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Safe Return to In Person Instruction

LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service
Pursuant to the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, Section 2001(i)

Introduction and Background

As announced in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)’s April 28, 2021 broadcast, in March 2021 President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Public Law 117-2, into law. The ARP Act provides an additional $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) to States and school districts to help safely reopen, sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s students. As with the previous ESSER funds available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Additional information on ARP ESSER may be found in the NJDOE’s funding comparison fact sheet.

Section 2001(i)(1) of the ARP Act requires each LEA that receives ARP ESSER funds to develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, no later than 30 days after receiving ARP ESSER funds, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools (Safe Return Plan) A Safe Return Plan is required of all fund recipients, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. Section 2001(i)(2) of the ARP Act further requires that the LEA seek public comment on the Safe Return Plan and take those comments into account in finalization of the Safe Return Plan. Under the interim final requirements published in Volume 86, No. 76 of the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), an LEA must periodically, but no less frequently than every six months through September 30, 2023, review and, as appropriate, revise its Safe Return Plan.

Pursuant to those requirements, LEAs must submit to the NJDOE and post on their website their Safe Return Plans by June 24, 2021. The NJDOE intends to make LEA ARP ESSER Fund applications available in EWEG on May 24, 2021 and LEAs will submit their Safe Return Plans to the NJDOE via EWEG. To assist LEAs with the development of their Safe Return Plans, the NJDOE is providing the following template.

This template incorporates the federally-required components of the Safe Return Plan. The questions in the template below will be included in the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG. LEAs will submit responses to the questions within the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG by June 24, 2021.  The NJDOE hopes that this template will allow LEAs to effectively plan for that submission and to easily post the information to their websites as required by the ARP Act.

Note that on May 17, 2021, Governor Murphy announced that upon the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year, portions of Executive Order 175 allowing remote learning will be rescinded, meaning that schools will be required to provide full-day, in-person instruction, as they were prior to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The NJDOE and New Jersey Department of Health will share additional information regarding State requirements or guidance for health and safety protocols for the 2021-2022 school year as it becomes available.

Template: LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

LEA Name:        SUMMIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS                   

Date (05/25/2021):                                                             Date Revised (06/01/2022):

1. Maintaining Health and Safety

For each mitigation strategy listed below (A–H), please describe how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC.

A.   Universal and correct wearing of masks

Since the state lifted the mandate in the school setting, we are no longer requiring staff or students to wear masks indoors.  For individuals who test positive for COVID-19, masks are required on Days 6-10 while on school property (in or outdoors). 

B.   Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding)

Physical distancing will continue as required by the NJDOE guidance and be adjusted (tightened/relaxed) based on changes in place for September 2022.  We continue to remain ready for the following as necessary:

  • All schools have implemented layer prevention strategies to include a minimum of 3-foot distancing in cafeterias during lunch periods. 

C.    Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

The district has made significant progress during the 2020-2021 school year in enforcing proper handwashing technique with all students, faculty and staff and will continue in 2022-2023 and beyond to:

  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students, teachers, and staff. If handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol should be used.
  • Encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue when not wearing a mask and immediately wash their hands after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Assist students with disabilities who might need assistance with handwashing and respiratory etiquette behaviors.
  • Maintain adequate supplies: Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies, including soap, a way to dry hands, tissues, face masks (as feasible), and no-touch/foot-pedal trash cans. If soap and water are not readily available, schools can provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).

D.   Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation

The district has established COVID-19 District Cleaning Practices and utilizes corona virus approved cleaning products (Bioesque Disinfectant) (Enviro Solutions ES64) to ensure all touch surfaces and classrooms are properly maintained free of contaminants. 

– These are posted on our website:  https://www.summit.k12.nj.us/district/business-office/facilities

With respect to ventilation, we posted and follow the code requirement for Air Quality and upgraded our filters to MERV-13:

Certification Letter on Code Requirement for Air Quality

Per the International Mechanical Code (IMC) 10 cubic feet per minute (CFM)/occupant and .012 CFM/square foot (SF)

Based on a 1000 SF classroom with 25 components that is 400 CFM minimum.

