|The Way Forward: GSCS Leaders on COVID-19 Impact and Reopening--Aderhold|
283 Questions about School Reopening
101 New Questions
High School Athletics, Youth Recreation Programs, and Summer Camps
Preparing Our School Districts for Fall 2020
By Dr. David M. Aderhold
Superintendent of Schools, West Windsor – Plainsboro Regional School District
President of the Garden State Coalition of Schools
Updated May 29, 2020
*NEW Resources and Question’s Begin on Page 12 - Question #’s 183 – 283 begin
on Page (Regarding High School Sports, Youth Recreation Programs, and Summer
If New Jersey schools are to reopen in a few months, the planning must start now. The list of issues to be addressed is daunting
There are over 580 school districts, more than 2,500 schools, and over 115,000 teachers serving more than 1.4 million students in New Jersey. Without clear guidance on how to prepare for the fall semester, the public health will be compromised. The planning for September happens now. We cannot wait. We need clear and definitive guidance on reentry, remaining virtual, or creating a hybrid model now. We need guidance on the amount of state aid that school districts can anticipate. The state aid numbers released in February 2020 are a fallacy based upon a different time, a pre-global pandemic time.
The public health and the health of our staff and students are paramount. If budgetary reductions are coming, we cannot wait until the end of August 2020 to make adjustments with just a week before we open schools. School districts cannot wait until Gov. Phil Murphy’s August 25 budget report. Actions must be taken now. Contracts are appointed now. Staff renewals have already happened.
Summer is coming. Schedules are being built and class rosters created. New student orientations and fall athletics are upon us. While many are worried about ending the year, we cannot forget that next year’s planning happens now. There are literally hundreds of questions that must be answered to ensure the safety of our school communities. Without such guidance, we cannot safely reopen our schools.
Here are 91 questions to get us started:
- Who gets to determine the acceptable risk of foreseeable harm, illness, and potentially death in our public schools should we return from virtual instruction to in-person instruction?
- What will be the criteria and parameters to reopen schools? When will we receive a reentry plan?
- What will be the COVID-19 testing protocols for students, staff, visitors, etc.?
- What will be the budgetary impacts for school districts based upon the economic challenges due to the public health crisis?
- If someone in the school community tests positive for COVID-19, what will be the next required steps? Will schools need to be closed for deep cleaning? What will the requirements be for contact tracing and testing? How long will staff or students need to be quarantined?
- If a school building or school district has a COVID-19 positive case, how long will a closure be to ensure there’s no super-spread to the community?
- Will students and staff members be required to wear masks?
- If schools return in fall 2020, will modifications be made to teaching schedules for staff members that have pressing medical needs?
- Will accommodations be made for families who wish to keep their children home in the fall? Will those children be allowed to participate in virtual instruction or will families be required to withdraw their children to be homeschooled by their parents?
- Will hybrid schedules be allowed for students and staff members?
- Will there be modifications to our school day?
- Virtual school days?
- Staggered start times?
- Class size restrictions?
- Half-day classes?
- One-day-on, one-day-off schedules?
- Smaller class sizes?
- Hybrid model that allows for both virtual instruction or in-person instruction based upon parent selection due to concerns or medical needs of their child(ren) or family members.
- If modified schedules are a requirement for social distancing to be implemented, will such schedules enable parents to return to work?
- What are the contractual impacts to the myriad possible scheduling solutions?
- What are the financial impacts of implementing social-distancing requirements?
- Additional busing to transport fewer students per bus?
- Additional teachers needed for social-distance classrooms?
- Additional nursing staff?
- Will school districts continue to offer extended day care programs (before school and after school programs)?
- Do school districts have the infrastructure to meet the social-distancing requirements?
- Will school districts have the funding to meet the physical modifications and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) needed?
- Will districts need to provide PPE — gloves, masks, face shields, etc. — to nurses and support staff?
- Will districts receive funding for PPE for students, staff members, and visitors?
