Reopening Schools Safely Webinar (Recording)

The link below is a recording of a webinar supplied by the School District’s insurance company on how to safely reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The webinar provides a series of questions and answers to the more frequently asked questions in the public health environment for schools to consider when developing reopening plans for school.

Click Here to View Webinar.

What is the thinking and science behind  allowing 2 students to sit in each seat on a school bus? 

Much like the discussion around 3 feet versus 6 feet of physical distance in the classroom, we are proposing 2 students on a bench because it includes a collection of mitigation strategies working together to keep the students and bus drives safe while they are on the bus. With students wearing masks while they are on the bus, and making sure the buses are cleaned in between runs, and before runs happen every day, we are making the buses a safe environment. The added difference for our bus runs will be the increased ventilation that will happen on the buses with the windows and hatches open that we cannot benefit from in a classroom. The increased cleaning, face masks, and increased ventilation will mitigate risk along with having assigned seats for students while they are on the bus.

The spacing of students is central to the process of planning for capacity. Two students per seat  allows for 52 students per standard sized bus. Under this model, we would have adequate space to transport all students (given some route alterations) in a single bus run. We would have students with siblings sit together, and that single seats would be issued to the greatest degree possible. Assigned seating is a part of any plan under consideration.

Should we choose instead to implement a standard of one student per seat, this would reduce the capacity of a standard bus to 26 students. While exact details would depend on the number of students to be transported, we can reasonably predict that a significant number of the buses would need to carry out two runs for each school in order to transport all students to school. The result would be that any students picked up on the second run would arrive at school approximately 30-40 minutes after the first run. This means that the start time of school would have to be staggered or delayed in order for all students to arrive and likewise to depart in the afternoons. It would also result in increased need for students from the first runs having to queue and to move around the school, as well as add to  non-instructional time requiring supervision. We would have to either bring on more contracted staff to supervise students for this prolonged arrival, or embed the arrival time in the instructional day, which would result in a decrease of instructional time by 60-80 minutes per day.

We did look into adding buses to the fleet in order to accommodate this, but have learned that school bus procurement has been delayed significantly by pandemic-related plant closures and a dramatic increase in demand resulting from other districts exploring similar plans. Additionally, STA has indicated that there is a significant shortage of licensed school bus drivers, and that they anticipate difficulty in even staffing our existing routes. So, even if STA were able to find buses, it will be very difficult to find people to drive them.

Ultimately, we want to be sure to keep our students as safe as possible. Our position is  that two masked students per seat is safe, which means that many of the logistics issues are resolved.

Legal Notice of Public Hearing (Tuesday, August 18, 2020)


UPDATE: The Londonderry School District will conduct a public hearing on the acceptance of the Federal
CARES ESSER Grant. The Londonderry School District is scheduled to receive $168,605.83 to defray the
costs associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Such funds shall be received under RSA 198:20-b,
appropriations for Unanticipated Funds. It will take place at the Londonderry High School, 295 Mammoth
Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire in the Cafeteria. The date has changed from Tuesday, August 4,
2020 to Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 7:00pm. The public is invited to attend.

Public Hearing Notice-CARES ESSER Grant 8-18-20-20

Why is there a range now of 3 to 6 feet of physical distancing guidelines for NH Schools?

Over the last six weeks, the emerging science on COVID-19 has been updated by the scientific community to reflect that fact that physical distancing at 3 feet and 6 feet can both be effective mitigation approaches, especially when combined with other strategies such as wearing face masks. It is important to note, that we are messaging as a school district that it is the combination of our mitigation strategies working together that will increase the safety and lower the risk of infection for both staff and students, like wearing face masks AND focusing on physical distancing in class.

