JRCSD Update - August 26, 2021

JRCSD Update - August 26, 2021
Posted on 08/26/2021
Good evening JRCSD community, 

I hope you are enjoying the final days of summer vacation. There are a few important items I would like to discuss with you:

1. 2021-22 Reopening Framework

2. Facilities Updates (parking, SAU, classrooms)

3. Breakfasts and Lunches

2021-22 Reopening Framework

As a reminder, the school board voted on August 16 to make a few notable changes to our 2021-22 Reopening Framework. Most notably, we have created a COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies Matrix - this matrix gives guidance as to when social distancing of three feet and when masking will be required. More information about this matrix can be found here. Due to a substantial level of community transmission in Cheshire County, we will start the school year in the "yellow" level. This means that the schools will implement social distancing of at least three feet, and masking will be recommended while indoors and required when in situations that social distancing of at least three feet cannot be maintained. An example of when social distancing cannot be maintained would be a construction trades or STEM course where learners would have to work in close proximity for a period of time in order to accomplish a learning task.

Our Reopening Framework has been updated online to also include information about how masking is required on school buses (per a CDC order), how outside organizations can now utilize school spaces, and additional guidance from NH DPHS about quarantining, isolation, screening, etc. The NH COVID-19 School and Childcare Toolkit, which is also hyperlinked in our Framework contains charts on pages 9 and 10 about screening in schools and other practices relative to COVID-19. More or less, the processes for learner screening, testing, and quarantine time frames are similar to last year. One notable change is that there will be no contact tracing within our schools.

To summarize, proper mask wearing is currently required on school buses at all times, when social distancing cannot be maintained indoors, and in situations where rules from other institutions apply to our learners (i.e. learners enrolled in ConVal/CTE classes, field trips, etc.).

Facilities Update

A lot has transpired over the summer months throughout our district facilities and grounds - this summer has been full of unprecedented struggles. First off, I would like to thank our custodial and maintenance staff for all the flexibility you have exhibited and all the hard work you have done to prepare the buildings for our staff and learners.

We began the summer with plans to repave the JRMS/CHS parking lot and expand and improve parking at RMS. As we began tearing up each lot, a number of issues were discovered that required immediate attention. At JRMS/CHS, we learned that the materials underneath the existing parking lot were not allowing for proper drainage. This increased the scope of the project, the cost of the project, and the timetable for its completion. While this was not ideal, we believed that it was important to take the extra care to ensure the job was properly completed. While the RMS parking lot project was not without its own difficulties, that situation was largely prolonged due to the wet weather we have had over the summer months. I am pleased to inform you that the RMS parking lots are ready for the start of school and the main JRMS/CHS lot is scheduled to be completed this weekend.

The rain and humidity we experienced this summer has put an increased strain on our facilities. A large portion of the SAU Offices was damaged by flooding on multiple occasions over the past month. The district has had to replace much of the flooring throughout the SAU Offices. We have also had to repair and replace any drywall that was impacted because of this. Not only did this displace much of our staff during this period of time, but it also put a further strain on our custodial and maintenance staff. At this time, we are about halfway done with this project.

The recent humidity has also caused problems with mold throughout the district. Approximately 20 classrooms/spaces throughout the district have been found to have some level of mold in carpeted areas. While the amount of mold in the elementary schools appears to be relatively small, there are rooms at the middle/high school that show more significant amounts of mold. The district brought in ServPro to help with dehumidification of affected areas. Additionally, an environmental hygienist was brought in to test the impacted areas and to provide us with a recommendation as to how we should handle remediation. We plan to have this remediation complete by the end of this weekend. The environmental hygienist is scheduled to return to the district Monday morning to perform post-remediation testing. I will be sure to keep you updated as this situation evolves. While we want to do this swiftly, we need to do this correctly. The health and safety of our staff and learners is our top priority.

Breakfasts and Lunches

To end on a happier note, I wanted to remind everyone that breakfasts and lunches for all learners will be free for the 2021-22 school year via a USDA waiver. While these meals are provided for free this year, we are still encouraging all families to fill out the Free and Reduced Meal Application, which can be found here. Completing and submitting this form increases our district's capacity to access state and federal funding for all of our schools. It may also help your own family access other benefits.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Reuben Duncan

Superintendent - SAU47
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