Each day we are totally engrossed by the number of articles appearing in newspapers and all over the internet on how to reopen schools safely. Although there are differences in opinion and information is updated daily, there is much commonality regarding risk factors in different age groups, transmission of the virus, and how to prevent contagion. On July 11, this article appeared in the New York Times, entitled: “How to Reopen Schools: What Science and Other Countries Teach Us.” If you have not yet read it, we highly recommend you do so.
We are delighted to announce that the Day School in conjunction with Park East Synagogue has established a team of medical consultants, Dr. Stuart Ditchek and Dr. Sarah Schlessinger. We look forward to their guidance.
Additionally, on Monday, Governor Cuomo’s office released the New York State Department of Health “Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K-Grade 12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The document is similar in recommendations to those of the Center for Disease Control, the CDC.
We would like to share with you some of the report’s key points followed by how our school is preparing to follow these requirements:
1. Face Coverings: To protect against the transmission of COVID-19, face coverings are recommended to be worn by individuals at all times. They are required to be worn any time or place that an individual cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. Students should be allowed to remove their masks while eating, during instruction periods, and for short breaks when social distancing is maintained.
- Toddlers and 3 year olds will not be required to wear face masks. They are not required to social distance.
- We are in consultation with our Board of Health consultants regarding face covering and social distancing requirements for 4 and 5 year olds.
- According to the newly released Board of Health document, all Park East Day School students ages 4 and up will be required to wear masks when not in their classrooms.
- We have procured personal protective equipment to be supplied to our employees and will also be distributing masks to our students.
- Our medical advisory team are in consultation as to whether we will be requiring wearing face coverings in classrooms, as well as outside the classrooms, and the use of protective barriers to add more levels of protection than required by the Board of Health.
2. Social Distancing: Appropriate social distancing of 6 feet in all directions between individuals or use of appropriate physical barriers between individuals that do not adversely affect air flow, heating, cooling, or ventilation must be put in place.
- Marina Libonati, from MFL Architects, has been working on room layouts to accommodate social distancing requirements.This includes layouts for the Brooks, Goldberg, Wool and gym. Our objective is to have all students in our physical facility in September if the New York State government deems it safe to do so.
- Vestian, a real estate company that specializes in preparing buildings for occupancy during the COVID-19 era, has been engaged to make sure that our building meets all health and safety requirements in terms of ventilation, air flow, heating and cooling. We have already purchased HEPA air filter machines. Vestian is also working together with our architect on optimal use of space for arrival and dismissal and erecting physical barriers where necessary. They will be providing additional signage to facilitate social distancing as well.
3. Screening: There will be mandatory health and temperature screenings for all individuals seeking entrance to the building. Additionally, remote health screening via electronic survey, digital application or telephone is recommended for parents to complete before sending their children to school. Faculty and staff must also complete a daily screening questionnaire. If a student presents with a temperature greater than 100.0°F, he/she may not go to class and must be immediately picked up from school. Adults will be denied entrance to school.
- Mandatory health surveys will be required daily.
- No touch temperature monitors have been placed at the school entrance. Anyone with temperature above 100.0°F will be flagged for follow up.
- The school nurse will tend to students, faculty, or staff who either have temperature or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. The individual will be kept in an isolation room until such time that he/she leaves the building.
4. Transportation: New York City has not yet confirmed that there will be school bus service in September. Should there be service, individuals must wear face coverings at all times on all school buses including entering, exiting, and while seated. Members of the same household should sit together and others should maintain appropriate social distancing when possible. Parents/legal guardians will be encouraged to walk students to school to reduce density on buses.
- All children should be dropped off at school. Parents/guardians/babysitters will not be allowed in the building. Teachers will be meeting the children and bringing them up to class.
- We will be using our outdoor playground area to facilitate arrival and dismissal. Plans are being made to put up a tent in case of inclement weather.
5. Hygiene, Cleaning and Disinfections: All students, teachers, and staff must be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene. Maintenance staff will be assigned areas and responsibilities. Disinfection logs will be required.
- Vestian will be responsible for training our facility’s staff in higher grade cleaning practices, regulations and expectations.
These are only some of the preliminary requirements discussed in the NYS Board of Health document. Additional information regarding class sizes, cohorts, contact tracing, food service, emotional heath and other important topics willl be discussed in future emails.
Governor Cuomo will be making his determination about school reopenings at the beginning of August. Our first day of school is scheduled for the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 8 for Kindergarten-Grade 8, September 9 for Transitional 3’s, Older 3’s, and Pre-K, and September 10 for Transitional 2’s and Toddlers. Taste of School is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, September 15. Additional details regarding lice checks and online parent orientations the week of August 31 will be forthcoming in our end of July email.
Stay safe, everyone. You and your children are truly missed.
Barbara T. Etra, Princpal
Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky, Director