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Updates to COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Requirements for Staff, Visitors and Student-Athletes, Oct. 1, 2021

October 1st, 2021

HCPSS is implementing changes to the vaccine and weekly testing requirements for community stakeholders that were announced at the start of the school year, in a continuing effort to maintain learning environments that are healthy and fully able to provide instruction and supports for all students, while balancing multiple layers of staffing challenges and workloads.

These requirements and protocols will be continually reevaluated as we progress through the school year, in anticipation that vaccines will become available for younger students, health agencies’ guidance may change, and/or declining COVID infection rates may reduce the threat to the safety of students and staff.

This message includes vaccine and screening requirements for the following:

  1. Athletics Participation
  2. Extracurricular Activities
  3. Volunteers & Classroom Observers
  4. School Visitors
  5. Instructional Enhancement Opportunities
  6. Parent/Teacher and IEP/504 conferences
  7. Community Use of Facilities
  8. School-Sponsored Events
  9. Full- and Part-Time Staff
  10. Substitutes, Monitors, Temporary Employees
  11. In-School Service Providers

Athletics Participation

In an effort to ensure the safety and health of students while participating in school-sponsored winter athletics practices and competitions, HCPSS will require all student-athletes in grades 9–12 to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing in order to participate. This requirement will begin with the start of winter athletics practices during the 2021–2022 school year.

Parents/guardians may provide proof of vaccination by one of the following ways:

Proof of vaccination documentation may consist of a scan or image of the vaccine card that was provided by the health organization that administered the vaccine, or documentation received from ImmuNet – the State’s immunization information system.

Fully vaccinated students who wish to participate in winter athletics (including Allied Sports, and student team managers) and do not wish to undergo weekly testing should provide vaccine verification no later than Thursday, November 11, 2021. Otherwise, testing for all participating student-athletes who have not confirmed vaccine verification will begin on Friday, November 12, 2021 prior to the start of practice on Monday, November 15, 2021. Student-athletes will require parent permission to undergo the testing through the Maryland Department of Health contractor who will conduct the weekly testing for HCPSS. A permission form will be sent by your school’s AAM.

Additionally, all paid and volunteer coaches for winter athletics must provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Vaccine verification and testing will not be required for spectators.

Extracurricular Activities

Vaccine verification or testing will not be required for student participants or spectators for other voluntary extracurricular activities that occur beyond the school day such as concerts, plays and clubs. School staff will implement traffic patterns before and after indoor events with large crowds to limit the interaction between students and spectators. Universal masking is required and distancing, when appropriate, will be in place for indoor activities.

Volunteers & Classroom Observers

All volunteers who interact with students and parents/guardians who are conducting classroom observations in which they will be in a classroom with students will soon be required to show proof of full vaccination in order to be in a school. Because HCPSS does not have staff capacity to track and verify testing results, there will not be a testing option for volunteers. HCPSS uses the PinPoint platform to verify vaccination status and is developing a vaccine verification process for volunteers and classroom observers, who will be required to complete the verification process at least five school days prior to entry into a school. The process and start date will be shared in an upcoming communication.

School Visitors

To limit interaction with students in the school building, visitors are not permitted to attend events that occur indoors or outdoors during the school day, such as spelling bees, assemblies, activities associated with American Education Week, and field days. This will go into effect on Monday, October 11.

Parents/guardians are also not permitted to eat lunch in the school cafeteria or in the outdoor area. At the elementary and middle levels, parents/guardians will need to check out their child from school, and at the high school level parents/guardians will need to provide or send an early dismissal letter for their child if they wish to eat lunch with them.

Additionally, current students from other schools will not be permitted to visit a school that is not their own during the school day for any reason including but not limited to field trips and mentoring opportunities unless the student provides proof of full vaccination through PinPoint’s vaccine verification process at least five school days prior to visiting the school. This process will be shared in an upcoming communication.

Parents/guardians and visitors who are entering the school for a brief visit to pick up or drop off their child, or for other reasons that do not involve interaction with students, are not required to show proof of vaccination or testing.They are, however, required to be masked regardless of their vaccination status.

Instructional Enhancement Opportunities

At times throughout the year, there will be opportunities for professional individuals or groups to come into the school during the school day to provide enhancements and support to instruction. These may include opportunities such as musical performers and guest speakers. These individuals must have completed PinPoint’s vaccine verification process at least five school days prior to entry into a school. This process and start date will be shared in an upcoming communication. Because of the inability for staff to track and verify testing results, there will not be a testing option for these individuals.

Parent/Teacher and IEP/504 conferences

Whenever possible, HCPSS staff will conduct IEP, 504, and other meetings with parents/guardians virtually, but will accommodate parent/guardian requests for an in-person meeting. Parents/guardians who are attending an in-person IEP, 504, or other meeting with staff are not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test but may not interact with students beyond their own child. Both parents and students will be required to wear masks and follow any distancing guidelines.

Community Use of Facilities

Community groups, including but not limited to PTAs and boosters, that use HCPSS facilities after school hours are not required to provide vaccination status or undergo testing. These activities are voluntary and not associated with HCPSS activities. The universal masking requirement will remain in place for all facility users.

School-Sponsored Events

Because they are voluntary, activities that occur before and after school and are approved by school administrators may occur with visitors without a vaccine or testing requirement. School administrators will implement other applicable mitigation efforts whenever feasible. The universal masking requirement will remain in place for all participants.

Full- and Part-Time Staff

As was announced previously, all full- and part-time staff are required to provide proof of full COVID–19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Since testing protocols continue to be finalized by MAKO, the Maryland Department of Health contractor who will conduct the weekly testing, testing will begin the week of October 11. Confirmation and additional details will be provided next week.

The staff testing program will include 12 testing sites located at each high school. Each site will have a testing window either before or after the school day. As we progress through the school year, the schedule, including site locations and times, may adjust to meet changing demands.

Staff who have not confirmed their vaccination status will be expected to be tested at one of these locations, or at any other public or private testing location, and provide their results once per week. The day of the week does not have to be the same each week as long as testing occurs once between Sunday and Saturday. Staff will not receive coverage for their classroom or job responsibilities in order to be tested so they must do so at times that do not require coverage.

Staff who are tested at an HCPSS site by MAKO will have their results automatically and securely uploaded to their employee record in PinPoint. Staff who receive a test at an outside location must upload their results to their PinPoint account by using a link that will be shared with them prior to the start of testing.

Substitutes, Monitors, Temporary Employees

Permanent substitutes, long-term substitutes, lunch/recess monitors and translators will be required to be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Because current staff workloads result in an inability for staff to track and verify testing results for all temporary employees who could visit multiple locations, all other temporary staff, including daily substitutes must be fully vaccinated beginning October 11.

In-School Service Providers

Contracted staff who work for before and after care and other service providers such as bus drivers are required to implement a vaccine or testing requirement for employees. Staff have already worked with contracted employees to communicate this and they are proceeding with implementation for their employees.

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