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2021-22 School Opening


The Harrison Central School District is eager to welcome students to the 2021-22 school year and remains committed to ensuring a safe, socially and emotionally supportive, engaging learning experience for all of our students. The District is committed to guided by two equally important goals as we prepare for the opening of school in September: 

  1. Ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
  2. Ensure that all students attend school for in-person learning every day.

To accomplish these goals, the District has developed a comprehensive 2021-22 Opening Plan that prioritizes a welcoming, safe, in-person learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.  The plan is based on guidance from:

The mitigation strategies in place last year and throughout our summer program proved highly effective in limiting infection and keeping our schools open for full-time instruction, including: Wearing masks indoors, Physical distancing and cohorting, COVID-19 testing, Improved ventilation and air filtration, Handwashing and hygiene protocols, Staying home when sick with symptoms of infectious illness including COVID-19, and Regular cleaning and nightly electrostatic disinfection of classrooms. 

The CDC continues to recommend a layered approach to mitigation strategies in schools, based on levels of community transmission.  In addition to the strategies listed above, the District will also: Mandate vaccinations for all employees, Request vaccination status of all students, Provide vaccination clinics for students, families, faculty and staff, Implement COVID-19 symptom reporting tool. 

The health and safety of our learning community remains our most important  priority. 

The District will continue to closely monitor developments regarding COVID-19 and modify our protocols as the research and data change. Your partnership implementing the strategies outlined on this webpage will help to ensure that all students attend school for in-person learning every day.

In-Person Learning

The District will welcome all students back for in-person learning in September and will not offer a virtual learning option.  However, a student will be permitted to participate in virtual instruction if:

  • The student is subject to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure; or
  • The student and/or the student's siblings are at home awaiting a PCR test result and asymptomatic; or
  • The student is subject to isolation following a positive COVID-19 test and asymptomatic; or
  • The student is immunocompromised and in-person instruction presents a medical risk that outweighs the benefits of in-person instruction, subject to the review and approval of the school district physician. 

If a student meets any of the conditions above, parents may contact their school principal for more information about the virtual learning option.

If a school is required to close by NYSED or the Department of Health, the District will make virtual learning available to students.

Face Masks

Consistent with NYSED, CDC and AAP recommendations, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be required to wear an approved face mask while indoors on school property and on school buses even if fully vaccinated. Exceptions include when eating or drinking, or when a mask cannot be worn  because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.).  Teachers will provide students with opportunities for mask breaks during the school day.   

Important change to quarantine rules: CDC and WCDOH guidance now provides that when all students wearing face masks have close contact with a positive COVID-19 case, the exposed students will not be required to quarantine if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time and the students consistently maintained at least 3 feet of physical distance from each other.  This exception does not apply to unvaccinated adults in the classroom setting.  This change in guidance will significantly reduce the number of students required to quarantine as a result of exposure to COVID-19.

Face masks are optional outdoors (i.e., recess, outdoor physical education classes, outdoor athletic events, etc.). The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people may choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.

As of the 2021-22 school year, the District’s Code of Conduct requires students to comply with local, state or federal health and safety directives or regulations, including but not limited to wearing a face mask, social distancing, etc.

Mask wearing requirements will be reevaluated on an ongoing basis and revised based on updated guidance from the CDC, NYSDOH or NYSED. 

Physical Distancing

The CDC recommends people who are not fully vaccinated maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people who are not in their household. However, several studies from the 2021-22 school year demonstrate low COVID-19 transmission levels among students in schools with fewer than 6 feet of physical distance when the school implemented layered mitigation strategies, including the use of masks, improved ventilation and air filtration, daily cleaning and disinfection of classrooms, etc.  HCSD reviews and evaluates the latest research and guidance and will continue to implement multilayered mitigation strategies to preserve the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.  Therefore, to reduce transmission risk, our schools will:

  • Classroom: 3 feet of physical distance between students, combined with indoor mask wearing.  

  • Chorus & Band: 6 feet between students (all wind instruments will utilize bell covers), combined with indoor mask wearing.

  • Physical Education: 6 feet between students during indoor physical education classes, combined with indoor mask wearing.

  • Lunch: 6 feet between students when they are not wearing masks while eating or drinking (i.e., during lunch or snack time).  

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between students and teachers/staff and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated. 

