OPENING PLAN 2021-2022
Our goal is to continue, as we successfully did last year, to provide in-person learning five days per week during the entire 2021-22 school year. The spread of the Delta variant has certainly complicated our opening plans, but we are confident that continuing the mitigation efforts put in place last year will provide a safe learning environment.
The recommended layered approach to mitigation strategies from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) enabled us to remain in school during the 2020-21 school year without a whole-school shutdown and with few positive COVID-19 cases within our school community. Gardner-Dickinson will continue many of the same guidelines and strategies that were proven successful to prevent outbreaks and/or a school closure.
Gardner-Dickinson School (grades Pre-K-8)
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 our school campus. 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).
Superintendent Dr. Mary Yodis will serve as the district’s COVID-19 coordinator. Ms. Tricia Gibbs, COVID-19 resource person, will serve as the central contact for our schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Ms. Tricia Gibbs firstname.lastname@example.org will work in concert with the Rensselaer County Department of Health to ensure proper protocol is followed as per NYSDOH/CDC guidelines.
- Communication/Family and Community Engagement
- Health & Safety
- Health checks
- Social distancing, face coverings & PPE
- Infection control strategies
- Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring
- Health hygiene
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Vulnerable populations/accommodations
- Visitors on campus
- School safety drills
- Child Nutrition
- Meals onsite
- Meals offsite/remote
- Social Emotional Well-Being
- School Schedules
- School Activities
- Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
- Technology and Connectivity
- Teaching and Learning
- In-person Instruction
- Remote/Hybrid Instruction
- Special Education
- Bilingual Education and World Languages
- Teacher and Principal Evaluation System
- Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching
Communication/Family and Community Engagement
To develop our opening plan, Wynantskill UFSD has worked with Questar III BOCES, the 21 other local districts within our BOCES region, local Departments of Health, and sought input from our faculty and staff. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual meetings and one-on-one conversations.
Wynantskill UFSD remains committed to communicating all elements of this opening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all via the district website. The link to the plan appears on the website 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.
As part of its planning for the opening of schools and the new academic year, Wynantskill UFSD has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication channels – including our website, Facebook, Twitter, and text alert system– as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. If this information is requested in another language, we will ensure translation services are procured.
Wynantskill UFSD is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely on the use of our website and SchoolMessenger system, which sends emails, phone calls and text messages to families, to communicate news, requirements and updates related to opening and instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene.
Wynantskill UFSD will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. The District’s Committee on Special Education Chairperson, Mrs. Bethany Mueller, will work with special education families to ensure they have received all necessary information.
In addition, our district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication.
Wynantskill UFSD 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.
Wynantskill UFSD 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, our 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 and email reminders.
Wynantskill UFSD 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 opening plan.
In the event that a student or staff member is sick, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to 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.
Wynantskill UFSD is preparing for situations in which our school building will 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.
Wynantskill UFSD will be in constant communication with the Rensselaer County Department of Health so that trend data for the region can be gathered. We will also observe daily attendance rates in order to ascertain if our building is exhibiting a higher than normal rate of absence. Based upon consultation with the Health Department, district closure might be a recommended remedy.
Wynantskill UFSD may choose to modify operations in our school prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult with all District and County health stakeholders when making such decisions.
School building administrators, attendance monitors, Tricia Gibbs and Kathy Fazioli, 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 the school will be closed.
Health & Safety
The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to our school campus. 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 during school and during our after care programs for the 2021-22 school year. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Mary Yodis at email@example.com.
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 Wynantskill UFSD will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening:
- Daily temperature checks (at school) and weekly completion of the screening questionnaire for students and staff. Contractors, vendors, and visitors must complete prior to entering the school building.
- This screening data will be collected through the completion of a checklist via an online application for all Wynantskill employees and students. Visitors will use the paper application and log entries.
- The data from daily collection logs will be stored for a period of one year.
- If a child is in school and has symptoms of COVID-19, the child will be immediately isolated, family contacted, and the child will be removed from school (families asked to pick up the child).
- If the child begins to exhibit any of the symptoms noted above, they should be immediately sent to the nurse, who will then assess the student and determine the next course of action. What to do if a student becomes sick or reports a new COVID-19 diagnosis at school.
