Reopening Plan 2020-21

Overview

The Pelham Public Schools has been studying and planning for different scenarios for the reopening of school on September 8, 2020. These efforts began in March and are being overseen by a committee of District administrators and teachers with different subcommittees developing plans for Elementary and Secondary (MS/HS). These subcommittees also included teachers, who provided valuable insight, as well as guidance from the District’s physician.  Additional subcommittees focused specifically on health & safety, facilities/logistics, and communications.

At the heart of these planning efforts is an understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we operate as a world and as a school district. Throughout the planning process, the District has put the health, safety and wellness of our students and staff at the forefront, knowing that those elements are essential to providing the robust and challenging education our students deserve. Doing so in a way that is safe and healthy for both students and teachers/staff is essential.  

Dating back to last spring, the District sought feedback from key stakeholders, including students, parents, and teachers/staff. This feedback was solicited through surveys on distance learning, concerns about reopening schools, and different possibilities for a hybrid approach.  The feedback was shared with committee members who reviewed and considered results in their discussions.  

On July 16, the New York State Education Department released official guidance to districts throughout the state, which details requirements and makes recommendations for schools' reopening plans. Submissions to the state must include plans for the following scenarios: 

  • Full in-person instruction 

  • Distance learning, and 

  • A hybrid of the two to reduce density in the buildings

Considerations and Criteria

For each scenario being considered the committee focused on the following factors for consideration:

  • Meets NYSED and DOH Requirements

  • Minimizes risks to the health and safety of students and staff

  • Provides for the social and emotional needs of students

  • Addresses the developmental needs of students

  • Provides continuity of instruction across models

  • Feasible to schedule and manage financially

  • Feasible for families of students and staff

  • Aligned with the region to the degree possible

After these plans were developed, the District sought additional feedback from parents who served on last year’s Authentic Learning and Community Engagement and Advocacy Committee, as well as members of the PTA Council. This feedback was used to further refine these plans. 

Overviews of these plans are available by using the tabs at the left of this page. 

Technology Planning

Recognizing that technology will continue to play an important role in education no matter what plan is implemented this school year, the District has made several enhancements to better prepare both students and teachers. These include:

  • Increasing instructional software for student and teacher use, such as: TI Calculator, Kami, HMH Math, NewsELA, Screencastify, FlipGrid, EdPuzzle, Dreambox*, etc.

  • Expanding the 1:1 Chromebook Initiative to students in Gr. 3-12 

  • Providing 4k document cameras for all instructional spaces in Pelham that may also be used to stream teachers’ lessons

  • Upgrading the entire district wireless network 

  • Expanding the Infinite Campus parent portal to K-5 to enable greater communication regarding student academic progress

  • Simplifying log-in access for K-3 students to Classlink with QR codes 

  • Planning for additional professional development to support teachers

Timeline and Next Steps

These plans must be submitted to the state by July 31, 2020. Please understand that these plans are likely to change based on guidance from New York State or local conditions. Additionally, as we begin to implement these plans, the District will continue to seek feedback and adapt as necessary. 

The Governor stated that a final decision as to whether schools in a particular region may open for in-person instruction will be made during the first week of August based on COVID-19 data. Once the Governor makes his determination, the school administration will meet and finalize our plans.

Throughout the school year, the District may switch between these plans based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Guidance from the Governor, the New York State Department of Health, or the New York State Education Department

  • Local rate of virus transmission

  • Or at the discretion of the school district

These decisions may be made on a district-wide, school-by-school basis, or class-by-class basis. 

Due to the nature and unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the necessary health and safety precautions we must all take to reduce the spread of this virus, we know that our schools will look quite different however we decide to resume in the fall. As a District, we will continue to adapt and do our best to provide the best possible education for our students as we navigate our new reality.

Reopening Updates