District Update: Reopening FAQs Released and Virtual Panel Discussions for the Community, August 11, 2020

The following message was sent to GCSD families on August 11, 2020

Dear GCSD Families,

On Friday, August 7 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools in New York are permitted to reopen in all regions of the state. This means, we are moving forward with our reopening plans and will be ready to welcome your children for the first day of school.

Reopening plans

On July 31, the district submitted our reopening plans to the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Health in anticipation of this decision. These plans are intended to be fluid and flexible to meet the needs of families and to address vital health and safety precautions in the 2020-21 school year.

There is a lot of information in these plans, so to help, you can find a reopening FAQ page on our website that will be updated as details change or more questions need answers. If you still have questions after looking through the plan and FAQs, please email reopening@guilderlandschools.net.

During his conference call on Friday, the Governor indicated that school districts need to highlight three specific parts of their plan: the plan for remote learning, COVID-19 testing, and contact tracing. Please see more information about those sections of the plan below:

Remote Learning

The plan includes a hybrid schedule of in-person instruction and remote learning. Remote learning will include a blend of live instruction facilitated by the classroom teacher with offline activities and assignments to be completed by the students. Families have a choice to learn entirely from home and were provided a deadline of August 10 to request remote-only learning in the eSchoolData Parent Portal. We are now reviewing that data to continue refining our plans for remote learning as well as other areas such as transportation, schedules and classroom assignments.

COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing

You can find information about the district’s plans for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing here in the Health & Safety section of the reopening plans. Managing students or staff who may become ill at home or at school is an important part of our reopening plans. If a positive case of COVID-19 is reported, the school district will contact the Albany County Health Department and the New York State Health Department and fully cooperate with their efforts. The district will assist with contact tracing and in the event, large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, we will work with our Medical Director, Dr. Warren Silverman and the Albany County Health Department.

School Community Engagement

From the early stages of our planning, engagement and feedback from the entire school community have been a priority to inform our decisions. Before we received guidance from NYSED and NYSDOH, we administered two surveys, held focus groups and established a Reopening Steering Committee and subcommittees made up of over 120 parents, teachers, administrators and community partners.

We livestreamed a reopening panel discussion with the district’s Reopening Steering Committee members on July 28 and shared the link to the recording on the district website. We asked families to submit questions ahead of time in order to design our discussion to cover as many areas and answer as many questions as possible. Over 750 questions were submitted and we continue to receive questions and concerns. This will be the same format for our upcoming virtual forums that will take place August 18-20. Get more information about our upcoming virtual reopening panel discussions here.

We will continue to keep you updated as we refine these reopening plans. Please be sure to check our Reopening Updates web page regularly for updates. We look forward to your participation in our informational forums next week.

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