To help inform our reopening plan, the District has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, Board of Education members, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included email updates, website updates, online surveys, creation of a Reopening Committee, and upcoming question-and-answer opportunities for students and families.
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 this link, and will be updated, as necessary, to respond to changing local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the District website homepage and in the features area at the top of each school’s homepage. 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. Languages currently supported by this feature include:
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 the District website, superintendent updates, school District emails, School Messenger email, texts and phone calls, regular mail – 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, as well as 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.
In support of remote learning, the District will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. We will ensure students have the devices for use throughout the school year. The District will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including via the Student Information System and the SchoolTool Parent Portal, a staff directory, an administrative directory and other contact information.
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. This information will be shared via email through School Messenger and on the District website and by mail for any family without email access.
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 endeavor 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 student’s age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols throughout the year. 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 will cover:
- Proper hand washing hygiene
- Proper face-covering procedures (how to wear and remove)
- Social distancing in classrooms, common areas, outdoors and on school buses (on buses to the extent practicable)
- Respiratory hygiene
- Identifying symptoms and informing appropriate school personnel when symptoms of COVID-19 are suspected. Families will be asked to attest that their child does not exhibit these symptoms daily using either an online application or a paper attestation. If a 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
- 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 faculty/staff meetings, email reminders, and video tutorials.
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, per the CDC’s guidance and in consultation with the Schenectady Department of Health. 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 Schenectady County 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 regular communication with our District school physician, Dr. Warren Silverman, and with the Schenectady County Department of Health so that trend data for the region can be monitored. The District will also observe daily attendance rates in order to determine if any particular building or buildings are exhibiting higher than normal rates of absence. Based upon consultation with the Health Department, a school or District closure may be recommended.
The District may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. 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.