Health Protocols 2021-2022
Updated September 3, 2021
NJ Department of Health: The Road Forward
Health Protocols 2021-2022
The first day of school for students will be Thursday, September 9, 2021. We are looking forward to welcoming back all students for full days, five days a week.
As of August 9, 2021, Governor Murphy ordered all students and staff in schools to wear masks due to the rising cases in New Jersey regardless of vaccination status. Our PPS health experts have also recommended masks for all staff and students in PPS buildings. If you have a child older than 12 and you are looking for a vaccination appointment, please reach out to email@example.com and we can help. If you are entering a school building, please fill out the Daily Screening Form on PowerSchool. Thank you to all students, parents, and staff for your continued cooperation.
NJ Program to Screen Unvaccinated Students
Updated: PPS recently completed a survey to opt in for receiving State COVID-19 screening testing support to initiate a program to screen our unvaccinated students. We will await further information from the state on next steps. In the meantime, we will continue to explore options available to initiate a testing program when COVID-19 activity levels in our local community are in the moderate to very high range.
Remote Instruction During Quarantine and Isolation
Princeton Public Schools is committed to in-person, five-day, full-day school for our students starting September 9. PPS will follow the Governor's order and the requirements from the Department of Education which stipulate that the only option for remote learning is when a student is either in isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis, or if they have been identified as a close contact and need to quarantine if they are not vaccinated. Needing to quarantine after travel is not included. For school year 2021-22 there is no option to request remote learning due to concerns about virus spread.
However, if a student needs to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19, the district will provide remote instruction starting 24 hours after the quarantine or isolation period begins. COVID quarantine/isolation days are the only remote days that can be counted for attendance purposes.
Students who have a significant medical issue, are undergoing treatment, or recovering from a medical situation such as surgery, can receive home instruction on a short-term basis. Home instruction requires a medical doctor's note requestinghome instruction for a specific period. Students who receive home instruction work with a teacher for one hour a day--this is not a full-day schedule because the student is ill and is not able to participate for a full day of instruction. If they can, they will be in school.
Home schooling--which is different than home instruction--involves a family opting to withdraw their child from Princeton Public Schools. Parents who choose this option need to notify their school in writing to withdraw the child from school. A family can re-enroll their child in a PPS school at any time.
We understand that some families are struggling with issues related to health and the pandemic. Medical experts are telling us that this particular wave of illness is expected to peak in October. A worsening situation in Mercer County or the state of New Jersey could conceivably result in the Governor changing course and permitting remote learning as an option, but at this point most experts hope this will not be necessary. PPS will continue to monitor guidance from the NJ Department of Health and the Department of Education closely and will provide updates to our families when new information is received.
Princeton continues to be in a public health situation where unvaccinated students and staff must quarantine after travel lasting 24 hours or longer outside of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York or Delaware. Unvaccinated staff and students must continue to follow the CDC guidelines which require 10 days of quarantine without testing or seven days of quarantine with a negative test taken on day 3-5 after travel. The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
For those who are vaccinated, New Jersey residents returning home after travel do not need to quarantine but should still follow travel guidance from the CDC the NJ Department of Health, and all local health and safety protocols. Here is more detailed travel information from the New Jersey Department of Health and from the CDC.
Please note that the protocol is different for unvaccinated staff and students. Unvaccinated staff and students must continue to follow the CDC guidelines which require 10 days of quarantine without testing or seven days of quarantine with a negative test taken on day 3-5 after travel. The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. For those who are vaccinated, New Jersey residents returning home after domestic travel do not need to quarantine but should still follow travel guidance from the CDC the NJ Department of Health, and all local health and safety protocols.
For individuals exposed to Covid-19 and deemed to be close contacts, the mandatory quarantine period is 10 days. The CDC and the NJDOH allow for a 10-day quarantine (or seven days with a negative test on day 3-5) during periods when the local area has low to moderate disease activity.
Before Coming to School
Please complete a Daily Health Screening form each morning for each child and submit it via CrisisGo by 7:45 AM. If a symptom is reported, the nurse will reach out to the parents/guardians to discuss recommendations, which could include (1) student may proceed to school; (2) student should stay home and monitor symptoms, until a follow up conversation and determination is made by the school nurse; or (3) the student should seek medical care for further evaluation and will need clearance by a medical provider before returning to school. The same procedures apply to staff members.
All students must wear a face covering. Neck gaiters cannot be substituted for masks. Cloth face coverings will be available for those who do not have one. Extra disposable face coverings will also be available for students who forget to bring a mask or if their mask gets damaged, lost, or soiled during the school day. In some cases, cloth face coverings worn by teachers may impede the education process for certain students, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing or receiving speech/language services; young students in early education programs; and English-language learners. The district will provide products (e.g., face coverings with clear panels in the front) in these cases. All students will be allowed mask breaks as needed.
During the School Day
If a student has symptoms of illness during the school day, he or she will be sent home. Parents and guardians should pick up the child within 30 minutes of being called. If this is not possible, please provide an emergency contact who can get to school within 30 minutes. The person picking up the child should be listed as an emergency contact. Emergency contacts can be added via PowerSchool.
Social Distancing Protocols
Staff and students will maintain three to six feet of physical distance to the degree possible given the needs of individual students. When a student requires additional assistance, such as a physical prompt (pointing to an item on a page), the staff member will stay in close proximity to the student for the least amount of time possible. Staff will work with individual students to build skills of independence.
In-School Screenings & Precautions
Will PPS use the Daily Screening Form this year?
Yes. Staff and students should be symptom-free when they arrive at school and must fill out the Daily Screening Form in PowerSchool before school starts every morning.
Will masks be worn at school?
Yes, masks will be worn by all students and staff under the Governor’s Executive Order 251 and should fully cover the nose and mouth. District-supplied masks will be available only if a student’s mask is lost, wet, or unwearable. We welcome mask donations.
Will there be mask breaks during the school day?
Will masks be required outdoors?
In alignment with state guidelines, if students are six feet apart outdoors, masks are not required.
What are the procedures for the bus?
Students will wear a mask when boarding the bus, sit in an assigned seat, and stay distanced as much as possible unless they are siblings or members of the same family. Bus windows will be open for fresh air and ventilation.
Will there be social distancing during lunch?
Yes. PPS schools are adjusting lunch schedules and utilizing some outdoor seating options to allow for social distancing during lunch periods.
Will the district mandate vaccinations?
All New Jersey teachers and staff must be vaccinated before October 18 or undergo weekly testing, by executive order of the governor. We encourage eligible students to be vaccinated, but PPS is not mandating vaccinations at this time. We are monitoring potential mandates and recommendations from the State of New Jersey.
Has any information been shared with the schools on when a vaccine will be available for children under 12 years old? What about booster shots?
Not at this time, but our medical experts will keep us updated and we will share what we learn with you.
What will happen if a student needs to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19?
Students who are quarantined because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or identified as a close contact to someone who has been diagnosed will be provided with remote learning within 24 hours of the start of their isolation or quarantine period. Students with proof of vaccination will not need to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19.
What are the current travel rules that may require quarantine?
PPS will continue to abide by the travel guidelines adopted by the CDC.
International Travel: Fully vaccinated individuals who engage in international travel do not need to quarantine after their trip but must be tested within three to five days after returning to the United States. It's important to self-monitor and watch for symptoms.
If you are not vaccinated, you must be tested within three to five days after returning to the United States and self-quarantine for a full 7 days following a negative test. If your test is positive, you must isolate for 10 days and seek medical advice.
Domestic Travel: For individuals who are fully vaccinated and travel outside of New Jersey, there is no need to quarantine or test before or after travel. You should monitor for symptoms and get tested if any develop.
Unvaccinated travelers (including all children under the age of 12) must be tested three to five days after being in states that do not share a border with New Jersey for more than 24 hours) and quarantine for a full seven days even if the test is negative. Individuals who are not tested after travel must stay home and quarantine for ten days.
We ask that all parents with unvaccinated children bring them back to New Jersey by August 30 so that they can start school on September 9. Routine precautionary quarantine or isolation following travel will not qualify a student for remote learning. They will be marked as absent.
When might my child be required to quarantine?
- When they have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
- When they are non-vaccinated and have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- In certain instances, after traveling (please see above link)
When they exhibit COVID-like symptoms—
-- at least two of the following symptoms: fever (measure or subjective), chills, rigors (shivers), myalgia (muscle aches), headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose;
-- at least one of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new olfactory disorder, or new taste disorder.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine, is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. It involves identifying people who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (cases) and people who they came in contact with (close contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home.
Please note that PPS, in accordance with CDC guidelines, will not quarantine vaccinated individuals exposed to a person who has tested positive. Unvaccinated individuals may still be required to quarantine if exposed to a positive case.
We look forward to welcoming your students back to our school buildings on September 9 for in-person, five-day, full-day instruction. Below, please review the alternate learning options offered by State law.
Covid-related remote instruction: In alignment with the Governor's order and Department of Education requirements, COVID-related remote learning is only possible when:
- A student is in isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis
- A student is unvaccinated and has been identified as having close contact with a COVID patient and needs to quarantine.
For those options only, the district will provide COVID-related remote instruction for students starting 24 hours after the quarantine or isolation period begins. The State does not allow remote learning for preventative quarantine following travel or concerns about virus spread, so students will be counted as absent in those instances. We encourage students who travel during school breaks to allow time for any necessary quarantine on their return.
Non-covid-related remote instruction: As always, remote (home) instruction is possible for non-COVID-related issues like surgery or other significant medical issues. A medical doctor's note is required requesting home instruction for a specific and temporary period.
Homeschooling: Homeschooling is different than temporary remote (home) instruction and involves withdrawing your child from Princeton Public Schools. Parents who choose this option need to notify their school in writing. A family can re-enroll their child in a PPS school at any time.
We understand that sorting through this information and making informed decisions is sometimes difficult. PPS will continue to closely monitor guidance from the NJ Department of Health and the Department of Education and provide updates as new information is received.
All student athletes will be required to complete an electronic health questionnaire before attending practices and games. Parents are not permitted to attend tryouts or practices but are allowed to attend games. Spectators are required to wear masks for all indoor games. They are not required outdoors. Physical distancing of at least 6 feet will be practiced whenever possible. If athletes are not able to maintain 6' of physical distancing while on the sidelines they will be required to wear masks. The rules pertaining to quarantine and isolation following travel outside of the state also pertain to athletes. You'll find detailed information here.
Will students have access to lockers at Princeton Middle School and Princeton High School?
To maintain COVID-19 related safety procedures, lockers will be unavailable to students this year. However, there will be a place for Princeton High School and Princeton Middle School athletes to store their equipment.
How will art and music and other special classes be accommodated at the elementary schools?
Specials will move back to the art and music rooms as long as the rooms have sufficient space so that students can maintain social distance requirements for during their activities. Outside spaces can also be used when students need to remove their masks for instrumental lessons.
Will Back to School Night be held in person?
Due to the impact of the Delta variant, Back to School Night will be virtual. The classrooms lack the required space for social distancing.
Will students be able to use the swimming pool at Princeton Middle School?
PPS is working with health experts to determine protocols for using the pool. Protocols will be established to use the locker rooms.
Useful Links and Resources