Lafayette Township School Superintendent Jennifer Cenatiempo explained state requirements for the new year, which will include tracking vaccinations along with new Covid cases, and continuing to practice masking and physical distancing.
Cenatiempo gave a presentation on the state’s report, “The Road Forward Engage, Recover, and Reimagine Education in New Jersey,” to the school board at its in-person meeting held July 7. She highlighted the following points:
Full day, full time
Schools must plan to provide full-day, full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year.
Schools are encouraged to have a system to determine the vaccination status of both students and staff. If a school is unable to determine vaccination status, those individuals will be considered not fully vaccinated. Schools should “actively promote vaccination for all eligible students and staff but getting vaccinated is not mandated.”
Reporting new cases
School officials and local health departments should share information on Covid-19 transmission and prevention, and establish procedures for reporting new cases to health departments.
Students must maintain three feet of distance in the classrooms. For meals in school cafeterias where masks can’t be worn, physical distancing should be implemented. The state also recommends using alternative rooms for lunch, avoiding self-serve options, doing routine cleaning between groups, and staggering mealtimes.
Masks must be worn at all times while on the school bus, even if the students and drivers on board have been vaccinated. The drivers need to focus on increased ventilation, physical distancing, and routine cleaning.
Schools must clean and disinfect spaces with sick or potentially sick students or staff and clean high-touch areas daily.
Only one group at a time should be allowed to touch supplies and equipment.
Fogging classrooms must be done after school hours because the fog can be an irritant to students and staff.
The state recommends keeping windows and doors open in classrooms and school busses, using child-safe fans, and hosting activities outside if weather permits. Parents must monitor their children’s health before sending them to school each day.
The state recommends maintaining two nurses’ offices. People who show Covid-19 symptoms during school can be brought to a separate nurse’s office.
”What we lived through was the hardest thing we ever went through,” Cenatiempo said. “Some students have had challenges, but we’re not feeling that the students are behind. It’s important for everyone to continue to focus on moving forward.
“The focus should be that we are going to grow everyday — it’s a shift in our mindset. I’m happy to say that we were open full time for this entire school year.”
Cenatiempo will be meeting with the school board, teachers, and parents to discuss goals and come up with a plan for a successful upcoming year.