Watervliet CSD COVID-19 Health and Safety Reopening Plan for 2020-21

The Watervliet City School District’s COVID-19 health and safety reopening plan establishes and explains the necessary policies, practices and conditions necessary to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) guidelines for COVID-19, the State’s “New York Forward” guidelines, along with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards related to employee safeguards and potential exposure to COVID-19. As the health and safety of district staff and students is our top priority, the plan has a strong commitment to those measures.

On Monday, July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.

Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven-day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.

While districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model. Parents will be required to fill in a form stating their intent to send their child in-person, or learn remotely. Parents will have the option to change their preference in 5 week increments. The district is required to submit plans via NYSED portal by July 31, 2020. This plan was created in an effort to reimagine education where employees, students, and families feel safe, protected and work together in an effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19. The guidelines referenced in this plan are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), as well as the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Updates may be made to this plan on a periodic basis based on information provided by the guidance of federal, state and local agencies.

The Watervliet City School District engaged with school and community stakeholders, including: administrators, faculty, staff, union members, students, parents/guardians, Albany County Department of Health, local health care providers, Board of Education members and the Watervliet Chief of Police to advise and provide feedback during the development of the reopening plan.

The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Watervliet City School District for the 2020-21 school year, following the building closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the schools listed below:

It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making as we move to open our schools.

Assistant Superintendent Donald Stevens will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Safety Coordinator (administrator). Mr. Stevens will work closely with our local health department and will be responsible for continuous compliance of all aspects of the district’s reopening plan, as well as any phased-in reopening activities necessary to allow for operational issues to be resolved before activities return to normal or “new normal” levels. He will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members, and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Mr. Stevens can be contacted by phone at 518-629-3456, or email: dstevens@vlietschools.org.  His contact information is available on the district website, as well as on the district’s attestation and self-screening application.

(Updated Sept. 17, 2020) Each school building will have a designated COVID-19 resource person who is a certified registered nurse and will be readily available to the entire school community. At Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School, contact the WY School Based Health Center at 518-629-3271, or Susan Vogel, at Watervliet Elementary School, can be reached at 518-629-3402, or by email: svogel@vlietschools.org

Please note, this reopening plan is a living document, it will be updated as more information, recommendations and guidance becomes available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).