Today we reintroduced students into our school that started off the year fully remote as they began their transition to the blended hybrid model with K-2 students at Chesterfield School. I know that many folks have been looking forward to returning to some form of onsite teaching and learning and to see that process moving forward I’m sure was reassuring as we kick off the new week.
I’m going to focus mostly on the screening part of the “Big 4” today as that continues to be one of our primary defenses against spreading COVID-19 (and other illnesses), but before I do, I wanted to back up just a little and refresh our understanding of how COVID-19 is spread as articulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
The novel coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) is MAINLY spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person (even if they are not showing symptoms). These droplets can land into the mouths or noses of people that are in close contact (within 6 feet) with an infected person or possibly inhaled into the lungs. The longer the close contact runs, the higher the risk of transmission.
Which now leads me back to the screening part of the “Big 4” and the importance for everyone to follow the guidance recommended by health officials and adopted by our school districts in order to keep everyone as safe as we possibly can. I think it is important to know that this guidance was not created by anyone in our districts and comes directly from one of two sources: The CDC or The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Whether we agree or disagree with that guidance, they are the recognized organizations that are charged with the health and safety of our communities.
Screening (Please see updated language below and in the embedded ______)- There has been some confusion on how frequently the screening needs to be completed. This was largely caused by the original statement in our Comprehensive Opening Plan and has subsequently been updated to provide clarity and now reads: Daily Screening and self-reporting SHALL be conducted for each student and staff member prior to leaving for school in the morning or for after school activities. **If we experience a surge of positive cases in our county, this section may be updated to daily screening and reporting for students and staff while either onsite or remote.**
Additionally, we clarified the exposure section to be more closely aligned with the guidance found in the NHDHHS School Toolkit. Close contact in the School Toolkit is defined as within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more. Important to note that the time factor is cumulative throughout the day.
We are also further clarifying exposure to being with someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 and not only experiencing symptoms. The reason for this clarification is that a person with symptoms may have received a negative test result after the onset of symptoms and thus, they are no longer suspected of COVID-19. Until that result comes back, they are considered suspected and we want to be sure nobody is unintentionally infecting others. We are currently working with the screening assessment to update that prompt as well.
Okay, hopefully that all makes sense. What I would like to attempt here is going through the prompts so that we are all answering them correctly.
The last prompt asks if you are working virtually, which because this needs to be completed “prior to leaving for school” should be left blank. We have seen increased participation with the screening assessment in all of our schools. Using this makes it much easier when students arrive at the buildings so that they can be cleared for entry. It doesn’t take long, if you bookmark the site on the homescreen of your phone or on your computer. Instructions on how to do that are included in the “Screening Tool” section below. There is also a 49-second video that demonstrates the entire screening process. If we are all being diligent in filling this out, then we are all doing our part in keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Speaking of doing our part, I’m launching a new student - parent/guardian - staff - board member challenge today. It will only be open until 8am Thursday, September 24th and we will be using the submissions to create our own Public Service Announcements. Students, you will need your parents’ permission in order to participate, so please make sure you get that prior to turning anything in.
All submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to be included.
As stated, the “Big 4” things that will go a long way in keeping us as safe as possible are:
- Completing the screening honestly.
- Wearing an approved face covering.
- Maintaining distances of 6 feet.
- Washing/sanitizing hands regularly.
The challenge is to create a 5 - 10 second video on one of the Big 4 above using the phrase “Do Your Part.” For example, you may hold up your phone with your screening result and say “Do your part, complete your screener.” Or, you may get a clip of washing your hands and say “Do your part, wash your hands.” But, because we have such creative and talented people in our communities, it could simply be a sign, picture, painting, drawing or anything that also gets the message across.
Have some fun with this. You’ve shown how inspiring you can be with other challenges. My assumption is that we’ll get a very low return from the grown ups on this, but I could be proven wrong. Very short window as production of the PSAs will begin on Thursday.
We have known all along that we are all in this together. And together, we make a huge difference, because together…WE GOT THIS!
COVID-19 Data: Here is a 7-day look at the data related to COVID-19 that we’ve been tracking since March. Source: NHDHHS COVID-19 Page
*This county data began being reported on September 1, 2020 by NHDHHS. Our new infections per 100,000 (14 days) calculation is based on the US Census estimated population for Cheshire County of 76,085. The calculation reported by NHDHHS uses a population number of 71,770. We are trying to get clarity on where that source came from so we can update our calculation to mirror their calculation.