- Can the supply chain accommodate the massive amounts of PPE that school districts are going to require?
- For example, if required to provide one mask per day for students and staff members, my district alone will need 60,000 masks per week or 250,000 masks per month. This does not include masks for visitors or the potential need of multiple masks per student (especially at the elementary level).
- In New Jersey, there are 1.5 million students and teachers. If each student and teacher needs one mask a day, then school districts will need to have access to 30 million masks per month or 300 million masks per school year. (If three masks are needed per day per student, then 900 million masks will be needed).
- What equipment and supplies will be required to make schools safe? Hand sanitizer, face masks, PPE, cleaning supplies, gloves, etc.?
- For schools and school districts without air conditioning, how can you have students and staff members wear masks under certain temperature conditions?
- What happens when students sneeze repeatedly due to allergies and sniffles when wearing masks? Do they get a new mask for each time they sneeze?
- Since students need to eat and drink during lunch, won’t all safety protocols be violated during that time when all students must remove masks ?
- Will isolation rooms be needed in nursing offices for students or staff with fevers? If so, what are the specifications needed and how long will the physical modifications of these spaces take?
- What requirements will need to be implemented for the protection of medically vulnerable students and staff?
- Is the expectation that students and teachers will be wearing masks reasonable? Many students have sensory issues, asthma, or special needs that would make wearing a mask for extended periods of times very difficult.
- Will modifications be needed for nebulizer treatments? Will nebulizers be allowed in schools?
- Will standard health care equipment be needed in schools, such as no-touch thermometers?
- Based upon the new CDC guidelines, what does it mean to “screen” students?
- Must we do a temperature scan prior to students boarding a school bus? If so, who is going to do this?
- Will there be standardized screening protocols for staff and students entering school buildings? If so, who will do that?
- Should we require a COVID-19 test for any student or staff member exhibiting symptoms?
- Will the New Jersey Department of Health establish clear protocols for disposition of students/staff demonstrating COVD-19 symptoms? Will policies and regulations follow from the Department of Education?
- Will we need to limit the number of students in health offices at one time? Will we need separate areas for first aid? If so, who will cover those stations and with what certificate?
- How do we socially distance on our buses? Will buses run half-empty to increase social distancing? What will be the cleaning protocols for buses? How frequently will this need to occur?
- How do you socially distance a bus stop?
- Based upon the average age and the persistent shortage of bus drivers, will there be enough bus drivers available to transport all students in the fall?
- How will school arrival look in the future?
- Will students be permitted to enter the building to mass holding areas as was done prior to the pandemic in most schools?
- Will schools need to conduct temperature checks at school entrance ways? How many staff members will be needed to accomplish this?
- What will music classrooms look like in fall 2020?
- Spit valves on brass instruments?
- Choir classrooms with vapor particles?
- What does band class look like?
- What about concerts?
- How do you socially distance physical education classes?
- How do you socially distance locker rooms for gym classrooms?
- Based upon the National Federation of State High School Associations’ guidance from the Sports Medical Council, how can we safely open athletics in fall 2020?
- What does socially-distanced contact sports (such as football, wrestling, boy’s lacrosse, competitive cheer) or dance look like?
- How will school districts assess education gaps and remediate learning needs?
- What are the building facility cleaning protocols that need to be followed?
- Will students have recess in the future? How frequently will schools need to clean the recess equipment?
- What protocols will be required for athletic facilities to be maintained and cleaned due to the coronavirus (including surface areas, turf fields, sports equipment, etc.)?
- How frequently will school equipment need to be sterilized? What guidelines will be utilized? What industry standards will be used?
- Will there be enhanced cleaning protocols for school buses? If so, based upon what criteria and to what specifications?
- Will limitations be placed on the number of students that can use bathroom facilities at one time? Will enhanced cleaning protocols be required?
- Will COVID-19 increase the need for additional custodial staffing, nursing, security staff, etc.?
- How will fire drills work in a time of social distancing?
- Will any changes be required as we implement school district lockdown or evacuation plans?
