TACONIC HILLS 2021-2022 SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN

On this page you'll find the Taconic Hills Central School District’s reopening plan document for the 2021-2022 school year. Please note, this is a preliminary plan and will likely have some changes in the coming weeks as we approach the start of the school year. We will make these changes clear and known to families as they happen.

All K-12 students will return to full time in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.

The first day of school is scheduled for Thursday, September 9. The updated version of our Reopening Plan will be presented and reviewed by the Board of Education at its meeting on August 31 at 6:30PM.

By now, you are likely aware that the NYS Department of Health has informed school districts that they will not provide reopening guidance for the start of this school year, which is different from last school year.

The NYS Education Department released a Back to School Health and Safety Guide to help schools and school districts as they plan for the 2021-22 school year. The guidance of the NYS Education Department is aligned with current CDC Guidance. 

Taconic Hills CSD is creating its school opening plan based on the NYS Education Department Back to School Health and Safety Guide, the CDC guidance and in coordination with Questar III BOCES and other regional school districts. Any additional state or county guidance received by school districts in the future will be incorporated into our district’s plans.

The Taconic Hills Central School District’s preliminary opening plan outlines specific health and safety guidelines, such as a physical distancing in classrooms, face coverings for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting.

“Our goal is to bring all students safely back to our classrooms and to provide them with inspiring instruction,” said Superintendent Dr. Neil Howard. “This will take cooperation, support and flexibility of all to ensure health and safety protocols that allowed school to remain fully open last year.” 

Preliminary Opening Plan (subject to change)

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

  • 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

  • Potential surveillance and point of care testing of students and staff in schools

Face Coverings
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 determined by faculty. 

Social Distancing
Maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms. 

Transportation
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.

Cafeteria
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 as required; providing increased ventilation of seating areas.

Athletics
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 and Football. 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.

Music
Band and chorus will continue to maintain the 6 feet of social distancing of students during instruction. Wind and brass instrumental instruction will make use of bell covers for instruments to prevent aerosol spread similar to the end of last school year. Outdoor instruction will be considered as weather permits.

Physical Education
When indoors, students should maintain 6 feet of 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. Surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff. High touch surfaces will be given additional cleaning and disinfecting. 

Contact Tracing/Quarantine
The district is discussing contact tracing and quarantine protocols with the Questar Health and Safety team and the Columbia County Health Department. More details are expected on the contact tracing and quarantine requirements next week.

Testing
The district is working with Questar 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. 

School Events
The Taconic Hills 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, plays, concerts etc. Face masks would be required for any indoor events and they would be optional for outdoor events.

COVID-19 Vaccine
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.

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine

Additional Resources

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your school office.

Sincerely,
Dr. Neil L. Howard, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
Taconic Hills Central School District