Tuesday, 9/8/2020 - SAU29 COVID-19 Update

 

Good Afternoon,


**Delayed opening at KHS. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, crews have been at Keene High School addressing a power outage at the school. Staff were unable to work in the building today as a result of the outage and the day’s focus on COVID-19 related procedures has been delayed.  Not being able to cover those procedures means that we will not be ready to receive students on Thursday.  Keene High School will now begin the new school year on Monday, September 14th.**


Updated Comprehensive Opening Plan  as of 9/7/20.


Well, here we go. With the aforementioned exception above, later this week we will begin the 2020-2021 school year.  Some of our students will be fully onsite, some of our students will be in a hybrid model and some of our students will be fully remote.  As I have stated before, there is no plan that will fully satisfy 100% of our families and our staff.  That is not only true here in our communities, but everywhere across the state, across the country and around the world.  We absolutely know that and yet there are many people working incredibly hard, sacrificing time from their loved ones, putting in extended hours, being brought to the emotional edge to do the absolute best that can be done.  For that, I am grateful for all of the efforts that have been put forth to open this school year and the patience that everyone has exhibited as well.


Although we recognize that our plans will not fully satisfy everyone, our staff remains 100% committed to serving our communities and particularly, our students, with our absolute best!  In the spring, I recommended that folks reach out to their child(ren)’s principal, counselor, and teacher(s) with any concerns that you may have.  They are real people that, like you and I, only want the best for our students.  Please reach out to them with your concerns.  It is without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to resolve those concerns that come up.


As of Friday (9/4/20), we were prepared for the 85.2% of our students throughout the SAU that have opted to be in some form of onsite teaching and learning.  We were also prepared for 10.1% of the 14.8% that opted for fully remote.  That left us with a balance of 4.7% of our students that opted for remote that we were still working through over the holiday weekend. 


When we released our plan, we recommended that our schools start in a hybrid model and offer families a remote option through VLACS.  The remote option was based on guidance at that time, that VLACS would be a viable option.  When we learned that it would not I stated that we would need to find solutions using our staff.  While we have had to work across the seven districts in this SAU, we have identified solutions utilizing our staff for K-8.  Unfortunately, that has not worked out that way at the high school level.  


The high school team has gone through multiple exercises to determine what can and what can not be done to provide that remote option for students.  The insurmountable hurdle is staffing.  As a result, we have needed to pivot to identify ways in which we can ensure that students opting for remote learning are receiving the content of a much more limited course offering list.  Simply put, we don’t have the human capital to offer the full complement of courses for the remote only option that we can for students that are onsite.  While not ideal, it will include required coursework that will count toward graduation requirements so that it will be meaningful. 


There are a number of significant updates below that I would like to draw your attention to.  Newly updated information can be found in the following sections:


  1. COVID-19 Data - numbers reflect the previous week data released by NHDHHS.

  2. Decision Making Model - new guidance was released from state health officials that we have now included in our Comprehensive Plan.  That new language can be found below.

  3. E-Flyer Distribution - where to find information on programs that are not within our school systems.

  4. Remote Only Option - school level plans at this point in time. 

  5. Stay-At-Home Requirements - Clarifying language added and indicated in red.

The Screening App will be launched this week as we finalize the dashboards that schools will utilize to know who has and who has not submitted a daily screening report.  There are five prompts that will need to be answered and the program will indicate if you are cleared to go to school for the day.  Please be on the lookout for more details on the screening process that all students and staff will be required to comply with in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.


In just a couple of days, we will be welcoming back nearly 2500 students onsite and 400 remotely throughout all of the districts.  Then, on Monday, we will welcome back our high school students as well.  I think I speak on behalf of everyone in our community, our schools, our districts and much more broadly than that, when I state that this has been anything but easy.  I also know that some may be questioning whether or not we actually do have this, and I can say that really sharp people with nothing less than the best intentions for our students have been working incredibly hard on everything.  Will there be areas that will need to be improved upon? Possibly, but we have the people that can do that.  Will there be anxiety, nervousness and straight out fear?  Possibly, but we have the people to help with that.  Will there be questions and/or uncertainties about procedures? Probably, but we have the people to answer that.  Your feedback will help make our school year stronger.  As stated earlier, please reach out to your child(ren)’s principal, counselor and teacher(s) because the “WE” stands for all of us.


