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Pine Bush Reopening Plan – Return to Learn Fall 2021

Below is the fall 2021 reopening plan for the Pine Bush Central School District.


Introduction | Communication-Family/Community  | Health and Safety | Instruction



The Pine Bush Central School District is committed to the health and safety of the students and families of our community.  Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Education Department.

Our Primary Goals:

  • Return all PK-Grade 12 Pine Bush CSD students to in-person instruction
  • Provide a safe learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff
  • Offer all extra-curricular, music, and athletic activities and programs for our students.

The District’s COVID Response/Opening plan is a fluid document that is subject to change based on a variety of factors, including recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), New York State Education Department (NYSED), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Orange County DOH, Dr. Emily Brown, District physician, and Orange County’s COVID-19 Community Transmission Rate. 

This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following schools:

Pine Bush High School–Aaron Hopmayer, Principal

Circleville Middle School–Lisa Hankinson, Principal

Crispell Middle School–John Boyle, Principal

Circleville Elementary School–Kristin Slover, Principal

EJ Russell Elementary School–Elizabeth Halsey-Sproul, Principal

Pakanasink Elementary School–Brian Breheny, Principal

Pine Bush Elementary School–Eric Winter, Principal

Amy Brockner, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, will serve as the district’s COVID-19 coordinator.  She will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines.


Guiding Principles

The development of this plan was guided by and grounded in the following guiding principles:

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
  2.  Providing the opportunity for all students to access education in the fall;
  3. Monitoring schools, students, and staff.  When necessary, modifying schedules to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities that are emerging from this historic disruption;
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners, such as families, educators, and staff;
  6. Factoring into decision making the challenges to the physical safety, social emotional well-being, and the mental health needs of our students caused by school closure; and
  7. Considering and supporting diversity in our schools and school districts as we provide essential education.

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Communication/Family and Community 

 To help inform our reopening plan, the Pine Bush Central School District has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians (in the form of various surveys), local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts virtual meetings and one-on-one conversations.

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents/guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at www.pinebushschools.org and will be updated throughout the school
year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances.

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication modes – including School Messenger phone calls, emails and texts, district website and social media accounts, telephone calls and student email addresses–as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of
consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic.


Communication Goals:

  • To encourage all students, faculty, staff, and visitors through verbal and written
    communication (e.g., signage) to adhere to NYSED, CDC, and DOH guidance regarding the use of acceptable face coverings.
  • To provide regular updates about health and safety, scheduling, and all other information faculty, staff and families should be aware of.
  • To provide information to families through a wide array of platforms including mail, email, telephone calls, text messaging, social media and website postings.
  • To provide information on how families can access technology and receive technical support to assist with utilization and maintenance of equipment.
  • To provide information about any vaccination clinics that we may be able to arrange to host during the year.

Pine Bush Central School District developed communication materials accordingly, including the creation of model messages/letters for COVID-19 cases or potential cases for various school audiences. We will utilize communication methods used by the district to inform the school community. Information will be dispersed in a variety of platforms that include: 

  • District website
  • SchoolMessenger Call List
  • Email blast
  • Correspondence (letters) to homes
  • Social media accounts used by district
  • Meetings via Google Meet

Clear messaging will be prepared and consistently communicated before re-entry, on the first day, during the first week, throughout the first month, and continuously throughout the year. Sample topics include; but are not limited to:

  • Who to contact with questions, concerns or suggestions. Empower people to make a positive difference and communicate the expectation for them to do so.
  • The facts as we currently know them (NYSED, CDC).
  • The importance of social distancing, monitoring symptoms of COVID-19 and when to stay home.
  • Frequent reminders for staff and students to stay home if they feel sick.
  • Encourage and implement social distancing throughout schools where practicable.
  • Practice proper hand hygiene. Staff is allowed to use hand sanitizer, but hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is still more effective. Hand sanitizer work best on clean hands.
  • Encourage and practice proper respiratory etiquette (i.e., coughing or sneezing into your elbow if a tissue is not available).
  • Encouraging personal responsibility for yourself and your work area.
  • Educating the school community on district policies/procedures, including how to properly wear and dispose of a face mask.


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Health and Safety

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

The following protocols and procedures will be in place in all district schools for the 2021-22 school year. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 Safety Coordinator at amy.brockner@pinebushschools.org or 845-744-2031.

For more information about how health and safety protocols and training will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section  of our reopening plan.

