Teaching and Learning

The school calendar will include three (3) staff development days before students arrive at school. The Watervliet City School District acknowledges the challenges that our teachers and staff faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances. The district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health, curriculum writing aligned to the NYS Learning Standards as well as best practices and technology integration.

These days will also be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationships necessary for a successful school year.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring for grades K-8 will be locally developed as well as standardized measures to determine learning gaps. Locally developed measures will be used to identify learning gaps for learners in grades 9-12. Response to Intervention (RtI) will be used as one of the approaches to help identify and address learning gaps. The RtI approach will assist measuring progress or setbacks for social, emotional and academic support. Interventions will be offered in-person as well as remotely.

Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess students’ understanding of prerequisite skills will be common practice. Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

The Watervliet City School District is working closely with the Albany Boys’ and Girls’ Club who will be running our UPK program. We have ensured that measures are in place to follow health and safety guidelines outlined in the NYSED and DOH guidance. The district’s director of UPK will ensure that this agency has a continuity of learning plan in place that addresses in-person, remote and hybrid models of instruction.

For information relating to teaching and learning in Capital Region BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website.

Virtual Learning Waiver

Parents/guardians will be required to fill out the virtual learning waiver (see below) to opt their child(ren) into remote learning.

This form can only be filled out by Watervliet City School District parents or guardians. Students can not complete this waiver. Any parent or guardian who wishes for their child to participate in virtual learning this school year at Watervliet City Schools must sign a waiver. We feel it is important that every parent/guardian understand the expectations and guidelines for virtual learning prior to the start date.

By completing the waiver you agree to the following terms for Virtual Learning at Watervliet City Schools. If you have multiple children who will participate in virtual learning you MUST fill this waiver out for each child.

Thank you.

Virtual Learning Academy Guidelines/Expectations

  1. I understand that by choosing virtual learning my student must remain in virtual courses through the end of the 1st Five Weeks (October 12th). Transitions from Virtual Learning to face-to-face classes can only occur at the end of each five weeks.
  2. I understand that my student will still be responsible for participating in classroom assessments and all testing as required by the state department.
  3. I understand that by opting for virtual learning that my student may not attend school events such as athletic events, school functions, or any other school gathering in which he/she might be at risk of contracting COVID-19
  4. I understand that my student will be accountable for both attendance and course grades during virtual learning through measures such as assignment completion, login time, online discussions, virtual class meetings, etc.
  5.  I understand by filling out this waiver I agree to follow the rules and regulations of the virtual learning plan for the 2020-21 school year.

Parents/guardians will be required to fill out the in-person learning waiver (see below) to opt their child(ren) into in-person learning once the school year begins. Parents/guardians can opt their child(ren) into in-person learning at the five (5) week interim.

In-Person Learning Waiver

This form can only be filled out by Watervliet City School District parents or guardians. Students can not complete this waiver. Any parent or guardian who wishes for their child to participate in in-person learning after the start of the school year at Watervliet City Schools must sign the following waiver.

Parents/guardians can opt their child(ren) into in-person learning at the five (5) week interim. We feel it is important that every parent/guardian understand the expectations and guidelines for in-person learning prior to the start date.

By completing this waiver you agree to the following terms for in-person learning at Watervliet City Schools found in the district’s reopening plan. If you have multiple children who will participate in in-person learning you MUST fill this waiver out for each child.

Thank you.

In-Person Learning Guidelines/Expectations

  1.  I understand that by choosing in-person learning my student will attend in-person courses at the next 5 week interim (the first interim after the start of the school year will be October 12th).
  2. I understand that my student will still be responsible for participating in classroom assessments and all testing as required by the state department.
  3. I understand that my student will be accountable for both attendance and course grades during virtual learning through measures such as assignment completion, login time, online discussions, virtual class meetings, etc. and will continue attendance and participation when in-person learning begins.
  4. I understand by filling out this waiver I agree to follow the rules and regulations of the in-person learning plan for the 2020-21 school year

In-Person Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms.

Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. In order to accommodate for this deficiency, teachers and staff will be repurposed. Teaching assistants/aides will be used to assist with coverage for lunches, while teachers take a break. Encore teachers will push into classrooms in order to ensure teachers are afforded their prep time; family outreach coordinators and the media specialist will be assisting with delivering instruction on equity and inclusivity; and support staff, such as psychologists and social workers, will be conducting classes on social/emotional learning and will push into cohort groups.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

The Watervliet City School District’s expectation is that regular, substantive interactions will occur between students and teachers on a daily basis. Teachers will engage in meaningful interactions with in-person students as well as remote learners. Direct instruction will be provided by teachers live-streaming their lessons in real time and following up with office hours for in-person interactions if students choose to do so.

Teachers will be expected to create/maintain contact logs with students, write and execute curriculum aligned with state standards. Lessons will be modified for special needs children as well as English language learners (ELLs) and extra support will be provided for these populations.

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. The Watervliet City School District will maximize synchronous and asynchronous options for all types of learners.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. The Watervliet City School District grading policy will be adhered to as it is written for each building.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

The Watervliet City School District’s expectation is that regular, substantive interactions will occur between students and teachers on a daily basis.

Teachers will engage in meaningful interactions with in-person students as well as remote learners. Direct instruction will be provided by teachers live-streaming their lessons in real time and following up with office hours for in-person interactions if students choose to do so.

Teachers will be expected to create/maintain contact logs with students, write and execute curriculum aligned with NYS learning standards. Lessons will be modified for special needs children as well as ELLs and extra support will be provided for these populations.

For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.