Dear Springfield Public Schools Community,
In March of 2021, President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Public Law 117-2, into law. The ARP Act provides additional funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund to States and school districts to help safely reopen, sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s students. The purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Information about how school districts are required to prepare for this grant funding can be found here.
Today, we are sharing our Draft Safe Return to School Plan for 2023-2024 (see below). It is a broad overview of our plan for a safe return to school in the event in-person instruction is impacted by a pandemic. This plan will ensure the continuity of services in addressing students’ academic and social/emotional learning which may also include student health and food services.
The community is invited to share your thoughts as we work through this plan. The Google Survey will be available throughout the year.
Our goal is to continue to cultivate a plan with you that best serves the students of Springfield.
LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service
Pursuant to the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, Section 2001(i)
Introduction and Background
As announced in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)’s April 28, 2021 broadcast, in March 2021 President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Public Law 117-2, into law. The ARP Act provides an additional $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) to States and school districts to help safely reopen, sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s students. As with the previous ESSER funds available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Additional information on ARP ESSER may be found in the NJDOE’s funding comparison fact sheet.
Section 2001(i)(1) of the ARP Act requires each LEA that receives ARP ESSER funds to develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, no later than 30 days after receiving ARP ESSER funds, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools (Safe Return Plan) A Safe Return Plan is required of all fund recipients, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. Section 2001(i)(2) of the ARP Act further requires that the LEA seek public comment on the Safe Return Plan and take those comments into account in finalization of the Safe Return Plan. Under the interim final requirements published in Volume 86, No. 76 of the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), an LEA must periodically, but no less frequently than every six months through September 30, 2023, review and, as appropriate, revise its Safe Return Plan.
Pursuant to those requirements, LEAs must submit to the NJDOE and post on their website their Safe Return Plans by December 22, 2023. The NJDOE intends to make LEA ARP ESSER Fund applications available in EWEG on May 24, 2021 and LEAs will submit their Safe Return Plans to the NJDOE via EWEG. To assist LEAs with the development of their Safe Return Plans, the NJDOE is providing the following template.
This template incorporates the federally-required components of the Safe Return Plan. The questions in the template below will be included in the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG. LEAs will submit responses to the questions within the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG by June 24, 2021. The NJDOE hopes that this template will allow LEAs to effectively plan for that submission and easily post the information to their websites as required by the ARP Act.
LEA Name: Springfield Public Schools
Previous Date: June 16, 2023
Date Revised: December 11, 2023
1. Maintaining Health and Safety
For each mitigation strategy listed below (A–H), please describe how Springfield Public Schools will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC.
A. Universal and correct wearing of masks
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for wearing of masks for staff, students, and visitors.
If required, mask-related protocols may include the following:
Springfield Public Schools may require that parents/guardians send students to school with a clean face mask each day when scheduled for in-person instruction. Springfield Public Schools may ask that during the first week of school, parents/guardians send in two (2) backup face masks for their child/children for the classroom teacher to store for emergency purposes including; contamination, defective, and/or misplacement. Exceptions to requirements for face coverings shall be as follows:
- Doing so would inhibit the individual's health.
- The individual is in extreme heat outdoors.
- The individual is in water.
- A student's documented medical condition, or disability as reflected in an IEP, precludes the use of face covering.
- The student is under the age of two and could risk suffocation. If a student is unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition
- A Physician’s note must be provided documenting the student’s specific medical condition.
Springfield Public Schools reserves the right to have the district physician review and approve the medical note that has been submitted. If a visitor refuses to wear a face-covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual at the point of entry, the visitor’s entry to the school/district facility will be denied.
Expectations for Visitors
Individuals identified as “visitors,” may include any individual not employed by or in service of the Springfield Public Schools. All visitors will be required to comply with any protocols for visitation set based on Board Policy No. 9150 and guidance provided by local and state health officials.
B. Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding)
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for social distancing.
