September 25, 2021

2021-22 Opening of School - COVID Preparedness

DATE: 08-11-2021

August 11, 2021

Hello Hartford School District Families and Staff,

I am writing in follow up to my earlier communication with further information as to what you can expect as we start the upcoming school year.  Based on the current state of COVID transmission in our community and Vermont, the following guidelines will be followed as we start the 2021-2022 school year.  As we have all learned by now, the guidance and recommendations related to COVID change as the virus changes and we learn more about it.  That said, we will continue to adjust our schools’ protocols in response to recommendations from the Agency of Education, the Vermont Department of Health and any orders from the Governor.

Masks will be required for everyone inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status until we have at least 80% of eligible students (at this time, this is those age 12 years and older) in a given building fully vaccinated (2 weeks post their second/final dose of vaccine).  Given the current age of vaccine eligibility, masks will be required for everyone in the elementary schools until further notice.  
If your student has been vaccinated and you have not already done so, please provide a copy of their immunization card to their school nurse so she can update their school health record.
Medical exemptions for masks are allowable if needed and ordered by a physician.  Please contact your school’s nurse with any questions about this process.
Masks will not be required while outside.
Masks are required for everyone while riding school buses.
Cloth masks must be 2 layers and worn to cover the entire mouth and nose.  Disposable masks are also allowed.  Masks with vents are not acceptable.
Masks/bell covers will be required for students participating in band and/or chorus when rehearsing inside.
Vaccination is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of this virus.  School based vaccination clinics will be offered by the Department of Health and National Guard and we will send information out about these as they become available.  Please contact your school nurse or healthcare provider if you need assistance in finding a vaccination clinic.
The most helpful thing that anyone can do to limit the spread of illness is to stay home when sick.  If anyone, regardless of vaccination status, experiences any symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, they must stay home.  If symptoms develop while at school, parents/guardians will be contacted and should make arrangements to pick their student up as soon as they are able to do so.  At this time, school nurses will be following the same algorithm as last year to determine exclusion/return criteria.  A letter with more details related to this has been sent out by the school nurses but please contact your school’s nurse if you have any questions or concerns.
We will be providing weekly in school surveillance testing for COVID.  This will be available for everyone regardless of vaccination status aged 5 years and older.  Consent for testing will be required and you will receive more information about this as soon as we have it .
At this time, there will not be any social distancing requirements or limits on group sizes this year.  That said, to the extent possible, we will continue to spread out, avoid mixing classes and be outside.
Mixing of classes will be allowable for educational purposes.
We will limit the number of visitors in our buildings.  Visitors will be allowed for educational purposes and pre-arranged meetings.  Masks will be required if meeting inside. Parents/guardians will not be able to enter the buildings at drop off/pick up unless they have a scheduled meeting at those times.
Fall Open Houses will be postponed until further notice.
Frequent hand washing/hygiene will continue to be strongly encouraged with use of hand sanitizer or soap and water.
In the event of a positive case of COVID in one of our schools, we will work closely with the Department of Health and follow their guidance in terms of contact tracing and quarantine for those affected.
Our school district has our two COVID Co-Coordinators again this year.  Please feel free to contact Andrea Davis, Felicia Hayes or myself with any COVID related questions or concerns.

As I mentioned before, this information is subject to change and we will fill in details as we get them.  As always, we appreciate your patience, understanding and partnership.

Thank you,

Tom DeBalsi

Superintendent of Schools