Indian River Central outlines plans for reopening schools with 5 days a week of in-person instruction

Dear IRCSD Students, Families, and Staff,

I hope you are having a terrific summer with family and friends. We are less than two weeks away from the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and we have been busy working to ensure a safe and successful opening of schools. We have two main goals: #1 – the safety and health of our students, staff, and community, and #2 – continued in-person student learning. These two priorities drive our decisions and help us remain focused on the most important aspects of our work together⁠—our children.

As a reminder, the first day of school for students is Tuesday, September 7th. Using guidance from local medical professionals, the CDC, and NY State Education Departments; our collective experience in schools over the past 18 months; local input from the community; as well as recent updates released by NY Governor Hochul; IRCSD is planning on a full reopening of in-person instruction five days a week for ALL students in grades UpK-12.

Main aspects of our opening plan include the following (additional details will be shared separately):

Masking: Masks will be required for ALL students, staff and visitors, vaccinated and unvaccinated, while indoors and on buses. Frequent mask breaks will be promoted when students/staff can maintain 6 feet of spatial distance and/or be outdoors. (Effective Monday, August 30th, 2021.)

Distancing: Students will keep at a minimum of 3 feet of spatial distancing when possible in classrooms, cafeterias (more while eating when available), and other shared spaces in our buildings with greater distance during times of exertion (exercising, singing, etc.). When available, larger or outdoor alternative instructional spaces will be utilized as well. Adults will strive to maintain 6 feet of distancing while presenting, to the extent possible.

Layering of measures: IRCSD will utilize important COVID mitigation measures including as-needed testing (by nurses), hygienic practices such as frequent hand washing and proper mask usagedistancing to the extent possible throughout the day, structured student pick-up/drop-off procedurescontact tracing in combination with quarantining and isolation as needed, asking people to stay home when sick, and continuous cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities and buses.

Health Screenings: Please continue to conduct health screenings at home each morning.  Although we won’t be requiring families to respond daily via ParentSquare, families should assess their children each morning for COVID symptoms before sending them to school. Staff will also self-monitor as well as remain vigilant for any student symptoms throughout the school day. School nurses are the best resources for questions and concerns. (Again, IRCSD will not utilize mandatory app-based health screening at this time.)

Medical Exemptions: Only students who have applied and been approved for a medical exemption will be eligible for full remote instruction. This will be a very limited group of seriously medically vulnerable students. Signed Healthcare Provider statements for medical exemptions are due to O.Jeanne Dolly, IRCSD Medical Director for review and follow-up by Thursday, September 2nd.

Transportation: Students will have assigned seats and be kept as distanced as possible on our buses. All individuals will be masked at all times on the school bus. Parents with flexibility are encouraged to self-transport students whenever possible to help reduce bus ridership. Thank you!

Social-Emotional Well-Being: The District’s Comprehensive School Counseling Plan as well as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and established Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) programs will be utilized to support students and staff throughout the school year. If you or your child has any difficulties, please contact the school office or counselor immediately.

Teaching and Learning: With a full schedule of in-person learning, teachers will help students focus on prioritized instructional elements to provide opportunities for growth and, if needed, support for time missed over the past months. Opportunities for learning, enrichment, remediation, and practice of skills will continue in alignment with the NY curriculum. As always, students with specialized needs will be supported by trained providers and/or instructional staff. Remote instruction options will be available in the event schools or classes are temporarily moved to “full remote” status due to health concerns.

Food Service: All IRCSD students will continue to receive free breakfast and lunch via a USDA grant. Depending on the configuration of each building, students will eat in the cafeterias or other designated areas with at least three feet, and often more, spatial distance.

Remote Instruction: In the event a building or the district must move to remote instruction for health and safety reasons, students will be provided with necessary links and/or technology in order to better access the online instructional platform. Teachers and other responsible parties will  communicate with their specific class in order to prepare for such an event.

Communication: IRCSD will continue to utilize ParentSquare as the primary communication tool. This includes a combination of direct messages/email as well as the occasional phone or text message from building or district personnel. The District website, www.ircsd.org, and official social media channels will also be used to communicate various updates and celebrations.

Message From Public Health: In accordance with guidance from NYS DOH and the Department of Education, we also strongly encourage all eligible students, staff, and community members to get vaccinated and/or receive a booster as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available through Jefferson County, and IRCSD will continue to conduct vaccination clinics as well. Additional information from the NY Department of Health will be forthcoming. Please help us bring this pandemic to an end.

We will continue to update you with any pertinent information tied to the start of the school year. Please remain on the lookout for various informational updates in various forms (documents, FAQs, etc.) from the district and school buildings, and please do not hesitate to make contact with any questions. Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff, and for doing your part to help keep all members of the IRCSD community safe, healthy, and #WarriorStrong!

With great appreciation,

Troy Decker
IRCSD Superintendent