If required, social distancing protocols may include the following:
- Schools in the district will allow for social distancing within the classroom to the maximum extent practicable as identified by state and local health guidance.
- In any case, where social distancing is not possible, the school will implement social distance modifications to the greatest extent practicable, based on guidance provided by local and state health officials.
- All instructional and non-instructional rooms in schools and district facilities must comply with social distancing standards to the maximum extent practicable.
- Use of shared objects may be limited when possible or cleaned between uses.
- Protocols for each building’s entrance, exit, common areas, and traveling between classrooms will be based on the guidance provided by local and state health officials.
- Use of bathrooms may be monitored to ensure adherence to any guidance provided by local and state health officials.
- In schools where student lockers are utilized, schedules for student locker access will be based on the guidance provided by the local and state health officials.
- Lunch protocols, including distancing and use of partitioning, will be based on the guidance provided by the local and state health officials.
- Transportation practices will be based on the guidance provided by the local and state health officials.
C. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for promoting healthy behaviors.
Promoting Healthy Behaviors
Springfield Public Schools promotes behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 such as encouraging staff and students to stay home when appropriate; encouraging the practice of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; requiring the use of face coverings; and signs and messages in and around all district facilities. Procedures for Hand Sanitizing/Washing will be displayed in classrooms and bathrooms.
If required, schools in the district will prepare and maintain hand sanitizing stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol). Such stations should be:
- In each classroom (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
- At entrances and exits of buildings.
- Near gymnasiums, all-purpose rooms, cafeterias, and toilets.
- Children ages five and younger should be supervised when using hand sanitizer.
- For classrooms that have existing handwashing stations, stations should be prepared with soap, water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol).
- If required. students are required to wash their hands for at least twenty seconds at regular intervals during the school day and always before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing their nose, coughing, and/or sneezing.
- If washing with soap and water is not possible, wash with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) should be used).
D. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities and Food Services.
If required, all indoor facilities will have adequate ventilation, including operational heating and ventilation systems where appropriate. Windows will be opened for air circulation if practical, and filter(s) for A/C units must be maintained and changed according to manufacturer recommendations. When necessary, individual heating units’ filters will be changed every two months. The district may continue the use of the “air curtains” to increase the availability of fresh air in the classroom as well as the use of the air purifiers.
All cleaning and sanitation protocols will follow the requirements set by the New Jersey Department of Education and under the advisement of the local health officials.
- Each facility will continue to adhere to existing required facilities cleaning practices and procedures, and any new specific requirements of the local health department as they arise.
- Each facility will maintain cleaning/disinfecting schedules, targeted areas to be cleaned, and methods and materials to be used, including:
- A schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfection.
- Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that are frequently touched. This may include cleaning objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily (e.g. doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops).
- Use of all cleaning products according to the directions on the label. For disinfection, the most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 will be reviewed for effective cleaning strategies.
- The district will follow the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. concentration, application method, and contact time, etc.).
- The district will sanitize bathrooms daily, and when possible, between use, using protocols outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Conditions for Learning: Food Services
- The district will adhere to the rules and regulations provided by the Dept. of Agriculture for Free and Reduced eligible students along with paid students, and their requirements.
- Breakfast and lunch will be available to all students in the middle and high schools.
- Lunch will be available to all students in the elementary schools.
- If/When the cafeteria is used for sit-down feeding, students may be required to maintain established social distance requirements in accordance with State guidelines.
- Required staff must follow the NJDOH and CDC guidance on handwashing protocols after removing gloves.
- Cafeteria staff will adhere to all NJDOH and CDC guidance.
- All surfaces will be wiped down before and after each service period with the appropriate sanitation tools.
- Students may have to eat in classrooms in order to comply with social distancing requirements. A rotation schedule may be established to determine which students will eat in the cafeteria or the classroom.
E. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.
