Introduction for BH-BL’s Reopening Schools Plan
Submitted to New York State on Friday, July 31, 2020
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. Cuomo expects to make this decision by Aug. 6.
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. On August 3, a commitment form will be provided in electronics and print form to all parents in their native language through the district’s parent email list. The form will ask for information about the parents choice for remaining in remote learning or moving to in-person instruction and will collect information about Transportation and Food Services needs. The form will be due back on August 10. School principals will follow up with parents who do not submit the form to ascertain their wishes for their children.
The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 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:
- Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School
- Richard H. O’Rourke Middle School
- Charlton Heights Elementary School
- Pashley Elementary School
- Francis L. Stevens Elementary School
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 this plan for in person education and fully 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.
Director of Human Resources, Mike Nickson, will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Mr. Nickson will work closely with the Schenectady and Saratoga County health departments as well as the NYSED. He will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members on matters related to COVID-19 procedures and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Mr. Nickson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (518) 399-9141 ext. 85015.
Message from Superintendent Dr. Patrick McGrath
It has become cliche to say that these are unprecedented times, but the description is certainly fitting. We have been working diligently this summer to gather input from across the district and address the myriad of details and concerns related to reopening. This document will serve to capture all of the many technical elements of the reopening. It will describe the processes and routines we will use in all of our departments across the district to keep our students and staff safe. It will also provide an overview of the instructional model we will utilize throughout the crisis. Finally, it will provide details on our plans for providing specific support for students with special needs. Details will continue to be finalized in the coming weeks. This plan will be updated as needed. For the latest information on the entire reopening plan, please consult the main page of our website.
BH-BL Reopening Schools Plan Index
Communication/Family & Community Engagement | Health & Safety | Facilities | Child Nutrition | Transportation | Social Emotional Well-Being | School Activities | Attendance & Chronic Absenteeism | Technology & Connectivity | Teaching & Learning | Special Education | Bilingual Education & World Languages | Staff
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. Videos of both reopening Forums can be found at the following links:
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 www.bhbl.org, 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 in the yellow alert bar at the very top of the website. 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 the website, School News Notified (SNN) and it’s “all-parent” email list – 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. Anyone who needs information translated should contact Communications Specialist Tara Mitchell at email@example.com.
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 email and the website 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 input from our local health departments. In support of remote learning, the district has made laptop computers available to all teachers and students in grades 3-12. The district is in the process of purchasing one to one laptops for all students in grades K through 2. As we wait for these orders to arrive (there are currently production delays), the district will provide laptop devices to all students who need them in grades K-2. The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, phone, our student management system (e-School Data), and the Google Classroom learning management system.
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. Principals will rely on their parent email database to disseminate general and more specific information to parents.
The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. As always, we would rely on NYSED for acquisition of resources that are pre-printed in a variety of languages and we would use services provided through RBERN for any translation needs.
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. Any needs for translation will be handled through our relationship with RBERN.
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 will cover:
- Hand Hygiene
- Proper Face Covering Procedures
- Social Distancing
- Respiratory Hygiene
- Identifying Symptoms
The above training will be provided through live Google Meet presentations to staff at the beginning of the school year. Training will be provided to parents at a live reopening forum held for all parents prior to the opening of school. Training will be provided to students on the first day of school.
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 email, online public forums, phone/video calls.
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.
The district will employ all of its regular communications channels (SNN, parent email lists, website) to share general information about protocols and safety measures regarding containment. 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 is working with local health officials (Saratoga County Department of Health and the Schenectady County Department of Health) as well as Saratoga Hospital to determine parameters, conditions or metrics, such as increased absenteeism or increased illness, that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.
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 its physician and contacts at the county departments of health 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. In the event of the need to pivot to remote learning based upon infection or absentee rates, the district will convene its full leadership group to make decisions about which operations will be ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely.
