Following are responses to frequently-asked questions regarding the District’s reopening plan, as submitted to the New York State Education Department on July 31, 2020. The plan is subject to change based on evolving NYSED guidance; local, state and federal guidelines; and, regional health indicators.
Reopening Planning Process
What is SOCSD’s reopening plan?
SOCSD submitted its draft reopening plan to the New York State Education Department on July 31.
UPDATED (8/18/20): The District anticipates reopening at 50% capacity with social distancing for general education students in grades K-12. 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.
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 a supervised learning space to receive synchronous instruction and in-person related services according to their plan. Those with 504 Plans will attend school on a 50% basis and receive services both in-person and virtually.
English Language Learners will attend school on a 50% basis and will receive supports according to their plans. Every effort will be made to schedule for additional in-person instruction.
Is this plan for the entire school year?
The reopening plan was developed according to NYSED and New York State Department of Health guidance released in mid-July 2020 and submitted for NYSED review on July 31. The District’s final reopening plan will be released by August 14 pending NYSED approval and clearance from the governor that schools may reopen.
Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the final reopening plan will be subject to local conditions and changing guidance from local, state and federal government.
How did you engage students, parents and teachers in the planning process?
On June 17, the District launched its reopening task force and subcommittees to focus on reopening planning and logistics specific to South Orangetown schools for the 2020-21 school year. Subcommittees were chaired by administrators for the following topic areas: Curriculum and Instruction, School Nursing, Pupil Personnel Services, Facilities & Safety, Food Service, Transportation, Technology, Staff Relations, Athletics and Communications. Members of the task force and subcommittees included middle and high school students, parents and PTA leaders, teachers, support staff and administrators.
In addition, a survey will be sent to registered District families on August 6 to gather information that will help to further refine logistics planning.
How will SOCSD continue to ensure students are supported academically and emotionally?
Administrators and staff will be trained on the District’s trauma-informed reentry plan, which will include non-academic check-ins with all students and activities to engage families and ease their return to their school campus. In addition, the full complement of student support, including academic and career counseling, social work and mental and behavioral health services, will be available to students attending school in-person and virtually.
How have teachers continued to develop their technological skills in preparation for the fall?
Starting in March, the District’s Instructional Coaches, along with Teachers College and IDE Corp., provided remote, daily professional development for staff on topics ranging from new tools to adapting lessons for virtual learning. Professional development opportunities were provided throughout the summer and teachers participating in summer programming, including Virtual STEAM Camp, continued to refine their skills and pilot new ideas.
Does the District have a plan in place to support students who may have fallen behind during the school closures? (How will learning loss be assessed?)
The District will assess all students using both summative and formative assessments (STAR Assessment, Fountas & Pinnell, pre- and post-unit assessments, etc.). Teachers will differentiate instruction to meet individual students’ needs and, when necessary, implement additional support services and programming.
Will the District have the teachers and technology to support hybrid learning?
Yes. Teachers and staff will physically report to school daily. Teachers will teach students who are attending class physically and those who are attending class virtually at the same time.
To support this synchronous learning environment, webcams, document cameras and snowball microphones have been ordered for teacher use. The District will be distributing Chromebooks for student use, starting in September. Families in need who lack internet service may request a hotspot through their child’s building principal. Laptops will be available for teaching staff. The District is also exploring the installation of additional access points to allow teachers to Zoom from outdoor classrooms.
Will there be a common online platform?
Based on distance learning feedback from teachers, students and parents last spring, SOCSD is focusing on fewer tools for the fall. We’re using two learning management systems: Seesaw (K-Gr. 2) and Schoology (Gr. 3-12). Tools will also include Zoom and Google Meet; Flipgrid and Google Jamboard; and, Google Classroom.
Will there be live, virtual instruction daily?
Yes. There will be live, daily instruction for all students, whether participating in person or virtually.
How will attendance work?
South Orangetown has developed a specific mechanism to collect daily student attendance while using a hybrid model or if required to go virtual. Teachers will be taking attendance of those physically present in the classroom as well as those participating in the virtual class. This attendance record will be entered into the student management system on a daily basis. All four schools have identified what teacher will be responsible for this data collection. There will also be an assigned clerical at every building to support this work.
What’s the plan for grading and testing?
SOCSD is planning for a systematic cycle of assessments including initial screenings and assessments in the fall. SOCSD will be administering universal diagnostic academic assessments such as the STAR Assessment, Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessments, and formative teacher-made assessments that will be administered at the beginning of the school year. In addition, our school-based Data Inquiry Teams will meet regularly to look at assessment data and subgroup student performance.
- SOCSD will resume its normal grading process for all students K-12.
- Our Response to Intervention Program is designed in a three-tiered model for support services in the areas of reading, math, and social emotional intervention support.
- Teachers have structured collaboration, planning, and professional development time to engage in improvement cycles including reviewing student assessments, planning instructional shifts and strategies based on data, establishing clear outcome goals. Each school has established team and grade team meeting times scheduled daily and weekly.
- SOCSD will ensure appropriate accommodations are made for all students.
Can families opt to have their children attend school remotely full-time?
Yes. Families who do not wish to send their children to school on a 50% basis may opt to participate via remote learning full-time. Families who wish to have their children participate via remote learning full-time (no in-person attendance), should notify their children’s building principals as soon as possible.
However, please know that we are still awaiting guidance regarding whether students who opt for 100% remote learning will be permitted to participate in on-site activities and programs, such as athletics and extracurriculars, if they are running.
Can families who chose to opt out change their minds? Or can those who choose to opt out or opt back in at any time?
Our schools will work to support families should their needs change over the course of the school year. 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.
Private/Parochial School Students
Will the District continue to provide transportation for private/parochial school students?
Yes. Per NYSED regulations, SOCSD will continue to provide pupil transportation to nonpublic, parochial, private, and charter school students and/or for students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out of district, when those schools are meeting for in-person instruction and SOCSD is open for student instruction (in-person or remotely). The deadline to submit a request for non-public school transportation for the 2020-21 school year was April 1, 2020.
Contingency Plan for Future School Closures
What is the District’s plan for additional future school closures that might be necessary?
SOCSD will collaborate with the Rockland County Department of Health on an ongoing basis to determine early warning signs to a closure (e.g. increase absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) and whether the school district can operate safely. If it is determined that a school or school district closure is required, SOCSD will shift to a 100% remote learning model with no in-person student attendance.
If the District, or an individual school, needs to shift from the 50% hybrid model to 100% remote learning either temporarily or for an extended period, will students’ schedules remain the same?