The Pine Bush Central School District pledges to promote the following 9 COVID-19 prevention strategies. 


1. Promoting Vaccination

Pine Bush CSD will promote vaccination of all stakeholders by providing information about COVID-19 vaccinations and establishing supportive policies and practices that make being vaccinated as easy and convenient as possible. 


2. Consistent and Correct Mask Use 

When teachers, staff, and students consistently and correctly wear a mask, they protect others, as well as themselves. With this in mind, the Pine Bush CSD will adhere to the following: 


  • All students, staff and visitors to buildings will wear face masks, regardless of
    vaccination status.
    Anyone riding on a bus will wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Masks will be provided as needed.
  • Face shields and/ or other accommodations, including frequent mask breaks and increased distancing, will be considered for those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering



  • Masks outdoors are optional. The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.


3. Physical Distancing

When teachers, staff, and students consistently and correctly wear a mask, they protect others, as well as themselves. With this in mind, the Pine Bush CSD will adhere to the following:

  • The recommendation is to maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students within classrooms. A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Cohorting will be utilized where practicable.  
  • Pine Bush CSD will maximize physical distancing during lunch periods as much as possible when students are moving through the food service line and while eating. Additional space may be utilized to maximize space.


4. Screening Testing 

Should any governing agency require screening testing, the Pine Bush CSD will comply with expectations.


5. Ventilation

Improving ventilation is an important prevention strategy. Whenever possible, fresh air will be brought in from the outside to assisting keeping virus particles from concentrating inside. This will be done by:

  • Opening multiple windows and inside doors of schools
  • Opening windows and hatches on buses

6. Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

People should practice handwashing and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) to keep from getting and spreading infectious illnesses including COVID-19. Pine Bush CSD schools will monitor and reinforce these behaviors and provide adequate handwashing supplies.

  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Remind everyone to wash frequently and assist young children with handwashing.
  • Where used, hand sanitizer will contain at least 60% alcohol (for teachers, staff, and older students who can safely use hand sanitizer). Hand sanitizers should be:
  1. stored up, away, and out of sight of young children;
  2. used only with adult supervision for children under 6 years of age; and
  3. rubbed on hands until completely absorbed.


7. Staying Home When Sick 

Students and school personnel of the Pine Bush CSD should stay home if they are showing signs and symptoms of infectious illness, including COVID-19. Testing is highly encouraged.

Parents/guardians should screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their child attending school each day.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Fever or chills (100.0 or above) 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Headaches 
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat 
  • Congestion or runny nose 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 

Pine Bush CSD encourages everyone in our school community to get tested when symptoms are compatible with COVID-19, as this will help with rapid contact tracing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at school


8. Contact Tracing 

Pine Bush CSD will follow contact tracing guidelines as directed by the Orange County Department of Health, which currently mirrors the CDC as follows:

  • A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a
    cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period of time. Exception: In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore masks the entire time.
  • Teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting fall within the 6’ perimeter.
  • Those who are exposed and vaccinated do not need to quarantine unless they start exhibiting symptoms.

9. High Standard Cleaning and Disinfecting 

Established daily cleaning and disinfecting routines established last year will continue in accordance with New York State Education Department guidelines.


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Pursuant to the memo from New York State Department of Education Commissioner Rosa on July 29, 2021, Pine Bush CSD will be:

  • Open for in-person instruction as long as allowed for by public health officials
  • Prepared to pivot to remote instruction in the case of school closure due to a
    declared public health emergency

In order to ensure access to instructional resources for students who miss school for medically related reasons, the Pine Bush CSD will provide:

  • Home/hospital instruction for students with extreme medical conditions, as has been provided prior to the pandemic, following an assessment of any individual request by our district physician.
  • Tutoring to students required to quarantine due to potential exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, as we would for other students who have to miss school for an extended time due to an illness

Due to the substantial benefits of in-person instruction, an all-virtual instructional option will not be generally available to Pine Bush students this year.


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Pine Bush Central School District
State Route 302, Pine Bush, NY 12566
Phone: (845) 744-2031
Fax: (845) 744-6189
Brian Dunn
Superintendent of Schools
This website is maintained by Public Information Specialist Linda Smith. It is the goal of the Pine Bush Central School District that this website is accessible to all users. View our accessibility statement. The district is not responsible for facts or opinions contained on any linked site. Some links and features on this site require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. Visit the Adobe website to download the free Acrobat Reader. This website was produced by Capital Region BOCES Engagement & Development Services, Albany, NY. Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.