- If a family has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they should immediately contact their building school nurse (at which point this information will be shared with school administration and County Departments of Health for next steps).
Social distancing, face coverings & PPE
The Wynantskill UFSD 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.
Hallways will be marked to indicate one-way traffic, and students will be asked to walk six feet apart (including if waiting to enter a classroom). Student desks will be six feet apart at all times, but students may periodically have small-group instruction at a distance of three feet apart. Masks are required to be worn indoors including during transition times and during classroom movement. Frequent “mask breaks” will be provided to students in all grade-levels when it is safe to do so. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, a medical note will be required. If possible, a face shield will be recommended.
Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and on the school bus. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, for mask breaks (given proper distancing) and while outdoors. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.
Face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
The district will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:
- The proper way to wear face coverings
- Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
- Proper way to discard disposable face coverings
Infection control strategies
All students will be spaced six feet apart in classrooms. Hallway traffic will be monitored in order to ensure students follow appropriate social distancing practices. Students will be required to wear masks during all hallway transitions. All surfaces will be disinfected and wiped down between use.
Facility Alterations and Acquisition
All spaces will be used as they were originally intended, but with furniture appropriately spaced six feet apart.
No space expansion is required at this time.
Tents for Additional Space
No tents for additional space are required at this time.
Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures
Bathrooms will be monitored for capacity and will be disinfected regularly by our custodial staff.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning will be altered so that outside air intake is increased to the greatest extent possible (running 24 hours a day) for maximum ventilation and circulation.
New Technology for Air Purification
No new technology for air purification is needed at this time.
Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring
Wynantskill UFSD requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. The district has designated areas in our building 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. The nurse’s office will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments. The area off to the left side of the nurse’s office behind a partitioned wall will be curtained off and used to assess and care for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and will have easy access to the bathroom in the same office with a sink and hand hygiene supplies. A teacher’s aide will be assigned to be on standby when the nurse should need assistance. The aide will supervise the ill student or staff member in the sectioned off nurse’s office or will move the person to a separate isolation area, next to the nurses office (boy’s locker room). This designated isolation/pick up area will be equipped with chairs, a bathroom within the area, and is located close to doors exiting the school building. The CDC has provided guidance on what to do if a student becomes sick or reports a new COVID-19 diagnosis while at school.
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) will 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.
COVID-19 Screening, Contact Tracing & Vaccines
SYMPTOM SCREENING PROCESS
In the event an individual screens confirmed for COVID-19 symptoms while at school, meaning that they have a fever, or appear symptomatic while at school with any of the COVID-19 symptoms identified by the CDC, they will be placed in an isolation area. For students, parents/guardians will be called to pick the student up from school immediately. Staff members will be asked to leave immediately. Individuals will be referred to their primary care provider (PCP) for evaluation. If the primary care provider (PCP) determines that the symptoms are not COVID-19 related, a note from the primary care provider (PCP) stating such diagnosis must be provided in order to return to school or work. If the primary care provider (PCP) determines that the symptoms are COVID-19 related, testing must occur.
It is imperative that individuals seek medical evaluation from their primary care provider (PCP) to determine whether or not these symptoms are related to a known or diagnosed condition other than COVID-19 (i.e. ear infection, allergies, etc.).
At the minimum, New York State Department of Health Guidelines requires “documentation from a health care provider following evaluation, negative COVID 19 diagnostic test result and symptom resolution, or if COVID 19 positive, release from isolation.” If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, isolation protocols will be required and release from isolation will be determined by the Rensselaer County Health Department. Any symptomatic student or staff awaiting testing results should self-quarantine and will not be allowed to return to school until released by a negative COVID-19 test result.
If an individual is confirmed as positive for COVID-19, isolation protocols will be required for 10 days per CDC guidelines. An individual must be in isolation for 10 days and symptom free for 72 hours before a release from isolation may be considered. Release from isolation will be determined solely by the Rensselaer County Health Department. A release letter provided the Rensselaer County Health Department will be required for the return to school.
If a confirmed test result occurs, the county of residency will be notified by the laboratory performing the test. Individuals will be also be notified by either the initial testing facility or their local health department for negative results. The parents of any student who has tested positive must notify the school district as soon as possible. If this were to occur, the school district will contact the county of residency for confirmation and collaboration in beginning contact tracing activities. The district COVID-19 School Resource Person for the school will coordinate with the Rensselaer County Health Department for contact tracing purposes.
