2020-21 Complete Reopening Plan

District Vision

The Pelham school community, comprising the Board of Education, administrators, teachers, school staff, parents, students and community members, has high expectations and standards for all students. 

The Pelham school community challenges and inspires its students to become creative and critical thinkers who make ethical choices, to work both independently and collaboratively to solve problems, to become life-long learners and responsible citizens in a democratic society, and to be prepared for the demands of a highly technological and global community.

The Pelham school community celebrates diversity, fosters a sense of belonging for all children and emphasizes the importance of contributing to the greater community. 

The Board of Education, administrators, teachers, school staff, parents, students and community members all share the responsibility for public education in Pelham. 

The Pelham school community is dedicated to continuous improvement and is committed to maintaining the flexibility necessary to anticipate and respond to a changing world.

Introduction

On Thursday, March 12, 2020 the students and staff of the Pelham Public Schools left the classrooms and halls of their beloved schools knowing that schools would be closed for cleaning and necessary disinfecting due to the impending spread of COVID-19. On March 16, Governor Cuomo announced an executive order closing all New York State schools for a two week period to attempt to halt the spread of the disease across the state. This executive order was eventually extended to the end of the school year, causing all schools to rely on distance learning to complete the 2019-2020 school year. 

The school closure brought many challenges to our community, which were met, as expected, with great patience, generosity and community spirit from the residents of Pelham as they persevered and aspired to provide the families of the community with support for needs on all fronts. Many lessons were learned through this challenging time that informed the plans encompassed in this document in anticipation of a return to school in the fall for the children of Pelham in a renewed pursuit of our district’s vision.

On Monday, July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.  

Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven-day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.

While districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. In accordance with the NYSED Reopening Guidance, the district has developed an educational plan for students who are themselves at high risk or who live with someone who is at high risk. Parents of students who require these accommodations due to their health or the health of their family must notify their respective school principal. 

Pelham Memorial High School  - Mark Berkowitz, Principal

Pelham Middle School -  Lynn Sabia, Principal

Colonial School - Susan Gilbert, Principal

Hutchinson School Trisha Fitzgerald, Principal

Prospect Hill School - Jeannine Carr, Principal

Siwanoy School - Farid Johnson, Principal

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Please note, this plan is considered a living document and subject to change as the District finalizes and implements plans. Stakeholder feedback will be sought regularly to assess the effectiveness of the plan and identify needed adjustments.

It is possible that the District may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to state or local conditions and recommendations or guidance from our partnering agencies. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making as we move to open our schools. 

Ms. Julia Chung, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, will serve as the District’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Ms. Chung will work closely with our local health department and will be responsible for overseeing processes related to student and staff well being, health screening and monitoring, and contact tracing. She will serve as a central point of contact between the DOH and schools with regard to COVID cases, contact tracing, and all health and safety protocols. In addition to building principals, who are the initial point of contact for students, staff, and parents, she is the District level point of contact for schools and stakeholders, and will ensure the District is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Ms. Chung may be reached at jchung@pelhamschools.org or (914) 738-3434 ext. 3.

The reopening planning efforts began in June and are being overseen by a committee of District administrators and teachers with different subcommittees developing plans for Elementary and Secondary schools (MS/HS). Additional subcommittees focused specifically on health and safety, facilities and logistics, and communications. The committees also consulted with the District physician on relevant health and safety protocols. 

Throughout the planning process, the District has sought feedback from stakeholders, including students, parents and teachers/staff. This included surveys asking about: 

As plans for reopening school began to be refined, the District further engaged parents from both the 2019-20 Authentic Learning and Community Engagement & Advocacy committees as well as the PTA Council to solicit additional feedback on distance learning, in person plans and hybrid models.  

The draft plans were further shared publicly at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, July 27, 2020

Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the District has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations (including in-person, by phone, or via email).

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 www.pelhamschools.org  and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the District website homepage and all school websites. 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. Any individual who has trouble accessing this plan should contact Alex Wolff, Public Information Officer via email or by calling 914-738-3434 ext. 1131.  

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. The District is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The District will use its existing communication channels – including email blasts, text messaging, phone blasts and hard mailings as appropriate. These communications channels will be used throughout the school year to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including: 

  • Changes between full in-person instruction, distance learning, and the hybrid model

  • School closures

  • Meal service

  • School schedule information

  • Building logistics and protocols

  • COVID-19 Contact Tracing/Containment efforts

The District will also provide additional information to students and families using signs, videos and other means to ensure that information is available with regard to:

  • Social distancing measures

  • Proper wearing of face coverings 

  • Proper hand and respiratory hygiene

  • Health and Safety Protocols/Training

  • Additional hygiene information

  • Cleaning and disinfecting

Email Blasts

The District and individual schools will primarily communicate via email, using email addresses provided by parents via their emergency contact forms. Parents and/or any Pelham community member may sign up for District email communications. Any individual who is not receiving emails and would like to, or is having trouble registering for email blasts may contact Alex Wolff, Public Information Officer via email or by calling 914-738-3434 ext. 1131.

Text Messages

District text messaging is typically used to communicate information during emergency situations. Cell phone numbers listed on Emergency Contact Forms (with permission) are used for these messages. During the 2020-21 school year, text messages may be used to inform parents if/when the District must shift between the in-person/hybrid and distance learning models.

Phone Blasts

The District may periodically use telephone blasts to communicate information during emergency situations. These calls will be made using the primary phone numbers listed on Emergency Contact Forms (with permission). During the 2020-21 school year, text messages may be used to inform parents if/when the District must shift between the in-person/hybrid and distance learning models.

In-School Communication

Appropriate signage and training opportunities will be used to support the dissemination of consistent messaging to staff and students regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. 

Translation

All electronic notifications will be posted to our website, which provides for translation into multiple languages through Google Translate as integrated into the website. Our ENL staff will make parents aware of this feature. Principals will work with ENL teachers to identify the prefered language and mode of communication for all parents of ELLs and will provide translation of notifications and interpretation as needed. 

Stakeholder Feedback

The District will solicit feedback on the plans from stakeholders at least quarterly. This feedback will be shared with the administration for consideration as we adjust our plans. 

Access to Devices

In support of remote learning, the District will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. As we did in the spring, the District will survey families to determine needs for devices and reliable internet connections. 

  • All students in grades 3-12 will be provided with District-owned Chromebooks as part of the District’s 1:1 initiative

  • All student in grade K-2 will have access to District remote-learning devices upon request

  • All teachers have access to District-provided Chromebooks or laptops

  • All families and teachers will be provided access to high-speed Internet hubs for places of residence upon request

Contacting the School

The District provides students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers including via email, Infinite Campus Parent Portal, Google Classroom, and District phones. These communications tools will remain available to families in the event that the District is operating in a remote learning environment. 

