Old draft of lunch guidelines cause confusion for Hudson Falls schools

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Hudson Falls Central School District

HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The first week of school can often be confusing, especially in a year when school districts still have to adapt to state COVID-19 guidance.

That confusion only grows when something gets passed around out of context.

That’s what Hudson Falls Central School District Superintendent Dan Ward says happened this week, when an early draft for the school’s lunch period protocol got passed around online.

“There was a first draft that someone had, that had been written over the summer based on CDC guidelines, that got posted to social media,” Ward said in a call on Thursday.

An early draft of 2021-22 school lunch guidance for Hudson Falls Central School District. The guidance is not being used.

The document that was released gained concern from district parents over the first few days of the school year, which started for Hudson Falls on Tuesday.

It outlines a plan where the lunch period at Hudson Falls schools would consist of 13 minutes of lunchtime, followed by five minutes where students are asked to put their masks back on before putting them back on.

The draft is based on Center for Disease Control guidelines about what constitutes close contact with someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19.

That guidance classifies close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Ward says the thought was to try and keep the amount of time students spend unmasked under that mark.

That plan was attempted on Tuesday and Wednesday, to see whether it was an operable way to make lunchtime a little more safe from transmission. But Ward says employing that protocol into the whole semester hasn’t been the plan for some time.

“I know we’re only in the beginning of September, but the way that information changes, something from the end of August, or even the first couple days of September, is a really old document,” Ward said.

By late Wednesday, Hudson Falls had made a post on social media, hoping to gain the same traction there that the misleading document itself had.

That document was sent to NEWS10 by a parent whose kids had previously lived in the district, and who voiced some of the confusion that Ward wants to clear up.

“I’m just in awe, why these policies would happen without any common sense,” said Pete McCarthy, currently of Glens Falls, in a phone interview on Thursday. “Why would you stop kids eating to make them wear a mask for five minutes? Where’s the common thought?”

Ward said documents further clearing things up were being sent home with kids on Thursday.

He also said the lunchroom isn’t the only place where the district’s first week has led to confusion.

“We’ve been seeing some questions, and the questions revolve around some items from last year’s reopening plan that individuals within the community were assuming were part of this year’s reopening plan,” he said.

Ward said the district has fielded many questions asking whether students would be seated next to each other, other than siblings; something that was restricted to follow last year’s coronavirus guidelines.

But this year, as the school’s 2021-22 guidance has stated, that’s not the case. Kids are only supposed to sit two to a seat, but there are no restrictions on who can sit next to whom.

The district’s COVID plan for 2021-22 was the subject of a public meeting at the end of August and has been posted at the top of the district website since then.

Ward said that if parents aren’t sure whether a protocol from last year’s plan is still around, they can reach out to the principal of their child’s school building, or they can contact the school’s question email line at questions@hfcsd.com.

Ward also stressed that parents within the district can read the full 2021-22 reopening plan online if they have any concerns about elements from last year that they may assume to carry over to the next.

“It’s only about four and a half pages long,” he said. “It takes less than 10 minutes to read.”

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