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A welcome back letter from Superintendent Corr

| September 9, 2020

Dear North Colonie Community,

On behalf of the faculty and staff in North Colonie, I welcome you to the 2020- 21 school year. Soon we will all gather together again following a year that will go down in history. We are ready to start fresh and start a new year with hope that we will continue to grow as a community and come together to support one another during these times.

As we start this new year, it is our number one goal to make sure all students feel safe and supported as they enter our halls again for the first time in many months. I am grateful for the continued support of parents, staff, students and our community as we navigate these unprecedented times in our district. 

I wish you all a successful and fulfilling school year as we work together to maintain a safe and secure environment for our students and our community. It is our privilege and honor to work with you and your children, and we look forward to providing a rich, rewarding, and equitable learning experience for all.

Start of School

The opening of school and the first day of attendance for all students in grades K-12 will be Monday, September 14, 2020.

School Schedules

Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, students in grades K-12 will follow these schedules based on their school:

Forts Ferry & Southgate

  • Grades K-3 at the home elementary building: 8:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.
  • Grades 4-6 at the junior high school building: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Blue Creek, Boght Hills, Latham Ridge, Loudonville

  • Grades K-3 at the home elementary building: 9:45 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Grades 4-6 at the junior high school building: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Elementary Remote

  • Grades K-3: 9:30 – 2:15 p.m.
  • Grades 4-6: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Shaker Junior High (Grades 7&8)

  • In-School (daily): 7:30 – 11 a.m.
  • Virtual: 12:40 – 2:35 p.m.

Shaker High School (Grades 9-12)

  • Virtual: 8:15 – 10:30 a.m.
  • In-School (every other day): 11:45 – 3:45 p.m.

For students who are in grades 9-12, their assignment for in-person instruction will be based on whether they are a “North” student or a “South” student. “North” students are all families whose residences are in the Boght Hills, Forts Ferry, and Latham Ridge zones. “South” students are in the Blue Creek, Loudonville, Menands, and Southgate zones.

As a reminder, individual student schedules for grades 7-12 will be shared with families the week of Sept. 7.

School Configuration and Leadership Teams

  • K-3 students will be in their home elementary schools and the building principals will remain the same.
  • 4-6 students will be in the junior high school. The building administrative team will be Mr. Davis Chamberlain, Ms. Lauren Sheeler, and Ms. Thea MacFawn. Mr. Chamberlain is our junior high principal and prior to that role he served as an Assistant Director of Pupil Services. Ms. Sheeler will be moving to the junior high from the high school where she has served as the Taft Hall dean and Ms. MacFawn will be moving to the junior high school from Boght Hills where she had served as the building assistant to Mr. Puccioni.

Health and Safety

Classrooms will be configured to allow six feet of space between individuals and will house fewer students than normal. All employees and students are required to wear a face covering (that covers the nose and mouth), unless they are medically unable to do so. Each school will have a supply of masks for staff and students in the event they forget theirs. Additionally, the following measures will be taken:

  • Training on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, facial coverings, social distancing and symptoms of COVID-19 will be provided.
  • School buildings will be cleaned and disinfected following CDC & DOH guidance.

Daily Health Screenings

Daily health screenings of all employees, students and outside visitors will be conducted. A self-health screening application will be provided for all parents and staff, free of charge.

Parents will be required to attest via the app, to a daily health screening for their student(s). This will include taking their children’s temperature each morning prior to going to school. In order to protect the health of our community, it is imperative that anyone who has a temperature greater than 100.0°F/37.8°C will need to stay home from school.

Any student or staff member with suspected signs of COVID-19 will be assessed by the school nurse and will be sent home for follow-up with a health care provider; a separate location will be provided for potentially ill students while they await pick-up. Per Department of Health guidelines, any student or staff who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms and is sent home by the health office will need to remain out of school for ten days unless a negative COVID test is provided and an alternative diagnosis is provided by a healthcare professional. 

Masks and Mask Breaks          

Research: “To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” (cdc.gov). Further, a study by Texas A&M University found that “using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 78,000 in Italy from April 6-May 9 and by over 66,000 in New York City from April 17-May 8.” They concluded, “Social distancing and washing our hands must continue, but that’s not sufficient enough protection. Wearing a face mask as well as practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing will reduce the chances of anyone contracting the COVID-19 virus.” (Science Daily, 6/12/20)

  • North Colonie will require face coverings for all adults and students:
    • Students and staff will receive training on use of face coverings
    • Students and staff will have mask breaks throughout the day
  • Students with a medical exemption will be required to:
    • provide documentation from a physician or
    • work through the CSE/504 process or
    • consult with the school physician and administration
  • Students who are required to wear masks and refuse to do so will be in violation of our code of conduct and subject to disciplinary procedures

Acceptable Masks

According to the New York State Department of Health: “Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings (e.g., homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose. Face shields worn without other face coverings are not considered adequate protection or source control against COVID-19 and should not be used. However, cloth-based face coverings or disposable masks shall not be considered acceptable face coverings for workplace activities that require a higher degree of protection for PPE due to the nature of the work.”

