2020-21 Student-Parent Handbook

Introduction

The 2020-21 school year will be like none we have experienced before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, please find information about how our schools will operate as well as the procedures that are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, keep our students and staff healthy, and provide a robust and quality education during these times. 

Plans & Scenarios

Given the unpredictability and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pelham Public Schools is likely to operate in either a hybrid or distance learning model for the 2020-21 school year. In developing plans for this school year, the District emphasized health and safety for students and staff while providing rigorous learning experiences for our students that are aligned with the New York State Learning Standards. 

The District may change models at any time throughout the school year based on guidance from the Governor, State Education Department, the Department of Health, or local conditions. These changes will be communicated to parents/guardians by email, text, and phone blasts. More information is available on the Reopening Communications webpage.

Hybrid Model

Overview

This scenario reduces the number of students in school at one time to allow for better physical distancing within the building. Those students who are not in school will access their classes virtually. To provide continuity of learning for those participating remotely, all assignments will be posted through Google Classroom and teachers will live stream in person lessons to remote students using 4K document cameras which have been installed in all classrooms. 

To prepare for this plan, students were split into two cohorts, A & B. Cohort assignments were sent to parents/guardians by their respective school principals in mid-August.

Students in Cohort A will generally learn in-person on Monday and Tuesday. Students in Cohort B will generally learn in-person on Thursday and Friday. The cohorts will alternate for an additional day of in person instruction on Wednesdays. Students will learn remotely on days their cohort is not attending in person. Please carefully review the Cohort Calendars (links below) as slight variations from the framework have been made to ensure each cohort has an even number of in-person instructional days throughout the school year. 

In addition:

  • All Wednesdays during five-day weeks will be noon dismissals for students. The afternoons will be used for teachers to plan lessons/assignments and receive 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 after school for middle and high school students who are learning virtually, during which students can ask questions and receive more targeted 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 transition between classes. The MS/HS academy period for students who have attended school virtually that day runs from 2:20-2:55pm.

In-School Safety Protocols

When students are learning in person, the following protocols will be in place across all schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • All students and staff must wear face coverings when in school that cover both the nose and mouth.

  • Breaks will be provided periodically at the discretion of the teacher so that students can remove their face coverings. Students/staff must practice appropriate distancing when face coverings are removed. 

  • Clear, portable barriers will be provided to all students to provide additional protection.

  • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be available in all classrooms/learning spaces.

  • High-touch surfaces will be routinely disinfected throughout the day.

  • Start and dismissal times will be rolling/staggered to prevent large gatherings (See: Arrival & Dismissal)

  • Students must have their temperatures taken/attest to not having COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering school (See: Health Screening).

  • Visitors will only be permitted for essential District business. Visitors will have their temperatures taken and must complete a health questionnaire prior to entering any school building. 

  • Large group activities and field trips will be postponed, cancelled or held virtually.

  • In-person before-school and after-school activities will be postponed with the exception of elementary school child-care programs.

Learn more about in-person procedures on the District website

Schedule & Calendar

Elementary Daily 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)

Sample 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 Daily 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

MS/HS Daily Schedule on Early Release Wednesdays

0 7:40-8:15 am
1 8:20-8:40am
2 8:45-9:05am
3 9:10-9:30am
4 9:35-9:55am
5 10-10:20am
6 10:25-10:45am
7 10:50-11:10am
8 11:15-11:35am
9 11:40am-12pm


Cohort Calendars

Access the Cohort A Calendar

Access the Cohort B Schedule

Wednesday Early Dismissal Schedule

Early dismissals on Wednesdays are noted on the District Calendar

Health Screening

Everyone who enters District schools/facilities must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Students, staff or visitors who have a fever greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted to enter school. Please review the following protocols that will be in place during the 2020-21 school year.

Students

  • Parents/guardians are asked to take their students’ temperatures prior to arriving at school.

  • Parents/guardians must also complete this Student Health Questionnaire, which students must then provide to a staff member each day before they are admitted into the building.

  • Students who have a fever greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 MUST not report to school.  

  • If a student arrives at school without the health form, they will be escorted to a designated area where a member of the school staff will take their temperature. 

Staff

  • All staff are required to submit a health attestation form daily indicating that they do not have a fever greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit and do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Staff who have a fever greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 MUST not report to school

Visitors

  • Visitors will be restricted to those performing essential district business. All visitors will have their temperature taken and will be required to submit a health attestation form prior to entering a school or District facility indicating that they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Visitors will continue to be required to show identification to the school greeter and wear a visitor badge provided by the greeter. 

