The New York State Education Department released guidelines last week for religious and independent schools to follow as they reopen their classrooms for the coming school year. The guidelines demand that all plans be comprised of four components. They are designated as reopening, monitoring, containment and closure.

According to this protocol, it will be up to the religious and independent schools to establish their own plans “for reopening and operating for the duration of the current pandemic.” These set of rules must include preparation “for in-person, remote, and hybrid models of instruction.”

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A communication system must be developed with the school’s plan. The “responsible parties” will have to organize communication between the school’s administration, teachers, parents and the students. They will also have to properly teach the students how to follow the new COVID-19 protocols.

Boarding schools will require plans for their residence halls and must create backup procedures in the event of a closure of the campus.

For the classroom, the guidelines recommend leaving all classroom doors open so as to lessen the need to touch the doorknobs. Alcohol-based hand rub dispensers and dividers are also recommended to be placed in areas throughout the school.

When students congregate for meals, the plan must include having them separated either through social distancing or providing them with a physical barrier. Proper hand hygiene before and after meals should be promoted while the sharing of food and beverages should be discouraged. Before a new group of students can enter to have their meals, the area should be properly cleaned and disinfected.

“The Department received the advice and guidance of leaders of the religious and independent school communities, as we compiled this guidance,” the Education Department said. “Religious and independent schools across the state should refer to it as they develop their required Reopening Plans and look forward to [a] happy and healthy school year.”

You can read the full Guidelines here.

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