Mask Use

As part of our work, we will continue to remind students of the need for social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing. This work will be especially important with our youngest students as we are trying to help them to form healthy, life-long habits of good hygiene.

Depending on individual family behavior, some students may enter school in September with very little practice wearing masks and others may have a great amount of practice. We will be teaching and reinforcing the following guidelines:

  • Wash your hands before and after touching the mask.
  • Touch only the bands or ties when putting on and taking off your mask.
  • Make sure the mask fits to cover your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Make sure you can breathe and talk comfortably through your mask.
  • Wash reusable masks after each use.
  • Here’s a great video to watch with your children

We will have disposable masks available in each classroom and on every bus for students who forget or soil their masks.

Mask Breaks

As we help students to develop the habit of wearing masks for extended periods of time, we will allow for mask breaks. The following guidelines apply to mask breaks:

  • Mask breaks will be scheduled by the classroom teacher at a logical time.
  •  When possible, mask breaks should be combined with time outside, particularly for our elementary students who will be in one classroom for the entire day.
  • At the beginning of the year, and periodically as needed, teachers should review the rules for mask breaks with the students and ensure their understanding
  • Students must have a plastic (ziplock) or paper (brown lunch bag) bag in which to place their masks during the break to avoid soiling. Alternatively, students may use a lanyard-like device for their masks.
  • Students must be a minimum of 6 feet away from each other during mask breaks to allow for proper social distancing. This is not to be confused with guidance for certain classes such as PE or music. If students will be vigorously exercising or singing, they must be 12 feet apart.
  • Students must wash hands or sanitize hands prior to putting masks on again.
  • Any masks that get soiled will be replaced with a disposable mask.
  • Students are not required to take mask breaks if they choose not to do so. They should, however, be allowed to participate in whatever the other students may be doing at the time (i.e. going outside for a walk, listening to a story from their mask break station, etc.)

Technology & Connectivity

All students in grades K-12 will be receiving a Chromebook for the 2020-21 school year. If you have any questions or need any tech support throughout the year, please be sure to contact ITTechTeam@ncolonie.org.

New this year, we have created a website to help parents/guardians with any technology issues they may have in regard to ClassLink, Google Classroom, Google Meet, Zoom, Chromebook help and more. The resource page can be found on the homepage of our district website under “Quick Links,” or you can check it out here.

As a reminder, I encourage all families to please review the FAQ page on our district website, www.northcolonie.org. A link to the FAQ can be found in the yellow alert bar at the top of the homepage. 

Parent Communication

The district has several ways to communicate to families, both in emergency and non-emergency situations. First and foremost, our website, www.northcolonie.org, is a valuable source for information pertaining to your individual school, as well as the entire district. The district also uses the communication system called SchoolMessenger to contact parents directly. SchoolMessenger allows parents to receive updates about school events, closings, or emergencies via e-mail, text message, or phone call. A third system, The Parent Portal, provides parents with access to their child’s academic progress as well as other valuable information. You can sign up for this through the district website. Finally, our social media accounts are a great way to keep in touch with what is going on in the district. The district Facebook page is titled, “North Colonie Central School District” and the Twitter handle is @NorthColonieCSD. The district also has an Instagram account, which can be found by searching “northcolonieschools.” I encourage all of our families to follow along on social media and explore and use the many communication options we provide.

Who to Contact

If you have any questions throughout this year, you are encouraged to contact one of the following:

K-3 Students

          4-6 Students

              7-8 Students

              9-12 Students

                Elementary Remote Learning

                Secondary Remote Learning

                Special Education Students

                I truly look forward to welcoming all of our students back to our schools. It has been a long time coming and while this year will most certainly be different, we are all in this together and we are here to help each student grow and succeed no matter what. I wish the best to you and your family for a successful and healthy school year. I look forward to working with you and your children. 

                Sincerely,

                D. Joseph Corr
                Superintendent of Schools

                Category: Archive, District News

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