NOTE: For complete information on BKW school reopening please visit the School Reopening Plan
Q: What are the start and end times for each building each day?
A: Drop off and pick up times are listed by building below:
- Elementary School: 8:00 AM is drop off and pick up is 1:30 PM
- Secondary School: 8:55 AM is drop off and pick up is 3:00 PM
Q: When, specifically, are face-coverings required for students and when are they not required? And what about during instructional time?
A: Students, staff, and visitors will wear face-coverings consistently throughout the school day, including on the school bus, traveling from the bus into the building, during all other transitions, and always when social distancing of at least six-feet cannot be maintained. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face-covering will not be required to wear one, and a medical excuse (doctor’s note) must be provided to the district in such cases. Certain high needs special education students will also not be required to wear face-coverings in keeping with their identified disability. In such cases, this accommodation should be part of a student’s IEP. Students will be allowed to remove face-coverings during meals so long as they are properly socially distanced. During instruction, while appropriately socially distanced there will be “mask breaks”,
Students at the elementary level (Grades K-6) will be required to wear a mask during classroom instruction. The teacher will also use his/her professional judgment if a mask break is needed sooner, for example, once every 15 minutes. The classroom teacher may also plan a mask break outside where students can be spaced out even further than in the classroom, which will also allow for some movement. The students will also be required to wear face masks during any transition, such as arrival or dismissal, or anytime they are in the hallways. Students will not be required to take a mask break if they so choose. The teacher will also have the ability to provide individual students with a mask break if there is an extenuating circumstance.
Students at the secondary level (grades 7-12) will be required to wear a mask during classroom instruction. All teachers will provide a mandatory student mask break during each period. Mask breaks should be offered when students are not required to actively engage in conversation. Teachers will determine how to best divide and implement mask breaks within these guidelines. Students will be allowed to keep their mask on during a mask break if they so choose. Teachers will also have the ability to provide individual students with a mask break if there is an extenuating circumstance.
Q: What platforms will be used for remote instruction?
A: Google Meet.
Q: How is the district preparing for remote instruction for each level?
A: For elementary students who are participating in remote instruction, you will receive information on when to pick up a Chromebook for student use prior to the start of the school year. All families will be provided with information on how to log in to the Google Classroom. This is where students will receive invites to participate in Google Meets, which is a way to see the classroom and teacher “live”. The teacher will provide a specific schedule, so you will know when your child needs to be on Google Meets. It is very important to note that remote learning will take place during the school day in “real-time.” It will be important that students have adult support at home with technology until they become comfortable.
At the secondary level, students who are participating in fully remote learning will follow their school schedule and participate synchronously with their classes. Students will have access to their classroom materials through Google Classroom.
Q: What will the instructional day look like at the different levels for students learning virtually?
A: Students who will be participating remotely will follow the regular school day schedule.
A block schedule consisting of five one hour periods has been created at the elementary school, wherein all core subjects will be taught, while also scheduling specials within segments of each block to provide students with the fullest experience possible.
Depending on the grade and teacher the schedule might vary slightly to accommodate special area times. lunch times, as well as specific program needs. Students are not required to have a school issued Chromebook if they are participating in remote learning from home. They may use their own device. The district will be sharing log-in information for Google Classroom, as well as parent-friendly videos to help you navigate these platforms. Students at home learning remotely will be required to log in to their Chromebook via Google Meet and participate with their “in person” peers. It is important to note that their attendance is required and will be recorded daily. If your student is not on the Google Meet they would be marked absent for the day. It’s also important to note that this is very different from the spring “remote” learning plan, in that the students must participate during the school day to receive instruction.
Secondary School students will be expected to follow their schedule when they are participating in a virtual day of school. Students will login to Google Meets at the beginning of each class and remain at the discretion of the teacher. Attendance will be taken. In some cases, students may spend an entire class period in the Google Meet. In others, students may check in, receive some instruction and/or reminders, and then be dismissed to work independently.
Q: Will remote instruction in the fall be different from what it was in the spring? If so, how?
