Menands Reopening Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

Introduction | Communication/Family and Community Engagement | Health & Safety | Facilities | Child Nutrition | Transportation | Social Emotional Well-Being | School Schedules | School Activities | Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism | Technology and Connectivity | Teaching and Learning | Special Education | Bilingual Education and World Languages | Staff

Introduction

On Monday, July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.  

Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven-day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.

While districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as for a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model. 

The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Menands Union Free School District for the 2020-21 school year, following the building closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following schools:

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), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making as we move to open our schools.

Maureen Long, Superintendent of Schools, will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Maureen Long will work closely with our local health department. She will serve as a central contact for 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. Dr. Long can be reached at mlong@menands.org.

This plan was developed collaboratively with a variety of district stakeholders. District reopening sub committees were  established, representing teachers, staff, and parents.  These groups met regularly over the summer, and their input has been invaluable to developing the plan. This constitutes our initial plan, however it remains a fluid document which will be updated upon further direction and guidance and as these groups continue to meet.

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Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual meetings and one-on-one conversations. 

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears in the alert bar at the top of the website homepage. The alert bar remains at the top as users navigate the website, making the reopening plan link available on all pages. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature scheduled to be available on the district website by mid-August. The tool will be customized to translate the non-English languages most frequently spoken by our families.

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 channels – including direct mailings, social media, district website, mass notification and individual phone calls, using language translation when appropriate. The district will employ 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. The district will prioritize posting information to the website, which will be translatable.

The district is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely primarily  on the district web page to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and stakeholder meetings with teachers, staff, and parents, as well as guidance and insight from the Capital Region BOCES Health and Safety Specialist.

In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, online platforms, and by phone.

The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child.

In addition, the district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication.

The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings, conducted via explicit direct instruction, video instruction and detailed signage, will cover:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove)
  • Social distancing
  • Respiratory hygiene
  • Identifying symptoms

Parents/guardians will notify the school nurse if their child develops symptoms, at cdambro@menands.org or 518-465-4561, ext. 109. 

The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas: 

  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
  • Hand washing
  • Adherence to social distancing instructions
  • Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as individual conversations and video instruction.

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

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School Closures

The district is preparing for situations in which the school building needs to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.

The district may choose to modify operations at school prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult the  Albany County Department of Health and/or the NYS Department of Health when making such decisions.  

School and district  administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. In that scenario, the district would move to remote instruction, facilities would remain open only to essential staff, and breakfast and lunch would be provided. 

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

The parameters are as follows:

  • Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1.
  • Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
  • Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the LOCAL (insert county) health department. 
  • If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%.
  • Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
  • The district will consult with the Albany County Department of Health on matters/decisions of closure. 
  • The district will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. 
  • The district may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%, we will consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
  • In the event that a closure is necessary, the manner in which operations will be conducted will be communicated.

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Health & 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), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

The following protocols and procedures will be in place in the district for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator at mlong@menands.org or 518-465-4561. 

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.

Health checks

The district has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources. 

The Menands Union Free School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening:

  1. Daily temperature attestations and screening questionnaires are required for all staff, contractors, vendors, and essential visitors prior to or immediately upon arrival at work/school.
  2. Daily temperature attestations and screening questionnaires for students prior to arrival at school. Students unable to demonstrate their temperature has been checked at home will be screened by a member of our school staff.  School-based screenings will be conducted in private and confidential manner;  time away from class shall be minimized.
  3. Students with a temperature of 100°F or greater or a positive response to a screening question shall be isolated from others and sent home. Staff with a temperature of 100°F or greater or a positive response to a screening question shall not be permitted to report to (or remain) at work. Visitors and/or vendors with a temperature of 100°F or greater or a positive response to a screening question shall not be issued a visitor pass and admitted to our building.
  4. Students and staff must notify the school when they develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours.  Students should report these changes to our nurse/health office. Staff should report these changes to their immediate supervisor.
  5. A school staff member shall review the incoming reports of student screenings by parents/guardians and attesting that they are completed. A district administrator shall review the incoming daily employee screenings that are completed electronically; a designated staff member shall review the incoming daily employee screenings that are completed on paper.
  6. Students, staff, and visitors will be reminded frequently of the importance of daily health screenings via communications regarding building reopening and status.
  7. Any temperature checks for students or staff conducted on a school campus shall be performed by an appropriately trained individual. Students or staff awaiting temperature checks shall be supervised by trained staff and must maintain social distancing during their waiting period. The district shall assure the school has an adequate supply of digital thermometers, PPE, and barriers available for staff to utilize during on-campus temperature checks.

