SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Dr. Joan Mast, superintendent of Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District, sent a letter to parents and employees updating them on the steps being taken by the SPFK12 District to safely reopen school buildings for in-person learning.

"Over the last several weeks, our teachers and administrators have been focused on creating a warm and welcoming experience for all students in their remote learning environments," said Dr. Mast. "Our top priority remains getting our buildings ready for a safe reopening."

At its Sept. 10 meeting, the Board of Education (BOE) approved the professional services of the Environmental Safety Management Corporation (ESM). They have been contracted to inspect all eight schools. These inspections include collecting data on HVAC Flow Measurements in a cross section of representative classrooms throughout the district. The goal is to determine the extent to which representative classrooms meet the criteria of “adequate ventilation” as described in Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order 175 paragraph 2(k), per guidance by ASHRAE, CDC, and NJ PEOSHA. (See link below.)

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At the August 27, meeting, the BOE approved the professional services of EI Associates, a mechanical engineering firm that will perform an assessment of existing HVAC systems in the district's eight schools. The purpose of this assessment is to improve indoor air quality in each school. EI will assist the district with COVID preparedness measures involving mechanical system adjustments, filtration improvements and identifying possible remediations including Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology. These inspections are currently underway.

Completion of these services will provide the district with critical information regarding the HVAC systems in all schools. Once they review the findings from both firms, they will create a timeline of the work needed to be completed for the safe return of students to the schools.

A status report will be given at the Sept. 30 Board of Education meeting. Virtual meeting details can be found on the district's website on the day of the meeting. Community members may also refer to the updated FAQs for additional information.

Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order 175 paragraph 2(k)

2. All school districts that reopen for full or part-time in-person instruction must meet the following health and safety standards, delineated in the Department of Education’s “Checklist for Re-Opening of School 2020-2021” and detailed in “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” which include, but are not limited to the following:

a. At least six (6) feet of distance between individuals in all settings to the greatest extent practicable or social distancing modifications, such as a physical barrier or turning desks to face the same direction, when six (6) feet of distance cannot be achieved;

b. Mandatory use of face coverings by staff, students, and visitors, except in the following circumstances: i. When doing so would inhibit the individual’s health; ii. When the individual is exposed to extreme heat outdoors; iii. When the individual has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance; iv. When a student’s documented medical condition or disability, as reflected in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Educational Plan pursuant to Section 504 of 8 the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, precludes the use of a face covering; v. When the individual is under two (2) years of age; vi. When the individual is eating or drinking; vii. When the individual is engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anerobic activity; viii. When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals; ix. When a student, as part of music instruction, is playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering; or x. When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

c. Routine cleaning and sanitization of classrooms, lunchrooms, gymnasiums, restrooms, high-trafficked areas such as hallways, high-touch areas such as light switches and door knobs, and shared surfaces;

d. The facilitation of student hand washing at frequent intervals, or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available; 

e. Use of face coverings and social distancing procedures to the extent practicable and cleaning protocols on school buses if students are bussed to and from school;

f. Student and staff health screenings;

g. Implementation of enhanced social distancing and infection control protocols for music, choir, and physical education classes that are conducted in indoor spaces, particularly where students are not wearing face coverings;

h. A plan for response to students and staff that exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, which must include coordination with the local health department and procedures for isolating symptomatic students and staff;

i. A plan detailing the response when students and/or staff test positive for COVID-19, which must include coordination with the local health department and procedures for isolating any students or staff who learn of a positive test result while on school grounds;

j. Coordination with the local health department to support contact tracing efforts;

k. A plan to ensure that indoor facilities have adequate ventilation; l. Implementation of social distancing and infection control practices during recess and physical education periods; and m. Procedures for resumption of athletics programs and extracurriculars, if applicable.