If screening, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining are required we will continue the following protocols:
Springfield Public Schools will follow current NJDOE and NJDOH guidelines, as well as any relevant legislation or executive orders signed by the Governor of New Jersey regarding contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with state and local health officials. This includes the continuation of existing protocols for engaging the local health official each time there is a positive COVID-19 case affecting a student or staff member to coordinate a response.
F. Diagnostic and screening testing
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for diagnostic and screening for staff and students.
If screening is required we will continue the following protocols:
Response to Students Presenting Symptoms
Springfield Public Schools encourages parents to be on alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep their children home when they are sick.
- Staff who observes a child exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will have the child escorted to nurse
- Nurse will:
- Conduct a screening.
- If symptoms are observed, the student will go to an isolated area under proper supervision until picked up by a parent or emergency contact.
- Contact parents/guardians for pickup.
- Notify Principal(s).
- Nurse contacts Local Health Officials
- Principal contacts Director of Student Special Services Response to Staff Presenting Symptoms
- Staff member will be escorted to Nurse
- Nurse will conduct a screening and will determine the best process.
If a Student or Staff Member Has Tested Positive
- If a staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker in their local jurisdiction will contact the individual to initiate the contact tracing process.
- Springfield Public Schools will notify the staff and families of the children of the location of a positive COVID-19 case while practicing staff/student confidentiality.
- If a staff or student tested positive and was in the presence of others, the school will follow the protocols established by state and local health officials relating to quarantine.
- Personnel will follow a chain of command notification:
- The School Nurse will update the principal.
- The Principal will update the Director of Student Services.
- The Director will update the Superintendent of Schools.
G. Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible
Union County residents can schedule free, walk-up appointments provided by the Union County Mobile Test Unit. Call 908-518-4307 or visit https://ucnj.org/covid19/testing/walk-up-locations/.
Local Guidance Springfield Township Health Department https://springfield-nj.us/departments/health/
H. Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies
Springfield Public Schools will follow the regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Education, and our local health officials when planning for appropriate accommodations for students, as well as make individualized decisions based on specific student needs.
For special education and ELL students, the Springfield Board of Education will provide educators with professional development to best utilize the accessibility features and accommodation tools made available through technology-based formats. Springfield Public Schools will continue to ensure students receive individualized supports that meet the requirements of their IEP and 504 Plans.
Gifted & Talented Education - Springfield Public Schools will continue to provide opportunities for enrichment and extension learning support for students receiving gifted and talented support.
2. Ensuring Continuity of Services
A. Describe how Springfield Public Schools will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff’s social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services. (1000-character limit)
Springfield Public Schools has developed a plan to allocate a portion of the APR ESSER III grant to support the expansion of academic and social/emotional needs of students including but not limited to: summer academic enrichment programs, increased social/emotional and behavioral supports, identify staffing necessary to support the goals of the plan, identify additional opportunities within the school day to increase student contact time and support the differentiation of instruction. In addition, Springfield Public Schools will identify opportunities for before and after-school support.
3. Public Comment
A. Describe how Springfield Public Schools sought public comment on its plan, and how it took those public comments into account in the development of its plan. Note, the ARP requires that LEAs seek public comment for each 60-day revision to the plan. (1000-character limit)
Springfield Public Schools will share the development of the plan with the school community at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, December 11, 2023, and the draft document was shared for public comment on the district website on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, as well as shared via social media and email. A survey will be used to gather feedback regarding for the 2023 - 2024 school year in accordance with NJDOE guidelines.
B. Describe how the Springfield Public Schools ensured that the plan is in an understandable and uniform format; is to the extent practicable written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable to provide written translations to a parent with limited English proficiency, will be orally translated for such a parent; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA, will be provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. (1000 character limit)
Springfield Public Schools provides the plan in a web-based format that can be translated into over 100 different languages as well as an accessibility menu that provides ADA compliant formats to support maximum accessibility. In addition, parents and community members may request additional support for alternative formats.