Reopening Considerations

The following phases for reopening are contained within CDC Guidance for Schools. Each phase must be planned for in advance by the school as it may be necessary to move between phases based on current health conditions.

The core objectives of this CDC guidance includes:

  • Safety actions to implement Non-pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)

  • Promote healthy hygiene practices

    • Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation

    • Ensure physical distancing

    • Limit sharing

    • Train all staff, students, and parents on NPIs and modified operational procedures

  • Health monitoring and screening

    • Check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

    • Plan for when a staff, child, or visitor becomes sick

    • Maintain healthy operations to assure risk-reduction strategies are in use

Step 1 - Substantial Spread: Schools Closed (Remote Instruction)

Schools that are currently closed remain closed. E-learning or distance learning opportunities should be provided for all students. The District will support the provision of student services such as school meal programs as feasible. Daycare may be provided to children of essential workers and who live in the local geographic area only.

In Step 1, the District will:

  • Coordinate with local and state Department of Health officials

  • Participate in contact tracing efforts and specimen collection efforts as directed by local health officials to the extent feasible

  • Implement distance/remote learning 

  • Close off affected areas of the school building and if possible, wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting

  • Provide essential meal services 

  • Provide daycare for children of essential workers

  • Require only essential staff to report in-person to carry out functions that are deemed essential by the Superintendent

  • Leverage virtual tools and platforms wherever possible to conduct essential business functions and keep in-person reporting to an absolute minimum

  • Consider having staff report to buildings to provide remote learning access and provide child care for staff’s children

Step 2 - Schools Open: Minimal/Moderate Spread (Enhanced Distancing)

In Step 2, the District will:

  • Establish and maintain communication with Department of Health officials

  • Participate in contact tracing efforts to the extent feasible as directed by local health officials

  • Implement a Hybrid model 

  • Isolate and disinfect impacted classrooms and spaces 

  • Remain open with enhanced social distancing measures

  • Reduce building density to allow for adequate social distancing

  • Cancel most extracurricular activities (e.g., sports, assemblies, dances, etc.)

Step 3 - Schools Open: Low/No Spread (Cohort Groups)

In Step 3, the District will:

  • Establish and maintain communication with Department of Health officials

  • Participate in contact tracing efforts to the extent feasible as directed by local health officials

  • Implement a normal In Person model

  • Utilize normal class sizes but limit the interaction of classes with other groups (cohorts)

  • Implement staggered schedules for arrival, dismissal, recess, lunch, and hallway passing

  • Assess group gatherings and events on an ongoing basis to consider if any events might put students, staff, or their families in close proximity to others and should be canceled

Health & Safety 

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

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 identify and utilize 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. 

Healthy hygiene practices will be taught by each building school nurse for both students and staff through the use of a video which will include appropriate respiratory hygiene, social distancing, hand-washing, identifying symptoms, and face-coverings.  Additionally, the District will provide instructions and reminders to students and staff through the use of signage. Signage will be placed in office entrances, hallways, restrooms, classrooms, the auditorium, gyms, and cafeterias/dining areas.

In addition to signage, the District will instruct all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to CDC and NYSDOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as emails, text messages, daily announcements, and newsletters.

The following protocols and procedures will be in place in all District schools for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator at jchung@pelhamschools.org  or (914)738-3434 ext. 3.

Health Checks

In consultation with the District physician, the District has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of greater than 100.0 °F and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The CDC list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources. 

The District will implement the following procedures related to mandated Health Screening Reporting: 

  • Parents/guardians and staff will be provided with training (in-person and/or videos) and resources to assist them in observing and identifying signs of illness  

  • Staff and/or parents are required to report COVID-19 symptoms prior to coming to school every morning 

  • Any student or adult with a fever of greater than 100.0°F  and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection should not report to school  

  • All employees will be required to use the District provided app or complete a paper copy of the health questionnaire prior to walking into the building

  • All K-5 families will be provided with copies of the health questionnaire that the student needs to bring to school each morning. Any student who does not have the signed form will have their temperature checked prior to entering the building.  Building level procedures will be communicated to parents and students by the school principal prior to the start of school.

  • All 6-12 students will use a hard copy or a District provided app to show that the health questionnaire has been completed by the parents either by showing the device or by providing a signed paper copy of the questionnaire prior to entering the building. Any student without the health assurance will have their temperature checked prior to entering the building. Building level procedures will be communicated to parents and students by the school principal prior to the start of school.

  • The health screenings will be reviewed daily by the building principal or their designee.

If a student arrives at school without having completed the health screening at home, there will be a nurse or a trained staff member available who will perform the temperature screening. The nurse or trained staff member will be provided with appropriate PPE and supplies for taking temperatures. Security monitors will assist with supervision of those waiting to assure social distancing.

Health screenings, including daily temperature checks, and completion of a screening questionnaire will be required for students and staff, as well as contractors, vendors, and visitors.  Anyone who has a temperature greater than 100.0°F or has a positive response on the screening questionnaire must be isolated from others and sent home immediately. Students will be supervised in the isolated area while awaiting transport home. 

Once students and staff are on campus, anyone who exhibits the symptoms for COVID-19 will be sent to the school health office for an assessment by the school nurse. A student exhibiting symptoms will be isolated from others and the parent/guardian will be contacted to pick up their child. A staff member exhibiting symptoms will be sent home.  Students and staff are required to notify the school nurse when they develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours. 

A health questionnaire determines whether the individual has:

  • Knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19;

  • Tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days;

  • Has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature of greater than 100.0°F in the past 14 days: and/or

  • Has traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

Each building will maintain the results of the students, faculty/staff and visitor questionnaires. 

Visitors will be limited to cases where deemed absolutely necessary. Per NYSDOH, the District will not keep records of student, faculty, staff, and visitor health data (e.g., the specific temperature data of an individual), but will maintain records that confirm individuals were screened and the result of such screening (e.g., pass/fail, cleared/not cleared).

If parents or guardians need accommodations in reporting health screening, they will be instructed to contact the building principal for assistance prior to the first day of school.  This may include access to a thermometer, additional copies of health questionnaires, etc.

Persons at High Risk

Prior to the reopening of school, the District will survey staff and parents to determine who may be at high risk for severe illness as well as those seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These individuals may be required to provide documentation from their healthcare provider with regard to their illness. 

The District will communicate directly with any employees who meet these criteria and provide reasonable accommodations, if possible so that the employee can continue to perform their district function. 