If circumstances force closure, the district will utilize its full range of communication tools to notify all stakeholders of the expectation to begin 100% remote learning. The superintendent will coordinate the orderly closing of school buildings and the development of a communications plan. All students will be prepared technologically (see Technology section) to continue learning remotely
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 for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (518) 399-9141 ext. 85015
For more information about how health and safety protocols and trainings will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
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 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening.
The District will utilize a tool provided by Qualtrics to facilitate a daily health screening of all students and staff. Using this tool, all students and staff will be reminded daily of the health screening procedures by means of text message and/or email and given the opportunity to complete the screening simply and confidentially. The data collected will be limited to yes/no questions on the potential COVID-19 risk factors. did it will be collected under a strict data privacy contract which is in full compliance with NYS 2D Data Privacy laws and HIPPA regulations. The contract governing the privacy of all data collected, including data retention periods, will be published on the district’s website.
The daily screening will include the following:
- Daily completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for all staff prior to arrival at school. Completion of screening questions for all contractors, vendors, and visitors upon arrival.
- Daily temperature of all staff and visitors will be taken upon entering the building.
- Daily temperature check and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned above) for students done by parents prior to arrival/at school.
- Daily temperature screening of ALL students prior to entry in the building.
Staff will be required to complete the questionnaire daily. Staff members that do not complete the questionnaire will be directed by their supervisor that daily completion of the questionnaire is a condition of continued employment and that failure to comply with the requirement for screenings would lead to appropriate corrective action.
Students will be asked to complete the questionnaire daily and required to complete it at least weekly. Student completion of the questionnaire on at least a weekly basis will be monitored by each building’s attendance clerk. The attendance clerk will call parents who have not regularly completed the questionnaire to assist them in successfully submitting the information. If the questionnaire is not completed for each student minimally on a weekly basis, the student will not be allowed to attend school.
If a student or staff member has a temperature of 100°F or greater or has a positive response to a screening question, they will be immediately brought to a location designated by the school nurse for isolation and immediate dismissal from school. They must have a negative COVID-19 test or a note from their physician in order to return to school.
Students and staff should notify their school nurse and/or principal when they develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours. Staff should notify the school nurse or principal by phone. Students/parents should notify the school nurse or principal by phone or email. Students or staff who develop symptoms outside of school or who are excluded based upon answers to the questionnaire must have a negative COVID-19 test or a note from their physician in order to return to school.
In-school temperature screening protocol will include:
- Staff supervision of students who are waiting their turn;
- Student social distancing requirements for students who are waiting their turn;
- Training for staff members who perform temperature screenings;
- Methods for ensuring sufficient supplies for taking temperatures;
- Use of PPE or barriers for staff members conducting the screening
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.
All classroom desks will be removed from every instructional space in the district except that which allows for appropriate social distancing. In the case of permanent seating, the seating will be clearly designated as off limits except to the extent to which proper social distancing can be maintained.
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, proper social distancing along with proper physical PPE will be assured.
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 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
Infection control strategies
Infection control strategies will include the reduction of the number of individuals in buildings and classrooms, plastic separators to increase social distancing alcohol-based hand rub dispensers where handwashing stations are not available, access to outdoor paths for travelling around campuses, and one way pedestrian traffic in narrow spaces.
Any changes in enrollment that have the potential to limit the ability to social distance will be remedied by changes to the space itself or changes to the master schedule. This could result in the relocation of classes to other parts of a building or potentially a relocation of grade levels to other buildings within the district or to approved space in a community facility.
Facility Alterations and Acquisition
The district is considering the addition of barriers to certain classrooms where social distancing cannot be achieved in all areas. The district will submit those changers to SED through its architects/engineers if/when it is determined that the addition of these items is needed, and that the type of added barriers is such that it requires SED approval.
