What is Prospect Schools' quarantine policy?Any individual who tests positive for COVID, regardless of vaccination status, must quarantine for the full 10 days (no test out). Close contacts may need to quarantine, depending on vaccination status and whether the individual is symptomatic. Please review this presentation for full details We continue to define a close contact as “someone who has been within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes over a 24-hour period of someone who has COVID-19 during their infectious period.” Please note that this definition may change. In the event of a positive COVID19 case on campus, we will no longer be providing on-site daily testing in lieu of quarantine for unvaccinated students. However, the quarantine policy does offer abbreviated quarantine among unvaccinated and symptom-free individuals.
Mayor De Blasio announced a new quarantine policy on September 20 for all NYC district schools. Will Prospect Schools implement this policy?No. The mayor’s announcement stated that students who wear masks and maintain 3 feet of distance at all times are not required to quarantine. All students are required to wear masks throughout the day, however, given facilities constraints and programming needs, maintaining 3 feet of distance at all times is not always possible. To achieve this our students would need to be seated in rows in all classes, kept separated from their peers, and our teachers would need to spend their time monitoring student social distancing. This is not our program and most likely not why you chose to send your child back to Prospect Schools. Our students are engaged in group work and collaborative activities. Since the start of school, our students have been eagerly reconnecting with their friends and peers. This 3 feet rule is what makes the mayor’s quarantine guidance not feasible for us.
What about the “test and stay” policy I’ve read about? Can Prospect Schools do that?This policy is one we had hoped to be able to put in place at our schools to alleviate the impact of quarantining on unvaccinated students who are close contacts. However, we are not able to implement that approach at this time given mandates from the NYC Department of Mental Health & Hygiene (DOHMH) or New York State Department of Health (DOH). As a charter school network we must comply with any mandates that come from NYC DOHMH or NYS DOH, and our current quarantine policy complies with the regulations those agencies released earlier this month. Prospect Schools will evaluate any future external guidance that is shared with schools, but not made mandatory, based on our Health & Safety Guiding Principles. We will make adjustments as we are able to.
Can my student be exempt from, or test out of, quarantine?Yes, in some cases. Please review this presentation for full details
Will there be guidance/requirements for if a student or staff member is a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 outside of the school?Students or employees who are identified as close contacts outside of school must follow quarantine guidelines.
My student has to quarantine because they’re a close contact. Can we use onsite testing provider to see if they’re eligible to return to school?No. If your student is a close contact they must quarantine (not attend school) and seek testing from an external provider.
Will there be a quarantine period after school breaks?No. After any extended school break, we will conduct our routine randomized on-site testing for all unvaccinated students. Based on the public health landscape, we may also determine if additional testing is needed. We will give advance notice of the following prior to each break: -% of Students tested (eligible and have not opted-out), minimum of 20% -Vaccination status of those tested -Frequency of testing (ie; daily, etc.) We encourage all families to take an antigen COVID test (Rapid or PCR) 3-5 days after travel, regardless if the student is randomly selected for on-site testing. Should any student test positive for COVID, the School Operations team should be notified immediately and quarantine guidance followed. Extended breaks are defined as a longer pause (>1 day) of academic instruction. This includes: -Thanksgiving Break -Winter Break -Mid-Winter Break -Spring Break
My child is not a close contact, but I want them to quarantine anyway. Is that possible?As we navigate the quarantine policy, we’re trying to keep as many students in our schools as possible. If your child does not meet the requirements for quarantine and you choose to keep them home, it will be marked as an unexcused absence.
What would the threshold be for a class (or the school) to quarantine?School and class closure decisions are made in collaboration with our senior leaders and the DOHMH. The Prospect Schools (network) would close if a state or federal mandate is issued to close NYC schools.
What happens if there is a positive COVID case in my student’s classroom?All close contacts will need to quarantine, per our protocol, if they are unvaccinated and/or experiencing symptoms. Please review our quarantine policy for full details.
Under what circumstances would live remote learning be offered for students?If a group of students must quarantine, the cohort will transition to live remote learning for the duration of the quarantine, following the regular school-day schedule (with appropriate developmental variations).
