APS Return to School Guidelines for 2021-22

On August 16, 2021, the Andover School Committee updated the Mask Policy 
(EBCFA)
All students, staff, and visitors at Andover Public Schools will be required to wear masks while indoors. This is regardless of vaccination status and applies to all grade levels (PreK-12). This protocol is based on collaboration with the Town of Andover Health Division, APS Director of Nursing, and the district’s physician. Based on the guidance of public health officials, the mask mandate will continue operating in accordance with School Committee policy EBCFA- Face Coverings until at least mid-January 2022. 

outbreak-coronavirus-world-1024x506pxAPS remains committed to a return to in-person learning this fall and our goals are always to keep our students and staff safe and healthy. This information is always subject to the changing conditions of the pandemic. Our primary goal is to maintain an environment that provides our best chance for in-person learning for the duration of the school year.  

We are closely monitoring the data and trends regarding COVID-19 cases and variants in Massachusetts. We are working in collaboration with the town’s Health Division, with the guidance of Andover’s Director of Public Health, Tom Carbone, APS Director of Nursing Rita Casper, and any updated mandates from Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

Governor Baker lifted the “COVID-19 Restrictions” order in June, 2021. This means that all protocols and guidelines set by the state, DESE or DPH for the 2020-21 school year were discontinued, with the exception of the DESE mask mandate. There are no capacity limitations in school spaces and no physical distancing requirements at this time.

Updated October 27, 2021

Masks  Effective Monday, August 16, 2021 – all students, staff, and visitors at Andover Public Schools will be required to wear masks while indoors per school committee policy EBCFA. This is regardless of vaccination status and applies to all grade levels (PreK-12). The mask mandate will continue operating until at least mid-January 2022. 

Accommodations will be made for those individuals for whom face masks are not possible due to medical conditions, disability impact, a significant impediment to communication or other health or safety factors, which for students, may include behavioral challenges. A written note from a physician submitted to the school nurse is required to request an exemption. If families have questions, please contact your school nurse directly. Families may not excuse their child from the face mask requirement by signing a waiver.

Additional Health Protocols This school year, all families are required to acknowledge and agree to the COVID-19 attestation in the Back-to-School forms. When logged into your family ASPEN account, look for the “Family-Connection - Back to School Forms” link. We continue to ask staff and families to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms, stay home if they are symptomatic, and contact their primary care physician immediately.

Students and staff who arrive at school and display COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home immediately and will need a negative PCR test per Department of Public Health protocols or be required to present documentation from their primary care physician verifying a non-COVID-19 related illness in order to return to school.

Learning Models The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released guidance on May 27, 2021 and updated information on July 30, 2021 noting that all Massachusetts districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week for fall 2021-22. 

At this time, APS will not operate a hybrid or remote learning academy for 2021-22.
COVID-19 Test and Quarantine Information

A decision tree on quarantine protocols is here

At the September 2nd School Committee meeting, Dr. Parvey outlined educational support for students who are quarantined due to COVID-19. 

Vaccination is highly encouraged for eligible individuals. Vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic and identified as a close contact do not need to quarantine but need to continue to self-monitor for symptoms.

APS plans to use the Test & Stay option, as provided by DESE. This testing will be available at all schools to students and staff who are identified as an asymptomatic close-contact while in school. Test and Stay is available to individuals who qualify under DESE guidelines (see page 4 for close contacts).

Test and Stay testing will require permission from a parent/guardian for students. Staff will need to sign a consent form to test. Consent form for both students and staff can be found here. According to DESE, districts are strongly encouraged to utilize the new Test and Stay protocol option to minimize the amount of time individuals are out of school. This protocol has been shown to be generally equivalent to quarantine for school-based contacts, and a safe alternative to at-home isolation.

APS plans to offer Symptomatic Testing, as provided by DESE.
This testing will be available at all schools to students and staff who develop symptoms while at school and will require permission from a parent/guardian for students. Staff will need to sign a consent form to test. Staff will need to sign a consent form to test. Consent form for both students and staff can be found here
 
Results will be available in 15 minutes. If negative, individuals can remain in school. Positive test results will result in immediate dismissal.
Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 or has undiagnosed COVID-19-like symptoms, will be dismissed as soon as possible and will not be permitted to travel on any school transportation.

COVID-19 Dashboard and Contact Tracing Similar to last year, APS will provide information via our dashboard of new cases on our website. Contract tracing in all indoor areas during the school day will continue for the start of the school year.
Transportation By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses at this time.

Lunch & Food Services
Social distancing of three (3) feet will be maintained at all elementary school cafeterias during lunch. Andover High School and middle schools can accommodate lunch periods outdoors, weather permitting. Contract tracing in all indoor areas during the school day will continue for the start of the school year.

Through a partnership with the USDA, APS will continue offering free meals for all families through June 2022. These meals will be available for all students at all grade levels and include one lunch and one breakfast per-student daily.

Families of pre-K to grade 5 students must pre-order at this link: https://onlineordering.linq.com/ in order to receive meals. Families of grade 6-12 students do not need to pre-order meals but are recommended to do so at the link above.

If your family qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program; we ask that you still complete the on-line application for this year. The application can be found at https://www.lunchapp.com/

Arts, Athletics & Extra Curricular Activities
All athletics, performing arts, after-school, and other extracurricular activities are required to follow the district’s EBCFA-Face Coverings policy. Masks are required for any sports related activity for student-athletes and coaches when indoors, in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).

Vaccinations COVID-19 vaccination is highly encouraged for eligible individuals to reduce the risk of quarantine and illness. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides resources on where to get a vaccine here.

DESE has lifted its mandate regarding the influenza (flu) vaccine, however, we strongly encourage eligible individuals to vaccinate. We plan to offer influenza vaccination clinics for students and staff later this fall.

Town of Andover information Andover's Public Health Division is providing data each week to provide appropriate information to our residents and businesses. It is important to note that town data may be different from the district's data. Town of Andover COVID-19 updates can be located at this link. 
Department of Elementary and Secondary information DESE has created a 2021 Back to School webpage with resources for families.