Outside air rate for example:

  • Standard minimum outside air operation -- 2.7 air changes per hour
  • Enthalpy mode 100% outside air (OA) -- 8 air changes per hour
  • Air needs to be filtered and heated; there is no code requiring air conditioning.
  • Summit meets all these requirements for any area designed by EI associates and installed over the past 15 years. This covers most District facilities.

We adhere to and will continue for the future the following practices:

  • Core principle for cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities: Make changes to physical spaces to maintain a healthy environment and facilities, including improving ventilation. Routinely clean high-touch surfaces (such as doorknobs and light switches).
  • Ventilation: Improve ventilation to the extent possible to increase circulation of outdoor air, increase the delivery of clean air, and dilute potential contaminants. This can be achieved through several actions.
  • Bring in as much outdoor air as possible.
  • Ensure Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) settings are maximizing ventilation.
  • Filter and/or clean the air in the school by improving the level of filtration as much as possible.
  • Use exhaust fans in restrooms and kitchens.
  • Open windows in buses and other transportation, if doing so does not pose a safety risk. Even just cracking windows open a few inches improves air circulation.
  • Cleaning: Regularly clean high touch surfaces and objects (for example, playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, toilets, drinking fountains) within the school and on school buses at least daily or between use as much as possible.
  • Communal spaces: Close communal use of shared spaces, such as cafeterias, if possible; otherwise, stagger use and clean regularly (for example, daily or as often as needed). Consider use of larger spaces such as cafeterias, libraries, gyms for academic instruction, to maximize physical distancing.
  • Water systems: Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, sink faucets, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown.

E.    Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments

  • The District is no longer contact tracing in the school setting, however, identified close contacts have the option of quarantining and remote learning access.

Students in Households of a Lab Confirmed Case of COVID-19

  • An unvaccinated or partially vaccinated household close contact to a COVID positive individual must quarantine for 5 days. They may return to school on Day 6 and wear a mask on Days 6-10 in school.    In cases where a positive household member cannot mask or isolate, the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated household close contact must complete a 10-day quarantine (with day 0 being the date of the exposure). 

Return to School

Close Contacts 

  • Unvaccinated close contacts are not required to quarantine, however is it recommended that they stay at home for 5 days, and;
    • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of their last contact with someone with COVID-19
    • Get tested at least 5 days after having close contact with someone with COVID-19 (unless they had tested positive in the last 90 days)
    • Monitor for COVID-19 compatible symptoms
    • On days 6-10 limit participation in activities where a mask cannot be worn
    • Contacts who develop symptoms should promptly isolate themselves and notify the school nurse and public health staff.
  • Vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine, but should follow the recommendations above.

Positive Students and Staff:

  • Stay home for at least 5 full days after the onset of symptoms or if asymptomatic 5 full days after the positive test (day of symptoms is day 0; if asymptomatic, day the test was performed is day 0).
  • If there are no symptoms or symptoms are resolving after 5 days,the individual can leave their home and should:
    • Wear a mask when around others at home and in public (indoors and outdoors) for an additional 5 days. Time without a mask being worn should be kept to a minimum.
    • On days 6-10, limit participation in extracurricular activities to only those activities where masks can be worn consistently and correctly.
    • Parents are advised to reach out to their Primary Care Provider for additional information and advice.  

F.    Diagnostic and screening testing

To support the students, staff and entire Summit school community, the district has established measures for the safety and health of the community.

Daily Practices

  • Due to the large number of staff and students daily screening and symptom checks are impractical to perform on-site. 
  • Regular reminders and educational tools will be sent to parents, students and staff about the importance of daily symptom checks.
  • Staff will send students with signs of illness to the health office for further evaluation.
  • The District will follow NJDOE recommendations and require that students and staff remain home if they have a temperature of 100.4 or greater. 
  • Students and Staff members should not come to school if they are sick, even if they do not suspect that they have COVID-19.  
  • Unvaccinated staff are tested weekly. 

