Our Path Forward 2021-22

COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention Plan for the 2021-22 School Year 

Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, this prevention plan should be considered a living document and will be updated frequently as more information becomes available, or as situations change. 

The Monticello Central School District has been guided by the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the requirements from the Sullivan County Department of Public Health, in the creation of its COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention Plan. Our focus continues to be having all our students safely back in school, five days a week. We will not offer a remote option to students. In order to keep our community safe, layering multiple prevention strategies is essential.

The multiple prevention strategies we will continue to employ include: daily health screening, social distancing, cohorting when possible, improved ventilation and air quality, handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick with symptoms of infectious illness including COVID 19 and getting tested, and regular cleaning to help reduce transmission risk.

1. Promoting Vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination among all eligible students as well as teachers, staff, and household members is the most critical strategy to help schools safely resume full operations. MCSD will continue to provide vaccination information to all eligible students and staff throughout the year.

For faculty, staff and students ages 12-17 Sullivan County Public Health offers Pfizer doses every Wednesday from 2-6 pm at its offices at 50 Community Lane in Liberty. Interested individuals may walk in or register at: sullivanny.us/Departments/Publichealth/COVIDvaccines/clinics

2. Universal Indoor Masking

When teachers, staff, and students consistently and correctly wear a mask, they protect others as well as themselves. Consistent and correct mask use is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Monticello Central School District requires universal masking indoors in all MCSD school buildings at all times, except when eating. Mask breaks are only recommended when students are outdoors, or able to be at a distance of greater than six feet from other students. Masks will not be required during outdoor school activities.

During school transportation:

Passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, regardless of vaccination status. Siblings will be seated together, and seats will be assigned to facilitate contact tracing. Bus windows must be open while students are on the bus. MSCD will provide masks to staff and students who need them (including on buses)

3. Physical Distancing

MCSD will maintain at least three (3) feet of physical distance between students within classrooms and all indoor spaces in our schools, including our school buses, when possible. A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, when possible. The exception to the three-foot guidance is in band, chorus, general music (when singing or using recorders), which must maintain the six (6) feet of physical distance between students indoors when not masked, otherwise three (3) feet is appropriate.  Orchestras will move to three (3) feet of physical distance between students, as the use of those instruments does not produce aerosols. Dance, physical educational and theater must continue to maintain six (6) feet of distancing when possible.

Cohorting

Cohorting means keeping people together in a small group and having each group stay together throughout an entire day. Cohorting can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, and particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. 

Students will have assigned seating on buses, cafeterias and classrooms as much as feasible to enable staff to identify close contacts to a positive student. 

Emma C. Chase, George L. Cooke, and Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary schools will arrange students in cohorts, or pods, by class. Students will remain in their classrooms for much of the day, including lunch, but may leave to attend some special area classes. Some special area teachers may push into classrooms. Some staff may work in more than one pod, but we will limit cross-pod staffing as much as possible. Each cohort or pod will enter and exit the building through a unique entrance.

RJK Middle School students will be in pods with 18-20 students. Core teachers will rotate to each room on student assigned teams. Students will leave classrooms for some exploratory classes like technology and art while others will push into the classrooms. Students will attend physical education classes in the gymnasium or outside when weather permits. To allow for social distancing, we will be using the cafeteria, gymnasium, and outdoors (weather permitting) for lunch. Some teachers will be assigned to classes at both SJS\ and RJK and in limited circumstances virtual instruction will be utilized to accommodate shared staff.

We are unable to cohort at the high school level, as it would adversely affect course offerings.

4. Screening and Screen Testing

We will continue to have daily health screenings in all district buildings.

Students and staff will undergo a temperature screening when entering the building. By swiping into the buildings, staff will attest to the daily health screening questionnaire. Students and parents/guardians will complete periodic (i.e., at least once per week) health screening questionnaires. The five health screening questions are as follows:

1. Have you had COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days? These symptoms include sore throat, cough, chills, body aches for unknown reasons, shortness of breath for unknown reasons, loss of smell, loss of taste, or fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Have you had a positive diagnostic COVID-19 test in the past 14 days?

3. Have you had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and are unvaccinated?

4. Have you been under quarantine and not cleared to return to work?

5. Have you traveled internationally in the past 14 days?

Individuals may elect to have screening testing. Screening testing identifies infected people, including those with or without symptoms (or before development of symptoms) who may be contagious, so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission. In K-12 schools, screening testing can help promptly identify and isolate cases, quarantine those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated, and identify clusters to reduce the risk to in-person education. CDC guidance provides that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to participate in screening testing and do not need to quarantine if they do not have any symptoms. If conducted by the district, screening testing will be done in a way that ensures the ability to maintain confidentiality of results and protect student, teacher, and staff privacy.

Consistent with state legal requirements and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we must obtain parental consent for minor students and assent/consent for students themselves in order to screening test any student.

5. Ventilation and Improved Air Quality

Improving ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. This can be done by opening multiple doors and windows and using child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows. Window fans (on the exhaust setting) may be used to cross ventilate rooms and fans should be pointed away from people, and not be used to recirculate air in a classroom. All classrooms have an air filtration unit.