In the event a student is under mandatory quarantine by the Rensselaer County Health Department, the school district will provide remote learning options for the student for the length of their quarantine.
School closure decisions will occur in consultation with the local health department. This may involve the closure of a classroom or entire facility depending on the quantity of suspected and/or confirmed cases. There may be no need to close the school building if the local health department determines that the identified close contacts are excluded from school and the facility may continue normal operations. Full closure of a school facility may be necessary in some situations and will be implemented on a case-by-case basis.
Contact tracing is a public health function performed by local public health departments to trace all persons who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This allows public health officials to put in place isolation or other measures to limit the spread of the virus. Schools must cooperate with state and local health department contact tracing. Schools can assist public health departments in knowing who may have had contact at school with a confirmed case by:
- keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members;
- ensuring student schedules are up to date;
- keeping a log of any visitors which includes date, time and where in the school they visited; and
- Assist local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual at school.
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 department of health.
Contact tracing has become more evolved, and in some cases more complicated, in recent months. The Department of Health has approved this contact tracing chart to identify contacts of a positive individual.
Governor Hochul announced the launch of a #VaxToSchool campaign. The campaign is aimed at getting more 12-17-year-old students vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
The CDC states that the number of children being hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased since early-July when the Delta variant arrived. Adolescents can contract and spread the virus, and they are at risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and even death.
The New York State Department of Health is currently investigating more than 500 reported cases and at least 2 deaths in New York of an inflammatory condition “MIS-C” which is predominantly in school-aged children who experience symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like symptoms, possibly due to COVID-19. Overall, 98 percent of children displaying these symptoms have tested positive for COVID-19 either by diagnostic testing, antibody testing, or both.
The NYSDOH urges all school-aged children 12 years and older to get their free COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. At the moment, children under the age of 18 may only get the Pfizer version of the vaccine.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free.
- COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents.
- Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 3 weeks after their first shot.
- Your child can’t get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the PfizerBioNTech vaccine.
- Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit or at separate visits without any waiting period between vaccines.
Prepare for your child’s vaccination visit.
- Get tips for how to support your child before, during, and after the visit.
- Talk to your child before the visit about what to expect.
- It’s okay to ask questions. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider or a trusted licensed medical professional in your community about concerns you may have. You can also visit the dedicated resources and FAQs.
- Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
- Comfort your child during the appointment.
- After your child’s COVID-19 vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so your child can be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.
Essential employees will be determined by the school district. Under Executive Order 2026, the services these staff perform are considered essential functions of the school facility, which include, but are not limited to, healthcare services and services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of the school facility.
In the event that any of these essential employees are identified as contacts by the Rensselaer County Health Department, they may return to school and continue to perform their job duties as long as they remain asymptomatic and wear appropriate PPE at all times within the school facility. Any essential staff who are identified as contacts will undergo surveillance monitoring by the COVID-19 School Resource Person. If they become symptomatic, they will immediately self-report to the COVID-19 School Resource Person, who will contact the Rensselaer County Health Department to determine testing protocols and quarantine procedures. Essential staff are mandated to follow quarantine protocols for 14 days outside of their normal work duties.
Wynantskill UFSD 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, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.
- Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.
Hand washing should occur:
- Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
- After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
- After using a tissue.
- Before and after using shared materials.
- Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
- After coming in from the outdoors.
- Anytime hands are visibly soiled.
The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.
Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.
- Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
- If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
- Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Wynantskill UFSD 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.
Wynantskill UFSD 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, 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.
Wynantskill UFSD will also ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use but at a minimum, will be cleaned every hour.
Wynantskill Union Free School District
COVID-19 School Opening Facilities Cleaning & Disinfection Protocol
The following is Wynantskill Union Free School District’s Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol for opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. This protocol meets the requirements of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) as well as all applicable Federal, State, and local authorities.
- Adhere to current federal, state and local guidance regarding COVID-19 at all times.
- Indoor cleaning and disinfection:
- Clean and disinfect each space at least daily
*Maintain logs that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces frequently (at minimum, hourly):
*Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, tablets, toilets and restrooms, faucets and sinks, etc.
