GILFORD — Face masks will be optional for children heading back to school this fall, and other COVID precautions have been relaxed as part of the School District’s back-to-school plan.
The School Board unanimously approved the 11-point plan at its meeting Monday.
The wearing of face masks will be optional for students, whether they are outside on school grounds, or inside school buildings. Students were required to wear masks during the 2020-21 school year.
Another change is that students and staff will be encouraged, but no longer be required, to self-screen for COVID symptoms. Those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are urged to stay home, and if their symptoms persist for multiple days, they should be tested for COVID-19.
Unlike last year, schools will no longer conduct contact tracing, and will no longer notify the district of positive COVID-19 cases unless there is an abnormal spike in cases.
Quarantining will be required for students and staff who test positive for COVID or live with someone who has. The quarantine period will be 10 days. Those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempt, however.
District teachers will no longer be involved in remote instruction. Students who opt for remote learning will need to take their course through the Virtual Learning Academy, an online charter school based in Exeter.
School facilities will continue to receive intensive cleaning on a daily basis. Regular hand-washing will be encouraged, along with the use of hand sanitizer when hand-washing is not possible. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up in and around all district buildings.
The district will try to maintain 3 feet of physical distancing, and there will be plexiglass barriers in some spaces for those who need them.
Students on school buses will be required to abide by federal COVID guidelines, which currently require riders be masked. Those guidelines limit one student to a seat unless they are members of the same household. However, the board was told that that restriction might be relaxed before the start of school in September.
Volunteers who wish will be allowed to return to schools. Field trips will be allowed, though organizing them could be difficult because of the shortage of bus drivers.