I want my child to quarantine for the full 10 days after exposure, even if they are asymptomatic. Is that possible?Yes. If a child who is unvaccinated is a close contact, they must quarantine for 10 days. If they are asymptomatic, the family has the option to test for COVID on Day 5, and return to school on Day 8 if the test is negative.
Program & Academics
Why is Prospect Schools not offering a remote learning program this year?Last year, our entire team put forth a heroic effort to quickly shift to remote learning -- a shift that was necessary, due to the international crisis. But even in spite of our best efforts, this remote program was not comparable to what we are capable of providing students in person. We know all kids, nationally and at Prospect Schools, have been impacted academically and socially — this time also exacerbated disparities between students. In the last year we've gotten smarter, better at mitigating the spread of COVID and now have more protection than ever with the vaccines. With these tools and our layered approach to health and safety, we are confident in our ability to open schools safely and contain cases if they occur. We want to provide the world class education that you signed up for when you chose Prospect Schools. For too long already, our students have missed out on the quality in-person academic and social education program we know how to offer.
Will there be any travel restrictions this year for the students?The CDC has advised unvaccinated individuals to avoid travel. As we approach extended breaks later in the year, we will be updating families on our protocol to keep our community safe, which may look like a continuation of our weekly surveillance on-site testing.
How is Prospect Schools supporting the children and teachers who have not returned to school in-person since March 2020?We deeply value the mental and emotional wellbeing of our students and team members. From specific social emotional supports and trauma-informed programming for students, to additional support and resources for our team. Prospect Schools is working hard to ensure all feel confident and comfortable about returning to school this fall.
Is there any availability for tech to be sent home for students for homework purposes?If we require a shift to fully remote, we will ensure all students that do not have access to tech resources are connected with the tools they need. Currently we offer 1:1 tech to all students in middle and high school, regardless of programmatic impact from COVID-19, and can make those resources available to elementary students as needed.
Before School Starts
What safety measures will be in place on the bus?The DOE Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) manages busing. The DOE has mandated vaccines for all staff. Our liaisons tell us that there will be mandatory masking. If you have complaints about situations on the bus, please call OPT at (718) 392-8855 or contact your school office.
Why did the daily health screenings go away?After careful evaluation of our protocols last year, we found the daily health screenings to be the least effective — urging families to self-monitor continually had a greater impact. Similarly, the CDC no longer recommends temperature screenings or questionnaires at school. This year, in addition to all of the proactive strategies Prospect Schools is putting in place, we are asking families to monitor their students for symptoms, including fever and other common symptoms of COVID. Families should keep their students home if they are sick, and we urge families to get tested for COVID.
What should I do if my child or someone in my household tests positive?Please notify your school immediately.
My child is home sick and I want to get them a COVID test. Does a rapid test work or does it have to be a PCR test?PCR or rapid tests are fine; no antibody tests. Testing is recommended, however, if your child doesn’t get a COVID test they must stay home if they are sick.
If families keep students home to get tested for COVID-19 out of precaution, how will this affect their attendance?This attendance will be treated the same as in the case for other sickness and should be reported to the school. This would be an excused absence. Parents should submit any results of the COVID test if it is positive.
Social Distancing & Building Protocols
How many students and teachers will be in each classroom?The safest approach is a multi-layered approach. We have a mask mandate, ventilation/filtration, vaccinated adults, and social distancing. Schools will endeavor to have 3' of distancing whenever possible. When it isn't possible, the other layers act to mitigate risk. The exact number of students in a classroom depends on the school and its building capacity. Please reach out to your school office for more information.
Will kids in the same family be in the same class to minimize exposure?Our mitigation strategies are focused on the vaccination of our adult community, universal mask wearing, and regular testing, along with additional health and safety practices. At this time, class composition based on household status is not a mitigation strategy we plan to exercise this year.
When will my school be presenting on COVID-related protocols specific to my school?Schools will communicate everything their families need to know about school-specific protocols. If you have further/additional questions, please reach out to your school office for more information or consult your school handbook.
What ventilation measures will be in place?Air filtration units have been distributed to all schools. All schools are also strongly encouraged to keep classroom doors open to improve ventilation. For those schools without centralized HVAC systems, the combination of opening your windows and doors and using the air filtration systems provides the recommended number of “air turnovers” per hour. For those schools with centralized HVAC systems, the filtration systems have been upgraded per CDC guidelines. Although you may experience hot and cold spots, as with any large system, that is not indicative of air flow throughout the building. The HVAC systems are still providing air purification, and the recommended number of “air turnovers” per hour.