The district will utilize an electronic application  that parents will use to input screening data for their children prior to their arrival at school. Staff will be using the same to self-report. Information about the application  will be forthcoming  and posted on the district website including directions. Those families who cannot access the application will be given an alternative means of reporting screening data for their children. See New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines.

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Social distancing, face coverings & PPE

The district has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.

The district has developed social distancing procedures including directional arrows in hallways, maximum capacity signage for smaller spaces based on 6 ft. social distancing requirement, and with limited exceptions students will not travel throughout the building during the day (teachers will move to students)

If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, specialized PPE will be provided. 

Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and outside, including on the school bus, when six-foot physical distancing is not possible. Face masks will be required during instruction and breaks will be provided under the guidance and direction of staff as needed and as developmentally appropriate. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.

Because students and staff will need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school. 

Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose. 

An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.

Face coverings should not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance 

The district will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:

  • The proper way to wear face coverings
  • Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
  • Proper way to discard disposable face coverings

In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as  individual conversations and video instruction.

Infection control strategies

The district will implement strategies including: staggered arrival times, use of multiple and designated entrances, limiting capacity of classrooms in accordance with CDC guidance, having hand sanitizer stations available at all entrances and in all instructional spaces.  In addition with limited exceptions, students will not move throughout the building during the day.

Facility Alterations and Acquisition

Alterations or acquisition of additional spaces are not necessary; the only modification would be the utilization of existing classrooms and instructional spaces (ie. music room, art, room, library, to allow additional spaces to meet social distancing guidelines. 

Space Expansion

The district will not be expanding square footage (e.g., building additions, lease space, transportable classroom units or spaces such as tents). 

Tents for Additional Space

The district will not be using any tents for additional space.

Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

  • The district will ensure that restroom fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) are available in adequate numbers to students and staff, per NYS building code.
  • Drinking fountains shall be available in each building at required ratios .  
  • To the degree possible, all drinking fountains shall be converted to water bottle fill stations or cups will be provided. In addition, students and staff will be encouraged to bring in personal water bottles from home to avoid using drinking fountains.
  • To the degree possible, faucets and toilets shall be modified or replaced to permit touch-free operation.

Ventilation

The district will maintain adequate, code-compliant ventilation (natural or mechanical) in all occupied classrooms and offices. In addition, where possible, the district will install higher efficiency filters, as applicable, to improve HVAC air filtration.

New Technology for Air Purification

This will be a consideration moving forward.

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Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring

The district requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The district has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies. 

Menands School has a designated “COVID symptoms” isolation area in close proximity to, but separate from the nurses office. The treatment and medication area will remain the nurses office. 

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.

School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.

Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).

Aerosol Generating Procedures

Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The district requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions. 

Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished. 

Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following manufacturer’s instructions after each use.

If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
The district requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

Return to School after Illness

The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:

  1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation 
  2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result 
  3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

The district will refer to DOH’s Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

COVID-19 Testing

The district will work with the Albany County Department of Health if there is a positive or presumed-positive case within the district. Communication of information will be done with their guidance to all relevant parties. 

The district will communicate safety measures taken or any positive or presumed positive cases to all relevant parties including parents/legal guardians, faculty, staff, students and the local community. 

 In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with the school physician and the Albany County and/or NYS  Department of Health.

Contact Tracing

The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district. 

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.  