WE GOT THIS!


Be Well, 

Robb


COVID-19 Data:  Here is a 7-day look at the data related to COVID-19 that we’ve been tracking since March.   Source:  NHDHHS COVID-19 Page

Current Positive Cases

Date

Chesterfield

Harrisville

Keene

Marlborough

Marlow

Nelson

Westmoreland

Aug 31

0

0

<5

<5

0

0

<5

Sept 1

0

0

<5

<5

0

0

<5

Sept 2

0

0

<5

0

0

0

<5

Sept 3

0

0

<5

0

0

0

<5

Sept 4

0

0

<5

0

0

0

<5

Sept 5

0

0

<5

<5

0

0

<5

Sept 6

0

0

<5

<5

0

0

<5

 

Cumulative Positives Cases

Date

Chesterfield

Harrisville

Keene

Marlborough

Marlow

Nelson

Westmoreland

Aug 31

5

<5

30

6

0

0

8

Sept 1

5

<5

30

6

0

0

8

Sept 2

5

<5

30

6

0

0

8

Sept 3

5

<5

31

6

0

0

8

Sept 4

5

<5

31

6

0

0

8

Sept 5

5

<5

31

6

0

0

8

Sept 6

5

<5

31

6

0

0

8

 

Cheshire County Data

Date

Cheshire County Cumulative Infections

New Infections from Previous Day

14 Day New Infections

New Infections per 100,000 (14 days)

New Hospitlizaitons per 100,000 (14 days)

7-Day Positivity Rate

Aug 31

129

0

22

28.9

NR*

NR*

Sept 1

129

0

22

28.9

0

0.2

Sept 2

131

2

24

31.5

0

0.4

Sept 3

132

1

24

31.5

0

0.4

Sept 4

133

1

24

31.5

0

0.4

Sept 5

135

2

24

31.5

0

0.4

Sept 6

135

0

20

26.3

0

0.4

*NR - Not Reported.  The hospitalizations and positivity rates were not previously reported by county.  This county data began being reported on September 1, 2020 by NHDHHS.


Decision Making Model

**Updated September 1, 2020 with release of Transitioning Between School Instructional Models guidance from the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control in the NH Division of Public Health Services of the Department of Health and Human Services.**


On September 1st, state health officials released the above linked document to assist schools and districts with decisions on what instructional model to consider based on two primary factors.


  1. Community transmission within the county.
  2. Impact on individual school facilities.

These factors are described below and are incorporated into the decision matrix to indicate the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (“DPHS”).


Determining the Level of COVID-19 Community Transmission: The three criteria put forth by DPHS for determining county COVID-19 transmission level are outlined in the table below .  The overall community transmission level should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. School districts should utilize the appropriate county level data in which their schools primarily reside for the criteria below. 


Criteria

Level of Community Transmission

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Number of new infections per 100,000 population over prior 14 days

<50

50-100

>100

Number of new hospitalizations per 100,000 people over the prior 14 days

<10

10-20

>20

COVID-19 PCR test positivity as a 7 day average

<5%

5-10%

>10%



Determining the Level of COVID-19 School Impact (defined at the educational facility level): The three school-specific COVID-19 impact level criteria suggested by NH DPHS are outlined in the table below. The overall level of school impact should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. These criteria and impact levels may change during the school year as we better understand how COVID-19 impacts schools. 