The district is currently exploring the possibility of renting space from a nearby religious institution to assist with classroom space for one or more elementary grades. If/when it is determined that this additional space is needed, we will work with our architects/engineers to submit such plans to the SED’s Facilities Planning division for their approval. As guidance was issued to school districts in mid-July, and the drawing of plans and review of such plans by the NYSED is a lengthy process that must be followed by WICKs law procedures for any necessary construction, it is unlikely that such space will be ready for the beginning of the school year, but may possibly be put into usage by the end of the calendar year.
Tents for Additional Space
BH-BL is not renting tents for the reopening of schools.
Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures
BH-BL plans to have students utilize only those drinking fountains that are equipped with bottle-filling stations. Additional bottle filling stations will be purchased and installed so that there are enough bottle-fillers per student to meet guidelines.
BH-BL intends to limit the number of students that may be in the bathroom to one at a time. In addition, the district intends to establish cleaning and disinfecting protocols such that all student bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected a minimum of once per hour. Appropriate signage will be created and installed to remind students of this requirement.
The district has worked with its engineers and architects to confirm that all classrooms in the district have the ability to meet or exceed code mandated ventilation rates in all classrooms. See the link to this letter here. In addition to meeting these code requirements, the district intends to follow all of the additional recommendations made by the engineers to increase air circulations and the introduction of outside air into the classrooms.
New Technology for Air Purification
The district is currently investigating Upper Air UV -C fixtures.
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.
For each of the school buildings, we will designate a waiting areas that is near the nurses office that has been retrofitted with PPE to provide the isolation described above for students waiting to be sent home with symptoms of COVID-19.
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:
- 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.
The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted will be determined by the student or staff member’s physician, the school physician, or the county department of health.
In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will consult with the School Physician Dr. Stephen Sipperley to identify a provider and to develop testing procedures.
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
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.
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 following guidelines will be used to determine school status:
- 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.
- After Aug. 1. Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
- 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.
- If the infection rate rises above 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
- School will be notified by the Saratoga and/or Schenectady Department(s) of Health as to the specific numbers in advance of closure.
- School administrators, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
- BH-BL Administrators, in consultation with the Saratoga and/or Schenectady Department(s) of Health, may choose to:
- modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; or
- consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
- School Administrators will determine which operations will be decreased, or ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely in an orderly manner which may include phasing and milestones. Key personnel will be involved in decision making.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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
- 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 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.
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. Students at an increased risk are being given the option to participate in a fully virtual educational experience for the duration of the crisis.staff members who are at an increased risk are given first preference in job assignments which will allow them to carry out their responsibilities from home. Employees at increased risk who are not able to be provided with a remote job will be given the opportunity to explore additional accommodations at work including additional PPE or an unpaid leave of absence.
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.
- Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the district’s or other applicable school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration should be given to how a school may modify their drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps should 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.
- 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 lockdown drill in 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 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 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.
The district has worked with its engineers and architects to confirm that all classrooms in the district have the ability to meet or exceed code mandated ventilation rates in all classrooms. See the link to this letter here. In addition to meeting these code requirements, the district intends to follow all of the additional recommendations made by the engineers to increase air circulations and the introduction of outside air into the classrooms.
The district is considering the addition of barriers to certain classrooms where social distancing cannot be achieved. The district will submit those changers to SED through its architects/engineers if/when it is determined that the addition of these items is needed, and that the type of added barriers is such that it requires SED approval.
The district is also exploring the possibility of renting space from a nearby religious institution to assist with classroom space for one or more elementary grades. If/when it is determined that this additional space is needed, we will work with our architects/engineers to submit such plans to the SED’s Facilities Planning division for their approval. As guidance was issued to school districts in mid-July, and the drawing of plans and review of such plans by the NYSED is a lengthy process that must be followed by state mandated bidding procedures and then state mandated WICKs law procedures for any necessary construction, it is unlikely that such space will be ready for the beginning of the school year, but may possibly be put into usage by the end of the calendar year.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District plans to tape off all drinking fountains with the exception of those that have enabled bottle fillers. Additional bottle fillers will be purchased and installed so that there are enough bottle fillers per student to meet guidelines.