Arrival & Dismissal Procedures

Elementary Meals & Recess

General Information

  • Students will generally eat in their classrooms with their portable barriers placed on their desks. 

  • Accordingly, ALL elementary schools will be nut-free for the 2020-21 school year.

  • Meals that are purchased will be delivered to students’ respective classrooms

  • Students and staff are required to practice physical distancing during recess. Weather permitting, recess will be held outdoors to the extent possible. Students will remain in cohort groups and playground equipment will be available for use. Students will need to apply hand sanitizer after use. In accordance with State Education Department/Department of Health guidance, equipment will not be disinfected.

MS/HS Meals/Recess

In School Procedures/Information

Mask Breaks

Students will be permitted to remove their face coverings periodically throughout the day. These breaks may occur outdoors, weather permitting, or in areas where sufficient distancing is possible. Mask breaks will be provided at the discretion of the teacher.

Portable Barriers

  • Each student will be provided a portable, three-sided barrier that can be used to create additional separation in certain circumstances. Use of these barriers will be at the discretion of the teacher and may be used for small group work, eating, mask breaks, etc. 
     
  • Students are expected to take care of their barriers and use them appropriately. 
     
  • Middle and high school students are expected to carry their barriers to and from each class and take them home with them at the end of the day. Barriers should be labeled with students’ name.
     
  • Elementary students will mainly use their barriers while in their classroom, but will be asked to take them to related services. The barriers will be stored in their regular classrooms.

Music/Specials

Elementary Schools

Specials

  • Students will remain in their regular classroom for specials, including art, music, FLES, library and technology. 

  • Teachers will limit sharing of supplies.

  • Physical education will be held outdoors, weather permitting. 

  • Students will be required to practice physical distancing during physical education and gym equipment will be limited or individualized to prevent sharing. Gym equipment will be routinely disinfected. 

  • Because the school gyms will be used for a variety of purposes this school year, physical education will be held in students’ regular classrooms when it is not possible to be outdoors. Physical education will adapt the curriculum accordingly. 

Elementary Music Ensembles

  • Due to the unique health and safety risks associated with singing and wind instruments and the NYSED guidance requiring 12 ft. distancing for these activities, elementary school chorus and band ensembles will not be held at this time. Additionally, because of the need for physical distancing and other COVID-19 considerations, orchestra will not be held at this time. 
  • Orchestra and band students will continue to be able to participate in small group lessons.

MS/HS Music Ensembles

Middle School

  • Middle School chorus, band, and orchestra will continue to meet according to their regularly scheduled class periods. Band and Chorus ensembles will not be able to play instruments indoors due to 12 ft. distancing requirements for singing and wind instruments. Teachers will adjust the curriculum accordingly to focus on music theory, history and appreciation at the beginning of the year. 

  • Orchestra may still meet on the auditorium stage if appropriate distancing is feasible. Sharing of equipment will be limited and shared equipment will be sanitized. 

  • Small group lessons/sectionals will continue to be held. 

  • All live, in-person concerts have been cancelled, however music instructors are seeking alternative ways to showcase students’ achievements and growth throughout the year. 

High School

  • Large PMHS chorus and band classes will not be able to meet indoors and teachers may opt to have smaller groups come in for zero period.

  • Orchestra may still meet on the auditorium stage if appropriate distancing is feasible. 

  • Small group lessons/sectionals will continue to be held. 

  • All live, in-person concerts have been cancelled, however music instructors are seeking alternative ways to showcase students’ achievements and growth throughout the year. 

MS/HS Physical Education

  • Physical education classes will be held outdoors as much as possible. 

  • Students will only be expected to bring sneakers and will not change clothes before/after physical education.

  • Gym locker use will be prohibited. 

  • The physical education department will select sports that are deemed safe and appropriate by state authorities and practitioners. 

  • Gym equipment will be routinely disinfected. 

  • Classroom-based instruction (i.e. sports theory, rules, etc.) may be expanded when playing sports/activities is not possible due to space/distancing restrictions.

Personal Belongings

Elementary Schools

  • Cubbies and lockers will not be available to students to store their personal belongings. Students will keep their personal belongings in their backpack and hang coats from the backs of their chairs. 

  • Teachers will provide instructional supplies that will allow students to build their skills while at home. Examples include Fundations letter boards, post-it notes, Flair pens, dry-erase boards, math manipulatives, etc. These supplies will be provided to students in class and students will be asked to take them home for their remote learning days. 

  • Families are still encouraged to provide students with regular school supplies, such as pens, pencils, markers, notebooks, etc. as has been the case in the past. 

MS/HS

  • Lockers will not be available to students to store their personal belongings. Students will keep their personal belongings and materials for class in their backpacks.

