2020 Fall reopening plan development

August 3, 2020: FAQ: Outlines of each instructional model

graphic describing the reopening plan instructional models of all-virtual, hybrid in-person, and formal homeschoolWe would like to provide our school community with additional details on the Glens Falls City Schools COVID-19 Reopening Plan, as this plan will continue to evolve. Today’s Q+A outlines each instructional model.

Q: What would a typical day look like under each model of instruction?

A: Here’s a general walk-through of each model of instruction, understanding that protocols may evolve as the community situation changes:

All-Virtual Model: Students enrolled in this option will receive full instruction in all core/required classes covering the same material that is delivered in person, in real time, by participating in a Google Meet simulcast of in-classroom instruction. (Some elective options may not be available in the virtual model.) Students are expected to follow their schedule remotely, joining their Google Meets at the beginning of each class period. Teachers will take attendance daily, period by period through eSchool. Authentic grades will be recorded, and expectations for learning will be the same for students at home and students in the building. Report cards will be issued with grades (not Pass/Incomplete). All students with 504 accommodations, IEP’s or ENL services will receive services based on their individual needs. This synchronous instruction will allow students to be fully ready to transition back into in-person school in the future. 

Hybrid In-Person Model: Students enrolled in this option will attend school in-person, in strict adherence to the Governor’s and NYS Department of Health Guidelines for Reopening. On a student’s in-person day(s):

  • All families: add health screening into their morning routine at home, then depart for school wearing appropriate face coverings. Parents and students wait on the school’s front lawn, maintaining six feet of social distance between households, until it is time for students to enter the building. Different grade levels may enter at staggered times. Wearing face coverings, students line up at their assigned entry door. Students enter the building one at a time, pausing to register their temperature using a no-touch scanner. The scanner simply checks for “above” or “below” 100* F. If the scanner alerts “above,” the student immediately goes to the isolation room for assessment by the nurse. All other students walk to their classroom/learning space to begin the day.
  • Elementary: All students attend school in-person every day. Each class is divided into two groups. Student desks are placed six feet apart in their learning space, making for a group of around 12 students, or about half the class. Group A spends the first half of the day (2.5 hours) learning core subjects (Math, ELA, Science, Social Studies) with their teacher in the classroom. Group B spends the first half of their day (2.5 hours) in their socially-distanced alternate space, participating in art, music, P.E., STEAM activities, and enrichment. Each group eats lunch where they are, either brought from home, or ordered through food services and delivered “TV-dinner style” to each individual. After lunch and thorough cleaning of areas, the two groups switch. Group B gets core instruction, while Group A gets enrichment. Schoolday hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. for Kindergarten and Grade 1; and 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for Grades 2, 3 + 4.
  • Middle School: Student desks are placed six feet apart in their learning space, making for a group of 12-14 students, or about half of a typical class. Glens Falls Middle School will be shifting to a block schedule approach. Each day will consist of five 1-hour blocks. Our typical eight periods will be spread over the course of two consecutive days. Students will be assigned to attend classes in person on Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday, and students will attend those same classes virtually on the opposite days. The two groups will alternate attending on Fridays. Schoolday hours are 8:40 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. for Grades 5 + 6; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Grades 7 + 8. On their virtual learning days, students are expected to follow their schedule remotely, joining their Google Meets at the beginning of each class period. Teachers will take attendance daily, period by period through eSchool. Authentic grades will be recorded, and expectations for learning will be the same for students at home and students in the building. Report cards will be issued with grades (not Pass/Incomplete). All students with 504 accommodations, IEP’s or ENL services will receive services based on their individual needs.
  • High School: Student desks are placed six feet apart in their learning space, making for a group of 12-14 students, or about half of a typical class. Glens Falls High School will be shifting to a block schedule approach, following a “two days in-two days out” rotation. Each day will consist of four blocks. Students will be assigned to an A/B or C/D group. For the first five weeks: the A/B students will attend classes in-person on A + B days, and learn remotely on C + D days; the C/D students will attend classes in-person on C + D days, and learn remotely on A + B days. After five weeks, the students who were in-person A and B days will meet in-person on C and D days. Students who began the year as in-person on C and D days will change to in-person instruction on A and B days. This will even out the face-to-face classroom time for the two groups for classes that meet only once in the 4-day rotation. On their virtual learning days, students are expected to follow their schedule remotely, joining their Google Meets at the beginning of each class period. Teachers will take attendance daily, period by period through eSchool. Authentic grades will be recorded, and expectations for learning will be the same for students at home and students in the building. Report cards will be issued with grades (not Pass/Incomplete). All students with 504 accommodations, IEP’s or ENL services will receive services based on their individual needs.

