stay at home when they are ill and get tested
- Continuing contact tracing, isolation and quarantine
- Maintaining thorough cleaning protocols
The level of community transmission can be monitored by using the COVID-19 Data Tracker located at https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/dashboard/. The UCDOH will advise the District if significant changes arise that will impact our students and staff.
Recently, the CDC updated its guidance on mask wearing based on the evidence that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is more infectious and has increased transmissibility when compared to other variants, even in vaccinated individuals. Given that individuals younger than 12 years old are unable to be vaccinated at this time and the vulnerability of unvaccinated individuals overall, universal masking for vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff is required.
The CDC states that unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern. Although breakthrough infections in vaccinated people happen much less often than infections in unvaccinated people, individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others. Thus, the CDC and the AAP recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels.
Consistent and correct mask use is particularly important indoors and when physical distancing cannot be maintained, as well as in areas of high transmission of COVID-19. When teachers, staff, and students (ages 2 years and older) consistently and correctly wear a mask, they protect others as well as themselves.
The CDC’s order regarding masks, issued in January 2021, requires that “[a]ll passengers on public conveyances ... traveling into, within, or out of the United States ... regardless of their vaccination status, are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth.” It applies to all forms of public transportation, including school buses. Passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, regardless of vaccination status, subject to the exclusions and exemptions in CDC’s Order. Learn more about the requirement for face masks on buses here.
- The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has established masking requirements that apply to school districts.
- All NPCSD students and staff are required to wear a mask while in our buildings or on our district transportation.
- Students, staff and visitors are not required to wear face coverings outdoors.
- Acceptable face coverings include, but are not limited to: cloth face coverings, homemade sewn masks, and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
- Bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.
- Face coverings will be made available to staff and students by the District if needed.
- Students will be allowed to remove face coverings for meals and designated mask breaks. Those breaks in the classroom will be determined by the classroom teacher.
- Mask breaks will be planned. Staff will consider children’s age and other needs as a factor in determining mask breaks.
- Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering, including students where such covering would impair their physical health or mental health, are not subject to the required use of a face covering. In such instances, it is important for parents/guardians to work with their child’s healthcare providers and district staff so that an informed decision can be made on how to best meet the child’s needs at school while protecting their health and safety along with our staff and other students. Parents/guardians must provide a note from a medical provider if a child is unable to meet the required health and safety protocols.
- The District will provide school nurses with N95 masks and eye protection as they are responsible for physical assessments.
- All students, faculty, and staff will be trained on how to adequately put on, take off, clean (as applicable), and discard PPE, including but not limited to, wearing appropriate face coverings.
- Contractors and vendors are responsible for their own PPE.
- The NPCSD will obtain and maintain adequate supplies of face coverings for staff and students who forget their masks, as well as identified PPE used in the Health Offices.
Classroom Settings, Cafeteria and Transportation
The NPCSD will maintain at least three (3) feet of physical distance between students in classroom settings, to the extent possible, combined with indoor mask wearing, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
- We will make every effort to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distance.
- The following distances will be observed to the extent possible:
- Six (6) feet minimum in classrooms where students are projecting the voice (e.g., singing), playing a wind instrument, or involved in aerobic activity resulting in heavy breathing (e.g. participating in gym classes)
- Six (6) feet between any adult and another adult or student.
- Six (6) feet between the performers and the audience.
- Three (3) feet for common areas when possible.
- Any use of plastic partitions as barriers will comply with the 2020 BCNYS Section 2606. Clear plastic polycarbonate glazing has been installed in designated areas.
- Safety drills may be modified to support physical distancing.
- Educators and staff members will help students understand physical distancing requirements.
- Pursuant to the CDC's recommendations, physical distancing is not required on school buses.
- Every effort will be made to maximize physical distance as much as possible when students are eating, especially indoors. Additional spaces and outdoor seating areas will be used to help facilitate distancing.