- What revisions will be necessary to modify emergency plans, shelter-in-place, evacuation, etc.?
- What will cafeterias look like in fall 2020? How will students pick up and receive meals? Will lunch lines need to be socially distanced? If cafeterias are not used, will meals be served at classroom desks? If in classrooms, there will be coverage concerns as there are not enough lunch aides to cover all classrooms.
- What changes will be required for food preparation locations to ensure health and safety?
- What will the social-distancing guidelines look like in schools? How many feet between students will be required?
- How will we socially distance during passing periods (in hallways)?
- How will middle school and high school students report to lockers given social distancing requirements?
- Will school districts allow or be allowed to offer extra-curricular activities that require mass gatherings to occur during the 2020-2021 school year (indoor track tournaments, robotic tournaments, school musicals/plays, field trips, basketball tournaments)?
- Will guest speakers be allowed in the future?
- What protocols will visitors need to go through? Will school nurses be responsible for taking the temperature of every visitor to a school? If so, how is that even remotely possible without a massive increase in medical personnel in schools?
- How will schools govern the entry and exiting of buildings and the movement throughout school buildings?
- What physical modifications will be needed to reopen schools? When will those guidelines be released? Will funding follow?
- Will there be staffing reductions because of changes in state aid payments?
- What liability will school districts have should students, staff, or visitors become ill due to a COVID-19 outbreak that is traced back to a school district? What will be the impact on liability insurance? Ultimately, such decisions will come at taxpayer expense.
- As the fall brings illnesses such as the flu, respiratory infections, and whooping cough, will modifications be required to medical exclusion policies?
- Will there be standard return-to-school policies and procedures for students and staff who are presumed positive or diagnosed with COVID-19?
- How will the implementation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for special education students be met in a virtual, hybrid, or partial-day academic program?
- What is the state’s guidance for extended school-year programs for students who receive special education services?
- Many special needs students, students that need assistance with toileting, or wheelchair-bound students require hands-on assistance. How can a staff member safely assist these students without creating mutual risk?
- Will union/association contracts need to be reopened to seek modifications to provide for flexibility in the implementation of varied school schedules?
- With decreasing funding, school districts will need to prioritize equitable access to resources for all students. What will school districts’ responsibilities be for providing internet access and devices? Will legislative actions be taken to ensure that all students are connected?
- How will districts provide for mental health supports that may be needed for both students and staff that have experienced trauma due to the loss of family members, isolation, suicidal ideations, food insecurity, loss of income, loss of housing, etc.?
- What professional development needs will school districts have to assist their teachers’ enhancement of virtual instructional practices?
- How will we meet the needs of our rising seniors with their postsecondary planning? How will the college application process change?
- What protocols will be required for construction projects during the continued pandemic?
- Will school facilities be reopened to public use on evenings and weekends? If so, what safety requirements will need to be put in place?
- With the purchase of mass amounts of technology during the 2019- 2020 school year, how will the future replacement of devices be handled without huge infusions of funding? (Operation systems go unsupported on four-year cycles which render Chromebooks virtually useless.)
- The utilization of devices is only one component of technological costs. Increased servers, cloud storage, security, technological staff, web-monitoring security, web-based instructional programs, and hot spots have all been needed. Will school districts be allowed to exceed the 2% budgetary cap for the infusion of technology purchases in subsequent budgets?
- How will we assess which students need academic support and remediation?
- How will school districts address the digital divide that still exists months into the pandemic?
- Will education look fundamentally different post-pandemic, or will school systems revert to prior structures?
- We can safely assume that there will be some parents who will refuse to send their students to school in the fall. As such, will districts be allowed by the state to run both in-school and remote programs? If so, there are budgetary, contractual, legal, policy, and staffing considerations that demand time and attention to think through now.
- What legislative and regulatory changes will occur that impact the transition from the 2019-2020 school year to 2020-2021?
- What strategies will need to be employed for the fall to assist teachers in building culture and classroom routines in a virtual environment with students they have not met?
