Dear GD Families,
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 reopening 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 very 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.
The following is a summary of our reopening plans, beginning September 8, 2021 based upon the most recent guidelines and recommendations provided by the NYSDOH, CDC and NYSED in conjunction with our Regional County Departments of Health. * Please note our full updated reopening plan will be posted to the website very soon.
Multi-Layered Mitigation Strategies
Wynantskill UFSD will continue to:
- require parents to screen their children before bringing them to school, ensuring that they stay home and are seen by a doctor when they are sick (weekly check in required using EdVista’s email screening system coming soon). Please review the CDC’s guidance regarding what to do if a student becomes sick or reports a new COVID-19 diagnosis while at school;
- check the temperatures of all students and adults as they enter the building;
- promote frequent handwashing with soap and water and offering hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available;
- clean and disinfect our building and school buses; and
- maximize our ventilation system by running it 24 hours instead of 12.
- On site surveillance testing of students and staff will be implemented in conjunction with Questar III BOCES and Rensselaer County DOH when test kits are available. Parental consent is required. (more information coming soon). Review the Commissioner’s Determination on COVID-19 testing from NYSDOH.
In accordance with the Commissioner’s determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors must wear masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Masks will be optional when outdoors on school property.
Students will be provided mask breaks when seated in class and physically distanced 6 feet apart.
Students will remain at 6 feet of physical distance whenever possible throughout the school building. All classrooms will be set up so student desks are 6 feet apart from one another. Allowing us to continue at 6 feet of physical distance in the classroom is due to the fact that we have adequate space in the building to add additional learning spaces. We added a third section of 3rd, 5th and 7th grades by allocating additional rooms for classrooms and hiring additional faculty. Class sizes are between 15-20 with 20 being the maximum. Teachers may choose to have students work for short periods of time at 3 feet (pulling 2-3 students to the back table for reteaching) following additional mitigation strategies listed above.
No lockers to be used at this time.
Sixth graders will use their desks and baskets.
We are not cohorting at this time in the 7th and 8th grades, and students will move about the building for each period. Seventh and 8th graders can carry a backpack from class to class (students will have laptop computers instead of textbooks making this less of a burden).
All students and staff must wear face masks while riding on a school bus regardless of vaccination status. 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 who plan on driving their children to and/or from school are asked to please inform Kathy Fazioli, email@example.com, and/or Mike Goyer, firstname.lastname@example.org, in our Transportation Department to assist with our planning.
In an attempt to allow students to eat safely back in the cafeteria this year instead of eating in their classrooms, we have added desks spaced 6 feet apart. We will also provide layered mitigation protocols that will include hand washing or hand sanitizer before and after meals; cleaning and disinfection between lunch periods; providing increased ventilation of seating areas and encouraging students to eat quickly and move out to recess as soon as they are done.
K-8 students will move to their specials and will have seating 6 feet apart as they do in all classrooms (Library, Art and Music).
Thank you to our new and very talented music teacher, Marie van Maastricht. We will be offering band this fall to our 7th and 8th graders. Band students will maintain the 6 feet social distance of students during instruction with bell covers to prevent aerosol spread.
When indoors, students will maintain 6 feet of social distancing during physical education instruction. Physical education teachers will prioritize outdoor activities as weather permits.
Both girls and boys modified soccer teams will be offered to students this fall.
We are currently working with Questar III and Rensselaer County DOH to implement a surveillance testing program of student athletes in accordance with CDC recommendations. Parent/guardian consent for testing of students is required.
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 email@example.com.
Temporary Remote Due to Quarantine
If your child is placed under a quarantine order that has been issued from the Department of Health, he or she will receive classroom instruction from their teacher with both google classroom assignments and livestream instruction for their core subject areas. Once notified by the DOH, Nurse Gibbs will inform the teachers to reach out to families and set up the online learning model.
Consistent with CDC guidance, all close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 unless they also present possible symptoms of infection; however, they should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and must wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative diagnostic test result.
Wynantskill UFSD will work closely with the Rensselaer Co. DOH to determine the appropriate quarantine orders.
Please see our contact tracing charts developed with Questar III and Rensselaer County Department of Health.
The CDC indicated that vaccination is the leading public health strategy to end the pandemic. All eligible individuals are encouraged to receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
Currently, there are three vaccines available (Pfizer-ages 12+, Moderna-ages 18+ and Johnson & Johnson-ages 18+). If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your family physician. If you need assistance finding where you can get a vaccine, click here.
- Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools (CDC)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Back to School Health and Safety Guide (NYS Education Department)
We understand your apprehension and your continued frustration with the ongoing pandemic. However, we must continue to work together, model safe behavior and best practices for our students.
We need to continue to focus on our Gardner-Dickinson school community, which is like no other, and continue to have hope. Hope for wellness, hope for peace and hope for a successful in-person teaching and learning experience where our children are able to grow academically, socially and emotionally.
This pandemic has forced us to adapt and function in ways we have never imagined. This will undoubtedly be another year that will test our strength, patience, and ability to plan, adapt and improvise, but I am beyond confident that we will get through it together. We did it last year, and we will do it again … this time better, this time stronger! GD Family Strong!
Thank you for your continued support,
Dr. Mary Yodis
Wynantskill UFSD Superintendent