Criteria

Level of School Impact

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Transmission within the school facility

Zero or sporadic cases with no evidence of transmission within the school setting

One cluster* in the school 

Two or more unrelated clusters* in the school with onset (based on source case symptom onset dates) within 14 days of each other

Student absenteeism due to illness

<15%

15-30%

>30%

Staff capacity to conduct classes and school operations†

Normal

Strained

Critical

* A cluster is defined as 3 or more individuals confirmed with COVID-19 who are part of a related group of individuals (e.g., classroom) who had the potential to transmit infection to each other through close contact. 

† This subjective assessment should factor in a school’s ability to maintain adequate staff for facility operations, transportation, teaching, and administrative functions. 


Decision Matrix for Transitioning Between Methods of Instruction: Using the assigned community transmission and school impact levels, schools can use the table below to identify the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by NH DPHS. 

 

Level of Community Transmission

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Level of School Impact

Low

In-Person

In-Person

Hybrid

Medium

In-Person

Hybrid

Remote

High

Hybrid*

Remote

Remote


* Depending on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the school and outbreak status, public health may recommend temporary closure of school and remote learning for a short period of time to control transmission before re-opening in a hybrid instructional model. 


This matrix SHALL serve as a guide when making decisions around when to move between methods of instruction. 


The data will be monitored on a daily basis and determinations will be made and communicated no later than the last Friday of every month (September 26, October 30, November 27, and so forth). Unless there is an urgent need to immediately shift to a fully remote model, a period of two weeks will be used to give families and staff enough lead time to transition to any change in mode, which is consistent with DPHS guidance which states that schools should monitor their local situation for at least 2-4 weeks before continuing to relax restrictions. 


E-Flyer Distribution Program:  As a reminder, there are many flyers that our schools are asked to send home throughout the school year.  We also post these flyers on our website and it can be found by going to this E-Flyer Distribution Program embedded link.


Meals: Food service during the hybrid model will be offered starting the first day of school.  Students will be able to participate in their lunch programs while they attend school in-person.  Grab-and-go meals will be available weekly for remote only learners and those participating in the hybrid model.


Friday, August 28th was the final day of the Summer Food Service Program offered by Southwestern Community Services, Inc. since June 29. All area students, including those from SAU 29 districts, remain welcome to utilize the lunch program free of charge. SCS is encouraging folks to take advantage of the curb-side pick-up at Keene Middle School, Monday through Friday. For more information please contact Rhonda Hull, SCS Community Food Coordinator at 603.719.4240 or rhull@scshelps.org 


Mental Health & Cultural AwarenessBelow are some resources that may be helpful as we end our summer vacation. 


Resources:



Remote Only OptionBecause of the complexities involved throughout all of our districts, the living, breathing plan is being worked through daily.  Where we stand at this point in time is as follows:


  • Elementary Level (K-5) - Students will receive an equivalent amount of time of direct instruction from teachers as students will be receiving in the hybrid model (e.g., if students are onsite receiving direct instruction from their teacher for 10 hours/week, those that are remote will receive 10 hours/week of direct instruction as well).  Teachers, both onsite (hybrid or fully) and remote will be utilizing the pacing guides to provide consistency for all students.  The “non-negotiable” content areas will be the number one priority for all teachers.
    • There will be multiple structures established to deliver the remote instruction, largely as a result of the student numbers opting to be remote.  They are:
      • Keene - Teacher(s) at each grade level teaching students across the four schools.
      • Harrisville, Marlow, Nelson - Teachers instructing students from their school, when possible depending on final counts.
      • Chesterfield, Marlborough, Westmoreland - Teachers instructing students across the three schools. 
  • Middle School Level (6-8) - Students from all schools will be placed in a cluster at KMS.  The KMS teachers will provide four blocks of onsite instruction for KMS students only.  They will also have 1 block for remote instruction for all students across all districts.  This structure does not add to the teacher’s workload or increase the number of instructional blocks that they currently have.
  • High School (9-12) - The high school is a difficult enigma to solve.  There will be the need to use multiple platforms to deliver instruction to all students that will be in the remote option.  Realigning student and teacher schedules to provide flexibility with courses is on-going now.  VLACS does have some openings that may assist some students and extended learning opportunities are also a consideration for some courses. Staffing continues to be the biggest challenge to overcome in providing for the students that opted for the remote option.

