South Orangetown Central School District

Q&A: Parent Info Sessions

The following questions and answers were covered during the District’s Parent Information Sessions held August 11-12. Answers provided were accurate based on the information and guidelines in effect as of these dates and are subject to change as conditions and local, state and federal guidance evolves. Every effort will be made to update the content on this webpage to reflect revisions, should they be required.

ABOUT

Why did the District choose to reopen with a 50% capacity hybrid learning model with students attending full weeks at a time and the A-K/L-Z split?

The hybrid model we chose allows us to optimize in-person student attendance and comply with the New York State reopening guidance.

We reviewed a number of different models with our Task Force, which included parents, teachers, students and administrators. It was the collective preference of this Task Force to go with the full week, A/B model, to optimize in-person opportunities for students in as safe a manner as possible. We also wanted it to be a simple plan to make it easier for families to coordinate consistent schedules.

The decision to divide students alphabetically district-wide was to ensure that siblings would attend school in-person on the same weekly schedule, even if they are in different buildings. We looked at enrollment at each grade level to determine how to divide students into equal groups. Students across most individual grades are evenly divided between last names beginning with the letters A through K and the letters L through Z.

Why did the District choose to reopen with in-person attendance on Tuesday, September 8, instead of starting virtually and phasing in in-person attendance?

We felt that it’s really important to re-establish relationships with and among our students since they’ve been out of our buildings for five months. And local public health data suggests that we have a window of opportunity to reopen in person.

UPDATED (8/16/20): The District has restructured its reopening implementation schedule to provide greater equity in terms of the number of in-person instructional days for Groups A (A-K) and B (L-Z). 

  • The first week of school–Tuesday, September 8 through Friday, September 11–will be 100% remote for all students;
  • In-person student attendance will begin on Monday, September 14 with Group B (last names L-Z), as originally scheduled; and,
  • Monday, June 7 through Friday, June 11 will be 100% remote for all students.

Does the District plan to remain with the hybrid model for the entire school year?

We continue to monitor local, state and federal guidelines and public health data. We anticipate following this model for the school year, unless conditions and guidance change.

How will the District immediately shift to 100% remote learning, if needed?

Should the District need to shift to 100% remote learning, students will participate just as they will during their remote weeks.

Is there a difference in the expectations of students who participate in the hybrid model vs. those who participate on a 100% remote basis?

Expectations will be the same for students whether they participate in the hybrid model or 100% remotely. Students’ daily schedules will be similar, whether they are participating in-person or virtually. Students participating remotely are expected to engage fully with all their teachers and classes.

Are 100% virtual students placed in separate classes from students participating in the hybrid model?

No.

If a significant number of families opt for 100% remote learning, will families who want in-person class participation be invited in for extra days?

No. At this point, a high proportion of our families district-wide are opting to have their children participate in the hybrid/50% in-person model. In addition, we want to remain flexible and allow families who opt for 100% remote learning to have the opportunity opt in to hybrid learning at any point during the school year.

What options do families have regarding their children’s participation?

Families are asked to notify the District via the Parent Survey posted at www.socsd.org whether their children will either:

  • Participate in the hybrid–50% in-person / 50% remote–model OR
  • Participate on a 100% remote basis with no in-person school attendance.

Due State guidelines and space limitations, the District is unable to accommodate requests for 100% in-person attendance at this time.

Students will participate as their families indicated on the parent survey, which closed at 8AM on August 13. If parents chose the hybrid model, their students will be expected to participate in-person on their assigned week. If parents chose 100% remote participation, their child will be expected to participate remotely full-time.

Families may opt to change how their students participate. For parents who initially chose 100% remote participation and want to shift to hybrid participation, it may take a maximum of 30 calendar days to transition their student to hybrid, in-person attendance. Parents should contact their building principal.

ATTENDANCE

Who is responsible for attendance?

Teachers will take attendance for students participating both in person and virtually. This is a New York State requirement.

Can students that are kept home due to COVID-19 related illness or other illnesses participate in remote learning?

Yes. Parents/Guardians should work with their child’s teacher and School Counselor if any additional support is needed. Home tutoring remains available for students needing extended medical leave.

What are the provisions or accommodations that will be made in the event of a power outage at my home during the week of remote learning? Will assignments need to be made up?

In the event of a power outage, any impacted students will be given ample time to make up work and seek additional support from the teacher, if necessary.

CLEANING/SANITIZATION

What steps is the District taking to enhance cleaning and sanitization to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission?

