SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs City School District held a Board of Education meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss a new COVID screening testing partnership with Saratoga County, “Stay Open Plan” updates, as well as updates on the capital Legacy project
New COVID Screening Testing Partnership
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Patton has announced a COVID screening testing partnership with the Saratoga County Department of Health, working closely with the County Director of Health. Saratoga Springs City School District is a couple of weeks away from implementing weekly screening and diagnostic tests, with the opportunity for those who ae vaccinated to opt out. As of Sept. 21, 79% of eligible people in the county ages 12 and up are vaccinated, and based on staff reports, 83% of staff members in the Saratoga Springs City School District are vaccinated.
“Saratoga is leading the way when it comes to having both screening and diagnostic testing available to school districts,” said Dr. Patton.
Federal funding is available for the district to run this program and is available to all districts in the area. Saratoga will begin with the staff, having them provide proof of vaccination or their Excelsior Pass to get an accurate count on the unvaccinated and the logistics of how many need to be tested on a weekly basis. Once the district is comfortable with the testing process, information and parental consent forms will be shared with parents. School nurses will also have PCR tests for symptomatic students, also requiring parental consent; within 24 hours students will be notified of their PCR test results.
“Stay Open Plan” Updates
Updates to the districts “Stay Open Plan” were also announced at the most recent Board of Education meeting.
Approximately 6,000 students are attending classes in-person again throughout the district. Since the first day of school, there have been 21 confirmed positive COVID cases between students and adults; 9 in elementary, 11 in middle school, and 1 in the high school. Currently, 101 students are on mandatory quarantine by Saratoga County. The school is required to report the following key indicators to the county for contract tracing: consistency of mask use, social distancing and time of association, and vaccination status of those 12 years and older. The county, not the school district, determines who quarantines and for what length of time.
The academic plan in place is PIVOT. PIVOT is for classes, grade levels, or the entire school to transition to temporary online learning. Students will Zoom in daily for live instruction, following their normal daily schedule. Teachers should have already shared procedures with grades K-12, with additional information regarding study halls and flex to be announced. Attendance will be taken and Zoom links can be found on Seesaw for grades K-5 and Canvas for grades 6-12.
Looking ahead, an enhanced quarantine support plan will also be implemented beginning the week of Sept. 20 for 6th graders and in October for everyone else. This enhanced online support is for individual students under a longer quarantine period; a longer quarantine consists of three or more days. This is the information available as of Sept. 21:
Students and parents will access work and communicate with teachers using Seesaw and Canvas. Teachers will do live check-ins with students under these longer quarantines. Additionally, their online classes will be structured on a set schedule 1-2 hours per class depending on grade level band with a New York State Certified Educator approved by NYSED for live instructional online support. All of which is coordinated by the school district. If a student needs a device, please contact the school’s main office. Students should access their teachers during daily flex time upon returning from quarantine for additional help.
“Since March of 2020, we learned that students need more live instruction, access to technology, and also alternatives, set schedules and expectations, relationships with peers and adults are even more important, and that we need to do a better job as a district communicating and using communication tools,” said Lisa Cutting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment.
Capital Project Updates
Phase 1 of the Legacy Project is complete, and the district is now looking to move on to Phase 2. The Legacy Project includes enhancing security with a new visitor management system, security cameras, etc., as well as other building improvements and energy efficiencies. The bid was this fall (Fall 2021), and estimated completion is Sept. 2023.
The specific Dorothy Nolan/Greenfield/ Transportation projects include a secure entrance vestibule, cafeteria upgrades, and replacements in the transportation building. The bid for these projects is Fall 2022 with an estimated completion by Summer 2023/2024.
The bid for projects in the high school will also be in Fall 2022 with an estimated completion in Summer 2025. This includes a renovated dining hall, upgrading from a serving line to scattered food court stations with a variety of counter, group, and booth seating, as well as a renovated fitness center, with the current weight room being converted to a wellness center.
Now that the district is coming out of Phase 1, the bidding process, they will proceed into the design review and construction phases. Members of the district will be updated on the progress of Phases 2 and 3 in future board meetings.