Districts may assist with contact tracing by:

  • Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
  • Ensuring student schedules are up to date 
  • Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
  • Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program

If/when COVID-19 cases are discovered in the school, in consultation with the local health department, the district will close affected classrooms and/or areas within the building.  

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department. 

For more information about how COVID-19 containment efforts will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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School Closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in- person education and/or closing the school. The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level. 

The parameters are as follows:

  • Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1.
  • Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
  • Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Albany County health department. 
  • If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%.
  • Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
  • The district will consult with the school physician and the Albany County Department of Health on matters/decisions of closure. 
  • The district will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. 
  • The district may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%, we will consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
  • In the event that a closure is necessary, the manner in which operations will be conducted will be communicated.

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

Health hygiene

The district will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:

  1. Stay home if they feel sick.
  2. Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
  3. Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
  4. Adhere to social distancing instructions.
  5. Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
  6. Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  7. Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Hand Hygiene 

Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices:

  • Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.

Hand washing should occur:

  • Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
  • After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
  • After using a tissue.
  • Before and after using shared materials.
  • Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
  • After coming in from the outdoors.
  • Anytime hands are visibly soiled.

Respiratory Hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene. 

Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices:

  • Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.  
  • If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
  • Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.

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

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Cleaning and disinfecting

The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection. 

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
  • Health offices, isolation rooms
  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
  • Break rooms
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens
  • Computer labs
  • Science labs
  • Classrooms
  • Maintenance offices and work areas
  • Bus Garage
  • Buses, school vehicles
  • Libraries
  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)
  • Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
  • Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.

The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.  

The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.   

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

Vulnerable populations/accommodations 

We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. 

Visitors on campus

No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.

Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.

School safety drills

The district will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies. Required plans and drills include:

  • Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans. 
  • Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps shall be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. 

Procedures shall be implemented to modify school safety drills to ensure social distancing between persons. Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, students should be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

The school district modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by the classrooms, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site.  

Modifications to lockdown drills may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting lockdown drills in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing/using masks. 
  • Conducting lockdown drills on a “staggered” schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing, however schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
  • Conducting lockdown drills in classrooms without “hiding”/“sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.

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Facilities

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the district, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities that require review by the Office of Facilities Planning (OFP), will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code. 

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

The district plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, lead in water sampling will be carried out upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”

Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

Building reopening plan and activities to occur include:

  • Working with engineers to confirm proper filtration and code required ventilation (natural or mechanical)
  • Altering to the configuration of existing classrooms or spaces to comply with social distancing.  
  • Making available at least the minimum number of toilet fixtures for use in the building, per building code.
  • Increasing the available  number of drinking fountains, and replacing/converting existing fountains to units with bottle fillers.

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Child Nutrition

School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. 

For information about how meal information will be communicated, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Meals onsite

For students onsite, meals will be provided while maintaining appropriate social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.  

Meals will be served in alternate areas (e.g., classrooms) and in staggered meal periods to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning and disinfection between students.

The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household. Adequate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals.

Building reopening plan and activities, which will occur include:

  • Students will remain in classrooms for Breakfast and Lunch. Meals will be delivered by Kitchen staff. Students will eat meals at desks that are 6 feet apart. Rosters will be kept by class of students that participate in breakfast and lunch.
  • Student with food allergies will be identified to the teacher and kitchen staff at the start of school. Training will be provided to staff on food allergies, including symptoms of allergic reactions to food. Signage will be provided on classroom doors, noting there is a food allergy in the class, and it will be noted on the daily rosters.
  • Before and after each meal students will be allowed to perform the proper hand hygiene, in-person demonstrations will be provided by the nurse or other designated staff  in each class at the start of school. Proper signage will be provided in each classroom on hand hygiene.
  • Sharing of food and beverages by students will be prohibited. 
  • Kitchens, food preparation areas, food service areas, and classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized to the standards recommended by the Department of Health and/or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • All necessary waivers will be completed by the district and submitted to Child Nutrition for approval.