A: We will use Google Meet so that instruction is synchronous. Remote/virtual instruction is expected to be significantly different than much of the instruction in the spring. Remote instruction will take place during the regular school day only. Daily and “period” or “class” attendance will be taken in addition to daily attendance. “Regular” grades will be given and report cards issued. A more significant percentage of instruction will be direct and interactive as opposed to via pre-recorded videos (although there may be some instances of that). At the secondary level, with two day, alternating days in-person classes, the remote learners will attend virtually every day. Class expectations and instructional delivery may vary by class and will be determined by each teacher.
Q: How will students be held accountable for attendance and classwork?
A: There will be an expectation for daily attendance, as well as class/period attendance and full participation, will also be expected of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in-person or remote.
Q: Will remote learning be synchronous (students expected to be online at a specific time) or asynchronous (students completing work on their own schedule)? What will interactions with teachers be like?
A: Most instruction will be direct and interactive as opposed to via pre-recorded videos (although there may be some instances of that) or periodic Google Meets. The intent of the design of the in-person and remote setting was for identical student experience regardless of setting, in case there is fluid student movement in and out of each setting over the course of the school year. Therefore, the expectation of remote students participating in class via Google Meets, at the same time as class is happening in the building, achieves that objective.
When independent work time is part of the lesson in order to complete a task, a teacher may dismiss a remote student for that remainder of the class period. This would most likely happen more often in secondary classes.
Q: Is remote learning an option for families who do not want to send their child to in-person instruction?
A: Yes, and parents may choose this option at any time, even prior to the trimester/quarter marks. The opposite choice, going from all virtual to in person, is only available at the trimester/quarter marks.
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 secondary school.
Q: How do I participate in remote learning if I don’t have internet access or a device?
A: Please let your building principal know if that is the case and we will explore options to ensure all students have access to both the internet and a device.
Q: If we choose remote learning, do we have to stay with that learning model for the whole year?
A: No, you may change your choice at each trimester (at the elementary school) or quarter (at the secondary school).
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. Homeschooling is done entirely by parents without the direct support of teachers. If you have questions about this, please contact your building principal for additional information. If you have decided to homeschool please contact the district Homeschool Coordinator, Mrs. Anne Farnam at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 518-872-1293.
Q: What will be the remote learning format for the hybrid model (live instruction)?
A: This applies to the secondary school, which will be running on a two-day alternating day schedule. In-person students will attend on two consecutive days, and then be remote for two consecutive days, meeting via Google Meet. Secondary students who chose remote learning will attend classes via Google Meet every day.
Q: If a student switches between in-person and remote instruction during the year, will that student be able to keep the same teacher?
A: The option for students to go from in-person to remote is available at any time. The opposite is not the case though. Depending on how many parents shift their decision after the first trimester, for example, it could put us in situations where we cannot guarantee students the same teacher upon their return, due to social distancing requirements. If a room is at capacity, students seeking to return could overload the room in relation to social distancing protocols. Thus, we would have to look at the situation on a case by case basis.
Q: If I find that the in-school portion isn’t working due to health concerns can I pull them and opt for online learning at home?
A: Yes, parents can move from in-person to remote learning at any time. Parents have the option to switch from in-person to remote at any time; they don’t need to wait until after the first trimester/quarter. The opposite option is not available though.
Q: Have teachers been given any professional development to enhance the remote instruction experience?
A: We are conducting three conference days for professional development training before school starts. Throughout the spring and summer the faculty has been involved in professional development related to Google Classroom and use of the Promethean interactive monitors.
Q: Will children be able to participate in class if/when it is a live feed, asking questions, sharing in the discussion?
A: Our intention is for remote students to be able to participate in real-time via Google Meet.
Communication/Family & Community Engagement
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 (the district website, superintendent updates, school district emails, Blackboard Connect emails, text messages and phone calls) to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.
Q: How will parents be notified of their child/ren’s class schedules?
A: All students at the elementary level will be receiving a packet of information by mail the last week of August. This packet will include the student’’s classroom assignment, the student’s teacher or teachers, if the student is in Grades K-6, as well as important information related to the safety measures we are putting into place at both the primary and intermediate buildings. We will also have important information related to the arrival and dismissal schedule if you are transporting your child to school; included will be a map to assist with finding the pick-up and drop-off zones. The teachers will be planning to send out additional information both by backpack and electronic means once the school year begins. In addition, we will be planning a virtual walk-through for students in grades K-6.
