The Watervliet City School District will continue to engage parents, staff and community regarding plans for a successful return to school in September. A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding health and safety, teaching and learning, transportation, school meals, facilities maintenance and other topics will be updated on a regular basis. Those updates will be dated and noted as new or revised as they are added to this list.
Please remember that our school reopening plan for 2020-21 continues to evolve and is subject to change based on guidance from federal, state and local health departments, and the Governor’s office. We thank you for your flexibility and patience as our reopening plans are refined with the best interests of students and staff in mind.
If you have a question that has not been answered in this FAQ about the reopening plan, or that is specific to your child, please email general questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The health and safety of our students, our staff and families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance 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).
Q. Are masks required to be worn all day?
A: Yes. Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings at all times, including on the school bus and in classrooms. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during snack time or school meals and for short breaks while maintaining appropriate social distance. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for students who cannot tolerate wearing a mask due to his/her/their IEP or serious medical condition.
Opportunities will be provided for students to take face mask/covering breaks throughout the day at the discretion of teachers when social distance can be appropriately maintained.
Q. What is an acceptable face covering?
A: Cloth face masks that cover both the nose and mouth include, but are not limited to, homemade sewn masks, “quick cut” masks and bandanas are acceptable, as per NYSDOH guidance. Surgical masks are also acceptable. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information about masks and mask care.
Q. Will masks be provided to students and staff?
A: Disposable masks will be available. If a student or staff member forgets to bring their mask to school, a disposable mask will be provided. Staff and students also are allowed and encouraged to bring their own reusable cloth masks to school, if they choose.
Q. Can face shields be used in place of masks?
A: Face shields may be used by some school staff, but they are to be worn in addition to face masks, not in place of them. Clear face shields will be available to teachers/staff members, upon request.
Q. Are students required to wear masks in the classroom? On the school bus?
A: Face coverings must be worn at all times in the classrooms, hallways and school buses. Any students/staff who are unable to wear face coverings must have appropriate medical documentation and accommodations will be made to the greatest extent possible.
Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals and for short breaks, as long as they maintain appropriate 6 feet social distance requirements.
Q. I am concerned about children having to wear a mask all day at school. What happens if they can’t keep their masks on?
A. As with any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and staff will work with the student toward compliance by explaining the importance of wearing face coverings for the health and safety of others, and building an understanding that this important new rule is not negotiable. Consistent refusal to wear a mask will result in the student having to shift to remote learning. It will be important for families to proactively discuss the importance of wearing masks at school to ensure the safety of other students, teachers and staff.
Q. Will students be given mask breaks and if so how often?
A. Yes. Face mask/covering breaks will be provided at the discretion of teachers when social distance can be appropriately maintained. The Albany County Department of Health recommends that masks breaks in schools occur on a limited basis. (Updated Aug. 25)
Q. What are parents required to do to screen children’s health before school each day?
A: Parents/guardians will be responsible for checking their child’s health before school each day, which includes taking their child’s temperature daily. If a child presents with any of the following, they should be kept home from school:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fever (temperature of greater than 100.0° F in the last 14 days)
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Gastrointestinal tract symptoms
Please note that this screening is in addition to other conditions that should preclude students from attending school (e.g., pink eye, vomiting) or any situation in which a child appears not to be well enough to participate in the activities of the school day.
The school district will conduct mandated health screenings for students using a digital application: https://entry.neric.org/watervliet
Students (or parents of students) and staff will be required to complete the digital health screening to attest that they are healthy and do not have a high temperature prior to entering school facilities or boarding a school bus.
For individuals who do not have internet access, a device will be made available at the entrance of each school building or phone calls will be made home to parents/guardians. A training video will be posted on the school website with instructions for parents/guardians on how to complete the health screening tool. Visit the Health Safety section of the district’s reopening plan for more information about the digital health screening tool.
Q. Why isn’t the district taking temperatures of students before they get on the bus or before they enter the school building to ensure that parents have not sent in sick kids?
A: Both New York State Education Department and New York State Department of Health guidelines are in agreement that “screening by the parent/guardian prior to school is preferred in lieu of temperature checks and symptom screening being performed after arrival to school.” We are following that guidance by asking that parents/guardians take their children’s temperature as part of the daily online health screening that must be completed each day.
Q. Are temperature checks not being done at all in school?
A: Students or staff members who feel ill during the school day may have their temperature checked upon entering the nurse’s office or the Whitney Young School Based Health Center.