Meals offsite/remote

Students learning remotely will have access to meals as follows:

  • The district will provide a brown bag grab-and-go Breakfast and Lunch daily via bus run delivery. Meals will be accounted for by rosters. Rosters and additional meals for students that are not taken will be returned to the school daily.  
  • Both breakfast and lunch will be delivered between normal scheduled bus stop times each morning. Those times will be provided to families by the district.
  • If they miss the bus delivery, parents will be able to pick up meals between 9-12 daily at a predetermined location.
  • All necessary waivers will be completed by the district and submitted to Child Nutrition for approval.

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Transportation

The district’s contracted transportation service providers will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and  transportation staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable.  

Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering, but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. 

All buses that are used every day by districts and contract carriers will be cleaned/disinfected once a day. High contact areas will be wiped down after the morning and afternoon runs, depending on the disinfection schedule.  

School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.  

Wheelchair school buses will configure wheelchair placement to ensure social distancing of 6 feet. 

Whether school is in session remotely or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out-of-district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions. 

All students are entitled to transportation by the district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.

School Bus Staff 

Contract transportation providers and their staff are required to perform a self-health attestation for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.  

Contract transportation providers staff must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield.  

Contract transportation providers staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.  

Contract transportation providers will need to provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages.  

Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.

Building reopening transportation considerations will include:

  • Siblings or children who reside in the same household should be encouraged to sit together.
  • Reconfiguring loading and unloading locations for students who are transported by bus, car or pedestrians. 
  • A student without a mask may be provided a mask by the driver/monitor/attendant. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering, including students where such covering would impair their physical health or mental health are not subject to the required use of a face covering. In such a situation the seating will have to be rearranged so the student without a mask is socially distanced from other students. 
  • Students should be reminded of the bus rules, like, to not eat or drink on the school bus, which would require them to remove their mask. 
  • When students embark and disembark the bus, they should follow social distancing protocols. 
  • Staggered arrival and departure times to ensure social distancing.
  • Since hand sanitizer is not permitted on school buses, hand sanitizer will be made available when students enter the building.
  • Buses are cleaned & disinfected between the morning and afternoon runs.
  • Roof hatches or windows should be slightly opened to provide air flow when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more information about training protocol for students and staff and how transportation information will be communicated, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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Social Emotional Well-Being

We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. The district has made available resources to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. 

Building reopening considerations related to social emotional well being will include:

  • A targeted school wide instructional component will be developed and implemented. 
  • Faculty and staff will closely monitor students having difficulty with transitioning back into the school setting, especially given the changes in the school environment.  
  • Concerns around social emotional health and related needs will be reported to designated individuals including, but not limited to, the school principal, nurse, school psychologist, school counselor and the newly appointed school social worker.  
  • A vehicle to allow parents to report similar concerns on behalf of their children, and for students to self report. 
  • The district/building wide comprehensive School Guidance Plan may be reviewed and revised accordingly. 
  • Utilize the existing Instructional Support Team to collaborate on meeting student needs.  
  • Provision of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how best to support students’ social and emotional well-being through a variety of means, including twice monthly after-school staff meetings. 
  • A vehicle to allow staff to report their own needs to an immediate supervisor, and subsequent supports provided.

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School Schedules

Schedules are under development that would accommodate in person, remote and hybrid learning.  In person schedules will allow for all grade K-8 students to be on campus, in compliance with all guidance from the CDC, DOH, and NYSED.  Modified start and end times will be implemented to achieve social distancing while transporting students. More detailed schedules will be made available following the Governor’s initial decision regarding reopening.

For information about how school schedule information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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School Activities 

Extracurriculars

At this time, it is not anticipated that after school clubs and sports will commence at the start of the school year. Future decisions will be made prior to the start of each trimester.  

Childcare

There are no before and after care programs run by the district. We understand this has been, and will continue to be, a need for families. We are in communication with agencies who have provided this opportunity in the past, in hopes that they will be able to continue to do so in accordance with all requirements and protocols.