G.   Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible

 The district has offered and will continue to offer (when available) vaccination clinics for staff, students and parents as well booster clinics.  

H.   Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies:

Appropriate health and safety accommodations will be provided to students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPS) and Section 504 Plans as stated in their plans.  See the Health and Safety Section for the District’s maintenance of all health and safety protocols established by the CDC, N.J. Department of Health, and N.J. Department of Education with regards to Universal and Correct Wearing of Masks, Physical Distancing, Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette, Cleaning and Maintaining Healthy Facilities, Contact Tracing, and Diagnostic Screening and Testing.

2. Ensuring Continuity of Services

A. Describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff’s social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services. (1000 character limit)

Continuity of Instruction:

The instructional program for the 2021-2022 school year will reflect the following:

  1. Elementary: Full day from 8:15 am -3:00 pm to include all major content areas, specials (art, music, PE, and library), instrumental, chorus, gifted and talented, and lunch. Support services, i.e. basic skills, will be provided during the school day as well as extra programming before and after school. 

  2. Middle: Full day from 7:55-2:45 to include all major content areas, electives (art, music, drama, etc.) PE, instrumental, chorus and lunch. Support services, i.e. basic skills, will be provided during the school day as well as extra programming before and after school. 

  3. High School: Full day from 7:45-2:49 to include all major content areas, electives, PE, instrumental, chorus and lunch.  Support services, i.e. basic skills, will be provided during the school day as well as extra programming before and after school. 

  4. ESL:  Services will be provided during the school day for students who are currently enrolled and for the those who qualify upon entering the school district.

  5. Special Education:   Special education programs will follow the full day schedules in their respective buildings.  Related services will be scheduled during the school day.  ABA self-contained classes will follow the same pre-COVID schedules which allows for staff training and programming. 

  6. If students are isolating or in quarantine, the will be provided remote instruction via Google Meet.

STAFF:  Staff support services and resources will be implemented through a collaboration among district leadership and outside sources, led by the Director of School Counseling, Director of Special Services and Director of Student/Personnel Services.  Staff will receive information and support and resource options throughout the year.  Professional development will include topics about the importance of self-care, practical strategies for self-care, as well as tools and strategies to support students.

STUDENTS:   Through our social-emotional learning curriculum and programs, we are prepared to address the impact of trauma, loss, isolation, anxiety and/or depression due to COVID-19. Whether learning has been in-person or remote, we recognize that students will be returning to school with different needs, and we remain committed to supporting the social -emotional wellbeing of our school community.  We will continue to integrate the services of a mental health clinician and to enhance SEL programs across the District.

FOOD SERVICES:  Plans have been made for each school to return to school-wide lunch service, for each grade level in each building.  Each Principal has met with our food service management company, Pomptonian.  They determined appropriate times based on available space to conform to CDC guidelines during serving of meals.

3. Public Comment

A. Describe how the LEA sought public comment on its plan, and how it took those public comment into account in the development of its plan.  Note, the ARP requires that LEAs seek public comment for each 60-day revision to the plan. (1000 character limit)

The Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service Pursuant to the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, Section 2001(i) is on the June 23, 2022, Board of Education Agenda under School Board Operation: B. Notice of the meeting was posted 48 in advance.  The public is given an opportunity to speak at the meeting. 

B. Describe how the LEA ensured that the plan is in an understandable and uniform format; is to the extent practicable written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable to provide written translations to a parent with limited English proficiency, will be orally translated for such a parent; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA, will be provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. (1000 character limit)

The Safe Return Plan will be posted on our website in English and Spanish.  A copy of the Plan will be sent to any parent that requests same.  Any individual requesting an oral translation or a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA, will be provided the Plan, in an alternative format that is accessible to that parent.