Formal Homeschooling Model: Students choosing this option will un-enroll in Glens Falls City Schools, and parents/guardians assume all educational duties as outlined in NYS Education Department regulations.

Q: Can parents switch learning models during the fall?

A: If choosing the All-Virtual model, parents must commit to all-virtual for the full fall trimester (through late November for grades K-4) or semester (through late January for MS/HS), when we will re-evaluate our district-wide plan and make decisions about the spring semester. 

If choosing the Hybrid/In-Person model, parents may switch to All-Virtual at any point once school starts, BUT once going all-virtual, students may not switch back to in-person until the end of the trimester/semester. Once a family chooses the all-virtual option for a student, they stay all-virtual through the fall.

Q: Is WSWHE BOCES running its New Visions and Career/Tech programs for juniors and seniors?

A: Yes, WSWHE BOCES programs are running this fall, in line with all the health and safety precautions outlined by the State. Glens Falls students riding on our buses to/from the program will need to follow all the procedures outlined in the Transportation section of the district’s COVID-19 Reopening Plan. 

July 31, 2020: Some key points within the Glens Falls City Schools reopening plan

Glens Falls City School District submitted a COVID-19 reopening plan to the State this morning that outlines a path to returning our students to in-person instruction in school buildings, keeping the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff members at the forefront of operations.

The full plan, with links to additional resources, can be found on the district website at: https://www.gfsd.org/home/glens-falls-city-school-district-covid-19-reopening-plan/ 

There are several key points within the document, which is evolving daily:

  • In order for our schools to safely reopen, we need to be able to achieve and maintain current and future requirements imposed by the New York State Education Department, and/or the New York State Department of Health. As such, this reopening plan is intended to be flexible; it can and will change as needs and circumstances evolve throughout the year.

  • Anyone headed to school for in-person teaching, learning, or working will be expected to wear an acceptable face mask from home (or one provided by the district), ensure that they are fever-free daily, and practice good hand hygiene throughout the day. More details on health screening/temperature checks will be provided in the coming days.

  • All facilities will meet or exceed hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and NYSDOH. Custodians will use 14 new electrostatic sprayers for disinfection of instructional areas nightly with an approved bleach alternative. MERV-13 air filters will be installed in every building HVAC system, and in each classroom Uni-vent air handling system, if the room has one.

  • In the fall of 2020, every Glens Falls student — Kindergarten through grade 12 — will have their own “take-home-enabled” touch-screen Chromebook so that they have multiple ways to participate in learning and demonstrate mastery of Learning Standards in our remote or hybrid in-person models.

  • Parents/guardians will choose and commit to one of three instructional models for each of their children:

  • All-Virtual Model: Students enrolled in this option will receive full instruction in all core/required classes covering the same material that is delivered in person, in real time, by participating in a Google Meet simulcast of in-classroom instruction. (Some elective options may not be available in the virtual model.) Parents must commit to the virtual model for the full fall trimester (through late November for grades K-4) or semester (through late January for MS/HS), when we will re-evaluate our district-wide plan and make decisions about the spring semester. This synchronous instruction will allow students to be fully ready to transition back into in-person school in the future.

  • Hybrid In-Person Model: Students enrolled in this option will attend school in-person, in strict adherence to NYSED and NYSDOH Guidelines for Reopening. Because of the need to create smaller, socially-distanced groups, in-person instruction may be every day or may involve a hybrid model where students are physically in school on a certain day/days and learning remotely on others. 

  • Formal Homeschooling. Students choosing this option will un-enroll in Glens Falls City Schools, and parents/guardians assume all educational duties as outlined in NYS Education Department regulations.

