Guilderland Central School District Reopening FAQs

The district has received hundreds of questions from families since the beginning of July. Below you will find answers to what we know at this time. Please remember, our plans continue to evolve and anything is subject to change.

If you have questions that have not been answered in this FAQ, in the reopening plan, or on the reopening updates home page, please email

Back to Reopening Home Page | Back to Reopening Updates Home Page | Communication and Engagement | Health & Safety | Facilities | Child Nutrition | Transportation | Social-Emotional Well-Being | School Schedules | School Activities | Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism | Technology and Connectivity | Teaching and Learning | Special Education | Bilingual Education | Staff

Communication and Engagement

View the full Communication and Engagement plan here.

How will parents be notified if the school needs to shift to fully remote learning?

If the school needs to shift to fully remote learning, the district will use SchoolMessenger a mass communication system to send parents/guardians emails, phone calls and text. There will be additional means of notification either from individual schools via the mass notification system or school email.

How will parents be notified of their child/ren’s class schedules?

Students and parents will receive their class assignments in the eSchoolData Parent and Student Portals.

Will I be notified if there is a suspected or confirmed COVID case, or quarantine, within the school community?

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to potentially exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. Notification to the wider community will occur only under the direction of local health officials.

Who should I contact if I need reopening resources translated into another language?

The plan and all pages on the district website can be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available in the upper right-hand corner of the district website in the following languages: English, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Hindi, Korean, Malayalam, Russian, Spanish, Telugu, Turkish and Vietnamese.

If assistance is needed please reach out to Marcia Ranieri, Instructional Administrator for World Languages & English as a New Language at GHS at

Who was involved in the school district’s planning?

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.

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Health & Safety

View the full Health & Safety plan here.

Are masks required?

Yes. Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear masks at all times, indoors and outside, including on the school bus and in classrooms. Students will be allowed to remove masks during meals and for breaks at teachers’ discretion, so long as they maintain appropriate social distance.

On the preliminary GCSD reopening plan, kids were not required to wear masks during instruction. Why was it changed?

After the district received a significant amount of feedback expressing concern for safety from families, students and staff, we decided to take a more conservative approach and require the wearing of masks at all times (except when eating lunch and directed “mask breaks”). The original guidance indicated that masks were not required during instruction, but not all instruction is delivered in the same manner; the reality of maintaining six feet of distance at all times during instruction cannot be guaranteed. Students do and will need to get up and the teacher will need to circulate through the room to work with students.

Therefore, mask breaks will be provided and it will be the teacher’s discretion to give those breaks at times when they can be certain about the social distancing. For example, a break might be given while the teacher is demonstrating a math problem or providing other direct large group instruction and everyone is in their seat. However, students would need their masks if the teacher is going around the room and providing individual help as students solve problems. There are a thousand variations to what “instruction” can look like; we think this is a good balance between safety measures and student comfort.

What is an acceptable mask/face covering?

Cloth face masks that cover both the nose and mouth that include, but are not limited to, homemade sewn masks and surgical masks. Bandanas, single-ply gaiters, and masks with an exhalation valve are not allowed.

More information about masks and mask care can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website.

Will masks be provided to students and staff?

Masks and related necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Staff and students are allowed and encouraged to use their own acceptable face covering.

Can shields [PPE] be used in place of masks?

Face shields may be used by some school staff, but they are to be worn in addition to face masks, not in place of them.

Are students required to wear masks in the classroom? On the school bus?

Students will be expected to wear masks at all times, indoors and outside, including on the school bus and in classrooms, even when six-foot physical distancing is possible. Mask breaks will be provided and will be at teachers’ discretion to give those breaks at times when they can be certain about the social distancing.

Are masks required to be worn during PE?

Yes. Students and staff will be expected to wear a mask during PE, both indoors and outside. However, students may be allowed to remove their mask during PE at the teachers’ discretion, so long as they maintain a minimal physical distance of 12 feet or more from others.

Can I request my child/ren not to wear a mask during PE?

Students and staff will be expected to a mask during PE. However, students may be allowed to remove their mask during PE at the teachers’ discretion, so long as they maintain a minimal physical distance of 12 feet or more from others. 

What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask?

Just as any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and other staff will work toward compliance with the student and parents.

What are parents required to do to screen their child/ren’s health before school each day?

Parents/guardians will be responsible for checking each child’s health before school each day and submitting a Health Assessment survey prior to sending their child/children to school. If a child presents with any of the following, they should be kept home from school:

  • Fever ( above 100.0F/ 37.8C) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Please note that this screening is in addition to other conditions that should preclude students from attending school (e.g., pink eye, vomiting) or any situation in which a child appears not to be well enough to participate in the activities of the school day.

Do I need to take my child/ren’s temperature every day before school?

Yes. Taking the temperature of your child/ren is part of the daily health check outlined above. You should keep your child/ren home and notify your school nurse if they have a temperature above 100.0F (37.8C).

How is the health of staff being screened?

All district staff members are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel experience any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their supervisor as per the district’s reporting policies and seek medical attention.

Will there be a specific list of symptoms that require children to stay home?

Parents have always been asked to keep students home when they are sick. Now with COVID-19, keeping students home when they are sick is a life safety issue.

Please note that this screening is in addition to other conditions that should preclude students from attending school (e.g., pink eye, vomiting) or any situation in which a child appears not to be well enough to participate in the activities of the school day.

Please call your school nurse with any questions or concerns. You can find a list of contact information for each school here.

If my child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, how long will they need to be out of school?

The district established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school.

Learn more about the Protocols for Returning to School

What should my child do if they feel sick during the school day? Will I be notified?

If a student feels sick during the school day, they will report to the nurse’s office for evaluation and potentially be directed to a supervised isolation area prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Learn more about isolation areas in each school building.

What is the protocol if there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in the school?

The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff and visitors of any of our schools.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with the Albany County Department of Health guidelines.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff will not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

What should I do if I have traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 10 days?

Please reference the New York State guidelines for travel to New York. Please make sure you notify your school building principal as well.

My child or a member of my family is considered to be high-risk for COVID-19. What are my options?

We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities.

Parents of children that are more at risk of COVID-19 should speak with their child’s doctor and/or medical professional(s) to determine the best academic and service options for their child. Staff should contact the Human Resources Department if they have conditions that put them at an increased risk of COVID-19. Students who have family members who are in high-risk groups may also need to attend school remotely. If a child is unable to return to in-person instruction this fall, remote academic instruction and related services will be provided to meet the individualized education program (IEP) and/or instructional program to the greatest extent possible.

Will schools be conducting contact tracing if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19?

The district will participate in contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department.

What are the district’s plans for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings?

The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.

Will fire drills and lockdown drills still be conducted? What will be the process for maintaining social distancing?

Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.

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View the full Facilities plan here.

Will outside visitors be permitted into school buildings? Will outside groups still be able to use school facilities?

No outside visitors or groups with the exception of some volunteers and the YMCA before- and after-school childcare staff will be allowed on school campuses at this time. Anyone entering the building will be required to complete the health attestation. This can be reassessed as the school year progresses.

Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors (e.g. contractors) to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.

Will Plexiglass partitions be installed on the students’ desks or in any areas in school buildings?

Polycarbonate panels will be installed in various office areas across the district. The district is still reviewing products to ensure they meet SED facilities planning and fire code requirements.

What is the school district doing about getting clean airflow into classrooms?

Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible maintaining health and safety protocols. This will be done through opening windows, doors and increasing outside air exchange through our HVAC systems. Engineers are also investing the install of Merv 11 filters in classroom spaces. All classroom spaces currently have Merv 8 filters.

How big will the class sizes be for in-person instruction?

Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/tables are positioned no less than six feet apart. A typical classroom of 770 square feet will house 14 to 15 students. Larger classrooms will hold up to 20 students, these spaces are at least 1000 square feet.

How will desks be arranged in the classrooms? Will students be facing each other or facing forward?

Desks and tables or a combination of both will be arranged in classrooms to ensure that students are positioned no less than six feet apart while seated. 

Classroom set up with tables, chairs on each end of the tables facing each other. Classroom set up with individual desks at least six feet apart

Will the bathroom capacity be limited?

Occupancy of 2 students in a communal bathroom at a time, this will require students to help us maintain the occupancy limit. A schedule will also be developed for rotational disinfection throughout the day.

Will students still use cubbies? Lockers?

Lockers will not be used, cubbies will be used at the elementary level.

How is the district ensuring that any changes to its facilities are in compliance with fire code and other regulations?

All spaces to be occupied by school students and staff must meet the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code. 

Currently, there are no plans for changes in our school buildings that would require a review from SED facilities planning.

Will students and staff have access to hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms as well as automatic dispensers in various locations throughout each building. The use of hand sanitizer will be supervised, especially at the elementary level. Parents may opt their child out of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer while at school. To do so, please send a written notice to your child’s school.

Will students and staff have access to water fountains? How will water fountains be cleaned?

The district will ensure that students and staff have access to drinking water during the school day. Bottle filler fountains are installed in all of our school buildings and we are considering disabling the fountain portion so only bottle filler is operational. They will be cleaned at least daily.

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Child Nutrition

View the full Child Nutrition plan here.

I heard that meals are free for all students. Is that true?

Yes. On August 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is extending funding for free meals for kids through the end of the 2020-21 school year provided funds are not depleted. Read more about free meals for GCSD students.

Will lunches need to be brought to school every day? Or will they be provided? Will hot meals still be available?

School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. Students may also bring lunches from home.

  • High School meals will be delivered to the classroom.
  • Middle School and Elementary School students will go down to the cafeteria and pick up their meals to return to the classroom.
  • A limited menu will be available in each building, still offering a wide variety of options for students.
  • Elementary School students will pre-order their meals with their teachers
  • Middle School and High School students will be pre-ordering via SchoolCafe (available as both an app and website)

Where will students eat breakfast and lunch?

Students will eat both breakfast and lunch in their classrooms. Rooms that have students with food allergies in them will be made allergy aware and specific precautions and plans will be put in place.

Will snacks be available for students to purchase during lunch at GHS and FMS?

Yes. Students can either pre-order or purchase snacks at the register when they pick up their meals.

How will students pay for their meals?

Students are encouraged to pre-pay for all meals online via Checks made out to Guilderland School Lunch Fund will also be accepted. We are encouraging online and check payment but will accept cash at the register if necessary, but no change will be given.

Will meals be provided to those participating in remote-only learning?

Meals for remote-only learners will be available for pickup at Guilderland High School and Farnsworth Middle School on Monday afternoons. A week’s worth of meals will be provided at each pick-up. Families need to complete this form or contact the Food Services Department. Families will only have to fill out the form or contact the department once, and they will remain on the pickup list until they would like to be removed.

Pickup times may vary per location but will be communicated to families when they sign up for the service.

Will students in the hybrid model be able to order meals for the days they are at home?

Yes. The students in grades 7-12 on the hybrid model, can pick up breakfast/lunch for the following day (when they will be remote) when they leave school.

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View the full Transportation plan here.

Will buses be running?

Yes. All students are entitled to transportation by their home district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for distance-eligible children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the deadline to request out-of-district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a Section 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.

Will social distancing be enforced on buses?

Students, drivers and staff should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable on the school bus. Members of the same household may be seated within six feet of each other. To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school.

Will masks be required on the bus?

Students, drivers and staff must wear a mask at all times on school transportation (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated). If a student needs a mask, they will be provided with one by the driver. Students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by wearing a mask are not required to do so but must be appropriately socially distanced.

Learn more about COVID-19 safety measures on school buses in this video.

Will students’ temperatures be checked before entering the bus?

Students’ temperatures will not be checked before boarding the bus. Parents will be required to complete a daily health assessment including taking a temperature before sending their child to school. Drivers will make sure all students boarding are wearing face coverings.

Will there be a bus monitor for each bus?

Students will be monitored by the bus driver. Attendants are only assigned to buses with students who require an attendant.

How many students will be on a bus?

Students will be required to social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, members of the same household may sit together on the bus. Therefore, approximately twenty students will be on each bus. This may vary, depending on how many students have a family member on the bus with them.

How many students will be in each seat?

There will only be one child per seat except that students in the same household are permitted to sit in the same seat. All students will be required to wear a mask on the bus unless they are medically unable.

Can my child sit with their friend on the bus if they have been spending time together this summer?

No. Only siblings or members of the same household will sit together unless students are otherwise directed by the bus driver.

What will be the bus schedule?

Transportation schedules are posted in the eSchoolData Parent Portal.

  1. Log into eSchoolData Parent Portal
  2.  Click on the student ID
  3. Click on the “Buses” tab
  4. You will see the bus schedule under the Student Buses section

Will there be transportation after school?

Transportation will be provided for students after school. There will be no late buses this year. 

Please see the school bell times below:

  • Grades K-6 will have a staggered start and end times.
  • Grades K-2, 7:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • Grades 3-4, 8:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Grades 5-6, 9:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Grade 7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Every other day schedule. 
  • Grades 8-12, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Every other day schedule.  

Will there be late buses this year?

There will be no late buses to begin the 2020-21 school year.

Can I drop off my child(ren) in the morning, but use the bus for aftercare?

Yes. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. Please notify the district transportation department and your school so they can make a note.

What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?

In accordance with NYS Education Department guidance, the buses will be cleaned once a day. That cleaning will be performed between the morning and afternoon runs. In addition, high contact spots (i.e. handrails, tops of seats) will be wiped down/disinfected after the morning and afternoon runs.

Will hand sanitizer be available on the bus?

On August 27, 2020, the New York State Department of Transportation authorized school districts to allow the use of hand sanitizer on buses. There is no appropriate location for a hand sanitizer dispenser on the school bus, however, both students and staff will be able to bring their own personal hand sanitizer (8 oz. container or smaller) onto the bus. Hand sanitizer must be stored in a bag or backpack when not in use.

How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?

Students embarking and disembarking buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent possible and wear a face covering.

  • In the morning, buses will load back to front.
  • In the afternoon, buses will load front to back with the first students being dropped off seated in the front seats and working their way back in order of drop-offs.
  • Upon arrival at school students will unload from front to back allowing for the appropriate distance between each other as they exit the bus.

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Social-Emotional Well-Being

View the full Social and Emotional Well-Being plan here.

How can a student reach out to counselors if stressed?

The first point of contact for social/emotional support is your child’s classroom teacher or a trusted adult. Students who are in distress and in need of more specialized support may reach out to one of the mental health specialists in the district. The district employs various Pupil Personnel Service providers in all buildings. These providers include school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers. Contact information for the mental health specialists can be found here: social-and-emotional-resources.

How will social-emotional support be provided during remote instruction?

The mental health wellness of students and staff is a high priority as schools look toward reopening. The district is prioritizing building relationships, routines, and resilience. The foundation of this will occur with teachers as they focus on building relationships with students and emphasizing social-emotional learning throughout their lessons. During remote instruction, students will be able to contact counselors by contacting the main office or house offices at each school or via this link: social-and-emotional-resources. Counselors will be available to meet with students remotely via phone or video conferencing.

What is the district doing to support the mental health of its staff?

The district has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of faculty, and staff when school reopens. This includes providing professional learning for teachers and the school community prior to schools reopening regarding supporting students’ social-emotional well being upon reentry. Additional professional development will be provided throughout the year to address how to incorporate Social Emotional Learning.

Will students entering new school buildings have some form of orientation or tours ahead of time?

The district always looks forward to welcoming new or rising students into its buildings. These types of experiences and events will be dependent upon grade level. Each individual school will notify parents. If you have any questions, please contact the principal for that building.

Will parents/guardians be allowed to escort their child(ren) into the building on the first day back to school?

This is dependent on each separate school. Please contact your building principal.

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School Schedules

What are the start times? 

Please reference the School Schedules page of the Reopening Plan

  • Grades K-2: 7:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • Grades 3-4: 8:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Grades 5-6: 9:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Grade 7: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Half of the class “A day” other half “B day” every other day schedule.
  • Grades 8-12: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Half of the class “A day” other half “B day” every other day schedule.

    What are the drop-off and pickup times for in-person instruction?

    • Grades K-2
      • Drop-off: Between 7:30 – 7:45 a.m.
        Students will not be permitted in the building before 7:30 a.m. unless they are enrolled in the Guilderland YMCA before-care program at their respective building.
      • Pick-up: 1:45 p.m.
        Students will not be permitted to remain in the building after 1:45 p.m. unless they are registered with the Guilderland YMCA after-care program at their respective school.
      • Grades 3 and 4
        • Drop-off: Between 8:15 – 8:30 a.m.
          Students will not be permitted in the building before 7:15 a.m. unless they are enrolled in the Guilderland YMCA before-care program at their respective building.
        • Pick-up: 2:30 p.m.
          Students will not be permitted to remain in the building after 2:30 p.m. unless they are registered with the Guilderland YMCA after-care program at their respective school.
      • Grade 5 at FMS
        • Drop-off: Between 8:55 – 9:00 a.m.
          Students will not be permitted in the building before 8:55 a.m. unless they are enrolled in the Guilderland YMCA before-care program.
        • Pick-up: 3:15 p.m.
          Students will not be permitted to remain in the building after 3:15 p.m. unless they are registered with the Guilderland YMCA after-care program.
      • Grade 6 at FMS

        • Drop-off: Between 8:55 – 9:00 a.m.

          Students will not be permitted in the building before 8:55 a.m. unless they are enrolled in the Guilderland YMCA before-care program.

        • Pick-up: 3:15 p.m.
          Students will not be permitted to remain in the building after 3:15 p.m. unless they are registered with the Guilderland YMCA after-care program.
      • Grades 7 at FMS
        • Drop-off: Between 9:55 – 10:00 a.m.
        • Pick-up: 4:30 p.m.
      • Grade 8 at GHS
        • Drop-off: Between 9:55 – 10:00 a.m.
        • Pick-up: 4:30 p.m.
      • Grades 9-12 at GHS
        Drop-off: Between 9:55 – 10:00 a.m.
        Pick-up: 4:30 p.m.

    Can students arrive at school before classes begin? If so, where will they go?

    Each elementary school building and Farnsworth Middle school is working with the Guilderland YMCA to offer before- and after-care Y-Time. Please reach out to the Guilderland YMCA to enroll or for more information.

    Grades 5-6 at FMS

    Students can attend Y-Time before child care if that is an option at FMS from 7:30 – 10:00 am. If not they can begin getting dropped off at 8:55 am. We will not be able to run our morning program in the cafe as we have had in the past. Students dropped off at 8:55 would walk to their class to begin at 9:00.

    If I choose to drive my children to school, what’s the process for picking up? Will I have to get out of the car to sign my child out, as has always been required at pick up?

    More information will be shared with families by each school building. Students will still be required to be signed out, but we want to avoid parents getting out of their cars and/or entering the buildings.

    Will there still be an afterschool program?

    All elementary schools and Farnsworth Middle School is working with the Guilderland YMCA to offer Y-time aftercare. Please contact the Guilderland YMCA for more information or to enroll.

    How will music be delivered to students?

    • Elementary & Middle School General Music. Music teachers will travel to the students’ classrooms to deliver instruction to minimize the movement of cohorts.
    • High School Music. All HS music classes will still be held.
    • Ensemble music (all levels):
      • Elementary ensembles (chorus, band, orchestra) are on hold because late buses will not be available.
      • Instrumental and vocal lessons at all levels will still take place maintaining proper social distancing, PPE, cleaning and disinfecting, and hand hygiene protocols.
      • Middle school and high school ensembles will be held whenever possible. If we determine that we cannot conduct an ensemble in a socially distant manner, ensemble time will be used to teach portions of the curriculum that do not require performing. In this scenario, there will be a greater emphasis on individual skills and small group performances that will come from the instrumental and vocal lesson groups.
      • For choir, students will wear masks and maintain 12’ of social distance.
      • For band, students will wear masks, utilize bell coverings, and maintain 12’ of social distance.
      • For orchestra, students will wear masks and maintain 6’ of social distance.
      • Whenever possible, the equipment will not be shared. If equipment must be shared, proper cleaning and disinfection will take place between use. Students and faculty will perform proper hand hygiene before and after contact of shared equipment.

    How will PE work for all grades?

    Students will still participate in Physical Education classes. Whenever possible, students will use outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to NYSDOH guidelines of maintaining 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity. Masks will be required at all times.

    Is there an option to opt out of music, PE and art?

    At this time, there will not be an opt out procedure for art, PE or music. These courses are still required by the state education department. Our teachers will adhere to all safety protocols which are informed by the guidance from the DOH and NYSED.

    Will fifth graders be following the hourly schedule of the elementary schools or will they follow the schedule of the middle school?

    5th graders will follow the ES hourly schedule. They will be taught by their elementary teachers, teacher assistants and additional staff.

    Will elementary students have recess? If so, will recess be outside if conditions permit?

    Elementary students will still participate in recess. Elementary principals will work with staff to develop alternative recess activities that abide by social distancing guidelines. 

    Will students still have assemblies? Field trips?

    Pursuant to NYSDOH guidance, schools must ensure that appropriate social distancing is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds (inclusive of students, faculty, and staff). Because of these guidelines, assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities will not be held at this time.

    Will students stay in the same classroom all day?

    School schedules for the reopening of school will be designed to minimize the movement of students within the building. To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

    How will the district decide if there is a need to go fully remote? Will that decision be made districtwide, or on a more individual basis (school, class, etc.)?

    The district will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level. Additionally, if there is a staffing shortage due to quarantine, a classroom, grade band or the entire school building might need to switch to remote-only instruction.

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    School Activities

    View the full School Activities plan here.

    Will athletics, clubs or extracurricular activities still be offered?

    As interscholastic sports and extracurricular activities are an important aspect of student life and the school community, it is our priority to maintain as many offerings as we can. The district is exploring the types of activities that can be conducted in a safe environment with appropriate social distancing protocols. Whenever possible, activities will be conducted remotely, maximizing the use of technology to provide opportunities for student engagement in a safe manner.

    Can my child participate in athletics, clubs or extracurriculars if they are doing remote learning?

    Yes, students who elect to do remote learning will be allowed to participate in athletics and extracurricular clubs and activities.

    Will music and drama performances still take place?

    In order for the district to adhere to NYSDOH and NYSED guidance, in-person group gatherings will not be permitted. If possible, music and drama events will be held virtually.

    Will my child be able to travel to other schools to participate in events?

    The district will not be offering any events or school activities at this time that would involve students traveling to other schools. The only exception to this would be Career and Technical Education or other programs through BOCES, including special education programs/services, that are related to a student’s instructional program.

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    Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism

    View the full Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism plan here.

    How will a student be marked “absent,” “present” or “tardy” during remote learning?

    There will be an expectation for daily attendance of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in-person or remote.

    Will I be notified if my child has been marked “absent” or “tardy” during remote learning?

    Students who are chronically absent will receive the same follow-up (i.e., guidance, administration, child study team, child protective services) whether they are participating in in-person or remote instruction.

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    Technology and Connectivity

    View the full Technology and Connectivity plan here.

    How do I (or a student) request tech support?

    A parent or student can submit a request for support via the Student Technology Help Desk Form.

    What technology do we need to have at home to participate in remote learning?

    Students will need access to an internet-connected device. This may be a Windows, Mac, or Chromebook. Access to the Chrome browser is preferred as many Google Apps will need to be accessed. Online coursework can be completed online. Families who do not have internet connection may request assistance from the school district.

    Students who do not have a computing device can request one by contacting their building principal.

    As a parent, are there resources for me to learn about and support the technology my child/ren is using for remote learning?

    The GCSD Home Learning Support site houses the Student Technology Help Desk Form for students and parents to request assistance. This site also has general resources and frequently asked questions that may help parents and students with remote learning during the 2020-2021 School Year.

    Can my child borrow a device from the school?

    Students in all grades will be assigned a device. Students at grade 5-12 will be permitted to take their device home each night. Should the district need to close and transition to remote learning for all then students at all grade levels will take their device home for online learning.

    How is the district ensuring student data privacy during remote learning?

    The district will only utilize programs and platforms which have complied with all aspects of Ed. Law 2-D. Our data privacy officer will monitor this closely.

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    Teaching and Learning

    View the full Teaching and Learning plan here.

    What options do families have for returning to school in the fall?

    Students may return to school for in-person learning or remain at home for remote learning if families so choose. Remote learning will likely be a blend of live/synchronous learning facilitated by the classroom teacher with offline activities, projects, readings, and assignments to be completed by the students while at home. In some instances, a teacher may deliver instruction by live streaming a lesson or they may opt to provide a pre-recorded lesson or a screencast.

    How is the district preparing for digital instruction?

    The district recognizes that this is a transformative time in education and that we must leverage technology to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences for students, even during times of crisis. We have prepared for digital instruction by supporting high-quality professional development for educators, school leaders, and administrators; building technological capacity and infrastructure; providing students and families with the resources to benefit from high-quality digital learning opportunities; and prioritizing courses and curricula. Additionally, we have assessed our needs for hardware and software resources to ensure that every student and teacher has the tools needed during periods of digital instruction.

    Will remote instruction in the fall be different from what it was in the spring? If so, how?

    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. In some instances, a teacher may deliver instruction by live-streaming a lesson or they may provide a pre-recorded lesson or a screencast.

    The primary difference from the spring will be that students at home will be expected to follow the full curriculum as students in school will follow. This means more science and social studies at the elementary level. Art, PE and music will be required as well. Students in grades 6-12 will follow a daily schedule as if they were in attendance. The schedule will essentially mirror the schedule of your child’s class. Attendance will be taken and students will be graded.

    Is there a remote-only learning option for families who do not want to send their child to in-person instruction?

    Yes. Parents/guardians can choose a remote-only option for their child/ren for the first semester and seconst semester of the 2020-2021 school year.

    If we choose remote learning, what’s the time commitment on that? Do we have to stay with that learning model for the whole year?

    Parents/guardians choosing the remote-only option commit for the specific semester of the 2020-2021 school year.

    If we choose to send our child/ren for in-person instruction, and we decide a week, a month, etc. into it that we’re not comfortable, can we pull them out and switch to remote-only learning?

    Although we prefer that families remain committed to their chosen learning option, we recognize that circumstances in and around our community may cause a family to become less comfortable with in-person learning for their child. In such instances, parents will be able to transition to remote-only learning.

    What is the difference between remote learning and homeschooling?

    Remote learning is delivered by the school district for students who are enrolled in school, but are not attending in-person instruction. Instruction is provided by certified teachers in accordance with New York State Learning Standards.

    Parents who wish to homeschool their child must provide written notice to the school district and submit an individualized home instruction plan, as well as quarterly reports and evaluations, to the district. Parents hold full responsibility for delivery of instruction as detailed in the approved IHIP.

    To obtain an (1) application for homeschooling, as well as a (2) home instruction plan template and (3) quarterly grade reporting form, please contact Lindsey Heslin in the Office of Instructional Education at

    Will virtual instruction include full teacher participation or will it just be posted assignments?

    Virtual instruction will likely be a blend of live instruction facilitated by the classroom teacher with offline activities and assignments to be completed by the students. In some instances, a teacher may deliver instruction by live-streaming a lesson or they may provide a pre-recorded lesson or a screencast. Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

    What platforms will be used for remote instruction?

    The district’s primary platforms for management and delivery of remote instruction will be Google Classroom. Our youngest learners (K-2) will also use Seesaw to organize and engage students at home. Additionally, a variety of learning apps and software will be accessible and used for remote learning. These may be used for independent proactive, assigned tasks, research, etc.

    Are there any training sessions or resources for parents/guardians on the platforms students will be using?

    The district is hosted Parent Universities during the week of August 17. Each session will guide parents/guardians through the use of online tools and resources that will be used by their children. Please reach out to to request a recording. 

    Also, the GCSD Home Learning Support site houses the Student Technology Help Desk Form for students and parents to request assistance. This site also has general resources and frequently asked questions that may help parents and students with remote learning during the 2020-2021 School Year.

    Will remote learning be synchronous (students expected to be online at a specific time) or asynchronous (students completing work on their own schedule)? What will interactions with teachers be like?

    Remote learning will likely be a blend of live/synchronous instruction facilitated by the classroom teacher with offline activities, projects, readings, and assignments to be completed by the students while at home. In some instances, a teacher may deliver instruction by live streaming a lesson or they may opt to provide a pre-recorded lesson or a screencast. Students will be expected to join and participate in online classes as scheduled. Attendance will be taken even for students who are working from home. It is imperative that students follow all directions, guidance, and expectations as outlined by a teacher.

    Will everyone have access to remote learning resources, even if they are attending some form of in-person instruction?

    The district has a plan for remote-only learning in the event the schools are shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Because of this, all students will have access to remote learning resources as needed.

    Will the same teacher be instructing my child for both in-person and remote instruction?

    The district is working through these logistics based on remote-only enrollment numbers. We will update this once we have more information.

    How will teachers communicate with students and families during remote instruction? How do I contact my child’s teacher if I have questions during the year?

    Individual teachers will establish and outline the process for how they will communicate with families and how students/families can contact them.

    How will students’ work be graded or evaluated?

    Student work will be evaluated by classroom teachers and will be used to calculate numeric course grades for students in grades 6-12. For students in grades K-5, progress will be reported using a four-point, standards-based rubric. Additionally, parent conferences will be scheduled to provide direct updates to parents regarding their child’s growth and achievement.

    How will struggling students receive help with their schoolwork?

    Students and their parents are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher with any concerns about schoolwork. Should additional academic support be needed, a support specialist will be assigned to diagnose specific needs and develop a plan to provide required support. Specialists in reading/literacy, math, mental health, related services, etc. are available to support any students who are struggling.

    How will students complete science labs?

    Laboratory instruction will be available to students both in person and remotely. In-person labs will be hands-on experiences completed in lab spaces that abide by social distancing guidelines. Students will work individually instead of in laboratory groups, and students will have their own supplies. In instances where we are not able to provide equipment to individual students (such as microscopes, scales, etc.), each student in a class will be assigned to their own piece of equipment, and equipment will be sanitized before the next lab class.

    This year only, students will also have the flexibility to participate in computer-simulated laboratory experiences and have these virtual experiences count as part of the 1200 minute lab requirement for Regents Science courses. The computer-simulated lab experiences will also serve as an opportunity for middle-level learners to explore scientific phenomena. Science teachers will assign virtual lab experiences, at their discretion, for students who are participating in blended and remote learning.

    Will students still take state exams (e.g., the 3-8 math and ELA assessments, Regents exams)?

    Any Grades 3-8 and Regents examinations required by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) will be made available to students in the appropriate grade level. If examinations are waived, the district will communicate that information to families.

    Will my child still be able to attend their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at BOCES?

    Students will still attend Career and Technical Education or other programs through BOCES. Please see the BOCES reopening plan for more information on how CTE programs will be conducted.

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    Special Education

    View the full Special Education plan here.

    How will my child’s IEP be affected by remote learning?

    The district will work with its committees on special education and preschool special education to ensure that students’ individualized education plans can be followed during both in-person and remote learning. The school reopening plan considers in-person services a priority for high-needs students and preschool students with disabilities whenever possible.

    Whether in person or remote, delivery of special education services will be achieved by using a variety of resources provided by our teachers and providers through collaboration to ensure educational materials are accessible, adapted, modified and appropriate in accordance with student’s IEPs, pre-recorded lessons, synchronous teaching (recorded for those who cannot attend) and teacher-designed learning activities. 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.).

    Can my child still receive services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy remotely?

    Yes. Families will be contacted by the providers to schedule remote services.

    Will my child still be transported to off-site programs?

    Yes, the district will transport to programs that are required as part of the student’s educational program (CTE, out of district special education placements).

    If my child receives group services, how will they be implemented safely?

    Group services will be provided according to the student’s individualized education program. All district protocols for health and safety will be followed (i.e. masks, social distancing).

    What do I do if I need additional support for my special education student during remote learning? In-person instruction?

    Every student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is assigned a case manager/advocate who is typically the special education teacher of record. You may also contact other members of the department at this link: Special Services.

    What do I do if I’m new to the district and my child needs special education services?

    If your child enters our district with a special education plan from a previous district, please note that in the registration paperwork. A representative from the special education office will contact you.

    Will my child still be able to attend their special education program at BOCES

    Students will still attend programs through BOCES. Please see the BOCES reopening plan for more information on how BOCES programs will be conducted.

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    Bilingual Education

    View the full Bilingual Education and World Languages plan here.

    How will the district provide translations of reopening information for students and families?

    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. As was the case during the spring, 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.
    • Links to NYSED informational videos, including the Parents’ Bill of Rights, will be shared with all families of ELLs.
    • Our annual Fall ENL Parent Orientation 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 will be provided for all families as requested.
    • To request translation assistance please contact your child’s ENL teacher or Marcia Ranieri, District Director of ENL programs at or by phone at 518-861-8591.

    How will instruction be provided to students who are English language learners?

    The district will work to identify English language learners during the first 30 days of the school year. Instruction will be provided based on each student’s measured English language proficiency level. Families will be contacted by the school if a language other than English is spoken in the home and their child will be tested using the NYSITELL exam by a certified ENL teacher.

    What do I do if I need additional support for my English language learner/multilingual learner during remote instruction? In-person instruction?

    If an English language learner/multilingual learner needs additional support during remote instruction or in-person instruction, please reach out to their teacher or the ENL Administrator, Marcia Ranieri, at You can also contact her by phone at 518-861-8591.

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    View the full Staff plan here.

    Will substitute teachers be used during remote learning?

    The district is still finalizing plans and will determine the system for substitute teachers for remote instruction.

    Will all instruction be delivered by a certified teacher?

    All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignments, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.

    Will there be a time for teachers to transition to new locations and to be properly trained on new procedures, etc.?

    Yes. We will use the Superintendent’s Conference Days to complete this work.

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    The district is not responsible for facts or opinions contained on any linked site. Some links and features on this site require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. Visit the Adobe website to download the free Acrobat Reader. This website was produced by the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service, Albany, NY. Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.