The district intends to limit the number of students who may be in the bathroom to one at a time. In addition, the district intends to establish cleaning and disinfecting protocols such that all student bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected a minimum of once per hour. Appropriate signage will be created and installed to remind students of this requirement.
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.
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.
Elementary students (Grades K-5) will eat lunch in their assigned classroom location, they will not be utilizing the school cafeteria. It is the intention of BH-BL to have an adult deliver the lunches of every student that receives lunch from the school cafeteria to their respective classrooms. Students that bring their lunch will retrieve their lunch from its storage location and return to their desk.
As all student desks will already be arranged in a manner that is in accordance with social distancing protocols for their regular class instruction, there will be no need to reconfigure these spaces for social distancing during their lunch period.
Secondary students (Grades 6-12) will continue to eat lunch in the school cafeteria but will have seating arranged in a socially distant manner. It is the intention of BH-BL to replace the current cafeteria tables with individual student desks that are spaced in a socially distant manner to allow for students to eat their lunch in accordance with all applicable guidelines.
All students (Grades K-12) will be directed to wash their hands at any available location around the cafeteria or their classroom before eating lunch. Posters, verbal communication, and electronic reminders to students & parents will be utilized to encourage proper hand hygiene and the requirement that students not share food.
Cafeteria spaces will be cleaned and disinfected by custodial staff after each group of students has utilized the space.
All requirements identified by Child Nutrition, including NSLP compliant lunches and breakfasts as applicable, will be adhered to.
All students that are attending school in a fully virtual manner will be given the opportunity to pick up lunches and breakfasts from the district. Those students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches will receive their lunches without payment to the district. Those students who may wish to partake of a school district lunch or breakfast that do not qualify for free or reduced price lunch, will be able to do so with payment of the regular price for school lunch/breakfast. In the rare circumstances where parents/students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch may not be able to pick up lunches from the school district, arrangements will be made to have them delivered to them.
For students that are attending school in a hybrid model (some days on-site and others remotely), the district’s intention is to have food service staff deliver lunches to free and reduced price lunch students’ residences on the days they are in a remote learning situation. Students that do not qualify for free or reduced price lunch will be given the option to pick up meals from the district on these days upon payment of the regular price for school lunches/breakfasts.
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 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 perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to 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.
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.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District conducted a parent survey asking if parents would be able to voluntarily transport their children to and from school in an effort to minimize the number of students relying on school transportation. The results of that survey have indicated that 60% of district parents will transport their children to school in the morning and 50% will transport their children in the afternoon. This reduction in the number of students relying school transportation, coupled with the district’s plans that have students in grades 6-12 attending school in-person for 50% of the scheduled school days, will allow students that continue to ride the school bus to do so in a more socially distant manner.
To further the reduction of students riding the school bus, the district is actively working with the Parent-Teacher Associations of each of the district’s three elementary buildings to see if a “walking school bus” can be achieved in neighborhoods where this is practical and feasible. The walking school bus concept requires either parents or district employees leading a walking group of students from their homes to their respective elementary school buildings, thereby eliminating their need to ride the school bus.
Students who continue to ride the school bus will be required to wear a mask for the entire bus ride unless they are medically unable to tolerate a mask. Students will be encouraged to bring with them a reusable cloth mask that meets the guidelines. School bus drivers will have disposable surgical masks on hand to give out to students who may not have a cloth mask with them at the bus stop. Students who do not have a medical exemption, and refuse to wear a facemask, will not be allowed to board the school bus. If and when it is allowed by the Department of Transportation, the district will explore the possibility of installing sneeze guards on the school buses. However, given the lead time for purchasing and installing those items, and the fact that currently the Department of Transportation indicated it will remove any school bus from service that has sneeze guards installed on them, these will almost certainly not be in place for the beginning of the school year.