  • The District has worked with its cleaning vendor to increase staffing of cleaning crews during school hours in every building.
  • Custodial crews will clean common areas, including restrooms and high-touch surfaces, throughout each building during the day.
  • Deep cleaning of classrooms and school buildings will be done nightly and on weekends. The District has its own spraying/misting equipment to dispense EPA and CDC approved cleaning and disinfectant products which will be used nightly and on weekends.
  • Students will be asked to wipe down their work surfaces before and after every class period using provided hand sanitizer wipes approved for supervised use by children over the age of two, and are at least 70% alcohol based effective against COVID-19.
  • Teachers are responsible for cleaning their mobile workstations and technology with EPA-approved disinfectant wipes appropriate for adult use and effective against COVID-19. Custodial crews will clean classrooms, including desks and barriers, nightly.
  • The District is currently exploring making their own cleaning and disinfectant chemicals, hand sanitizer, and hand sanitizer wipes. We are evaluating disinfectant products that are EPA-approved and effective against COVID-19, and safe for adult and student use. However, we will begin the school year with purchasing these items.
  • Custodians and cleaners receive training on expectations for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings.

Will there be routine validation of the sanitizing process?

Yes. We will be using a hygiene monitoring system.This is a random “spot check” of surfaces throughout the building (via a swab) to measure its cleanliness by using Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence. This will allow us to detect any cleaning deficiencies. A schedule will be established by the Director of Facilities to conduct this process through all of our schools each week.

Are the cleaning supplies being used CDC-approved?

Yes, all cleaning supplies used are approved on the CDC guidelines and are EPA approved.

How will you ensure cleaning high touch areas on a regular basis with your current janitorial staffing levels?

The District has added staffing to our contractual cleaning services at each school during the day to clean and disinfect common areas including restrooms and high-touch areas continuously throughout the school day.

CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION

How is curriculum being modified for hybrid learning?

Teachers are leveraging applications, such as Google Classroom, Schoology, Zoom, Flipgrid, Screencastify and Seesaw (for K-2), to enhance student learning at school and remotely. Students will engage in hands-on activities, whether they are in school or at home.

Specials/electives will run during school hours only. Physical education will run for students attending school in person; video activities will be provided for remote learners. Specific social distancing guidelines will be applied for each specific area.

Differentiation will be based on individual student and class data and lessons will be developed to meet the needs of all students in the class. Response to intervention (RTI) will continue to be delivered both in person and virtually.

Remote learning is not homeschooling. Students who participate in 100% remote learning will be expected to fully participate and engage in their SOCSD classes and coursework.

How have teachers prepared for the hybrid learning model?

In addition to professional development offered throughout the spring distance learning period, teachers have had the opportunity to participate in curriculum development and several new opportunities this summer to prepare for the fall. In fact, we’re in the middle of a two-week Virtual Learning Community professional development program on developing hybrid learning environments. A separate, extended workshop program on designing hybrid learning environments began last month and continues into September.

How will materials/equipment be distributed to students on their remote weeks or those participating 100% remotely for the first week of school and an ongoing basis?

K-5 students will receive school materials to engage in hands-on learning from home. Schools will send details to families. We’re in the process of determining what school materials our secondary students will need at home.

How are teachers going to manage in-person and virtual instruction simultaneously?

Teachers will initiate whole class instruction using Zoom from their desktops once they transition to their lesson or mini-lesson. The remote students will be able to listen to the audio of the classroom and/or transition to independent / group work. Collaboration between in-classroom and remote students will be via instructional tools such as Google Classroom, Schoology, Zoom Flipgrid, etc. This will be challenging but again, teachers have been preparing for this hybrid model of instruction.

How will students who are learning remotely be included and engaged during live lessons?

Teachers will be able to view students at home and will check in and engage with them either in whole or small group, as well as in-person students, during each lesson. The in-person and virtual learning students may collaborate in Google Classroom, Zoom breakout rooms, or 1:1 conferences with their teachers. Teachers may choose to group in in person students with at home students in Zoom breakout rooms. Students may also engage with hands-on materials during the activity portion of the lesson, which will again lower the amount of direct screen time students will have during a typical school day. The goal of the workshop model is to have a tight mini-lesson and to maximize the amount of time students are working on problems collaboratively during the activity.

It seems like in person instruction will be the same as remote instruction but with kids in the building. How will the in-person experience be enhanced over a full virtual model?

Students attending in person will have the benefit of being able to interact with their teachers and peers in a more collaborative and natural manner.

How are assessments being modified to ensure equity in grading for those participating in the hybrid model and those participating remotely?

In a hybrid learning environment, teachers may develop two copies of an assessment. In-person students would take one version; remote students would take the second version the following week. Performance-based assessments, including quizzes and transfer tasks, may occur on-camera and in-person through a unit of study. There are a number of formative and summative assessments that assess students’ application and transfer of their knowledge to a problem. Student writing is often used as a part of the assessment process to determine a students ability to apply their learning.

Will there be consistent lesson plans across grade levels, as there were in the spring?

Yes. Work of the instructional coaches and school-level teams will ensure consistency and best practices.

How will assemblies or class trips be handled to accommodate in-person and remote students?

All assemblies and/or field trips will be virtual. West Point and Philadelphia trips are examples of successful virtual field trips that were created last spring.

Will there be outdoor recess?

Yes. Students will be wearing masks during recess and be encouraged to use hand sanitizer at the start and end of recess.

What will indoor recess look like?

Building administrators will work closely with staff to organize activities that allow students to de-stress and have fun!

