1. Will facemasks have to be worn?
Yes. Facemasks have proven to be an effective way of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and are required for all students and staff inside buildings. Remember, facemasks are not just to keep your child safe- they are to keep your child’s teacher and friends safe also. The mask or face covering must completely cover the nose and mouth. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has online resources on the correct use and cleaning of masks here. Students and staff do not need to wear masks outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
2. Can my child wear a face shield instead of a mask?
No, a face shield is primarily used as eye protection and the CDC does not recommend face shields as a substitution for a facemask. In some school situations, face shields may be used with students with special needs or as an additional level of protection with younger students.
3. Will there be scheduled times for mask breaks each day?
Yes, school principals will continue to create times for students and staff to safely remove masks as needed.
4. What will the schedule be?
We will return to our traditional schedule as it existed pre-pandemic.
5. Why don’t you test every student for COVID 19, before they come back, or weekly?
We are participating in the plan through the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to offer a voluntary no-cost weekly pooled COVID-19 screening testing program in K-6 educational settings for unvaccinated students. DPH hopes to have this in place by mid to late September, and we will notify parents as soon as we have more information.
6. Are there travel restrictions or a mandate to have a negative test before returning to school after a trip?
Anyone traveling internationally has to provide a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to fly back into the US. Governor Lamont's Executive Order regarding domestic travel was rescinded last March, and without a mandate or requirement, residents are urged to follow CDC guidance on testing both before and after domestic travel. While we cannot track travel or require proof of testing, we continue to encourage parents to follow the suggested guidance to keep their families and our community safe.
7. What are the guidelines for buses?
Student transportation is one of the more challenging aspects of the return to school plan. For some children, the only way that they can get to school is by riding the bus. For others, it is a matter of convenience. We continue to strongly urge any parents that can drive their children to school to do so, or to create car pools within their cohort of students. This way, buses will have more room for those students who rely on them as their only mode of transportation to and from school, and more distancing can be practiced. Buses will be cleaned and wiped down, and masks will be required on buses. DPH continues to recommend running buses with open windows to increase ventilation.
8. What are the procedures if my child or someone in my household is ill?
It’s very important that we all take care of each other as we are one community. A large part of this is keeping your children home if they are sick or if anyone in your household is sick. Learn more about West Hartford Public School’ COVID-19 health protocols.
9. If my student is a close contact of a positive case, when do they or family members have to quarantine?
If your child is fully vaccinated they do not need to quarantine as long as they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. We strongly recommend that they receive a COVID-19 test within 3-5 days after the last contact and be masked in public for at least 14 days from the last contact.
If unvaccinated, your child will be directed to quarantine for 10 days and you should contact the school and your health provider if symptoms develop. Any student who is ill and/or is quarantining should isolate as much as possible and be masked around other family members to proactively prevent any potential virus spread.
10. Will we be provided the names of any children or staff that are sick?
No. The right to privacy of any individual cannot and will not be compromised. It is also important to explain to our children that anyone can get sick, it is not someone’s fault if they are, and we need to treat them with kindness, not ridicule. People over the years have wanted us to turn over the names of those who had lice; we did not then, and we will not now with COVID 19, as it would break the law. We will continue to send general notifications for positive COVID-19 cases and update student and staff cases on our COVID-19 Dashboard.
11. Will online learning be the same as last year?
There is no remote learning this year as we have all returned to classrooms. Schools will make arrangements with quarantined students to minimize disruption.
12. What if there is an uptick in cases?
The Department of Public Health and the West Hartford/Bloomfield Health District will continue to monitor case prevalency and will make determinations, possibly on a local basis, about a prudent course of action.
13. What about after school activities?
Before/After school activities and sports will proceed normally, with some modifications for space and location at each school.
14. What about music concerts, and plays?
Our music programs continue to operate under the state’s recommendations and we are proceeding with the expectation that we will continue to have concerts and plays. If needed, our music departments will work with West Hartford Community Television and other providers on streaming options as we did last year.
15. What if I want to visit my child’s class?
Parents can safely visit our schools as needed. Please contact your principal to discuss this.
16. Will schools be using desktop plexiglass dividers?
Desktop dividers are not recommended by the Department of Public Health (DPH) as a mitigation strategy. In some settings, they may actually be detrimental to maximum ventilation.