Reporting AbuseIf you see something, please say something.  You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.  


Additional Resources:


School Boards:  Please use the links below to access the most recent school board meetings for your respective school district.


Chesterfield -  CSB Meeting Video

Harrisville -  HSB Meeting Video

Keene - KBE Meeting Video

Marlborough - MbSB Meeting Video

Marlow - MwSB Meeting Video

Nelson - NSB Meeting Video

Westmoreland - WSB Meeting Video


School Buildings

In order to facilitate the cleaning of our buildings, we need to ensure that they are not in use for periods of time each day. Beginning August 31st and until further notice, each building will observe the following hours for times the building may be utilized:

Building

Open

Close

Chesterfield School

6:00AM

4:30PM

Franklin Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

Fuller Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

JD Pre-School

6:45AM

4:00PM

KHS (Including CCC and KCE)

7:30AM

9:00PM

KMS

7:30AM

6:30PM

KSD Buildings/Grounds and Food Services (Barn)

5:30AM

5:30PM

Marlborough School

7:00AM

6:00PM

Nelson School

6:00AM

4:30PM

John Perkins Academy (Marlow)

7:00AM

4:00PM

SAU 29 Central Office

6:00AM (public 7:00AM)

6:00PM (public 4:30PM)

Symonds Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

Wells Memorial (Harrisville)

7:15AM

3:30PM

Westmoreland School

7:00AM

5:30PM

Wheelock Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM


All buildings are closed on the weekend.


School Calendars: The 2020-2021 school year calendars can be found using this link:  SAU 29 School District Calendars.  


School GroundsOutdoor facilities were opened on Monday, June 22nd. Playgrounds will remain closed as proper sanitization can not meet recommended guidelines. Organizations and teams wishing to use the facilities must arrange to do so through the facility use process.  Contact your respective school district for further information. Users of the facilities shall continue to practice social distancing while on school grounds.


School Year 2020-2021 Opening: All seven of our districts have adopted an opening plan for the start of SY 20-21.  They are:

  1. Chesterfield:  Beginning fully remote and moving into the blended hybrid with a modified school calendar in that staff now begin on September 1st, students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd.   

  2. Harrisville:  Beginning with the blended hybrid plan and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on September 1st, students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd.  

  3. Keene:  Beginning with the blended hybrid plan and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on August 31st, students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd. 

  4. Marlborough:  Beginning fully onsite and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on August 28th, students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 22nd. 

  5. Marlow:  Beginning with the blended hybrid plan and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on August 31st and students begin on September 10 and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd. 

  6. Nelson:  Beginning with the blended hybrid plan and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on August 31st and students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 24th. 

  7. Westmoreland:  Beginning with the blended hybrid plan and a modified school calendar that staff now begin on September 1st and students begin on September 10th and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd.  

Screening:  Daily screening and self-reporting SHALL be conducted for each student and staff member prior to leaving for school in the morning.  We are currently working with a recognized medical company to make this process user friendly for all of our families and staff.   The technology solution we are implementing will guide users through a series of prompts that are consistent with the current CDC Screening Guidelines as of July 31, 2020.  The system will ask people to respond to:

Exposure/Close Contact

Presence of Symptoms

  • Close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person confirmed COVID-19.
  • Close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or under quarantine for possible exposure.
  • Any travel to/from areas outside of New England (Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island) within the last 14 days (starting from the last day of their travel outside New England), irrespective of the mode of transportation for travel (public vs. private transportation).**Subject to change as guidance is updated by state officials. See additional guidance below.**

Any new or unexplained symptoms including:

  • Temperature of 100.4 or higher
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue, body aches, headache
  • Loss of taste or smell

The building administrator will have a dashboard that will generate a report for their specific site, with live results as they are input by both parents/guardians and staff.  Anyone that did not conduct the screening prior to reporting to school will be required to complete the screening upon arrival and sent home if attendance is not approved.