For the Secondary School, class assignments will be mailed out the week of Aug. 31 and schedules will be released digitally at this time as well.
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 Albany County Department of Health. 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. A school calendar with directory information for all buildings and departments will be mailed to parents in late August.
Q: Whom should I contact if I have questions about the district’s reopening plan or health and safety protocols?
A: If you have questions regarding this plan, please contact the following people:
- General inquiries, Dr. Timothy Mundell, email@example.com
- BKW Elementary School- Mrs. Annette Landry, firstname.lastname@example.org
- BKW Secondary School, Dr. Mark Pitterson, email@example.com
Q: Whom should I contact if I need reopening resources translated into another language?
A: The plan can be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the District website – top right corner of the homepage.
Health and Safety
Q: Are masks required?
A: Students, staff, and visitors will wear face-coverings consistently throughout the school day, including on the school bus and during all transitions and always when social distancing of at least six-feet cannot be maintained. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face-covering will not be required to wear one, and a medical excuse (doctor’s note) must be provided to the district in such cases. Certain high needs special education students will also not be required to wear face-coverings in keeping with their identified disability. Student IEPs should reflect this if students are deemed exempt from this requirement based on their disability. Students will be allowed to remove face-coverings during meals so long as they are properly socially distanced. During instruction, while appropriately socially distanced there will be “mask breaks”.
Students at the elementary level (Grades K-6) will be required to wear a mask during classroom instruction. The teacher will use his/her professional judgment if a mask break is needed for example. The classroom teacher may also plan a mask break outside where students can be spaced out even further than in the classroom, which will also allow for some movement. The students will also be required to wear face masks during any transition, such as arrival or dismissal, or anytime they are in the hallways. Students will not be required to take a mask break if they so choose. The teacher will also have the ability to provide individual students with a mask break if there is an extenuating circumstance.
Students at the secondary level (grades 7-12) will be required to wear a mask during classroom instruction. All teachers will provide a mandatory student mask break during each period or block. Mask breaks should be offered when students are not required to actively engage in conversation. Teachers will determine how to best divide and implement mask breaks within these guidelines. Students will be allowed to keep their mask on during a mask break if they so choose. Teachers will also have the ability to provide individual students with a mask break if there is an extenuating circumstance.
Q: What is an acceptable face-covering?
A: Cloth face masks that cover both the nose and mouth that include, but are not limited to, homemade sewn masks, “quick cut” masks and bandanas are acceptable. Surgical masks are also acceptable. More information about masks and mask care can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html
Q: Will masks be provided to students and staff?
A: face-coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face-coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
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.
Q: What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask?
A: Just as any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and other staff will work toward compliance with the student. Short term non-compliance may result in short term removal from class. Chronic non-compliance may result in an involuntary shift to remote learning. It will be very important for families to be proactive in discussing the importance of wearing masks at school. We want to ensure everyone’s safety.
Q: What are parents required to do to screen children’s health before school each day?
A: Parents/guardians will be responsible for checking each child’s health before school each day. If a child presents with any of the following, they should be kept home from school:
- Temperature above 100.0 degrees F
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chills (with or without repeated shaking)
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
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.
Parents may access the daily attestation via the link on the district website:
If you do not have access to complete this daily health attestation for your child, we have paper copies available for use as well. Please let your building principal know if you need paper copies and they will be supplied to you.
Q: How is the health of staff being screened?
A: All district staff members are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their supervisor as per the district’s reporting policies and seek medical attention.
Q: Will the district be keeping records of student or staff health information?
A: The district will not be keeping any additional health information records on either students or staff. The electronic daily attestations that are required are not considered health records.
Q: What happens if a student’s health screening has not been submitted? Will they be permitted to enter the building?
A: At the Secondary School students will show their colored phone screen indicating they have completed that day’s attestation. If they have not, they will have the opportunity to do so electronically or by paper. For K-6 the district will perform audits of students’ attestations, but this will not prevent students entering who have not completed the attestation.
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:
- Temperature above 100.0 degrees F
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chills (with or without repeated shaking)
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Q: If my child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, how long will they need to be out of school?
