Superintendent's Back to School Note (8.21)
Dear Midlakes Families and Staff:
Midlakes is committed to returning all students to full in-person instruction in the safest manner possible. At the Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 16, the Board of Education heard recommendations and discussed options for reopening school in September 2021. Based on the Board’s feedback, we will finalize and post our reopening plan to the school website by Friday, Aug. 20.
The Board will formally approve the plan at a special Board meeting on August 23. In the meantime, I am writing to share the main elements of our plan for 2021-2022, which are based on recommendations from the CDC, the New York State Education Department, Ontario County Administration and Public Health, and our school physician:
- Midlakes will return to full in-person instruction, five days per week, for all students.
- All educational services and programs will be offered in-person.
- All grade levels follow their regular daily schedules. Grades 7-12 will return to the 8-period day, and students will be transported to their half-day BOCES CTE programs from campus.
- Effective August 23, indoor masking will be required for students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, when Ontario County COVID-19 transmission levels are rated as moderate (yellow), substantial (orange), and high (red). Our county transmission level is currently substantial (orange).
- Disposable masks will be made available to students and staff throughout the school day.
- Mask breaks will be scheduled at all grade levels and time spent outdoors will be encouraged as weather and academic activities permit.
- Masking will not be required outdoors.
- We will use physical distances of three (3) feet in classrooms, common areas, eating areas, music, physical education, etc.
- Per CDC and NYSED recommendations, no physical distances will be used on buses. Students and drivers will be masked at all times and windows and roof hatches will be opened to increase ventilation as weather permits. Students will be seated up to two or three per seat, with the second and third students added to a seat later in the run.
- Families are encouraged to provide transportation, whenever possible, to reduce student capacity on buses.
- The District will use seating charts and assigned seats on buses, in classrooms, and in cafeterias to assist with contact tracing in the event of exposure to a positive case.
- Daily health screeners and temperature checks are no longer required. Messages will be sent regularly to families and staff reminding them of the symptoms of COVID-19 and the importance of staying home when feeling ill.
- Any decisions regarding quarantine and isolation resulting from a positive case will be made by the local health department, but the District will assist with communication.
- The District will be prepared, as required by NYSED, to switch to remote learning in response to quarantines, school closures, or a declaration of a public health emergency. Like last year, we will use our iPads, Seesaw (K-6), Schoology (7-12), and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction to support remote learning when required.
- All special cleaning and ventilation protocols from last year will be continued.
- At this time, Midlakes will not conduct COVID-19 screening tests. Any future decisions to administer screening tests to students or staff will be made in collaboration with Ontario County and will be communicated to families and staff with advance notice.
- At this time, Midlakes will not collect vaccination information from students or staff. Vaccination status may be used by the local health department to determine quarantines following exposure to a positive case.
- Regarding athletics, indoor masking is required, as tolerated when student athletes are engaged in physical activity. Indoor masking is required when student athletes are not engaged in physical activity. Indoor masking is required for all coaches, spectators, officials, and visitors. Capacity limits may be applied as needed. Masking is not required outdoors. Student athletes must refrain from athletic activities when they have symptoms of COVID-19 and must be tested and cleared prior to returning.
- Regarding extracurricular activities, indoor masking is required. Capacity limits may be applied as needed.
- Midlakes will make our facilities available to outside groups, according to our health and safety protocols and subject to capacity limits and other modifications as needed.
Optional Remote Learning
- Midlakes is currently researching options that may be offered to families for remote learning. Those options include a remote (online) school provided by Erie 1 BOCES. At this time, a remote learning option is not guaranteed.
- It is expected that families choosing a remote learning option would need to make a full-year commitment to remote learning. Students engaged in remote learning would still be eligible for interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities according to our health and safety protocols and indoor masking.
- We encourage families to consider their child’s past academic success and experience with remote learning when making this decision.
- A separate communication will be sent with a link to a form for requesting remote learning. Families must complete the form by 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20, so the District can determine the level of interest in optional remote learning and plan accordingly.
- Confirmation of the remote learning option and a student’s enrollment in remote learning will be shared as soon as possible.
The information above is an overview of our reopening plan. The contents of the plan are subject to change throughout the school year in response to new data and updated recommendations and/or mandates. The entire reopening plan will be posted on the school website by Friday, Aug. 20.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work with Ontario County Administration and Public Health and our school physician to develop a plan for a safe return to in-person instruction according to CDC and NYSED guidelines.
Matt Sickles, Superintendent