We will share information with families about health and safety practices, including how to take their child’s temperature. If students or staff answer “yes” to experiencing any of the symptoms listed on the daily health screening (fever/temperature included) they will not be allowed to enter the school buildings. Parents/families should contact their child’s school principal or the district office if they are in need of a working thermometer.
Q: How is the health of staff being screened?
A: All district teachers and staff members are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work, including a temperature check and completing the digital health screen tool. https://entry.neric.org/watervliet If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they must notify their supervisor as per the district’s reporting policies and seek medical attention. Visit the Health Safety section of the district’s reopening plan for more information about the digital health screening tool
Q. Will all teachers and staff be tested for COVID-19 and have to self-quarantine for two (2) weeks before school starts?
Currently, the New York State Department of Health does not require that school staff and/or teachers be tested for COVID or quarantine for 14 days prior to the start of school. If an individual thinks they have been exposed to COVID, it would be in their best interest, and the best interest of anyone who has come in contact with them, to consult with their physician/medical provider and arrange to get tested and/or follow quarantine procedures.
Q: Will the district be keeping records of student or staff health information?
A: The COVID-19 health screening data will be collected and stored on the app. Data will be maintained for purposes of contact tracing.
Q. What happens if a student’s health screening has not been submitted? Will they be permitted to enter the building?
A: Daily temperature check and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned previously) for students will be completed by parents prior to arrival at school. All students will be treated equally; and students whose parent/guardian did not complete the screening will not be singled out. There will be multiple avenues of screening completion. The process will not be used as a basis to exclude students from school. All students who require screening to be completed at school will be treated in a confidential manner and the screening will be completed as quickly as possible to minimize time away from class.
Q. Will the school be verifying that all students physically present have completed the survey each day?
A: Yes. School administrators will verify that students attending school for in-person learning have completed the survey and been cleared to enter the building before the start of each school day.
Q. Students learning remotely won’t need to have the daily survey completed unless they are physically attending school, correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: What do I do if my child is showing COVID-19 symptoms?
A: Parents are encouraged to contact your child’s doctor if your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19. Your child should not attend school if they are displaying these symptoms.
Q: If my child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, how long will they need to be out of school?
A: The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
- Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation
The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.
Q: What should my child do if they feel sick during the school day? Will I be notified?
A: The district requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.
Q. What is the protocol if there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in the school?
A: The district will notify the Albany County Department of Health immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff and visitors of any of our schools. As partners in this effort, we will share information with local health officials so they can communicate with people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff will not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
If and when a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, we will determine the level of closure in consultation with the Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH). The level of contact among cohorts (student groups) will dictate whether a classroom, grade level, wing of a school building or entire school will close. Those in close contact with the individual(s) who tested positive will receive instructions from the ACDOH regarding testing, quarantine, and a timeline for returning to school in-person. Remote learning will be available for all who are not able to be physically present at school but who are well enough to participate.
Q. Why isn’t the school district requiring COVID testing of students and employees?
A: While schools can play a role in identifying students, faculty, and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have had recent known or potential exposure to the virus, school staff are not expected to directly administer COVID-19 diagnostic tests. It is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct universal COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the Albany County Department of Health.
NYSED guidance also indicates testing alone is insufficient to combat the spread of COVID-19, and so the district is focused on implementing multiple prevention and mitigation strategies, which include screening for symptoms, promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining health environments and operations, and preparing for when someone gets sick.
Districts do have a responsibility to identify who in the community is responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing (e.g., local health department testing sites, physician offices, hospital systems) and to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking care or undergoing testing).
Q: Where can students, faculty and staff get information on testing for COVID-19?
A: Information about testing and local testing sites can be found on the ACDOH health website
Students, faculty and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site.
Q: What should I do if I have traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days?
A: Executive Order 205 requires all travelers coming from states with significant rates of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of their last contact with that state. The list of states that meet the criteria for required quarantine can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory
Q. If a teacher or staff member visits a restricted state for vacation or any other personal reason during the school year, will the district hire a substitute for onsite classes and if so, will the substitute be tested for COVID?
A: Yes, substitute teachers would be subject to the same health screening protocols as our regular staff. Currently, there is no mandate from the New York State Department of Health requiring school staff to undergo COVID testing.
Q. Will all teachers and staff be tested for COVID-19 and have to self-quarantine for two (2) weeks before school starts?
Currently, the New York State Department of Health does not require that school staff and/or teachers be tested for COVID or to quarantine for 14 days prior to the start of school. If an individual thinks they have been exposed to COVID, it would be in their best interest, and anyone who has come in contact with them, to consult with their physician/medical provider and arrange to get tested or follow quarantine procedures.
