Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, Board of Education members, Chief of Police, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials, our school-based health care provider, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations.

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at www.watervlietcityschools.org, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the homepage of the website. and every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the district website, including: Arabic, French, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu.

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication channels – including the district website, the One Call Now school notification system, district email and social media platforms (when appropriate) – as well as signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. Translation to other languages will be provided through G-Translate, which is available on the district website.

The district is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely on the district website, the One Call Now school notification system, virtual meetings, and school-specific messaging from principals to students and parents/guardians,  to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and input from the district’s reopening committee.

In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. Students who do not have adequate access at home, in the case of remote or hybrid learning, will be provided a district-owned device. Remote learners may pick up devices from school or request that devices be dropped off to their home. The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including phone calls, email using the district website for staff directory or “snail mail.”

The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. These communications will include parent portal, website, paper copies of schedules mailed home, and phone calls.

The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. The district will ensure parents/legal guardians of students who receive special education services obtain copies of their IEPs in their preferred language using district translators, Lexikeet (translation service), as well as the special education handbook on the district’s website. CSE meetings will occur using Google Meets in an effort to accommodate schedules of parents/guardians.

The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

  • Hand hygiene 
  • Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove) 
  • Social distancing
  • Respiratory hygiene 
  • Identifying symptoms
    • Training will occur with video presentations at public forums during the summer for students and their parents/guardians
    • Live demonstrations will occur in classrooms for students with in-person reminders from teachers and staff for students and their parents/guardians
    • Protocols and reminders will be reinforced daily during morning announcements for students
    • Training videos will be posted on the district website for students and their parents/guardians
    • Information will be mailed home in parents’ preferred language for students and their parents/guardians
    • Signage reminders will be posted throughout the school buildings, especially at each buildings’ entrances for students and their parents/guardians

Additional protocols for identifying symptoms will be shared with parents/guardians to notify the school if their child develops symptoms.

  • At Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School, parents/guardians will be directed to contact the school nurse at (518) 629-3304 or the WY School Based Health Center at 518-629-3271.
  • At  Watervliet Elementary School, parents/guardians will be directed to contact the school nurse, Susan Vogel, at (518) 629-3402 or email: svogel@vlietschools.org
  • Nurses will remind parents/legal guardians about routine student health screenings and temperature checks, and remind them to contact their physician or the school-based health clinic.

The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas:

  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
  • Hand washing
  • Adherence to social distancing instructions
  • Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means including training videos and live demonstrations.

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are as follows: 

  • Consult with Albany County DOH
  • Nurses’ office will be set up with seating 6 feet apart
  • Nurses’ will make visual observations for signs of illness
  • An isolation space will be available in both buildings for anyone who is symptomatic
  • Isolation spaces will have a separate entrance with proper signage
  • Parent/guardian will be contacted to pick their child up from school ASAP
  • Nurse will escort student to nearest exit
  • Parent/guardian will remain in their vehicle or outside of the school building
  • The school nurse will provide COVID testing information to parent/guardian

(Updated Sept. 17, 2020) To return to school/work the individual must obtain:

  • Clearance from a health care provider; AND
  • Negative COVID-19 test result; AND
  • Symptom resolution.

If a COVID-19 test is refused, the student or staff member must quarantine for 14 days.

The district will share its protocols and safety measures regarding containment with stakeholders under the guidance of the Albany County and the New York State Departments of Health.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the Albany County Health Department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

School Closures

The district is preparing for situations in which one or both school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.

The district will collaborate with Albany County Department of Health officials to determine parameters, conditions or metrics, such as increased absenteeism or increased illness, that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult with Meribeth Miller from the Albany County Department of Health at 518-447-4640, maribeth.miller@albanycountyny.gov and Amanda Duff from Whitney Young Health at 518-591-4479, aduff@wmyhealth.org, when making such decisions.

School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.

The district will determine which operations will be ceased and which operations will be conducted remotely after consultation with the Albany County and New York State Departments of Health.

Use of isolation rooms will be available for persons who develop symptoms within the school buildings. Immediate contact will be made with the parent/guardian or emergency contact, as well as with the Albany County Department of Health.

If a school closure is deemed necessary, the district will notify all parents as soon as possible via the One Call Now system so parents may make arrangements for the care of their children.