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Reopening School Update

Dear Voorheesville Community,

The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) issued a comprehensive reopening guidance document for New York State school districts for the fall.  You may access the document here.

School districts have been charged with planning for three scenarios, in-person learning, a hybrid of in-person and remote learning, and completely remote learning.  In each instance, there are health and safety rules and regulations which must be adhered to.

The governor has indicated all plans to be submitted by July 31 and that he will decide whether schools may open in person or using a hybrid model by the first week in August depending upon the COVID-19 infection rate at that time.

Due to the physical distancing restrictions in NYSED’s guidance, it is unlikely that any school district will be able to create a plan which safely allows all students to safely learn on site every day.  The more realistic and attainable goal for school reopening plans, including for Voorheesville, is to develop a plan which maximizes in-person, on site learning giving preference for daily on site learning to our youngest learners, high needs special education students and English Language Learners.  

The district is preparing for multiple scenarios for how school will take place in September and is working tirelessly to create a plan that is best for our school family.

Given the nature of the COVID-19 situation, this will be a fluid process. It is expected that all reopening considerations will be shaped by state and federal guidance, in consultation with local health departments.

Each Thursday, the district will send out more information on the reopening process.

Below you will find a TENTATIVE overall framework of Voorheesville’s reopening plan component regarding Operationalized Academic/Instructional Parameters for Reopening and dates for the community forums. This plan is subject to change based on resources, community/stakeholder feedback, modified guidance from the state or Education Department, and D.O.H./CDC

 

Sincerely,

 

Frank Macri

Superintendent

 

Voorheesville Reopening Plan Overview Information

 

Required Components of Voorheesville’s Reopening Plan

Students and staff wearing face coverings consistently, except when engaged in instruction and seated at a desk that is physically distant from peers and staff
Daily health screenings for employees and students. The district is utilizing an on-line application that can be found at https://entry.neric.org/vcsd, this application can be book marked on your computer or smartphone.  The district is developing procedures for students/families who do not have access to the application/technology. More information will follow in the upcoming weeks.
Parents will be asked to take their child’s temperature before school every day
Contact tracing and coordination with local health department guidelines
Daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols
Shared books and supplies will be minimized and where used, books (e.g., library books, trade books) supplies (e.g., science lab materials) will be disinfected or allowed to remain untouched for a specified time period
School visitors will be restricted to those required for school business
Students and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene and face covering practices and protocols
Community use of facilities will be restricted. Protocols being developed.
The district is developing options/programs to accommodate the needs of the medically vulnerable/high risk population.  This includes students who have family members who are in high risk groups.  

 

 

Operationalize Academic/Instructional Parameters for Reopening

Kindergarten - Grade 6

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The following plan is staffing dependent and is subject to change based on availability of staff and funding

Grades k-6 will be in for daily, on-site, instruction.
Due to physical distancing requirements, all school spaces will be used as instructional spaces (e.g., classrooms, cafeteria, special area classrooms).
Grades k-4 will be housed at the elementary school while grade 5/6 will be at the middle/high school campus.  
To accommodate bussing grades 5 and 6 pick up times and instructional start times will be/similar to the middle/high school schedule
The traditional instructional program will be modified with students learning from classroom teachers and at other times supervised by school personnel during times of independent or remote/livestream instruction from within the school building
An exploration of mandated courses/subjects vs enrichment programs based on staffing, budget, health/safety guidelines, etc.
Potential staggered student arriva/ dismissal from bussing is under consideration to accommodate student interactions and increased traffic at schools due to parent drop-offs
Students will be in “cohorts” and will have breakfast and/or lunch in the classrooms.  The number of transitions will be limited
The special areas will use a “push-in” model

 

Grades 7 - 12

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The following plan is staffing dependent and is subject to change based on availability of staff and funding

 

Grades 7-12 is planning for a one day rotation of students by grade level (cohort).  For example: grade 7 on Monday, grade 8 on Tuesday, etc.  There is exploration of either a 6 day rotation or five day.  This is dependent on the facilities, health and safety, and staffing.
On remote instruction days, students will be required to participate in classroom work remotely and/or complete assignments. Student expectations on remote days are being developed at the building levels.  Possible expectations will be students will participate in live- online learning similar to in-person instruction, a mixture of independent studies, watching recorded instruction, small group instruction, etc.
The buildings are looking at mandatory/credit bearing classes vs studyhalls and how to better maximize staffing and student interactions.

