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Reopen ICSD FAQs: Spring 2022

Updated May 6, 2022
 
Where and how are students in the ICSD learning this school year?
Are students and staff required to wear masks in the ICSD?
What other health and safety measures have changed since masking became optional?
What are the physical distancing requirements for students and staff?
Are all staff vaccinated?
Am I able to find out who’s vaccinated and who’s not?
Is there school-based COVID-19 testing for students and staff? Updated 5/6/22
What is the ICSD doing in regard to improving ventilation and filtration systems?
Are there daily COVID-19 screenings of students and staff?
What if my child shows symptoms, is exposed to someone with COVID-19, or tests positive?
If a student is symptomatic during the school day, do their siblings also have to go home?
I’m a staff member - what do I do if I have symptoms, am exposed to someone with COVID-19, or test positive?
Is there outdoor learning again in the ICSD this school year?
What are the cleaning and sanitizing procedures in the ICSD?
What do hand washing procedures look like in the ICSD?
How is the ICSD addressing the social-emotional and academic needs of young people?
Is the ICSD offering extracurricular activities for the 2021-22 school year?
What happens when positive COVID-19 cases arise in the ICSD?
How are caregivers notified of positive cases in schools?
What happens when an in-person class or group of students and teachers transition to distance learning?
What learning supports are available for secondary students during short-term absences?
Can students still access school meals when they transition to distance learning?
How does busing look this school year?
What is non-in-person learning and who is eligible to apply?
 
QUESTIONS STAFF MAY HAVE
What do I do if I have symptoms, am exposed to someone with COVID-19, or test positive?
I am the primary care provider for someone who is under isolation. What should I do?
If I’m in county-mandated isolation, can I still work remotely if I feel up to it?
What if my child’s school or daycare is closed?
My doctor has indicated that I need an accommodation that requires additional personal protective equipment (PPE). How do I request a face shield, or PPE beyond a face covering?
What if I need another physical accommodation in my workspace?
Can students share supplies this year?
Do supplies need to be sanitized at the end of each day?
Can I do cooking projects with my students?
Can we have parent events/volunteers in school during the school day?
 
 

Q

Where and how are students in the ICSD learning this school year?

A

All students, grades PreK through 12th, are engaged in in-person learning 5 days per week at their enrolled schools. For a limited number of students with approved COVID-19-related medical conditions, we provide non-in-person learning.

Q

Are students and staff required to wear masks in the ICSD?
  As of March 2, 2022, per New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and the Tompkins County Health Department, masking is optional in the ICSD. Students and staff who have not recently tested positive for or been exposed to COVID-19 are no longer required to wear masks indoors, outdoors, or on school buses.

Individuals returning to school after completing 5 days of isolation are required to mask in school and other indoor public spaces on days 6-10. Individuals who are exposed, or potentially exposed, to a positive case should wear a mask for 10 days in school and other indoor public spaces.

The NYSDOH also recommends mask-wearing for those who feel more comfortable wearing a mask for personal reasons and those who are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised. Our school district supports optional mask-wearing and continues to provide high-quality masks of multiple varieties for students, staff, and visitors who wish to wear them.

Click here to view our mask-wearing policy poster!

Q

What other health and safety measures have changed since masking became optional?
  The New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department have not changed any other health and safety protocols, as of February 28, 2022.

Q

What are the physical distancing requirements for students and staff?

A

The CDC currently recommends 3 feet of physical distancing between individuals. All learning spaces have been fitted with desks to ensure 3 feet of distance from center-to-center, while also inviting a reasonable level of student collaboration (i.e., while remaining 3 feet apart, students can more readily engage in discussion with one another). Because the New York State Department of Health and New York State Education Department have yet to release additional guidance as of February 28, 2022, during meals, students will continue to be 6 feet apart.

Q

Are all staff vaccinated?

A

New York State mandates that all school personnel submit weekly COVID-19 test results, or opt out of this requirement through proof of vaccination. The ICSD is complying with this requirement.

Q

Am I able to find out who’s vaccinated and who’s not?

A

As a district, we are not able to provide this information on an individual basis due to privacy laws.

Q

Is there school-based COVID-19 testing for students and staff?

A

The ICSD is offering school-based COVID-19 testing during the 2021-22 school year to support the health of our school community by reducing the risk of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our testing program consists of two different types of COVID-19 testing: screening testing and symptomatic testing.
  • Screening Testing: The ICSD is partnering with Concentric by Ginko, a federally contracted organization, to offer weekly screening testing (formerly "surveillance testing") for students. This type of testing is used to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in our school community, identify asymptomatic individuals, and inform decision-making on district health and safety protocols and practices.