A: The district will work in consultation with the Albany County Department of Health to determine the requirements for 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 Albany County Department of Health.
Q: What should my child do if they feel sick during the school day? Will I be notified?
A: If a student feels sick during the school day, they will report to the nurse’s office for evaluation and potentially be directed to a supervised isolation area prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home.
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.
To assist the Albany County Department of Health with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district will cooperate and facilitate the tracing of all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program 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 Albany County Department of Health.
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: 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 that 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 Maria Tedeschi 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 choose 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.
Q: Will testing for COVID-19 be conducted at school?
A: No, this is currently prohibited in the NYSED guidance document. In cases where COVID testing is needed, the district will work with the Albany County Department of Health to ensure parents know where and how to obtain testing.
In order 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 participate in contact tracing protocols as implemented by the Albany County Department of Health.
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 the district.
To assist with contact tracing the district will:
- Keep accurate attendance records of students and staff members
- Ensure student schedules are up to date
- Keep a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
- Assist the Schenectady Health Department in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program
If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is discovered, the district will contact the Albany County Department of Health to receive guidance. The rooms/wings where the infected person was located will not be allowed to reopen until full disinfection of the area has taken place.
Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations.
For more information about how COVID-19 containment efforts will be communicated to students, families and staff members, please see the Communications/Family and Community Engagement section of our plan.
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.
The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include
- Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
- Health offices, isolation rooms
- Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
- Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
Shared books and supplies will be minimized and where used, books (e.g., library books, trade books) supplies (e.g., science lab materials) will be disinfected or allowed to remain untouched for a specified time period.
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
- Playgrounds (cleaning only)
- Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.
The district will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:
- For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
- For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
- Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
The district will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.
For more information about how cleaning and disinfection information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Community and Family Engagement section of our reopening plan.
Q: Will fire drills and lockdown drills still be conducted? What will be the process for maintaining social distancing?
A: The district will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Schools are required to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Faculty and staff should wear face-coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained during drills.
Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Protocols will be in place to ensure face-coverings will be used while exiting, waiting to return, and re-entering the building.
Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year.
With the reduced number of students in each building each day, drills can be conducted similarly as they have been in the past with reminders about social distancing as practicable while moving through the building. With the alternating schedule at BKW drills will be conducted to ensure students following both schedules will have adequate opportunities to learn procedures.
Students will be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.
Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct lockdown drills in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing and/or using masks.
- Conduct lockdown drills in the classroom without “hiding”/ “sheltering” but provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.
Q: Will outside visitors be permitted into school buildings? Will outside groups still be able to use school facilities?
A: Only authorized outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, and must report to the Main Office and present proper identification. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face-coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.
Currently outside groups are restricted from utilizing the district’s indoor facilities. This will allow for proper cleaning each evening.
Q: Will there continue to be PTA meetings?
A: The Parent-Teacher Associations continue to meet, but they have done so off campus. It has not yet been determined whether or not future meetings will be allowed to be held on campus.
Q: Will there be plexiglass barriers at any school building locations?
A: Plexiglass barriers are prohibited by fire code, but acrylic or polycarbonate barriers are allowed. They will be installed at various checkpoints/desks throughout the district. We are also exploring the use of such dividers for use with students, but have not yet ordered any. For example, such barriers may allow for small group instruction at the elementary level. We are still exploring this as an option.
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. This will also involve, weather permitting, the targeted opening of windows and doors. When possible district filters will also be upgraded if the particular unit’s specifications allow for such upgrades without diminishing performance or function.
Q: How big will the class sizes be for in-person instruction?
A: Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart, “nose to nose”. This results in an average of 14 to 16 students per “regular” classroom depending on the square footage of each space.
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. Configurations will vary and in some cases tables will be used in lieu of desks or there may be a mix of both.
Q: Will the bathroom capacity be limited?
A: Yes, bathroom capacity will be limited to that which allows for appropriate social distancing. In some cases adjacent urinals will not be used if they are too close together. Stalls have a physical barrier/divider and may be used next to one another.
Q: Will students still use cubbies? Lockers?
A: Lockers will not be used at the secondary levels. Backpacks will be allowed throughout the day. At the elementary school, students will use their cubbies. For arrival and dismissal we will maximize social distancing in the cubby areas.