The district’s intention at this time is to have no more than one student per each seat on the school bus with the exception of siblings who will be required to sit together. If the numbers that were indicated in the parent survey do not hold, and fewer parents elect to transport their children than previously indicated, the district may not be able to implement this practice.
Parents will be required to perform a daily screening of their children and submit the results of that screening through an electronic tool that the school district is in the process of purchasing. The district are asking parents to complete this screening tool on a daily basis before their children reach the bus stop. The screening tool will prompt parents to verify that their child’s temperature does not exceed the threshold established by the New York State Department of Health, they are not exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 as identified by the New York State Department of Health, that they have not traveled to any states on a quarantine list without following the proper self-quarantine timeframes established by the Governor, and other related questions. These questions may be changed as guidance from the New York State Education Department or New York State Department of Health may dictate.
All school buses will be cleaned and disinfected after the morning bus runs are completed and once again after the afternoon bus runs are completed.
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 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.
When students embark and disembark the bus, they will be instructed to follow social distancing protocols. The loading and unloading locations for students who are transported by bus, car or are pedestrians will be modified to account for the increased number of students who are walking and being transported by parents. This modification of loading and unloading procedures will ensure an orderly process that maintains social distancing protocols. The district’s intention is to take the temperature of every student as they exit the school bus. Note: This is in addition to the daily screening tool that parents will be asked to complete regarding their children on a daily basis.
As students arrive at school, they will be directed to the appropriate areas where they may wash their hands.
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 mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions.
Each school building has a student support team composed of teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, behavioral specialists and administrators that meets on a regular basis to review the needs of students who are deemed at risk and/or struggling with social emotional issues. Students can be referred to this team by school staff and parents. Students can be provided with social work counseling services and/or the assistance of school staff who specialize in behavioral supports and interventions. At the secondary level, students are able to access the guidance suites that have established a wellness center atmosphere that serves as a welcoming environment for students and staff to visit for a quiet calming space where mental health personnel are available for additional support as needed. School personnel will be provided training on strategies to recognize and support students who may be struggling behaviorally and emotionally, including showing signs of anxiety. Additionally, families will also be provided with referrals to outside mental health agencies as deemed appropriate if a students’ needs extend beyond the school setting.
The district’s Human Resources Department will provide staff with ongoing support through making themselves available for consultation meetings with individuals who have questions or concerns regarding the reopening of school. They also regularly distribute information about the resources available to staff through the Employee Assistance Program. The District also has a long-standing Health and Wellness Committee that organizes activities that directly address the importance of self-care, healthy living and mindfulness. They distribute resources available to staff across the district, including the publishing of a monthly wellness newsletter.
The district has established an advisory council that involves shared decision-making and is comprised of families, students, members of the board of education, school building and/or district/charter leaders, community-based service providers, teachers, certified school counselors, and other pupil personnel service providers. 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 is addressed by:
- District staff will be provided with training resources and opportunities for how to talk with students during the COVID-19 public health emergency through the sharing of available resources and trainings, throughout the remainder of the summer as well as during opening of school conference days, including those offered through NYS School Mental Health Resource and Training Center, NYSED’s Social Emotional Learning Resources, as well as in-house Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) training.
- Our school nurses will also provide information to staff on COVID-19 protocols and share resources from the New York State Center for School Health.
- The district also offers all school staff access to a wide variety of training topics regarding supporting students’ mental health needs through its subscription to the Exceptional Child Professional Development Library and provides regular professional development opportunities for staff that address strategies to support students with social emotional needs through its partnership with Behavioral Transformations, LLC and the Northern Rivers Sidney Albert Training and Research Center.
Interscholastic sports are not permitted at the time of publication of this plan. Additional information on athletic activities is forthcoming. In the meantime the district is following Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. (Per NYSPHSAA direction, the fall athletic season has been delayed until Sept. 21, 2020. Read press release from NYSPHSAA.)
Many of our clubs and activities continued to operate last year during the remote instruction period. Groups used video conferencing through Google Meets to keep in contact, discuss club business, and even conduct social activities – group board games, movie nights, etc.