Specialized Services

Students receiving special services will continue to receive these services (e.g., ENL, speech) 
Students who may be at a higher risk may need additional considerations in their programming, such as remote learning.
The plan regarding simultaneous/dual programs (students in both on-line/remote learning and in-person is being developed/under consideration)

 

General School Information 

Time during the first weeks of school will be allotted to familiarize students, faculty and staff with new protocols and schedules 
Our official start date may be shifted if we need to utilize additional days to orient and train teachers and staff prior to school starting, so the one-page 2020-2021 calendar may be adjusted.  We will determine and communicate this information in August
Breakfast and lunch will look different both in terms of location (cafeteria and/or other locations such as classrooms) and in terms of serving (e.g., grab and go, pre-packaged, delivered to locations, etc.), but the plan is still being developed
Students with severe food allergies will require additional accommodations such as different location for meals
Hallway traffic will be one-way, where possible, with appropriate signage 
Classes moving within hallways will be regulated to reduce the number of students in the hallway at a given time to the extent practicable
There will be no field trips for the time being 
Filtration and ventilation will meet or exceed minimum requirements. 
Teachers will be encouraged to have windows open and instruct parts of classes outdoors, where feasible 
The current plan is for lockers not to be used at middle/high school and an evaluation of cubby use at the elementary.
Students will be asked to carry a reduced number of materials with them on a daily basis to the extent practicable 

 

Extra-Curricular, Athletics, Physical Education and Performing Arts 

NYSED requires 12 feet in between students when physically exerting themselves in PE activities and when singing or using wind instruments.  The plan for Physical Education and performing arts is currently being developed to meet the needs of our school community and DOH/NYSED guidelines
Interscholastic sports are currently not permitted.  NYSPHSAA indicated yesterday that the fall sports season is being postponed approximately one month and that fall sport regional and state competitions are cancelled
Extra-curricular activities will be examined to determine which can be conducted virtually, blended, or modified.

 

In the event school buildings are compelled to close, school will resume virtually

The plan for grades k-6 is currently under construction. The goal is to have students follow the same in-school schedule while at home. The district is exploring the structures of mixing synchronous (live online) and possibly a small amount of asynchronous (recorded) teacher lessons, online group work and/or small group instruction. The goal is to have students actively engage with learning daily during the regular school day hours.  The overall format is currently being developed at the district and building level.
The plans for grades 7-12 is also to follow the “regular” in-school schedule when at home with live, virtual instruction (most common method), , online group work, small group instruction, and a small amount of recorded lessons. Students would be engaged in learning activities when classes would have been in session within the regular school hours
Student and staff attendance will be taken daily

 

Student Grading & Reporting Practices

Grading protocols are being reviewed and will be shared at the start of school 
The District will issue report cards as normally done (trimesters at the elementary level and quarterly and semesters at the secondary levels.  At the high school, grades will factor into student GPAs 

 

Transportation 

Face coverings will be required on school buses
Parents/guardians must screen their child(ren) for fever/signs of COVID-19 prior to getting on the bus; sick students must be kept home 
Students will be assigned seats to maximize physical distancing 
Members of the same household/family will sit together on the bus when possible
Requests will be sent out seeking information on whether parents intend to use district buses
Late busses will be cancelled or restricted.  The district is evaluating bus passes and requests to ride different routes.

 

Community Forum Dates

The district will hold community forums on July 29, 2020 to provide an update on our reopening planning to all members of the school community, gather feedback, and answer the questions we can at the time. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFZwdhGD5abIjj-VO-llmMQ

The student forum will be held at noon on July 29th.  Students please email all questions to Ms. Drautz at jdrautz@voorheesville .org by 5pm on Monday, July 27th.

The parent forum will be held at 6:30pm on July 29th.  Parents please email all questions to Jessica Tabakian at jtabakian@voorheesville.org