Q: How will school supplies that are typically shared be handled?
A: Sharing of school supplies will be minimized to the extent practicable. Possibilities include rotating sets of supplies, assigning specific supplies to each student and/or cleaning/disinfecting supplies between uses. Some of these details are still being developed.
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. We are regularly inspected to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Q: Will students and staff have access to hand sanitizer?
A: Hand sanitizer will be available throughout all buildings and in classrooms, but will not be available on school buses in accordance with the most recent NYSED guidance. 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. In some cases we have ordered extra bottle fill stations and in other cases we have supplied cups for drinking tap water in classrooms. This is in addition to the already existing bottle fill stations available in some buildings.
Q: Will lunches need to be brought to school every day? Or will they be provided? Will hot meals still be available? Where will students eat breakfast and lunch?
A: School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. Students may also bring lunches from home.
Provisions will be made for students with severe food allergies who may require additional accommodations such as different locations for meals.
Breakfast and lunch will look different both in terms of location (cafeteria and/or other locations such as classrooms) and in terms of serving (e.g., grab and go, pre-packaged, delivered to locations, etc.), and the number of menu selections may be significantly narrowed. We will be offering one main entree and three alternate options at elementary and secondary levels. At this time, snacks and a la carte sales will not be available.
Students will be able to eat without face-coverings but must be fully socially distanced while eating.
Q: How will students pay for their meals?
A: For those who are full pay students we are requesting that parents put money in student accounts either by using the online website or by sending in a check. We certainly will accept money but are trying to avoid handling cash as much as possible. If you are a full-pay student learning remotely and you choose to pick up meals, those meals will be charged to your student’s account.
For those who may qualify for free or reduced meals, please fill out an application that is coming in the mail later in August or you can print the form from the BKW website.
Q: What hygiene practices will keep students safe during meals?
A: Students will be required to perform hand hygiene before and after eating. Students do not need to wear face-coverings when seated and eating as long as they are appropriately socially distanced. All food items will be served on disposable paper products and disposed of immediately following the meal.
Q: Will meals be provided to those participating in remote learning?
A: Students who are remote will be instructed where and when to pick up their meals.
Q: Will the district be staggering arrivals? What would that look like?
A. In order to comply with social distancing protocols, the district will stagger the start times for the two buildings. The elementary school will run from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm. The secondary school will run from 8:55 am to 3:00 pm.
The decision to do this was made after considering NYSED instructional day requirements, CTE needs in the secondary program, and potential child care needs at the elementary level. The staggered start, with elementary school going first, was the option that best served all learners, while getting us to transportation compliance.
Q: How will parent drop-off work? Pick up?
A: Parent drop-off and pick-up will be a new process this year due to the renovations of the traffic loop during the Capital Project. We will be including a building map in the student placement letter to ensure that parents are aware of the drop-off/pick up zone, as well as the Bus Only zone. If you need to communicate with the office on a matter we ask that you contact the main office and they will provide additional assistance, since we are trying to limit the number of visitors in the building while the students are in the building.
Q: How many students will be allowed on each bus? Will social distancing be enforced on buses? Are masks required on buses?
A: Our capacity target is 50 percent capacity. For a 66-passenger bus that target would be 33 students. We are also attempting to socially distance students to the extent practicable, except for siblings. To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school. Additionally, all students, except those with medical exceptions will be required to wear face-coverings.
Q: Will bus transportation still be provided? Are there any changes to who can ride the bus to and from school?
A: All students are entitled to transportation to the extent required by law. The Transportation Department may not deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools.
Q: Will students’ temperatures be checked before entering the bus?
A: Students’ temperatures should be checked by parents prior to boarding buses. District staff will not be checking student temperatures prior to boarding buses. Parents should be filling out the daily health attestation 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: Will there be a bus monitor for each bus?
A: No, there are only monitors on select buses. There are cameras on all buses.
Q: How many students will be in each seat?
A: We will attempt to seat students one to a seat when possible unless they are members of the same household; however, there may be occasions when students must sit more than one to a seat. Except for medically exempt students, all students must wear face-coverings on the bus.