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Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism

During all periods of instruction (onsite, hybrid, and remote), student attendance shall be recorded by teachers on each day that school is in session.

Teachers and counselors shall monitor student attendance to ensure participation and engagement and to watch for signs of chronic absenteeism.

Students exhibiting chronic absenteeism (defined as absences totaling 10% or more of schedule, eligible days of instruction) shall be referred to a school counselor and/or building principal so that a plan to improve school attendance can be developed and implemented.

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Technology and Connectivity

The district will continue to assess student and staff access to appropriate devices and broadband connectivity in their homes. 

The district has one-to-one device capacity and therefore can provide devices to students, and to the extent possible, teachers who currently do not have available devices.

To the extent possible the district will provide devices (hotspots) to students and teachers who do not have high speed internet access.  

Classroom teachers shall provide multiple ways for students to participate in learning and demonstrate progress and mastery of NYS learning standards in remote or blended models.

Students, faculty, staff, and families will receive guidance and direction related to their use of required technology devices and applications.

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Teaching and Learning

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

Additionally, several days at the onset of the school year will be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow students to meet with their new teachers and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.   

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs. 

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.  

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content, and may be adjusted  based on the manner of instruction (in person, remote or hybrid).

For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education, please see the BOCES website.

In order to adequately prepare, both programmatically and logistically for the school year (including but not limited to having adequate staffing levels and allocation of spaces to accommodate recommended  social distancing) parents will be asked to make decisions relative to their preferred method of instruction, in person or remote, by a certain date. That date will be set based on the Governor’s initial decision around reopening. A subsequent decision to revert to the other option will also  be  bound by certain parameters; at present it is anticipated this will be by trimester for K-5 students and by semester at grades 6-8.

In-person Instruction 

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart. 

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms.

Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. The district has identified how existing staff might be used to accommodate these needs, and where additional needs for supervision may exist.   

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Our school will minimize the movement of students. Students will eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria and for the foreseeable future, assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities will be suspended. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) will be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible, students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to recommended social distancing guidance between students when engaging in physical activity. 

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction 

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards. 

Student schedules will remain similar whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

At all grade levels, regular, substantive interactions will occur between students and teachers, at designated whole group or small group sessions, and where needed scheduled individual meeting times.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. Teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of online learning platforms, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platforms with students. We will also work closely to provide clear guidance to parents and families related to how to access and effectively work with the platforms being utilized.  

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content,  and may be adjusted  based on the manner of instruction (in person, remote or hybrid).

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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Special Education 

Students who are supported through our district’s special education program will receive instruction consistent with their individualized education plan (IEP). Instruction will be provided via onsite, hybrid, or remote instruction. All of the modifications and accommodations afforded to special education students via their IEP will be afforded to students regardless of their primary instructional model.

The district will ensure collaboration between committees on preschool special education/committees on special education and program providers representing the variety of settings where students are served to ensure there is an understanding of the provision of services consistent with the recommendations on/individualized education programs, plans for monitoring and communicating student progress and commitment to sharing resources.

Access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability-related needs of students shall be maintained and monitored, regardless of the method of instruction.

Related services (such as speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling) shall be provided to students consistent with their IEP’s. These services will be offered onsite, via a hybrid model, or remotely, as applicable.

For information about meaningful parent engagement regarding the provision of services to a child to meet the requirements of the IDEA, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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Bilingual Education and World Languages

Upon reopening, whether using in-person or hybrid instruction, the district will  complete the ELL identification process within 30 school days from the start of the school year for:

  • all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20;
  • all students who enroll during summer of 2020, and;
  • all students who enroll during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year.

After the 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs will resume for all students within the required 10 school days of initial enrollment. 

Required instructional units of study to all ELLs will be provided, to the extent possible, based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction. 

For information about regular communication and engagement with parents/guardians of English-language learners, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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Staff

Teacher and Principal Evaluation System

All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the district’s approved APPR plan. 

Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching

All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignment, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.

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Key References

Additional References

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