  • Symptomatic Testing
    • Antigen: Antigen is now available for symptomatic students at school. To qualify for antigen testing, students must be-

      • fever-free (< 100°F) without the use of fever-reducing medications;
      • free from diarrhea or vomiting in the last 24 hours;
      • without a known exposure to someone with COVID-19; and
      • well enough to remain in school (while wearing a high-quality mask).
A negative antigen test result will allow mildly symptomatic students to remain in school while awaiting confirmatory PCR test results or while completing two additional days of antigen testing. School nurses will communicate with caregivers regarding their clinical assessment of the student, options for testing, and masking requirements.
  • PCR: The ICSD, in affiliation with Cayuga Health System, is also offering symptomatic PCR testing for students who become unwell at school. Swabbing occurs before the symptomatic individual leaves campus, and the test result is available afterward. This is an anterior nares sample (swab at the front of each nostril, not far-reaching up the nasal cavity) that students can administer themselves or with the help of a nurse.

All COVID-19 tests are provided at no cost, and participation is voluntary. For more information, visit ithacacityschools.org/testing.

Q

What is the ICSD doing in regard to improving ventilation and filtration systems?

A

During the summer and fall of 2020, the ICSD contracted with Trane, an HVAC company, to ensure all ICSD ventilation and filtration systems were fully functional. The full report is available here

Additionally, the ICSD installed and regularly changes MERV-13 filters, which surpass school district requirements and filter more particles than traditional MERV-8s.

Quarterly, ICSD facilities staff change MERV-13 filters for each air handling unit in the district. The company WCS has helped to create and maintain preventative maintenance systems and schedules. The preventative maintenance schedule includes changing filters, greasing motors, changing bearings, and checking belts/pulleys and vacuums. Every 3 months, automated work orders are sent through the Master Library System to our maintainers signaling filter change. Last school year, filters were changed every 3 months. Filter changes this year will be completed by the end of August 2021, November 2021, February 2022, and May 2022.

Q

Are there daily COVID-19 screenings of students and staff?

A

The NYSED health and safety guide released on August 12, 2021 states, “The CDC no longer recommends temperature screenings or screening questionnaires at school. However, schools should be proactive that children experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested for COVID-19 and stay home... Families should be reminded and encouraged to be mindful of indications their children may exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and to seek testing when such symptoms are present. The CDC maintains a list of COVID-19 symptoms on its website.”

The ICSD reminds families and staff regularly to check for symptoms and stay home when sick, and each component district in the TST BOCES region sent home an attestation for families to sign indicating that they will not send their child to school if they are experiencing symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms that require all individuals to stay home include: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
For information on when staff and students may return after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, see our Protocol for Staff Returning to Work and Protocol for Students Returning to School.

Q

What if my child shows symptoms, is exposed to someone with COVID-19, or tests positive?

A

For information on when students may return to school, see our Protocol for Students Returning to School (updated 3/29/22).

Q

If a student is symptomatic during the school day, do their siblings also have to go home?

A

As of October 27, 2021, the ICSD is implementing the Tompkins County Health Department’s recommendation to no longer send asymptomatic siblings home when their sibling is symptomatic during the school day. This shift will support access to and avoid interruptions to primary instruction and is supported by the following:
  • The vast majority of symptomatic students who are sent home from school test negative for COVID-19. 
  • The dismissal of asymptomatic and unvaccinated siblings exceeds requirements set forth by New York State and the Tompkins County health departments.
  • The ICSD has implemented several mitigation strategies, including screening testing, which are proving to be effective in guarding against COVID-19 transmission in schools.
  • Students aged 5-11 years have been approved for COVID-19 vaccination, which further mitigates the risk of transmission.

Q

I’m a staff member - what do I do if I have symptoms, am exposed to someone with COVID-19, or test positive?

A

For information on when staff may return to work, see our Protocol for Staff Returning to Work (updated 3/29/22).

Q

Is there outdoor learning again in the ICSD this school year?

A

Outdoor learning continues to be a priority for students’ social-emotional and academic well-being.

Q

What are the cleaning and sanitizing procedures in the ICSD?

A

The CDC states that “[t]he virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces. It’s possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes. In most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer.”

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICSD developed new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for sanitizing district facilities, which are well-established as part of custodial operations. High utilization touch areas and flat working surfaces, such as door handles, soap dispensers, light switches, desktops, and tabletops, are sanitized at least once every 24 hours when schools are in use. Custodial staff respond to requests for more frequent sanitizing as needed.

Sanitizing Procedures
  1. Thoroughly clean any of the surfaces with a general cleaner to remove any visibly soiled areas. Use a greenback sponge and wipe the surface dry. Removing the dirt will allow the disinfectant to be effective by directly contacting the surface.
  2. Disinfect the cleaned surface by using a spray bottle of disinfectant. Apply the disinfectant to wet the surface thoroughly. Allow the disinfectant to remain wet for 10 minutes, then dry the surface with a paper towel. A C3 machine can be used to apply the disinfectant in bathrooms and locker rooms.

