FPS email regarding the return to school Monday, January 3rd - Please read
Dear Franklin Families,I imagine that there is a lot of nervousness as we return from break and a lot of questions. I will attempt to address as many of these as possible in this communication.I’d like to take a moment to reassure everyone of how much we have collectively learned as a community in managing COVID for these past 22 months. With a collective effort, care and consideration for each other, and good communication, we will weather yet another series of adjustments and spike of cases.As we return from break, we recommit to our health and safety measures, there are some updates to the testing and quarantine protocols, and it is a good time to remind everyone of our layered mitigation measures and our health and safety practices.Although some districts have canceled, I do not feel that the data warrants this level of disruption to our routines. However, in order to adequately prepare for students’ arrival on Monday morning, given some additional safety measures being put into place, we will have a two-hour delayed start for students on Monday, January 3.When Franklin Public Schools has a delayed opening, ECDC will have a cancellation/delayed opening as follows:
- ECDC morning session (9:15-11:45) will be canceled
- ECDC full day and extended sessions (9:15-3:15 and 9:15-1:15) will delay opening as indicated (for example, if there is a 2-hour delay, the school will open for students at 11:15 and dismiss at the regularly scheduled time).
- The delayed opening will NOT impact the afternoon session (12:45-3:15)
As with a spike in cases last winter, we remain committed to having our school buildings open and doing so as long as we can safely supervise students. We will be continually assessing staffing and coverage. If you know of anyone interested in serving as a substitute, please direct them to the employment section of our website.Additional Safety Measures Being ImplementedMask wearingMasks and face coverings are still required by all individuals in all of our schools, unless an exemption has been granted.KN-95 masks are being provided to faculty and staff, courtesy of DESE, and will be distributed to staff on Monday morning.Parents/guardians are reminded to please provide your child with a mask for school. We have supplies to provide them as an extra in the event that one is forgotten or that one breaks, but we do not have an unlimited supply to provide all children with masks each day. We also encourage you to consider upgrading your child’s mask .COVID-19 TestingWe will continue with Test and Stay of school-based, non-exempt close contacts and with testing of symptomatic individuals.We are exploring the possibility of initiating pool testing with our testing vendor.DESE is providing faculty and staff with rapid antigen tests. Faculty and staff will be able to pick these up on Sunday or Monday to use prior to return to school. Testing is not required but is an encouraged optional service.Unfortunately, there are no antigen tests being provided for students. Tests can be difficult to obtain, but families may want to consider testing their child at home prior to coming to school on Monday. Testing of students will not be required.DistancingAlthough there is no distancing requirement in place, we will recommit to distancing as possible, especially when students are eating.VentilationAll classrooms and workspaces have been outfitted with portable HEPA filtration units. They will be turned on each morning in classrooms and workspaces. All filters were recently changed this fall.Windows will be opened, as tolerated, to promote fresh air circulating.Hand HygieneWe will continue to implement good hand hygiene practices.Students will wash their hands regularly throughout the day (using hand sanitizer, if needed)Custodians are being asked to double-check hand sanitizer units and restock, if needed.Faculty and staff will check sanitization supplies in classrooms and offices and we will be sure that they are stocked for student arrival on Monday.MeetingsWe are moving meetings to a remote environment, wherever possible, until February vacation.VaccinationFamilies are encouraged to vaccinate their children as a means of protection against severe illness and infection.Families are also encouraged to have their child receive a booster shot, if eligible.Families are also encouraged to have their child vaccinated against the flu.Updates to Testing and Quarantine ProtocolsThe CDC adjusted its protocol recommendations over winter break. DESE and DPH issued an update on December 30, 2021, which went into effect immediately. Their guidance is linked above and will be updated on our website on Monday. Two of the main changes in this document include (but are not limited to):The isolation time for COVID-19 positive individuals is reduced to be as low as 5 days after symptom onset or after positive PCR or antigen test, if asymptomatic. Individuals may return to school on Day 6 if they have been without a fever for 24 hours, and experienced improvement in other symptoms.Non-exempt school-based close contacts participating in “Test and Stay” will do so for 5 days (previously 7 days).Reminder about Additional Layered Mitigation Strategies
- We have UVGI installed throughout FHS and in common spaces of our smaller schools
- FPS Cleaning Protocols
- Individuals monitor for symptoms and stay home when sick, and test if appropriate.
I know that this is a time of high concern. Our mitigation strategies are intentionally layered and no one measure is perfect but, taken together, they have been supporting a safe school environment.We appreciate your understanding of taking some time Monday morning to effectively shore up these additional mitigation efforts to promote a healthy environment.Sincerely,Sara AhernSuperintendent of Schools
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