- New Hope-Solebury School District
Effective August 19, 2021, the Board of School Directors approved an updated Health and Safety Plan and Athletic Health and Safety Plan. Due to updated guidance from the Bucks County Department of Health, issued August 23, 2021, the District has further revised the Health and Safety Plan. This document will be reviewed by the Board of School Directors on September 30, 2021.
As a resource, here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that may help clarify key points in the most recent health and safety plan:
What is the format for instruction during the 2021-2022 school year?
The New Hope-Solebury School District will continue with regular full-day, five day per week instruction on September 1, 2021, for all grade levels (K-12). Families were also given the option to participate in the NHS Virtual Academy offered in partnership with Pearson Education, a third-party cyber instruction provider.
Will students and staff be required to wear masks?
The Board of School Directors approved requiring face coverings for all students and staff through the first marking period. This recommendation will be reviewed monthly based on the current situation and the guidance of health and education agencies. A critical component of the review will be vaccination rates and the level of transmission of the virus.
Which types of masks are acceptable?
Newly released guidance from the BCDH, issued August 23, 2021, warrants a clarification of the acceptable forms of masking. The revised guidance specifies that when both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks, they are not considered a close contact of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. To uphold the specification for “well-fitting” masks, we must update the acceptable forms of masks in school buildings:
- The mask must fully cover the nose and mouth
- Face shields are no longer permitted
- Gaiters will require two layers
For further information about acceptable forms of masking, please see this CDC site. The use of well-fitting masks will be critical to avoiding recurrent and extended periods of quarantine for students and continued disruptions to instruction. To further support this updated guidance, schools will have disposable masks available for students to provide additional time for families to secure them.
Will mask breaks be provided for students throughout the school day?
Yes. We will continue our practice, implemented during last school year, of providing mask breaks throughout the school day for up to 10 minutes per break provided students are distanced 3’ or more. Additionally, our teachers will continue to use outdoor spaces to conduct lessons when possible; masks are not required when students/staff are outside.
What about mask wearing during lunch?
Students will be seated distanced to the maximum extent possible, but no less than 3’ apart from each other during lunches. Masks do not need to be worn while students are actively eating or drinking at lunchtime; however, they will be directed to put their masks over their mouth and nose when not eating or drinking.
Will parents/guardians or other visitors who visit the schools be required to wear a mask?
Yes. Anyone who enters a school building at any time is required to wear a mask.
Will the District students and staff be expected to practice social-distancing?
Yes. The District will continue procedures to support social-distancing, per the guidance of the Bucks County Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These procedures include specified classroom and cafeteria seating configurations, a minimum of three feet distancing between students, limiting high-traffic and high-volume hallway use, staggered arrivals and dismissals, and utilizing virtual group events, as available.
Will hand-washing and cleaning procedures remain in effect?
Yes, the District will continue to promote frequent hand-washing and hand-sanitizing among students and staff. District custodial staff will also continue to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces twice daily.
Will contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine continue?
In guidance issued on August 23, 2021, the Bucks County Department of Health reinstated its process to support contact tracing in schools. The BCDH will now work with school districts to gather information about potential close contacts. Also, the new guidance prompted a revision to the quarantine and isolation procedures in the District’s plan. Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, must isolate for a period of 10 days. The procedure will continue that if an individual exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, he/she/they will be referred to the school nurse or a medical practitioner. Upon evaluation, a COVID-19 test and/or a note from a medical provider will be required prior to returning. The District will provide alternative learning opportunities for those unable to attend due to illness if possible. Individuals will also need to be symptom and fever-free for a period of 24 hours before returning to school.
What defines a close contact?
In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) where both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks (see previous question about acceptable forms of masks) and other K–12 school prevention strategies (such as universal and correct mask use, physical distancing, increased ventilation) were in place in the K–12 school setting. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
What should I do if I am informed my child has been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19?
If you are informed your child has been identified as a close contact, we recommend that you follow up with your child’s healthcare provider and have your child tested for COVID-19. The District will also work in conjunction with the BCHD to determine next steps for individuals identified as close contacts in schools on a case by case basis.
Will my child be required to receive a COVID vaccine?
Although the flu and COVID vaccines are encouraged by health professionals for eligible students and staff, these vaccines are not mandatory for school attendance or employment at this time. For eligible students and staff, the District will distribute information regarding vaccination clinics as available.
If there is a resurgence of COVID-19, how will this impact instruction?
Bucks County recently attained a designated ‘high’ level of infection (dated August 20, 2021) and the District’s reinstatement of a masking requirement is in direct response to this situation. In the event of further increased levels of infection in our region, the New Hope-Solebury School District is prepared to quickly pivot between in-person instruction, virtual/remote instruction and hybrid instruction as necessary or required by local health officials. We will continue to adhere to guidance issued by federal, state or local health organizations.
What if my child has a medical concern or is considered high-risk?
Student medical issues requiring a temporary leave from school will be addressed on a case-by-case basis to determine appropriate instructional alternatives. An instructional plan will be developed based on information provided by the student’s health care provider, parent/guardians, principal and counselor, and IEP team, as applicable. Please contact Dr. Malone, Acting Supervisor of Special Education, at email@example.com with questions.
The pandemic has called attention to the need for social-emotional supports for children. How is New Hope-Solebury School District addressing mental health concerns?
Throughout the pandemic, the District has been working to address mental health concerns for both students and staff members. For the 2021-22 school year, we will continue providing lessons that foster emotional well-being and our efforts to identify students in need of support. As necessary, we refer students for additional resources through our Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS).
The District also provides ongoing access to licensed social workers, counselors, school psychologists, and administrators. As a reference for our families, this team has developed a website with school-specific supports and resources available in Bucks County. In the fall of 2021, professional development will be offered to better equip our teachers and staff to help students address mental health concerns.
Will the District continue its free breakfast and lunch program next year?
Yes. The District received a grant to continue offering free breakfast and lunch to all students for the 2021-22 school year. Students aged 18-23 years with special needs are also eligible. If a student is participating in cyber instruction, meal pickup will be made available. For questions about the free meal program, contact Katie Gioia-DeVito, Director of Food Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the Health and Safety Plan subject to change?
As previously mentioned, the New Hope-Solebury School District has continually updated its protocols and procedures while prioritizing the health and well-being of our students, staff, and community members. The District also references guidance from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Bucks County Department of Health. Our Health and Safety Plan has been reviewed and approved by the Bucks County Department of Health. Following approval of the revised Health and Safety Plan on August 19, 2021, the next review will occur at the next board meeting.
To access the District's archived correspondence about reopening and other resources related to COVID-19, please visit this site.