**Updated September 1, 2020 with release of Transitioning Between School Instructional Models guidance from the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control in the NH Division of Public Health Services of the Department of Health and Human Services.**
On September 1st, state health officials released the above linked document to assist schools and districts with decisions on what instructional model to consider based on two primary factors.
- Community transmission within the county.
- Impact on individual school facilities.
These factors are described below and are incorporated into the decision matrix to indicate the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (“DPHS”).
Determining the Level of COVID-19 Community Transmission: The three criteria put forth by DPHS for determining county COVID-19 transmission level are outlined in the table below . The overall community transmission level should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. School districts should utilize the appropriate county level data in which their schools primarily reside for the criteria below.
Determining the Level of COVID-19 School Impact (defined at the educational facility level): The three school-specific COVID-19 impact level criteria suggested by NH DPHS are outlined in the table below. The overall level of school impact should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. These criteria and impact levels may change during the school year as we better understand how COVID-19 impacts schools.
* A cluster is defined as 3 or more individuals confirmed with COVID-19 who are part of a related group of individuals (e.g., classroom) who had the potential to transmit infection to each other through close contact.
† This subjective assessment should factor in a school’s ability to maintain adequate staff for facility operations, transportation, teaching, and administrative functions.
Decision Matrix for Transitioning Between Methods of Instruction: Using the assigned community transmission and school impact levels, schools can use the table below to identify the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by NH DPHS.
* Depending on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the school and outbreak status, public health may recommend temporary closure of school and remote learning for a short period of time to control transmission before re-opening in a hybrid instructional model.
This matrix SHALL serve as a guide when making decisions around when to move between methods of instruction.
The data will be monitored on a daily basis and determinations will be made and communicated no later than the last Friday of every month (September 26, October 30, November 27, and so forth). Unless there is an urgent need to immediately shift to a fully remote model, a period of two weeks will be used to give families and staff enough lead time to transition to any change in mode, which is consistent with DPHS guidance which states that schools should monitor their local situation for at least 2-4 weeks before continuing to relax restrictions.
E-Flyer Distribution Program: As a reminder, there are many flyers that our schools are asked to send home throughout the school year. We also post these flyers on our website and it can be found by going to this E-Flyer Distribution Program embedded link.
Mental Health & Cultural Awareness: Below are some resources that may be helpful as we end our summer vacation.
- https://www.parents.com/kids/education/back-to-school/12-fun-first-week-of-school-traditions/ Cool ideas….clever, fun and creative.
- https://discoveries.childrenshospital.org/preparing-kids-school-covid-19/ to help talk with your kids about returning to school.
- https://www.unicef.org/parenting/talking-to-your-kids-about-racism to help talk with your children, our students about racism. This article covers ages ranging under 5 years old, between 6-11years old, and 12+.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/5-ways-stand-against-racism-and-injustice/37355 This article addresses acceptable ways to condemn racism.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/how-white-people-can-talk-their-kids-about-racism/37361 This is a great way to start a conversation about racial issues with your kids. Racism thrives in silence.
- The 5 Signs to help you identify and support others who may be struggling more than usual at this challenging time, or at any time.
Reporting Abuse: If you see something, please say something. You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention - We’re here for you 24/7. You don’t have to be in crisis to call. Call our hotline at: 603-352-3782 or 1-888-511-MCVP
- National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Meals: Every student in SAU 29 is eligible for FREE breakfast and lunch for every day of school through the USDA until 12/31/2020 or until funds are exhausted.
Hybrid students: All students attending school in person will be eligible to receive their free breakfast and lunch at their school on the days they are attending in person. Families can sign up for three additional days’ worth of meals (6 meals) each week representing the school days that hybrid students are not in school and are learning remotely. If you would like to receive those meals for remote days the order form will need to be submitted by Thursday at 5:00pm each week for pickup on the following Wednesday at any of the locations listed on the order form. Please see the link below to fill out the required order form.