If a reasonable accommodation is not possible, employees will be notified of leave options under applicable state and federal law, as well as those provided for in collectively negotiated contracts. 

Any student who is not able to attend school for medical/health reasons should contact their respective school principal so that reasonable accommodations can be made for remote instruction.

Social Distancing, Face Coverings & PPE

The District has developed a plan with procedures for maximizing social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation. Visual cues such as directional arrows in hallways, six-foot markings on floors and hallways, six-foot markings near bathrooms, in the cafeteria, and other areas where students and staff may congregate will be installed. Security and lunch monitors will be trained in guidelines and procedures for enforcing social distancing of students.

The District will require all students and staff to wear face coverings at all times with the exception of eating, mask breaks and recess. Proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. Those medically unable to wear face coverings will not be required to wear them, but must maintain at least six-foot distance or be separated from others by a barrier. Exceptions may exist in cases where a student may require 1:1 support. These staff or students will be provided with a face shield upon request as an alternative. 

Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose. 

An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so, but must maintain social distancing or be separated by a barrier at all times. Face shields may also be provided as an alternative in this situation. 

All visitors will be required to wear a face covering, utilize hand sanitizer, complete the health questionnaire, and have their temperature checked by the greeter in each building upon entry. They will also be instructed to keep social distance of at least 6 feet whenever possible. A supply of masks will be available at all supervised entrances for visitors, staff or students needing them.

Infection Control Strategies

The District will follow the CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection  including guidance for schools along with the Cleaning and Disinfection Decision Tool to aid in determining what level of cleaning and/or disinfection is necessary. School wide cleaning includes classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, libraries, playgrounds, and buses. The guidance provides a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. The framework is based on doing the following:

  • Normal routine cleaning with soap and water to decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure;

  • Disinfection using US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectants against COVID-19. Where disinfectants are used, products will be registered with EPA and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people will be prioritized;

  • When EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, alternative disinfectants will be used (e.g., 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water or 70% alcohol solutions). The District will not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together. We will keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children;

  • Schools will be cleaned and disinfected daily.

  • Head custodians will maintain logs of each facility that will include date, time, and scope of cleaning and/or disinfection.

Cleaning plans will include considerations regarding the safety of custodial staff and other people who are carrying out the cleaning or disinfection. In order to disinfect areas frequently, additional staff will be trained as needed. For additional up to date information on cleaning protocols the District regularly consults the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website on Control and Prevention.

High touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day. Examples of high touch surfaces include:

  • Tables;

  • Doorknobs;

  • Light switches;

  • Countertops;

  • Handles;

  • Desks;

  • Phones;

  • Keyboards and tablets;

  • Toilets and restrooms; and

  • Faucets and sinks.

Students are not expected to participate in cleaning and/or disinfection activities. Desks/tables used by multiple students during the course of the day will be treated with a “bioshield” product to deter virus adhesion and sanitized daily. The district is exploring other products to use as an additional  barrier.

The District has a schedule for regular cleaning and/or changing heating/air conditioning system filters. Opening windows, if it can be done safely, and conducting classes outdoors are other strategies that will be used to increase airflow. 

The District will minimize the sharing of devices such as laptops, iPads or Chromebooks, keyboards and computer mice, to the greatest degree possible. The District will employ the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray per CDC Guidance and will dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid the pooling of liquid. Sharing of musical instruments will be minimized to the greatest degree possible. 

Playgrounds will be cleaned per CDC guidance:

  • Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection

  • The District will not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds as it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce risk of COVID-19 to the public

  • High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings will be cleaned routinely

  • Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (play structures, benches, tables) or ground- covers (mulch, sand) is not recommended

  • sidewalks and roads will not be disinfected

  • Shared athletic/gym equipment (e.g., balls, protective gear) will be cleaned between use per manufacturer’s directions.

School Health Office Cleaning

School health office disinfecting/cleaning will occur after each use of:

  • Cots;

  • Bathroom; and

  • Health office equipment (e.g. blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes, etc.) will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.

  • Disposable items will be used as much as possible including:

  • Disposable pillow protectors; or

  • Disposable thermometers, or disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, and disposable oto- scope specula.

The District will monitor updated information on cleaning health office equipment on the New York State Center for School Health’s website under COVID-19.

Facility Alterations and Acquisition

The district is installing code compliant plastic dividers throughout the schools in areas presently identified and is preparing to be able to install additional dividers as needed. No additional facilities alterations are planned at this time.

Space Expansion

Tents are being investigated for use to expand all school sites and improve opportunities for social distancing and mask breaks.

Tents for Additional Space

Tents are being explored to provide greater opportunities for instruction, recreation, and social distancing. Tents would also provide extended locations for lunch, physical education, music instruction, and mask breaks. Prior to use and installation, the District will seek approval from the NYSED Department of Facilities and meet all appropriate building codes.

  • Tents, both temporary and permanent are regulated by code and must be submitted for a building permit.

  • Temporary structures and tents are those erected for 180 days or less. The Building Code Section 3103.1 indicates, “tents and membrane structures erected for a period of less than 180 days shall comply with the Fire Code of NYS”.

  • The Fire Code (FC) Chapter 31 contains extensive requirements for Tents and Other Membrane Structures. FC Section 3103.2 indicates that a permit and approval of temporary tents is required. FC Section 3103 contains requirements for temporary tents and Section 3104 has requirements for permanent tents. They include requirements for construction documents, access roads, location, seating plans, means of egress, illumination, exit signs, construction, use.

  • If used, the district will adhere to all requirements as set forth by NYSED.

Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

  • The District is installing at least one touch-free faucet and auto-feed paper towel dispenser in all bathrooms. 

  • Drinking fountain units with bottle filling capabilities will have the spouts “locked off” so that only the bottle filling option can be used.  Disposable cup dispensers will be installed adjacent to the fountains.

  • Robust public education signage and six-foot social distance markings will be posted throughout the schools and facilities as constant reminders.

Ventilation

  • The District will maintain adequate, code required ventilation (natural or mechanical). Due to the vintage of most District facilities this mainly entails making sure windows and doors are open to the degree possible, while also keeping school security requirements in mind.

Technology for Air Purification

No additional air purification technology is being added at this time.

Management of Ill Persons

Students and staff with symptoms of illness must be sent to the health office. Such reports should be made in compliance with FERPA, and Education Law 2-d. The school nurse will be available to assess individuals as chronic conditions such as asthma and allergies or chronic gastrointestinal conditions may present the same symptoms as COVID-19 but are neither contagious nor pose a public health threat.

If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students will be directed to socially distance. Students suspected of having COVID-19 awaiting transport home will be isolated in a room or separated from others. 

