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August 24, 2021 - 9:16am

Notre Dame High reopening plan doesn't require mask wearing, but principal notes it is subject to change

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, notre dame high school.

Update, 2 p.m. -- The school/county health department meeting set for today has been postponed, pending potential guidance from New York State.

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Notre Dame High School Principal Wade Bianco this morning said that students, faculty and staff will not be required to wear masks during the 2021-22 school year, but the proposed guidelines are subject to change depending upon New York State and/or local mandates.

“There’s a meeting today at 3 o’clock – a Zoom meeting with the county (health department) – and whatever we’ve decided, based on previous information, could be different at 4 o’clock,” Bianco said. “But, we wanted to get it out to the parents that we were going to give the least restrictive environment and a safe environment …”

The ND reopening plan, distributed to students’ families on Monday, recommends that students, staff and faculty wear masks while in classrooms during instruction and learning, and also in the hallways and in the cafeteria, but it stops short of requiring face coverings – regardless of vaccination status.

“We’re also going to keep the desks a minimum of 3 feet apart – we’re going to keep 6 feet when we can,” the principal said. “If we have a class with 16 kids in it, we’re not going to put the desks 3 feet apart. But if we have a class with 20, the desks might be 3 ½ or 4 feet apart.”

Bianco said that school leaders are hoping to do everything in their plan, but believed the best course was to give people a “personal choice” on wearing a mask. He said that he, although fully vaccinated, is inclined to wearing the mask when in the hallway.

“Everything is subject to change; we’ve got to flex according to the circumstances,” he said. “The number one priority is safety. Number two is safety in the least restrictive environment as possible.”

He said a school administrative meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday and "if we have to adjust, we'll adjust."

The school’s reopening plan is as follows:

  • Students, staff and faculty are highly recommended to wear masks while in classrooms during instruction and learning, in the hallways and in the cafeteria, but it is not required, regardless of vaccination status.
  • People will maintain 3-6 feet of social distance at all times, with some classrooms at 6 feet apart if possible. Seating charts and use of classroom cohorts will continue.
  • Cafeteria seating will remain at 6 feet apart.
  • Staggered bell schedules will continue and use of a backpack for changing classrooms will continue.
  • Notre Dame will continue with sanitation and cleaning each day.
  • The school will continue to ask parents to monitor their students at home in the mornings to check for any signs of illness and ask them to keep their child home if ill.
  • If a student becomes ill during the school day, the parent will be called. If the student exhibits signs of COVID, the parent will be given the option of having a non-invasive COVID test done at the school or take his or her child to the child’s primary care provider.
  • Per state Department of Health, CDC and GO Health guidelines, students that have been a close contact to a positive case of COVID will be quarantined.

Additionally, the guidelines define close contact as someone who was within 3 to 6 feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes. Close contacts, along with the infected individual, will need to quarantine for 10 days. In the classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students if both the infected individual and exposed student(s) were wearing a mask.

  • Fully vaccinated students and teachers are not required to quarantine, however, they are recommended be tested three to five days after exposure, even if asymptomatic, and to wear a mask until their test result is negative. This also applies to those previously diagnosed with COVID with in the last 90 days.
  • Masking protocols for busing will follow the students’ home district. At this time, all districts are requiring masks for the duration of the bus ride. Refer to your home districts’ transportation center for more information.

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