Travel:  The following chart serves as a guide for any travel to/from areas outside of New England (Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island) within the last 14 days (starting from the last day of their travel outside New England), irrespective of the mode of transportation for travel (public vs. private transportation). It is important to note that this information is subject to change as information is updated by state officials.

District

Staff

Students

First Day

Travel Outside of New England Cutoff Point

First Day

Travel Outside of New England Cutoff Point

Chesterfield

August 31

August 17

September 10

August 27

Harrisville

September 1

August 18

September 10

August 27

Keene

August 31

August 17

September 10

August 27

Marlborough

August 28

August 14

September 10

August 27

Marlow

August 31

August 17

September 10

August 27

Nelson

August 31

August 17

September 10

August 27

Westmoreland

September 1

August 18

September 10

August 27


Stay-At-Home Requirements:  Parents/Guardians and staff know the risk of their level of exposure through their daily activities (where they have been, who they have interacted with, what safety measures they had in place).  Nobody wants to be the person who infects another so it is imperative that we all comply with the following chart (consistent with the guidance from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services released on August 28, 2020 and linked below chart) that serves to provide clarity:

Scenario

Stay-At-Home

Answered “Yes” to any of the symptoms (new or unexplained) and “No” to any of the exposure/close contact dur⁰ing screening only.

● Provide written documentation of negative PCR or antigen test result (in accordance with NH DPHS guidance) AND person is fever-free, without fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are improving (per routine school policy), OR 

● person can provide written medical documentation that specific symptoms are chronic (not new) and part of a pre-existing medical condition ÷ not conducted, treat the individual as a suspected COVID-19 infection and allow return to school after CDC criteria are met for removal from home isolation. Currently requires 10 days since onset of symptoms, and when symptoms improved and fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication, and district return to school protocols are met 

● Provide medical or public health documentation that self isolation requirement has been met.

Answered “No” to any of the symptoms and “Yes” to any of the exposure/close contact during screening.

    • For 14 consecutive days AFTER exposure.

      Students and staff CAN NOT test out of the 14 day Stay-At-Home requirement including travel restrictions outside of New England.

Answered “Yes” to any of the symptoms and “Yes” to any of the exposure/close contact during screening.

  • Until a minimum of 10 consecutive days have passed since the symptoms first appeared; AND,  
  • 24 hours have passed with no fever without fever reducing medication, AND
  • All symptoms have improved, OR 
  • Cleared by a healthcare provider that may also include possible testing (If you are tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart).  

***Updated August 28, 2020 with the release of the NHDHHS School Toolkit***

Additional Source:  CDC When You Can be Around Others

Special Education: As we gear up for a new and exciting school year, Special Education is working very closely with building leaders to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are met.  As always, please reach out to your child’s special education teacher or building principal with questions.  You can also contact the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email rmatte@sau29.org if you have any questions.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Thank you!   



Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts.  He can be reached at rmatte@sau29.org


Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.


Technology: Teachers, we have installed some software for remote teaching. Currently we have Kami which integrates with Google classroom. Screencastify will let you record your computer screen to share with the class. You can also have your image in the corner of the screen as you record the lesson. EquatIO  Easily add equations, formulas, graphs  to G Suite for Education. It has a scientific calculator, and periodic table charts.


Parents, we will be sending out an online registration form for PowerSchool. Please look for the form that will allow your student to use Youtube while we are in remote learning.


Technology support during COVID19: Please see the update.

 


Power School update:

We have upgraded Power School and in doing so we need to make sure we have all the latest data for your contacts and emergency contacts. We will be sending out a link to a video that will show you how to update your emergency contacts. As we get closer to the opening of school we will ask that you make sure all your information is correct for you and your students. We are putting in place an online registration to keep your important information up to date. Once we have it up and running we will send out a notice to all important links.



Help desk number (603) 352-0640 ext 3871. For help with the Home user and remote learning click here.