Fall 2021 Health and Safety Information
Posted: | Updated:
Summary: Next school year, some health and safety protocols will remain, others will go away, and new mitigation strategies will be implemented.
Family Letter August 27
We’re less than one week away from the start of the 2021-22 school year. We are so excited to kick off 180 Days of Excellence with you.
Limiting High-Risk Activities
Due to high local community COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates, we must delay high-risk activities that increase risk of transmission for the first two months of school. The following activities will be paused for September and October:
- Day field trips to indoor locations
- In-person principal chats and all family meetings. Meetings will need to be held remotely through the end of October.
- After-school in-person events with families
Remote Family Meetings
In response to an increase in COVID-19 in our community, from September 1-October 29 all SPS parent meetings with SPS staff will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. This means curricula nights, etc. will also be remote. Schools will share more information soon.
This impacts preschool and kindergarten Family Connection conferences, which will take place September 1-3 and PreK/K Connects meetings and conferences September 7-8. These one-on-one meetings are designed to welcome families to school and provide a safe environment for families to speak freely with the teacher, share information about their child, and ask questions.
Your child’s teacher will send a meeting invitation and directions to join the virtual meeting.
IEP meetings will continue to be held virtually, just like last year, until October 29. Families may connect with their student’s case manager, teachers, or school staff via Microsoft Teams or phone.
First Day of School
September 1 for grades 1-12. September 9 for kindergarten and preschool. While September 1 is a Wednesday, the first day of school will not be an early release day. The early release Wednesday schedule will begin on Sept. 8 for 1-12 grade students.
Schools will be distributing devices for students during the first week of school. SPS is a 1:1 device district, meaning that we will be providing each student with a grade-appropriate iPad or laptop. Your student’s school will share more details on distribution before the start of school. Learn more about device distribution.
Health and Safety at Lunchtime
Each school has developed a lunch plan that follows health and safety protocols. SPS can safely implement lunch plans that allow all students to eat inside, and we are taking additional precautions as COVID-19 Delta variant transmission rises in our broader community. To support healthy school communities, we have asked school leaders to review their lunch plans and consider taking additional steps if possible, including:
- Increasing the number of lunch periods
- Adding additional indoor lunch spaces
- Assigning set groups of students to spaces or zones. Keeping set groups of students together will support contact tracing and help reduce the need to quarantine larger groups of students
- Adding extra time to the lunch/eating window to support supervision of a safe lunch for students.
- Having their Building Safety Team support lunch, including reviewing and monitoring lunch plans – what is working, what is challenging, and determining solutions.
We have also asked school leaders to consider providing more outdoor spaces for meals. However, this is not a permanent solution for many schools. Not all schools have a safe, appropriate space to hold outdoor lunches. Learn more about lunch safety measures.
We know families and staff are concerned about the Delta variant and our unvaccinated students. We continue to work in alignment with the Department of Health (DOH) and Public Health requirements and recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our school communities healthy. If COVID-19 transmission rates continue to increase significantly in our community, our schools and district will be affected. You can help us support a safe return to school buildings by continuing to follow the guidance of public health experts, including wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, and limiting non-essential activities if not vaccinated.
We are organized and prepared to respond to the changing context and needs of students, staff, and families. Learn more about our contingency planning, including how learning is supported if students, classrooms, or schools need to quarantine.
Virtual Learning: SPS is offering a Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) for elementary (K-5) students. While the application for K-5 VOPP closed Friday, August 13, families can apply to be on the waitlist. For students who are unable to enroll in VOPP, we have identified several alternative online learning options that are state approved and available at no cost to our students. The state-approved online programs are available to any student in SPS. If a student disenrolls from SPS, students will not be guaranteed a space at their option school next year. Learn more about virtual learning options.
2021-22 School Year: 180 Days of Excellence
Please visit our resources webpage for a full list of Health and Safety Protocols that will be in place for the coming 2021-22 school year.