School Safety Considerations
Greetings Cohasset Families,
We are very excited to begin the 2021 – 2022 School Year! As we prepare for the big day tomorrow, I wanted to reiterate the operational and Department of Public Health (DPH) / Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requirements that will be in effect on our first day.
In-Person Learning: “As noted in the Updates to DESE COVID-19 Guidance released on May 27, 2021, all districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week this fall...” (DESE/DPH COVID-19 Guidance for Districts and Schools: Fall 2021).
All schools in Cohasset will begin the school year in-person, full-time, five days a week:
CHS & CMS: 8:15AM - 2:55PM
Deer Hill: 9:05AM - 3:25PM
Joseph Osgood: 9:10AM - 3:30PM
Masking: Effective immediately, public school students and staff in all grades are required to wear masks indoors in schools, except as noted in the guidance linked below. Masks are not required when outdoors. All visitors are also expected to wear a mask in school buildings. Please click on the link to see the full masking / face covering mandates.
Physical Distancing in Schools: All Cohasset schools will begin the year by doing all they can to maintain 3 feet distance (edge of seat to edge of seat) in the classroom and 6 foot of distance when eating indoors. Our classroom and eating space furniture has been arranged to maintain this distance. Maintaining this distance is essential because of close-contact and quarantining guidelines.
Close-Contacts and Quarantines: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the following is the definition of a close contact: “Close contacts are defined as individuals who have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual while indoors, for at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period.”
Exemptions from testing and quarantine response protocols:
“• Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts: Individuals who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.
- Classroom close contacts: An individual who is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom while both individuals were masked, so long as the individuals were spaced at least 3 feet apart, is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.
- Bus close contacts: Individuals on buses must be masked according to federal requirements. As such, individuals who are masked on buses when windows are open are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.
- Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days: An individual who has been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and then becomes a close contact of someone with COVID-19 is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols if:
- The exposure occurred within 90 days of the onset of their own illness AND the exposed individual is recovered and remains without COVID-19 Symptoms” (DESE/DPH Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios - SY 2021 - 2022).
Synchronous Provisions for Students during Quarantine: At this time synchronous provisions for students experiencing quarantine are still being bargained with the Cohasset Teachers Association (CTA). Information will be forthcoming.
Test-and-Stay: At this time, Cohasset Public Schools does not plan on implementing test-and-stay in our school buildings.
Ventilation, Hand-Hygiene, and Staying Home When Ill: We will continue the successful practices of using Portable Air Cleaners (PACs) to improve the air changes per hour and ventilation in all buildings. We will continue the successful hand washing and hand sanitizing processes we had in place last year. We encourage students to stay home when sick.
Transportation Guidance: “By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses at this time” (DESE/DPH COVID-19 Guidance for Districts and Schools: Fall 2021). Windows will remain open on buses. No physical distancing is required on buses, and the DPH / DESE guidance indicates that no quarantines will result from riding on a bus.
Other Safety Considerations:
Cleaning Protocols: We will be sticking with our successful cleaning protocols established last year at all schools.
Sharing of Materials: We will be allowing students to share materials, although we will minimize this sharing when possible.
Locker rooms and lockers: We will be using lockers and locker rooms, but lockers will not be shared. Osgood will continue to use their successful outside of the classroom “hook” system.
Field trips: We will be allowing field trips and club trips...masks will currently be required on all buses and transportation per guidance.
Visitors in buildings: We will be allowing approved visitors into the buildings as we did pre-COVID). Per masking requirements, all visitors are required to wear masks while inside school buildings.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): We will continue to have masks available for anyone who wants / needs a mask. We will continue to have hand sanitizer available outside / inside classrooms.
Nurses’ Offices: We will continue to have separate waiting / treatment areas for individuals who exhibit possible COVID-19 symptoms.
As per. Guidance, all individuals entering a nurse’s office will require a mask.
Music: Music will be as it was at the end of the year, with spacing when playing and singing, and outdoor playing and singing when possible to do so.
Barriers: Plexiglas desk panels for use by classroom teachers when meeting individually with students within the classroom during instructional time will be in place, as they were at the end of the school year.
Heat Index: If masks are required, “heat days” may become necessary if the heat index rises to an uncomfortable and not learning conducive level. We continue to work to improve our air-conditioning in all of our buildings.
Tents and Outdoor Learning: We will resume use of tents and outdoor learning spaces.
Recess: Students will be allowed to unmask at outdoor recess.
Our main objectives remain to keep students, staff, and families safe; to provide the best academic and social-emotional environment and offerings that we can; and for everyone to remain in school. We are excited to see the students tomorrow.
Patrick Sullivan, Ed.D.
Cohasset Public Schools