Thursday, 13 August 2020 12:24

Schools Safe to Reopen

Schools Safe to Reopen

SARATOGA SPRINGS — After Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools can reopen this fall, districts have already adjusted their learning plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

Local plans include learning models through in-person, virtual or a hybrid model. Each district has also planned two parent meetings before their start date this fall and more detailed information for each school district’s learning model has been defined. Additional information such as cleaning methods, busing and student and staff requirement is also included. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Saratoga Springs Central School District is planning to begin classes Sept. 9. They have outlined a learning model that prepares for in-person, hybrid and online teaching options. The district first plans to analyze curriculum to help determine what kids learned prior to schools closing this past March and adjust the new school year studies. After, they will incorporate New York State Learning Standards to be taught when schools reopen, using guidance from local and national professional organizations.

Through whichever model is selected before the school year begins, SSCSD teachers will provide grade level instruction in ways that will engage students in learning through a combination of lectures, videos and presentations along with other forms of teaching that holds outcomes, tasks and strategies.

District parents can chose between: in-person instruction where teachers and students engage in-person, at school and in real time, hybrid instruction where teachers and students engage in combination of in-person and online learning or online instruction where teachers and students engage through a Learning Management System and a virtual meeting platform. Each of the teaching models are defined below:

• In-person learning model: According to their school draft, the decision will be made to return to 100-percent in-person learning for SSCSD students if the district is able to comply with required health and safety requirements and guidance from the state. The district does not anticipate in-person learning occurring soon and hopes to safely return when it is possible.

• Hybrid learning model: refers to varying combinations of learning situations through schedules, student groupings or grade levels and how teachers deliver instruction. Teachers can deliver instruction through live or pre-recorded videos or through individual work. This learning model can occur in a building and across a district.

• Online and remote learning model: SSCSD will pivot to online learning if required by the state or the local health department. Students will have a set schedule to follow every day, which they plan to differ from the spring 2020 learning experience. District parents will make the decision to participate in the online and remote learning model based primarily on concerns regarding virus exposure with attendance at a school site. A “Virtual School Registration Form” will be made available through their SchoolMessenger, and will also be on the school website. Paper copies will be made available at the district office and is currently available to complete. 

Their reopening plan is available to all school community members via the district website at www.saratogaschools.org/reopening. The plan will be updated throughout the school year as necessary.

BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Ballston Spa Central School District plans to welcome their staff on Sept. 8 but classes are not set to begin until Sept. 14. The district is hosting a re-opening orientation, chrome book pick-up and classroom connections prior to the first day of classes.

The district will provide parents the option for remote learning or in-person instruction and will need to commit to their decision for a six-week period. All of the learning instruction will be based on NYS Standards aligned curriculum and instructional materials. Teachers and staff will make assessments to measure and track students progress. 

Their elementary level attendance proposal will use buildings and classrooms and space allocations will abide by recommended guidelines. For the school day, Kindergarten through fifth grade will attend in-person Monday through Thursday and participate in remote learning on Fridays. Parents will choose between in-person or remote learning. The district selected curricular and instruction materials, and plan to prioritize Literacy and Math for in-person instruction.

BSCSD secondary level attendance proposal will also use buildings and classrooms, but grades sixth through twelfth will be primarily located in the High School. Their school day plans to allow specific grades to meet weekly, Monday through Thursday, on a three-week rotation. Week one will include grades sixth, eleventh and twelfth. Week two will include grades seventh and eighth and week three will include grades ninth and tenth. Courses of 15 or more students will be split in two rooms and instruction will be provided through a combination of technology and instructional personnel.

SCHUYLERVILLE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

SCSD plans to begin classes on Sept. 10. The district will use existing internal and external communication channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.

Parents will have the choice to remain in the remote learning model and will be allowed to opt back into remote learning on a five-week incremental basis.

In-person instruction under the hybrid model for the district will reduced the number of students in each of our classrooms to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. As a baseline, face coverings are required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. 

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, the district has developed a hybrid model of instruction. Under their hybrid instruction, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in-person or remote. Grades Kindergarten through fifth will report every day, in-person, with attendance and grading policies will be in full effect. Grades sixth through twelfth will be alphabetical split with an A and B day rotation which will reduce student capacity by 50-percent.

Per NYS guidance, schools can reopen if the region is in Phase 4 and if the region’s daily infection rate remains at or below five percent, using a seven day average after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above nine percent, using a seven-day average, and the district planned a full, remote learning model in case this scenario results. Grades Kindergarten through fifth will see a new schedule to include daily, virtual contact with students in whole or small groups. Grades sixth through twelfth will follow an abbreviated, daily, remote schedule with a later start time; study halls and lunch periods will be “free” time.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection throughout all the districts, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly.

Staff members are currently reviewing rotational models to try and maximize in-person attendance. In order to help accomplish this, each district plans to make adjustments to bussing, building capacity, and other needed changes at set increments.

All staff and students will be required to self-screen daily and parents or guardians will be required to screen their students and report daily. All students will be required to maintain a minimum of six-foot distancing while in school. This distance will be increased to 12 feet if students are singing, playing a wind instrument or participating in an aerobic activity.

More information about school reopening plans, and to follow the updated weekly versions, visit www.saratogaschools.org, www.bscsd.org or www.schuylervilleschools.org.

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