All custodial staff have been trained and understand that these SOPs are to be carefully and thoroughly followed. In an effort to maintain fidelity to the cleaning and sanitizing procedures, custodial staff maintain accurate and up-to-date logs, which will be reviewed by supervisors daily.

Additionally, other staff members have access to disinfectant wipes to utilize throughout the district.

Q

What do hand washing procedures look like in the ICSD?

A

Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands regularly throughout the day and must do so before and after eating, manipulating shared physical supplies, and after recess.

The ICSD continues to rent portable, outdoor handwashing stations and maintains all hand sanitizer stations to make hand hygiene easy for all to practice.

Q

How is the ICSD addressing the social-emotional and academic needs of young people?

A

Learning Forward ICSD is our 3-year approach to supporting the social-emotional and academic well-being of students and staff. Our commitment is centered around 4 key tenets:
  • Students as partners and leaders
  • Educator identity work
  • Anti-racist curriculum for all
  • Structures of support

For more information about this work, please visit our Learning Forward ICSD webpage.

A list of mental health supports for students, caregivers, and staff can also be found on our website, at ithacacityschools.org/districtpage.cfm?pageid=1582.

Q

Is the ICSD offering extracurricular activities for the 2021-22 school year?

A

Yes. The ICSD continues to offer in-person athletics, fine and performing arts, and student club activities for young people.

Q

What happens when positive COVID-19 cases arise in the ICSD?

A

As individuals test positive for COVID-19 through PCR or antigen testing, the individual should isolate and follow all protocols outlined by the Tompkins County Health Department.

For information on when staff and students may return after testing positive for COVID-19, see our Protocol for Staff Returning to Work and Protocol for Students Returning to School.

Q

How are caregivers notified of positive cases in schools?

A

As of March 15, 2022, the ICSD provides broad-based notification of potential exposures, including positive antigen test results, to caregivers.
  • For our elementary schools, principals and front office staff notify caregivers of potential exposures at the classroom level.
  • For our secondary schools, ICSD Communications disseminates a weekly communication regarding cases by building to caregivers.

Additionally, the ICSD reports COVID-19 cases for students, teachers, and staff to the NYSDOH every day that school is in session. Cases confirmed on weekends and during school closures or recesses are reported the next school day. Visit the NYS COVID-19 School Report Card and select an individual school to get all reported positives and a breakdown of school-based testing.

Q

What happens when an in-person class or group of students and teachers transition to distance learning?

A

Throughout the year, educators will utilize our digital platforms (SeeSaw, GoogleClassroom in elementary, Canvas in secondary), and be sure to have GoogleMeet links for students to access when and if there are situations that require any amount of distance learning. 

We are prepared for 4 possible modes of learning this year, as temporary situations arise, including when individuals are sick, awaiting test results, in isolation, etc. For more information, view our Supporting Virtual Learning During the 2021-2022 School Year document.

Q

What learning supports are available for secondary students during short-term absences?

A

The ICSD offers Remote Lab Support for students in grades 6-12 during short-term absences (3-20 days). Goals of Remote Lab Support include keeping a social-emotional connection to students’ home schools, helping students with assignments and/or communicating with their teachers, and supporting organization.

When a student will be absent for more than 3 days, the student or family notifies the school of the absence and potential length, and the school assigns the student to Remote Lab Support. Remote Lab Support meets twice a week, typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays, via Google Meet. Remote Lab Support teachers are also available for up to 2 hours a week outside of this direct support time. Each Remote Lab Support teacher has no more than 5 students at a time.

Families should contact the following offices or individuals for information about each school’s Remote Lab Support times and links: 

Secondary students with IEPs engage in the same process outlined above for the first 10 days of distance learning. If their absences extend beyond 10 days, the Virtual Learning Plan takes over.

Q

Can students still access school meals when they transition to distance learning?

A

Yes! Meals are available at any school building (unless the entire school is engaged in distance learning) from 9-11 a.m. each morning. Please go to the school’s front entrance and tell the clerical staff how many grab-n-go meals you need, and they will call the kitchen to ask what options are available that day (our kitchens will provide meals that meet students’ likes and needs as best they can). The clerical staff will then get the meal(s) from the kitchen to give to you.

Q

How does busing look this school year? 

A

The NYSED Health and Safety guide released on August 12, 2021, states “Pursuant to the CDC's Order, physical distancing is not required on school buses.”

Q

What is non-in-person learning and who is eligible to apply?