Q: My child or a member of my family is considered to be high-risk for COVID-19. What are my options?
A: We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities.
Parents of children who are more at risk of COVID-19 should speak with their child’s doctor and/or medical professional(s) to determine the best academic and service options for their child. Staff should contact Assistant Superintendent Donald Stevens, who serves as the district’s COVID-19 Safety Coordinator. Call 518-629-3456, or email email@example.com, if they have conditions that put them at an increased risk of COVID-19.
Students who have family members who are in high risk groups may also need to attend school remotely. If a child is unable to return to in-person instruction this fall, remote academic instruction and related services will be provided to meet the individualized education program (IEP) and/or instructional program to the greatest extent possible. Contact Janelle Yanni, Director of Programs & Pupil Services, at 518-629-3202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Will testing for COVID-19 be conducted at school?
A: No. COVID testing will not be conducted at school, the district administration will work with the Albany County Health Department to arrange for testing with Whitney Young Health clinic located in the city, or at another site recommended by the county health department. In the event that testing is required on a large-scale, the school district administration will work with our school-based health partner providers for tests to be done at the Whitney Young Health Clinic on Second Avenue in Watervliet.
For a staff member or student to return to school after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or testing positive, they must provide documentation from a health care provider of a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result and symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation.
Q: Will schools be conducting contact tracing if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19?
A: The district will notify the state and Albany County Health Department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the district. To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.
Q: What are the district’s plans for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings?
A: The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
Q: Will fire drills and lockdown drills still be conducted? What will be the process for maintaining social distancing?
A: Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.
Q. What is the proposed plan for returning to school in fall 2020?
A: Watervliet will offer a hybrid model for instruction for grades 7-12 students that consists of both in-person and remote learning. Grades UPK-6 students will have a fully remote learning option or an in-person learning option. We will prioritize in-person instruction for the youngest learners and those who need additional support. This includes special education students, and all English Language Learners (ELL) students. Students in grades 7-12 will receive in-person instruction on specific days of the week, alternating with remote learning days.
Q. How is the district preparing for remote instruction?
A: Our teachers will continue to participate in professional development throughout the year to prioritize curriculum standards, as well as strengthen and enrich their remote learning practices and strategies. Some teachers may use a flipped classroom approach which supports both synchronous and asynchronous environments. The district will continue to streamline the number of computer applications that are used by teachers for remote and in-person instruction.
Q: Will remote instruction in the fall be different from what it was in the spring? If so, how?
A: Remote learning in September will be considerably different than it was in the spring for students who opt for learning remotely full-time at home, and are participating in the hybrid learning model being offered in grades 7-12, which combines remote learning and in-person instruction. Remote learning will look a little different at each level as teachers will use Google Meet or Zoom to provide synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Attendance will be taken for every class.
Q: What platforms will be used for remote instruction?
A: Google Meet and/or Zoom will be the platforms that teachers use for remote teaching. Google Classroom will be used for student resources, materials and class assignments.
Q: How will students be held accountable for attendance and classwork?
A: There will be an expectation for daily attendance and full participation of all students. All attendance procedures will be in effect whether students are in-person or remote.
Q. Is remote learning an option for families who do not want to send their child to in-person instruction?
A: Yes. Parents were asked to complete and submit a Teaching & Learning waiver online indicating their choice for remote learning or in-person learning by August 19. Families who did not submit the waiver will be contacted by the district.
Q. Will everyone have access to the remote learning resources, even if they are attending some form of in-person instruction?
A: The district has a plan for remote-only learning in the event the schools are shut down due a COVID-19 outbreak. Because of this, all students will have access to remote learning resources as needed.
Q. Will the same teacher be instructing my child both in person and remotely?
A: The intent of the instructional design is for in-person and remote students to be taught by the same teacher at the same time in both the elementary school and the junior-senior high school.
Q: How will teachers communicate with students and families during remote instruction? How do I contact my child’s teacher if I have questions during the year?
A: Teachers will utilize the Google suite, specifically Google Classroom and Google Meet, to communicate with students. Teachers will maintain lines of communication, primarily phone or email, with all families regardless of the mode of instruction.
At the secondary level, students can utilize Google Classroom or school email to communicate directly with their teachers. Teachers will also be available during “office hours” for extra help via Google Meet. The most efficient mode of communication for parents would be to email the teacher.
Q: How do I participate in remote learning if I don’t have internet access or a device?
A: The district surveyed families and students to determine the level of access they have to devices and internet in their homes/apartments. Hotspots are located throughout the city, including the district WiFi that is accessible in the parking lots of both schools, in the event families do not have an internet connection. Please let your building principal know if your child needs a device and if you do not have access to the internet so that we can ensure students have access to both.