What opportunities will students have to interact with each other in-person and remotely?

Students may be working collaboratively in-person, with social distancing, and virtually. Recess will also provide students attending school in-person with the opportunity to play. We are working hard to make use of outdoor spaces for socially distanced interaction and our principals are working to maintain positive school culture and support social emotional learning.

Members of the school Pupil Personnel Services Team are shifting activities so that all students can participate in activities together focused on social-emotional learning. An example of this is the activities related to “Just Say Hello Week” are under revision to allow interaction with all students.

How will office hours be held?

Office hours will take place outside of the regularly scheduled school day in a virtual format.

What additional services is the school district providing to support students’ educational needs during their remote weeks?

Families should reach out to their child’s teacher and School Counselor with concerns regarding their child’s academic and/or social emotional needs. We are working on integrating tools that assess students both in-person and remotely using tools similar to the mood meter to help identify students who may need counseling support throughout the day.

How will the school ensure that the most needy students do not fall behind?

The District is taking steps to ensure that students with IEPs receive the services they need and our students who are English Language Learners will also receive their services. We have an excellent special education and English as a Second Language teaching staff as well as the Pupil Personnel Services team, including school-based social workers and counselors that work directly with these and other specific student populations to ensure that they are not falling behind. This is even more challenging in a remote learning environment, but again, our team learned a lot last spring and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to work with these students in person when school begins.

Is synchronous learning akin to lecture? How will that work in the elementary schools?

No. Synchronous learning is not akin to a lecture. However, the mini-lesson or teaching points can be delivered in a lecture-style format. At the elementary level, students may step away from the screen during the activity portion of the lesson. Books, math manipulatives, science materials, art , etc.

Will the third-graders still be selecting instruments for instrumental music instruction?

Yes. We plan to provide instrumental music lessons as we did in the spring. This will be done before school virtually in grades 3-5.

Is there a way that orchestra, band and chorus/chorale can still be taught?

Yes. These courses will still be taught and follow specific social distancing guidelines established for these courses. Students will also be able to participate virtually.

Will the school provide art supplies to 100% remote students?

Supplies for students working remotely will be provided to the greatest extent possible and we will differentiate lessons, if needed, to ensure all students can engage on a daily basis.

For those students taking regents classes will NYS end-of-year Regents exams be scheduled?

The New York State Education Department has not yet released dates for 2020-21 Regents exams.

Will Tappan Zee High School remain a SAT testing site?

Yes. TZHS Principal Rudy Arietta is currently working to finalize arrangements with the CollegeBoard for SAT testing this Fall.

EXTRACURRICULARS & ATHLETICS

Can students who participate on a 100% remote basis participate in in-person enrichment or athletics? Will students who participate on a hybrid basis be able to participate in in-person enrichment or athletics during their remote weeks?

There will be no in-person enrichment or clubs for the fall. Our schools administrators are exploring ways to support virtual enrichment opportunities.

The start date for fall sports was pushed back to September 21 by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association last month. However, the governor has not yet made a decision regarding whether school sports may resume in the fall. Once a determination has been made, we’ll make decisions based on what NYSED, Department of Health and NYSPHSAA guidance is at that time and communicate to our families.

FACILITIES

Will outdoor spaces be used for instruction at all buildings?

Yes. Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible by all schools. Students will be required to wear masks and socially distance outdoors.

Will we be able to see classrooms before school starts?

Yes. As equipment arrives and schools are prepared for reopening on September 8, we’ll be sharing photos of classrooms and other areas in our schools. Our schools also plan to release videos the week before school begins to show students and families what these spaces will look like and what they can expect.

Will the SOMS pool be open?

If interscholastic athletics are allowed to commence after September 21, the SOMS pool will be open to our interscholastic athletic swim teams. However, the pool will not be used by physical education classes nor open for outside usage.

Can you provide more detailed information regarding ventilation and air conditioning?

SOCSD schools are not equipped with hospital-grade HVAC systems or central air conditioning. The New York State Education Department requires schools to meet or exceed American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards, which all SOCSD schools do.

By reducing the number of students in our classrooms by 50%, we are able to increase the amount of fresh air per person and our facilities team is working to bring in as much fresh air as possible into our buildings.

Our Facilities team has cleaned and tested our exhaust fans to ensure that they operating at full capacity and is assessing our HVAC systems to maximize the filtration capability. MERV values on our current air handler filters range from 4-8. Renovating our District’s HVAC systems to upgrade climate control is among the item listed in the District’s Master Capital Plan and will require substantial capital investment, construction/installation time and NYSED approval.

The District will utilize outdoor spaces for learning, lunch and recess, and the opening of windows for fresh air, to the extent practical in all school buildings.

Has the District considered installing UV lighting as a tool for disinfectant?

New York State Education Department does not currently permit UV lighting in schools.

Will students have access to drinking water?

Water fountains will be disconnected for the start of school, but the no touch bottle filler portion of the fountains will remain in service.

