Monday, 9/21/2020 - SAU29 COVID-19 Update

Good Afternoon,


Today we reintroduced students into our school that started off the year fully remote as they began their transition to the blended hybrid model with K-2 students at Chesterfield School.  I know that many folks have been looking forward to returning to some form of onsite teaching and learning and to see that process moving forward I’m sure was reassuring as we kick off the new week.  


I’m going to focus mostly on the screening part of the “Big 4” today as that continues to be one of our primary defenses against spreading COVID-19 (and other illnesses), but before I do, I wanted to back up just a little and refresh our understanding of how COVID-19 is spread as articulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).  


The novel coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) is MAINLY spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person (even if they are not showing symptoms).  These droplets can land into the mouths or noses of people that are in close contact (within 6 feet) with an infected person or possibly inhaled into the lungs.  The longer the close contact runs, the higher the risk of transmission.


Which now leads me back to the screening part of the “Big 4” and the importance for everyone to follow the guidance recommended by health officials and adopted by our school districts in order to keep everyone as safe as we possibly can.  I think it is important to know that this guidance was not created by anyone in our districts and comes directly from one of two sources:  The CDC or The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.  Whether we agree or disagree with that guidance, they are the recognized organizations that are charged with the health and safety of our communities.


Screening (Please see updated language below and in the embedded ______)- There has been some confusion on how frequently the screening needs to be completed.  This was largely caused by the original statement in our Comprehensive Opening Plan and has subsequently been updated to provide clarity and now reads:  Daily Screening and self-reporting SHALL be conducted for each student and staff member prior to leaving for school in the morning or for after school activities. **If we experience a surge of positive cases in our county, this section may be updated to daily screening and reporting for students and staff while either onsite or remote.**  


Additionally, we clarified the exposure section to be more closely aligned with the guidance found in the NHDHHS School Toolkit. Close contact in the School Toolkit is defined as within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more.  Important to note that the time factor is cumulative throughout the day.  


We are also further clarifying exposure to being with someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 and not only experiencing symptoms.  The reason for this clarification is that a person with symptoms may have received a negative test result after the onset of symptoms and thus, they are no longer suspected of COVID-19.  Until that result comes back, they are considered suspected and we want to be sure nobody is unintentionally infecting others. We are currently working with the screening assessment to update that prompt as well.  


Okay, hopefully that all makes sense.  What I would like to attempt here is going through the prompts so that we are all answering them correctly.

 
1. Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days? Relatively straightforward, you either have or you have not. I have not heard any concerns regarding this question.
 
2. Have you travelled outside of New England in the past 14 days?  Also straightforward, with no major concerns.
 
3. Have you been exposed to someone experiencing symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days?  This is the prompt we are working on fixing.  Our recommendation is for it to read “Have you been exposed to someone suspected of or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days?” for the reasons mentioned above.  If someone has symptoms and does not get tested, they are suspected.  
 
4. Do you have any new, unexplained or worsening of the following symptoms?  We have had a lot of concerns regarding this prompt primarily due to pre-existing conditions that may cause one (or more) of the symptoms on that list.  It is important to answer truthfully on whether the symptom is new, unexplained or worsening.  If there is a pre-existing condition, please have that documented by your doctor.  For example, chronic migraines, allergies, nausea caused by treatment for existing conditions are not new or unexplained.  And if the symptom is new or unexplained, PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR STUDENT TO SCHOOL and follow the Stay-At-Home guidance in the Comprehensive Plan.
 
5. Do you have a temperature of over 100 ?  Also straightforward, with no major concerns.

The last prompt asks if you are working virtually, which because this needs to be completed “prior to leaving for school” should be left blank. We have seen increased participation with the screening assessment in all of our schools.  Using this makes it much easier when students arrive at the buildings so that they can be cleared for entry.  It doesn’t take long, if you bookmark the site on the homescreen of your phone or on your computer.  Instructions on how to do that are included in the “Screening Tool” section below.  There is also a 49-second video that demonstrates the entire screening process.  If we are all being diligent in filling this out, then we are all doing our part in keeping everyone as safe as possible.


