Here is the district’s reopening plan for September 2020. This plan was submitted to New York State on July 31. Please note, we will continue to update this plan as more details are finalized. If you have a question after reading the plan, please email email@example.com. Thank you.
- Communications/Family & Community Engagement
- Health & Safety
- Child Nutrition
- Social Emotional Well-Being
- School Schedules
- School Activities
- Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
- Technology and Connectivity
- Teaching and Learning
- Special Education
- Bilingual Education and World Languages
- COVID-19 Testing
- Contact Tracing
- Remote Learning Plan
- Changing to Remote Learning
On Monday, July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.
Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven-day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.
While districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning.
Since Governor Cuomo announced (during the 1st week of August) that it is safe to reopen schools in our region, Wynantskill UFSD is planning to implement in-person instruction, 5-days-per-week in all grades, Pre-K through 8.
We recognize that some students are at an increased risk for COVID-19 illness or live with a person who is at an increased risk and are not comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. Wynantskill UFSD will make every effort to modify its current proposed plan to accommodate for all students. For those who are concerned for their safety based on their increased risk, please contact Dr. Mary Yodis firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible, so that specific program modifications can be discussed.
Please note that, while this plan captures all elements as required by the State, the best means of understanding school expectations can be found through our social media accounts, school website, and individual school communications. Please note that this plan will continue to be updated and revised with much more detail and clarity as we get closer to the start of school.
The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Wynantskill Union Free School District for the 2020-21 school year, following the building closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following school:
- 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).
It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making as we move to open our school.
Dr. Mary Yodis, Principal and Interim Superintendent, 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 (email@example.com) 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
To help inform our reopening plan, our district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations.
Wynantskill UFSD remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at: https://www.wynantskillufsd.org and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the website homepage and will also be shared through our social media accounts and eNews email. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the district website.
As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, 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 the use of text alerts to push this information directly to family email and cell phones) to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and the collective efforts of administrative, faculty/staff, and community stakeholders who invested in meetings and provided survey data to inform the decision making process.
In support of remote learning, Wynantskill UFSD has made sure that computer devices will be available to all students, teachers and staff members who may need them. We recently purchased over 100 Chromebooks, making us a one-to-one school (one Chromebook per student), ensuring all students have a working device assigned to them for the year. Also this summer, the district purchased 50 Windows laptops equipped with cameras and wifi capability for all teachers so that they will have the latest technology to teach remotely when necessary.
Our District will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact the school and teachers during remote learning, including: email, phone calls, text messages, and messages sent through our Student Learning System platforms (SchoolTool and Google Classroom).
Wynantskill UFSD will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. Messages will be put on our webpage, and families will be sent this link via social media, text alerts and emails.
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, Ms. Rebecca Davis, 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. These trainings will be featured online through the posting of approved web resources and/or videos created by our COVID-19 Resource Person, Ms. Tricia Gibbs and Questar III’s Safety Specialist, Patrick Paratore. Such trainings will cover:
- Hand hygiene
- Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove)
- Social distancing
- Respiratory hygiene
- Identifying symptoms (families will be asked to attest that their child does not exhibit these symptoms daily using a checklist that attests to the child being symptom free as well as the temperature checks as students enter the building) IF the child does exhibit any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, they will be asked to immediately contact the school nurse in building.
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, email reminders, and video presentations on our website.
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 reopening plan.
In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the 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 school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
The following protocols and procedures will be in place in during school and during our after care programs for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Mary Yodis at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 completion of the screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors [prior to entering the school building].
- Daily temperature check and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned above will be used randomly) for students [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. 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.
- 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). Students will be six feet apart (and spaced accordingly in learning spaces) at all times. Masks will be worn 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.
If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, 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 outside, including on the school bus, when six-foot physical distancing is not possible. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.
Because students and staff will need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.
Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn (during meals, instruction, and for short breaks as long as they maintain appropriate social distance).
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
* Wynantskill UFSD will provide face shields and/or masks to any faculty, staff, or student who requires one.
Infection Control Strategies
All students will be spaced six feet apart in classrooms, and to the greatest extent possible, students will also be spaced apart on the school buses. 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. Larger rooms in the building may be utilized for classrooms to allow for six feet social distance for larger cohorts (art room, library, etc…).
