Safe Reopening of Schools FAQ
Below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions regarding our reopening of school. Our plan is to continue to add to this as additional questions arise. We encourage you to check back regularly for updates.
1. Are students required to complete daily health screenings?
Yes, students are required to complete daily health screenings, preferably at home, prior to coming to school. Parents will receive screening slips to complete and send to school with their child. Students who have not been screened prior to arriving at school will be screened at school. Screening slips do not ask for specific medical information. It is simply an acknowledgement that the parent has conducted the screening and that the child has passed the screening. If the child does not pass the screening, he/she should not be sent to school. Parents should consult with their health care provider regarding the screening and any and all symptoms being experienced by the child.
2. Are staff required to complete daily health screenings?
Yes, staff are required to complete daily health screenings prior to arriving at work. If any staff member does not pass the screening, they must contact their supervisor to inform him/her of this. Currently, we are working on developing a system to collect the pass/fail information from staff.
3. Will secondary students change classes?
Yes, secondary students (grades 6-12) will change classes. Face coverings are required to be worn when transitioning from class to class.
4. Will elementary students have special area classes?
Yes, students in grades K-5 will participate in special area classes (e.g. art, music, PE). With the exception of physical education, special area classes will be conducted in the students’ primary classrooms to minimize movement consistent with guidance received from NYS.
5. Will BOCES still be providing programming to students scheduled to attend one of their programs for all or part of their day?
Yes, BOCES will be providing programming to students. Students who attend full day programs will be contacted by BOCES with return to school information. Students attending CTE programs for part of their day will continue to do so on those days they are physically in school.
6. Will elementary students have scheduled recess?
This year, students will not have a scheduled recess time; however, teachers are able to take classes outside at their discretion.
7. Why can’t all students return to school full-time?
The guidance we received identifies physical distancing and face coverings as 2 of the most effective mitigation strategies along with hand and respiratory hygiene. While face coverings are expected to be worn at all times physical distancing cannot be maintained, there may be students and staff who, for legitimate reasons, are unable to wear a face covering, making physical distancing that much more important.
8. Why are middle and high school students returning in 3 cohorts and not 2 cohorts like the elementary students?
To determine our capacity, we measured the spaces all our students would occupy in each building and then calculated the number of students those spaces would accommodate. Based on those, we determined the number of cohorts that would be needed at each level.
9. What will remote learning look like?
Full (100%) Remote Students: For students in grades K-5, our remote learning program will be taught and facilitated by certified teachers from the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES and their Instructional Technology Division. For students in grades 6-12, our remote program will be taught and facilitated by certified staff members from the Whitesboro Central School District. Both the elementary and secondary programs will be full day programs and will be comprised of a combination of live instruction (synchronous), prerecorded lessons, and work provided via an online learning platform (asynchronous). All students will have frequent, substantive interactions with their NYS certified teacher.
Hybrid Students: On days that K-5 students are home for remote learning they will complete assigned work and use pre-recorded material or lessons through Google Classroom. Students in grades 6-12 will need to attend their scheduled classes digitally using specific platforms (ex. Zoom, Google Classroom, BUZZ) based on their schedule and course for live (synchronous) lessons from their classroom teacher.
10. What are the disinfecting protocols for buses?
Buses will be cleaned and sanitized each day. Between bus routes, high contact touch points will be wiped down with a disinfectant.
11. Is hand sanitizer allowed on the bus?
Per the recent (August 21, 2020) guidance by the State Education Department, students and personnel on the bus will be authorized to carry personal-size bottles of sanitizer, whose contents should not exceed 8 ounces in volume. These should be secured when not in use.
12. Both my spouse and I work each day. Where are our children supposed to go on remote days?
We realize that returning to school this way places a considerable burden on parents to find child care on those days their children are not physically in school. Unfortunately, given the parameters and guidance to which we must adhere, a full return is not possible. Essential workers who are unable to secure child care can contact the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison Child Care Resource Center at 315-223-7850 extension 222.
13. If an elementary student or teacher tests positive, will the whole class have to quarantine?
Yes, if a student or teacher test positive, the teacher and students in that class will be required by the Health Department to quarantine.
14. Will students be eating in classrooms or cafeterias?
Our plan is to allow students to eat in the cafeterias. Students will be physically distanced and only remove face coverings while they are eating. Cafeterias are larger spaces in which we will physically distance students at greater than 6 feet as an additional precaution where possible. At all times, the physical distancing of 6 feet will be followed.
15. Are students required to wear face coverings while on the school bus?
Yes, students are expected to wear face coverings while on school buses. The state regulation does, however, require districts to transport students even if they are not wearing a face covering. We will have face coverings available on buses for those students who need them.
16. Will students still be able to participate in music programs such as band, orchestra, and chorus?
Our plan is to continue offering the same opportunities to students that have been offered previously. At this time, we are working on the details of how this will be done as the physical distancing requirements for these activities is 12 feet.
17. Will students still participate in physical education classes?
Yes, students will still participate in physical education classes. They will be required to physically distance a minimum of 12 feet.
18. Will students be able to bring lunch to school?
Yes, students may bring lunch to school.
19. Will lunch still be available to students?
Yes, our cafeteria will continue to offer school lunch daily.
20. Will breakfast still be available to students?
Yes, our cafeteria will continue to offer breakfast daily.
21. What if my child begins fully remote and then I want to change models to the hybrid model or vice versa, is this possible?
Yes, students may change models during the school year. To initiate the request, parents would contact their child’s school administration for more information.
22. What if I start the year transporting my child to and from school and find I am unable to continue doing so, can my child resume district transportation?
Yes, you should contact your child’s school administration to initiate a request for district-provided transportation.
23. My child is in a self-contained special education class. Will he be required to attend every day or can I opt for the full remote or hybrid option?
Daily attendance is available to students in self-contained special education classes (e.g. 15:1:1, 12:1:1, 12:1:3:1); however, parents have the option to select full remote or hybrid instruction for their child.
24. My child is an English Language Learner (ELL). How often will she be required to attend school?
ELL students are able to attend school each day school is in session. Parents have the option of selecting full remote or hybrid for their child.
25. Will my child have a district-issued technological device?
Yes, each student will be issued a district Chromebook for their use both in school and at home.
26. What do I do if I don’t have high speed internet?
Families who do not have high speed internet at home should contact their child’s school. They will be issued a district-owned internet access device for their use during the school year.
27. Will hand sanitizer be available for my child?
Yes, hand sanitizer will be available to students at school.
28. Will schools be conducting COVID-19 testing?
Based on the guidance from various state and health agencies, students and staff will not be tested at school for COVID-19. We will work with the local health department and health care providers regarding testing and tracing.