Speaking of doing our part, I’m launching a new student - parent/guardian - staff - board member challenge today.  It will only be open until 8am Thursday, September 24th and we will be using the submissions to create our own Public Service Announcements.  Students, you will need your parents’ permission in order to participate, so please make sure you get that prior to turning anything in.


All submissions should be sent to saupublicinfo@sau29.org in order to be included.


As stated, the “Big 4” things that will go a long way in keeping us as safe as possible are:

  1. Completing the screening honestly.
  2. Wearing an approved face covering.
  3. Maintaining distances of 6 feet.
  4. Washing/sanitizing hands regularly.

The challenge is to create a 5 - 10 second video on one of the Big 4 above using the phrase “Do Your Part.”  For example, you may hold up your phone with your screening result and say “Do your part, complete your screener.”  Or, you may get a clip of washing your hands and say “Do your part, wash your hands.”  But, because we have such creative and talented people in our communities, it could simply be a sign, picture, painting, drawing or anything that also gets the message across.  


Have some fun with this.  You’ve shown how inspiring you can be with other challenges.  My assumption is that we’ll get a very low return from the grown ups on this, but I could be proven wrong.  Very short window as production of the PSAs will begin on Thursday.   


We have known all along that we are all in this together.  And together, we make a huge difference, because together…WE GOT THIS!


Be Well, 

Robb


COVID-19 Data:  Here is a 7-day look at the data related to COVID-19 that we’ve been tracking since March.   Source:  NHDHHS COVID-19 Page

Current Positive Cases

Date

Chesterfield

Harrisville

Keene

Marlborough

Marlow

Nelson

Westmoreland

Sept 7

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 8

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 9

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 10

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 11

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 12

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

Sept 13

0

0

<5

0

0

0

0

 

Cumulative Positives Cases

Date

Chesterfield

Harrisville

Keene

Marlborough

Marlow

Nelson

Westmoreland*

Sept 14

5

<5

38

6

0

0

7

Sept 15

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7

Sept 16

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7

Sept 17

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7

Sept 18

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7

Sept 19

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7

Sept 20

5

<5

39

6

0

0

7







Cheshire County Data

Date

Cheshire County Cumulative Infections

New Infections from Previous Day

14 Day New Infections

New Infections per 100,000 (14 days)

New Hospitlizaitons per 100,000 (14 days)

7-Day Positivity Rate

Sept 14

142

0

12

15.8

0

0.1

Sept 15

143

1

13

17.1

0

0.1

Sept 16

143

0

11

14.5

0

0.1

Sept 17

143

0

10

13.1

0

0.1

Sept 18

143

0

9

11.8

0

0.1

Sept 19

143

0

8

10.5

0

0.1

Sept 20

143

0

8

10.5

0

0

*This county data began being reported on September 1, 2020 by NHDHHS.  Our new infections per 100,000 (14 days) calculation is based on the US Census estimated population for Cheshire County of 76,085.  The calculation reported by NHDHHS uses a population number of 71,770.  We are trying to get clarity on where that source came from so we can update our calculation to mirror their calculation.


Decision-Making Model

**Updated September 1, 2020 with release of Transitioning Between School Instructional Models guidance from the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control in the NH Division of Public Health Services of the Department of Health and Human Services.**


On September 1st, state health officials released the above linked document to assist schools and districts with decisions on what instructional model to consider based on two primary factors.


  1. Community transmission within the county.
  2. Impact on individual school facilities.

These factors are described below and are incorporated into the decision matrix to indicate the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (“DPHS”).


Determining the Level of COVID-19 Community Transmission: The three criteria put forth by DPHS for determining county COVID-19 transmission level are outlined in the table below .  The overall community transmission level should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. School districts should utilize the appropriate county level data in which their schools primarily reside for the criteria below. 