Have you looked into tents or trailers for kids to do remote learning under the supervision of a TA?

School Districts are required to submit projects to the New York State Office of Facilities Planning for review and approval.This process takes time and can be costly. Even with trailers, the available space remains an issue. Tents that are not temporary (not taken down and set up daily) are not allowed by New York State Office of Facilities Planning as they are not code compliant, and acceptable shelters must also be approved.

FOOD SERVICE

How is the district providing food service?

  • Fresh, pre-packaged, pre-sealed breakfast and lunch will be available daily to all students, whether they’re learning at school or remotely.
  • Families will be required to pre-order meals the week before and make payment through My Payments Plus (no cash will be accepted).
  • All meals will follow New York State and USDA nutrition standards.
  • Pre-packaged meals are not shelf-stable and must be refrigerated.
  • A limited number of a la carte items may be available for pre-ordering.
  • Vending machines will not be available.
  • We’re finalizing how meals will be distributed to students in school and those learning remotely. Further information will be released by each building by Friday, August 28.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Will students and staff be required to wear masks INDOORS the entire school day, even when seated at desks or socially distanced?

Yes. This will be one of the updates included in our final reopening plan. Students and teachers will wear masks indoors, including in restrooms, at all times. However, students may remove face coverings for meals and scheduled short breaks, at the direction of staff, so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Anyone who is medically unable to tolerate a face mask or appropriate facial covering will be required to submit a doctor’s note and wear a face shield.

Students will be required to wear masks and/or appropriate facial covering as a condition of our Code of Conduct.

Will students be required to wear masks OUTDOORS, such as during recess, PE or in outdoor classrooms?

Yes. Again, this will be updated in our final reopening plan.

What constitutes an appropriate mask?

Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Masks or cloth facial coverings must completely cover staff members’ noses and mouths in order to prevent the transmission of virus-containing droplets. The CDC website has detailed information regarding masks and cloth facial covering. The link is included in our Reopening Plan.

Staff members are required to wear a mask or cloth facial covering at all times when not seated at their individual desk and/or not instructing students from teacher safe zone, this includes:

  • In all common areas of the school buildings;
  • In all hallways;
  • In all restrooms; and
  • In all other congregate settings (i.e. playgrounds, common office areas, conference rooms, classroom spaces).

Further all SOCSD staff members have been supplied with a face shield and washable mask, and access to a supply of disposable masks in each school building. The inventory includes an adequate supply in the event students do not have a mask or cloth facial covering upon entering school. Each school will allow employees to wear their own acceptable face covering, pursuant to CDC guidance, or will wear one provided by the district.

Staff members with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate a mask and/or cloth face covering cannot be required to do so and will be directed to wear the face shield provided to them and to socially distance to the extent practical.

Students are always required to wear a mask or cloth facial covering, with the exception of meal service times, this includes:

  • In all common areas of the school buildings;
  • In all hallways;
  • In all restrooms; and
  • During recess

Students with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to wear a mask and/or cloth face covering cannot be required to do so, and will be directed to wear a face shield provided to them by their physician and/or SOCSD, and to socially distance to the extent practical. NYSED, CDC, and Department of Health guidelines will be followed when enforcing the wearing of a mask and/or cloth face covering, including when individuals should not be wearing a mask or cloth face covering.

Do parents provide masks for our children or is the school providing masks for them?

The District has purchased washable masks for all students (one per student) to begin the school year, however, we encourage families to provide their children with cloth face masks and will be sharing information about wearing masks in the coming days. Our buildings will also have disposable masks to provide to students, staff and essential visitors, if needed.

If families need assistance in obtaining masks or other resources for opening day, they should email [email protected] and we will work to assist these families.

Will students have access to restrooms/sinks/hand sanitizers to wash hands when taking masks on and off?

Yes. Hand sanitizer is provided throughout each school. Students will be encouraged to wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently throughout the school day. Hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer will be required upon arriving at school and at dismissal time, and at the start and end of each class.

What structures and staffing will the district have in place to promote social distancing?

At bus stops:

  • Transportation Request Forms submitted by parents are being used to route buses and establish bus stops. Efforts are being made to reduce the number of densely-populated spots to reduce the risk of crowding.
  • Parents and students must wear masks and socially distance at bus stops at all times.

On buses:

  • Masks are to be worn by students and bus drivers at all times. Students will be required to wear masks and/or appropriate facial covering as a condition of our Code of Conduct.
  • Students will be asked to board the bus and move toward the first fully available seat in the rear of the bus. Upon arrival at school, students will unload from the front first and be reminded to socially distance.
  • Students will be asked to sit one passenger per seat, space permitting, and take the seat furthest from the student in the seat directly across from them.
  • Siblings may share a seat.
  • When temperatures do not fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, windows on buses are to be partially opened in a way to ventilate the vehicle.

During arrival and dismissal:

  • During arrival, students may be held on buses to ensure social distancing during unloading and building entry. Proper supervision will be in place.
  • Markers will be placed outside of all schools to guide students to socially distance.
  • Upon entry, students at all buildings will proceed directly to their classroom.
  • Details regarding our buildings’ arrival and dismissal procedures will be shared separately.