Q: Will the district be adding additional buses to reduce bus capacity to 50 percent?
A: No, we will not be buying additional school buses at this time. That takes voter approval and would need to be voted on by eligible voters.
Q: Will there be transportation after school?
A: This is still being determined. There will be no after school transportation for at least the first two full weeks of school after which time we will reassess the situation. Then, as more details become known, we will communicate this with parents and students.
Q: Can I drop off my child(ren) in the morning, but use the bus after school?
A: Yes. You may also use the bus in the morning and pick up in the afternoon. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. If your child only needs one-way transportation to or from school, please contact Amy Santandrea, Transportation Department Supervisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 518-872-0909 with that information.
Q: Can my child be dropped off or picked up at different locations during the week?
A: No, that is no longer an option. Students must be picked up at one location and dropped off at one location each day, although those locations may be different.
Q: What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?
A: All buses that are used every day by districts and contract carriers will be cleaned/ disinfected once a day in the afternoons.
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 district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.
Q: How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?
A: Students embarking and disembarking buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent practicable and wear a face-covering. Full social distancing in such circumstances may not be possible, but contact time is quite limited in such circumstances.
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. To support our school community and ensure students’ social-emotional learning, resources for students can be found on the BKW district website. The Student Support Team will also be directly surveying all parents and students to determine whether target areas can be identified and students can then be specifically supported with any social-emotional needs they may have.
Q: How can a student reach out to counselors if stressed?
A: Students who are in distress or in need of social and emotional support will find a variety of resources on our website by following this link. Counselor contact information for all buildings may also be found on the district website
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 the mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of faculty and staff when school reopens. Staff resources, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Q: Will students entering new school buildings have some form of orientation or tours ahead of time?
A: There will be a Pre-K orientation on Monday, 9/14 at 4 pm. Parents will be allowed to drop off supplies at that time. A Kindergarten orientation program is being developed. More information on it will be forthcoming.
Q: Will parents/guardians be allowed to escort their child(ren) into the building on the first day back to school?
A: Not generally. Building principals are authorized to make warranted exceptions if this is in the best interest of specific students and family members. Generally speaking escorting students to their classrooms typically is not a good idea as it can increase anxiety and make the “letting go” process more difficult.
Q: What are the drop-off and pickup times for in-person instruction?
A: Drop off and pick up times are listed by building below:
- Elementary School: 8:00 AM is drop off and pick up is 1:30 PM
- Secondary School: 8:55 AM is drop off and pick up is 3:00 PM
Q: Can students arrive at school before classes begin? If so, where will they go?
A: At the elementary school, the students will enter the building upon arrival and head directly to classrooms. The students should not be visiting teachers in other classrooms. At the secondary school, students will be permitted to enter the building at 8:50 AM.
Q: How will students be grouped by grade level or class during the school day?
A: Elementary students will be grouped in small cohorts to limit the number of student to student contacts in the course of a day. Secondary classes will be cohorted as much as practically possible. Due to the alternating day schedule, the volume of students in the building is reduced by 50%.
Q: How will “special” subjects (e.g., art, music, PE, etc.) be delivered to students?
A: At the elementary school, art will be pushed into the classroom and there may be times when music can push in also. In order to maintain 12 feet of space between students, there may be certain activities for music that will take place in the gym. It is possible that art and music could also be delivered remotely. PE classes will be outside weather permitting, however, we will also have one half of the gym available for one PE class. If students are participating in remote learning, they will still be required to participate in the Special Areas through Google Meet during the special times in their weekly schedules.
At the secondary school, specials will be run similar to normal but with 50% of students present at any given time while also following safety and social distancing guidelines (12 feet of space between students in PE).
Q: Will elementary students have recess? If so, will recess be outside if conditions permit?
A: Elementary students will still participate in recess. Elementary principals will work with staff to develop alternative recess activities that abide by social distancing guidelines. Students/classes will have to take turns accessing playground equipment. Playground equipment will be cleaned per CDC guidance.
Q: Will students still have assemblies? Field trips?
A: No, field trips, and other large-group activities will not be held at this time.
Q: Is the district doing anything to reduce congestion in hallways or lobby areas?