Criteria

Level of Community Transmission

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Number of new infections per 100,000 population over prior 14 days

<50

50-100

>100

Number of new hospitalizations per 100,000 people over the prior 14 days

<10

10-20

>20

COVID-19 PCR test positivity as a 7 day average

<5%

5-10%

>10%



Determining the Level of COVID-19 School Impact (defined at the educational facility level): The three school-specific COVID-19 impact level criteria suggested by NH DPHS are outlined in the table below. The overall level of school impact should be assigned based on the highest level identified by any one of the following criteria. These criteria and impact levels may change during the school year as we better understand how COVID-19 impacts schools. 


Criteria

Level of School Impact

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Transmission within the school facility

Zero or sporadic cases with no evidence of transmission within the school setting

One cluster* in the school 

Two or more unrelated clusters* in the school with onset (based on source case symptom onset dates) within 14 days of each other

Student absenteeism due to illness

<15%

15-30%

>30%

Staff capacity to conduct classes and school operations†

Normal

Strained

Critical

* A cluster is defined as 3 or more individuals confirmed with COVID-19 who are part of a related group of individuals (e.g., classroom) who had the potential to transmit infection to each other through close contact. 

† This subjective assessment should factor in a school’s ability to maintain adequate staff for facility operations, transportation, teaching, and administrative functions. 


Decision Matrix for Transitioning Between Methods of Instruction: Using the assigned community transmission and school impact levels, schools can use the table below to identify the least restrictive method of instruction suggested by NH DPHS. 

 

Level of Community Transmission

Minimal

Moderate

Substantial

Level of School Impact

Low

In-Person

In-Person

Hybrid

Medium

In-Person

Hybrid

Remote

High

Hybrid*

Remote

Remote


* Depending on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the school and outbreak status, public health may recommend temporary closure of school and remote learning for a short period of time to control transmission before re-opening in a hybrid instructional model. 


This matrix SHALL serve as a guide when making decisions around when to move between methods of instruction. 


The data will be monitored on a daily basis and determinations will be made and communicated no later than the last Friday of every month (September 26, October 30, November 27, and so forth). Unless there is an urgent need to immediately shift to a fully remote model, a period of two weeks will be used to give families and staff enough lead time to transition to any change in mode, which is consistent with DPHS guidance which states that schools should monitor their local situation for at least 2-4 weeks before continuing to relax restrictions. 


E-Flyer Distribution Program:  As a reminder, there are many flyers that our schools are asked to send home throughout the school year.  We also post these flyers on our website and it can be found by going to this E-Flyer Distribution Program embedded link.


Mental Health & Cultural AwarenessBelow are some resources that may be helpful as we end our summer vacation. 


Resources:


Reporting AbuseIf you see something, please say something.  You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.  


Additional Resources:


Meals: Every student in SAU 29 is eligible for FREE breakfast and lunch for every day of school through the USDA until 12/31/2020 or until funds are exhausted.

 

Hybrid students: All students attending school in person will be eligible to receive their free breakfast and lunch at their school on the days they are attending in person.  Families can sign up for three additional days’ worth of meals (6 meals) each week representing the school days that hybrid students are not in school and are learning remotely. If you would like to receive those meals for remote days the order form will need to be submitted by Thursday at 5:00pm each week for pickup on the following Wednesday at any of the locations listed on the order form.  Please see the link below to fill out the required order form. 

 

Fully Remote Students: Fully remote families can sign up to get 5 days’ worth of meals (10 meals) each week representing the school days that fully remote students are learning remotely. The order form will need to be submitted by Thursday at 5:00pm each week for remote meals pickup the following Wednesday at the location of your choice.  Please see the link below.