Q: Will my child still be able to attend their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at BOCES?
A: Yes, students will still attend Career and Technical Education or other programs through Capital Region BOCES. Please see the BOCES reopening plan for more information on how CTE programs will be conducted.
Q. If we choose remote learning, do we have to stay with that learning model for the whole year?
A: Parents who choose remote learning must commit to that mode of instruction for their child for the first five (5) weeks of school. At the end of that time period, they will have an opportunity to opt-in their child(ren) for in-person learning, if they want. Parents who choose in-person learning for their child may choose to switch to remote learning at any time.
Q. What is the difference between remote learning and homeschooling?
A: Remote learning is delivered by the school district for students who are enrolled in school, but are not attending in-person instruction. Instruction is provided by certified teachers in accordance with New York State Learning Standards. Parents who wish to homeschool their child must provide written notice to the school district, and submit an individualized home instruction plan, as well as quarterly reports and evaluations, to the district.
Q. How will students’ work be graded or evaluated?
A: The district’s normal grading and evaluating processes and policies will resume in the 2020-21 school year [Grading/Evaluation, Policy 7210]. At the secondary level, report cards will be provided each quarter. At the elementary level, report cards will be provided each trimester. Report cards/grades will be posted on the Parent Portal.
Q: How will struggling students receive help with their schoolwork?
A: Students and their parents are encouraged to first reach out to teachers for additional support with their school work. Parents who have concerns about their child’s schoolwork may contact the school principals:
- WES, 518-629-3400, Kelly Webster, principal
- WJSHS, 518-629-3300, Ryan Groat, principal
Q: Will students still take state exams (e.g., the 3-8 math and ELA assessments, Regents exams)?
A: Any Grades 3-8 testing and Regents exams required by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) will be made available to students in the appropriate grade level. If examinations are waived, the district will communicate that information to families.
Q. What are the daily school schedules and drop-off and pickup times for in-person instruction?
A: Schools will run on a full-day schedule. Please note the arrival and dismissal times below:
- UPK: Full Day, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
- Half Day, 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. or 12:45-3:30 p.m.
- Grades K-2: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
- Grades 3-5: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
- Grade 6: 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (M-F)
- Grades 7-8: 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (M,T,Th,F)
- Grade 9 (M,T): 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and
- Grade 10 (Th,F): 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
- Grades 11-12 (W): 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Q. How will students be grouped by grade level or class during the school day?
A: At the elementary level, students will not leave their classrooms. 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 grades K-5, lunch will be served in the classroom. Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and 6-foot spacers on the floors. Grade 6 classrooms will be located at the junior high school this year and student cohorts will also be taught in one classroom, with minimal movement throughout the day. Students in grades 7-12 will remain in the same classroom throughout the day and teachers will rotate in according to the class schedule. School meals will be served in classrooms. Hallways and stairways will be configured to reduce congestion and students will be dismissed from classes one row at a time. At the end of the day, students will be dismissed by wing or hallway to reduce congestion. Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and 6-foot spacers on the floors.
Q. How will “encore” subjects (e.g., art, music, PE, etc.) be delivered to students?
A: Special area subject teachers will “push-in” to classrooms. Whenever possible, students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.
Q: Will elementary students have recess? If so, will recess be outside if conditions permit?
A: Yes, elementary students may still participate in recess. Elementary principals will work with staff to develop safe options for recess activities that abide by social distancing guidelines. Recess will be scheduled by student cohort. Playground equipment will be cleaned per CDC guidance.
Q: Will students still have assemblies? Field trips?
A: Pursuant to NYSDOH guidance, schools must ensure that appropriate social distancing is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds (inclusive of students, faculty, and staff). Because of these guidelines, assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities will be eliminated at this time. Teachers will be encouraged to have students participate in virtual field trips as an alternative.
Q: Will students stay in the same classroom all day?
A: To minimize movement and limit contact among cohorts, students will remain in the same classroom during the instructional day. Students will eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities will be deferred this year. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction, and 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, to reduce their exposure to other students.
Q: How will PE work for all grades?
A: Students will still participate in physical education classes. Whenever possible, students will use outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to NYSDOH guidelines of maintaining 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity. Masks will be required at all times.
Q: Is the district doing anything to reduce congestion in hallways or lobby areas?
A: To adhere to NYSDOH and NYSED social distance guidelines, the movement of students will be minimized or staggered. Directional arrows and signage on the walls and floors will encourage students/staff to travel in the same direction when navigating the hallways. Additionally, students will not be assigned school lockers this year in an effort to prevent them from congregating.
