The following set of questions and answers will hopefully help with understanding the reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Q: What will a classroom look like for both elementary and secondary students?
This option would involve in-person instruction in strict adherence to the Governor’s and NYS Department of Health Guidelines and NYSED Guidelines for Reopening, which would include screening prior to entry, masks required for all students when in non-social distant situations, and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
At the elementary schools, the district is making plans to hold in-person instruction every weekday for students in grades 1-5 and at the 6th grade level as well. To do this, at the PreK-5 level we will have groups of students into “pods” consisting of no more than 10-14 students. This is being done because the physical size of the classrooms will not be able to accommodate all of the students and still adhere to the 6 foot of social distancing protocols. Students at this level will report to lunch, PE and recess and stay in their classroom for the rest of the day. All other specials such as AIS, Art and Music will be taught in the classroom. This ensures that students can stay with their “pod” and stay in the classroom as much as possible but also give them a break as well. In 6th grade the students will also be in classes of 10-14 and will stay together for the day, except for a few instances due to specialized or different classes a student may have.
At the 7-12 grade level, students will attend school on a rotating schedule in order to stay compliant with the current Department of Health guidelines and use a hybrid model. The students will follow a 4 day rotation that will include 1 day of in-person instruction, 1 day of assignments, and 2 days of remote learning. The days of in-person and remote will be done on a regular school day schedule for consistency and structure. The grade levels will be divided in ½ to ensure proper social distancing and transportation guidelines. Every effort will be made to ensure that students in the same family/household will attend school on the same days.
Q: Can my child(children) have the option of only doing remote learning?
We are currently working on a plan for this option. As you can imagine with staffing and technology issues, it can be very difficult. We are working on a plan that can ensure that students can learn effectively. Information will be sent out by next week on this option. Please look for the information and survey by the middle of next week.
Q: Will the hallways be crowded when classes switch?
Because we will adhere to DOH and SED social distance guidelines, we are considering staggering times for when students switch classes. These details still need to be defined based on the number of students who chose the in-person school option. We are also eliminating locker visits to cut down on hallway congestion.
Q: Do students and staff have to maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times?
Pursuant to NYSDOH Guidance, schools must ensure that appropriate social distancing (i.e. 6 feet/barriers) is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds (inclusive of students, faculty, and staff), unless safety or the core activity requires a shorter distance. Schools must maintain protocols and procedures for students, faculty, and staff to ensure appropriate social distancing to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when on school grounds and in school facilities, including the responsibility to configure spaces so individuals can maintain social distancing. As a baseline, face coverings are required to be worn at any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. Further, face coverings are “strongly recommended” by the New York Department of Health at all times, except for meals and instruction with appropriate social distancing. However, schools can require face coverings at all times, even during instruction; and it is strongly recommended in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 community infection. Faculty and staff will have discretion.
Q: What is an acceptable barrier?
NYSDOH July 13, 2020 guidance provides: use of appropriate physical barriers between individuals that do not adversely affect air flow, heating, cooling, or ventilation, or otherwise present a health or safety risk. If used, physical barriers must be put in place in accordance with United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, and may include strip curtains, cubicle walls, polycarbonate, or similar materials, or other impermeable divider or partition.
Q: How will 6 ft social distancing be maintained in school?
Classroom desks will be appropriately spaced out based on DOH guidelines and use of barriers may help separate portions of a room. It’s likely we will include markers on the floors and walls to visually demonstrate the spacing of six feet of distance between individuals. When six feet of distance can’t be maintained, students and staff will be required to wear a nose & mouth covering.
Q: Are cloth face masks acceptable face coverings?
Per the NYSDOH Guidance, “Acceptable face coverings include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana) and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.”
Q: Will the school provide students and staff with masks? What if my child forgets his mask or loses it during the day?