- Clean and disinfect shared equipment between each use by staff:
*Desks, computers, copiers, office equipment, PE equipment, art supplies, etc.
- School health offices
- Required cleaning after each use, per NYSED:
* Cots, bathrooms, etc.
* Health office equipment (blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes, etc.) must be cleaned per manufacturer’s directions
- Outdoor cleaning:
- Outdoor areas require normal routine cleaning of high touch surfaces and do not require disinfection per Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- High touch surfaces:
*Grab bars, railings, hand holds, rings, chains on swings, etc… will be wiped down between groups and once at the end of the school day.
- Spray surfaces with E23. Wipe dry.
- Mist entire space with the GenEon Mister and allow to air dry.
- District approved disinfectants available for daily use:
- EPA Approved Disinfectants:
- Buckeye E23 – Disinfectant cleaner
- Buckeye E15 – Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner used for mopping
- GenEon Technologies Mister
- Approved alternate disinfectants:
- KiK Pure Bright Ultra Germicidal Bleach (1/3 cup to gallon mixture of bleach to water, Per NYSED and CDC guidance)
- 70% or higher alcohol solutions, if available. NYS Clean can be used if it is on hand.
- Determining approved disinfecting products:
- Refer to EPA List N for disinfectants for use against COVID-19. Wynantskill will use Buckeye E23 – Disinfectant cleaner
- If a product is not on the list the CDC states “If you can’t find a product on this list to use against SARS-CoV-2, look at a different product’s label to confirm it has an EPA registration number and that human coronavirus is listed as a target pathogen.”
A full remote option for students will not be made available this year from our faculty and staff at Gardner-Dickinson, as we are focusing all of our efforts toward our daily in-person instruction.
A fully remote option will only be considered for those students who have a documented medical condition that does not let them attend in-person learning. Documentation for such a medical condition will be necessary for the district to discuss out-of-district remote options. Questar III BOCES is currently developing a program for medically eligible students, which would be taught by BOCES faculty. If you have a child that would be in need of such an alternate program, please contact Dr. Yodis as soon as possible at 518-283-4600 ext. 250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students or staff who are medically unable to wear a mask throughout the entirety of the school day will not be required to do so with proper documentation from a physician.
Visitors on Campus
No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campus, 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 building.
Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.
School Safety Drills
Wynantskill UFSD will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.
- Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration will be given to how a school may modify 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 will be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to (dismissing students at different times from rooms, ensuring appropriate spacing during lockdown drills).
- Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, students should be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.
The school district modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
- If schools reopen with a “hybrid” in-person model, such as one where students attend school alternate school weeks to reduce the occupancy of the school building, schools must be certain that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures, and participating in drills while they are in attendance in-person.
Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting lockdown drills in the 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 drills in the classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the district, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities that require review by the Office of Facilities Planning (OFP), will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2021 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 opening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”
Upon opening, the district plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning will be altered so that outside air intake is increased to the greatest extent possible (running 24 hours a day) for maximum ventilation and circulation.
School meals will continue to be available to all students free of charge for the 2021-22 school year.
Students will eat their lunch in the cafeteria while sitting in desks spaced six feet apart, and breakfast will be in classrooms at desks spaced six feet apart. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.
The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household.
All surfaces will be wiped down between lunch periods. Recess equipment will be wiped down between uses to ensure that students can safely utilize the outdoor playground space. Meals will be prepared with all health and sanitary guidelines as per the New York State Office of Childhood and School Nutrition. Buffet and communal style food will not be served; only pre-portioned, pre-made meals will be available.
Meals Offsite/Remote Due to Quarantine
Students learning remotely due to quarantine will have the opportunity to take meals (pre-packaged) for when they will be working at home. This same model will be used if the entire district is required to work remotely due to a whole-school shut down mandated by the local Department of Health.
All students and staff must wear face masks while riding on a school bus regardless of vaccination status; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering with a physician’s note. CDC guidelines permit buses to operate at full capacity. Windows and roof hatches will be open to increase ventilation on the bus. Cleaning and disinfecting will continue following each bus run daily. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off students to school to reduce density on buses.
All buses that are used every day will be cleaned/disinfected. High contact spots will be wiped down after the morning and afternoon 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.