Q. How will the district decide if there is a need to go fully remote? Will that decision be made district-wide, or on a more individual basis (school, class, etc.)?
A: The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.
At a minimum, schools will close in accordance with direction from the governor and New York State Department of Health if the 7-day rolling regional average of the infection rate rises above 9%. In that instance, schools throughout the region must wait until the 14-day average is below 5% before reopening, and permission must be grated from the local department of health and other governing agencies.
The district will be notified by the local department of health regarding the status of infection rates. The district reserves the right to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult with its healthcare practitioners from its School Based Health Center (Whitney Young Health) and the Albany County Health Department when making such decisions.
The district has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.
Q. Will outside visitors be permitted into school buildings? Will outside groups still be able to use school facilities?
A: Visitors will not be allowed in school buildings, except for official purposes or for reasons related to the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the main entrance vestibule and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to complete the district’s self-screening application, sign-in with contact information, and wear face coverings. Visitors will have restricted access to our school buildings.
Q. What is the school district doing about getting clean airflow into classrooms?
A: Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible (e.g., opening windows and doors) while maintaining health and safety protocols, particularly for younger students. Ventilation will be maintained/enhanced by opening classroom windows, as the temperature allows. The HVAC system in both buildings was updated during recent building projects. Filters in air handlers will be changed regularly.
Q. How big will the class sizes be for in-person instruction?
A: Class sizes have been reduced to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart. Extra tables, furniture and desks have been removed from classrooms to allow students and staff to maintain social distance. Hallway markings will encourage students/staff to travel in the same direction. Class groupings, or cohorts, will have no more than 15-18 students per class depending on the square footage of classrooms.
Q: How will desks be arranged in the classrooms? Will students be facing each other or facing forward?
A: Desks will be arranged in classrooms to ensure that students are positioned no less than six feet apart while seated, and all will face the front of the classroom, not toward each other.
Q: Will the bathroom capacity be limited?
A: Yes, capacity in school bathrooms will be limited to allow for appropriate social distancing. Signage in bathrooms will remind students to wash hands before exiting the bathroom.
Q: Will students still use lockers?
A: No. In an effort to prevent students from gathering in common areas and maintain social distancing, students not be assigned lockers this year. Students will be allowed to use book bags or backpacks this year to transport Chromebooks and school materials between school and home.
Q. How will school supplies that are typically shared be handled?
A: Students will be encouraged to use their own school supplies as much as possible. Teachers will minimize the sharing of classroom supplies to the extent practicable. Any supplies that must be shared will be cleaned/disinfected between uses.
Q: How is the district ensuring that any changes to its facilities are in compliance with fire code and other regulations?
A: All spaces to be occupied by school students and staff must meet the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code. The district will work with the Capital Region BOCES Health/Safety/Risk Management to ensure compliance with these codes.
Q: Will students and staff have access to hand sanitizer?
A: Hand sanitizer will be located throughout the school buildings. Recent NYSED guidance indicates that students may carry personal size containers of hand sanitizer (no more than 8 ounces) on school buses. (Updated Aug. 25) Parents may opt their child out of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer while at school. To do so, please send a written notice to your child’s school.
Q: Will students and staff have access to water fountains? How will water fountains be cleaned?
A: The district will ensure that students and staff have access to drinking water during the school day. Drinking fountains will be disinfected throughout the school day, and disposable cups will be used in primary classrooms equipped with drinking fountains. Students may bring bottled water from home in disposable containers; however, to limit the number of personal items brought to school, the use of water bottles is discouraged.
Q. Will bus transportation still be provided? Are there any changes to who can ride the bus to and from school?
A: Yes, elementary students who reside a half (1/2) mile or more from school are provided transportation, this applies also to grade 6 students even though they will attend Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School this year. Grades 7-12 students who live more than one (1) mile from school are provided transportation.
Students are assigned to specific buses, and bus pick-up and return points based on residence. Bus schedules will be shared before the start of school in September.
District families are encouraged to provide transportation to their students when possible to reduce congestion on school buses and allow for social distancing to the extent practicable.
Q. Will social distancing be enforced on buses?
A: Yes, students, drivers and staff should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable on the school bus.
Bus arrival and departure times will be staggered to ensure social distancing. Schedules are currently being developed with our district drivers and our contract transportation company. More detailed information about bus routes and pickup and drop-off times will be provided before school begins in September.
To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school.