Yes, while students bringing their own reusable cloth masks to school is encouraged, the district will provide every student and staff member with a mask if they do not have a mask when they arrive at the bus stop or at school. The district currently has 15,000 disposable surgical masks on site and will order more if necessary. Each school bus and school building will have extra masks available should they get lost, soiled, forgotten, etc.
Q: What happens if social distancing and mask wearing rules are not followed?
Staff and students will be reminded upon entry into buildings that masks are required. CDC posters and other signage will be highly visible throughout the school. Adhering to the district’s Code of Conduct is a student’s and staff responsibility. Wearing a face mask would be categorized under safety protocols. Purposeful disregard of any school safety and security guidelines results in consequences outlined in the Code of Conduct.
Q: Is there a protocol for when a child without a mask on during instruction in the classroom sneezes or coughs?
Students and staff will be trained on proper hygiene practices, including the proper removal and disposal of soiled masks. Posters from the CDC will be placed visibly through the classrooms, bathrooms, and hallways.
Q: Will children be asked to wash their hands after entering the school every morning?
The district will abide by the DOH and CDC guidelines and train students and staff on proper hand and respiratory hygiene. There will be soap and water in the bathrooms, along with signs demonstrating proper hand washing practices. Additionally, where soap and water are not available there will be hand sanitizer for student and staff use in the classrooms, common areas, and cafeteria.
Q: Are parents required to ensure that their children are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 or a fever before boarding a bus each day?
Parents are asked to take their children’s temperature before boarding the bus or entering school. Additionally, staff will be taking temperatures upon arrival. Please ensure that there is a parent/guardian at the bus stop for any PreK-6 grade student.
Q: How are the classrooms going to be disinfected when students change classes?
At the elementary level, students will not be changing classes. At the secondary level, we will have procedures in place that will allow for time to clean and disinfect the entire building and all used transportation vehicles each day. Maintenance will also be disinfecting all of the common areas throughout the day.
Q: How will kids be monitored in locker rooms?
For the time being, the locker rooms will not be open except for the pool area, which will be cleaned after each use.
Q: Will the district be shutting down buildings to outside visitors and volunteers?
Outside visitors and volunteers will be limited as much as possible this school year. Any individual who does enter the buildings will undergo the same health screening as students and staff.
Q: Will the district be asking families & staff who travel outside of NYS to report that travel to the district?
There are state guidelines in place that require New York residents to self report their out-of-state travel. The screening tool staff and students complete before entering a building asks this question.
Q: Will employees need to take COVID-19 cleaning/disinfecting training?
Yes, everyone will have to be trained on proper COVID-19 precautions, guidelines and on proper cleaning, hygiene and hand washing protocols.
Q: Are students required to wear masks and social distance on a school bus? Will bus drivers deny a student who doesn’t have a mask?
All students are required to wear a mask for the entire bus ride and should maintain appropriate social distancing to the greatest extent possible. The only exception to the mask requirement is that students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by wearing a mask are not required to do so. There will be extra masks on the bus for any student who doesn’t have one on or forgets one, but if a student refuses to wear a mask we would not be able to allow them on the bus.
Q: Will there be any changes to transportation policies (i.e., riding the bus to different locations on different days, riding to a friends house, etc.) if my child rides the bus this school year?
In order to adhere to guidelines set forth by the Department of Health, the district had to modify its transportation policies. Therefore, transportation will now only be provided to one location whether it’s a child’s primary residence or daycare location for eligible students in grades K-6. Transportation will be provided to the primary residence for students in grades 7-12. Transportation will not be provided outside of the school’s attendance zone for primary students unless it is to the primary residence or childcare center licensed pursuant to Section 390 of NYS Social Services Law.
Please know that day-variant requests for transportation will be prohibited. A student’s bus stop must be at the same location daily and week to week. Additionally, bus passes will not be authorized or allowed. There also will be no bus runs for the Academic Assistance Period.
Q: Will students be dismissed simultaneously or will there be somewhat of a staggered dismissal both at the end of the day and while passing between classes?
