Dear Holy Cross Community,
Over the past several weeks, we have continued to define our school plans for a safe reopening this September. We formed 5 taskforce groups, made up of faculty and staff, to study the feasibility of our reopening. The groups studied within State preliminary guidelines, three pathways to opening the school: Face to Face, Hybrid, and Distance Learning. Each of these three scenarios was evaluated by each of the 5 task force groups; Logistics, Curriculum & Instruction, Community, Catholic Identity, and Technology. The taskforce groups carefully outlined and addressed the needs, concerns, and strengths of each plan. I am extremely thankful to the 30 faculty and staff members who gave of their time to help the institution create the Reopening Plan which will be sent to the State for review and approval.
Our priorities for reopening remain centered on two critical concepts:
- Protecting the health, safety and well-being of our community
- Upholding our mission to educate the hearts and minds of our students
On July 13th, New York State released its official guidance on the reopening of schools for September 2020 and we are waiting for confirmation on our compliance with the state’s expectations which should be announced August 1-7, 2020.
We are pleased to share with you the following plans for fall.
These plans build layers of safety for our students, faculty and staff, offering the most effective approach for reducing risk to our school community.
Our team has implemented a variety of modifications to assist in safeguarding our school community’s health and well-being, should the State recommend in-person classroom instruction, including the following:
- Student capacity will be reduced by 50 percent to support social distancing utilizing the hybrid model which students would rotate between in-person instruction and remote learning.
- Students will be required to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan Agreement, including a commitment to follow all safety guidelines.
- Students will be required to complete an at-home wellness check survey each morning prior to leaving for school. We will share more details about the testing process in the weeks ahead.
- Visitors will be restricted to ensure that exposure risks are minimized.
- Face masks will be required and students should maintain proper social distancing.
With your health, safety and well-being in mind, we anticipate the following necessary precautions as daily requirements this fall:
- Daily symptom monitoring: Through SchoolPass you will be required to complete a short series of questions daily to monitor your health and any possible symptoms of being unwell. Your responses will be kept confidential, and will only prompt a private follow-up from the school nurse if a risk is identified.
Preventive safety measures:
Social distancing: Six feet of distance must be maintained at all times. In instances where this distance may not be feasible, face masks or coverings will be required. Additionally, group gatherings, including events and meetings, are encouraged to be held virtually. Necessary in-person gatherings may not exceed size restrictions provided by state guidelines, which may evolve and will be monitored and updated as needed.
Face masks or coverings: Face masks or coverings must be worn by all individuals on campus, in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common workspaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, hallways, lobbies, etc.).
Hygiene guidelines: Handwashing, sanitizer stations and frequent disinfecting of campus spaces will remain critical components of our fall return.
Precautionary tracking: The Medical Office will work with our local Department of Health, which will provide trained contact tracers, minimizing the risk of any rapid spread of illness. In the event that a positive case of COVID-19 surfaces within our community, rapid contact tracing will allow for timely notification and immediate self-quarantine of those exposed to the virus. In accordance with health privacy laws, only potentially exposed individuals will be contacted by tracers as needed.
Modifications to the Cafeteria
To ensure social distancing, we will be adjusting our cafeteria services to accommodate enhanced grab-and-go options and socially distant seating. We do expect the following modifications:
- Redesigned seating layouts and capacity restrictions
- Increased grab-and-go options
- Cleaning and sanitizing of tables after each use
We anticipate a hybrid of student life offerings this fall, including both in-person and virtual events, activities, clubs, and organizations for students.
In order to ensure proper health and safety protocols are met, you can expect the following:
- Gatherings will be limited in size to abide by State regulations, and may be reduced further for added protection.
- Virtual meetings and events will be encouraged this fall.
- Proper social distancing of six feet will be required at all times.
- Protective face masks and coverings will be required of all participants during events and meetings.
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
Maintenance routines will include enhanced daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols, based on CDC and New York State Department of Health guidelines. Cleanings will take place with increased frequency for classrooms, common areas, high-touch surfaces, offices and workspaces. In addition, the following can be expected:
- Our Maintenance team will maintain hand sanitizer stations at building entrances, elevator stops and high-traffic areas.
- All faculty, staff and students will be encouraged to wipe down commonly used surfaces before individual use with readily available products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface.
Things You’ll Notice
This September, you’ll notice a number of changes designed to protect the health of our school. We’re planning for the following adjustments this fall:
- Six-foot distance markers, to help everyone follow social distancing protocol
- One-way directional signage in walkways and stairways, to minimize close contact in confined spaces, at select locations
- Hand sanitizer will be readily available
- Important safety signage, to remind our community of recommended hygiene practices and the importance of symptom checking
Personal Responsibility for the Community
These changes will require difficult but necessary adjustments in personal behavior and responsibility. The policies shared here and those still to come will help us maintain a safe learning and working environment for all students and employees.
We expect that all community members will:
- Wear a face mask or covering at all times when in public spaces and unable to social distance from others.
- Maintain physical social distancing of six feet or more, whenever possible.
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Ensure regular use of hand sanitizer in between hand washings.
- Cover one’s mouth and nose if coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid participation in gatherings larger than stated guidelines and where social distancing cannot be maintained.
In order to ensure the safeguarding of our health and that of all our Holy Cross members, it is up to each of us to engage in appropriate health and safety measures. We will monitor the latest research and best public health practices and adjust our plans when needed.
As we adapt to these new realities and prepare for possible unknowns that lie ahead, we will continue to take a thoughtful approach to problem-solving. Your input and questions are welcomed at Learning@myhchs.org. If for medical reasons you are in need of additional considerations, please reach out to me.
I look forward to safely being on campus in September and will continue to update you in the weeks ahead.
Ave Crux, Spes Unica