Q. Will masks be required on the bus?
A: Students, drivers and staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school transportation (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated). If students need a face covering, they will be provided with one by the driver prior to entering the vehicle. Students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by wearing a face covering are not required to do so, but must be appropriately socially distanced.
Q. Will students’ temperatures be checked before entering the bus?
A: Student temperatures should be checked by parents prior to boarding buses. District staff will not be checking student temperatures prior to boarding buses. Parents should perform the daily health screening for each child every day indicating they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and that they don’t have a fever over 100°F.
Q. How many students will be on a bus?
A: All school buses will adhere to no more than 50% occupancy at any given time, with no more than 22 riders per bus. Students will be staggered (aisle, window seat) with one (1) student to a seat. Students will be required to social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, members of the same household may sit together on the bus.
Q. Will the district be adding additional buses to reduce bus capacity to 50 percent?
A: No, but multiple bus runs will be scheduled to make sure that students are appropriately socially distanced when riding the bus to and from school. Bus schedules are being developed and families who are eligible for transportation will receive more information before school starts in September.
To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child(ren) to school.
Q. What will be the bus schedule?
A: With the additional bus runs, we continue to work on the details of bus schedules for the 2020-21 school year with our contract transportation companies. Schedules will be shared with families before the start of school in September.
Parents with questions or concerns about their child’s bus schedule may contact transportation coordinator Roni O’Brien at 518-629-3224 or email ro’email@example.com. Please contact Janelle Yanni, Director of Programs and Pupil Services at 518-629-3202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions regarding transportation of special education students.
Q. Can I drop off my child(ren) in the morning, but use the bus after school?
A: If your child needs one-way transportation to or from school or for any changes in pick-up or drop off locations during the week, please contact transportation coordinator Roni O’Brien at 518-629-3224 or email ro’email@example.com to make arrangements.
Q. What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?
A: Buses will be sanitized after each run, and fully cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis. School bus drivers are required to wear face coverings and perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If drivers are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.
Q: Will hand sanitizer be available on the bus?
A: School buses will not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or the district. Personal containers of hand sanitizer personal size containers of hand sanitizer (no more than 8 ounces) may be used on the school buses. (Updated Aug. 25)
Q: How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?
A: Students boarding and exiting buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent possible and wear a face covering. Students will board the bus from back to front and exit the bus front to back. Staff will be available at the schools to assist students in getting on and off the buses while maintaining distance.
Q: How will parents be notified if the school needs to shift to fully remote learning?
A: 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. Notifications will be sent via the district’s One Call Now messaging system email, text and if warranted, by phone. Staff and students will receive emails via the school’s email system. Class schedules will be posted on the eSchool Parent/Student Portal.
Q: How will parents be notified of their child/ren’s class schedules?
A: We anticipate that students’ class assignments and schedules will be posted on the eSchool Student Portal / Parent Portal on Wednesday, August 26. If you do not have an account, you may register online for Parent Portal.
Q: Will I be notified if there is a suspected or confirmed COVID case, or quarantine, within the school community?
A: In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to potentially exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. Notification to the wider community will occur only under the direction of local health officials.
Q: How will I communicate with my child/ren’s teachers during remote learning?
A: The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning. The Contact Us page on our website provides a listing of district administrators and building principals, as well as access to a searchable staff directory. Visit https://www.watervlietcityschools.org/contact-us/
In addition, teachers will be encouraged to connect with parents/guardians about their child(ren)’s school assignments and learning activities through Google Classroom.
Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about the district’s reopening plan or health and safety protocols?
A: Parents may contact Assistant Superintendent Donald Stevens, who serves as the district’s COVID-19 Safety Coordinator. Call 518-629-3456, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who should I contact if I need reopening resources translated into another language?
A: Families who need district reopening information translated into another language can use the Google Translate feature on the district website at the top left side of the page, above the Search bar. A translation feature is available also for messages sent via the One Call Now system.
Q. Will lunches need to be brought to school every day, or will meals be provided? Will hot meals still be available?
A: School meals will continue to be available to all students, whether they attend school in-person or are learning remotely. Students may also bring lunches from home. The schools will have peanut-free classrooms for students with allergies and the food service program in conjunction with building principals and teachers will take all safety precautions necessary to protect students with food allergies.
Q: Where will students eat breakfast and lunch?
A: Breakfasts and lunches will be delivered to classrooms with hot and cold options and will adhere to the health and safety guidelines set forth by the FDA, DOH and Child Nutrition Program.
Q: How will students pay for their meals?
A: The school district offers free school breakfast and lunch to all students (kindergarten to grade 12), regardless of family income, through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This national program, overseen locally by the New York State Education Department, allows eligible high-needs schools to serve breakfast and lunch free of charge to all students, regardless of economic eligibility.
