Dear NHSBA Members -
As you are undoubtedly aware, Governor Sununu issued back-to-school guidance today. The guidance document can be viewed here:
While most school districts are already well into developing their own local plan, NHSBA hopes this guidance document enhances and supports what districts are already planning for. NHSBA has identified the following key components of this guidance:
- School districts should create plans for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning, recognizing that the school, a classroom, or a student or staff member may have to quickly transition to remote learning if exposed to COVID-19.
- Districts should create clear plans and protocols that ensure the safety of students and staff, and should engage key stakeholders in the plan.
- Districts should develop a comprehensive communication plan for students, families, and staff. Accurate and timely information delivered to students, families and educators will allow a district to manage expectations, prepare students and families with return-to-school procedures and prevent the spread of inaccurate information.
Much of the guidance relates to the safety of students, staff and visitors. The Governor stated that districts can use the federal CARES Act funding to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) on the private market, and that the state may help districts in getting the PPE, but that the state will not provide PPE to schools.
Related, the guidance also provides numerous recommendations with respect to school buildings and facilities, primarily as it relates to disinfecting buildings, checking ventilation systems, and other cleanliness/hygiene protocols. While CARES Act funding may cover some of these expenses, it is likely that districts will have to pay for these matters on their own.
Upcoming NHSBA Webinar on District Communication Plans
As NHSBA announced earlier today, we are hosting a webinar on Thursday July 16, 2020 at 11am-12pm relative to school district communication plans with respect to COVID-related matters. This webinar will provide school boards with information relative to communicating with the public, staff, parents, and students as districts work through their school re-opening plans.
School Board Policies Related to the State's Reopening
NHSBA has received several inquiries regarding COVID-19 specific sample policies. As we have all experienced over the past several months, the situation with COVID (SARS-CoV-2) is continually changing, week-to-week and county-to-county. As the circumstances facing each district differ and change, so do the protocols and measures needed to keep students and staff safe. It is NHSBA's conviction that plans for returning to school by this fall must remain flexible to accommodate potential changes in either local, regional or national conditions.
Accordingly, NHSBA does not believe that the crisis or circumstance lend themselves to relatively inflexible board policies, especially one-size-fits-all sample policies. Rather, it is our recommendation that provisions such as required virus testing for students, staff or visitors, distancing measures, PPE's, attendance, and even delivery of instruction - all of which in a static situation might otherwise be established via board policy - are best incorporated into your district's re-opening plan. As the draft STRRT recommendations provide, the plan should include provisions for different contingencies, and even a "hybrid capacity". It is the plan itself that would be approved by a school board as the local "policy". That policy/plan should allow for emergency flexibility for the administration to react to emerging and unforeseen circumstances, including, e.g., orders from the Executive Branch.
In particular, districts should determine, in collaboration with state and local public health officials, whether to implement any testing strategy, and if so, how to best do so.
NHSBA is working to establish a bank of samples of testing/PPE/distancing protocols adopted by school districts throughout the country. We will release a separate statement regarding those samples before the end of July.