Groups could have the option of holding in-person meetings in areas that provide appropriate social distancing – outside in parking lots and athletic fields, spread out in gyms and lobbies, etc… With the building being effectively closed following the conclusion of our school days we would require student groups to meet outside and students to provide their own transportation home.
Social activities organized by clubs / classes would be required to conform to DOH requirements:
- Masks will be worn any time appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained
- Limits will be placed on the number of students permitted to participate in these activities
- Cleaning and disinfection protocols will be followed at all times.
The district is working with the Capital Region branch of the YMCA to set up before school and after school care at all three of our elementary gymnasiums. This program will run from 6:30 to 8:20 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. on school days. The YMCA has financial assistance programs available for those parents who are in need of this program but may not have the financial means to secure it.
In addition, the YMCA has programs that run during the day at an offsite location that can be utilized by the district’s Kindergarten parents for days that the district may not have in-person Kindergarten instruction scheduled.
Information on how parents can connect with the YMCA to participate in these programs will be listed on the district’s website.
A plan is in place for before and aftercare programs run by the district if the district’s partner institution (Capital District YMCA) is unable to continue to provide these services on behalf of our families. This plan includes the hiring of additional staff members or paying current staff members overtime to run this program. If this becomes necessary, it is likely that this program will be considerably more expensive to district parents than if the program is run by the YMCA.
Policies regarding before and aftercare programs include social distancing, PPE usage, cleaning and disinfection requirements, as well as risk of COVID-19 transmission. Protocols in how to maintain cohorts, if applicable, or group members of the same household will be considered.
There will be an expectation for daily attendance of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in the in-person group or remote. The attendance clerk at each school building will take attendance and compile it in the student management system.
Students who are chronically absent will receive the same follow-up (i.e. guidance, administration, child study team, child protective services) whether they are in the in-person school or in the virtual school.
The district is fully one-to-one district for grades 3-12. We have recently expanded our program to include grades K through 2. However at the time of the publishing of this plan our order for Chromebooks for the grades K through 2 is delayed. For the start of the school year, grades K through 2 will be asked to use their home computer for remote instruction (if necessary). In situations where this is not possible the district will provide a laptop computer. We hope to have new computers for students in grades K-2 by October.
A survey of our families in the spring of 2020 revealed that 98% of homes had high-speed internet connections. For families who did not have high-speed internet connections the district provided a wireless hotspot as a means for the student to connect with their virtual learning. The district is prepared to continue this plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Additional details related to the District Technology Plan can be found here.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake instructional plan provides all students with access to high quality learning opportunities in both a virtual and in-person hybrid environment. We are planning to have grades 1-5 onsite daily, while students in 7-12 will attend in a hybrid model with students alternating between onsite instruction and virtual learning. We are planning for Kindergarten to attend in-person on alternating days. In addition, all students will be offered the option for virtual learning.
A survey administered July 16-21 indicated that approximately 72% of our parents would select the in-person option and 28% would elect for a fully virtual model. Response rate for the survey was nearly 100%.
Parents will be given the option to choose between in-person and virtual learning. Parents will be asked to make this choice by August 10 and to commit to their choice for a specified period of time. Elementary parents will commit through the end of the first trimester (November 30, 2020) and secondary parents will commit until the end of the first semester (January 29, 2021).
Specifics on each instructional model can be found below:
In the early planning stages, the district was considering postponing the start of kindergarten until January. However, based on parental feedback the kindergarten program is now included in the Reopening Plan. The district’s square footage limitations, however, do make it impossible to hold kindergarten everyday without shifting students in other grades to other district buildings or reducing the number of in-person instructional days for other grade levels. There would be a great deal of complexity and disruption caused by this shift. For these reasons, the district has committed to developing an alternating day kindergarten schedule to begin the year. This would likely be a cohort of kindergarten students attending in-person school on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, while the other cohort attends in-person school on Tuesday and Thursdays and every other Friday.