Q: What hygiene practices will keep students safe during meals?
A: Students will be required to wash their hands hygiene before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch). Students will not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating as long as they are appropriately socially distanced. The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet-style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household.
Q: Will school meals be provided to students participating in remote learning?
A: Meals will be available for remote learners via school buses at three designated sites, listed below. Meals will not be delivered to homes. More details will be posted on the website and notification will be shared with families via the One Call Now messaging system. (Updated Aug. 25)
- Joslin Apartments, 24th St. and Whitehall
- Watervliet Civic Center, 14th St. and 1st Ave.
- Port Schuyler Gazebo, 3rd Ave. and 6th St.
Q: How will a student be marked “absent,” “present” or “tardy” during remote learning?
A: There will be an expectation for daily attendance of all students. All attendance procedures will be in effect whether students are in-person or remote. View the attendance policy
Q: Will I be notified if my child has been marked “absent” or “tardy” during remote learning?
A: Teachers will record attendance each day and during each class provided in-person and online. Students who are chronically absent will receive the same follow-up (i.e., guidance, administration, child study team, child protective services) whether they are participating in in-person or remote instruction.
Q: What technology do we need to have at home to participate in remote learning?
A: Students who are learning remotely will be assigned Chromebooks. Devices will be available for students to sign out on Tuesday, Sept. 8. We will contact families of remote learners with more information. (Updated Aug. 25)
Students who do not have a device can request one by contacting their school principal:
- WES: 518-629-3400
- WJSHS: 518-629-3300
Q: Can my child borrow a device from the school?
A: Yes, Chromebooks will be available for students to borrow.
Q: If we do not have internet access at home, can the school help?
A: The district surveyed families and students to determine the level of access they have to devices and internet in their homes/apartments. Hotspots are located throughout the city in the event families do not have an internet connection. Teachers who are instructing remotely will be asked to do so on campus unless there is a shut down, at which time everyone will go virtual from home.
Q: What do we do if my child’s school laptop breaks or stops working?
A: If a student’s laptop or device breaks or stops working, you should immediately notify your teacher or school principal so that they are aware of the situation and can direct you accordingly.
Q: How can we get technology help from the school?
A: For technical assistance with Chromebooks, email email@example.com
Q: How will my child’s IEP be affected by remote learning?
A: The district will work with its committees on special education and preschool special education to ensure that students’ individualized education plans can be followed during both in-person and remote learning, and will provide options for both learning modalities.
Collaboration will routinely occur between committees on preschool special education/committees on special education and program providers representing the variety of settings where students are served to ensure there is an understanding of the provision of services consistent with the recommendations on/individualized education programs.
Many of the necessary accommodations/modifications for students with disabilities can be provided in person and/or remotely. Assistive technology apps have been downloaded to student computers (Snap and Read and Co-Writer) as a remote option for support and learning. Resource room and tutorial periods for secondary students will be provided virtually.
Q: Will CPSE/CSE/504 meetings still occur?
A: Monthly meetings are held with the special education staff at the elementary and the junior/senior high school. CSE and CPSE meetings are held regularly for monitoring and communicating student progress. Progress monitoring and IEPs are mailed home to parents.
Programs and services offered will be documented and provided to students with disabilities, as well as communications with parents via USPS mailings as well as email and phone calls. Lexikeet is a translation service for parents whose primary language is not English. Access our special education handbook on the school district’s website
Q: Can my child still receive services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy remotely?
A: Yes. Special Education/504 accommodations will be provided per plan, however this may look different this school year. Speech therapists will use technology to help with providing visuals to students as well as showing the movement of their mouths for certain sounds. If you have questions about your child’s services, please contact Director of Programs & Pupil Services Janelle Yanni at 518-629-3202, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Will my child still be transported to off-site programs?
A: Yes, the district contracts with Star and Strand to transport students to programs located outside the district.
Q: If my child receives group services, how will services be implemented safely?
A: Both students and special education teachers/staff will be required to wear a mask at all times and remain at least six feet apart. Student desks will be socially distanced on the perimeter of the classroom for easy access by teacher(s).
Occupational and physical therapists will be required to wear masks, gloves and gowns when working with students using hands on activities.
Q: What do I do if I need additional support for my special education student during remote learning? In-person instruction?
A: Parents may contact Director of Programs & Pupil Services Janelle Yanni at 518-629-3202, or email email@example.com with questions or concerns about their special education student.
Q: What do I do if I’m new to the district and my child needs special education services?