- Will modifications for evaluations of certificated staff members continue into the 2020-2021 school year?
- How will school districts assess, grade, and provide feedback to students during an extended closure?
- What will virtual professional development look like for new teacher orientation?
- Will antibody testing be available for staff members and students? If so, who will administer such testing? What are the implications for HIPAA and confidentiality rights?
- How will we teach programs that require hands-on interactions in close proximity, such as robotics, woodworking, culinary arts and fashion design?
- New Jersey’s guidelines state that a “substantial increase in testing capacity” is needed before reopening measures move further. What does this mean in relation to schools?
283 Questions about School Reopening:
Athletics, Camps, and Summer Recreation Programs
By Dr. David M. Aderhold
Superintendent of Schools, West Windsor – Plainsboro Regional School District
President of the Garden State Coalition of Schools
On Friday, May 29, we learned that Governor Murphy was opening up youth recreation programs and
non-contact athletics beginning in July 2020. On Saturday, May 30, Executive Order 148 and Executive
Order 149 were signed. Details and guidelines will be forthcoming from the NJ Department of Health
and the NJSIAA.
To the credit of the NJSIAA, they have previously started two task forces to create guidelines to address
concerns related to COVID-19, which include the COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force and the Medical
Advisory Task Force.
As guidance is forthcoming, below are some questions that would be helpful to see discussed in the
future guidelines from the NJ Department of Health or from the NJSIAA. In an effort to assist, included
is also a list of resources to ensure the safe return of our students to the athletes, coaches, spectators,
Above all else, the guidelines must include clear guidance regarding:
o 4 Dimensions:
Distance to others
Time spent together
Cleaning and disinfecting equipment
Public health prevention strategies
Definition of Non-Contact Sports
Definition of allowable practices plans
NJ Executive Order 148
“The capacity of the gathering must be limited to no more than 25 people at the same time”
“If any physical items, including equipment, are provided, such items may not be shared by anyone
except for immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners, and such
physical items must be sanitized before and after use;”
NJ Executive Order 149
“High school sporting activities under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic
Association (“NJSIAA”) may resume in accordance with reopening protocols issued by NJSIAA, which shall
consider DOH guidance in issuing these protocols. However, these high school sporting activities cannot
resume any earlier than June 30, 2020.”
Arizona Interscholastic Association Recommended Guidelines for Returning to Athletic Activity
The Aspen Institute. Health, Medicine, and Society Program. Return to play COVID-19 risk assessmenttool.
CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs
CDC School Reopening Decision Tree
CDC/EPA Cleaning and Disinfecting Decision Tree
CDC Child Care Programs During The COVID-19 Pandemic Decision Tree
CDC Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps
CDC Considerations for Youth Sports
CDC FAQ for Schools and Child Care Facilities
CDC Parks and Recreation Guidance
CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
CDC Prevention. Coronavirus Disease (2019) COVID-19: How to protect yourself and others.
Georgia Tech Athletics
Guidelines for Reopening: Arkansas Razorback Athletic Venues
Kentucky High School Athletic Association – COVID-19 K-12 Return to Participation in Sports Guidance
Louisiana Believes – K-12 Athletic Sports Reopening
Michigan High School Athletic Association – Sports Reopening Guidance
National Collegiate Athletic Association. Core principals of resocialization of collegiate sport.
National Strength and Conditioning Association. COVID-19: Return to training. Guidance on safe return to
training for athletes.
NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport
NFSHSA GUIDANCE FOR OPENING UP HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS AND ACTIVITIES
NJ Governor Murphy Executive Order 148
NJ Governor Murphy Executive Order 149
Tennessee Athletic Non-Contact Pledge – Sports Reopening Guidance
USA Swimming Facility Reopening Guidelines
Questions # 183 – 283 (New 101 Questions)
Considerations for High School Sports
183. Guidance provided by the National Foundation of State High School Association, NFSHSA,
specifically states that there should be “no shared equipment.” Therefore, in baseball or softball if
a ball is pitched to a batter, and hit to the field, can it be fielded and thrown back in? Example
provided by the NFSHSA Medical Sports Advisor Committee – “Softball and baseball players should
not share gloves, bats, or throw a single ball that will be tossed among the team. A single player
may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as backstop, no catcher). Prior to another
athlete using the same balls, they should be collected and cleaned individually.”