The parent survey suggests that nearly 35 percent of families will be transporting their children to school. Because of this, the district will need to develop different drop off and pick up practices for the schools. Those details will be shared once they are finalized.
Q: If we choose the option to drive our children to/from school, will our kids be able to ride the bus to/from school on days where we aren’t available to drive them?
In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and properly prepare our bus routes, we would need to know if your child will require transportation services. We are strongly encouraging parents to drive their children to school, if possible. If you know your child will need transportation home, the district will need to know in order to be prepared.
Q: Are parents allowed to carpool their children to school?
If parents and children are adhering to the DOH and the Governor’s directives to wear a facemask when six feet of distance can’t be maintained, then carpools may be acceptable. The district is encouraging as many people as possible to drive their children to school.
Q: Will elementary students still get recess? Can they use the playground?
To the extent possible and weather permitting, elementary students will still participate in recess. The Elementary school is currently working with staff to develop alternative recess activities that abide by social distancing guidelines.
Q: Are students required to be socially distant while consuming meals in the cafeteria or classroom?
Students must be 6 feet apart or be separated by a barrier while consuming meals. We will be using multiple locations at each building to ensure we can properly socially distance.
Q: What is the process for children buying lunch?
The Canajoharie Central School District provides free lunch and breakfast for all students. Students who wish to purchase additional items are asked to come back through the line after everyone is through to ensure that we can move the line as quickly as we can each day. Students will not be required to sign in as we will take a personal count each day. If students bring in their lunch, they are to keep their lunch in their room or backpack until their lunch period. There is no sharing of food.
Q: Are water fountains going to be operational?
Traditional drinking fountains will be taped off and prohibited from being used. Water fountains that are equipped with a bottle fill feature will be operational. Additionally, the district has purchased additional water bottle filling equipment to be installed through the buildings.
Q: Will students need to provide their own computers?
No, the district will provide students with Chromebooks to use for logging into virtual courses, complete their schoolwork, etc. They’ll also be able to connect with the technology department should they encounter technical difficulties.
Q: Will there be clubs meeting after school? Could a student participate remotely if they are?
Whether or not clubs will be held this coming school year is yet to be determined. For now, the district has postponed all in-person club meetings. Details about virtual club meetings will be shared with students once decisions are made.
Q: If activities such as band, chorus, physical education/sports, etc. still occur?
We are seeking guidance on how to handle such activities while adhering to social distancing and health and safety protocols. The district is committed, however, to developing alternative plans for music, PE, and art that provide students with related educational experiences. In mid-July, schools were informed that the start of fall athletics has been delayed until Sept. 21.
Q: How will attendance be handled for either mode of instruction?
There will be an expectation for daily attendance of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in the in-person group or remote. The attendance clerk at each school building will take attendance and compile it in the student management system. Students who are chronically absent will receive the same follow-up (i.e. guidance, administration, child study team, child protective services) whether they are in the in-person school or in the virtual school.
Q: What will be the cost to reopen and possible aid reductions?
The district is looking at a possible $300-750,000K expense for staff, transportation, supplies and equipment. The cost will depend on how long we will have to continue with the reopening plan. In addition, there could possibly be a reduction in state aid during the school year. Due to the school closure in March, the district was able to accumulate additional fund balance to secure resources for reopening. The district already allocated $300,000 in possible aid reductions in the budget for the 2020-21 school year.
Q: Will IEP or 504 plans and student services be met?
The district will provide, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability, the special education and related services, identified in the student’s IEP. Due to the health and safety requirements that must be in place, the district may not be able to provide all services in the same mode and/or manner they are typically provided. Methods of delivery of services will be determined based on whether the student is in an in-person, hybrid or fully remote setting. Students’ service provider(s), including their special education case manager and CSE Chairperson, if appropriate, will consult with parents regarding the specific methods of service delivery for their child.