Wynantskill UFSD

Preliminary 2021-22 Opening Plans

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 anticipated reopening plans based upon the guidelines and recommendations provided by the CDC, NYSDOH and NYSED in conjunction with our Regional County Departments of Health. 

As you are aware, things are changing every day and directives for reopening schools have been back and forth with little detail. We are now being told that additional guidance will be forthcoming from the NYSDOH by September 1, so please be patient and continue to look at our updates on our website. A full updated reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year will be posted to our website by September 1.

Below is a summary of what we anticipate in our updated reopening plan unless we are directed to do otherwise by NYSDOH:

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;
  • 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. 

*Please note as an additional screening tool this year, surveillance testing of students and staff may be implemented in the late fall in conjunction with Rensselaer County DOH.

Masks

In accordance with CDC and NYSED recommendations, face masks covering both the mouth and nose will be required for all students, staff and visitors inside schools and on school buses regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be optional when outdoors on school property. Students will be provided mask breaks when seated in class and socially distanced. 

Social Distancing

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 each other. 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 max. 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. 

Transportation

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, kfazioli@wynantskillufsd.org, and/or Mike Goyer, mgoyer@wynantskillufsd.org, in our Transportation Department to assist with our planning. 

Cafeteria

We would like to see our students move to the cafeteria this year instead of eating in their classrooms. We will attempt to social distance our students as much as possible and provide layered mitigation protocols that will include hand washing or hand sanitizer before and after meals; limiting mask removal to the duration of eating; cleaning and disinfection between lunch periods; providing increased ventilation of seating areas.

Physical Education

When indoors, students will maintain 6 feet of social distancing during physical education instruction. Physical education teachers will prioritize outdoor activities as weather permits.

Sports

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 review requirements to implement a surveillance testing program of student athletes in accordance with CDC recommendations. Parent/guardian consent for testing of students is required and we will have more info coming soon. 

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. 

Remote Program

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 myodis@wynantskillufsd.org.

COVID-19 Vaccine

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

Resources

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

In-Person Learning Only, Remote Available for Students Deemed Medically Necessary

Dear Families,

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both vocalize that schools should be open for in-person learning and students should be in school. 

In accordance with NYSED and the CDC, all Wynantskill UFSD students will attend in-person learning. A fully remote learning option will be available only to students for whom it has been deemed medically necessary. Proper documentation from your child’s physician is required. The fully remote learning option will be run by NERIC/Capital Region BOCES and/or Questar III BOCES . This option will require a full-year commitment and will be taught by teachers outside of the district. 

If your child will require remote learning due to a medical condition, please contact me by Friday, August 20. The BOCES requires an accurate count of students who will need remote learning from all districts by August 20. If your child does not require remote learning, no action is required on your part. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Mary Yodis
WUFSD Superintendent
518-283-4600 ext. 7
myodis@wynantskillufsd.org

 

Important Update on School Guidance

As you may already be aware from the media, school districts were notified that neither the Governor nor the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will be providing COVID-19 guidance regarding the upcoming 2021-22 school year. Districts statewide were waiting on NYSDOH guidance, as we had been advised that guidance was in development and forthcoming.

This memo is to assure you that our district has been in constant communication with all other district superintendents from Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties under the leadership of our BOCES superintendent to begin to develop a document that outlines a regional plan. Once finalized, this document will be submitted to county Departments of Health for their consideration.

Wynantskill has been fortunate to have the space and resources necessary that allowed us to open five days per week all of last year meeting the previous requirement of 6-feet physical distance. We plan to open school with many of the same safety measures in place such as smaller class sizes, as we had much success keeping COVID-19 out of our school. We will follow much of what is already established in our 2020-21 reopening plan; however, we will make minor edits to the plan after final consultation with our regional BOCES, other local districts and our own safety reopening committee. 

One thing we have confirmed with the local Departments of Health is that full occupancy on school busses with mask use and other mitigation strategies will be allowed. With that being said, we would like to know how many families would assist with transportation for the upcoming year. We ask that all families please complete this brief transportation survey

We will keep our school community updated as more information becomes available and as we work to develop a plan for the upcoming school year. We thank you for your continued patience.

Sincerely,
Dr. Mary Yodis
WUFSD Superintendent

GD Welcomes New School Psychologist and Music Teacher

The Wynantskill UFSD is pleased to welcome Beth Mueller as its new school psychologist and Marie van Maastricht as its new music teacher. Both Mueller and van Maastricht bring a wealth of experience and energy to our district, and we look forward to seeing firsthand the contributions they will make to our school community.

Mueller and van Maastricht will begin working with students at the start of the 2021-22 academic year. Get to know our new school psychologist and music teacher and give them a warm GD welcome!

Beth Mueller

I am so excited to work with the students, staff and families of the Gardner-Dickinson community!

I started my educational journey at Hudson Valley Community College where I obtained an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. I then attended the University at Albany where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor concentration in education. For graduate school, I attended the College of Saint Rose. I obtained a Master of Science in Educational Psychology, Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology, and I hold a certification through the National Association of School Psychologists. I previously worked at Pittsfield Public Schools in Massachusetts.

I want my office to be a safe space for students. I have an open-door policy and welcome anyone to stop in whether it is just to say hello or to discuss social-emotional, educational, and/or behavioral concerns of students. I believe it is important to know that I am an advocate for all students and want each student to reach their potential in the least restrictive environment. I am here to answer any questions regarding the special education process as well as any general questions about meeting student needs.