What cleaning protocols will be in place?Every Prospect Schools facility will be regularly and thoroughly cleaned with solvents that eliminate 99% of bacteria and are lethal to COVID-19, with an emphasis on high-contact surfaces and high traffic areas. High-contact areas that are cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day include: Light switches; Bathroom stall doors & locks; Handrails; Elevators and elevator buttons; Doorknobs and handles; Toilets & bathroom fixtures; Countertops; Water Fountains; Faucets; Table tops. All classrooms will be equipped with diluted disinfectant spray and/or wipes and paper towels. In addition to regular cleaning, buildings should be cleaned and disinfected at least once per week.
Is hand washing/sanitizing still important?Frequent handwashing is an important part of preventing spread of illness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be utilized when hand washing is not available. As has always been the case, handwashing with soap and warm water should be used whenever hands are visibly soiled and after using the bathroom.
Masking & Meals
Are masks mandatory?Yes. All students and employees must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, at all times, except when actively eating & drinking. All students and employees will be provided a reusable face mask and disposable masks will also be available. Mask breaks may be built into the day.
Will the school require certain types of masks be worn?For non-medical settings, the current guidance is to use a disposable surgical mask and/or a cloth mask that is not see through. Prospect Schools will adhere to this guidance.
What is the plan for lunch or snack time?Meals (and snacks, as applicable) will be served in classrooms and/or in common areas, with the priority being maximizing social distancing and ventilation. We are also looking for opportunities to eat outside. When logistically possible and safe, we will endeavor to have more outdoor periods. More information on your school’s lunch plan will be provided by your school.
Will there be mask breaks?As possible, mask breaks may occur throughout the day. All students will have a mask break at least once in the morning, at lunch, and once again in the afternoon. Breaks will occur when students can be six feet apart and whenever possible these breaks will take place outside. Students will be instructed how to properly remove and put on masks during these breaks. Mask break areas will be clearly marked to ensure social distancing and proper handling of masks and proper hygiene.
Can my student be exempted from wearing a mask?Students who have a medical or mental health condition or disability that may prevent them from properly wearing a cloth mask at all times should speak with their doctor. The doctor must provide a note outlining the condition and the requested alternative for the student and the parent must submit the request to the school office for verification and approval of a mask exemption. Students exempted from wearing a face mask must wear an appropriate alternative (i.e. a covering that prevents respiratory droplets from escaping). An example of a substitute may be a face shield with a cloth extending from the bottom edge of the shield and tucked into the shirt collar
Afterschool, Extracurriculars & Events
Will there be sports this year?Prospect Schools will have sports this year, per the following guidelines*: Students participating in high-contact sports (Gr 6-12) must be vaccinated. First dose must have been received prior to the start of the season. Athletes that are partially vaccinated should test weekly for COVID-19 until fully vaccinated. For league sports, all league rules must be followed, including testing or vaccination requirements. Indoor practices require advance approval by the COO. Spectators are permitted outdoors only. No external chaperones (volunteers) without vaccination. *Sports policy may change, per updates in public health guidance.
Will trips or events be allowed this year?In-person events must be carefully planned, safe, and fun! Limited field trips, indoor and outdoor in-person events are permitted, as long as all guidance is followed. No indoor in-person events should bring together the entire parent/guardian body of more than one grade. No overnight field trips. External chaperones (volunteers) must be vaccinated.
Besides high-risk sports, will other activities (such as Robotics or student council) also require student vaccination?Currently, only students participating in high-risk sports must be vaccinated.
What protocols will be put in place for afterschool? What are vaccination requirements for afterschool program staff?All protocols enforced during the school day will be in place during afterschool. Prospect Schools will be strict in our enforcement of universal masking and our other PS health and safety guidance during afterschool programming. Kids Orbit, our elementary afterschool partner, will mandate vaccines for its employees and commits to following all health and safety guidelines provided by Prospect Schools, including responding to COVID19 guidance. Kids Orbit also ensures that all employees have passed or obtained all required NYS, NYC, and DOHMH standards for school-age child care staff.
