Reopening Our K-12 Schools: Reopening Plan
UPDATED: January 4, 2021
- Communication/Family and Community Engagement
- Health & Safety
- Health checks
- Social distancing, face coverings & PPE
- Infection control strategies
- Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring
- Health hygiene
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Vulnerable populations/accommodations
- Visitors on campus
- School safety drills
- Child Nutrition
- Meals onsite
- Meals offsite/remote
- Social-Emotional Well-Being
- School Schedules
- School Activities
- Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
- Technology and Connectivity
- Teaching and Learning
- In-person Instruction
- Remote/Hybrid Instruction
- Special Education
- Bilingual Education and World Languages
- Teacher and Principal Evaluation System
- Certification, Incidental Teaching, and Substitute Teaching
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in July that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September. Determinations about the opening and closing of school will be made in consultation with public health partners.
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. If this model is of interest to you based on your child’s inability to return to school, please contact your child’s building principal. We will ask you to put this in writing, and expectations for the virtual model (along with program details/directions) will be provided to you. Please note that, while this plan captures all elements as required by the State, the best means of understanding school expectations can be found through our social media accounts, school website, and individual school communications. Our CoVideo Series will also serve to provide user-friendly information to all members of our school community (videos will be posted on our website and social media outlets).
The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Schalmont Central 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:
Jefferson Elementary School (grades K-4)
Schalmont Middle School (grades 5-8)
Schalmont High School (grades 9-12)
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.
Dr. Thomas B. Reardon, Superintendent, will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Mrs. Tara Bush, Nurse Coordinator, 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. Tara Bush (email@example.com) will work in concert with our three County Departments of Health to ensure proper protocol is followed as per NYSDOH/CDC guidelines.
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 forums/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 at https://www.schalmont.org/reboot/ and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the website homepage and will also be connected /sent to our social media accounts. 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 available on the district website.
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 our website, Facebook, Twitter, and School Messenger accounts – 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. If this information is requested in another language, we will ensure translation services are procured.
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 on the use of our website (and the use of School Messenger to push this information directly to family email and cell phones) 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 the collective efforts of administrative, faculty/staff, and community stakeholders who invested in meetings and providing survey data to inform the decision-making process.
In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. As we are a one-to-one school (one Chromebook per student), we will ensure all students have a working device. The District will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, phone calls, text messages, and messages sent through our Student Learning System platforms (Schoology, SeeSaw, and Google Classroom).
The District will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students, and families/caregivers about in-person, remote, and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. Messages will be put on our webpage, and families will be sent this link via our School Messenger software (to phones and email addresses).
The District will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. The District’s Director of Special Education and CSE Chair will work with special education families to ensure they have received all necessary information.
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 pieces of training will be featured online through the posting of approved web resources and/or videos created by our Nurse Coordinator, Mrs. Tara Bush. Such training will cover:
- Hand hygiene
- Proper face-covering procedures (how to wear and remove)
- Social distancing
- Respiratory hygiene
- Identifying symptoms (families will be asked to attest that their child does not exhibit these symptoms daily using either an application or a scan-able ID badge upon entering the building that attests to the child being symptom-free. If the child does exhibit any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, they will be asked to immediately contact the school nurse in their building.
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
- 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 faculty/staff meetings, email reminders, and video presentations on our website.
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.
The District is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need 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 will be in constant communication with the Albany, Schenectady, and Montgomery Departments of Health so that trend data for the region can be gathered. The District will also observe daily attendance rates in order to ascertain if a particular building or buildings are exhibiting a higher than normal rate of absence. Based upon consultation with the Health Departments, school or District closure might be a recommended remedy.
The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult with all District and County health stakeholders. when making such decisions.
School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. Internal and external communications will be employed immediately once a decision has been made regarding whether a school will be closed.
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 all district schools and aftercare programs for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator John O’Donnell: at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Thomas Reardon: email@example.com.
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 district as 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 Schalmont Central School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening:
- Daily temperature checks (at home) and completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors [prior to arrival/at school].
- Daily temperature check and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned above) for students[prior to arrival/at school]
- This data will be collected through either the completion of a checklist via an application, or through “scanning” into the building/bus that attests to the student’s lack of any symptoms. If the child’s attestation is not recorded, the child will be asked to quickly meet in the nurse’s office, at which point the family will be contacted for verification the child is symptom-free. If need be, the temperature will be taken by the school nurse and the questionnaire administered.
- The data from the daily collection will be stored for a period of one year.
- If a child is in school and has symptoms of COVID-19, the child will be immediately isolated, the family contacted, and the child will be removed from school (families asked to pick up the child).
- If the child begins to exhibit any of the symptoms noted above, they should be immediately sent to the nurse, who will then assess the student and determine the next course of action.
