By Chris Paul
“Masks recommended but not required for staff and students” were the final words given at the end of a four-hour meeting that concluded the School Reopening Task Force on Thursday, July 29.
The meeting scheduled to take place on Aug. 3 was cancelled since the charge of the task force has been completed.
The task force heard from a large amount of residents during their previous meetings and came up with over 20 recommendations to the school board and voted on each of them to conclude their charge.
During the committees last meeting, public comments was heard just before they voted on their recommendations, with many of the community members asking that the decision of wearing masks be left up to individual families.
All the recommendations that were voted on may change if COVID numbers go on the rise during the school year.
The committee voted and approved on the following 21 recommendations, which were passed on to the school district and will be discussed at the Tuesday, Aug. 10 School Board meeting.
Those recommendations are as follows:
• Masks are recommended but not required for all staff and students
Visitors & Volunteers:
• Request masks for all visitors when in transit around the school buildings with the option to be removed when they meet their destination.
• Limit visitors as needed.
• Continue to restrict in-building volunteers, but they are permitted to participate in outdoor activities.
• Social distance, if appropriate and it does not impede learning.
• In-person IEP/504 meetings, but offer virtual.
• No restrictions for special services visitors.
• Have a check-in.
• Request that parent volunteer activities take place outside.
• Follow state law.
• Vaccine status remains private; ensure not to tether.
• Host the state to conduct vaccine clinics delivered by licensed professionals.
• Refer to bus company task force policy.
• Maintain the highest cleaning standard.
• Buses to child care centers to resume.
• Full time, in person learning for all students
• When indoors, follow DPH guidelines for 3 feet distance if appropriate and do not impede learning.
• No cohorts except for Moose Hill.
• Allow interactions between all students.
• Request consistent staff supervision at recess, i.e., same staff monitoring the same area.
• All people that live and sleep in the same household will need to quarantine for 10 days following a positive COVID 19 test regardless of vaccination status.
• Notify New Hampshire Department of Public Healt if confirmed positive COVID 19 case at Londonderry schools.
Sports, Music & Clubs:
• Maintain clubs and sports as they have been running throughout the summer.
• Allow outside agencies to use facilities if they follow specific guidelines.
Communication with Families:
• Multi version communication – digital, paper, bi-lingual.
• Provide information on where to receive a vaccine and update when the vaccine is available to other age groups.
Remote Learning Options:
• Full time in person learning for all students.
• Exceptions made for students that have an IEP/504 plan.
• Ensure communication with parents to make them aware of this option and how to access it.
• Nurses are to be made aware of pre-existing conditions of a student via a doctor’s note.
• Strict sick policy – If new symptoms arise, then parents are called and notified.
• Nurses to offer a list of symptoms that would trigger parent communication.
• Students have the option to eat in various places
• Recommend to keep outdoor tents.
• Allow social interaction, encourage social distancing if appropriate.
• Suggest that reopening task force remains as an advisory committee throughout the school year
• Formulate a matrix similar to that of Pelham School District.
Facilities, Maintenance, and Cleaning
• Ensure cleaning “introduction” to all students at the beginning of the school year.
• Purchase gentle and effective products and moisturizing lotion.
• Continue cleaning once a day unless there is a positive COVID 19 case. The exception to this is Moose Hill, cleaning twice a day, in-between sessions.
• Continue ventilation as a critical component.
• Open windows where appropriate for fresh air.
• Allow and encourage outdoor teaching and learning.
• Allow sanitizer from home.
• Allow field trips.
• Ensure risk assessment is updated to include COVID 19 risk.
Addressing Social, emotional, and mental health needs
The district continues to hold student and staff mental health to high priority and remains committed to focusing on relationship building as schools reopen. District initiatives already in place to support social emotional needs include: social-emotional curriculum, advisory time, and a district mental health committee. Other actions the task force recommends are as follows:
• Monitor all students to recognize those that need additional social-emotional support. Explore resources/tools that may be helpful in this.
• Provide parents and students information and connect them to mental health resources (including school staff such as school counselors and/or school psychologists and community mental health providers).
• Encourage the development of community-building activities for students and staff as well.
• Provide staff training and professional development regarding student social-emotional needs and self-care.
• Provide time for staff to collaborate with colleagues to ensure they have a support network.
• Promote tolerance around different choices regarding masks or vaccines. Establish respectful dialogue and an open, transparent, and safe process to discuss differences of opinion.
• Continue to research the procurement of additional resources to support increased student and staff social-emotional needs.
• In-person meetings for IEP/504 plans, but offer remotely if needed.
• If the district needs to go remote, consider in-person services for all special services.
Addressing Learning Gaps:
• Follow the RTI model at all schools.
• Screening and assessing to meet needs of students.
• District guidance plan regarding Math and Literacy.
Youngest Learner (Moose Hill):
• No cohorts at recess.