Contact Tracing, Quarantine, & Isolation

To avoid quarantining or the requirement to participate in COVID-19 testing, the District strongly recommends all eligible students receive  the COVID-19 vaccine.  When the District is notified of a positive COVID-19 case, the District consults with the Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) to identify students and staff who may be required to quarantine following close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.  WCDOH retains the authority to direct individuals to quarantine, and the District is required to follow these directives. 

Important change to quarantine rules: CDC and WCDOH guidance now provides that when all students wearing face masks have close contact with a positive COVID-19 case, the exposed students will not be required to quarantine if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time and the students consistently maintained at least 3 feet of physical distance from each other.  This exception does not apply to unvaccinated adults in the classroom setting.  This change in guidance will significantly reduce the number of students required to quarantine as a result of exposure to COVID-19. 

  • When students are at least 3 feet apart and consistently wearing masks indoors, they do not have to quarantine following exposure.
  • When students are not wearing masks (i.e., at lunch or at outdoor recess), the standard for quarantine is within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period of time.
  • Students may return to school when their symptoms are improving, and they are fever-free (without the use of fever reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, AND (1) have a doctor’s note indicating they do not require a COVID-19 test OR (2) have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result.  If a student is referred for COVID-19 testing by a doctor, then the siblings of the student must remain home until a negative test result is received for the symptomatic student.

  • When students are on school buses, the standard for quarantine is within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period of time, even when students are wearing masks.
  • Students who have had a test-confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the past 90 days or have been fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine following close contact with a positive case (WCDOH recommends testing 3-5 days after exposure).
  • When students need to quarantine and are asymptomatic, their siblings do not need to quarantine because the siblings are considered “contacts of contacts.”

  • There is no provision that allows a student to get a negative COVID-19 test to be released early from quarantine.

Lunch & Recess

  • A distance of 6 feet will be maintained between students when they are not wearing masks while eating or drinking (i.e., during lunch or snack time).  

  • Alternate spaces will be used for lunch to accommodate 6 feet of physical distance.

  • Students will not be required to wear face coverings when at recess outdoors, but students will be reminded to maintain social distance outdoors.

  • Students will be allowed to use playground equipment at recess.

COVID-19 Daily Questionnaire & Temperature Screening

The CDC no longer recommends daily screening questionnaires or temperature screenings to attend in-person instruction at school.  However, parents should continue to monitor their children for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis.  If a student has one or more COVID-19 symptoms, parents must:

  1. Keep their child home from school
  2. Notify the school nurse by completing the  confidential COVID-19 Symptom Reporting Form
  3. Consult with their doctor to get their child tested for COVID-19. 

Students may return to school when their symptoms are improving, and they are fever-free (without the use of fever reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, AND (1) have a doctor’s note indicating they do not require a COVID-19 test OR (2) have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result.  If a student is referred for COVID-19 testing by a doctor, then the siblings of the student must remain home until a negative PCR test result is received for the symptomatic student.

School nurses will continue to follow the COVID-19 symptom management protocol to determine when students, faculty or staff need to be sent home and referred for testing.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

According to the CDC, vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of contracting symptoms or severe infection.  COVID-19 vaccination among all eligible students as well as teachers, staff, and household members is the most critical strategy to help schools safely resume full operations.  To ensure uninterrupted in-person instruction for students, the District supports having all eligible students, faculty and staff vaccinated to reduce the risk of infection and eliminate the widespread need to quarantine.

Parents are encouraged to complete the Student Vaccination Status Survey to indicate the vaccination status of their child or to provide consent for COVID-19 testing if students are not vaccinated. 

The District hosts vaccination clinics in partnership with Westchester County for students 12 and above, family members, faculty and staff.   Check back for more details about the next vaccination clinic.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing is an effective mitigation strategy to monitor for the presence of COVID-19 in our schools.  During the 2020-21 school year, the District conducted 2,000 COVID-19 tests on students, faculty and staff with ZERO positive results.

  • HCSD has partnered with Westchester County and Mount Sinai Hospital to provide non-invasive PCR saliva tests for asymptomatic screening.

  • Starting in early October, HCSD plans to test up to 20% of unvaccinated students each week.

  • Parents must provide consent for their children to participate in COVID-19 testing.

  • Lab-confirmed PCR results will be provided to parents within 24-48 hours.

  • Test kits will be sent home to collect saliva samples in the morning and test kits will be returned to school. 