A

Non-in-person learning looks differently at the elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12) levels: 
  • Grades K-5 (Elementary)
    Our PreK program is only offered in-person for the 2021-22 school year
    • Multi-age classes (K/1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th)
    • Synchronous and asynchronous learning
    • Unless a student’s medical situation changes, it is a year-long program
  • Grades 6-12 (Secondary)
Students with health concerns related to COVID-19 - whether a contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination (conditions that increase the risk for a serious adverse reaction) or a health condition that places the student at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - and who have supporting medical documentation via the COVID-19 Health Eligibility Form are eligible for non-in-person learning. Click here to access the non-in-person learning application.
QUESTIONS STAFF MAY HAVE

Q

If I’m in county-mandated isolation, how does that work with NYS COVID leaves and my sick time?

A

Your physician or a governmental entity (usually the county health department) may advise (or mandate) that you isolate.

What should I do? “Call in sick to work” using the normal call-in process; indicate you have been advised to isolate by your physician or health department. (Supervisors have been directed and trained to keep all medical/health information from release to non-supervisory employees). You will need to provide documentation or the order of isolation or a note from your physician regarding the isolation.

DO NOT COME TO WORK if you have been advised to isolate. Follow the directions and instructions of your physician and health department. Do not come to work until you have been cleared by Human Resources (a written clearance will need to be submitted by your physician or health department to Human Resources).

The first 10 workdays will be covered by the ICSD; you will not have to utilize your own benefit time. (It is very unusual for isolation to last for more than 14 calendar days. Ten workdays equate to a minimum of 14 calendar days.) Please note, employees can be limited from using more than three (3) instances of isolation leave, and employers may condition receipt of second and third instances of leave upon proof of a positive test.

Q

I am the primary care provider for someone who is under isolation. What should I do?

A

What does “primary care provider” mean? You are representing that no other competent adult can provide care (supervision, personal care) to the person under isolation. Who qualifies as “someone” under this scenario? Any person akin to a familial relation living in your household (e.g., spouse, domestic partner, child, step-child, parent, grandparent, etc., as well as any child or parent not living in your household).

Notify your supervisor as soon as you know of this situation and submit the appropriate form: Form When Caring for Quarantined Individual.

The leave provided by law under this scenario is for ten (10) workdays at 2/3rds your regular pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 total. If you have your own benefit time accrued, you may utilize it (1/3rd per day) to bring your pay up to its full amount.

Q

If I’m in county-mandated isolation, can I still work remotely if I feel up to it?

A

Yes, you can; simply coordinate with your building principal.

Q

What if my child’s school or daycare is closed?

A

Please note, “child” includes any minor child (including step-children). Additionally, this law covers adult children (18 or older) if they are incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. A school or daycare being “unavailable” means: (a) unscheduled closure due to COVID infection rates; (b) scheduled closures (e.g., schools doing only distance learning on Wednesdays) due to COVID response plans; or (c) unavailability of openings due to compliance with COVID physical-distancing or other COVID requirements.

Please notify your supervisor as soon as you know of this situation. Submit the appropriate form: Expanded Family Medical Leave Request.

The leave provided by law under this scenario is for up to 12 weeks. Please note, previously utilized FMLA time for the preceding 12 months will reduce this total. After the first ten (10) workdays, any accrued benefit time will be utilized (or you can choose to take the time unpaid). The first ten (10) workdays at 2/3rds your regular pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 total. During these first ten (10) days, if you have your own benefit time accrued, you may utilize personal days and/or vacation days at 1/3rd per day to bring your pay up to its full amount. The leave from work days may be used intermittently (e.g., one day a week).

Q

My doctor has indicated that I need an accommodation that requires additional personal protective equipment (PPE). How do I request a face shield, or PPE beyond a face covering?

A

Please reach out to your building leader and school nurse for these items, with the doctor’s note. Kari Burke, Coordinator of Health Services and Wellness, can also support if need be.

Q

What if I need another physical accommodation in my workspace?

A

Email or call Human Resources with a note from your doctor indicating what you need. Reasonable accommodation(s) will be supported as a matter of course. If we are unsure of the particulars of a request or unable to support a specific accommodation, you will be contacted for follow-up by a colleague from Human Resources.

Q

Can students share supplies this year?

A

Yes, if they wash their hands before and after.

Q

Do supplies need to be sanitized at the end of each day?

A

The CDC does not list classroom supplies as high-touch surfaces, and the TCHD verified that those supplies utilized by a cohort are not considered “high-touch” surfaces. From the CDC: “Clean high-touch surfaces at least once a day or as often as determined is necessary. Examples of high-touch surfaces include: pens, counters, shopping carts, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, desks, keyboards, phones, toilets, faucets, and sinks.”

If there is a positive case within the last 24 hours, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting the classroom.

Q

Can I do cooking projects with my students?

A

Yes. Be sure students and staff wash their hands before and after (and during, as necessary).

Q

Can we have parent events/volunteers in school during the school day?

A

We are now welcoming caregivers and community partners in buildings for specific occasions and purposes. Please communicate directly with those at the school if you need more information.