  • Teachers limit the amount of material that students need to carry to and from school on a daily basis.

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.

  • During evacuation drills, single direction stairwells will be suspended so that students may use the nearest exit.

Common Areas

Elementary Schools

  • Students will remain in their classrooms as much as possible.

  • Students may leave their classrooms for intervention services, as necessary.

  • When in hallways, students must maintain distancing from others.

  • Six foot markings have been taped to walls so that students can visualize proper distancing.

Bathrooms 

  • Bathroom breaks will be scheduled periodically throughout the day to alleviate crowding in the hallway or having too many students in the bathroom at one time.

  • Staff will assist as necessary to facilitate use of the bathroom for students during non-designated times. 

  • Students will be encouraged and reminded to wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. 

MS/HS

  • When in hallways, students must maintain 6’ distancing from others when possible and must keep their face coverings on.

  • Six foot markings have been taped to walls so that students can visualize proper distancing.

  • Directional arrows have also been added to stairwells to control the flow of traffic.

  • Students will travel from class to class, however the school will stagger release times to reduce the number of students in the hallways at any given time. 

  • The annex stairwell will be used by high school students only. Middle school students will use the two double stairwells at the corners of the building and must stay on the correct (right) side when ascending or descending. 

  • HS Students & Faculty will use designated stairwells for ascending and descending. Students & faculty must must stay on the correct (right) side when ascending or descending. 

Clubs/Extracurricular Activities

All clubs and extracurricular activities will meet virtually. Limited small group meetings may be permitted at the discretion of the school principal, during which all physical distancing guidelines will be in effect.

Athletics

Fall athletics have been postponed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association until September 21 at which point the Governor has said certain sports may begin. Additional information will be communicated when it is available. 

Nurse’s Office Procedures

The school will have a designated room that is separate from the regular nurse’s room where students who are showing symptoms for COVID-19 will wait until their parent/guardian can take them home. These students will be under the supervision of an adult. 

The nurse’s office will continue to be available for students who require other medical attention. 

PTA Enrichment Program

Due to the need for enhanced cleaning protocols, as well as the need to limit the co-mingling of students, PTA enrichment programs will not be offered this year. 

Student Expectations

Attendance

  • Students are required to attend their classes whether participating in-person or remotely. 

  • Attendance will be taken daily at the elementary level and on a period-by-period basis for the MS/HS.

  • If students will be missing school for any reason, parents/guardians must notify the Main Office/Attendance Clerk.

  • Students should report to their classes prepared to learn with all necessary materials, etc. 

  • All students, including those learning remotely, should dress appropriately. Those students who are participating remotely should find a place within their home that is conducive to learning (i.e. work from a desk, not while laying in bed).

Cameras

Students who are participating remotely utilizing Google Meet must have their cameras on.

Face coverings

Students are required to wear face coverings while in school except during mask breaks or while eating. (Students may bring their own face covering each school day. If students do not have a face covering, they will be provided one by the District.) 

More about proper face coverings 

Barriers

Students will use their portable barriers when instructed to do so by their teacher and may use them in class at any time. Students will take care of their barrier and use it only for the intended purpose. 

Hand Hygiene

Students and staff are encouraged to clean their hands frequently and are required to do so before and after eating, as well as after using the restroom. All bathrooms have been outfitted with at least one touchless water faucet and paper towel dispenser and hand sanitizer will be available in all learning spaces for student/staff use. 

The school nurse and students’ teachers will teach correct hand washing methods and appropriate signage will be posted throughout the schools to remind students about the importance of hand hygiene. 

Code of Conduct

All aspects of the District and school codes of conduct remain in effect regardless of which learning model is in effect. The Student Acceptable use Policy for Technology also remains in effect. 

Testing and Tracing

Contact Tracing

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.

Return to School

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 

Class, School or District 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. 

When a Student Has One or More Symptoms 

If a child is exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (including a runny nose), they must stay home from school and seek testing for COVID-19, or see a health care provider within 48 hours. 

  • If the child receives a negative COVID-19 result using a PCR molecular test, they may return to school so long as the student has remained fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine. Please note that a negative result using a rapid test, will only be accepted if it is a molecular test. 

  • A student may also return to school if they present an acceptable note from their health care provider stating a diagnosis of a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms, or a confirmed acute illness (ex. laboratory-confirmed influenza, strep throat, etc.) AND that COVID-19 is not suspected. Please note: a signed note from a health care provider documenting unconfirmed acute illnesses, such as viral upper respiratory illness (URI) or viral gastroenteritis, will not suffice.

  • If the family does not provide a COVID-19 test result or an acceptable note from a health care provider, the District must assume that the student is positive for COVID-19. Accordingly, the student will not be permitted to attend in-person instruction for a minimum of 10 days and appropriate contact tracing will begin in consultation with the Department of Health. 

Siblings/students residing in the same household who are not exhibiting any symptoms are not required to stay home provided that the child with symptoms has not tested positive for COVID-19, is presumed positive for COVID-19, or has not been directed to quarantine or self-isolate by the Department of Health. Families however always have the option of keeping the siblings home and accessing remote instruction while awaiting test results or a diagnosis from a health care provider. 

Download the printable COVID Flow Charts

COVID-19 Symptom flow-chart
A COVID-19 decision flow chart for when students can return to school

Distance Learning

Overview

In the event that an individual class, our school, or the entire District needs to close at any point during the year, the Distance Learning plan would go into effect. This plan was developed based on feedback from last school year’s experience during the emergency closure as well as input from students, parents, and teachers. This plan includes increased time for meaningful interaction between students and their teachers. 

The distance learning schedule aligns closely with a regular school day with lessons and activities occurring between approximately 9am-2:30pm. Breaks have been included to limit excessive screen time and help keep students fresh and focused on their learning.

Schedules

Highlights:

  • Teachers will spend at least 30 minutes per subject each day on Reading, Writing, and Math. 

  • Social-emotional learning will be prioritized through implementation of Morning Meeting.

  • Assessment and feedback opportunities will be incorporated regularly to support growth and learning for students.

  • Specials and intervention/enrichment will be held every day on a regular rotation.

  • Materials will be provided to each student to support learning while at home.

Sample Elementary Daily 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

 

MS/HS Daily Schedule

Highlights:

  • Follows a modified version of the existing 9-period, 6-day cycle schedule so that students meet with their teachers each day. 

  • Periods are shortened and breaks are included to limit excessive screen time. 

  • Simplified schedule so that periods start on the half hour.

  • Live instruction will be supplemented by asynchronous (independent) work

  • Includes guidelines for homework/asynchronous work that adapt to developmental and course needs and limit excessive assignment loads and 

  • Incorporates additional time for academy support.

  • Allows time for teachers to support students during breaks.

  • Provides time for teacher professional learning after school.

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

 

 

Student/Parent Procedures and Expectations

Student Expectations

Attendance

Students are required to attend their classes and attendance will be taken. If a student is not able to attend their classes, parents/guardians should report the absence to the school Main Office/Attendance Clerk. 

Cameras on

When participating in live sessions, students must leave their cameras on. This will foster better engagement. 

Academics

Students are expected to complete their assignments to the best of their ability using Google Classroom. 

Behavior and Code of Conduct

Students are expected to practice good behavior during online sessions, including:

  • Appropriate use of the chat feature in Google Meet

  • Only share your screen when asked to do so by a teacher

  • Keep your mic muted unless instructed otherwise

The school and District Code of Conduct and the Acceptable Use Policy for technology are to remain in effect at all times. 

Parent Expectations

The Pelham Public Schools recognizes the vital role parents/guardians play in their children’s education, now more than ever. We appreciate parents’ assistance, patience and understanding as we navigate the world of hybrid and distance learning together. Please consider the following guidelines to promote a healthy learning experience for all:

When Learning in School

  • Be sure that your children’s temperatures are taken and their daily health assessment is complete before sending them to school.

  • Remind children to bring and wear their face-covering properly

  • Wash reusable face coverings in between uses.

  • Remind students to bring all necessary supplies and materials with them to school each day

  • Work to ensure your children arrive at school at the designated times to facilitate a smooth drop-off

  • Please be prompt if picking your child up from school. Arrive at the designated time.

When Learning From Home

  • Help make sure children have breakfast before logging on to their classes

  • Find a spot in your home for children to work that is conducive to learning

  • Encourage your children to dress appropriately for school -- even though they are at home

  • Assist younger children with logging in to Google Classroom

  • Allow teachers space to teach your children -- time is dedicated for students to engage with their teachers. Parents may email their teachers separately with questions, but we ask that you refrain from doing so during class time

  • Respect the integrity of the (virtual) classroom, please refrain from taking photos or videos of live classes and/or posting to social media

Conclusion

Without question, the challenges that we will face this school year will be numerous. We know that there is no way to eliminate all risk and acknowledge that no plans will be perfect for all. In developing plans for the 2020-21 school year, we worked hard to balance the needs of our students, staff and families with a keen focus on the health and safety of our educational community and Pelham at large. For us to succeed, we will all need to do our part and we look forward to working together on what promises to be an unforgettable year in the Pelham Public Schools.