Whether school is in session remotely due to a whole-school shutdown or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out of district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions.
All students are entitled to transportation by the district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.
School Bus Staff
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.
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 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.
Buses will be cleaned and disinfected to the greatest extent possible between each bus run.
Attendance on the bus will be taken and kept on file to aid in contact tracing if necessary. Students will have assigned seats.
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.
- Transportation staff will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before and after morning and afternoon runs to keep healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- touch a contaminated surface or objects
- blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Social Emotional Well-Being
We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. Wynantskill UFSD has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school opens. Our School Counselor Amy Murphy and our School Psychologist Bethany Mueller will continue to monitor our students and staff and provide guidance and support to each grade level, pre-K-8.
Wynantskill UFSD will use its administration, school counselor, school psychologist and building-level shared decision-making teams, comprised of families, students, and members of the school community, to establish an advisory council. The advisory council will inform the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan. This program plan has been reviewed and updated to meet current needs.
Wynantskill UFSD will provide resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional support services and programs. This will include school-wide social-emotional education programs (push-in services from school counselor and/or psychologist), access to both the school psychologist and school counselor, and “mindful moments” and/or movement breaks built into the classroom daily schedule. Quarterly mental health newsletters will also be published. This team will continue to collaborate with Questar III and utilize their resources. The school psychologist and school counselor will maintain open lines of communication with parents and the community in addition to providing support for school staff.
Wynantskill UFSD addresses professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This need will be addressed by the expertise of our school counselors.
School hours for all students (PK-8) will be 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Non-athletic extracurricular clubs and activities will take place once it is deemed schools can open safely and are able to keep kids after school without need to immediately close and disinfect the building for the next day. Such activities (Drama Club, Builders Club, etc…) will be expected to follow all PPE protocol just as when we are in school (six feet of distance, masks, wipe down of all surfaces used during the meeting). If activities can meet remotely based on the fact that not all students will be on campus at the same time, this method of connection will be strongly encouraged.
Before and after school childcare at Gardner-Dickinson is run by TSL Kid’s Crew, (Thomas Styles, Managing Member). TSL, though independent of the Wynantskill UFSD, will be expected to run this program in complete accordance with CDC/DOH guidelines. Their adherence will be monitored by school administration.
The Following is TSL’s Health and Safety Plan:
TSL has reviewed and scrutinized documentation sent to us through Capital Region Boces (their interim Guidance on re-opening schools following covid-19 closures), the governor’s directives, and the guidance of DOH and OCFS. As well, we have drawn on our experience in implementing childcare programs including summer camps, full day programs and daycares through the pandemic to note the following related to our generalized childcare programs. These measures and protocol are listed below. More information will be forthcoming. They will be adapted as protocols evolve.
- TSL plans to hold its gather ups or meetings, arts and crafts and all other appropriate activities with children to the extent, outdoors where children can spread out more to maintain social distancing in a larger group.
- Keep the larger group of children broken down into smaller groups of 10 while implementing the scheduled activities
- We will be breaking large spaces down with natural barriers ie cones, tables, tape, so that the larger group of children in bigger spaces is broken down into groups of 10
- Restrict the number of children in the use of bathroom facilities to prevent overcrowding during changing times or bathroom breaks
- Make the education of healthy habits a part of the daily instruction to the larger group including: handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, using hand sanitizer, not touching their faces, and taking daily temperatures of children entering program
- TSL will have designated staff assigned to the cleaning of toys and other community supplies daily
- Surfaces will be cleaned continuously throughout the day as part of normal operations as well as a final cleaning before closing each day
- Tables for check in will be kept outside the center or in the center’s foyer. Parents will not be permitted to enter.
Cafeteria or food consumption Areas
- Surfaces will be cleaned prior to and after eating snack
- The maximum number of tables on hand will be used in order to help children be spread out while eating lunch to maintain social distancing
- Education of children in gather ups will be ongoing about not sharing food or beverages
- Vending machines will NOT be granted access to
- As with normal operating procedures, children will each have their own basket for their personal belongings and will be encouraged ongoing to keep their items separated, and tidy. All personal items will be required to be stowed in their baskets. For water bottles, a designated “water area” will be established and maintained so that all water bottles are kept in one single area and not spread out across the center. All personal items like water bottles will be required to be labeled with the child’s name.
