J-D School Board Decides on Back to School Guidelines

The Jamesville-DeWitt school board had a meeting regarding finalizing the COVID-19 guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year. Here are the guidelines according to jamesvilledewitt.org

Perhaps the most prevalent change is teachers will no longer be providing Zoom classes, ultimately eliminating the fully remote learning choice for many students. However, select students will still have the opportunity to stay fully online. The Jamesville-DeWitt website states the following, “We understand that some parents and guardians have concerns about sending their students to school for in-person instruction because of their student’s health status. To accommodate those families, we are partnering with OCM BOCES to offer a remote instruction option for those students with a signed physician statement indicating that the student cannot return to in-person school due to a documented, pre-existing medical condition.” With that being said, day-off Wednesdays will no longer be provided either. 

The next thing that most students have been questioning all summer is what the rules will be on mask-wearing with New York State’s new mask mandate. Newsflash: you still have to wear them. No matter one’s vaccination status, all students and teachers are required to wear masks while indoors and on buses. The only exception to this is during lunchtime in which students will be socially distanced. While outdoors, however, if the student wants to wear their mask or not will be optional, including during outdoor sports. Mask wearing with occasional mask breaks will still be required for fall indoor sports. The rules for spectators will change accordingly; they may reduce the number of spectators or not allow them at all. Social distancing requirements remain at three feet and desks in classrooms will be spaced accordingly. The district will collaborate with the local health department to watch out for concerning increases in positive COVID-19 cases, which may lead to a COVID-related school closing.

Now, unlike New York City’s school reopening guidelines, not all teachers necessarily have to be vaccinated. According to Onondaga County guidelines, if a teacher determines that they will not get the COVID-19 vaccine, they will need to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. If a student comes down with COVID-19, or is exposed to the virus, they must quarantine before returning to school. The Jamesville-DeWitt School District website states that, “A student who is quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 will have access to his or her classes via Google Classroom and will receive daily tutoring  (1 hour for elementary; 2 hours for secondary) to support his or her learning.” Students and staff that have symptoms of an illness are directed to stay home. The process for returning to school is, for those who had the virus, to include a document from a health care provider that includes a negative test result and a symptom resolution. 

For contact tracing, according to the Jamesville-DeWitt School District website, “The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.” Along with having “developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Department of Health. The district will maintain a record when a positive case occurs in a building. Data on the number of positive cases will be available on the district website.”

These protocols will most likely change accordingly during the school year. As for cleaning, the schools and buses will be cleaned and sanitized frequently. The district will also maximize the flow of outside air into the building to further prevent germs from spreading. 

In comparison to two other local districts, Fayetteville-Manlius (F-M) and East Syracuse-Minoa (ESM), J-D’s guidelines aren’t very different. The main difference between J-D and ESM is that ESM offers free breakfast and lunches for the upcoming school year for all students rather than just a select few like at J-D. All of the schools are following the County’s guidelines along with partnering with OCM BOCES to offer remote learning should a student or parent feel uncomfortable about going back to school. 

For more information and to view the Onondaga County Health Department’s guidelines for school reopening, click here.

Sophia Caputo, '24
Sophia Caputo is a junior at J-D high school and the Editor-in-Chief. In her free time she enjoys baking and cooking vegan treats, taking her dog Cora on new adventures, and of course writing.