A: Please contact Director of Programs & Pupil Services Janelle Yanni at 518-629-3202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment to discuss your child’s needs.
Q: Will my child still be able to attend their special education program at BOCES?
A: Students will still attend programs through BOCES. Please visit the Capital Region BOCES website for information on its reopening plan and how Special Education programs will be conducted. Visit the Capital Region BOCES website/Special Education
Q: What supports are available for my child’s mental health needs?
A: The social emotional well-being of students and staff is a priority for the district, especially throughout this pandemic. Teachers will weave social emotional learning into every classroom and program.
The district has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. The district will identify and support students having difficulties transitioning back to the school setting by utilizing committees and resources that were implemented in the past, such as Student Support Teams (SST), in both buildings. Social workers, school counselors, outreach coordinators, school psychologists and the Whitney Young School Based Health Center will work to identify children who are struggling in many different areas.
The first week of school will be dedicated to ensuring students are transitioning back from remote learning with frequent check-ins from teachers, support staff and administrators. A professional development day has been added to the beginning of the school year in an effort to transition children back to their respective buildings, while also offering support to teachers/staff members.
Q: How can a student reach out to counselors if stressed?
A: Students who are in need of social and emotional support may contact any member of the Student Support Team, which includes school counselors, social workers, school nurses, and building principals. email@example.com
Q: How will social-emotional support be provided during remote instruction?
A: During remote instruction, students will be able to contact counselors by email or phone. Counselors will be available to meet with students remotely via Zoom or Google Meet.
Q: What is the district doing to support the mental health of its staff?
A: The district has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. The district will continue to provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This is addressed by:
- Training with video presentations provided by our health/safety/risk management team
- Staff professional development regarding the inclusion of the New York State Social Emotional Learning Standards
- Embedded professional development for teachers
Q: Will students entering new school buildings have some form of orientation or tours ahead of time?
A: The district always looks forward to welcoming new or rising students into its buildings. Orientations will be held for grades 6-7 students and for prekindergarten students. School principals, counselors and the UPK director will reach out to families with dates and times of orientations.
Q: Will athletics, clubs or extracurricular activities still be offered?
A: The district is exploring the types of activities that may be possible virtually, such as student council and National Honor Society, but no in-person extracurricular activities are planned at this time.
Interscholastic sports have been delayed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) until at least Sept. 21. Additional guidance on athletic activities is forthcoming. When it becomes available, the district will communicate that information to families.
Q: Can my child participate in athletics, clubs or extracurriculars if they are doing remote learning?
A. Students in remote learning will not be allowed to take part in activities that take place at school. This restriction is due to contact tracing data and details the district would be required to provide to the Albany County Department of Health should a case of COVID-19 be identified within the school community. Appropriate contact tracing of students in remote learning would be difficult and could hinder efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Q. Will before- and after-school programs be available?
A: Yes, the Watervliet Civic Center will provide its before-and-after-care program. Due to social distancing and other safety practices, space will be limited. We are working with the Civic Center to finalize the details.
Q: Will music and drama performances still take place?
A: In order for the district to adhere to NYSDOH and NYSED guidance, in-person group gatherings will not be permitted at this time.
Q: Will my child be able to travel to other schools to participate in events?
A: The district will not be offering any events or school activities at this time that would involve students traveling to other schools. The only exception to this would be Career and Technical Education or other programs through BOCES, including special education programs/services, that are related to a student’s instructional program.
When additional information relating to athletic programs becomes available, the district will communicate it to families.
Q: How will the district provide translations of reopening information for students and families?
A: The district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication.
The district’s reopening plan appears on the district website https://www.watervlietcityschools.org/watervliet-csd-covid-19-health-and-safety-reopening-plan-for-2020-21/ and reopening updates are posted to the Reopening Updates web page https://www.watervlietcityschools.org/reopening-planning-and-information/ and can be translated into other languages (listed below), via the G-Translate feature available on the district website.
Q: How will instruction be provided to students who are English language learners?
A: The district will complete the English language learners (ELL) identification process within 30 school days of the start of the school year for all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20, as well as all students who enroll during summer of 2020 and during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year. After this 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs will resume for all students within required 10 school days of initial enrollment.
Required instructional units of study to all ELLs will be provided based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction.
Q: What do I do if I need additional support for my English language learner/multilingual learner during remote instruction? In-person instruction?
A: If an English language learner/multilingual learner needs additional support during remote instruction or in-person instruction, please reach out to their teacher or the school principals:
- Kelly Webster, WES
- 518-629-3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ryan Groat, WJSHS
- 518-629-3300 or email email@example.com