Temperature Taking and Screening Questionnaire
The NPCSD will not be conducting temperature screenings or screening questionnaires at school, as they are no longer recommended by the CDC. Families with a child or children experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested for COVID-19 and stay home. We strongly encourage families to be familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 and if there are any indications their children might be exhibiting these symptoms, that they seek testing.
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- 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. The CDC will continue to update this list as we 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 NPCSD will encourage adults and students to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- Staff will reminding everyone in school to wash their hands frequently and assist young children with handwashing;
- When handwashing isn’t possible, hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol will be provided for all adults and students who can safely use it.
Staying Home when Sick and Getting Tested
The NPCSD will continue to encourage students and school personnel to stay home if they are showing signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19, and get tested.
- Parents/guardians are encouraged to monitor their child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their child attending school each day.
- Everyone in our school community is encouraged to get tested if experiencing symptoms that are compatible with COVID-19, as this will help execute rapid contact tracing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at school.
Schools are reminded to follow Education Law § 906, which provides that “[w]henever…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 of infection of others in the school, he or she shall be excluded from the school and sent home immediately, 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 of 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.” •
The CDC created a flowchart to assist schools in decision making if a student becomes sick or reports a COVID -19 diagnosis at school.
The District works alongside the UCDOH to trace persons with positive COVID-19 diagnoses and their contacts. Students and staff are required to cooperate with contact tracing efforts while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations.
The process for contract tracing in Ulster County schools is described by the steps listed below.
- Report the confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 to the UCDOH via a line list. Line list information includes:
- Full name, date of birth, and physical address, symptom onset date, test date, phone number and email of positive person; and
- Full name, parent’s name(s), physical address, phone number, email, and date of last exposure to positive person for all close contacts
- The positive person will be contacted by a NYS case investigator. Isolation orders will be issued.
- The close contacts will be contacted by a NYS contact tracer. Quarantine orders will be issued. Schools may have already sent the individual home to begin the quarantine prior to the formal notice of quarantine.
- Our District is required to inform the UCDOH of all positive cases we become aware of.
- If your child tests positive for COVID-19 or if they need to quarantine after being identified as a close contact of a positive individual, you must call the school health office immediately.
- Our contact tracing and quarantine protocols are based on our layered approach to mitigation strategies and have been approved by the UCDOH. In our protocols, the 48-hour look back window refers to the 48 hours prior to symptom onset for the positive person. If the positive person was asymptomatic, this period would be 48 hours before the date of the positive test result.
Below are our parameters for contact tracing and identifying close contacts as they relate to specific areas of the school buildings:
- Cafeteria: Students and staff in the cafeteria with a positive case within the 48-hour lookback window are quarantined if they fall under the definition of a close contact (within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes).
- Bus/Vehicle: Students and staff on the bus with a positive case within the 48-hour look back window are quarantined if they fall under the definition of a close contact (within 3 feet for bus rides over 15 minutes).
- Classrooms: Students and staff in classrooms with a positive case within the 48-hour look back window are quarantined if they fall under the definition of a close contact (within 3 feet for more than 15 minutes). This will require us to contact staff to understand the context of the classroom experience.
The current guidance related to quarantining for those who are fully vaccinated or were previously positive is:
- If the individual exposed (close contact) has had a positive lab confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last three months, then the individual does not have to quarantine.
- If an individual who is fully vaccinated for at least 14 days is exposed (close contact) and not exhibiting any symptoms, they do not need to be quarantined.
Cleaning and Disinfection After Illness
If someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, the CDC guidelines on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility will be followed. The District will do the following:
- Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
- Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and copier machines.
- Employees without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
General Cleaning and Disinfection
Guidance set forth by the NYSDOH and the CDC, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” will be followed. This includes:
- Disinfecting high-touch areas in all of the schools throughout the day while school is in session
- Disinfecting high-touch areas in the bathrooms several times a day
- Cleaning and sanitizing eating surfaces in cafeterias after each use
- Adhering to special cleaning and disinfection protocols in nurse’s offices and isolation areas
- Cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch areas each night