August 23, 2021
Dear Team POCO Families-
We hope that this outreach finds you well and enjoying a restful and restorative summer spent with family and friends! Lots has been going on here at POCO in anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year and we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you some updates. We will be sending out our “Welcome Back to School Packet” next week.
We are all aware that this pandemic is far from being over and that it is vital that we do not relax when it comes to the safety of our students, staff and community! While I do expect some guidance from the state, we are not waiting for it to arrive!
While districts across the country and state continue to struggle to formulate a plan for the safe return of their students and staff members, this is not the case when talking about Pocantico Hills. Last year, we were able to achieve something that few districts were able to emulate: a school that was safe and open from day 1! We were able to achieve this because of the support of our community and commitment of our staff! Additionally, this was accomplished by not cutting corners and by focusing on safety as our number one priority. There was not an aspect of wellness that we did not address; from air control, ventilation, social distancing, tents and cleaning protocols to the utilization of PPE (masks, etc.) and everything in between; if it could help to keep us safe we did it. So, when looking at this year, the approach that is being taken is one of: “don’t recreate the wheel”. We have tried and true procedures in place that served us well, lets keep them going with any need changes based upon regulations, science and common sense.
At a meeting of the Re-opening safety committee last week we agreed to the over-arching philosophy outlined above and to adhere to the proven guidelines provided by NYSED, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- All students and staff will remain masked while indoors. Please note, this is regardless of vaccination status
- Requests for medical exemptions, based upon documented health conditions, will be reviewed by our school physician and acted upon, on a case by case basis
- Staff may remove masks if alone in rooms
- Masks on school buses
- Students/staff may remove masks while outside
- Tents are up for outdoor classroom use
- Masks and PPE provided and available on a daily basis
- Classroom distancing of at least 3 feet as per CDC guidelines (like last year, classrooms were mapped by our architects)
- No barriers will be utilized in classrooms
- Lunch distancing will remain at 6 ft.
- 2 students per table
- Barriers will remain at the lunch room tables
- Ventilation and air control is even further enhanced. New Merv-13 filters have been installed in all air handlers (they are changed every 3 months on a minimum), stand-alone HEPA filters in classrooms and hallways. Additionally, all air handlers have had new controls installed; this allows us to maximize their capability and remotely monitor to ensure efficiency
- All deep cleaning protocols are in place
- Misting sprayers
- UVC disinfection
- Proven/approved/safe cleaning products
- Enhanced cleaning regiment
- Closed campus to start (will be reviewed again at the start of November)
- Only essential outside personnel and visitation (authorized by Adam, Mike or I)
- Utilize tech for parent/teacher meetings. We showed how effective this was and is in helping to further effective communication!
- Weekly 20% surveillance testing conducted through the county
- Initial testing of all students/staff for baseline
- PCR saliva based
- Mental health and wellness support available to students, families and staff!
- Field trips allowed if contained event for POCO kids…like the Swan Lake walk…we are doing it!!!! (Thank you Foundation😊)
- Quarantine and other protocols as indicated by CDC…there have been changes that will be illustrated and communicated
- Cohort based activities allowed
- Common sense a must
We are supporting an in-person instructional model. We clearly understand that there may be times when remote instruction is a necessity and we are prepared to shift to this model if/when necessary. Some examples of “going remote,” include:
- Quarantine as a result of exposure or illness
- CDC rules on this have been modified and will be shared
- Medically documented and supported reasons
- All requests will be reviewed and authorized by our school physician
- School wide closure
- Deep cleaning
- Back tracing
- District determination
I am so excited for this school year and appreciative of all of your support, contributions and commitment to all things POCO. GO Hawks!
With great respect,