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.
LEA Name: Pinelands Regional School District
Date May 25, 2021: Date Revised (mm/dd/yyyy):
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.
Universal and correct wearing of masks:
Masks will be worn in compliance with NJDOE and NJDOH current regulations. A majority of our staff members have been vaccinated.
Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding):
Social distancing will be performed in compliance with NJDOE and NJDOH current regulations. Desk separation can be implemented and desk shields are on-hand if needed.
Handwashing and respiratory etiquette: The school nurse will disseminate messages about preventive hygiene and conduct respiratory etiquette programs (cough in your sleeve).
Dissemination techniques will include, but not be limited to, classroom presentations, press releases, school-wide posters, videos and training to staff via in-services or faculty meetings, hand washing signs in all bathrooms.
Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation:
We will take the appropriate measures to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the risk of viral transmission in the school facilities with vigorous cleaning policies and practices which include (but are not limited to) on a daily basis:
Filling of soap and hand sanitizers
Ensuring all paper towel holders are filled and functioning at all times
Sweeping and wet mopping of all floors
Vacuuming of rugs
Cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces including fountains, doorknobs, work areas, computer keyboards, countertops, railings, stairwells, and writing tools
Cleaning and disinfecting of bathrooms - toilets, sinks, walls, floors
Cleaning and sanitizing of cafeterias - kitchen, tables, chairs, food lines
Cleaning of vents
The Educational Facilities Manager with the assistance from the Business Administrator, assures the provision of power, heat and ventilation, water, sewer, and janitorial services.
Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments:
Contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine will be done in compliance with current CDC and NJDOE guidelines.
Diagnostic and screening testing:
Staff members and parents complete a daily health screening questionnaire. As students and staff enter the school their temperatures are taken via thermal scan cameras.
Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible:
The Pinelands Regional School District in collaboration with Ocean Health Initiatives, Inc. (OHI) offered all staff members onsite vaccinations at the Pinelands Regional High School during May 2021. Should additional onsite vaccinations be wanted/needed, the district will work with OHI for scheduling and availability.
Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies:
Administrators and supervisors will review the plans for in-person learning, IEP/504 accommodations and modifications expectations, related services, as well as teacher and student expectations for safety expectations.
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):
After school academies with bussing
Increased services through NJTSS
On-site mental health services
Hired an additional support counselor
Professional development and training for staff
Free breakfast, lunch, and snacks for all students
One and one initiative continued
Describe how the LEA sought public comment on its plan, and how it took those public comment 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):
Components of the plan were emailed to parents for feedback in a survey format. The plan was revised based on the feedback received.
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):
The plan was presented at a public board of education meeting for public comment. The plan was revised based on the feedback received.