- We will not allow non-essential personal items be brought to camp
Arrival and Dismissal procedures (FOR FULL DAY PROGRAMS)
This section may be applicable for kids entering morning care IF the schools do not have their own intake procedures beginning at 7 a.m. For after school, unless directed, we will assume that children have already been assessed prior to entering PM programming
- Childrens’ and staffs’ temperatures will be checked upon arrival or prior to 9 a.m. by a designated staff with the forehead thermometer strips that TSL has ordered for programming
- Drop off by parents will be in a foyer or outside to prevent parents from entering program
- A designated staff will sign children in and out as parents arrive so only one set of sanitized hands are on the sign in materials
- Parents will be encouraged to keep pick-ups and drop offs as swift as possible to avoid lingering
- Staff who feel sick will be directed to stay home
Heath Education and Communication
- TSL is planning to offer an information night for summer parents to attend so we can educate them on all our policies and procedures related to health and safety
- TSL also manages information for thousands of families through their community email lists and newsletters, a venue that will be used to provide the same information
- Staff will be required to attend a staff training event, which will, in part, serve to provide information on updated regulations and protocols for implementing childcare through covid.
- TSL will follow whatever mandates are in place for the use of face masks while in program
- Children’s health will be assessed daily upon intake and temperature taken. Any child who is suspected of being sick, as per usual protocol, will be sent home
- An “infirmary” area will be established for a sick child or staff who needs to be isolated from the larger group until such time that they are picked up or depart
- Ample supplies of cleaning and sanitizing chemicals will be provided, as well as gloves, soap and sanitizer and kept on site.
- Staff and children will wear facemasks per the recommendation or requirements of the Governor’s orders.
Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
Wynantskill UFSD will be responsible for taking attendance for both in-person and virtual classes (due to quarantine), as well as using work submitted during remote days (due to quarantine) as a means of gauging attendance. Chronic absenteeism for in-person or remote activities will be monitored and, using the supports of our school counselors and administrators, students will be contacted to ensure they are aware that their attendance and participation in all modes of instruction is not optional, and will be graded accordingly.
Technology and Connectivity
Wynantskill UFSD will provide students and teachers, for use in their places of residence, with access, to the extent practicable, to:
- A computing device, such as a laptop, desktop, Chromebook, iPad, or full-size tablet, for their
exclusive use; and
- Consistent, reliable access to high-speed internet at a sufficient level to fully participate in remote learning when under quarantine (e.g., a hotspot).
Wynantskill UFSD is equipped with sufficient mobile, wifi-capable devices to accommodate all of our student needs. We will work with families to provide and/or give guidance on how to obtain internet access at home. Ad-hoc hotspots can include the MiFi product or other similar devices. The district currently has 433 chrome devices for students and have ordered an additional 115 which are on their way. We also purchased Windows laptops for every teacher which are equipped with web cameras and wifi capability.
Students’ places of residence may not be connected to fiber, and/or cellular service may not be available. In these limited cases, Wynantskill UFSD will consider all feasible options to accommodate connectivity. Other connectivity methods might include satellite, DSL and dial-up. If households have access to “slower” internet access such as DSL or even dial-up, perhaps efforts can be made to modify the content being delivered so as to minimize the need for extra bandwidth (ex. Delivering text without photos uses less bandwidth).
In the limited cases where students may still lack internet access in their places of residence, despite best efforts, Wynantskill will ensure that all efforts are being made to provide some form of internet access availability, such as by boosting WIFI signals to parking lots. The district has purchased outdoor wireless access points this summer to extend wireless coverage around the perimeter of the building in the fall.
School and District Reopening Plans must include information on how our school will:
– Have knowledge of the level of access to devices and high speed broadband all students and
teachers have in their places of residence;
– To the extent practicable, address the need to provide devices and internet access to students
and teachers who currently do not have sufficient access; and
– Provide multiple ways for students to participate in learning and demonstrate mastery of Learning Standards in remote or blended models, especially if all students do not yet have sufficient access to devices and/or high-speed internet.”
Devices and internet access will be addressed. The district has purchased laptops for all faculty/staff. Participation in learning can take place at home in realtime over the web, at school, or with the aid of portable storage devices that can be distributed to students as needed. If portable devices are being used because there is no possible way to gain internet access at home, then provisions should be made to pick up and drop off the devices so teachers can review the submitted work.
