In early July New York state released an extensive 145-page guidance document to help schools navigate this process. While much of the guidance from the state grants school districts flexibility to develop their own customized reopening plan, it also establishes dozens of new requirements.
For more information on reopening, please see our Reopening Resources page.
The district’s strategic approach to reopening included gathering input from students, parents, staff and the community through surveys and Thought Exchanges. The district is also studying best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Departments of Health and Education.
In spring, New York State advised school districts to prepare for three scenarios:
1. A combination of remote learning and physical attendance at school.
2. Remote learning for all students.
3. A return to in-person learning for all students.
While UV has prepared for all three scenarios, the district’s strategic planning for reopening is focusing on a 50-50 combination of remote learning and physical attendance. Through the work of our Reopening Committee, which began in early June, it has become clear that we cannot financially meet the state’s reopening requirements with a 100 percent return for all students and do what we need to do to keep everyone safe.
A 50-50 model for Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 will allow the district to meet the state’s social distancing requirements. This will allow our students to be in their classrooms minimally every other day to relieve stress on the student, family, and teacher and ensure all students learn at high levels.
While we may be focusing on a combination of remote learning and physical attendance, the district has to be prepared to deliver remote learning for all students at a moment’s notice. This could be for just a few days, or it could be two weeks or more, depending on the situation. We anticipate having to move to all remote learning at key times during the school year in consideration of the health and safety of our students and staff.
Throughout all of this planning, please know that our most important concern is the safety and wellness of our students, our staff, our families and our community. We know these are unprecedented times, but your feedback continues to be vital to our success.
While we are in the process of finalizing our health and safety protocols, there are several safety precautions we will implement:
• Daily cleaning and disinfecting practices will be continued on buses and in the building.
• Building filtration and ventilation will meet or exceed minimum requirements.
• Students and staff will be trained in proper hand hygiene protocol including handwashing and proper use of hand sanitizer.
• Family care providers will be asked to take their child’s temperature before coming to school each day.
• Temperature checks and health screenings will be done for all students and staff.
• Students will sit in assigned seats on school buses and in classrooms.
• Students from the same household/family will sit together on the bus.
• Masks and other face coverings will be worn on school buses and throughout the day by students and staff.
• There will be built in “mask breaks” each day with appropriate social distancing.
• We will work with our region and local DOH to properly manage any suspected or known cases of COVID-19.
• Schedules are being developed to allow teachers to transition to the classrooms to minimize student traffic in the halls.
• Schedules are being developed to minimize student workload and make the virtual learning days easier for families.
• Hallway traffic will be one way and marked accordingly.
• All efforts will be made to minimize sharing of supplies by staff and students. Any shared materials will be cleaned appropriately.
• School visitors will be restricted to those required for school business.
• Students in district operated self-contained, special education programs will be onsite daily as long as in person school is in session.
• Students receiving specialized services will continue to receive them (e.g. speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, intervention services, consultant teacher services when they are onsite).
• We are developing protocols to support students and families during any virtual learning days.
• Students will remain in their “cohort group” throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, and classes like physical education, music, and art. We realize that in the secondary grades this may not be the case when it comes to some elective courses. Students and staff will be trained in these protocols.
• The district may provide plastic face shields for services like speech, teaching reading, and possibly eating if we use the cafeteria instead of the classrooms for breakfast and lunch.
• There will be no field trips for the time being.
• Lockers and cubbies will not be used by students. Students will be asked to carry a reduced number of materials with them on a daily basis.
• Bus drivers and teachers will be encouraged to have windows open and instruct classes outdoors, when feasible.