I have questions about the afterschool program in generalYou can find more answers here
Are visitors allowed at school?Through December, we are not permitting visitors. We will revisit this policy in the beginning of December. On a limited basis, volunteers for specific events are permitted, provided they are fully vaccinated and comply with all mask wearing / health and safety requirements. An example would be a guardian chaperone for a class field trip. Individuals like related service providers, contractors / vendors, and other third-party personnel critical to our work are also permitted. As they are not our employees, we do not have the ability to require vaccination. However, they must comply with all health and safety guidance at all times.
Can families escort their students into their classrooms?At the school’s discretion, Kindergarten guardians may accompany students to the classroom when transition support is needed (e.g. WTES, DTES or IES students).
What about in-person parent / guardian meetings and other events?In-person intake and advisory conferences should be offered, provided full remote options are also offered. We rely on our mitigation strategies to keep our community safe during in-person conferences. These strategies include vaccinated employees and universal mask wearing.
Are student vaccinations mandatory?Not yet. Currently, schools are not permitted to require vaccines beyond those required by the state. If / when the COVID vaccine becomes required, we will follow suit. However, per a recent NYC mandate all students who are participating in “high-risk” sports must be vaccinated against COVID-19 (at Prospect Schools this only applies to grades 6-12). Details: First dose must have been received prior to the start of the season. Athletes that are partially vaccinated should test weekly for COVID-19 until fully vaccinated.
What about employee vaccinations?In April 2021, we announced our requirement that Prospect Schools employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the 2021-2022 school year. We are pleased to share that 97% of our employees will be fully vaccinated by the start of the school year.
Will families be informed if their child's teacher is one of the teachers that has been exempted from being vaccinated?Prospect Schools will not be sharing the vaccination status of individual employees. However, we will be rearranging staffing plans to ensure that unvaccinated individuals have limited interaction with students, especially those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine (younger than 12 years old).
I'm reading that due to COVID, families have been neglecting to keep up with other important vaccines which could be quite dangerous. Is there a close look and hard line for those that are not up to date?Prospect Schools requires all families to comply with the vaccines required by the state ensuring their child receives the required inoculations. We will continue to monitor and enforce these mandates as usual.
Is Prospect Schools aware of whether related service providers are vaccinated? And can that information be shared with the families of their related service providers?Related service providers fall under the NYC Department of Education vaccine mandate. Prospect Schools will not be sharing the vaccination status of individuals.
COVID Testing (onsite)
Will onsite testing be offered at school?Prospect Schools will provide free, on-site, rapid testing for a randomly selected percentage of unvaccinated students grade 2-12 on a weekly basis (families may opt out to decline testing). At this time, although non-invasive, K-1 nasal swab testing is not being contemplated weekly because of the stress it puts on younger students. We are investigating other testing options. If or when those become feasible, we may expand weekly testing to include K-1 students.
Is Prospect Schools testing every student and staff member?Currently, schools are not permitted to mandate testing for students. However, we are strongly encouraging all of our students to participate; at this time, we are testing unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students. Following guidance, we are also requiring weekly testing for any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff member.
How will I find out if my child is a close contact of someone who tests positive?The school will notify close contacts via email as quickly as possible. For transparency, the school will also notify the entire school community via email if a positive case arises — individual identifying information will not be shared.
What is a ‘close contact’?A close contact is any individual who shared a classroom or classroom-like space with an individual who tested positive; and/or was within 6 feet, for at least 10 minutes, of a person who tested positive.
If I have opted for my child to be tested at school, will I still be notified if he has some form of exposure in school, even if he is asymptomatic?All families will be notified if their child is a close contact.
How do I contact my school?You can find the contact information for your school on our Contact Page
Starting June 28, 2021 and through the summer, all New Yorkers can receive free “Grab & Go” meals across the city. No registration, documentation, or ID is required. Meals locations are open to children, families, and the general public daily, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Vegetarian meals are available at all locations, and Kosher and Halal meals are offered at select locations. Locations will be searchable using the online tool, or via the School Food app, beginning June 25.
Remote Learning Devices
Please contact your school program office if you need a device. The devices are Android A50 phones that come with data access upon request.
If you need assistance with your device, please call the Prospect Schools IT Team at 718.643.1086, ext. 4957 between 9 am – 5 pm.