Communication/Family and Community Engagement
To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings, and one-on-one conversations. The district has also utilized stakeholder meetings and building level sub-group meetings that included administrators, teachers, staff, parents, health officials, students, PTA, and Board Members.
At the publication of the district plan, the district has held a live stream public forum for stakeholders where questions were solicited prior to the evening. The events were held on July 29, 2020. The student and parent forums can be found here and on the district’s YouTube page. The elementary and secondary forums were held on July 29th, 2020, but were not recorded.
The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff, and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at voorheesville.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 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.
In support of remote learning and virtual learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. If a device is needed, contact your school office. An arrangement will be made to pick up the device at either of the district campuses.
As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication channels – including the SNN system (to sign up please visit https://snn.neric.org/vcsd/), the district website, scheduled community letters, and the text, email, phone system One Call – 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.
The district is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely on building newsletters, SNN’s, the district website, One Call, and mailings to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction. This will include social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The district will evaluate the best approach to communicate this information to each student’s age group. The district will provide multiple opportunities for the school community to review and relearn these policies and procedures. The information that the district will share will be based on state guidance and developed by subcommittees that include health professionals, VCSD staff, the medical director, and the department of health.
The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.
The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. Preferred language and mode of communication is usually established during the registration process. If there is an initial preferred language and mode of communication, notification to the special education office will be documented and this information will be shared with staff. If a family would like to change the preferred language/mode of communication, they should notify their building administrator, who will document and notify the special education department. Every effort will be made to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. Frequent communication with the parent/legal guardian will be maintained in order to ensure meaningful engagement.
The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review and practice these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:
- Video training for staff, students, and parents/guardians will be provided prior to school and during the first day of school.
- There will be a video on hygiene along with a quick guide sheet that will be communicated through building communications, School News Notifier, and will be accessible through each building's homepage on the district website.
- Signage will be prominently displayed throughout all district building’s hallways and restrooms.
- Hand Sanitizer will be located at each entrance point and frequent traffic areas.
- Additional receptacles will be located in common areas and restrooms to collect soiled items.
Proper face covering procedures:
- Face coverings will be required on buses and within all district facilities.
- Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed.
- Training will be provided on proper face covering procedures and will include how to wear and how to remove.
- Face coverings for Covid-19 include but are not limited to: cloth and paper mask coverings that cover both the mouth and nose.
- Video training for staff, students, and parents/guardians along with a quick guide sheet that will be communicated through building level communications, School News Notifier, and will be available through each building's home page on the district’s website.
- Signage will be prominently displayed in district hallways, and classrooms
- Arrival and dismissal entrances and exits will be assigned by grade level.
- For in-person learning, master schedules are being designed for minimal and staggered transitions wherever possible.
- The district will use a push for staffing to limit the amount of interactions between individuals.
- Classrooms will have signage indicating each room's maximum occupancy.
- School corridors will have one way traffic patterns, when possible, and signage will be displayed in multiple locations delineating those patterns.
- The district will develop in-person and video training for staff, students, staff, and parents/guardians.
- A quick guide sheet will be developed and shared through building communications, School News Notifier, and will be accessible through the building's home page on the district’s website.
- Signage will be displayed prominently throughout district hallways
- Parents/Guardians, staff and students will be informed via video training, School News Notifier, and quick guide documents made available through each building’s website homepage to educate them about a careful observation of symptoms of Covid-19.
- Parents/Guardians will be instructed that any student with a fever of 100.0 F or greater and/or symptoms of Covid-19 will not be allowed present in school.
Most common symptoms of COVID 19 are:
- Fever or chills (temperature above 100.0 F)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas:
- Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
- Hand washing
- Adherence to social distancing instructions
Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19
In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as School News Notifier, Principal's newsletters and weekly correspondence methods.
The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.
In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.
The district is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.
VCSD will work closely with the Albany County Department of Health to gather the most up to date testing data and communication. The district will consult with the district’s Medical Director for medical/scientific guidance. VCSD has developed procedures to monitor absentee rates, the district’s daily health questionnaire and increased levels of positive COVID-19 tests. All data points will be reviewed in order to make sound decisions of closure.
The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult Access Health Systems when making such decisions.
School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. Under the current reopening plan only extra curricular activities that can be run virtually will resume. Authorization to run a virtual extracurricular club or activity must be given by the building principal. The district is prepared to resume all online synchronous learning in the event of a closure.
If, after consultation with the Albany County Department of Health, school closure is deemed necessary, or after reviewing data, the district must move to remote for a short time for full sanitization of the buildings, the district will notify all parents as soon as possible via OneCall and SNN so that families may plan accordingly.