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 each hour 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. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. 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 (spaced 6 feet apart), a bathroom within the area, and is located close to doors exiting the school building.
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.
If Students or Staff Become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School
Wynantskill UFSD requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to the nurses office and/or our dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing
Per the New York State Department of Education’s guidance to schools for reopening, Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools, “it is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. CDC Interim Considerations for K-12 School Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Schools should identify who in the community is responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing (e.g., local health department testing site, physician offices, hospital system) particularly in the event that large-scale testing at the school is needed. Schools wanting to perform COVID-19 testing must apply and be approved as a limited service laboratory (LSL). Please refer to the instructions and application materials, and if applicable, the worksheet for multiple locations.” Therefore, the school district will not be testing individuals. A list of regionally available testing locations is available on the school district website at wynantskillufsd.org for individuals that may want to be tested on their own. School district health care professionals will refer symptomatic individuals to their primary care provider (PCP) for testing.
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 to a 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.
COVID-19 Testing Sites
New York State Testing Site
State University New York at Albany
1400 Colonial Quad
Albany NY 12208
Must make an appointment by
Calling: 1-888-364-3065 or
Completing an online form:
Community Care Physicians
713 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham NY 12110
Priority 1 Urgent Care
2080 Western Ave
Guilderland NY 12084
920 Lark Drive
Albany NY 12208
Rite Aid – Colonie
1863 Central Avenue
Colonie NY 12205
Columbia Memorial Hospital Rapid Care
2827 Route 9
Valatie, NY 12184
WellNow Urgent Care
446 Fairview Avenue
Hudson NY 12534
Columbia County Department of Health
325 Columbia Street
Hudson NY 12534
Greene County Dept. of Health
411 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
CareMount Medical Urgent Care
6734 Route 9
Rhinebeck NY 12572
Kingston Mid-Town Mobile Site
27 Grand Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Emergency One Kingston
40 Hurley Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401
As noted in the New York State Department of Education’s guidance to schools for reopening, Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools, “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 in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local department of health.”
In the event an individual is identified as a confirmed case within a school, the Rensselaer County Health Department will determine a starting date for which the school will need to provide contact tracing information. This date will be 48 hours prior to the individual becoming symptomatic. To this end, the school district will need to keep records that will be made available to the Rensselaer County Health Department for those who may have been in close contact with the confirmed case. Any close contacts will be identified by the Rensselaer County Health Department. The district COVID-19 School Resource Person will be asked to assist the county with quarantine surveillance monitoring of contacts in connection with a confirmed case in a school.
If a student or staff member is identified by the Rensselaer County Health Department as a contact, they will be contacted by a county Case Manager and be instructed to quarantine for 14 days. Any contact identified by the Rensselaer County Health Department may not return to school until such a time as they are released from mandatory quarantine by the Case Manager.
Any staff or students who travel out of state to any location listed on the Governor’s Travel Advisory list, will be required to quarantine for 14 days after returning to New York State. Persons who travel to any states listed on the Travel Advisory list should self-report their travel to the district COVID-19 School Resource Person for instructions. Persons who travel via airplane and are required to complete a survey upon arrival in NYS, should still self-report their travel to the district COVID-19 School Resource Person. If a location has been removed from the travel advisory list while a person is serving their related 14 day mandatory quarantine, that person must still complete the full 14 days of mandatory quarantine before returning to school.
In the event that someone within a household travels to a state on the travel advisory list and returns to New York State, but the student or staff member does not travel, that student or staff member may be allowed to return to school without a 14 day mandatory quarantine. In the event that person in a household who has traveled becomes a positive case, the Rensselaer County Health Department will identify all household members as close contacts and quarantine all members of the household for 14 days.
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 is 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 and cafeteria tables (if and when we decide to begin to use the cafeteria), 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 Reopening Facilities Cleaning & Disinfection Protocol
The following is Wynantskill Union Free School District’s Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol for reopening 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.
- Clean and disinfect each space at least daily
- 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
- Required cleaning after each use, per NYSED:
- 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:
- 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.”
We recognize that some students are at an increased risk for COVID-19 illness or live with a person who is at an increased risk and are not comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. Wynantskill UFSD will make every effort to modify its current proposed plan to accommodate for all students. For those who are concerned for their safety based on their increased risk, please contact Dr. Mary Yodis email@example.com as soon as possible, so that specific program modifications can be discussed.
Visitors on Campus
No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school 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 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code.
The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.
The district plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, lead in water sampling will be carried out upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”
Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. 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, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely.
For students onsite, meals will be provided in the classrooms while maintaining appropriate social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.
The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household. Adequate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals.
The cafeteria will be reserved for the use of faculty and staff only, which will allow for the appropriate spacing during meals and prep periods maintaining six feet of social distance.
All surfaces will be wiped down between lunch periods (if we were to decide to start using the cafeteria). Recess equipment will be wiped down between uses to ensure that students can safely, and with appropriate social distancing measures in place, 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 and delivered to classrooms.
Students learning remotely will have the opportunity to take meals (pre-packaged) for when they will be working at home. Students who elect to work entirely in a virtual model but require meals will have an option for a weekly/bi-weekly pick-up of meals akin to what was done when all students were working from home last spring. This same model will be used if the entire District is required to work remotely due to Health Department/State Mandate.
Wynantskill UFSD will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable.
Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering, but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off students to school to reduce density on buses.
All buses that are used every day will be cleaned/disinfected once a day. High contact spots will be wiped down after the morning (AM) and afternoon (PM) run depending upon the disinfection schedule.
School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.
Wheelchair school buses will configure wheelchair placement to ensure social distancing of 6 feet.
Whether school is in session remotely or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out of district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions.
All students are entitled to transportation by the district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.
School Bus Staff
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.
School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield.
Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Transportation departments/carriers will need to provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages.
Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.
Buses will be cleaned and disinfected to the greatest extent possible between each bus run.
Students will be asked to sit one to a seat and wear masks, in order to increase bus capacity to 22 students per bus on a 65 passenger school bus. (not including siblings who are allowed to sit together in a seat). Masks are vital in order for the safety of the driver and students surrounding them.
To meet the requirements and provide the safest environment for the students, the Wynantskill UFSD will modify it’s A.M. schedule to Gardner-Dickinson School. Typically in the past, grades kindergarten (K) through eighth grade (8) would come in on the same buses. It is now our intention to split the A.M. bus run into two separate routes. K-5 will be picked up first and dropped off at school. Once students are safely in the building, and the buses cleaned, we will start the second run and pick up students in grades 6-8. By creating two A.M. bus runs, we will transport our students much more safely by providing social distancing to the best of our ability. This will also reduce the numbers of students entering the school at one given time. The P.M. routes will remain the same as last year with two different runs for K-5 and 6-8. It should also be noted that many of the bus routes are about 20 minutes in duration with the longest route not to exceed 40 minutes in length.
Students will load the bus rear to front to allow for better social distancing.
Students will disembark the bus front to rear to insure better social distancing.
Students will be required to exit the bus 6 feet apart.
Attendance on the bus will be taken and kept on file.
Wynantskill, like many school districts across the country, is facing a school bus driver shortage. With no substitute school bus drivers, we are unable to fill the gap with additional bodies. Instead our dedicated team will modify their schedules to get the children to and from school safely with adding the additional A.M. bus run. Our fleet number primarily matches our staff with two additional buses in case of breakdown or mandatory DOT inspections.
We will encourage any family able to drive their child to school to do so that we can ensure the proper social distance requirements on the school bus. Once we know exactly who will be riding the bus each day, assigned seating will be in place.
When temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, school buses will transport passengers with roof hatches or windows slightly opened to provide air flow:
- The driver, monitor, and attendant may wear gloves if they choose to do so but are not required unless they must be in physical contact with students.
- Transportation staff will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before and after am and pm runs to keep healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. 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
- When students embark and disembark the bus, they will follow social distancing protocols. This will increase the time required to load and unload buses at schools in the morning and afternoon. We will develop staggered arrival and departure times to ensure social distancing.
- Our school will also reconfigure the loading and unloading locations for students who are transported by bus or car.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available to all students immediately upon entering the building, since sanitizer is not allowed on school buses.
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 reopens for in-person instructions. Our school counselor, Amy Murphy and our school psychologist, Rebecca Davis 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.
Staggered start times for the school day are being constructed now so that we can limit the numbers of students entering and leaving the building together. This will also accommodate the traffic flow of parents who are dropping off their children. We will work on scheduling once we get a better idea of how many students will be taking the bus or are being dropped off.
Pre-K – Drop off between 8:00-9:00am (times will be assigned to families) and Instructional Program will run from 9am to 2pm (pick up times will be between 2-2:30pm)
Grade K-5 (8:00am -2:30pm) Drop off between 8:00-9:00am (times will be assigned to families) and Instructional Program will run from 9am to 2:30pm
Grades 6-8 (8:00am to 2:30 or 3:17)
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 TLC Kid’s Crew, (Thomas Styles, Managing Member). TLC Kid’s Crew is planning to provide a smaller version of their previously run program, due to social distancing capacity. The TLC, 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 TLC’s Health and Safety Plan:
TLC 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 “live” and virtual classes, as well as using work submitted during remote days as a means of gauging attendance. Chronic absenteeism from live 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 (live, hybrid, remote) is not optional, and will be graded accordingly.
Technology and Connectivity
Regardless of whether in-person, remote, or hybrid models are utilized, 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/online learning (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.”
Wynantskill UFSD’ IT Specialist, Anthony Vescio, is currently sending around a brief survey that will help gather the necessary knowledge. 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.
While the mandatory shift to remote learning in Spring 2020 has highlighted the work that must be done to ensure all New York State students have equitable access to technology, it also revealed a significant capacity for innovation. Districts and schools are encouraged to reflect on lessons learned during remote learning, and to assess the effectiveness of digital tools, platforms, and resources utilized.
Families were surveyed to obtain information on how they felt their students did with remote learning and what we could do better in the future should be remote again. We asked parents about the use of our digital platforms and resources and the effectiveness of each.
The IT Department, Anthony Vesico, will initiate another survey in August, to both students and families to provide even greater details about what was lacking during the remote learning sessions. This survey will also address what areas the teachers feel need improvement, so we can more effectively provide practical solutions. Professional Development can be offered both on premises and remotely to tools like G Suite, Office 365, Smart Learning Suite, Promethean ActivInspire, etc.
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 reopening, 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.
Wynantskill UFSD will minimize the movement of students. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.
To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, 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 would be reserved for cleaning the building 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 those students unable to return to school and 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 a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. Google Classroom will be a standard requirement for all PreK-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 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 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 a weekly live Google Meet 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, Rebecca Davis at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Changing to Remote Learning
As you know, this school year presents schools and families with many challenges. We are committed to ensuring that our students receive a quality education whether they are attending in-person or remotely. Our district’s remote learning plan has been updated and is available on our website, www.wynantskillufsd.org. This plan will go into effect anytime we need to move to remote learning whether it is for days or weeks, or for the entire school, or for just one classroom or for individual students.
There may be times that a student may be ill, quarantined or awaiting a COVID-19 test, causing them to miss school. After you have notified School Nurse Tricia Gibbs at 518-283-4600 ext. 18, you may request that your child continue to participate in their classroom instruction through remote learning by emailing Mr. Peter Mesh at email@example.com.
Our remote learning option comes with the following requirements:
- You certify that your household has stable internet access and devices equipped with internet capabilities for your child(ren) to access the remote instruction and coursework.
- Your child will follow the District’s attendance policy and attend every day of virtual instruction, absent a valid legal excuse.
- Your child must be logged in to virtual learning throughout the entire day, according to his/her class’ schedule, including having their web-camera on live and participating in their academic schedule as if they were receiving in-person instruction.
- Your child must complete and submit all required coursework, as assigned by their teachers.
- Your child must maintain adequate academic progress throughout their virtual learning, or your child will have to return to school.
- Your child and anyone present during virtual instruction is prohibited from altering, reproducing, videotaping or audiotaping the virtual instruction, or utilizing the teacher’s or any other student’s image, likeness or voice, nor shall they publicly disseminate, reproduce, distribute, or otherwise publicize the virtual instruction on social media or any other platform.
- If the District determines your child(ren) is not complying with these requirements, your child(ren) may be required to return to in-person instruction, as identified in the District’s Reopening Plan.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this letter, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Mary Yodis, Superintendent of Schools