Greetings Maine-Endwell School Community and welcome to the 2021-2022 school year. We are excited about welcoming our students back on Thursday, September 9th and look forward to a successful and productive school year.
School opening plans have been provided to all families, faculty and staff. There are some significant positive changes from last year; students attending in-person full day five days a week, resumption of student activities, and opening up our buildings to the school community. However, there are several expectations that we must enforce and follow including;
COVID Requirements - Masking:
Masks must be worn at all times indoors by faculty, staff, students, and visitors to our buildings. This mandate has been directed by the New York State Governor, Department of Health, and Education Department. This is not a local decision.
a. Masks will be provided if a student or staff member comes to school without one.
b. Knowingly failing or refusing to wear a mask will be considered insubordination. While our goal is not to create a confrontational environment, this is not a recommendation, but a requirement. The student code of conduct will be enforced accordingly.
c. We will make every effort to accommodate individual needs as long as a medical note is provided indicating the specific health condition.
I have received numerous letters from parents stating we [District] cannot enforce masking of children. Essentially, students are being told to defy the masking requirement. This will create an incredibly difficult situation for everyone involved. We want all students in school and in order to accomplish this, we are directed to require mask wearing. Trying to rationalize with an eight year old, let alone an eighteen year old, on ‘why’ masking is required after a parent or guardian has told them ‘you don’t need to wear one’ will cause unnecessary stress. More concerning, we are creating an environment where choosing which rules to follow becomes seemingly acceptable. Is this what we want?
COVID Requirements - Physical Distancing:
Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, consistent with the following, but should not exclude students from in-person learning in order to meet a minimum distance requirement.
(a) A distance of at least 3 feet is strongly recommended between all students
(b) A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.
(c) Universal masking is required according to the Commissioner’s masking determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60 for indoor settings. Should there be a time when the determination for universal masking in schools is lifted, masking must occur when physical distance cannot be maintained
(d) Maximize physical distance as much as possible when moving through the food service line and while eating (especially indoors). Using additional spaces outside of the cafeteria for mealtime seating such as the gymnasium or outdoor seating can help facilitate distancing.
COVID Requirements - Quarantine and close contact:
Consistent with CDC guidance, all “close contacts” with someone with COVID must quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 unless they also present possible symptoms of infection; however, they should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and must wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative diagnostic test result.
COVID Requirements - COVID Testing:
● After Exposure to COVID-19: Diagnostic testing refers to the testing of symptomatic individuals or asymptomatic individuals exposed to a person with COVID-19 within the last 14 days. According to the Commissioner’s testing determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.62, schools must have the capacity (either directly on-site or via referral) to provide diagnostic testing for any students, teachers, and staff who, regardless of vaccination status and community level of transmission per the CDC, are:
a) Symptomatic; or
b) Asymptomatic following exposure to someone with COVID-19.
● No Exposure/No Symptoms: Screening testing refers to the testing of asymptomatic individuals even if there is no reason to suspect infection. Schools must establish the capability to conduct or offer screening testing according to the Commissioner’s testing determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.62. Schools have flexibility in how they operationalize screening testing
We are working with our health department and medical director to operationalize this requirement.
Federal Spending Plan:
This past spring, the District elicited feedback from our school community regarding areas of investment. A few highlights for the 2021-2022 school year;
● Hired a full time School Resource Officer to supplement our current relationship with the Broome County Sheriff’s Department.
● Hired a school social worker for Homer Brink and Maine Memorial, hired two (2) teachers to reduce class sizes, hired two (2) teachers to implement full day UPK for four year olds, and hired two (2) teachers to address learning loss K-5 and two (2) teaching assistants to address learning loss 6-12.
● Hiring a Coordinator of Student Programs who will focus on enhancing and / or developing student programs in the areas of; ○ District-wide school enrichment ○ Social emotional learning ○ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ○ Project based learning / work-based learning ● Developing a volunteer program named Involve M-E. Purpose will be to connect community members with volunteer opportunities within the district. We are anticipating a mid-September start.
● Hired a grant writing service to support sustainability of new and existing programs district-wide.
While we are still working through the challenges of the COVID pandemic, we have much to be thankful for as a school district. Our faculty and staff rose to the challenge and our community was gracious under the difficult circumstances. We are privileged and honored to serve the students and families of the Maine and Endwell communities. “Great schools start with great students” - thank you all for providing such wonderful resources to work with on a daily basis and let's move forward in 2021-2022
. Let's go Spartans!
Jason Van Fossen