During transportation, in buses and other forms of transportation, windows will be kept open if doing so does not pose a safety risk. Keeping windows open a few inches improves air circulation.

6. Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

People should practice handwashing and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) to keep from getting and spreading infectious illnesses including COVID-19. Our schools will monitor and reinforce these behaviors and provide adequate handwashing supplies. Staff members are encouraged to

  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Remind everyone in the facility to wash hands frequently and assist young children with handwashing.
  • Demonstrate the appropriate use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol (for teachers, staff, and older students who can safely use hand sanitizer). Hand sanitizers should be stored up, away, and out of sight of young children and should be used only with adult supervision for children under six (6) years of age.

7. Staying Home when Sick and Getting Tested

Students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of schools and prevent spread to others.

The district requires students or staff with a temperature of higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home.

Students must wear a mask while in the isolation area. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

Return to School after Illness

The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with Sullivan County Public Health Services, about the requirements for determining when individuals (regardless of vaccination status) who exhibit COVID-like symptoms can return to school. Those individuals who DO NOT test positive and are not directly linked to a positive case can return to school when they are able to show:

1. Symptom resolution for at least 24 hours, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation, and

2. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation with alternative diagnosis, or

3. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result.

Students who test positive or who are direct contacts of a positive may return to school once they are released from Isolation or Quarantine by the Department of Health and the release has been sent into the school nurses office for clearance to return to school. 

8. Contact Tracing in Combination with Isolation and Quarantine

Monticello Central School District will continue to report positive cases of COVID to Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS) and will continue to contact trace any close contacts of an infected individual. Consistent with CDC and SCPHS guidance, close contacts are people who have been within six (6) feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Unvaccinated individuals who have been deemed a close contact who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be referred to SCPHS for quarantine.

At this time, vaccinated individuals will not be considered close contacts and will not be referred to SCPHS. However, vaccinated close contacts should self monitor for symptoms and should be tested 3-5 days after exposure if they become symptomatic. Fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine at home following an exposure (they can continue to attend school in person and participate in other activities), so long as they have no symptoms of COVID-19.

Any individual who does not want to be referred to SCPHS as a close contact because they are vaccinated will need to provide proof of vaccination to the district representative responsible for contact tracing in the building.

In the K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within three (3) to six (6) feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) 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.

Please know that contact tracing is an involved process and parents may not immediately receive a call from NYSDOH contact tracers. All close contacts whose quarantine is ending will receive an official quarantine release letter from DPH sent to their email. Students will not be allowed to re-enter school without this release letter which signifies their quarantine is officially over.

Instruction During Quarantine

Student work will be posted, shared, and transmitted through the school’s learning management system (LMS). All students and faculty/staff will be issued a district device. Additionally, students who suffer from a lack of or inconsistent broadband access at home may request a district hotspot from their building principal.

9. Cleaning and Disinfection

In general, MCSD will clean and disinfect buildings once a day. Per CDC guidance, cleaning once a day is enough to sufficiently remove any potential virus that might be on surfaces. If an individual who has tested positive has been in a district space, that space will be closed, cleaned and disinfected before the space is reoccupied.

Cleaning products will be made available in each district building, if individuals would like to clean more frequently.

School nurse contacts:

Emma C. Chase Elementary School

Susan Poli, RN/School Nurse
Phone: (845) 888-2471, Ext. 5
Fax: (845) 888-2029

George L. Cooke Elementary School

Nancy Soldwedel, RN/School Nurse
Cherie Degraw, LPN/Health Assistant
Phone: (845) 794-8830, Ext. 5
Fax: 845-796-5006

Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School

Michele Rosenstein, MSN/RN/School Nurse Teacher
7 August 26, 2021
Lorraine Gervais-Jones, LPN/Health Assistant
Phone: (845) 794-4240, Ext. 5
Fax: (845) 796-5036

Robert J. Kaiser Middle School

Kimberly Webalowsky RN/School Nurse
Christina Bendi, LPN/Health Assistant (St. John Street School)
Jody Russell, LPN/Health Assistant
Phone: (845) 794-3058 Ext. 5
Fax: (845) 796-5035

Monticello High School

Victoria Degraf, RN/School Nurse
Phone: (845) 794-8840 Ext. 5
Fax: (845) 796-5037

Building-level plans

Each individual school has also created a building-specific plan. Please review the plan of your child’s school below. 

Emma C. Chase Elementary School COVID-19 mitigation plan

George Cooke Elementary School COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School COVID-19 mitigation plan 

Robert J. Kaiser Middle School COVID-19 mitigation plan 

Monticello High School COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention Plan

Community Forum 

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the district held a virtual community forum to discuss COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the 2021-22 school year, and to allow for community members to have their questions answered. 

A recording of the full presentation, including community Q&A is available below. The presentation, without narration or Q&A is also available. All community members who were unable to attend the session are encouraged to watch the videos to learn more about what to expect in the upcoming school year. 

Full recording with Q&A:

Presentation Only: