GCSD 2020-21 Reopening Plan: Communication and Engagement

Back to Reopening Plan HomepageCommunication and Engagement Overview | Remote Learning | School Schedules | Special Education Services | English Language Learners | Public Health Policies and Protocols | Health and Safety | School Closures

To help inform reopening planning, the district sought feedback and input from various stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community partners. Engagement efforts included representation from all stakeholder groups on each of the six reopening subcommittees, online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations. 

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at https://www.guilderlandschools.org/guilderland-central-school-district-2020-21-reopening-of-schools/, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the district website.

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. We are committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and have determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with the various groups in our school community.

The district will use its existing communication channels to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we share will be based on state guidance and recommendations from the district’s six reopening subcommittees.

  • SchoolMessenger to email, call and text message families, staff and community members
  • The Parent and Student Portals in eSchoolData to occasionally send emails and post information
  • Internal staff emails
  • The district’s website
  • Home mailings
  • Signage and training to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic.

There will be ongoing coordination with the English as a New Language department, and translation services provided as needed.

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Remote Learning

In support of remote learning, the district will make devices available to students and teachers who need them. For families, the district will administer surveys, work with faculty to identify and use other data sources to identify any families in need of internet access. 

The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, phone, Google forms or via an online learning platform.

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School Schedules

The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.

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Special Education Services

The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. 

In addition to the communication efforts schools make for all students, parents of students with disabilities have a legal right to be informed regarding the identification, evaluation, educational placement, and the provision of FAPE to their child. Whether special education programs and services are provided in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model, effective communication between school personnel and parents will include the following:

  • Working collaboratively and creatively to help ensure there is an understanding of the school’s efforts to provide services consistent with the recommendations on the IEP and monitor student progress.
  • Communicating with parents in their preferred language or mode of communication and documenting outreach efforts..
  • All CSE/CPSE meetings will be held remotely during the 2020-21 school year.

Until schools return to normal operating conditions, the same flexibility with respect to IEP implementation for delivery of services during school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to apply to the programs and services whether delivered in-person and/or remotely (e.g., flexibility with respect to the mode and/or manner; group or individual sessions; specific group size for related services, frequency, duration and location of related services, and special class size ratio etc.). All providers will work collaboratively with their content area partners to ensure that communication, and educational materials are accessible, adapted, modified and appropriate in accordance with student’s IEPs. Teachers and service providers will collect data, whether in-person or remotely, and use these data to monitor each student’s progress toward the annual goals and to evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s special education services. Reports of progress to parents may be made via telephone or other electronic means if progress reporting procedures specified in the student’s IEP cannot be met with reasonable efforts.

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English Language Learners

The district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. 

  • In alignment with Principle 5 of the NYS Blueprint for ELL/MLL Success (“Districts and schools value all parents and families of ELLs/MLLs as partners in education and effectively involve them in the education of their children by… engaging parents as active participants”), the district will maintain regular communication with the parents/guardians and other family members of ELLs to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process. All communication for parents/guardians of ELLs will be in their preferred language and mode of communication. We are making a more dedicated effort to ensure that all district communication regarding safety protocols and/or potential closings will be sent to individual families in their preferred language, and will be posted on the district website in the top ten languages spoken in the district.
  • Interpretation and translation by a qualified interpreter/translator will continue to be provided for all ELLs and their families when needed, to include, but not limited to: online or on-site parent-teacher meetings, Language Proficiency Team meetings, ENL parent orientation, etc.
  • Actively engage students on a regular basis to assess their need for Social Emotional Well Being supports that address the unique experiences of ELLs and are delivered in or interpreted into students’ home languages during remote or hybrid learning.
  • Links to NYSED informational videos, including the Parents’ Bill of Rights, will be shared with all families of ELLs.
  • Our annual Fall ENL Parent Open Houses will be held either virtually, or onsite in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders and Center for Disease Control (CDC) health and safety guidelines. Whether virtual or on-site, interpreters, family liaisons and multilingual staff – including Guilderland Parent Volunteer Interpreters – will be provided for all families as requested.

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Public Health Policies and Protocols

The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

Hand Hygiene

Students will be given time and instructions on how to wash their hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching the front of their mask or touching their face and frequently throughout the day. If soap and water is not available, students will be given adult-supervised access to hand sanitizer that has a minimum alcohol content of 60%. Hand sanitizer will not be stored in science labs or other areas that have open flames.

Proper Face Covering Procedures

Families will send students to school with facial coverings (cloth, disposable. etc.) Facial coverings should cover the areas of the face from above the nose to below the chin. Trying a variety of masks on your child will help you to find one that fits well and is comfortable. Students who arrive at the bus or at school without a facial covering will be provided with one. Students will be required to wear a facial covering on the bus and at school. Students will be able to remove their masks during mask breaks and while eating assuming the 6 foot social distancing is maintained. Accommodations will be made for students who are unable from a medical standpoint to wear a facial covering. Training on facial coverings will include washing your hands before and after you wear a mask, how to put them on and how to take them off, how to either dispose of them or wash them, checking the condition of the mask and the importance of not touching the outside of your mask, where most contamination resides.

Social Distancing

While at school, students will be asked to maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing between themselves and others. For some activities, like choir, playing wind instruments, and aerobic exercise, students may be required to maintain a minimum of 12 feet of social distancing.

Respiratory Hygiene

Ideally, students should cover a cough or sneeze into a tissue and then promptly dispose of the tissue in a wastebasket. If no tissues are available students should cough or sneeze into their elbow. After coughing or sneezing, hand washing is recommended.

Identifying Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 include but are not limited to cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Families will be asked to check for symptoms as part of the screening process that they do prior to sending their student(s) to school each day. Students will be reminded frequently at school to let their teacher know right away if they have any COVID-19 symptoms while at school. Students who become symptomatic at school will be brought to an isolation area, cared for and monitored while the school arranges for their family to pick them up.

A variety of training methods are under consideration for the delivery of the above content to students and families. Training will roll out in advance of reopening and continue often. It is important for students and families to be reminded frequently of our safety protocols and the reasons we follow them.

The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas:

  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
  • Hand washing
  • Adherence to social distancing instructions
  • Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means.

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Health and Safety

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

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School Closures

The district is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases. Those decisions will be made in collaboration with the Albany County Department of Health, the New York State Health Department and the District Medical Director.

The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult the Albany County Department of Health, the New York State Health Department and the District Medical Director when making such decisions.

School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely, pending the outcome of consultation with health officials.

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