Reopening FAQ

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page addresses common questions and concerns related to reopening schools in September. It will be updated as new information is received and details are finalized.

Last updated 8/3/2020.

What is the plan to reopen schools in September?

The plan to reopen is available here. It was submitted to New York on July 31.

The district has engaged stakeholders through community surveys, county school meetings, meetings with bargaining unit leadership, meetings with local government officials, advice of legal counsel and BOCES Component District meetings to develop its reopening plan. The Columbia County Department of Health, NYS Department of Health, NYS Education Department, local government agencies and the Governor’s office provide ongoing information that will be used to update our plan over time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that schools in New York can reopen in September. We will communicate the finalized reopening plans to our families, staff and school community following the decision from the state. As always, your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated as we work through this process.

Why does the plan have students in PreK to Grade 8 attending school five days per week while Grades 9-12 are a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction?

Schools were asked to develop a return plan for in-person instruction but the five days per week model would not allow for social distancing for grades 9-12 with our current resources. For that reason, we had to implement a hybrid schedule for those students. We can accommodate students in grades PreK to Grade 8 and meet NYS Education Department’s requirements for in-person instruction.

Will students be required to wear masks all day?

Face coverings over the nose and mouth will be required for most of the school day, especially when entering/exiting the school (and the bus) as well as walking in the hallways. Basically, if someone is moving they must be properly wearing a mask. However, there will be specified “mask breaks” during the school day with social distancing in place. We are working closely with our Health and Safety advisors and our insurance carrier to install shield guards that are safe for school settings in high traffic areas such as main offices and any other identified areas.

We strongly encourage that your child practices wearing a face covering at home before the start of the school year. Please reinforce with your child that the new mask requirement is to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and their families. Here are some helpful resources:

Individual needs regarding face coverings will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If you have concerns about your child wearing a face covering for medical reasons, please contact your child’s principal.

Will masks be provided for students?

Students are expected to have a mask of their own before returning to school. If a student does not have a mask, the school will provide one.

What will transportation look like?

All students and bus drivers will be required to wear masks when on the school bus at all times. Students will be asked to sit one to a seat and wear masks, in order to increase bus capacity (not including siblings and students from the same household who are expected to sit together in a seat).

Parents are encouraged to provide transportation to the extent that they are able. It is key to our ability to transport students that we reduce our current ridership. This reduction will allow us to increase social distancing on each bus. As students are picked up, they will be seated from the back of the bus, distancing themselves to the greatest extent possible. If a student is incapable of wearing a mask due to a doctor’s medical exemption or a documented disability, that student will be seated six feet from any other student. Windows will remain open on the buses as long as weather allows.

Will students’ temperatures be taken?

Yes. All students, faculty, staff and anyone entering the building will have a temperature screening before entering the school. The district has purchased a screening device for entrances at both buildings. Employees are required to also take their temperature at home prior to coming to work, which will be rechecked at the entrance to their building. If a student has a temperature above 100 degrees, a thermometer will be used to recheck their temperature.

Will visitors be allowed in school?

Few outside visitors will be allowed in school buildings to help minimize the risks to health and safety for students, faculty and staff. Parents will be able to drop off items for students in vestibules or outside the building for staff to retrieve.

How will students travel in hallways?

Hallways will be marked to indicate one-way traffic wherever possible, and students will be asked to walk six feet apart, including if waiting to enter a classroom. Student desks will be six feet apart, and spaced accordingly in learning space, at all times. Masks will be worn throughout the day. Frequent “mask breaks” will be provided to students in all grade-levels when it is safe to do so. Stairwells will also be marked for one-way traffic, either up or down, to eliminate students traveling in close proximity to each other.

Will students be able to purchase meals?

All meals will be prepared as “grab and go” without students making selections from a cafeteria/buffet line as had been the previous procedure. No cash will be exchanged for purchased meals. Students who purchase lunch will pay from their Nutrikids account. The procedure for students who receive free and reduced lunches remains unchanged.

What if I am concerned about my child returning to school due to a medical condition?

Parents of students who have a documented medical condition that will provide a barrier to returning to school should contact their building principal as soon as practicable. We will follow the existing process for providing tutoring to those students in accordance with current regulations and district policy.

Will the whole class (or whole district) and their families be quarantined if there is a positive COVID test?

The district will follow the current recommendations of the Department of Health with respect to a positive COVID-19 test. These guidelines have changed over time with respect to who is quarantined and for how long.

If a family does not feel comfortable sending students back to in-person school is it possible to receive a list of subjects covered in each grade from the school so that students can stay at grade level during home instruction?

If a family decides to home school their child(ren), the Home School Coordinator will provide access to New York State Standards for parental reference.