Specific details on each instructional model will be provided to parents/guardians next week, followed by an enrollment survey to choose a model for each student in the household.

Please read the entire plan at: https://www.gfsd.org/home/glens-falls-city-school-district-covid-19-reopening-plan/ 

July 24, 2020: NYS releases requirements; first school community surveys analyzed as development of school reopening plans continues

GFSD leadership teams are now poring over responses from student, staff, and parent reopening surveys while drafting models of learning that conform to extensive health and safety guidelines from New York State.

Last Tuesday (7/14), the NYS Department of Health released requirements for schools to reopen in the fall. [NYSDOH Guidance Document] Then on Thursday (7/16), the NYS Education Department released additional, robust guidance and requirements for reopening in the fall. [NYSED Guidance Document] Here are a few of the key points:

  • Appropriate face coverings are to be worn at all times by all individuals when six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained (with exceptions for socially-distanced snacks/meals, during socially-distanced instruction, and short mask breaks).
  • Classrooms must be configured to allow for six feet of space between individuals. This equates to approximately 12 students per room for most GFSD classrooms. 
  • Rigorous and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting is required, as per DOH hygiene/cleaning practices.
  • All individuals must have their temperature checked each day – ideally, at home, prior to departing for school. All staff members must also complete a daily health questionnaire. 

    screen capture of a slide from NYSED focused on health and safety preventive actions in schools
    Slide taken from NYS Education Department presentation on 7/16/2020
      screen capture of NYSED slide on teaching and learning mandatory requirements
      Slide taken from NYS Education Department presentation on 7/16/2020

      Within this extensive reopening framework, the district leadership team is now overlaying specific feedback garnered through the first student, staff, and parent return-to-school surveys sent on Thursday, July 9. These surveys collected quantifiable data and open-ended feedback from more than 700 parent/guardian responses, nearly 450 student responses, and more than 200 faculty/staff responses. Our school community’s sentiments are reflected in our working draft plans, and many of their specific ideas are incorporated within.

      Recurring sentiments that we heard from our students, staff, and parents include:

      • 54 percent of student respondents said yes, they feel safe returning to school (with 16 percent responding no, and 30 percent undecided).
      • 43 percent of staff respondents said they are slightly or very concerned about their health and well-being returning to in-person school (with 27 percent not very concerned, and 29 percent in the middle).
      • Parent respondents said they feel safe about sending their child to school with: regular temperature checks (54%); all teachers/staff wearing masks (51%); in-person social distancing procedures (49%); staggered student schedules (48%); and students wearing masks (44%).
      • Staff member respondents said they feel safe returning to school with: regular temperature checks (65%); all teachers/staff wearing masks (65%); in-person social distancing procedures (64%); staggered student schedules (63%); and students wearing masks (57%).
      • The majority of parents and staff members feel they understand pandemic-related trauma and how it will affect the return to school process (90% of staff, and 76% of parents).

      Working/draft reopening plan elements include parental choice for all-virtual learning, an in-person hybrid of classroom and remote instruction, or formal homeschooling. 

      The all-virtual model could involve instruction in all core/required classes covering the same material that is delivered in person, in real time. The in-person hybrid model could involve in-person instruction every day, or may involve a hybrid model where students are physically in school on one day and learning remotely on another. 

      We are exploring all options in hopes to provide an in-person program for grades K-4 rather than a hybrid model, if possible, but plans have not yet been finalized. Middle and High School students would need to use the hybrid in-person model (every other day in school; or two days in/two days remote/alternating fifth day) in order to stay compliant with the Department of Health Guidelines.

      The district’s “living document” reopening plan is due to be submitted to the NYS Education Department on July 31. Governor Cuomo is scheduled to make his final decision on school reopening between August 1-7. The Governor has already indicated that schools can open if a region is in Phase 4 and the daily COVID-19 infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average since NY on PAUSE was lifted. If the average regional infection rate rises to more than 9% at any time after August 1, schools must close.

      It continues to be the district’s main objective to create responsive reopening plans that keep students and staff healthy and safe. We are committed to further communications about our efforts to continue teaching and learning in the Fall of 2020 as we all do our part to help prevent the spread of this illness.