- If a family has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they should immediately contact their building school nurse (at which point this information will be shared with school administration and County Departments of Health for next steps).
Social Distancing, Face Coverings & PPE
The District has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining the social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds, and transportation.
Hallways will be marked to indicate one-way traffic, and students will be asked to walk six feet apart (including if waiting to enter a classroom). Students will be six feet apart (and spaced accordingly in learning spaces) at all times. Masks will be worn during transition times and during classroom movement. Frequent “mask breaks” will be provided to students in all grade levels.
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, a medical note will be required. If possible, a face shield will be recommended.
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. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, 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 may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn.
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 coverage 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
- The proper way to discard disposable face coverings
*The District will provide face shields and/or masks to any faculty, staff, or student who requires one.
Infection Control Strategies
Students will be spaced six feet apart both in classrooms and on school buses. Hallway traffic will be monitored in order to ensure students follow appropriate social distancing practices. Students will be required to wear masks during hallway transitions, and when transitioning to lunch, recess, and changing of classes. All surfaces will be disinfected and wiped down between use.
Facility Alterations and Acquisition
All spaces will be used as they were originally intended, but with furniture appropriately spaced six feet apart.
No space expansion is required at this time.
Tents for Additional Space
No tents for additional space are required at this time.
Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures
All bathrooms are currently designed to account for six of space between occupants. Bathrooms will be monitored for capacity and will be disinfected each hour by our custodial staff.
All UniVents (ventilation systems) will be fitted with HEPA compliant filters for increased air filtration. Windows will be opened (as well as bus windows/roof hatches) when the temperature allows for increased air circulation.
New Technology for Air Purification
No new technology for air purification is needed at this time.
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 in each building to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on the severity of illness. One area in each building 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.
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 the 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 the use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following the 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 parents/guardians. 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:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
- 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.
In the event that large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with our school physician and County Health Departments in order to arrange for large-scale testing.
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
Based on the data yielded by County Health Department contact tracing, a decision to close an individual school building or the entire District will be made.
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.
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.
- Determinations about the opening and closing of school will be made in consultation with public health partners.
- The school will be notified by the respective County Health Departments on the situation.
- School administrators 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.
- The District will consult their medical director and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.
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:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- 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.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
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.
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.
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 includes the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include
- 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.)
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- 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 the frequency of use.
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. The District will make every effort to modify its current proposed plan for students and staff as much as possible. It is recommended that those who are concerned for their safety based on their increased risk contact their respective building principals, so that specific program modification can be discussed.
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.
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration will be given to how a school may modify its drill procedures to minimize the risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps will be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to (dismissing students at different times from rooms, ensuring appropriate spacing during lockdown drills).
- 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 classroom minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
- If schools reopen with a “hybrid” in-person model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct a lockdown drill in a classroom setting 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.
- Conduct lockdown drill in the classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
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-open (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 (not applicable at this time).
School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely.
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.
The district will ensure social distancing between individuals while eating in the school cafeteria. If not feasible, meals may be served in alternate areas (e.g., classrooms) or 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.
New tables will be purchased for all cafeteria spaces in the three buildings that allow for the appropriate spacing of students while maintaining six feet of social distance. All surfaces will be wiped down between lunch periods, including recess equipment will be wiped down to ensure students can safely and with appropriate social distancing measures in place even when in an outdoor space. Meals will be prepared with all health and sanitary guidelines as per the New York State Office of Childhood and School Nutrition. Buffet and communal style food will not be served; only pre-portioned pre-made meals will be available.
Students learning remotely will have the opportunity to take meals (pre-packaged) for when they will be working at home. Students who elect to work entirely in a virtual model but require meals will have an option for a weekly/bi-weekly pick-up of meals akin to what was done when all students were working from home last spring. This same model will be used if the entire District is required to work remotely due to Health Department/State Mandate.
The district will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school 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 spots will be wiped down after the morning (AM) and afternoon (PM) run depending upon 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 the 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
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants, and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to work. If personnel is experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants, and mechanics must wear a face-covering along with an optional face shield.
Transportation 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.
Transportation departments/carriers 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.
Buses will be cleaned and disinfected between each run. Students will be asked to sit one to a seat and wear masks, in order to increase bus capacity to 22 students per bus (not including siblings who are allowed to sit together). Masks are vital in order for the safety of the driver and students surrounding them.
When temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, school buses will transport passengers with roof hatches or windows slightly opened to provide air flow.:
- The driver, monitor, and attendant may wear gloves if they choose to do so but are not required unless they must be in physical contact with students.