 

Please note, parents may not sign up for the free meals for themselves. Please call Keene Food Services at  603-357-9011 with any questions. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

LINK FOR REMOTE MEALS ORDER FORM:

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJluA2vRLOAyXVzI0a3We1nMZbV6J-Ot3mm3d21NrMz9W_LQ/viewform


School Boards:  Please use the links below to access the most recent school board meetings for your respective school district.


Chesterfield -  CSB Meeting Video

Harrisville -  HSB Meeting Video

Keene - KBE Meeting Video

Marlborough - MbSB Meeting Video

Marlow - MwSB Meeting Video

Nelson - NSB Meeting Video

Westmoreland - WSB Meeting Video


School Buildings

In order to facilitate the cleaning of our buildings, we need to ensure that they are not in use for periods of time each day. Beginning August 31st and until further notice, each building will observe the following hours for times the building may be utilized:

Building

Open

Close

Chesterfield School

6:00AM

4:30PM

Franklin Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

Fuller Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

JD Pre-School

6:45AM

4:00PM

KHS (Including CCC and KCE)

7:30AM

9:00PM

KMS

7:30AM

6:30PM

KSD Buildings/Grounds and Food Services (Barn)

5:30AM

5:30PM

Marlborough School

7:00AM

6:00PM

Nelson School

6:00AM

4:30PM

John Perkins Academy (Marlow)

7:00AM

4:00PM

SAU 29 Central Office

6:00AM (public 7:00AM)

6:00PM (public 4:30PM)

Symonds Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM

Wells Memorial (Harrisville)

7:15AM

3:30PM

Westmoreland School

7:00AM

5:30PM

Wheelock Elementary

7:00AM

6:00PM



All buildings are closed on the weekend.


School Calendars: The 2020-2021 school year calendars can be found using this link:  SAU 29 School District Calendars.  


School GroundsOutdoor facilities were opened on Monday, June 22nd. Playgrounds will remain closed as proper sanitization can not meet recommended guidelines. Organizations and teams wishing to use the facilities must arrange to do so through the facility use process.  Contact your respective school district for further information. Users of the facilities shall continue to practice social distancing while on school grounds.

Screening:  Screening and self-reporting SHALL be conducted for each student and staff member prior to leaving for school in the morning or for after school activities**If we experience a surge of positive cases in our county, this section may be updated to daily screening and reporting for students and staff while either onsite or remote.**

We are currently working with a recognized medical company to make this process user friendly for all of our families and staff.   The technology solution we are implementing will guide users through a series of prompts that are consistent with the current CDC Screening Guidelines as of July 31, 2020.  The system will ask people to respond to:

Exposure/Close Contact

Presence of Symptoms

  • Close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes*) with a person confirmed COVID-19.
  • Close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes*) with a person suspected of COVID-19** or under quarantine for possible exposure.
  • Any travel to/from areas outside of New England (Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island) within the last 14 days (starting from the last day of their travel outside New England), irrespective of the mode of transportation for travel (public vs. private transportation).**Subject to change as guidance is updated by state officials.  See additional guidance below.**

Any new or unexplained symptoms including:

  • Temperature of 100.4 or higher
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue, body aches, headache
  • Loss of taste or smell

*10 minutes is a cumulative total and not just at any one time.

**Suspected of COVID-19:  Individuals that have any new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19, but have not been tested for the novel coronavirus (See p.4 of NH Universal Guidelines) or anyone with supportive laboratory evidence: Detection of specific antibody in serum, plasma, or whole blood (See p.5 of COVID-19 Toolkit).

The building administrator will have a dashboard that will generate a report for their specific site, with live results as they are input by both parents/guardians and staff.  Anyone that did not conduct the screening prior to reporting to school will be required to complete the screening upon arrival and sent home if attendance is not approved.

Screening ToolYou will need to access each school's link that your children attend in order to complete the self assessment.  What this means is that a student ID number from one school, will not work on another school's link.  For example, a student from Keene Middle will not be able to complete the assessment on the Nelson School link, or vice versa.