184. If there is to be no shared equipment, how do two players have a catch in any sport?
185. Under NJ Executive Order 148, outdoor size limits will be increased to 25 people. However, the
NFSHSA guidelines state that in phase one that no more than 10 people may gather inside or
outside. As the NJSIAA follows the guidelines from the NFHS, will we be allowed to have 10 or 25
186. Whether 10 or 25 participants, what will be the allowable experiences for athletes (by sport)?
187. Who will determine social distancing rules? CDC? NJDOH? NJSIAA? NFHSAS? Individual school
188. If participation is outside only, will bathroom or locker room facilities be allowed to be utilized? If
so, who cleans the facility and with what frequency?
189. How do you maintain a scrimmage if each athlete has to be at least six feet apart? Ex/ There could
be no holding a base runner, no challenging another athlete for the ball in soccer, and limited
experiences for football other than callisthenic/aerobic exercise.
190.What training will coaches, officials, and staff receive on safety protocols?
191.What constitutes a “non-contact” sport? Sports that may not be deemed “contact sports” often
192. If baseball or softball is classified as a non-contact sport, would the utilization of a catcher when a
hitter is present violate social distancing?
193.While football is a contact sport, can football teams participate in conditioning workouts?
194.Can volleyball athletes utilize a shared ball to practice?
195.Cross-country runners often run on roadways in groups in order to promote safety. Will runners be
allowed to run in clusters?
196. Field Hockey is a physical sport. Will field hockey be classified as a contact sport?
197.While tennis is not a contact sport, it does have shared equipment. In single tennis, will athletes
have to use different color tennis balls to ensure they do not share equipment?
198.What happens to transportation costs as varsity, JV, and freshman teams often travel on the same
bus to save costs? Will there need to be a reduction in schedules or loss of sub-varsity games?
199.Will individual teams need to have staggered practice schedules?
200.What will the rules be for spectator gathering?
201.Will visitors be banned from fields for practice?
202.How do you socially distance a dugout or sideline?
203.Will hydration stations be allowed or will all students have to bring their own water bottles?
204. If providing water is prohibited, will that violate any laws? Will this violate heat acclimation
205.Will each sport determine their own social distancing guidelines or will the NJSIAA provide sport
206.Will locker rooms be accessible to athletes?
207.Will school districts be required to have medical personnel available at every practice?
208.Will medical screenings be necessary?
209.What will be the rules for shared equipment?
210.Will school districts need to provide temperature checks on coaches and athletes?
211.Will parents be allowed to stay for practice? Will they count as part of the 25 allowed at a practice
212.What will be the protocol for a sick athlete, coach, staff member, or a family member of any of the
213.Will the health department need to contact trace each reported illness?
214.Will medical clearance from a physician be needed to return to practice? Will there be medical
215.Will medical physicals be required to participate in summer workouts?
216.Will medical screening questionnaires be needed at daily practices?
217.Will guidelines be provided to school district to provide teams to assist with limiting exposure?
218.Will athletes be allowed to use school district weight rooms?
219. If so, what will be the cleaning criteria for weight benches, athletic pads, etc.?
220.Can equipment be shared between athletes?
221.Can Cheerleaders practice stunts?
222.Can Marching Bands have summer camps?
Considerations for Summer Camps
223.How will camper’s belongings be separated from others’?
224.How will camps ensure adequate limited use of supplies and equipment from one group of campers
at a time?
225.How frequently will high-touch materials need to be cleaned? (e.g., assign art supplies or other
equipment to a single camper)
226.Will campers be allowed to use sinks and water fountains?