In hallways:

  • Schools will use a variety of tools and strategies, including directional signage, to support social distancing and minimize congestion.
  • Lockers will not be used at SOMS and TZHS.

In restrooms:

  • Adequate hall supervision will be provided to facilitate social distancing in restrooms.
  • Teachers will limit the number of students who may use the restroom at one time.

In classrooms:

  • Classrooms have been reconfigured to accommodate socially distanced work areas to the extent possible. Students will be provided with a personal, transparent polycarbonate barrier that will travel with them during the school day.
  • For instances where class sizes exceed the number of students that can be socially distanced within a given classroom, schools have identified alternate learning spaces, such as libraries or auditoriums, to accommodate them.
  • Teachers will work from a designated area at the front of the room–the teacher safety zone–which will be distanced from student spaces. Teachers will be wearing masks and/or transparent face shields and will be provided with personal workstations with transparent polycarbonate barriers.
  • Tables located in classrooms, cafeterias, and other larger learning spaces will have transparent polycarbonate barriers installed.
  • Students will not be permitted to leave belongings or materials at school overnight.

In cafeterias or when eating:

  • In schools that plan to use their cafeteria, transparent polycarbonate barriers will be installed on cafeteria tables or students will be seated at socially distanced desks to eat. Students may use their individual barrier during meals. Barriers, tables and desks will be cleaned and disinfected between lunch periods.
  • In schools where students will eat in classrooms, students will use their personal barriers while eating. Our schools’ standard food allergy policies will apply.
  • Schools may choose to use both classrooms and cafeterias. All plan to utilize outdoor dining as much as possible.

At recess:

  • Students will be wearing masks during recess and be encouraged to use hand sanitizer at the start and end of recess.
  • Proper supervision will be in place to support social distancing and safety.
  • Under circumstances, such as indoor PE, music/singing, for which additional distancing is required (12 feet):
  • Administrators and teachers are exploring different learning spaces and ways to adapt instructional methodologies to meet the social distancing requirement.

How will the portable barriers work?

Portable barriers will be in our classrooms when students arrive and students will use them throughout the day as needed, as they move to different learning spaces. The barrier will remain at school to be cleaned each night.

Does the District have a published pandemic plan?

Yes. The District’s Pandemic Safety Plan is linked to the Reopening webpage under Resources.

Will there be “safe passage” routes listed for walkers and bikers to get to school?

Administrators and TZHS student/Safe Routes to School lead Matthew Tobin met with Town Supervisor Teresa Kenny and representatives from the Highway Department and Orangetown Police Department on August 13 to discuss the potential increase in the number of students walking and biking to school and how we can work together to support safe routes to our schools. View the list of crossing guard locations and hours for 2020-21.

SCHEDULES

Can families request changes to their children’s weekly schedule?

Due to space and logistical limitations, the only schedule requests that will be considered are those which would allow siblings residing in the same household who have different last names to attend school the same weeks. In these cases, parents should contact their child’s principal to make a request. Student records may be reviewed and additional documentation may be requested to appropriately review each request. Also, if legally changing last names of siblings, please submit the appropriate paperwork with the District Registrar.

What are the school hours?

Secondary school hours are 8:30AM-3:00PM and elementary school hours are 9:30AM-3:30PM for students.

Are students who are learning remotely expected to be online for the full school hours? If so, how is the school district planning to address stamina/engagement and adjust homework expectations?

All students learning remotely are required to participate on-camera during live sessions to optimize their interaction with their teacher and classmates. Elementary students will log in with their classroom teachers and can expect breaks during the day. Secondary students will follow their course schedules for the nine-period day.

Based upon the class and the work to be accomplished during each session will determine whether the student needs to remain online for the entire class session.

Schools will be sending out information to families regarding when they can expect teacher assignments and course schedules.

Will schools continue to operate on a six-day cycle?

Yes. Schools will continue to operate on a six-day cycle.

When comparing Group A to Group B, Group B has 11 less days ‘in School’ than Group A when factoring in holidays from September through June. How will that be remedied?

We will be reviewing the calendar to balance out the instructional days for Group A and Group B.

Could a screencast be developed as an example of what a remote learning day looks like so parents can prepare their children and children’s caregivers?

Principals are making videos to show students and families what to expect when they return to school. We are also working with instructional coaches and teachers to create videos that will walk students through a typical lesson or day.

Will the District be hosting in-person public events, such as meet the teacher nights or community blood drives, this fall?

No. All events will be virtual.

Will there be a print calendar for 2020-21?

As we’ve communicated in the Friday SOCSD Summer Update e-blasts, as our reopening planning has progressed, our schools have begun to populate their Google Calendars for the 2020-21 school year. However, dates are subject to change based on evolving conditions and local and state guidelines. For this reason, a print calendar will not be published for the 2020-21 school year.