A: Congestion in the hallways is primarily of concern at the secondary levels. Given that students, other than those medically exempt, will be wearing face-coverings and contact time will be extremely brief when students are passing in the hallways, the risk is inherently low in this situation. The CDC guidance indicates that students are at low risk if wearing face-coverings and passing in hallways. Additionally, the secondary student capacity will be cut in half as only half the students will be present on any given day.
Q: How will the district decide if there is a need to go fully remote? Will that decision be made districtwide, or on a more individual basis (school, class, etc.)?
A: The district will collaborate with the Albany County Department of Health 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
Q: Outdoor areas and playgrounds were mentioned as being utilized for recess and movement breaks. Will that be happening daily including winter months? If not in the winter months, what will recess look like K-6?
A: Recess will look very spread out, but we are allowing the equipment to be used in addition to the field space surrounding the playground equipment. We hope to have children outside in the winter as well, conditions permitting. Equipment will need to be rotated for use, likely by homeroom, to allow for social distancing and it will be cleaned per the CDC guidelines.
Q: Will athletics, clubs or extracurricular activities still be offered?
A: The district is exploring the types of activities that can be conducted virtually, but no in person extracurricular activities are currently authorized.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 24 that school athletic teams will be able to begin practicing on Sept. 21 and that some will be allowed to play games soon after. Cuomo said that “low-risk” sports that BKW offers including soccer, cross country, swimming and golf would be allowed to begin fall activities later next month and then compete locally. Competition would follow a required number of preseason practices for all but golf, which does not mandate them. MORE INFORMATION
Q: Can my child participate in athletics, clubs or extracurriculars if they are doing remote learning?
A: Yes, if and when such activities continue, children who are remote only may participate to the same extent as students who are in person.
Q: Are before- and after-school programs available?
A. At this time, there will be no before and after school programs available. We will continue to assess the health factors and emerging needs to make decisions regarding adding selected options as we progress through the year.
Q: Will music and drama performances still take place?
A: Such performances are currently not allowed under the Phase IV reopening rules. We are exploring opportunities to engage in these activities virtually and we remain hopeful that the guidance for such activities may shift during the year.
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 students instructional program.
Q: Will child care be available?
A: If you are a parent or caregiver who needs child care, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) may be able to help you find the child program you need. It may be a challenge to find child care due to COVID-19 related program closures; however, the staff at OCFS are trying their best to support families to find the high-quality child care that they need.
Childcare may also be available through the local YMCA. You may find additional information about the Y programs and locations here:
Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
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 full effect whether students are in-person or remote. This includes “period” or “class” attendance at the secondary level in addition to daily attendance.
Q: Will I be notified if my child has been marked “absent” or “tardy” during remote learning?
A: Students who are chronically absent will receive the “regular” follow-ups in such situations (e.g., guidance, administration, child study team, child protective services) whether they are participating in in-person or remote instruction.
Technology and Connectivity
Q: What do we do if my child’s school Chromebook breaks or stops working?
A: If a student’s laptop or device breaks or stops working, you should immediately contact the help desk at 518-872-0909 or email@example.com. If they can not resolve the issue, they will be able to arrange for a swap/replacement Chromebook.
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 are followed during both in-person and remote learning. Please direct specific questions about this to your child’s special education teacher, principal or the Director of pupil Personnel Services, Mrs. Susan Sloma, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 518-872-0945.
Q: Can my child still receive services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy remotely?
A: In some cases, yes. If your child is scheduled for such services you will be contacted directly to work out a schedule, whether in person or remote or a combination of the two.
Q: My child is in speech services. How will these be offered in school vs virtually?
A: We’ve been offering speech remotely via Google Meet and this remains an option. Students may also be able to receive some services directly.
Q: Will my child still be transported to off-site programs?
A: Yes. We will have transportation for students to and from off-site programs. We are in the process of determining who has their own transportation for CTE and who may need district-provided transportation.
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 Susan Sloma, Director of Pupil Personnel Services, at email@example.com or by phone at 518-872-0945 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 Susan Sloma, Director of Pupil Personnel Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 518-872-0945 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: Yes, students will still attend programs through BOCES. Please see the BOCES reopening plan for more information on how BOCES programs will be conducted by following this link below: