The New York State Education Department, and by extension the NYC DOH have changed the social distancing rule from six feet to three feet. As a result, beginning April 26, we will be offering the opportunity to have all students attend school daily on campus.
In addition to coming back to school full time we will continue to offer the choice of our hybrid or fully remote models of learning through the end of the school year.
The requirements to return to full time in-school instruction from the NYS/DOH include:
Schools must follow CDC recommendations for physical distancing depending upon (school) community transmission rates.
Schools must adhere to the exceptions where a minimum of six feet of distance must be maintained, including:
Six feet is always the required distancing between adults (teachers, staff, visitors) and between students and adults.
Six feet of distance is required when eating meals or snacks, or drinking, or other times masks must be removed.
Individuals participating in activities that require projecting the voice (e.g., singing) or playing a wind instrument must be six feet apart and there must be six feet of distance between the performers and the audience during performances and concerts.
Six feet of physical distance must be maintained in common areas and outside of classrooms (e.g. lobbies, auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias, and hallways), where possible.
All schools must have a mandatory face mask policy.
Schools, at a minimum, should follow CDC recommendations on testing. Schools moving to physical distancing of less than six feet should strongly consider implementing screening testing protocols.
Schools must provide the opportunity for community input and feedback. (Please complete the attached questionnaire).
Final modified plans must be shared with Local Health Departments and the State Education Department.
In anticipation of this change UNIS has done the following:
All classroom desks and chairs which have been stored will be back in the classrooms effective on Monday.
Our weekly surveillance testing protocols will continue throughout the school year, testing one grade of students per division each week. Queens students will alternate testing between the Middle School and Junior School.
We continue to believe providing families the flexibility of choice is a must through the pandemic. As such you will have the choice of which learning format works for your individual family situation. As has been the case throughout the school year you may change your decision by giving the school 48 hours notice.
In order for us to be successful with this change we will need your support.
The additional number of students during arrival and dismissal will be a challenge for us to manage. It is critical that students come to school at their prescribed arrival times and no earlier as we have no place to have students wait prior to going up to their classrooms.
As has been the case throughout the school year, we will continue to allow only students, staff and faculty on campus. We appreciate your understanding that this is the only way we can remain compliant with the changed guidelines.
Finally, we have to be prepared for many more students having to quarantine. Despite the new guidance that allows for social distancing at just three feet, we still will need to conduct contact tracing based on the six feet rule. Since twice as many students will now be in classrooms, at least double the number of students will now need to quarantine when we encounter a new case.
We are aware that a large percentage of new cases are occurring in unvaccinated school-age students, but the CDC indicates that schools have nonetheless not been sites of high community transfer, even as they move to three feet of distance. Our rigorous testing protocols will rapidly identify if community transmission begins to creep up, mandating a more conservative approach.
We appreciate your cooperation in keeping the community safe! Please use this guidance in coordination with your physician to address any illness. Based on updated CDC and NYSDOH guidance, students and employees who are sent home or become ill may not return to UNIS until the following:
WITH A COVID TEST:
A negative COVID test must be emailed to the health office for clearance to return to on campus learning.
At least 24 hours symptom free.
WITHOUT COVID TEST:
Must have a physician note. Must explicitly state that the student or employee is cleared to return to school. Physicians must also document an alternative diagnosis if symptoms are due to illness (ie- lab confirmed influenza, strep throat) or preexisting diagnosis and not COVID.
Must be fever free (less than 100F) for 3 days with no fever reducing medications and improvement of symptoms
AND must be 10 days post-symptom (No symptoms in last 10 days)
ANDreport general feelings of wellness.
* Note: a signed note by the health care provider documenting unconfirmed acute illness, such as viral upper respiratory illness (URI) or viral gastroenteritis will not be accepted. If this is the physician indicated diagnosis, please know a negative COVID test will also be required to be cleared for on campus learning.
We kindly ask if you or your child is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID to have them tested so we can alert potential contacts within UNIS. This helps us keep everyone safe. If you feel these symptoms are due to a cause other than COVID, please have your physician clearly document this in your return to school clearance letter.
We will continue to update this section with questions and answers as they emerge from our community.
1. If State and City regulations allow bringing all students back, will you create a model where all children attend every day?
Yes. As of April 2021 we have adjusted our plans. Beginning April 26, we will be offering the opportunity to have all students attend school daily on campus. In addition to coming back to school full time we will continue to offer the choice of our hybrid or fully remote models of learning through the end of the school year.
2. What happens if a student, faculty or staff member shows symptoms of COVID 19?
Any student or employee who demonstrates symptoms upon arrival or during the school day will immediately separate from others and self-isolate in a specifically designated area with the School Nursing Team. Employees will remain in self-isolation until they feel well enough to leave campus. The school nursing team will contact parents immediately to arrange for students to be picked up from school quickly.
Based on CDC guidance, anyone who presents symptomatic may not return to UNIS until the following:
WITH A COVID TEST: A negative COVID test and clearance note from MD
WITHOUT COVID TEST: Must be fever free (less than 100F) for 3 days with no fever reducing medications and improvement of symptoms
AND must be 10 days post-symptom (No symptoms in last 10 days)
AND report general feelings of wellness.
3. Can my child be in school every day if he/she already had COVID-19 and has tested positive for antibodies?
No. Unfortunately, research on whether antibodies can protect someone from reinfection is inconclusive at this time, and the school is erring on the side of caution, and in line with CDC guidelines.
4. We are a blended family with children with different surnames. Can UNIS accommodate them coming to campus on the same days?
Yes. Siblings with different surnames will be allowed to be in the same group and attend classes on the same days: contact your child’s principal to request the change.
5. The original reopening plan states that students will not wear masks in the classroom. Given new recommendations, will UNIS be revisiting this element of the reopening plan?
Yes. Due to these recent changes, we have revised our reopening plan to expect all students and employees to wear masks in the classroom, including our Junior School students.
6. Can I meet with my child’s teacher, counselor, or principal?
Yes, but meetings with parents will only take place virtually (Zoom or phone) until further notice.
Middle School and Tutorial House
7. Will MS and TH students change classrooms and classmates throughout the day?
Yes. Because both MS and TH students may have selected different courses and/or electives, class lists are not the same for every class. As such, it is not possible to keep the same cohort of students together throughout the day: for each subject, students may find themselves with a different set of classmates.
8. When live streaming their classes via Zoom from home, will TH and MS students be expected to be present for the full 60 minutes class period?
Yes. Students will follow the same periods of class (60min), whether they are in the classroom, or live streaming from home.
9. Can the schedule for on-site attendance change to accommodate families (e.g. child care needs)?
No. Unfortunately we cannot make changes to the alternating schedule, as it is designed to optimize face-to-face interactions between the student and teacher during their 10-day cycle.
10. What will the second location look like PK-J1? Who will supervise? Will there be toys and fun things to do?
The second location will be supervised by a teacher or a teacher aide. Students will live stream with the other half of the class or work on independent activities designed by the homeroom teacher that align with the face-to-face instruction.
This second space may be a classroom, the JS gymnasium, or another space that we can set up temporarily for our students who are live streaming at school.. We will have educational equipment and learning materials in these spaces and will work to make the environment warm and comfortable, just like our homeroom class.