If a school nurse is not available, the individual will be isolated and dismissed if the person has a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 that are not explained by a chronic health condition for follow up with a health care provider. 

Aerosol Generating Procedures

Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The District requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions. 

Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished. 

Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following manufacturer’s instructions after each use.  

If Students or Staff Become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School

The District requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least six feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

Return to School After Illness

 

Students/Staff who tested positive and have COVID-19 symptoms may be released from isolation if:

  • It’s been at least 10 days since the individual first started experiencing symptoms; AND 

  • The individual hasn’t had a fever in at least 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medication (such as Tylenol); AND 

  • Any shortness of breath/coughing/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell has improved. 

Students/Staff who tested positive, but are asymptomatic may be released from isolation if:

  • It’s been at least 10 days since the person’s first positive COVID-19 test was collected; AND  

  • The individual hasn’t had any subsequent illness 

Contact Tracing

In order to comply with local public health departments to trace all persons who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the schools will:

  • Keep accurate attendance records of students and staff members

  • Ensure student schedules are up to date

  • Keep a log of any visitors which includes date, time and where in the school they visited

Each school will monitor the number of staff and children who are sent home due to illness as well as daily attendance. If there is a suspected or confirmed case(s) of COVID-19 or an increased pattern of illness, the School Principal or their designee will immediately notify Ms. Julia Chung, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services who will in turn notify the Superintendent of Schools and the Westchester County Department of Health. 

To assist with contact tracing, parents/guardians should report any positive COVID-19 test within their immediate household to their respective school principal(s). In the event that a student/staff or household member tests positive, any other student/staff member living in the same household will be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

The Westchester County Department of Health will serve as the primary organization responsible for contact tracing in the event that students and/or staff members test positive for COVID-19. The District will provide the Department of Health relevant information such as class lists, student/staff schedules, etc. to identify individuals who were in contact with the individual(s) who tested positive for COVID-19. The District and Department of Health will work together to notify those who may have been in close or proximate contact, as defined by the Department of Health. Those in contact may be directed to quarantine and/or self isolate. Please note that neither the District nor the Department of Health are permitted to release the name of any individual who tests positive.

 

COVID-19 Testing

The District will collaborate with the Department of Health to make testing site locations and resources available to parents, students and staff as needed. Since the Pelham Public Schools is not a COVID-19 testing facility, those who want or require testing should visit the Westchester County Department of Health website, which lists testing locations under the testing, results and treatment tab. Students, parents and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site. Please note that there is currently no charge for COVID-19 testing at this time, though health insurance information may be requested. 

The Department of Health recommends that any student or staff member who was exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 get tested five days following the exposure. 

Students and/or staff members who were in close contact, as defined by the department of health, with an individual who tested positive will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Department of Health recommends that a student/staff member be tested five days after their exposure to someone who has previously tested positive.

School Closures

The District will make any decisions with regard to closures in collaboration with the Department of Health. Closures could be made on class-by-class, school-by-school or District-wide basis. In the event that a student/staff member tests or is presumed to be positive for COVID-19 while in school, the District will close specific areas or the entire school for disinfection depending on the circumstance. Closures may extend to different schools based on the network of siblings/households and/or shared staff. These closures will occur for 24 hours or longer. 

Additionally, the Pelham Public Schools may close individual classes, schools or the entire district based on several factors, including an increase in the regional infection rate, guidance from the Governor's office, State Education Department, or Department of Health, or local factors.

Additional factors include:

  • The Governor’s guidance, which states that:

    • schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.

    • Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5% using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Westchester County Department of Health. 

    • If the infection rate rises above 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%.

    • Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.

  • Notification from Westchester County Department about changes to local conditions

  • Consultation with the District physician

In the event of a full or partial District closure, the District will determine which schools and essential operations will be impacted and communicate with respective parties/personnel as necessary. 

Healthy Hygiene

The District will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:

  1. Stay home if they feel sick.

  2. Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.

  3. Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.

  4. Adhere to social distancing instructions.

  5. Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.

  6. Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.

  7. Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Hand Hygiene 

Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.

  • Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.

  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.

Hand washing should occur:

  • Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).

  • After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.

  • After using a tissue.

  • Before and after using shared materials.

  • Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.

  • After coming in from the outdoors.

  • Anytime hands are visibly soiled.

Respiratory Hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the District will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene. Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices:

  • Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.  

  • If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.

  • Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.

  • Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

The District will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “Protect Yourself from COVID-19 and stop the Spread of Germs” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection. The District will use electrostatic sprayers in the sanitizing of schools.  Approved products will be used in the sprayers which allow the disinfecting product to aggressively attach to surfaces applied.

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include:

  • Bathrooms

  • Athletic training rooms, locker rooms (if used)

  • Health offices, isolation rooms

  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)

  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)

  • Breakrooms

  • Cafeterias

  • Computer labs

  • Science labs

  • Classrooms

  • Maintenance offices and work areas

  • School vehicles

  • Media Centers

  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)

  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)

  • Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)

The District will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running water, and disposable paper towels.

  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.

  • Accommodations for students/staff?who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

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.  

The District will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.   

Visitors on Campus

No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for essential District business. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless permission has been granted by the school principal or designee. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings. Visitors will also be required to submit a health attestation form. 

Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.

School Safety Drills

The District will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions and according to the existing statutory schedules. 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. 

  • Education Law requires eight (8) evacuation drills and four (4) lock down drills with modifications due to COVID-19 for 2020-2021

  • Strict instructions must be given at the start of the school year so that staff and students know what to do when a drill is ANNOUNCED and the proper actions to take if it is not

  • The District’s Safety Committee will discuss our drills and make recommendations as to what is feasible for us to do under the circumstances

  • The District will have scripts to be read prior to a fire drill and a lock down drill 

  • ALL drills whether they be evacuation drills or lock down drills will be announced so that social distancing guidelines can be followed and most importantly so there is no confusion if there should be a real event

Facility Operations

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the District, facilities operations will strive to maximize social distancing requirements and clean frequently touched spaces regularly. In the event that changes or additions to facilities are needed, plans will be submitted for review by the Office of Facilities Planning (OFP) and will comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code. 

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

The District plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, lead in water sampling will be carried out upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”

Upon reopening, the District plans to increase ventilation to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

 

Child Nutrition

School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. If the District is operating under its hybrid or remote schedules, each school will have a designated location/plan where families can pick up breakfast and lunch every day. Additional information is available on the District’s Food Service webpage. Meals will continue to be provided to students in need, including those eligible for free and reduced price meals. All meals (breakfast & lunch) provided by the District will be distributed fully packaged (i.e. boxed meals). All requirements of the Child Nutrition Program will be maintained.

For students who are in school, meals will be provided while striving to maximize social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating as long as they are appropriately socially distanced or separated by an appropriate barrier. To maximize distancing between students while eating, meals may be eaten in alternate areas (e.g., classrooms, outdoors) or in staggered meal periods to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning and disinfection between students.

The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household. Adequate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals.

In order to keep students with food allergies safe, we will ensure that staff (teachers/monitors) are aware of those students within their supervising areas and will have access to emergency EpiPen. All elementary schools will be nut free for the 2020-21 school year. This information will be communicated to parents prior to the start of school. 

Teachers/monitors supervising the eating areas will remind students to perform hand hygiene before and after eating, maintain social distancing, use appropriate barriers and not share food. Barriers will be used at lunch tables as needed when adequate distancing is not possible. In areas where multiple groups of students may eat, monitors/custodians will disinfect surfaces before and after each group. Elementary students will generally eat lunch in their classrooms. Tents and alternative locations like gyms, Alumni Hall, libraries, and the auditorium are being considered as alternate sites for students to eat lunch. 

 

Transportation

The District will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable.  

Students who are able will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing on the bus to the extent practicable; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering, but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. 

All buses that are used every day by the District will be cleaned/ disinfected once a day. High contact spots will be wiped down after the morning (AM) and afternoon (PM) run depending upon the disinfection schedule.  

School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or District. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.  

Wheelchair school buses will configure wheelchair placement to ensure social distancing of six feet. 

Whether school is in session remotely or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, charter schools or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out-of-district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions. 

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

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.  

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield.  

Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.  

Transportation departments/carriers will need to provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages.  

Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.

Social-Emotional Well-Being

The District recognizes that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important and it impacts the daily functioning of the students and adults. The District will make available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. 

Spending the last several months socially isolated, our students, families, teachers, and staff have experienced some level of trauma which has impacted their mental health and their overall well-being.  Whether we are in-person or remote, we need to consider how we will assess and provide mental health support to students and adults in order to successfully start the school year.

While some students may have had positive experiences during school closure through learning, growing, and discovering within our community, others will be coming back with trauma, fear, and/or anxiety that will impact their learning and their functioning in the classroom. We also recognize that while some students may have thrived in the online/virtual learning environment, others may have had a negative experience resulting in deterioration of their social-emotional well-being.  

The District is planning on utilizing a variety of methods to welcome back students and adults, assess and identify those who may be coming back requiring a greater level of needs than usual, and providing support and resources that they require to thrive in our school community. A parent survey will be sent prior to school opening by each principal to gather additional information on the individual student’s needs. A similar survey will be sent to the high school students to allow for their perspective on their own needs.

The District’s Wellness Committee which serves as an advisory council comprising parents/guardians, students, members of the board of education, administrators, teachers and pupil personnel service providers will continue to be involved in recommendations for the overall well-being of our students. The District’s comprehensive school counseling program plan has been updated to meet the current needs under the guidance of the Director of School Counseling.

Teachers and Staff

On an airplane when the oxygen mask drops, adults are instructed to place the mask on themselves prior to helping those around them. Similarly, we recognize the importance of the teachers’ and staff’s well-being.  Therefore, a survey is being conducted to gather needs around different types of mental health and well-being support. The offerings include weekly mindfulness sessions (continued from spring), “community circles” that meet every two weeks which provides an opportunity to meet with their colleagues to reflect and have an opportunity to connect, and receiving practical tips on stress management and work-life balance in the form of recordings, articles or workshops.

Teachers and staff being the first in line working with students, they need to be equipped to identify and refer students for support. The K-12 psychologists and social workers will provide training and resources to teachers and staff before the first day of school. 

K-5 Students

The needs of elementary students are fundamentally different due to the developmental nature of the age group. The school psychologists work closely with the building principal and the classroom teachers.  Not knowing how the schools will reopen, the psychologists are developing welcome back videos and preparing recommendations for families on transitioning back to school. Given the school setting is no longer what it was when schools closed in March, it is crucial that we prepare this age group with why the school setting will be dramatically different. At the K-5 level, the District is utilizing Responsive Classroom to provide teachers with resources on creating communities within the classroom and focusing on interpersonal skills and self-awareness. Any student identified by the classroom teacher to be needing additional support is referred to the MTSS team in each school which includes but not limited to the principal, psychologist, interventionist, and special education teacher.  

6-12 Students

The District is partnering with Pelham Together to provide additional training to secondary teachers on the “Typical or Troubled'' program developed by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.  This training will provide teachers with deeper understanding of mental health for adolescents.  Concerns that are brought up by teachers are referred to the school counselor, who will work with the social worker or the psychologists through the schools’ MTSS process. These support personnel work closely with the classroom teachers to ensure that students’ needs are being met, whether academic or behavioral. 

The District is also partnering with Cognitive Behavioral Consultants to pilot the Universal Classroom Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (STEPS-A) starting this fall, both in the middle school and high school. STEPS-A is a Social Emotional Learning curriculum designed to develop coping strategies and decision-making abilities for adolescents. 

School Schedules

With a full return to school of all students, the regular bell schedules will be followed. Specific times are available on the respective school websites which may be accessed by visiting www.pelhamschools.org 

If the District is operating under its Distance Learning Plan, students will follow the appropriate schedule, which is available on the Distance Learning webpage

An alternate schedule for hybrid learning is available on the Hybrid Plan webpage.

School Activities 

Extracurriculars

Clubs and other after school activities will be held virtually for the foreseeable future. More information will be shared by school principals once school resumes. Certain activities may periodically be held in person at the discretion of the school principal, provided that social distancing measures are practiced.

Childcare

The District recognizes the importance of privately run before and after school care programs for many families. As such we are working with our local providers to put plans in place for these programs to run safely and in compliance with current regulations. Policies regarding before and aftercare programs include social distancing, PPE usage, cleaning and disinfection requirements, as well as risk of COVID-19 transmission. Protocols in how to maintain cohorts, if applicable, or group members of the same household will be considered. More information will be forthcoming from these organizations.

Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism

Per NYSED, attendance will be mandatory for all students. Attendance will be entered into Infinite Campus and may be taken via GoGuardian, Google Meet, or by other means for any students who are learning in a virtual environment. 

At the elementary level, teachers will take attendance at the beginning of the day and at any major change in instructional grouping. All absences will be reported to the school secretary. 

At the middle and high schools, period-by-period attendance will be taken and reported to the school attendance clerk.

For students at the elementary level experiencing a pattern of absences, principals and school psychologists will reach out to students/families to ensure that students are participating in academic activities on a daily basis and/or identify and resolve barriers. For students at the secondary level demonstrating concerning patterns of absences, teachers, school counselors, social workers, and/or administrators will reach out to students and families to ensure that students are participating in academic activities and/or identify and resolve barriers.

In instances when students are identified as not attending, not participating or disengaged, immediate action will be taken to connect with parents/guardians to help reengage the student. Further, accommodations will be considered to ensure that the student’s needs are being met. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, individualized supports, modified assignments, counseling services, more regular and substantial check-ins, family support, etc. 

Students and families are encouraged to reach out to administrators, school counselors, social workers, and/or school psychologists if they are having difficulty participating regardless of instructional model (e.g. in-person, hybrid, or remote).

Technology and Connectivity

In support of remote learning, the District will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. As we did in the spring, the District will survey families to determine needs for devices and reliable internet connections and will provide the needed resources on a case by case basis.

  • All students in grades 3-12 will be provided with District-owned Chromebooks

  • All student in grade K-2 will have access to District remote-learning devices upon request

  • All teachers will be provided a District-owned Chromebook or laptop

  • All families and teachers will be provided access to high-speed Internet hubs for places of residence upon request

  • The district will work with families to assure that all students have access to devices and/or high speed internet such that all may participate in learning experiences without barriers.

Teaching and Learning

Providing a meaningful and challenging education remains essential as we enter the 2020-21 school year. The District recognizes that reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a number of challenges for students, teachers/staff and families. Regardless of how the District reopens this fall, the District will do its best to meet these challenges and provide a continuity of instruction plan that is aligned to the New York State Standards and that supports students across all three learning models. Each model will provide regular, substantive interaction between teachers and students and will be accessible to all students.

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the District will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional learning, culturally responsive practices, health and safety procedures, and technology integration.

Additional days prior to the start of school may also be utilized for student orientation. Various transition activities are in the planning stages to support the social and emotional needs of students.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette and proper hygiene at developmentally appropriate levels.   

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to special education students and English language learners. 

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.  

Social-emotional learning and supports will be foundational in all work with students and must be attended to at the start of the school year and throughout. Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills aligned to the New York State Learning Standards and necessary for students’ success in future study.

Grading practices will be designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Parents/Guardians may contact the school principal or the following District administrators via email, phone, or in person for assistance with instruction or technology issues:

Dr. Thomas Callahan, Director of Math and Science

Dr. Maria Thompson, Director of Humanities

Mr. John Sebalos, Director of Technology 

Parents and students may also submit a ticket to the Parent/Student Help Desk provided by Southern Westchester BOCES. This information will be accessible to all parents and widely disseminated via email blasts, the district website, letters, etc.

For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website

In-person Instruction 

Upon reopening, learning spaces and school procedures will be adjusted to adhere to Department of Health guidance regarding proper social distancing and face coverings. Additional rooms and outdoor spaces may be converted into instructional space to maximize opportunities for social distancing. 

All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings and mask breaks will be provided. The District is also purchasing portable barriers for all students to provide an additional level of safety. 

Our schools will minimize the movement of students and/or find ways to reduce density in common spaces. Additionally, assemblies, field trips and other large group activities have been suspended across the District. 

A 4K Document camera, which also serves as a web camera, will be installed in all learning spaces to enable remote learning for those students who are unable to attend school in person. 

Elementary Schools

Elementary students will generally remain in their classrooms for academic classes, specials, and lunch.  Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, library, technology and FLES) will be pushed into the classroom. Weather permitting, physical education will be held outdoors as to adhere to 12-foot physical distancing requirements when engaging in aerobic physical activity. When not held outdoors, physical education may be held in the classroom. 

Band and chorus will be suspended at all elementary schools. 

Students who receive intervention support or special education services may receive their services in an alternate learning space. 

To the extent possible, students will remain in cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, to reduce their exposure to additional students. The District will provide supply kits and manipulatives for each student to minimize sharing of classroom materials. Teachers will rely on Google Classroom as the primary learning management system and will incorporate various instructional technology resources into their lessons to facilitate delivery of the District curriculum. 

A 4K Document camera, which also serves as a web camera, will be installed in all learning spaces to enable remote learning for those students who are unable to attend school in person. 

Information about regular school schedules is available on each school’s respective webpage. Any changes to these plans will be communicated to parents as necessary.

Middle and High School

Middle school and high school students will follow a typical nine period, six cycle day schedule of classes. Collaborative and partner work will be minimized, and teachers will be encouraged to incorporate more modeling, demonstrations, and instructional technology for collaboration. To maximize social distancing, additional rooms and outdoor spaces may be converted into instructional space. 

Students will not be allowed to use lockers therefore teachers will minimize the supplies and materials necessary for learning experiences. Students will maintain their own supply kits to minimize sharing. Barriers will  be used as needed when students and teachers cannot maintain social distancing, such as when receiving intervention services. The District will shift to a “sneakers only” model for Physical Education to eliminate the need to use common gym lockers. The Physical Education curriculum will also be adjusted to focus more on sports education and independent fitness. 

Teachers will rely on Google Classroom as the primary learning management system and will incorporate various instructional technology resources into their lessons to facilitate delivery of the District curriculum. Additionally, band and chorus will be modified to reduce group gathering and allows for 12 foot distancing per DOH guidelines. 

Distance/Remote Learning

In any version of distance/remote learning it is imperative that teachers focus on social-emotional learning, community building and social skills at the outset and throughout the duration of this model. Additional efforts will be planned at transition points (i.e K, 5-6, 8-9).

Both the K-5 and Secondary Reopening committees sought to create a more robust Distance Learning plan that builds on and improves last year’s experience during the emergency building closure. This plan was adapted based on feedback from students, parents and teachers provided during the 2019-20 school year and over the summer, recognizing that a return to distance learning may be necessary during the 2020-21 school year. These plans will continue to evolve if/when they are implemented. The District’s virtual learning plan:

  • Increases contact time between students and their teachers

  • Provides more direct instruction to students, especially at the elementary level

  • Closely mirrors a "regular school day" with students engaged in learning from 8:30am - 2:30pm every day

  • Allows for Increased feedback from teachers and more accountability for students

  • Builds in breaks to balance the need for instruction with the amount of screen time for students

  • Provides dedicated time for intervention, support services, and specials 

The K-5 subcommittee, which includes school principals, administrators and teachers sought to develop a distance learning plan with increased direct engagement and live instruction from teachers while balancing the amount of time students spend on screens. Teachers will spend at least 30 minutes per subject each day on Reading, Writing, and Math. Additionally:

  • Social-emotional learning will be prioritized through implementation of Responsive Classroom (i.e. Morning Meeting)

  • There will be increased feedback to support growth and learning for students

  • Students will participate in live specials classes every day on a regular rotation

  • Supply kits will be developed so that students will have needed materials at home to support distance learning experiences

Elementary Schedule

Times Kind. Gr. 1 Gr. 2 Gr. 3 Gr. 4 Gr. 5
9-9:30am     I/E     Specials
9:30-10am   I/E     Specials  
10-10:30am I/E     Specials    
10:30-11am            
11am-11-30am LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH
11:30am-12pm LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH
12-12:30pm            
12:30-1pm     Specials     I/E
1-1:30pm Specials       I/E  
1:30-2pm   Specials   I/E    
2-2:30pm I/E I/E I/E I/E I/E I/E

 

The distance learning virtual schedule for middle/high school follows a modified version of the existing 9-period, 6-day cycle schedule so that students meet with their teachers each day. To limit excessive screen time, periods are shortened and breaks are included. The schedule has also been simplified so that periods start on the half hour. Additionally the plan: 

  • Is supplemented by asynchronous (independent) work

  • Defines a recommended amount of homework/asynchronous work to limit excessive assignment loads and screen time and adapt to developmental and course needs

  • Incorporates additional time for academy support

  • Allows teachers to flexibly support students during breaks

  • Provides teacher professional learning after school

MS/HS Schedule

Period Time
0 8:30-8:55 am
1 9:00-9:25 am
Homeroom  
2 9:30-9:55 am
3 10-10:25am
Break 10:25-11am
4 11-11:25am
5 11:30-11:55am
6 12-12:25pm
7 12:30-12:55pm
Break 12:55-1:30pm
8 1:30-1:55pm
9 2-2:25pm
Academy 2:30-3pm
Meetings/PD 3pm

 

Students will engage in learning experiences in all typical courses of study. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards. 

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, all teachers will be required to use Google Classroom as the primary online learning platform to the extent possible and follow a common, coordinated set of expectations when using the platform with students.

Expectations for Participation from Home

  • Students are expected to participate in all classes remotely, attendance will be taken

  • The Code of Conduct applies to all students regardless of setting

  • Students are expected to complete all assignments using Google Classroom

  • Students will be required to keep their cameras on to allow for increased engagement

  • Students in Gr. 3-12 are required to use District-issued devices which helps teachers monitor appropriate use of students’ devices

  • It is expected that students come prepared and on time to class, dress appropriately for "school" as normal, and it is recommended that students find a comfortable and productive place to work (ex. work at a desk or table rather than from bed)

Hybrid Instruction 

To allow for greater physical distancing within classrooms, the District may enact a hybrid approach to learning in which students would alternate between being in school and learning from home. All logistics and safety protocols that are in place for In-person learning will apply to the Hybrid model. In developing this approach, the District considered a number of factors, including health and safety of students and staff, the ability to provide effective learning, continuity of education, the feasibility of cleaning buildings, and feasibility for parents and staff. The following additional priorities guided the development of the model:

  • Taking advantage of cohorting of students to the greatest degree possible

  • Reducing the number of transitions between cohorts to aid in cleaning and disinfecting efforts

  • Assuring in-person instruction for all students during the week

  • Providing at least 2 days of consecutive in-person instruction for all students each week to assist with continuity of instruction

  • Alignment with both the In-person and Distal Learning models for flexible transitions during the school year

  • Predictability for families to assist with planning for child care and work

In a hybrid model:

  • Students will be divided alphabetically into two cohorts (e.g. A & B), approximately half in each

  • Cohort A will be in school on Mondays and Tuesdays

  • Cohort B will be in school on Thursdays and Fridays

  • Each cohort will have an additional in person day of instruction on a weekly rotating basis. Given the amount of holidays that fall and particular days of the week, the District will adjust the rotation of Wednesdays In order to balance the in-person opportunities for instruction between cohorts

  • All Wednesdays during weeks where there are five school days will have a noon dismissals for students. The afternoons will be used for teacher planning and professional development. During shortened weeks (due to holidays or previously planned breaks), Wednesdays will be full days. 

  • Virtual Office hours will be available before and after school for elementary students who are learning remotely.

  • A virtual academy period will be held daily for middle and high school students who are learning virtually, during which students can ask questions and receive more direct time with their teacher(s)

  • Elementary school days will be 9am-2:15pm for students with a staggered dismissal occurring from 2:15-2:45pm.

  • The Middle and High School schedule will run from 8:20am-2:15pm (Zero period begins at 7:40am) with slightly shortened periods to allow for staggered transitions between classes. The MS/HS academy period for virtual students runs from 2:20-2:55pm. 

  • Students who are not in school on their respective days will view their classes from home

  • Each classroom has been equipped with a 4K document camera that will live stream classes and learning activities to the group that is at home, giving them the same access to direct instruction as the in-person cohort

  • All classroom lesson materials will be posted to Google Classroom so that both in- person and remote students have full access to the lesson

Cohort Planning:

  • Elementary school principals will develop class lists based on a variety of important educational criteria to promote a diverse learning community 

  • To the extent possible, elementary students will be placed in the same cohort as other students within their household, however this may not always be possible as cohort size must be balanced to allow for physical distancing

  • Cohorts at the MS/HS will be determined alphabetically to align with the elementary groupings to the greatest degree possible

  • Cohort placement will be shared with parents in mid-August 

  • The District cannot honor specific cohort requests due to the complexity of this process

Expectations for Participation from Home

  • Students who attend in person are expected to follow all health and safety procedures as outlined in the In-person model

  • Students who are not in school are expected to participate in all of their classes remotely, attendance will be taken

  • The Code of Conduct applies to all students regardless of setting

  • Students are expected to complete all assignments using Google Classroom

  • Students will be required to keep their cameras on to allow for increased engagement

  • Students in Gr. 3-12 are required to use District-issued devices which helps teachers monitor appropriate use of students’ devices

  • It is expected that students come prepared and on time to class, dress appropriately for "school" as normal, and it is recommended that students find a comfortable and productive place to work (ex. work at a desk or table rather than from bed)

Students with Disabilities/English Language Learners (ELLs)

  • Special class students in K-5 and ELLs will attend classes in person every week day 

  • Special consideration for 6-12 special class students will be provided in cohorting students

  • Students whose IEPS call for resource room and Integrated Co-teaching will continue to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment alongside their general education peers

  • Speech, OT, PT, and counseling services will be provided as recommended on their IEP whether they are in-person or remote

  • Additional online programs and assistive technologies will be made available to assist with modifications   

  • CSE/CPSE/504 meetings will remain virtual for the 2020-2021 school year

Elementary Hybrid Schedule

Virtual Office Hours for Students at Home

8:45-9am & 2:45-3pm DAILY

Arrival

9-9:15am Rolling Arrival (specific information provided by school principal)

