We are excited to welcome our students back to school on Tuesday, September 7 – the first day of the 2021-22 school year! We want to be sure our families have all the information needed to have a safe and successful start to the new school year.
While we all had hoped for a return to normalcy this fall, with increases in COVID-19 infection rates in the Capital Region, we must continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff and community and take a proactive and careful approach to opening our schools.
In addition, we are committed to offering fully in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year with all students attending classes five days per week. With this in mind, we have developed an opening plan based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the Albany County Health Department to mitigate the risk of transmission in our schools.
Health and safety is our top priority
To provide a safe environment for teaching and learning, the district will use a layered mitigation approach based on COVID transmission/infection rates in Albany County, as determined by the CDC (high, substantial, moderate and low). When making these determinations, the CDC uses two data points:
- ) The number of new cases in the county over the past 7 days; and
- ) The percentage of accurate COVID-19 tests that come back positive in the county over the past 7 days.
We will continue to monitor the level of community transmission using the CDC County COVID Tracker and make adjustments as needed. Albany County is currently considered a HIGH transmission area. (8/19/21)
Mitigation protocols will be in effect for each level of community transmission indicated by color: RED/HIGH, ORANGE/SUBSTANTIAL, YELLOW/MODERATE and BLUE/LOW, as outlined in our 2021-22 opening plan.
Several coordinated mitigation protocols will be in effect in our schools during HIGH, SUBSTANTIAL and MODERATE community transmission. These include:
- Encouraging vaccinations for all eligible students (12 and older) and staff members;
- Universal masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status;
- Maintain at least three (3) feet of distancing in classrooms;
- Mask wearing on school buses for staff and students;
- Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitizer, and practicing respiratory etiquette;
- Contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation;
- Increased fresh air circulation (ventilation system, windows open as weather permits);
- Cleaning and sanitizing in buildings; and
- Monitoring community transmission, vaccination rates, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies.
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The daily health screening will no longer be required, yet it is critical that all members of the school community stay home when they are not feeling well.
We will continue to use seating charts in classrooms, lunches and buses for contact tracing and quarantine purposes.
Our plan is subject to change based on any new guidance and regulations issued by the state or federal government.
Return to In-Person Teaching and Learning
Fully in-person teaching and learning will resume on Tuesday, September 7. Our goals are to provide a rich and engaging educational experience for students in a safe, supportive learning environment, and also to support the social-emotional and mental health of our students and staff.
During our Back-to-School 2021 virtual community forum on August 18, the following information about the full return to in-person teaching and learning was shared with district families:
- Prekindergarten through grade 8 students will remain in classes/pods.
- High school students (grades 9-12) will rotate classrooms as needed; cleaning desks in between.
- Encore teachers (music, art, library) will push into classrooms, with the exception of physical education classes.
- Academic Intervention Services (AIS) will return for students who need extra support in English Language Arts and math.
- Support will continue for students’ social/emotional, mental health and well-being.
- Students will have access to 1-to-1 Chromebooks.
- Google Classrooms will be utilized and updated regularly.
- Teachers and students will be prepared to transition to remote learning, if necessary.
- A year-long remote learning program will be available through Capital Region BOCES for students with medical documentation.
The arrival and dismissal times for the 2021-22 school year are listed below:
- Watervliet Elementary School (WES)
- UPK Arrival: 8:00 a.m.
UPK Dismissal: 2 p.m.
K-5 Arrival: 8:30 a.m.
K-5 Dismissal: 2:35 p.m.
After School Dismissal (M, W, Th): 3:35 p.m.
- UPK Arrival: 8:00 a.m.
- Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School (WJSHS)
- Grades 6-8
Start time: 7:30 a.m.
Dismissal time: 1:29 p.m.
- Grades 9-12
Start time: 8:12 a.m.
Dismissal time: 2:11 p.m.
- Grades 6-8
Breakfast will be available for students in their classrooms.
- Logistics for safely eating will be implemented by teachers based on student arrival times.
Lunch will be served in the cafeterias to the greatest extent possible.
- Student desks will be placed 6 feet apart to the greatest extent possible.
- While eating at their desk, students may remove their face masks.
- Assigned seating is necessary in order to conduct contact tracing, if need be.
- Students, bus drivers and monitors will be required to wear face coverings at all times (per order of CDC).
- Bus routes have been altered to safely transport children to school in under 15 minutes.
- Students can sit (up to) two per seat.
- Students will board and exit the bus in order; first on the bus will be the last off.
- Assigned seating is necessary to conduct contact tracing, if needed.
- Bus drivers will clean/sanitize buses between each bus run.
- Bus stop routes are being finalized and postcards will be mailed by August 24 to families eligible for transportation.
Although our district will not offer a remote learning option in 2021-22, we will work with families whose children have medical conditions and require a virtual learning option. If your child has a documented medical condition, they may be eligible to enroll in a fully-remote learning program offered by the Capital Region BOCES. The virtual learning program will operate independently of the Watervliet City Schools and requires a one-year, full-time commitment from families to participate.
We cannot emphasize enough, if your child is experiencing symptoms: fever; fatigue/tiredness; muscle/body aches or pains; congestion; cough; runny nose; shortness of breath/difficulty breathing; nausea/vomiting or diarrhea; headache; loss of taste or smell; or does not feel well in any way, please keep them home in the interest of the health and safety of others.
Students who receive an order of isolation or quarantine from the Albany County Department of Health due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus during the school year will be provided a learning plan by their teacher(s) to ensure learning may continue from home during the quarantine period.
Please contact your child’s building principal, the superintendent of schools or the assistant superintendent if you have questions about the start of the school year. Visit the Contact Us page for email addresses and phone numbers
Thank you for your continued support and cooperation as we prepare to begin the new school year!