Performing Arts

Performing Arts are an integral part of the District’s instructional program.  The District continues to review guidance from the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, and the Westchester County Department of Health to refine our COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.  Based on this guidance and the goal of having students fully participate in the arts, the District has revised its COVID-19 protocols as follows:

  • Band: Students will maintain 6 feet of physical distance and wear masks; percussionists may be spaced at 3 feet and wear masks; bell covers will be used with wind instruments; students playing wind instruments will wear masks with a slit cut in them.
  • Chorus: Students will maintain 6 feet of physical distance and wear masks.

  • Orchestra: Students will maintain 3 feet of physical distance and wear masks.

  • Dance & Theater: Students will maintain 6 feet of physical distance and wear masks.

As a result of the multiple mitigation strategies the District has in place (i.e., required physical distance, mask wearing, air filtration, etc.), students who are not vaccinated may participate in these performing arts activities.  All students participating in these performing arts activities are encouraged to consent to periodic COVID-19 testing. The District recommends that all eligible students receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Athletics

The District will offer a full complement of Varsity, JV and modified athletics. The following health and safety protocols will be in place:

  • Weekly COVID-19 testing will be implemented for unvaccinated students in high-risk sports and activities.

  • Athletes must abide by physical distancing rules and not congregate.

  • Coaches will reinforce physical distancing and PPE guidelines.

  • Students who participate in athletics and extracurricular activities indoors will be required to wear a face covering, but face coverings are not required for outdoor athletics and activities.  Masks will be worn when not engaged in physical activity.  

The CDC and the Westchester County Department of Health have identified certain sports that present a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to close proximity and increased exhalation.  The CDC and WCDOH advise that students who participate in "high risk" sports including football, volleyball, cheerleading, wrestling provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.  The District requires students who participate in these "high risk" sports to consent to COVID-19 testing. 

Visitors to Schools & Spectators

  • Visitors to our schools will be limited to essential business (e.g., meetings, scheduled school event, picking up students during school hours, etc.).

  • Visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while indoors on school property.

  • Spectators will maintain 3 feet of physical distance and mask wearing will be required for spectators at indoor events. 

  • Spectators will not be required to wear masks at outdoor events.

Safety Drills & Information

The 2021-22 District Safety Plan has been updated to include protocols for pandemic planning.   Each school will continue to conduct safety drills and steps will be taken to ensure physical distance during drills.  However, students will be instructed that if there is an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown, the priority is to get to safety.  Maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

Parents are encouraged to download the CrisisGo app to receive timely notifications in the event of school emergencies. Contact your school principal for information about subscribing to these notifications.

Transportation

  • Buses will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day; high contact spots will be wiped down between AM and PM runs.

  • Drivers will wear masks when students are boarding or disembarking.

  • Monitors will wear masks at all times and gloves when direct contact with students is required.

  • Drivers will be trained and provided periodic refreshers regarding PPE, social distancing, and symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Daily health self-assessments for drivers and monitors will be performed.

  • All students, with the exception of those medically unable to do so, will be required to wear masks at all times on the bus. If a student does not have a mask, one will be provided.

  • To the extent possible, drivers will enforce social distancing during boarding and disembarking.

  • Bus assignments will be based upon two, or three (elementary level) students per seat.

  • Parents will be encouraged to personally drive students to school. When possible, drivers should encourage students to spread out while encouraging siblings to sit together.

  • Weather permitting, bus windows will be open for ventilation.

  • No eating and drinking rules will be strictly enforced. 

Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection

  • A daily, mandatory cleaning checklist is maintained by each school’s custodial crew, and includes daily cleaning of classrooms, bathrooms, large gathering spaces, offices, and conference rooms.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting focuses on high touch points such as tables, chair armrests, doorknobs, cabinet pulls, light switches, keyboards, etc.
  • HCSD will continue with electrostatic disinfectant applications throughout the buildings. 
  • Restrooms are cleaned throughout the day and disinfected daily.
  • Custodial staff are trained in the use of PPE, personal hygiene and use of the new electrostatic disinfectant applicators.
  • Additional stations for water bottle filling were added in each school to minimize the use of water fountains.
  • Hand sanitizers with signage are placed at strategic locations throughout each school, and EPA-approved, school-safe cleaning products that are effective on Coronavirus are used throughout the school.

Air Filtration & Ventilation

The District purchased and installed state of the art air filtration technology in all instructional spaces and offices. The units utilize three distinct filtration systems to remove and kill viruses in the air (Merv and HEPA filtration and UV light) and cleanse the air in a typical classroom between three and five times per hour.  The District is developing plans to air condition more spaces in each school to improve ventilation.