On behalf of our Board of Education and our amazing staff, I extend you a warm welcome to our 2021-22 School Year. Despite the news of COVID-19 challenges, we are ready to work together to deliver the best resources and educational services possible to our students.
DCMO BOCES will be open for full-time in-person learning starting September 9, 2021. There will not be hybrid or remote learning options. When the 2021-2022 school year begins, the school will look much like it did when the last school year ended in June of 2021. Face coverings will still be required and social distancing will be maintained when possible. It is our number one goal to keep students and staff safe physically present in school.
DCMO BOCES receives students from local school districts via the home schools’ transportation department. DCMO BOCES is relying on our local partners to ensure children are not experiencing signs/symptoms of COVID-19 before boarding a school bus or leaving home. Students and staff are required to notify DCMO BOCES when they develop symptoms.
We ask for your support and cooperation in following the guidelines detailed in the school opening plan. Together, we are confident we can make the 2021-22 school year a success. DCMO BOCES has designated Coordinator of Health and Safety, Jason Lawrence to serve as COVID-19 Safety Coordinator, with the following responsibilities:
- Be the main contact upon the identification of positive COVID-19 cases and be responsible for subsequent communication
- Ensuring continuous compliance with all aspects of the DCMO BOCES’ pandemic response
- Be the county, state, and federal liaison for all matters related to COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies COVID 19 recommended strategies being implemented include:
- Mask Wearing at all times while in DCMO BOCES Buildings and on district transportation
- Physical Distancing combined with Mask Wearing, best practice of 6 feet where possible, minimum of 3 feet or greater in all areas.
- Disinfecting frequently
- Training on hand washing and respiratory etiquette
- Promoting students and staff staying home when sick and getting tested, as appropriate
- Support local health departments with contact tracing in combination with quarantine and Isolation
- Regular cleaning and disinfection of all buildings, classrooms, and transportation vehicles.
- Provide temperature screening for students upon arrival
When teachers, staff, and students consistently and correctly wear face coverings, they protect others as well as themselves. Consistent and correct face-covering use is especially important indoors and in crowded settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth or disposable face coverings that cover both the mouth and nose (i.e. homemade, sewn, quick cut and bandana & disposable masks that cover mouth and nose).
In accordance with the Commissioner's Determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, any person over the age of 2 (including all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors) must wear masks at all times indoors in P-12 school buildings, regardless of vaccination status. People with medical or developmental conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask may be exempted from mask requirements, as documented by a medical provider. People do not need to wear masks when eating, drinking, singing, or playing a wind instrument; when masks are removed for these purposes, individuals must be spaced six feet apart. All mask requirements must be applied consistently with any state and federal law (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act).
When outdoors, individuals are not required to wear masks unless participating in activities with sustained close contact.
Students and staff who are unable to tolerate a face-covering due to a medical condition will require documentation from a physician. DCMO BOCES administration will make decisions regarding students and staff who cannot tolerate face coverings due to a mental health concern or a developmental disability on a case-by-case basis. DCMO BOCES will collaborate with the home school district, which may include convening a CSE meeting to amend the IEP. DCMO BOCES will continue to obtain and maintain an adequate quantity of personal protective equipment (PPE) used for school safety purposes.
Maintain at least six feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, physical education, and music. Best practice of 6 feet where possible, minimum of 3 feet or greater in all areas. If students are engaged in singing or playing a wind instrument, at least six feet of distance between students is recommended. In physical education, ensure any contact due to activities is quick and not for extended periods of time. When outdoors, schools should encourage activities that allow for distancing and reduced contact. DCMO BOCES will create alternate plans in consultation with school health personnel on how to meet the needs of the child and staff when social distancing and face coverings are not tolerated.
Contact Tracing and Quarantine
School districts must continue to report positive cases of COVID-19 to DOH. All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must remain in isolation for 10 days from the date of symptom onset or test date if asymptomatic. Consistent with CDC guidance, individuals in the K-12 indoor classroom who are less than six feet away from an infected person with masking are excluded from the definition of close contact and not required to quarantine. DOH concurs with CDC guidance which recommends that fully vaccinated persons who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are recommended to be tested 3-5 days after exposure. Such individuals are required to mask for 10 days. Close contacts of positive cases of COVID-19 which do not fall in the exception detailed below must quarantine for 10 days and monitor symptoms through the 14th day. All decisions regarding quarantine and isolation are determined by the DOH. Below is the CDC exemption for K-12 students in an indoor classroom setting:
Exception: In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within three to six feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both students 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.
It is recommended that schools should continue to assist the DOH with contact tracing. Any students who begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 should remain home and seek testing. DOH recommends for any activities not in the classroom – recess, lunch, Support Services, etc. – schools keep records of seating charts and cohort students as possible to reduce exposure and assist with contact tracing.
All classes are in-person instruction five days a week.
School Buses and School Vehicles
DOH concurs with existing CDC guidance that all students and adults must wear well-fitting masks while inside a bus, regardless of vaccination status. At least three feet of physical distancing between non-household members should be maintained as much as possible on a school bus. Ventilation, loading from the rear forward, and alternate window/aisle seating can also help reduce the risk of transmission.
Management of Ill Persons
Any student or staff member with a fever greater than 100°F and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection should not be present in school.
Students with symptoms of illness will be sent directly to the health office and/or to a dedicated isolation area for an evaluation, and possible COVID test. Ill students will be assessed by the school nurse (registered professional nurse, RN) or medical director. If a school nurse or medical director is not available, ill students will be sent home for follow-up with a healthcare provider. The school nurse or medical director will assess students for chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies or chronic gastrointestinal conditions that may present the same symptoms as COVID-19, but are neither contagious nor pose a public health threat.
Staff will wear protective equipment when assessing the student. Staff who are ill with COVID 19 symptoms at work should notify their supervisor, leave the building and follow up with their medical provider. The COVID coordinator will immediately notify the local public health department when a positive COVID case is reported. The COVID coordinator will contact component districts when students are sent home with COVID symptoms, possible exposure and/or positive case.
BOCES will provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event an individual is suspected and/or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Return to School After Illness
If a person with COVID-19 symptoms is not diagnosed as COVID-19 positive by a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) they can return to school:
- Once there is no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and they have felt well for 24 hours AND are able to meet at least one of the following criteria:
- They have been diagnosed with another condition and have a healthcare provider written note stating they are clear to return to school
- They have a negative COVID 19 test result
- They have self-quarantined for 10 days and are symptom-free
All visitors must sign in/sign out, complete a screening questionnaire and temperature screening. Visitors will be received in the main office/reception desk and escorted to destinations by a staff member. Any items to be picked up or delivered will be brought to the main office/reception desk for disbursement. Staff and students will not be required to complete screening questionnaires.
DCMO BOCES WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR CDC, STATE, AND LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT GUIDANCE. THIS PLAN IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC PROGRESSES.
THE UPDATED FILE IS POSTED ON OUR WEBSITE ON THE HOME PAGE UNDER THE COVID-10 UPDATES SECTION.