School Re-Entry Plans Underway - Updated 07/16/2020
Like most schools across the country, our district faces significant uncertainty regarding school re-entry conditions for the fall.
In a briefing on Monday, July 13, Governor Cuomo described a statewide “red light/green light” system and said that determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. By Aug. 1, if a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, that region could receive a “green light” for schools to return to in-person instruction in September, while still adhering to NYS Department of Health social distancing guidelines. 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 could also be directed to close.
Also on Monday, preliminary guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and interim guidance from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) were released, outlining what will be required in the individual school-level reopening plans.
School districts across the state must develop reopening plans and submit them to the state by July 31. Plans must also be posted to district websites. According to Governor Cuomo, New York state will review school district plans the week of August 1-7. The state then will approve, deny, or suggest changes to those plans. A decision to reopen schools to students statewide in the fall will also be made by the state at that time, he said.
While there is much we cannot control or predict, we developed Re-entry Task Force teams to begin planning and preparing for several potential re-entry scenarios. The teams consist of teachers, students, parents, administration, Board of Education members, and community members. Their work will also be informed in part by survey responses gathered from a Remote Learning Survey distributed to residents in May, as well as an additional survey distributed on Monday, July 6.
Re-Entry Task Force Teams
- Food Services
- Safety & Security
- Extra-Curricular and Athletics
- Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention
- Staffing & Training
Instruction & Curriculum
- High School
- Middle School
- Elementary Schools
- English Language Learners
- Digital Equity & Access
Pupil Personnel Services
- Mental Health & Social-Emotional Learning
- Special Education
Each subcommittee will study and make recommendations on all aspects of a re-entry process in light of COVID-19, from transportation and disinfecting procedures to student scheduling, instructional planning, and classroom setup. Planning for the re-entry of schools will be a fluid process following the latest available information, including state and federal guidance. The district will also incorporate guidance from the New York State Education Department, Governor Cuomo's office, the Board of Health, the Center for Disease Control and our local BOCES to ensure the health and safety of all stakeholders in our district.
As outlined in Dr. Larry Washington's year-end message, the district's re-entry plans will also be subject to state approval. A final decision rests with the Board of Education and is anticipated by mid-August.
The safety and well-being of our students and staff is the district's main priority. We are also committed to addressing some of the challenges and inequities highlighted by our recent remote learning experiences. Every re-entry scenario will present a unique set of demands on our human and fiscal resources that must factor into our planning and decision making.
At this time, the district has identified five stages/scenarios to help everyone understand potential operating conditions for the 2020-21 school year. The Task Force Committee will study these five scenarios:
- Full Virtual Learning: Buildings are closed, and all learning occurs remotely from home.
- Partial Opening: Certain student groups/grades/levels are in classrooms (e.g., social distancing, cleaning, masks) while others are entirely virtual.
- Full Opening Blended with Virtual Learning: Buildings are open with restrictions in place. All students will attend school part-time, potentially on rotations or a staggered schedule, and participate in virtual learning part-time.
- Full Opening with Restrictions: All students are in buildings full-time with restrictions (e.g., social distancing, cleaning, masks)
- Full Opening Without Restrictions: All students are in buildings with no restrictions due to vaccine/CDC guarantees. It is entirely possible that, given the fluidity of the public health situation, schools will spend time in more than one of the above during the year.
Communications: How Can You Stay Updated?
To keep you informed and up to date, we are developing a page on the district's website where residents can learn more about the Re-entry Task Force, its planning work, access Frequently Asked Questions, and more. Please bookmark this page and visit it regularly.
Additionally, we will use our Blackboard Connect communications system to send updates via email, text, and phone throughout the summer. (If you do not receive updates from the district, please contact your child's school to make sure we have the correct contact information on file in SchoolTool.)
"As educators and parents, there is nothing we want more than to have our students, teachers, and staff members together at school," said Superintendent Dr. Larry Washington. "We are encouraged by the involvement of so many of our school community members in the re-entry planning. Despite the challenges before us, this is an opportunity to strengthen our community, and for positive change through collaboration."