Fully Remote Students: Fully remote families can sign up to get 5 days’ worth of meals (10 meals) each week representing the school days that fully remote students are learning remotely. The order form will need to be submitted by Thursday at 5:00pm each week for remote meals pickup the following Wednesday at the location of your choice. Please see the link below.
Please note, parents may not sign up for the free meals for themselves. Please call Keene Food Services at 603-357-9011 with any questions. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
LINK FOR REMOTE MEALS ORDER FORM:
School Boards: Please use the links below to access the most recent school board meetings for your respective school district.
Chesterfield - CSB Meeting Video
Harrisville - HSB Meeting Video
Keene - KBE Meeting Video
Marlborough - MbSB Meeting Video
Marlow - MwSB Meeting Video
Nelson - NSB Meeting Video
Westmoreland - WSB Meeting Video
In order to facilitate the cleaning of our buildings, we need to ensure that they are not in use for periods of time each day. Beginning August 31st and until further notice, each building will observe the following hours for times the building may be utilized:
All buildings are closed on the weekend.
School Calendars: The 2020-2021 school year calendars can be found using this link: SAU 29 School District Calendars.
School Grounds: Outdoor facilities were opened on Monday, June 22nd. Playgrounds will remain closed as proper sanitization can not meet recommended guidelines. Organizations and teams wishing to use the facilities must arrange to do so through the facility use process. Contact your respective school district for further information. Users of the facilities shall continue to practice social distancing while on school grounds.
Screening: Screening and self-reporting SHALL be conducted for each student and staff member prior to leaving for school in the morning or for after school activities. **If we experience a surge of positive cases in our county, this section may be updated to daily screening and reporting for students and staff while either onsite or remote.**
We are currently working with a recognized medical company to make this process user friendly for all of our families and staff. The technology solution we are implementing will guide users through a series of prompts that are consistent with the current CDC Screening Guidelines as of July 31, 2020. The system will ask people to respond to:
*10 minutes is a cumulative total and not just at any one time.
**Suspected of COVID-19: Individuals that have any new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19, but have not been tested for the novel coronavirus (See p.4 of NH Universal Guidelines) or anyone with supportive laboratory evidence: Detection of specific antibody in serum, plasma, or whole blood (See p.5 of COVID-19 Toolkit).
The building administrator will have a dashboard that will generate a report for their specific site, with live results as they are input by both parents/guardians and staff. Anyone that did not conduct the screening prior to reporting to school will be required to complete the screening upon arrival and sent home if attendance is not approved.
Screening Tool: You will need to access each school's link that your children attend in order to complete the self assessment. What this means is that a student ID number from one school, will not work on another school's link. For example, a student from Keene Middle will not be able to complete the assessment on the Nelson School link, or vice versa.
Here are the links for all of our school's for ease of access to them.
You may find this 49 Second Video helpful on how to fill out the assessment. Please remember to click on student on the first page.
This User Guide may also be helpful as it includes instructions on how to download the site to your home screen for both iPhone and Android users.
Lastly, if you need assistance, please feel free to contact our IT Department Help Desk. They can be reached at (603)352-0640 x-3871.
Stay-At-Home Requirements: Parents/Guardians and staff know the risk of their level of exposure through their daily activities (where they have been, who they have interacted with, what safety measures they had in place). Nobody wants to be the person who infects another so it is imperative that we all comply with the following chart (consistent with the guidance from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services released on August 28, 2020 and linked below chart) that serves to provide clarity:
***Updated August 28, 2020 with the release of the NHDHHS School Toolkit***
Additional Source: CDC When You Can be Around Others
Special Education: The school year is underway! Special Education is working very closely with building leaders to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are met. As always, please reach out to your child’s special education teacher or building principal with questions. You can also contact the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email email@example.com if you have any questions. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Thank you!
Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.
Technology: Teachers, we have installed some software for remote teaching. Currently we have Kami which integrates with Google classroom. Screencastify will let you record your computer screen to share with the class. You can also have your image in the corner of the screen as you record the lesson. EquatIO Easily add equations, formulas, graphs to G Suite for Education. It has a scientific calculator, and periodic table charts.
Parents, Please make sure you fill in the online registration for your students. It is important to have all the correct information in place.
Technology support during COVID19: Please see the update.
Power School update:
Power school online registration help can be found here.
Help desk number: (603) 352-0640 ext 3871. For help with the home user and remote learning click here.