As part of our reopening plans, our goal is be at or above 6 feet of physical distancing for students while they are seated and working in class. From analyzing our typical classroom spaces we believe we can safely place 16 to 17 students in a classroom in our elementary schools and middle school and maintain 6 feet of social distancing. In our high school, we believe we can safely place 18 to 19 students in a classroom and maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Based on our current parent responses from our July 2020 reopening survey to parents, we can place the students that want to come to in person school this year in classrooms and be able to meet that 6 feet of physical distancing in nearly all settings. However, we also realize that school is a dynamic place, and it is our combination of seeking these class sizes, along with our other mitigation strategies such as face masks specifically that will keep students and staff safe when they are under 6 feet from each other. We do not currently project we will have classroom settings where students and staff will be required to be less than 3 feet of physical distance from each other in our general education settings for extended periods of time. Further personal protective gear (such as face shields etc.) will be provided for staff and students if they will be closer to each other than these guidelines for extended periods of time.

The specific science on the 3 foot to 6 foot physical distancing guideline:
A June 1st 2020 study published in The Lancet looked at 172 different observational studies from 16 countries and 6 continents of the coronavirus and other similar viruses to find that that transmission rate of the virus was low at both the 3 foot and 6 foot physical distance range in both health care and community settings, such as schools. Other countries in Europe and Asia have been updating their physical distancing guidelines to this 3 foot to 6 foot range as a results of these findings especially as they moved away from their initial school reopening plans and found that combining multiple mitigation strategies, which is what the Londonderry School District is proposing, is what will keep students and staff safe.

Below is a chart that shows the findings from The Lancet study referenced above that shows the findings around 3 feet and 6 feet of physical distancing. The study considers a school where students also wear face masks a setting that has a “low baseline for risk.”

covid-19 distancing chart

Student Transportation Update

 How will student transportation operate?

  • All drivers and students will be required to wear masks during the operation
  • The bus capacity will be two students per bench
  • Students will be assigned seating (Siblings will be assigned to the same bench whenever possible)
  • Maximum ventilation will be provided
  • All buses will be cleaned between runs; and sanitized when return to bus terminal
  • High School and Middle School students will be riding the same bus routes
  • Parents are encouraged to supervise social distancing at bus stops while waiting for the bus
  • Specialized transportation will be provided using A and B routes to allow for physical distancing as needed.

August 4th Board Meeting and Public Hearing Update

The Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Londonderry School Board Regular Meeting will take place at 6:00pm in the LHS Café.

The Public Hearing scheduled for August 4, 2020 has been rescheduled for August 18, 2020 at 7:00pm in the LHS Café. As always, the public is invited to attend all Board meetings and Public Hearings.

School Reopening Family Letter & Survey

Dear Londonderry Families: 

Last night we presented to the School Board how we could reopen school safely for all staff, students and their families. The School Board is hosting a workshop next week on July 21st to listen to public comment and reaction for reopening. They also continue to invite written comments to those who are unable or uncomfortable with attending. 

The link below will take you to the board packet for last night that has many more details on how we could safely reopen this fall: (click on the 7/14/20 agenda) 

The main focus of how we could reopen safely is allowing parents to choose between in person school with public health guidelines in place, or to choose continued remote instruction for their students. We do suspect we can allow changes for students by the semester and trimester as needed to work with families throughout the year after your initial reopening choice. 

At this point we are trying to better understand each family’s interest in these two options, as well as if they are undecided right now, or if they are considering to unenroll, knowing our current focus. Your responses to this survey will not lock you into your choice definitively right now. We just need to better plan around what our families are thinking at this point to prepare for the number of students in person, and the number of students in remote instruction. 

If you are interested in in person school at this point, we are also trying to understand how many families will still want to take the bus. If you are interested in remote instruction we are also trying to understand how many devices we need to loan out to families, as well as how students with specialized services want them delivered. 

If you are undecided at this point in time, please let us know through this survey, as well as the information you need from us to help make your decision by early August. 

Again this survey is not any final decision you are making as a family for the school year, you are just letting us know your interests at this point in time, or if you are undecided or are considering to unenroll so we can better plan for the upcoming school year. We will keep this survey open through next Tuesday at 12pm – July 21st to gather this preliminary information. 

When you fill out this survey, it will be for each child. We did that to allow for families to choose differently for their children if that is helpful. 

This survey is not intended for any of the tuition based preschool students. 

Family Survey on Reopening