Safe Return Plan

LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Safe Return Plans In accordance with the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARPESSER III), districts accepting ARP-ESSER funding are required to update the Safe Return Plan for the continued safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools, as well as post the updated plans on their websites as required by ARP Act section 2001(i)(1). Since these plans serve as local guidelines for all instructional and non-instructional school activities throughout the entire ARP-ESSER project period, local educational agencies (LEAs) must update them periodically, but no less frequently than every six (6) months through September 20, 2024.

Plans are also to be updated whenever there are significant changes to Center for Disease Control recommendations for LEAs. All revisions must be informed by community input and approved by an LEAs Board of Education or Board of Trustees prior to posting it on the LEAs website. Actions Required LEAs will submit an updated Safe Return Plan encompassing all the schools in their district. Safe Return Plans can be amended by logging into the Electronic Web Enabled Grant system through NJDOE Homeroom, selecting the GMS Access/Select link found on the main menu screen, and completing the following steps:

• At the top left side of the page, Select Fiscal Year 2022 from the drop-down list;
• On the ARP Safe Return Plan line, click the ‘Amend’ button;
• Enter the required information in each tab;
• Run the Consistency Check to identify any errors or omissions; and,
• Submit the report to the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).

Contact Information
If you have questions concerning the completion and submission of the ARP-ESSER Safe Return Plan, please contact the Office of Grants Management at (609) 376-9089 or the ESSER Help Desk at [email protected].

Template: LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

LEA Name: Ridgewood Public Schools
Date:  06/21/2021 Date Revised: final revision pending public comment due by December 8, 2023

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. 

  1. Maintaining Health and Safety

  1. Universal and correct wearing of masks - Based on the current data, students and staff may wear masks at their discretion as per CDC recommendations.

  2. Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/podding) - Based on the current data, the district is not currently implementing physical distancing protocols.

  3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette - Fully functional hand sanitizer stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) are located at all public entrances in each building, as well as at regular distances in each hallway and instructional space. There are fully functional hand washing stations with soap in most elementary classrooms and all staff and student bathrooms which are located throughout the buildings and close to the cafeterias. Any elementary classrooms that do not have sinks will have hand sanitizer.

  4. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation - All spaces will be cleaned daily by the custodial department using the following process: (1) remove all visible soil from all surfaces with attention to high touch areas, (2) thoroughly disinfect all hard surfaces using hospital-grade disinfectant. All ventilation systems are operable and in good repair, including room unit-ventilators and rooftop units. Units are maintained and filters are changed per manufacturer's specifications. All windows are operable with opening restrictions for student and personnel safety. Air Conditioner units and filters are maintained per manufacturer's specifications. American Rescue Plan funds were used to provide dozens of air purification units and replacement filters to improve air quality and reduce the spread of airborne pathogens in all schools.*

  5. Contact Tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments  - Based on the current CDC guidance, the district is no longer enacting contact tracing protocols.

  6. Diagnostic and screening testing - Parents and students are expected to follow the guidance for exposure and positive cases, as per the NJDOH recommendations.

  7. Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible - The District distributed information about local vaccination sites for staff members through the Village of Ridgewood Health Department.

  8. Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies - Accommodations pertaining to health and safety policies are addressed according to the individual student's need and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

*Note: 17 classrooms at Ridgewood High School and classrooms at the Glen School are awaiting new air purification units. The district has applied for grants to cover the costs of these additional units.

2. Ensuring Continuity of Services

  1. 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 - Continuity of instruction is assured through daily in-person attendance for all students to advance the goals of the academic program. The District has a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in place to address academic, social, and behavioral concerns. The Intervention and Referral Services team in all buildings monitors and supports identified students. The School-Based Mental Health Team utilizes the MTSS framework to provide a continuum of social/emotional care that integrates schools, families and communities. Economically disadvantaged students who qualify receive free and reduced lunch, even in the event of school closure. ARP ESSER funds have been used to provide extended day academic support for students in ELA and math.

3. Public Comment

  1. 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 - The plan was disseminated to families and community members using the district communication platform, inviting public comment for a period of at least 2 weeks. Feedback from the public was considered in the development of the final plan. The updated Safe Return Plan presentation will be posted on the district website, and will be board approved on December 18th, 2023.

  2. 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 - Upon request, the District will provide a written or oral translation of the proposed plan options. RPS maintains an extensive list of staff members, including world languages teachers, who are available to assist with translation. Additionally, our Japanese and Korean parent associations collaborate with the district when necessary. In order to make the plan accessible to individuals with disabilities per the ADA, the district's IT department will use Siteimprove - our accessibility verification tool to make sure it is compliant at a AA level minimum of WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

  3. Briefly describe any guidance professional learning and technical assistance opportunities the LEA will make available to its schools - The district created a summer professional development program to enhance instructional practices to meet the diverse needs of students. These sessions encouraged teacher reflection on the school year and dedicated time to preparation for assessment and curricular adjustments to the academic program. There were two professional development days scheduled in the fall (August and October) to support teachers and staff, and our technology innovation specialists will continue to serve as a resource for technical support in the 2023-2024 school year.