Superintendent Dr. Patrick Mannarino unveiled the North Hills School District’s preliminary health and safety plan for the 2021-22 school year via video message Wednesday.
The plan, linked in its entirety here, must be submitted to the state by Friday, July 30, for NHSD to receive COVID-19 relief funding under the American Rescue Plan. The plan is not yet approved and will be voted on by the NHSD Board of Education at their next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 5.
The preliminary plan includes how NHSD will safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person instruction with sections that specifically address masking, social distancing, cleaning, and sanitizing. NHSD’s first day of school is Wednesday, Aug. 25.
For the most part, the district’s COVID-19 mitigation measures will remain unchanged from last year.
Unnecessary classroom furniture and items removed will not be returned into spaces where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Student desks and seats will remain separated no less than three feet to the extent possible and facing the same direction, and outdoor spaces will be utilized whenever possible.
In cafeterias, students will be seated at least three feet apart at all schools, and at the middle and elementary schools, each student will have their own table.
Cleaning and sanitizing will continue, hygiene practices will be reinforced and hand washing and sanitizing stations added in classroom, hallways, stairwells, cafeterias and other common areas last year remain.
Masks will not be required. However, per the CDC’s most recent guidance, NHSD is strongly recommending that masks be worn indoors.
“Since masks are not state- or federally-mandated at this time, we are not making this a requirement,” Dr. Mannarino explained. “It is a recommendation and a parental choice.”
He reiterated, “Again, at this time, we will not require masks in our buildings unless mandated to do so.”
Masks will be required on all district transportation, including when traveling to and from sports and activities, in accordance with the federal public transportation mask mandate.
As with all guidelines, adjustments will be made as necessary with changing guidelines, mandates and requirements.
COVID-19 in Our Schools
If COVID-19 occurs in one of our schools, NHSD will work in collaboration with the Allegheny County Health Department and follow their direct guidance, just as the district did in 2021-22.
When making decisions about masking, families are asked to consider the following implications for situations where quarantine might occur.
- Students who were within three to six feet of a student infected with COVID-19 where both students were properly wearing masks in the K-12 school setting are now excluded as close contacts.
- Those who are fully vaccinated or were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last three months are no longer considered close contacts.
When schools reopen on Aug. 25, NHSD is opening as close to business as usual as possible.
In-school assemblies, events, field trips and extracurricular activities will resume, and spectators and attendees will again be permitted at extracurricular activities and sporting events.