Although my role is extremely versatile, here are some of the common services I can provide: student counseling, development and maintenance of educational plans, student evaluation and assessment, consultation regarding student needs, social skills development, development of behavior plans, and most importantly collaboration to create a safe and nurturing environment for all students.

I look forward to meeting you all!

Marie van Maastricht

Hello! My name is Marie van Maastricht, and I have been teaching music for 15 years.

I was born in Binghamton, NY and have also lived and worked in Michigan and Wisconsin. I attended college in Grand Rapids, MI where I earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Music Education.

I spend a lot of free time planning awesome activities for my classes, singing in a choir and playing my oboe. I also love spending time with my family at the park or playgrounds.

My family members are my husband Matthew, my son Hendrik and our cat Sunny. My son is 4 and is so excited to enter Pre-K this year.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns at mvanmaastricht@wynantskillufsd.org.

Favorites

  • Color: Teal
  • Team: Brewers
  • Snack: Cheese
  • Dessert: Brownies
  • Flower: Tulip
  • Animal: Giraffe
  • Instrument: Oboe
  • Subjects: Music and Math

 

Arrival and Dismissal Times Updated for the 2021-22 School Year

Dear Families,

As we are just over six weeks away from the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, the Wynantskill Union Free School District, along with districts statewide, is awaiting updated guidance on the reopening of schools from the State.

While we are waiting for guidance to plan for the year ahead, we would like to share with you a change that we do know will take place this year.

We will be moving to school-wide arrival and dismissal times. All students in all grades (pre-K through Grade 8) will have an arrival time of 8 a.m. and a dismissal time of 2:30 p.m.

Last year we were unable to dismiss all students at the same time because of the COVID-19 transportation guidance set forth by the State, which allowed for only a fraction of a school bus’ normal capacity to maintain social distance. Last year we also faced a lack of bus drivers and buses, forcing the district to create a second bus run at 1:45 p.m. for our middle school students. This was not optimal but done out of necessity. The district is fortunate to now have additional buses and bus drivers available for the 2021-22 academic year, maximizing our instructional time.

While we now have more buses and bus drivers available, we have yet to receive transportation guidance from the State, which should indicate the number of students we may have on a school bus at once. We would be appreciative of any families who can continue to help us with transportation for the upcoming year by driving their child(ren) to and/or from school. More information is forthcoming when guidance is received.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary Yodis
Wynantskill UFSD Superintendent

Technology Equipment Giveaway

When: Thursday, July 29, 2021  8 a.m. – 3 p.m., *one day only*
Where: Gardner-Dickinson Gymnasium

The Wynantskill Union Free School District would like to offer the families of our students an opportunity to receive technology equipment that has been used. Much of the equipment is several years old, and most items were donated to WUFSD from the State. The following items are available on a first-come, first-served basis:

  • (19) Lenovo 100e Non-Touchscreen Chromebook – 4G RAM/32G storage  11.6” screen (3 years old)
  • (52) Lenovo 300e (gen 1) Touchscreen Chromebook – 4G RAM/32G storage  11.6” screen (2 years old)
  • (90) Lenovo 300e (gen2) Touchscreen Chromebook – 4G RAM/32G storage  11.6” screen (1 year old)
  • (10) HP 19” Flat-Panel Monitor (7 years old)
  • (30) Dell 19” Flat-Panel Monitor (7 years old)
  • (20) Dell Optiplex 9030 Ultra Small-Form factor desktops without hard drives (7 years old)
  • (20) HP-Compaq 8100 Small-Form factor desktops without hard drives (7 years old)
  • Various Keyboards and Mice

 

DISCLAIMER:

All equipment is given on an “as-is” basis with no guarantee of operation. No support will be provided. 

Items without hard drives will turn on, but there is no operating system. The computer will not load, and you will not be able to use it. New hard drives will need to be installed for the computer to function.

Chromebooks come with chargers and are intended for personal, non-school-related activities. Students of the district are required to use their school-issued devices for all work assigned by their teachers. 

Board of Ed. Renews Dr. Yodis’ Contract for Five Years

Dr. Mary Yodis, Wynantskill UFSD Superintendent

The Board of Education is pleased to announce that it has renewed Superintendent Dr. Mary Yodis’ contract for five years at a July 6 Board meeting.

“Over the past year, Dr. Yodis has continued to show her absolute dedication to our district. The Board wanted to reciprocate and show our confidence in her to lead the district forward,” said Board President Andrew Lanesey.

Dr. Yodis has effectively led the Wynantskill UFSD through what has arguably been the hardest year in public education to date due to the COVID-19 pandemic during her first year as superintendent. Under Dr. Yodis’ leadership, the district was able to provide an in-person learning option to students for the full 180 days of the academic year.

The contract renewal will extend through June 30, 2026. The upcoming school year will mark Dr. Yodis’ 10th year with the district; she served as the Gardner-Dickinson principal for eight years prior to her appointment as the district’s superintendent.

“It has been an absolute pleasure learning and growing together as a community during these years to support so many amazing children,” said Dr. Yodis. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve the children, families, staff and community members as your superintendent over the last year and am blessed for the continued opportunity.”

BOE Meetings No Longer Virtual

Wynantskill UFSD’s Board of Education meetings will no longer be held virtually.

All Board of Education meetings will be held in the Gardner-Dickinson library at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.