- Transportation staff will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before and after am and pm runs to keep healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- touch a contaminated surface or objects
- blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
- When students embark and disembark the bus, they will follow social distancing protocols. This will increase the time required to load and unload buses at schools in the morning and afternoon. Each school building will use staggered arrival and departure times to ensure social distancing.
- Schools reconfigure the loading and unloading locations for students who are transported by bus, car or are pedestrians.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available to all students immediately upon entering the building since sanitizer is not allowed on school buses.
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 and referrals to address the mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. This has done this by:
The District will use its administrative team, in concert with building-level shared decision making teams that involve shared decision-making and is comprised of families, students, members of the school community, particularly the counseling/social work/school psychologist department members. The advisory council will inform the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan. This program plan has been reviewed and updated to meet current needs.
The district addresses professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This need will be addressed by the expertise of our school counselors.
Videos and slides, containing each building’s specific opening plans can be found on our school reboot page: https://www.schalmont.org/reboot/
Non-athletic extracurricular clubs and activities will take place once it is deemed schools can open safely and are able to keep kids after school without the need to immediately close and disinfect the building for the next day. Such activities (Key Club, Student Council, etc.) will be expected to follow all PPE protocol just as when we are in school (six feet of distance, masks, wipe down of all surfaces used during the meeting). If activities can meet remotely based on the fact that not all students will be on campus at the same time, this method of connection will be strongly encouraged.
Childcare is run by the YMCA, and they are planning to provide a smaller version of their previously run program, due to social distancing capacity. The YMCA, though independent of the Schalmont Central School District, will be expected to run this program in complete accordance with CDC/DOH guidelines. Their adherence will be monitored by the school administration.
Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
The District will be responsible for taking attendance for both “live” and virtual classes, as well as using work submitted during remote days as a means of gauging attendance. Chronic absenteeism from live or remote activities will be monitored and, using the supports of our school counselors and administrators, students will be contacted so ensure they are aware that their attendance and participation in all modes of instruction (live, hybrid, remote) is not optional, and will be graded accordingly.
Technology and Connectivity
All students will receive a Chromebook in order to remain “connected” during hybrid and remote instruction. If internet access is not available to students when they are remote, specific arrangements will be made to either connect the family with the internet, or students will have the option of coming to campus to use common learning spaces as a means of accessing their assignments. As of our last survey this spring, we do not have reason to believe connectivity is an issue for more than a handful of students if any at all at the present time.
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.
These days will also be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher 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, the 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.
For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website (www.capregboces.org).
Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will directly reflect 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. Staff who lack traditional assignments (remedial support) will be used to not only support remedial instruction but will remove students from classes throughout the day to further reduce the number of students in a classroom at any given time (this is specific to elementary).
All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This potentially (though at this point we do believe we can program for students to use special area classrooms as they were intended to be) means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips, and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet 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. Professional development and continued guidance regarding how to maintain small group instruction despite the six-foot distance requirement will be continuously explored so that this new model can be adapted to best teaching practices.
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.
As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether the instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.
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. While the recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, 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 a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. Faculty will be available both in-person and via email/student learning system platform for questions and support (either live or through email guidance). Students will be encouraged to maximize their time on campus when directly in front of their teachers in order to maximize help.
Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will use a five-scale grading rubric based on levels of competency/mastery, which can then be aligned to numeric bands (for GPA purposes).
All special education students will be provided their IEP supports either live or virtual (depending on the specific needs of the student). If you have a specific question or concern regarding the delivery of these services, please contact Shari Rosato at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bilingual Education and World Languages
- Districts will complete the ELL identification process within 30 school days of the start of the school year for all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20, as well as all students who enroll during the summer of 2020 and during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year. After this 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs must resume for all students within the required 10 school days of initial enrollment.
- Required instructional units of study to all ELLs should be provided based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction.
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 the teaching assignments, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.
- State Education Department Issues Guidance to Reopen New York State Schools (July 16, 2020)
- State Education Department Presents Framework of Guidance to Reopen New York State Schools (July 13, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, NYS Department of Health (July 13, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency(June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Food Services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.(June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Office-Based Work during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.(June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Public Transportation Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. (June 26, 2020)
- New York State Department of Health Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- New York State Education Department Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Website
Once finalized, reopening plans will be posted on the district’s website. By July 31, 2020, districts will complete a survey through the Portal, providing NYSED with:
- A link to the public website where each school plan has been publicly posted
- A set of mandatory assurances that the reopening plan includes all of the mandatory elements outlined in the NYSED guidance
NOTE: Information submitted through the Portal will not include detailed narratives or descriptions of specific actions to be taken by a school or district as part of their reopening Plan; those details must be articulated in the materials that are publicly posted on the school/district website.
Also by July 31, 2020, districts will complete a short companion Department of Health survey that includes a link to the publicly posted plan on the district/school website.