There’s more to school day masks than on and off

HUDSON—Hudson City School District (HCSD) officials discussed the successes and challenges of putting mask and seating requirements into practice at the Board of Education meeting September 21.

District Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier announced that this year, more people in the schools had tested positive for Covid than last year, and that some students are in quarantine, but “we don’t need to keep quarantining students who don’t need to be quarantined.” To reduce the chance of that happening, students are assigned specific seats at cafeterias and on buses.

In a related matter, the school district will have a Covid coordinator, who will work half-time with Hudson schools and half-time with the Ichabod Crane School District.

Quarantined children “must stay home, and currently we are providing the work they are missing, like we always do when students are out for an extended period,” Dr. Suttmeier said later. The Hudson City District is “exploring options” for other ways to instruct homebound students. Quarantine can last 10 school days.

If students keep to their assigned seats and somebody tests positive for the virus, only those who sit within six feet of that person are quarantined. But if people move from assigned bus seats, and someone on the bus tests positive, everybody on that bus gets quarantined. Still, Dr. Suttmeier acknowledged, not all students are sticking to their assigned bus seats.

Students are required to wear masks in school and on buses, and “wearing masks isn’t a challenge in classrooms,” Dr. Suttmeier reported. However, she said, “We’re noticing children getting off the bus without a mask.”

Jesse Boehme, the district business administrator, added that he is receiving phone calls from parents who say that after school “I saw so-and-so getting off the bus without a mask.”

This means that even though buses give masks to children who arrive without them, they do not always wear them on the bus, concluded Dr. Suttmeier.

Board member Selha Graham raised the idea of putting messages on the back of bus seats warning children to wear masks. “With kids, a lot of repetition is needed,” she said.

Ms. Graham also noted that bus monitors sitting in front cannot see what is happening in the back.

Regarding meals, at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School all the cafeteria seats are numbered, students sit with those they go to class with, and only one grade uses the cafeteria at a time, Principal Mark Brenneman reported.

At the junior high, to keep down the number of students in the cafeteria at one time, the sixth graders have to eat lunch at 10:25, reported Principal Derek Reardon.

At the high school, added Principal Robert LaCasse, students sign into the cafeteria and their assigned table electronically.

Breakfast is eaten in classrooms. Mr. LaCasse reported homeroom had been extended to 51 minutes, so students could eat breakfast there.

In another measure, junior high students are not using lockers because they are not far enough apart, Mr. Reardon said. The only things they should carry are AVID binders and chrome book laptop computers. The locker policy when outer clothes are needed will be determined when cold weather comes. However, at the high school, Mr. LaCasse reported, students are using lockers, and it is nice “just to hear locker doors.”

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