Back to School protocols for Glens Falls City Schools

white chalk letters on a black background that read welcome back to school, with stars drawn around itHello, GF Nation students and families, and welcome to the 2021-22 school year! We are eager to be back together as one school community, and the following reopening protocols will help us learn together as safely as possible. Please note that the plans outlined here are current as of Aug. 16, 2021. They can and will likely change as the pandemic evolves throughout the year. Slides outlining these key points are available to view HERE.

Our overarching goals for 2021-22 include: Being in-person, all the time, at every grade level; Preventing the spread of COVID-19 among students, staff, and families; and Expanding and embedding academic, social-emotional, and general health support to all students.

Starting with the first day of school on Tuesday, September 7th, students will return to “typical” school schedules at every building: approximately 8:30 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. (elementaries) or 3 p.m. (MS/HS). The UPK program is now full-day, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The All-Virtual or Hybrid instruction model will not be offered this year. Every student will come to school every day, following the A-B-C-D (MS/HS) cycle for block classes, or the elementary six-day cycle for specials. No cohorting groups will be assigned (No Blue/Orange; No A-L or M-Z).

If a student is home under mandatory quarantine by Warren Co. DOH, they will have access to remote learning.

At school, students will be spaced at 3 feet or more, for social distancing. Our classrooms have been re-configured to a more “typical” layout at 3 feet of separation. Gyms are back to full utilization for P.E., and cafeterias are back to full availability for lunch. Windows will remain open for fresh air as much as temperatures allow. The air filters in classroom units remain at the MERV-11 filtration level, and medical-grade air disinfection control units are being added to every classroom, in addition to the ventilation system.

Health officials stress that the best mitigation strategies are vaccines for everyone eligible, and universal indoor masking. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Warren County Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control all recommend that children age 12 and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. All Glens Falls students, staff, and visitors must wear face masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks can be removed outdoors during recess, with social distancing encouraged. Masks will be removed for eating/drinking. All individuals must wear masks on the bus, following federal mass transit rules.

Symptom screening questionnaires and fever checks at entrance doors will not be required when school starts. It is expected that students, parents and staff members continuously monitor themselves for any signs of illness, and stay home if symptoms arise.

If a student feels sick during the school day, they will see the nurse for immediate evaluation. If symptoms warrant, the school nurse will administer a rapid COVID test. If the test results are negative, staff will follow the normal procedures for an ill student. If the results are positive, the student will go to the isolation room to be picked up as soon as possible.

Targeted academic support will help students level-up and complete unfinished learning this year. All student clubs will run, including Homework Club, Grades 4/5 after school STEAM Academy, etc. Community-building Circles will address trauma, strengthen relationships, and expand belonging.

All athletics will run, with some additional measures:

  • High-risk sport athletes will be tested weekly at school for COVID-19, using rapid testing
    • For the fall season, this includes Football, Volleyball, Swimming
  • Outdoors: Athletes, Coaches, Staff must wear a mask when not competing
  • Indoors: Athletes, Coaches, Staff must wear a mask at all times
  • We recommend that unvaccinated individuals and spectators wear masks and practice social distancing

Band, Chorus, and Orchestra programs will run in their full capacity, with some additional measures:

  • Band and Chorus student-musicians may be tested weekly at school for COVID-19, using rapid testing

We anticipate using occasional, pre-announced rapid-testing of the general student population at school, as we did in January of 2021.

To help keep students nourished, strong, and ready to learn, all school meals remain free to every student through June of 2022. Breakfast is available on the way into school, and complete lunch meals will be served. All school supplies are again provided by the district, to alleviate stress on families and prepare all students for success.

These protocols are necessary due to the high transmission rate for COVID-19 in Warren County. The health department is documenting significant local spread among unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, with a particular concern for those under age 12.

Your family can stay healthy by committing to these practices:

  • Do not come to school if feeling ill; stay home
  • Get tested if any symptoms arise
  • Vaccinate every eligible family member

Please see the Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year, that the New York State Education Department released last week.

Thank you for your continued flexibility, patience, and positive outlook as we begin a new school year in Glens Falls! Updates to these protocols and procedures will be communicated widely as they become necessary.