Daily Schedule

Times Kindergarten Gr. 1 Gr. 2 Gr. 3 Gr. 4 Gr. 5
9:15-9:45am     I/E     Specials
9:45-10:15am   I/E     Specials  
10:15-10:45am I/E     Specials    
10:45-11:15am I/E I/E I/E I/E I/E I/E
11:15am-12:15pm Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:15-12:45pm            
12:45-1:15pm     Specials     I/E
1:15-1:45pm Specials       I/E  
1:45-2:15pm   Specials   I/E    

 

Dismissal

2:15-2:45pm Rolling Dismissal From School (specific information provided by school principal)

MS/HS Hybrid Schedule

0 7:40-8:15am
1/Homeroom 8:20-8:55am
2 9-9:35am
3 9:40-10:15am
4 10:20-10:55am
5 11-11:35am
6 11:40am-12:15pm
7 12:20-12:55pm
8 1-1:35pm
9 1:40-2:15pm
Virtual Academy 2:20-2:55pm
Staff Meetings/PD 3:15pm

Special Education 

The District recognizes that the students with disabilities were particularly impacted by the physical closing of schools in spring 2020. If the schools reopen with a hybrid model, special consideration and priority will be given to high-needs students with disabilities for in-person instruction. Determination of “high-needs” will be based on the program ratio as smaller the teacher to student ratio, the higher the needs of a student with disabilities. For example, students who are recommended for special classes with a ratio of 8:1 or 12:1 will be given priority in determining access to in-person instruction with greater frequency. If the schools reopen with a remote model, students with disabilities will be provided with opportunities to receive the programs and services as recommended to the extent possible. All three models of reopening plans will ensure that all students with disabilities continue to have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living, to the extent possible. 

IEP Implementation

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.).

Consistent with previously issued OSE guidance, the District will, to the greatest extent possible, ensure that each student with a disability be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP. During the 2020-21 school year, due to the health and safety requirements that must be in place when schools resume, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same mode and/or manner they are typically provided.  Additional online programs and assistive technologies will be made available to assist with accommodations and modifications. 

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Students with disabilities will continue to have equal access to high-quality programs that are designed based on their individual needs and abilities to enable them to achieve the desired learning results established for all students. The hybrid and remote model will ensure that students with disabilities have opportunities for instruction with students without disabilities to the greatest extent possible consistent with their IEP.  Consideration will be given in making such decisions based on individual families’ health and safety concerns.  

Progress Monitoring

Teachers and service providers will collect data, whether in-person or remotely, and use the data to monitor each student’s progress toward the annual goals and to evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s special education services. Determining student progress is necessary for understanding the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, and for determining whether, and to what extent, the school closures may have disrupted the student’s learning. Reports of progress will continue to be made in the same manner as previously, and it is encouraged that parents reach out to providers if they have any questions or concerns. 

IEP Implementation Documentation

  • The District will collect and maintain documentation regarding student needs throughout the course of the school year. The District will continue to utilize the IEP online system to maintain records of instruction and services that were provided to each student so that it may be communicated to the CPSE/CSE for consideration when making any individualized determinations of subsequent student needs, including transition services. The teachers and providers will use assessments and ongoing monitoring of student progress and will make this information available to the CPSE/ CSE and parents, in their preferred language or mode of communication. The District will continue to collaborate with parents and SEPTA  to communicate the development of any contingency remote learning plans that may be implemented during a school closure.

Referral

Before referring a student for special education, the District will take into consideration all factors that may have influenced the student’s progress during school closures due to COVID-19. If the school-based team suspects a student of having a disability, it will refer the student for an initial special education evaluation and obtain parent consent for the evaluation. However, a referral may not be warranted if the reason for underperformance is due to school closures and a change in the provision of education. All parent referrals and requests for referrals by school staff will be considered as usual per the procedures in Commissioner’s Regulations section 200.4(a).

Initial Evaluation/Reevaluation and Annual Review Meetings

Special education evaluations (i.e., initial and reevaluations) will be conducted whether in-person or remotely when appropriate within required timelines. Based on the most recent guidance for evaluations, the school psychologist may determine whether psychological evaluation is required for initial evaluation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Student observation is only required if deemed necessary by the Committee on Special Education and if a student is suspected of having a learning disability. Previous guidance allows for review of records for the purposes of reevaluation. The District will determine the best course of action for each case on an individual basis. For the safety of all those involved, all CSE and CPSE meetings will continue to be held virtually for the school year.             

Communication and Engagement with Parents of Students with Disabilities

The District will continue to communicate and collaborate with families to ensure equitable access to special education programs and services and the continued offer of FAPE for students with disabilities. 

If the schools reopen with a model that requires students to access instruction remotely, it is important to provide parents with resources in order for them to support the students at home since they are not trained special education teachers. The special education department is preparing a document that has tips and resources on how to best support students with disabilities. 

The District will ensure communication with families in the preferred language through virtual interpreting services and translating the IEP plan when appropriate. Whether instruction is being provided in-person or remotely, the school team will work collaboratively with families to ensure that the services consistent with the recommendations on the IEP are being provided and the progress is being monitored on a regular basis. 

Partnership and Collaboration to Reflect All Settings Where Students are Served

Any student who is receiving special education programs and services outside the Pelhams Schools per CSE/CPSE recommendation will continue to receive services from the NYS approved public, private, or BOCES program. The District will continue to remain informed regarding the planned activities for the nature and delivery of instruction and related services and to identify shared resources, materials, and technology that may be available to students as appropriate.

Technology

Any student who requires assistive technology devices and/or services will continue to receive support from teachers or consultants whether the instruction is provided in-person or remotely, per their Individual Education Plan.

Bilingual Education and World Languages

If the District opens using In-person or Hybrid instruction, we will complete the ELL identification process within 30 days of the start of the school year for all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-2020, as well as for all students who enroll during the summer of 2020, and during the first 20 days of the 2020-2021 school year. After the 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs will resume for all students within the required 10 school days of initial enrollment as required by Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154.

As per Part 154, all required instructional units of study will be provided to all ELLs based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction. Maintenance of regular communication with parents/guardians of ELLs will be in their preferred language and mode of communication

Each school will maintain regular communication with parents/guardians of ELLs to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process and provide all communications for parents/guardians of ELLs in their preferred language and mode of communication.

Staff

Teacher and Principal Evaluation System

All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the District’s approved APPR plan during in person instruction. 

Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching

All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignment, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law. Records of all teaching staff are maintained in the NYSED TEACH system as well as our business management system, Finance Manager.