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Superintendent's Update: Return to school '21-22

Aug. 12, 2021
 
Dear Oswego City School District Parents, Guardians and Staff,
 
I hope that you are all having a wonderful summer! I am writing to share updated information on our plans for returning to school in September.
 
As many of you are aware, school districts across New York State were patiently awaiting guidance for the 2021-22 school reopening from the Governor’s office and/or the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), since the end of the last school year. While doing so, like many school districts across the State, our district has been busy developing preliminary plans that include various options that could be considered for implementation. These plans are based upon possible reopening scenarios that the state and/or the NYSDOH might have required in the fall.
 
Late last week, all districts were informed that the Governor and the NYSDOH would not be providing reopening guidance for school districts and decisions on school re-openings would be left to local county health departments and school districts. This news was surprising, given the amount of time districts have been awaiting this guidance. Subsequently, school districts in our county were notified by the Oswego County Health Department that they too were not providing reopening guidance to school districts. Instead, we were told to consult with our individual school district’s Medical Director on reopening strategies.
 
In planning for re-opening we considered recommendations from our district’s Medical Director, updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, and the fact that Oswego County was recently (as of 8/9/2021) identified as a county with “substantial” COVID-19 spread (substantial transmission is 50-100 cases per 100,000, or a positivity rate between 8% and 10%, and "high" transmission is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10% or higher). Based upon this information, below is a list of details from the district’s reopening plan that we are planning to implement this fall:
 
Fall 2021 Plans (effective Aug. 23, 2021)
 
  1. All K-12 students will attend school for “in-person” instruction five days per week Given the significant learning and social-emotional needs of our students, the district believes that it is imperative to return all of its students to school five days per week for “in-person” learning right away. Accordingly, the district will be returning to “in-person” learning for all students in the fall, unless there is a documented medical reason (must be identified in a doctor’s note) that parents and/or guardians feel should be considered and would prevent their child from attending school “in-person.”

    All parents who have a child with a documented medical reason should contact their school principal to inform them and log on to this survey and share this information with us. We are asking that parents complete this survey by no later than August 22, 2021, if at all possible. Once this information is received, a health review will be completed to determine the appropriate supports and/or educational program that will be offered to accommodate the students’ learning needs.
 
  1. School Schedules – All schools will return to their normal operating schedule this school year.  Accordingly, all secondary schools (OMS and OHS) will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.  All elementary schools will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
 
  1. Special Education and Student Support Services  All Special Education, English Language Learners, Academic Intervention Services and 504 plan service accommodations will be provided in accordance with IEPs, 504 and student support plans.
 
  1. Preschool Committee on Special Education and Committee on Special Education Meetings In support of our students, the district will continue to have CPSE and CSE meetings for its students. In an effort to ensure the health and safety of all meeting participants, the district will continue to hold these meetings virtually throughout the school year.
 
  1. Technology Supports In support of our students and to continue to leverage student outcomes, the district will provide 1:1 technology for all of its students, K-12. This includes a computer and a WiFi mobile hot spot for all students who need them. Technology will be distributed to students at the beginning of the school year.
 
  1. Athletics  The New York State Public High School Athletics Association has determined that all interscholastic sports teams will be practicing and having contests throughout the school year. It should be noted, athletic-related health risks will be evaluated throughout the year, and all athletic program offerings are subject to change based upon the COVID-19-related health risks and/or concerns.
 
  1. Extra-Curricular Activities  The district will be offering all extra-curricular clubs and intramural programs throughout the school year. School administrators will be reaching out to parents to inform them of these offerings. It should be noted, all clubs and intramural program offerings are subject to change and/or review based upon health conditions due to COVID-19.
 
  1. Transportation  The district will provide safe transportation for all students who will be attending “in-person” instruction. Students and staff will not be required to socially distance on buses but will be required to wear a mask while on them. Every effort will be made to sit relatives and/or members of the same household together while on buses. The district’s transportation department will be contacting parents and/or guardians to clarify transportation arrangements in the near future.

    This is a link to a brief transportation survey for parents and guardians. This survey is designed to provide the district with information on whether parents and/or guardians intend to utilize district transportation to transport their child to and from school this school year. All parents are asked to complete this survey by no later than August 22, 2021.
 
  1. Masking  In keeping with the recommendations of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and per recent guidance from our District Medical Director, we will be requiring all students, staff and visitors to wear masks while indoors. When outdoors, students, staff and visitors will not be required to mask. Masking breaks will be provided for students throughout the school day, as needed.

    Should a student have a medical need which prevents them from wearing a mask, parents and/or guardians should share this information with their school principal and health office. After doing so, our Medical Director will review this information and contact parents directly to discuss additional options and/or alternatives that will secure the health and safety of the students and others.
 
  1. Social Distancing – The district will continue to maintain the current CDC and NYSDOH recommendations for social distancing. This involves three feet of social distancing in classrooms where possible, six feet of social distancing in cafeterias, music spaces (for vocal and instrumental) and during all physical education classes.
 
  1. Cleaning and Sanitization  The district will continue to follow all the most up to date CDC and NYSDOH cleaning and sanitation protocols. Our goal is to ensure and maintain clean and well-sanitized learning environments throughout the year.
 
  1. Food and Nutrition Services The district will continue to provide free breakfast and lunches for all students, per NYS COVID-19 pandemic requirements. Students will be socially distanced by 6 feet during all meals; and lastly
 
  1. Screening, Monitoring and Temperature Taking – All students, staff and visitors will be required to have temperature checks taken prior to entering our busses, offices or school buildings. Students and staff will be required to complete a weekly screening form (on Mondays).  This form must be completed prior to arrival to school, via ParentSquare. 
    
As you can all ascertain from the information listed above, our goal for the 2021-22 school year is to return as many of our students back to school full-time for “in-person” learning while also providing all extracurricular opportunities students had available prior to COVID-19.
 
I am hopeful COVID-19 and the delta variant are short-lived and more COVID–19 restrictions will be lifted as we move throughout the school year. However, please understand things may change in the future based upon guidance we receive and/or community spread. Should changes to our plan become necessary, we will share them with all of you as soon as we can.

With that said, please know that each week leading up to our district reopening, district administrators and I will be reaching out to our learning community to share more information (i.e. any guidance that we receive from the State or the County, the district’s revised reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year, school specific information, etc.). Our goal is to make sure that our community has timely information that will ensure a smooth transition back to school in the fall.
 
Thank you again for all your patience and for your consideration of this information.
 
Yours in Education,
 
Mathis Calvin III, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
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