8 changes you can expect when schools reopen this fall across the tri-state

When they reopen this fall, schools will look much different. Connecticut, New Jersey and New York education departments have presented their framework of guidance to help schools and districts prepare for reopening.

News 12 Staff

Sep 14, 2020, 4:47 PM

Updated 1,371 days ago


When they reopen this fall, schools will look much different. Connecticut, New Jersey and New York education departments have presented their framework of guidance to help schools and districts prepare for reopening.
Here are seven changes that you can expect when schools reopen this fall across the tri-state:

1. Classes
Each state will have plans for in-person instruction, remote instruction or hybrid instruction.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that parents will have the option to choose all-remote online learning for their children when schools reopen this fall if they have concerns about COVID-19. Read more on the remote learning plan here
In Connecticut and New York, schools must have contingency plans to provide a robust blended learning or remote blended learning for all grades in the event that a school, district, or region has to cancel or limit in-person classes due to health precautions.
Plans should be clearly communicated with as much advance notice as practicable to students, families/caregivers, and staff.
2. Health monitoring
Schools across the tri-state will monitor students and faculty for symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, with the goal of decreasing the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
In Connecticut, the state's guidance also asks for the active monitoring of staff and student absenteeism and track the reasons for their absences to identify any trends that would suggest spread of illness such as COVID-19.
In New Jersey, schools must also provide reasonable accommodations for staff and students at higher risk for severe illness.
New York schools will be required to perform health checks and screenings, and recognize signs and symptoms of illness in students and staff. They will have to develop plans to manage and isolate ill persons until they can be sent home.

3. Promoting behaviors that reduce spread
Schools across all three states are asked to promote behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Connecticut, New Jersey and New York schools and districts must allow for social distancing to the maximum extent possible. When social distancing is difficult or impossible, face coverings are required, and face coverings are always required for visitors and staff unless it will inhibit the individual’s health.
School districts must also minimize use of shared objects, ensure indoor facilities have adequate ventilation, prepare and maintain hand sanitizing stations, and ensure students wash hands frequently. States will also require districts to instruct students and staff in proper hand and respiratory hygiene.
4. Cleaning
Tri-state districts will need to develop cleaning and disinfecting procedures for the schools in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the departments of health.
New Jersey's guidelines state that school districts must develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially of frequently touched surfaces and objects, and sanitize bathrooms daily and between use as much as possible.
5. Nutrition
Because school lunch is critical to student health and well-being, especially for low-income students, each state is putting an emphasis in nutrition.
New York says that schools and school districts should include food service directors in reopening plan discussions so they are able to provide all enrolled students with access to school meals each school day whether school is in-person or remote.
According to the Connecticut guidelines, schools and institutions that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Afterschool Snack Program, and Special Milk Program (SMP) as applicable, must continue to determine eligibility for and make available free and reduced-price meals and snacks and free milk to all eligible students.
6. Sports
Sports may be suspended, delayed or look much different in the fall.
The New York State high school sports fall season will be delayed, and fall sports championships are canceled, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced.
In New Jersey, the start dates for all fall sports remain unchanged, though the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) continues to emphasize that all dates are subject to revision.

7. Transportation
Each state says that the school bus is an extension of the classroom and services need to be provided to all students with consistency and equity. Districts will have to plan for heightened health and safety protocols, including, requiring all students and operators to wear face coverings, increased social distancing and deep cleanings.
In Connecticut, schools are asked to assess if a staggered arrival and drop off, properly communicated, will enhance safety protocols in place. They may have to also plan vehicle flow and logistics particularly if there are more family transport vehicles. They are also asked to consider the arrival and departure procedures that limit unnecessary entrance of parents and guardians into school buildings.
8. Repurpose unused or underutilized spaces
The CDC recommends that schools repurpose unused or underutilized school (or community) spaces to increase classroom space and facilitate social distancing, including outside spaces, where feasible.
Read more on each state’s school reopening guidelines in the links below:
New Jersey
New York

More from News 12