Families are strongly encouraged to refer to the District and building Google Calendars starting this Friday, August 14, for the most accurate, up-to-date event information. Instructions on how to subscribe to Google Calendar notifications and updates are described in Google Calendar Quick Reference, linked on the District Calendars webpage.

SCREENING PROCEDURES

Will SOCSD require COVID-19 testing of students and/or staff before school begins?

No. However, we will continue to adhere to New York State Department of Health, New York State and CDC guidance. We will be implementing active and passive screening of students and staff in collaboration with the Rockland County Department of Health.

Will students and staff returning from travel to states or countries under New York State quarantine order be required to quarantine?

Students and staff are required to abide by the New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory, which is linked to the Reopening webpage. The school district cannot monitor the movement or behavior of students and staff outside of school and must rely on everyone to comply with State guidelines.
Students required to quarantine should contact their school nurse and will participate via remote learning for the duration of their quarantine as directed by the Rockland County Department of Health.

In the event that the school district discovers that a student or staff member is not compliant with State quarantine guidelines and comes to school, that individual will be sent home immediately and reported to the Department of Health.

What is the District’s plan for screening?

Each morning that they are scheduled to attend school, all students will be required to submit the home screening COVID-19 questionnaire to confirm that they are symptom free and are not required to quarantine due to travel or exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Parents will be required to perform a temperature check of their children. Questionnaires will be submitted electronically to school administrators for daily review.

As they arrive at school, students and staff will be actively screened with equipment that will identify those of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Those identified with a temperature of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will be discreetly routed to the nurse’s office for a secondary temperature check and screening. If the secondary screening indicates potential signs of COVID-19, they will be sent home immediately. Students will be isolated and parents will be required to pick them up within 30 minutes.

It is critically important that parents keep children who are not feeling well or are symptomatic at home.

Does a parent need to submit a separate questionnaire for each child?

Yes. Parents will need to submit separate questionnaires for each child prior to the start of the school day.

What happens if a student or staff member becomes ill during the day?

If a student or staff member becomes ill during the day, they will be sent to the school nurse for screening. If the screening indicates potential signs of COVID-19, they will be sent home immediately. Students will be isolated and parents will be required to pick them up within 30 minutes. Please make sure that you have an emergency plan in place for this purpose.

Our school nurses will also continue with standard procedures for students who become ill, injured or require medical attention at school.

What is the protocol if a student and/or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

In the event of a positive COVID-19 test, parents must notify their child’s principal immediately. Staff members must notify their immediate supervisor.

Once notified, District staff will contact the Rockland County Department of Health who will conduct contact tracing. In the event that a building must be closed, staff and parents would be notified immediately. The affected building will close for a minimum of 48 hours to deep clean and disinfect. The school will shift to 100% remote learning until the District determines, in coordination with the Department of Health, that we are cleared to reopen.

Will the school district notify families if a staff member or student is quarantined because an immediate family member tests positive for COVID-19?

We will follow the Department of Health guidance on notification.

What are the return-to-school procedures for a positive COVID-19 test?

  • A letter stating they are released from isolation — either from the health department or their medical provider.
  • It has been at least ten (10) days since the individual first started experiencing symptoms.
  • It has been at least three (3) days since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine), AND
  • It has been at least three (3) days since the individual symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.

What are the return-to-school procedures for someone isent home based on the secondary screening and/or COVID-19 symptoms?

  • They must be fever-free for at least 24 hours, without use of fever-reducing medications, and are symptom-free.
  • They must provide a note from their medical provider clearing them to return to school, AND
  • A negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result be produced.

For other illnesses, students and staff must be fever-free for at least 24 hours, without use of fever-reducing medications.

STAFFING

What has SOCSD done to ensure that it has the staffing capacity to support the academic, social-emotional and safety requirements of the hybrid and or 100% remote model?

SOCSD has worked diligently to maintain ongoing and consistent contact with all district units, in regards to assessing and supporting potential accommodations, while working to maximize our staffing capacity. To supplement this, the district has also appointed substitute instructors, spanning multiple New York State certifications areas.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING & MENTAL HEALTH

How will students access mental health services in-person and remotely?

School Counselors, Social Workers, School Psychologists and Prevention Counselors will remain available to students both in-person and remotely. Each school has developed a Trauma-Informed Re-entry Plan that details the schools outline to reach out to families and students to ensure there are open lines of communication with all families and help readily available. In addition, the HELP Cards will be distributed to all students and published on the school homepage within the opening weeks. This resource has all the contact information for the supports at each building as well as community resources readily available to our parents in the event they should require assistance immediately.

How is social-emotional learning being addressed?

In the Trauma Informed Re-entry plan, each building has identified the pathway to integrate social-emotional learning for their building. As a district, we are committed to using the opening days to build a sense of community, reviewing safety protocols, and most importantly focusing on building relationships with our students.

How will I be able to assess whether my child is going to be productive in this new environment?

Our Pupil Personnel Services team–School Counselors, School Social Workers, School Prevention Counselors and School Psychologists–is committed to supporting our students as they adjust to the “new norm” and will work collaboratively with parents to address the individual needs of any child.

What is the plan for lessening anxiety of students and staff if, on an in-person day, a student who was there the day before is out sick? What will be done to protect that students’ privacy and prevent rumors/stigma?

Student and staff privacy is imperative. Our team continues to discuss ways to “normalize” the new screening procedures, safety protocols and our new instructional model. We do not share any individuals information with other families and share information internally only when absolutely necessary with key administrators and staff. We ask for families to join us in respecting each other’s privacy and to alert the building administrator if there is any concern regarding rumors.

Please remember that the ONLY official sources of information regarding our school district are our building and District administrators, www.socsd.org and SOCSD Facebook and Twitter feeds.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Will students with IEPs have the opportunity to attend school in-person more frequently than 50%?

Students with IEPs in grades K-12 will attend school on a 50% basis and receive services according to their plans. Space permitting, on their off-weeks, IEP students in grades K-12 will be provided with an extended learning space to receive synchronous instruction and in-person program accommodations and related services according to their IEP.

The District has worked hard with principals to identify space. Parents will receive a separate communication confirming their students’ participation and their program for the fall.

For students with IEPs, what does “extended learning space” mean? Who is supervising? Are they grade-specific? What is the expectation of students?

Extended learning spaces are additional spaces that allow us to socially distance our students and co-teachers/consultant teachers as needed in order to meet the needs of the IEP. This is an additional classroom space to allow students to actively participate in their daily lessons, receive program accommodations and individual support during their remote week to the greatest extent possible. Special Education Teachers will work collaboratively with their Regular Education Partner to plan on how best to use these spaces in order to meet the needs of all students. Each building has different spaces and a plan to support our classified students on a daily basis.

All students will be expected to participate on a daily basis. We recognize that our classified students need additional support as defined on their IEP in order to access the curriculum. This plan allows our staff to provide daily support and IEP programs, accommodations and related services on a daily basis.

If students with IEPs are able to attend more frequently than a 50% basis, does that mean that they may be exposed to more students because they are with their typical attendance cohort one week and then in different cohorts in the extended learning spaces during the “remote week”? And with two different groups for busing?

Yes. All students will continue to be screened daily according to our protocols. Attendance will continue to be taken for contact tracing.

Will students with IEPs who opt to participate 100% remotely be able to receive services virtually?

Parents have a right to opt their children in for 100% remote participation. However, a CSE may need to be convened.

Do all special education parents who want their child to attend 100% virtually need to request a CSE meeting to determine remote accommodations?

No. We will develop a plan to work with each family and schedule a CSE only if necessary or requested by parents.

How will an IEP student with full-day 1:1 aide to assist them in access the curriculum receive this service remotely?

1:1 aide plans will be developed for remote learning in conjunction with the parent.

What assistance will be available to parents of significantly cognitively disabled students who cannot get their child to engage in remote work?

Our students with cognitive disabilities who are struggling to engage will work collaboratively with their program and teachers to adjust their support. A CSE may need to convene to consider all options.

How will 504 Plans operate for students participating in the hybrid model?

Those with 504 Plans may attend school on a 50% basis and receive services both in-person and virtually. Students may also choose to participate 100% remotely and receive services virtually.

My child cannot carry heavy loads. I submitted a note from her specialist last year. How can she be accommodated since the kids will not have access to lockers?

Any student who has a medical condition that requires special accommodations should notify their building principal. If necessary, a 504 committee will be convened to develop a plan.

How will speech work?

Speech and all related services will be offered in-person as per the IEP. If a parent chooses for their child to remain 100% on distance learning, we will work with that individual family to determine how best to meet their IEP needs and may need to convene the CSE.

Where will in-person related services take place? Will my child be entering in and out of multiple office spaces throughout his day?

Each building has identified spaces that allow social distancing when students receive their related services. Due to the nature of this individualized service, groups will be developed and students will be kept with the same group of students throughout the year. This will require students to move to these locations.

TECHNOLOGY

What technology will my child need to participate in hybrid or 100% remote learning this fall?

The District has standardized on Dell for our Chromebook purchases due to the product’s reliability and sturdiness. Remote learning instruction is provided using a number of web-based tools that require a current browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, etc.). Most remote learning last spring was easily managed using a simple browser-based device such as a Chromebook or laptop. Devices older than 3-4 years are not recommended.

Please note that certain devices may be more conducive to remote learning – e.g. having a formal keyboard will help with typing assignments. In addition, some classroom related activities may require the use of a webcam and microphone.

Are students participating in the hybrid model required to bring their personal or school-issued devices to school every day?

Yes all students must bring their devices – whether personal or school-issued – to school every day that they attend in person. Please note due to the pandemic, the District will limit the sharing of devices and resources.

Will the District be implementing a 1-to-1 Mobile Device Initiative?

Yes. The District has a 1-to-1 mobile device initiative at Tappan Zee High School, which has been in place for the past five years. The District will implement a similar 1-to-1 mobile device initiative for grades K-12 in the fall.

However, due to the global pandemic, technology vendors are experiencing issues with the supply of technology products and equipment as the race to meet demand from schools and businesses world-wide.

As a result of these supply-chain issues, delivery of the new devices we ordered in the spring has been delayed until mid-November. The District’s formal 1-to-1 initiative will begin in the late fall.

Additional information regarding the District’s 1-to-1 initiative will be available in September. Those students and families that indicated a need for a mobile device via the Parent Reopening Survey will be provided a device at the start of school.

Is a student in a BOCES program entitled to a SOCSD chromebook?

If an SOCSD student is classified, we work closely with the BOCES program to identify the best device to meet their needs. PTech provides students with devices. Any student who attends one of our COVE Programs from another district obtains their technology from their home district.

Who should my child contact if they need technology assistance during their remote week?

If a student or family experiences issues with accessing remote learning should first bring it to the attention of the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher will help clarify the type of issue and may resolve the issue directly, if the classroom teacher cannot resolve the issue, they will forward it to the school’s instructional technology teacher.

For non-instructional hardware related support issues, the District has created an online Help Desk system that students and parents can access to submit a support issue.

Will students learning remotely see their peers in the classroom during live sessions?

Cameras will be focused primarily on the teacher. However, during activities such as virtual breakout rooms and group work, students will see each other as they work together. We ask that students respect the privacy of their peers. To further protect the privacy of our students and staff, live sessions will not be recorded.

What is the District standard device?

The District has standardized on Dell for our Chromebook purchases due to the product’s reliability and sturdiness. Dell Chromebooks come in different styles and capabilities. Some are standard Chromebooks, much like a laptop, and others are 2-in-1s with touch screens and can convert to tablets. Convertible 2-in-1 Chromebooks are NOT required for remote learning, but may provide additional flexibility for your child.

The primary consideration for purchasing a Chromebook is to ensure it has enough memory and storage. The recommended memory is between 4-6 GB of memory and 32-64 GB of storage.

The benefit of a Chromebook over a tablet such as an iPad is the built-in keyboard. Keyboarding skills are important when engaging in remote learning.

What about iPads?

While the District will be implementing an iPad 1-to-1 initiative for kindergarten and first grade, a Chromebook or laptop may be more effective for remote learning at the upper grade levels.

iPads are effective devices for younger learners due to the touch screen interface. However, parents have reported that access to remote learning resources for upper grades was cumbersome in the Spring. In particular, accessing Google Classroom assignments and resources seemed to be more efficient with a Chromebook as opposed to an iPad.

If you choose an iPad for remote learning, we recommend that you also purchase a compatible keyboard so that your child can develop keyboarding skills.

What device do students need to participate in Zoom breakout rooms?

While there are limitations for using Chromebooks with Zoom there are workarounds that can help address some of these limitations. As an example, while users who join using a Chromebook are unable to join a “Breakout Room”, the “Main Room” can be used as an alternative session for these users. But Zoom’s Android and iOS clients can participate in Breakout Rooms. Students have other means for collaborating that include Google Meet, Google Classroom and Jamboard.

If a child’s school-issued Chromebook is over 3 years old, will SOCSD replace it?

No. The District replacement cycle for student Chromebooks is 4 years. From our experience, Dell Chromebooks are viable for our high school students’ four-year tenure. However, if a device is experiencing performance related issues, please be sure to contact the Student Tech Support Portal so technical issues can be addressed. The student help desk link will be on the District’s main web page under Quick Links.

Will PowerSchool be open so that K-5 parents can keep track of kids’ work?

Yes. The District recently sent home information to our elementary families on how to create an account to access the PowerSchool portal. Parents will be able to access multiple students via the same PowerSchool portal account.

An information session for parents on how to create a PowerSchool portal account will be forthcoming. We expect to host this online session the week of August 17.

TRANSPORTATION

Can working parents drop off children before school start time to avoid them riding the bus?


No. Schools are not able to accommodate students prior to the start of drop off time. Drop off time begins at 8:10AM at SOMS and TZHS and 9:15AM at WOS and CLE. For the safety of our students, parents must comply with these restrictions.

How will transportation work for students going to BOCES either in the morning or afternoon?

The District will continue to coordinate with BOCES on transporting students to BOCES programs being held in-person. We are currently working on finalizing transportation.

MISCELLANEOUS

Will the District be providing child care?

No. We are focused on maximizing space for the purposes of in-person instruction. We continue to work with our community partners and will keep our community informed of any new child care resources that become available.

If an elementary age child is attending a childcare setting in their virtual weeks whose schedule doesn’t allow them to log into all synchronous sessions, or doesn’t provide a person to work one on one with a child who is just learning to read and write, will they be penalized for this? Will they be at a disadvantage due to not having this one-on-one help?

A student will not be penalized if they can’t access their learning remotely during certain hours if they are attending a childcare setting that prevents them from doing so successfully.