227. For campers that require naps, will they each have assigned mats?
228.Will indoor camps be allowed?
229.What happens on weather emergency days? Will camps be allowed to go inside or will they be
230.How will busing work for camps? What is the allowed distance between students?
231.Who is training and regulating camps on transportation guidelines?
232.What physical guides will camps need to install to ensure physical social distancing requirements?
Signage? Floor tape? Physical barriers?
233.Will playgrounds be allowed to be utilized by camps?
234.Will community pools be allowed? If so, how about bathrooms at community pools?
235.How will camps feed campers? What are the arrangements and facilities for meals?
236.What will be the nursing requirements at summer camps?
237.Will medical campers and staff members be required to have a medical note to return if they have
238.Will temperature checks be required? If so, by who?
239.Will campers and staff need to report illness and fevers? What will the medical exclusion policies
240.Will there be size limits for the number of campers? Assuming 25 campers and staff members, will
there be a required ratio of staff to campers?
241.How will camps ensure the limitation of community spread? Will staff members be required to be
hired from the local community?
242.How will be regulating the camps to ensure they are following medical guidelines?
243.Will there be staggered arrival and drop-off times?
244.Will different cohort groups of 25 be allowed on the same campus or the same facility?
245. If someone gets sick, will the entire team be medically excluded?
246.Can camps go on field trips?
247.Will camps have to follow the same athletic guidelines as recreation and youth sports?
248.Will camps need a designated contact for COVID-19 reporting?
249.What happens if a member of the camp staff’s family member becomes ill? Will the staff member
then become excluded? If so, with pay or without?
250.What will staff training look like? What will be the new safety protocols?
251.Will staff members be subjected to daily health checks?
252. Since camps usually run out of shared facilities, will all organizations be required to follow the same
253.Who will review and approve camp safety plans and/or guidelines?
254.Will overnight camps be allowed?
255.How will summer camps transport students when sick?
Considerations for Youth Sports
256.How will youth recreation leagues guard the safety of their athletes?
257.How will youth recreation leagues address shared equipment such as helmets, balls, bats, gloves,
258.What limitations will be placed on coaches regarding physical demonstrations for athletes?
259.Will recreation sports focus on skill building drills or team based drills?
260. If skill building, short of calisthenics and aerobic workouts, how is this done if we cannot share
261.Will team based practice be allowed?
262.Will competitions be allowed?
263.Will competitions or team based activities from outside the geographic area be allowed?
264.Will events outside of the region be allowed?
265.As every sport has different challenges, will sport specific guidance be provided? If so, by what
266.What time limitations will be provided for youth recreation teams?
267.Will sports programs have a decreased number of competitions?
268.Will players need to wear masks during summer programs?
269.What will be the guidance on hydration, summer heat, and masks?
270.Will social distancing requirements be waived for softball and baseball dugouts?
271.Will the number of athletes participating camps change based upon the age of the recreation
272.Will there be guidance on shared water bottles?
273.Will youth recreation sports need to adopt medical exclusion policies?
274.As youth programs often run on township, county, and school district facilities, will recreation
departments follow the guidelines of those other public entities?
275.Will youth recreation programs need to bring portable hand washing stations?
276.What strategies will be required for youth sports organizations to maintain healthy environments?
Who will be the governing agency ensuring compliance?
277.What will be the cleaning protocols for equipment? Will those protocols be different by sport?
How frequently will equipment need to be cleaned?
278.As most youth recreation coaches store their equipment in the trunk of their cars between
practices, what are the storage requirements for cleaning products for COVID-19?
279.Can players share any supplies, towels, water bottles, equipment or is there a 100% prohibition?
280.Can players high five? Can they fist bump? Handshakes?
281.What kind of signage is necessary around fields and facilities?
282.Will students with health challenges be excluded from participating?
283.Who will insure that there is a proper supply of PPE for youth recreation sports? (Ex/ soap, hand
sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings)