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School Year 2021-2022 » Safe Return to In-Person Instruction Plan

Safe Return to In-Person Instruction Plan

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LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service
Pursuant to the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, Section 2001(i)

Introduction and Background

As announced in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)’s April 28, 2021 broadcast, in March 2021 President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Public Law 117-2, into law. The ARP Act provides an additional $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) to States and school districts to help safely reopen, sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s students. As with the previous ESSER funds available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Additional information on ARP ESSER may be found in the NJDOE’s funding comparison fact sheet

Section 2001(i)(1) of the ARP Act requires each LEA that receives ARP ESSER funds to develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, no later than 30 days after receiving ARP ESSER funds, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools (Safe Return Plan) A Safe Return Plan is required of all fund recipients, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. Section 2001(i)(2) of the ARP Act further requires that the LEA seek public comment on the Safe Return Plan and take those comments into account in finalization of the Safe Return Plan. Under the interim final requirements published in Volume 86, No. 76 of the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), an LEA must periodically, but no less frequently than every six months through September 30, 2023, review and, as appropriate, revise its Safe Return Plan. 

Pursuant to those requirements, LEAs must submit to the NJDOE and post on their website their Safe Return Plans by June 24, 2021. The NJDOE intends to make LEA ARP ESSER Fund applications available in EWEG on May 24, 2021 and LEAs will submit their Safe Return Plans to the NJDOE via EWEG. To assist LEAs with the development of their Safe Return Plans, the NJDOE is providing the following template.

This template incorporates the federally-required components of the Safe Return Plan. The questions in the template below will be included in the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG. LEAs will submit responses to the questions within the LEA ARP ESSER Fund application in EWEG by June 24, 2021.  The NJDOE hopes that this template will allow LEAs to effectively plan for that submission and to easily post the information to their websites as required by the ARP Act. 

Note that on May 17, 2021, Governor Murphy announced that upon the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year, portions of Executive Order 175 allowing remote learning will be rescinded, meaning that schools will be required to provide full-day, in-person instruction, as they were prior to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The NJDOE and New Jersey Department of Health will share additional information regarding State requirements or guidance for health and safety protocols for the 2021-2022 school year as it becomes available. 

Template: LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services


Date: JUNE 17, 2021 Date Revised (mm/dd/yyyy):

1. Maintaining Health and Safety

For each mitigation strategy listed below (A–H), please describe how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC. 

  1. Universal and correct wearing of masks

Millburn Twp Schools will follow State mandates regarding masks for students, staff members, visitors and attendees at school events. Recently, Governor Murphy relaxed the indoor mask mandate for schools when the heat is excessive. Based on discussions with our Local Department of Health, we are continuing with the mask requirement in our schools. We are fortunate that all of our classroom spaces are air-conditioned (thanks to our recent referendum).  In the event that a classroom air-conditioning unit is not working, students will be relocated into a space with AC.

When there is extreme heat, masks are optional for students and staff when outside during the school day.  Students are required to maintain social distancing when masks are removed outside. 

  1. Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding)

Millburn Twp Schools will follow social distancing guidelines to the maximum extent possible. Face coverings will be required for visitors and staff unless the State and our District health officials determine they are no longer necessary.  Millburn will continue to minimize use of shared objects, ensure indoor facilities have adequate ventilation, prepare and maintain hand sanitizing stations, and ensure students wash hands frequently. Classroom capacity will be limited to ensure at least 3 feet spacing between students. Physical barriers, such as plexiglass, will be available in reception areas and employee workspaces where the environment does not accommodate physical distancing, and congregating in shared spaces, such as staff lounge areas is discouraged. Visitors, including parents, will be discouraged from entering the school building. 

  1. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

Staff will be trained on healthy hygiene practices so they can remind our students. Millburn will ensure handwashing strategies include washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will be used. We will ensure adequate supplies (e.g., soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, tissue) to support healthy hygiene practices.

  1. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation

Staff will disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the school and on school buses at least daily or between use as much as possible. Use of shared objects will be limited or cleaned between use.  If transport vehicles are used by the school, drivers will practice safety protocols as indicated for other staff (e.g., hand hygiene, cloth face coverings). To clean and disinfect transport vehicles, we will use the guidance for bus transit operators. We will continue to follow a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection. We will ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection, including storing products securely away from children. Millburn will use products that meet EPA disinfection guidelines.

We will ensure ventilation systems will operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible such as opening windows, but they should not be opened if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms) to students using the facility.

  1. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments

Millburn nurses are trained contact tracers. Our process has been developed in consultation with the local health department and with school nurses to identify the criteria an individual must meet in order to activate the board’s contact tracing policy. Notification of individuals is coordinated with the local health department to inform staff, families and the public. We follow the New Jersey Department of Health Guidelines for quarantining which include: Close Contact with a positive case: Without testing - 10 days are required; return on Day 11, With testing - The testing must be done between day 5-7 after contact. Once results are in and the test is negative, families will be required to send the results to the school nurse. The student may return to school on Day 8, with a negative test result. The close contact must remain symptom free during this time.

  1. Diagnostic and screening testing

Millburn Twp Schools will safely and respectfully screen students and employees for symptoms and history exposure to COVID-19. Students and staff with symptoms related to COVID-19 must be safely and respectfully isolated from others. If the district becomes aware that an individual who has spent time in a district facility tests positive for COVID-19, we will immediately notify local health officials, staff, and families of a confirmed case while maintaining confidentiality.

The policy for screening students and employees upon arrival for symptoms and history of exposure will include the following: A Health screening survey will be sent to all staff and students at the beginning of each day to be completed before coming to school.

Staff must visually check students for symptoms upon arrival (which may include temperature checks) and/or confirm with families that students are free of COVID-19 symptoms.Health check will be conducted safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations. Results must be documented when signs/symptoms of COVID-19 are observed.

  1. Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible

Millburn Twp Public School has been in contact with the local Walgreens and will arrange for staff, student and family vaccination the week of June 28th.  We will plan to continue to offer vaccination through the summer in order to have every member of our school community offered the opportunity to be vaccinated with one or two doses (depending on the vaccine requirement) prior to the start of the new school year.

  1. Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies

Millburn Twp Public School provides a continuum of special education and related services to eligible students, including out-of-district programs, in-district self-contained classes, resource in-class and pull-out replacement programs, general education programs with appropriate accommodations, related services, and home instruction.  All programs and services are based upon individual student needs as determined by each student’s individualized education plan (IEP). 

All Millburn Twp Public Schools have an Intervention & Referral Services Team (I&RS) for the planning and delivery of intervention and referral services that are designed to assist students who are experiencing learning, behavior, or health difficulties and to assist staff who have difficulties in addressing students learning, behavior, or health needs. 

2. Ensuring Continuity of Services

  1. Describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff’s social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services. (1000 character limit)

Our expectation for the  2021-2022 school year is for all students to return to in-person, full-day learning. 

Our instructional program ensures all students receive the highest quality, equitable education. This is done through utilizing a variety of evidence-based practices designed to improve achievement and promote positive student outcomes.  Utilizing a variety of assessment data, teams will continue to make data-driven decisions to support and accelerate student learning, when an opportunity gap is determined. 

Feedback from various stakeholders suggests that COVID-19 will have significant psychological and emotional impacts on students. The district is planning professional development to safely transition the district with SEL strategies for staff and students. The district also has established procedures for identifying students in need of individualized mental health interventions. 

3. Public Comment 

  1. Describe how the LEA sought public comment on its plan, and how it took those public comments into account in the development of its plan.  Note, the ARP requires that LEAs seek public comment for each 60-day revision to the plan. (1000 character limit)

The plan was presented at the June 21 Board of Education meeting and shared with the community on June 22. Public comment regarding the plan will be taken under advisement and reviewed with our district health officials.

  1. Describe how the LEA ensured that the plan is in an understandable and uniform format; is to the extent practicable written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable to provide written translations to a parent with limited English proficiency, will be orally translated for such a parent; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA, will be provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. (1000 character limit)

In addition to sharing the plan as a document (in translatable form) with families, the plan was also presented at an open public meeting and posted on the district website with access to multiple translations.