Although we will be starting the kindergarten school year on an alternating schedule, we will be looking for every opportunity to move our youngest and newest students back to full time as soon as possible.
To assist families of kindergarteners, the district is currently reaching out to community daycare centers and licensed childcare providers to see if they’ll be able to offer a kindergarten program that supplements the district’s program on alternating days. Additionally, the district is looking into possible financial resources and grants to help with the financial burden this could place on families.
In-Person Instruction Grades 1-5
The district is making plans to hold in-person instruction every weekday for students in grades 1-5. To do this, two small groups of students (“pods”) will be created within each grade level section. The pods will be assigned to classrooms that will hold no more than 10-14 students. Students will receive core instruction from appropriately certified teachers. Special area classes, physical education, and recess will be provided to students daily. Teachers will shift to provide instruction throughout the day, as well as providing additional support to students in need. Technology will be used at different times throughout the day to provide connections between pods and to connect pods to teachers in remorse locations as needed.
In order to accommodate the extensive routines involved with pick up and drop off, it is possible that there may be changes to the length of the elementary school day.
In-Person Hybrid Instruction Grades 6-12
The district plans to hold in-person instruction for grades 6-12 using a hybrid model in which students receive instruction in a socially distant environment achieved by having only half the students on site on a given day. The other half of the students enrolled in the in-person hybrid program would be learning remotely at the same time. Students would alternate between days in school and days at home. While the in-person hybrid model is still under development, certain aspects have been established:
- Students will receive high-quality instruction every day–whether they are in-person or at home.
- Student attendance will be taken on a daily basis for both in-person and remote students
- Teachers will use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods to provide instruction to the remote students while teaching half of their students in person. Options for teaching the remote students will include livestreaming the class or utilizing a “flipped classroom” model.
Our goal is to provide 180 days of high-quality instruction regardless of the location of the student. It is proposed that students in grades 6-12 will be assigned into two groups. Groups will alternate between two days of in-person attendance and two days of remote learning.
For families that have concerns about sending their child to school in person, the district will offer a Virtual School option for at least the first semester of the 20-21 academic year. Parents will make a decision to participate in this model via a virtual school registration form that will be made available on Monday, August 3 and be due Monday, August 10. The form will also be available on the website. The schedule of the virtual school will mirror the program of the corresponding grade level above.
Students enrolled in the virtual option would receive full instruction in all core/required classes covering the same material that will be covered in person. Additionally, virtual instruction will support all Board of Regents requirements for quality and duration of instruction, and will also address requirements for the daily attendance of students. All requirements of students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) will also be met.
The schedule and structure of the virtual experience will be designed by each level (elementary and secondary). The design will take into account the following:
- Interfacing with the “in-person” school instruction as needed to provide similar experiences for students (i.e., specials, electives, singletons, acceleration, etc.);
- students in the virtual school and the in-person school should be progressing at a similar pace, which would allow them to join back together seamlessly in the future;
- and adhering to NYSED requirement for assuring “daily attendance” of students.
If this model is selected, the district is asking that elementary parents commit to it for the first trimester (through November 30) and that middle and high school parents/students commit to it for the first semester (through January 29, 2021). The plan would be re-evaluated at the end of the specified time period, at which time, students would have the option to transfer back to in-person instruction. It should be noted that depending on the numbers of students transferring and the requirements of the Department of Health at that time, transfers could affect the scheduling of in-person instruction.
The fully virtual school at the elementary level will be staffed by a faculty of BH-BL elementary teachers from throughout the district for the period of remote learning. Students from each elementary school will mix together in the virtual setting. When the crisis is over and students return to regular in-person attendance, they will return to their home schools. It is projected that the virtual elementary school will have roughly 13 to 15 total sections (based upon actual registrations). It may be necessary to have some multi-grade level sections. Given the potential size of the virtual school the district is considering a Virtual School Principal.
