August 11, 2021
Dear Parents & Staff
We were hopeful all summer in regards to the start of the 21-22 school year and the opportunity for ALL students to be in school EVERY day. We so wanted to avoid disruptions to yet another school year. But here we are again. On Sunday, August 8, we notified parents and staff of the changes to our Back to School Plan. The plan is based on a color coded system implemented by the Indiana Department of Health. Locally, we will use the color designation assigned to Floyd County which generally is posted/updated each Wednesday.
Due to the increasing prevalence of COVID within our community, Floyd County has been elevated to Orange status. Our Back to School Plan states that an Orange designation in our county requires facial coverings of students and staff. This requirement will be in effect beginning Thursday, August 12. This is not where we want to be for our students and staff, but where we are as we try to help with reducing public transmission.
Our ultimate goal in all of this is to keep students and staff in school. We want to keep our focus on teaching and learning and not have to worry about mask compliance. As previously communicated, our buses have had a federal mandate for masks since the start of school. However, as we have observed, mask compliance has been an issue.
Starting August 16, we will work with individual families not in compliance with our current Back to School Plan both on buses and in our buildings. Our students and staff were great with mask compliance last school year and we are hopeful that the same will occur this year when needed. We know that this issue is very delicate but we must implement a progression of disciplinary actions for non-compliance. We want to work with families but at the end of the day, we may have to implement disciplinary actions. These actions may include, but are not limited to, warnings, referrals, separation from the classroom, suspension of bus service, and/or removal from school or bus.
We ask that everyone do their share in helping us to keep the focus on teaching and learning as much as possible. Our goal is still for ALL STUDENTS to be able to receive in-person instruction every day. We believe these mitigation strategies will help us achieve this goal.
As things continue to change and evolve, we will keep monitoring and adjusting. Parents of students in grades K-5, please see this attachment – for information regarding a potential virtual option.
We sincerely appreciate your support during this difficult time.
Dr. Brad Snyder
August 8, 2021
Dear Parents & Staff,
This year our overarching goal is to keep as many students as possible engaged in uninterrupted and direct instruction with their teachers. We want in-person, every day.
Everyone likely knows the situation. Covid transmission and positive cases have been low this summer. However, in its place, the Delta variant has since significantly increased caseloads across the country and our community. All of this has happened within a very short time frame. Additionally, 2 weeks ago, the CDC gave new guidance to schools which presented a significant departure from previous guidance. As we started school this year, within our Return to School plan, we followed the guidance of the CDC, Indiana Department of Health, and the Floyd County Health Department. At that time, all agencies were recommending face coverings, but were not making them mandatory. Our approach (for the last year and more) has been to follow these recommendations while monitoring local data.
This school year (only 4 student days) we have already experienced significant staff and student Covid positives. Additionally, the number of the close contacts resulting from these positive cases is also quickly rising. Close contacts force students to miss school. In the fight against Covid-19, we know our actions (schools) will not eliminate the spread, but we do believe there are measures that can help reduce this spread and keep more kids in school. Virtual instruction is not our desired outcome and one we hope to avoid by using preventative measures.
Amid the rising number of Covid cases, one of the better metrics which can guide policy decisions exists within the Indiana color-coding system. This system uses “real-time” data on a county-by-county basis to depict local prevalence of the disease. We will now use this system to provide specific policy for the good of our communal operation. The FCHD is fully supportive and will supply data and technical assistance as needed. Please note the CDC also uses a color-coded system, but that system is different and is not in sync with the Indiana system. To be clear, for the local policy actions below, we will be following the Indiana color system.
The following 4 items will not follow the color coding policy:
- All unvaccinated adults (employees and visitors) must wear facial coverings while in our facilities.
- Due to federal regulations for public transportation, face coverings are required on school buses for all students and staff. This policy will continue until the Feds change it. This policy is independent from the other color-coded policies.
- Indoor athletic and spectator events and sales will be governed by the IHSAA and other guidance factors.
- At present, there are no mask requirements for outdoor activities regardless of color code.
Typically, Indiana data is refreshed weekly, usually on Wednesdays. Thus, when there is a change in color which dictates a change in mitigation protocol, we will issue an informative “all-call”. Additionally, the policy below will be posted on our website for future reference.
With this data at hand, the scale below is in effect for all (P-12) school operations in regard to face coverings.
Please note, at present (8/8/21) Floyd County is coded – yellow.
New Albany Floyd County Color Code Covid Policy
Blue: Staff and students who are not fully vaccinated are recommended to wear a face covering; however, it will be optional during the school day.
Yellow: Students who are not fully vaccinated are strongly recommended / encouraged to wear a face covering; however, it will be optional during the school day.
Orange: Face coverings will be required for all staff and students on school buses and indoors, unless a medical situation dictates otherwise.
Red: Face coverings are required for all staff and students on school buses and indoors, unless a medical situation warrants otherwise. Visitors will not be permitted beyond the main office area.
With this process as a guide, we will begin requiring face coverings for staff and students on the day following movement into the orange category. At present, we are yellow.
We believe these steps will assist in reducing the spread AND reduce the number of students missing school due to quarantine. State guidelines for contact tracing provide that if all students are masked during the school day, three feet of social distance can be used in lieu of six feet to initiate contact tracing if a positive case is identified. This 3’ metric is a tremendous asset to a community for keeping their kids in school, but to qualify, it requires the implementation of universal masking.
As previously stated in our Return to School plan, we will continue to monitor the data and adjust our plan accordingly as we move forward this year. We want in-person instruction to be available for every student on every day. This is an ambitious goal that all of us want to see become a reality during our 2nd year of navigating this pandemic. We will make necessary modifications as things evolve.