Training students to build digital fluency can happen with help from their teachers.
Adjusting IT Support has occurred by moving the helpdesk system from on-premises to the cloud. All faculty/staff can now report IT issues or requests from anywhere.
Many students do not have access to a printer, especially if libraries are closed. Districts should consider alternative learning activities that do not require students to print.
Other examples of flexibility include, but are not limited to, weekly instead of daily
deadlines and choice boards with activities requiring varied levels of technology
access. For students with extremely limited internet access, schools may wish to
provide materials and assignments on a flash drive or other file storage device.
Students at Wynantskill have the ability to send a document to a specially-crafted email address assigned to two lab printers, from any location. We will also work to promote a paperless teaching environment. The district has spare flash drives on hand if teachers wish to utilize them.
Teaching and Learning
The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.
These days will also be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year.
As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels. These orientations will be done in a variety of ways: posted videos, Google Meets, face-to-face meetings, information posted to the website, etc..
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.
Upon opening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will directly reflect CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.
Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms.
Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. Staff who lack traditional assignments (remedial support) may be used to further reduce the number of students in a classroom at any given time (adding a 3rd secession at a particular level).
All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, in order to reduce their exposure to additional students. Professional development and continued guidance regarding how to maintain small group instruction despite the six foot distance requirement will be continuously explored, so that this new model can be adapted to best teaching practices.
Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.
In our hybrid model of Instruction, the district would operate at half capacity on any given day. Approximately, 200 Pre-K through 8 students would come to school on Monday and Tuesday for in school instruction and then remain home in a remote learning environment for the remainder of the week. The 2nd half of the student population would attend school on Thursday and Friday after being in remote instruction Monday through Wednesday. Wednesday, all students would be working remotely, and the building would have a chance for deep cleaning between the cohorts and for teaching students who require special education or remediation.
The 2 days of In school Instruction will focus on “core” subject areas. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in the school building. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
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. Attendance will be taken during both on-site and virtual learning days and will factor into our grading policy.
The Wynantskill UFSD has developed a fully remote learning model for the entire school Pre-K-8 should we have to close due to spikes in COVID-19 cases in our community.
In order to access instruction from home, all students will be provided a Chromebook computer.
Students who are in our remote learning plan, will be assigned to a classroom and supporting teacher. Faculty will be available both in person (Google Meets) and via email for questions and support.
To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of our online learning platforms, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. See Saw will be used in grade PreK-2 and Google Classroom will be a standard requirement for all 3-8 Classrooms both during in-school and remote instruction. Teachers will use Google Classroom to compile lesson materials and assignments for all subject areas. This will ensure that the students who are learning remotely due to a quarantine from the DOH will have continuous availability to all grade level curriculum and instructional materials. This also provides a seamless transition from in-school to fully remote teaching practices.
Remote learning opportunities will be provided to students who have been placed in quarantine from a local Department of Health. This remote instruction will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. Teachers will provide students with live lessons using Google Meets in all core subject areas (Math, ELA, Science, Social Studies and Spanish in 7th & 8th Grades). Google Meets will be provided daily to students learning remotely following the scheduled times for in-school core subject areas/classes (Schedules to be posted soon).
Art, music, library and PE are responsible for offering weekly assignments on Google Classroom to each grade level K to 8.
Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Student work will be graded and are expected to be present for all classes delivered remotely. We will use a four-scale grading rubric based on levels of competency/mastery, which can then be aligned to numeric bands (for GPA purposes).
All special education students will be provided their IEP supports either live, or virtual (depending on the specific needs of the student) to the greatest extent possible. If you have a specific question or concern regarding the delivery of these services, please contact our CPSE and CSE Chair, Beth Mueller at: email@example.com
Bilingual Education and World Languages
- Districts will complete the ELL identification process within 30 school days of the start of the school year for all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20, as well as all students who enroll during summer of 2020 and during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year. After this 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs must resume for all students within required 10 school days of initial enrollment.
- Required instructional units of study to all ELLs should be provided based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction.
Teacher and Principal Evaluation System
All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the district’s approved APPR plan.
Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching
All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignment, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.