COVID-19 Operational Plan
This document outlines the fall 2021-22 Covid-19 Operational Plan at North Colonie Central School District. Layered mitigation protocols are in place. This document is a working document that is subject to change as conditions related to the pandemic change.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
- Schools will be open for all K-12 students for full day in-person instruction.
- Social distancing requirements will be observed at 3’ in most (but not all) areas and activities. This will include classrooms (which will be at or near occupancy) and other indoor spaces. Buses will run at full capacity.
- Masks will be mandated indoors per the NYS Department of Health (DOH) mandate, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NYS Education Department and the Academy of Pediatric Physicians.
- Handwashing and the availability and frequent use of hand sanitizers will continue to be promoted as part of the district’s overall safety plan.
- Encourage vaccinations with the goal that 100 percent of district staff (administrative, faculty/teaching, and support) will be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
- COVID screenings and temperature checks shall NOT be required from asymptomatic individuals. Symptomatic people must stay home. Staff and students who have medical conditions that present with symptoms similar to COVID-19 will be quarantined on their first incident. Subsequently, they should present a note from their medical provider indicating a condition that presents such symptoms to avoid future quarantines. This documentation must be provided annually. Albany County DOH quarantine protocols may be found here.
- District shall implement a “layered” approach to surveillance and preventative measures to prevent community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Mitigation protocols are based on levels of transmission.
The levels are defined as follows:
- Low Transmission: Blue
- Moderate Transmission: Yellow
- Substantial Transmission: Orange
- High Transmission: Red
- Surveillance testing for the COVID-19 virus shall be conducted in partnership with the county’s health department on a “population sampling” basis.
- Facilities (indoors and outdoors) will be available for community use, subject to compliance with the district’s COVID-19 safety plans and layered mitigation protocol.
- Daily routine cleaning and disinfection of moderate and high-touch surfaces.
- Efforts to maximize fresh air and adequately as well as Merv 13 filters and increased ventilation in all classrooms.
- Visitors to our schools will be required to follow NYS DOH mandates with regard to mask-wearing. Additional measures such as Covid-19 screening may be implemented depending on the variety of factors including local/community COVID-19 transmission rates. At times of substantial or high infection rates, schools may be closed to most or all visitors.
- School meals (breakfast and lunch) will be available to all students daily at no cost.
- Physical distancing of 6’ will be maintained as much as possible when food is consumed. However, the inability to maintain 6’ of physical distancing when eating, per the CDC, will not be a barrier to holding in person learning. Due to these distancing requirements, food may be consumed in classrooms, in cafeterias or other suitable spaces.
School buses will operate with the maximum capacity to ensure the full return of in-person learning. Where possible, in order to reduce density on buses, families are encouraged to transport their children to school. Seating charts will be developed for contract tracing purposes and to minimize the impact of quarantining. The district will adhere to quarantining policies prescribed by the Albany County DOH.
- Students and drivers shall continue to adhere to federal mask mandates.
- Separate routes shall be maintained for elementary, middle and high school students.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL BEING
- Orientation programs shall focus on emotionally-safe reentry for all students.
- Expanded counseling and mental health services, including outside referrals, shall be available to all students. This will include onsite mental health services for eligible students through Northern Rivers.
- Professional development and training for all staff on recognizing and responding to students’ emotional, social, and mental health concerns shall be ongoing throughout the year.
- Schools will be open for onsite instruction for a standard instructional day on each day school is in session.
- Schools will be prepared for sudden, temporary shifts to remote instruction in the event of widespread COVID-19 exposures or illnesses; smaller outbreaks will be managed through quarantine(s) and tutorial/supplemental instruction.
- Individual schools will develop daily drop-off and pick-up routines and procedures.
- Students at the Elementary level may be cohorted, but may mix and travel to special area classes and other areas of the school. Students at the Middle and High Schools will not be cohorted and will travel from classroom to classroom as their schedules dictate.
SCHOOL ACTIVITIES & ATHLETICS
- Clubs and activities at the Elementary, and Middle/High school levels will resume provided they maintain mask and social distancing requirements.
- Interscholastic athletics (low, moderate, and higher-risk sports) will follow a traditional athletic season and schedule. Masks will be required at indoor practices and contests unless community transmission rates are low.
- For high risk athletics, there will be mandated weekly testing for all unvaccinated athletes during high transmission. In the instance of substantial transmission, we will conduct surveillance tests randomly for 33 percent of the unvaccinated student athletes. In moderate transmission, surveillance will occur randomly for 10 percent of the unvaccinated student athletes.
AFTER SCHOOL CARE
1.The district has a strong partnership with the Colonie Youth Center (CYC). CYC is offering before and after school care programs for the 2021-22 school year.
- CYC will be responsible for social distancing, PPE usage, cleaning and disinfection requirements, as well as limiting the risk of COVID-19 transmission. CYC can be reached at www.colonieyouthcenter.org or 518-438-9596.
ATTENDANCE AND CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM
- Teachers and counselors shall monitor student attendance to ensure participation and engagement and to watch for signs of chronic absenteeism.
- Students exhibiting chronic absenteeism (defined as absences totaling 10 percent or more of scheduled eligible days of instruction) shall be referred to a school counselor and/or building principal so that a plan to improve school attendance can be developed and implemented
TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY
- All students in grades K-12 shall have 1:1 access to a Chromebook or similar device. Hotspots will be available for students/families who are unable to access broadband internet service at home (subject to cell signal strength at their homes).
- Onsite/in-person teachers will continue to use online platforms in class and outside of class, if appropriate.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
- The district is committed to providing in person learning for students K-12. In person learning is our primary learning platform.
- Remote learning applications will be considered only for those students who are (1) medically fragile, (2) at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and illness, and/or (3) reside in a household with an individual who is medically fragile or immunocompromised (4) have social/emotional/mental health needs that are best accommodated in a remote/online educational setting. In almost all circumstances, students who did NOT make adequate academic progress while in a remote learning environment last year will not be afforded a remote learning environment this year.
- Remote learning will be occur in the following manner:
- Grades K-6 – in partnership with the regional Capital Region BOCES Completely Virtual Learning Academy.
- Grades 7-12 – through locally developed delivery platforms.
- Students who are supported through our district’s special education program will receive instruction consistent with their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- Related services (such as speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling) shall be provided to students consistent with their IEPs. These services will be offered onsite and in-person except in instances where remote/online services are the most appropriate option for the student, based on the recommendations of the Committee on Special Education or the Director of Student Services.
RESOURCES USED TO ASSIST PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION
CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
American Academy of Pediatrics COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools
Albany County DOH
HELPFUL REFERENCE TOOLS
New York State School COVID Report Card
COVID-19 Regional Metric Dashboard for information on new cases reported per 100,000 persons in the last 7 days at this link: https://forward.ny.gov/covid-19-regional-metrics-dashboard
NYS COVID-19 Tracker at this link: https://covid19tracker.health.ny.gov for updated information about percentage of positive COVID-19 case results.