Here are the links for all of our school's for ease of access to them.

School

Self Assessment URL

Benjamin Franklin School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Franklin

Chesterfield School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Chesterfield

Fuller School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Fuller

John D Perkins Academy

https://school.convenientmd.com/PerkinsAcademy

Jonathan Daniels Pre School

https://school.convenientmd.com/JD-Preschool

Keene Middle School

https://school.convenientmd.com/KMS

KHS

https://school.convenientmd.com/KHS

Marlborough School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Marlborough

Nelson School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Nelson

Symonds School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Symonds

Wells Memorial School

https://school.convenientmd.com/WellsMemorial

Westmoreland School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Westmoreland

Wheelock School

https://school.convenientmd.com/Wheelock

You may find this  49 Second Video  helpful on how to fill out the assessment.  Please remember to click on student on the first page. 

This  User Guide may also be helpful as it includes instructions on how to download the site to your home screen for both iPhone and Android users.

Lastly, if you need assistance, please feel free to contact our IT Department Help Desk.  They can be reached at (603)352-0640 x-3871.

Stay-At-Home Requirements:  Parents/Guardians and staff know the risk of their level of exposure through their daily activities (where they have been, who they have interacted with, what safety measures they had in place).  Nobody wants to be the person who infects another so it is imperative that we all comply with the following chart (consistent with the guidance from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services released on August 28, 2020 and linked below chart) that serves to provide clarity:

Scenario

Stay-At-Home

Answered “Yes” to any of the symptoms (new or unexplained) and “No” to any of the exposure/close contact during screening only.

● Provide written documentation of negative PCR or antigen test result (in accordance with NH DPHS guidance) AND person is fever-free, without fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are improving (per routine school policy), OR 

● person can provide written medical documentation that specific symptoms are chronic (not new) and part of a pre-existing medical condition ÷ not conducted, treat the individual as a suspected COVID-19 infection and allow return to school after CDC criteria are met for removal from home isolation. Currently requires 10 days since onset of symptoms, and when symptoms improved and fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication, and district return to school protocols are met 

● Provide medical or public health documentation that self isolation requirement has been met.

Answered “No” to any of the symptoms and “Yes” to any of the exposure/close contact during screening.

    • For 14 consecutive days AFTER exposure.
  • Students and staff CAN NOT test out of the 14 day Stay-At-Home requirement including travel restrictions outside of New England.

Answered “Yes” to any of the symptoms and “Yes” to any of the exposure/close contact during screening.

  • Until a minimum of 10 consecutive days have passed since the symptoms first appeared; AND,  
  • 24 hours have passed with no fever without fever reducing medication, AND
  • All symptoms have improved, OR 
  • Cleared by a healthcare provider that may also include possible testing (If you are tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart).  

***Updated August 28, 2020 with the release of the NHDHHS School Toolkit***

Additional Source:  CDC When You Can be Around Others

Special Education: The school year is underway!  Special Education is working very closely with building leaders to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are met.  As always, please reach out to your child’s special education teacher or building principal with questions.  You can also contact the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email rmatte@sau29.org if you have any questions.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Thank you!   


Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts.  He can be reached at rmatte@sau29.org


Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.


Technology: Teachers, we have installed some software for remote teaching. Currently we have Kami which integrates with Google classroom. Screencastify will let you record your computer screen to share with the class. You can also have your image in the corner of the screen as you record the lesson. EquatIO  Easily add equations, formulas, graphs  to G Suite for Education. It has a scientific calculator, and periodic table charts.


Parents, Please make sure you fill in the online registration for your students. It is important to have all the correct information in place.


COVID19 Daily self screening Convenient MD : You can find the links to your students schools here along with videos to help walk you through using the page. 

Technology support during COVID19: Please see the update.

 

Power School update:

Power school online registration help can be found here


Help desk number: (603) 352-0640 ext 3871. For help with the home user and remote learning click here