The exact structure of the middle and high schools virtual option is still under consideration. Some elective options at the secondary level may not be available in the virtual model, although the district will work hard to accommodate important electives.
During the August 1-10 period, principals are scheduling informational sessions and/or making themselves available by phone or email in order to answer questions that parents have about each option as they prepare to make their selection.
Pivoting to Fully Remote Instruction
All of the district’s proposed learning models exist to have a natural pivot to remote learning if conditions in the COVID-19 crisis require short or long term closures. Students in the virtual model would continue in the same manner. Students attending school would be instructed in their current schedule using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods as described above. If students return to in-person or in-person hybrid learning their schedule would resume as previously described.
Opening Days of School
The school calendar will include several 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 COVID safety, social-emotional health, remote learning pedagogy, and technology integration.
Following teacher orientation, the first days of school with students in attendance (in-person and virtually) will be utilized for student orientation. This time will be for COVID-19-related safety training. It will also allow for small groups of students to meet with their new teachers and begin to establish the relationships and routines necessary for a successful school year.
Addressing the Needs of Students
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.
For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website.
Design of 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. As mentioned above, teachers will shift to provide instruction throughout the day, as well as providing additional support to students in need. Technology will be used at different times throughout the day to provide connections between pods and to connect pods to teachers in remorse locations as needed.
All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This potentially 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 or may join via teleconference. 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.
For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
Design of Remote/Hybrid Instruction
In order to fully implement this plan, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment. Our focus on remote instruction will also allow us to pivot quickly away from in-person models if our community experiences spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, prompting short or long-term school closures.
Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Electives and special area classes will be offered to the greatest extent possible. 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 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 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.
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).
The district will provide, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability, the special education and related services, identified in the student’s IEP. Due to the health and safety requirements that must be in place, the district may not be able to provide all services in the same mode and/or manner they are typically provided. Methods of delivery of services will be determined based on whether the student is in an in-person, hybrid or fully remote setting. Students’ service provider(s), including their special education case manager and CSE Chairperson, if appropriate, will consult with parents regarding the specific methods of service delivery for their child.
Programs and services offered will be documented and communicated with parents through a variety of methods, including letters, emails, phone calls and if appropriate, Prior Written Notices, IEP amendment consent forms and/or CSE meeting minutes.
Teachers and service providers will continue to collect IEP goal progress monitoring data, to evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s special education services. Progress will be reported to parents following the schedule indicated in the student’s IEP.
The district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education and Committee on Special Education will collaborate with program providers representing the variety of settings where students are served, to review the effectiveness of service delivery and student progress, remain informed of planned activities for instruction and related services as well as to identify shared resources, materials and technology that may be available to students, as appropriate. This will be accomplished through special services administration participation in monthly regional BOCES Chairpersons meetings, County Preschool Providers meetings and regular outreach to all private school directors and service providers.
Students with IEPs will be provided access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology), identified in their IEP.
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.
We will conduct an informal oral interview with each student who is a new enrollee, for whom we have received an HLQ indicating that the child speaks, reads, writes or understands a language other than English. Subsequently, if the ENL teacher feels that the NYSITELL exam should be administered to help complete the ELL identification process, we will administer the appropriate age/grade level of that test once the online requesting system for the test booklets is open in August and once school reopens. These tests will be conducted in person (no online version is available), following all the District’s and CDCs health and safety guidelines and within the first 30 days of the start of the academic year.
Regarding the Kindergarten students who enrolled during the COVID-19 school closure, our ENL teachers have already conducted oral interviews with their parents and have made an initial determination as to which students they will administer the NYSITELL tests.
Due to our low numbers of ELLs, we do not have a Bilingual Education program. Our ENL teachers will, however, provisionally place any new entrants in our Stand Alone ENL program, until such time as the NYSITELL test can be administered.
For more information see the BH-BL Reopening Plan for English Language Learners.
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.
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.