Berlin CSD would like to thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked diligently to complete the 2020-21 School Year educational plan. We know that this is a trying time for all our students, teachers, and families, but we feel confident that the work our Reopening Task Force Subcommittees have performed over this summer have provided us an opportunity to serve the District and our students well in the coming year.
Below you will find an FAQ which has been developed in response to the questions you asked through the parent survey earlier this month. Please review this document for answers to those questions that will help you to make an informed decision for your students regarding their education in the coming school year.
Teaching & Learning
Q: When is school starting?
A: School will be starting for students on Thursday, September 10th, with all BES students returning to classes according to the plan submitted to NYSED, and all Green Team students returning to their Day 2 schedules in grades 7-12
Q: Why not two consecutive days for grades 7-12?
A: This decision was made so that teachers would be able to see both cohorts of students (ex. on a Monday and Tuesday) before the district-wide remote learning day on Wednesday so that they can assign projects, assessments, and activities to complete at home. This decision will afford the opportunity for all students to receive focused support on the Remote Learning Day (Wednesday), further ensuring equity for all students.
Q: Will my child be able to transition back to on campus learning if the situation improves?
A: Your child will always be allowed to return to the BCSD (until they reach the age of 21, as is the law). Because scheduling classroom space and transportation has become so much more complicated due to the need for social distancing, however, we would ask that you work with us to plan for your child’s return to school well in advance so that we can accommodate any changes to our schedule or classroom layouts accordingly.
Q: What will the remote learning day (Wednesday) look like?
A: The Wednesday remote learning day will be a mix of conferencing with students, whole class discussions, small group work, intensive review, and “offline” experiential learning. We will also use these days to ensure our protocols are working, that our system remains flexible enough to support all learners, and that our teachers receive whatever professional development they may need to provide the best instruction to our students.
Q: What is being done to provide “normalcy” for the seniors?
A: It is our hope that as COVID-19 cases decrease in Rensselaer County and throughout New York, we will look to provide traditional experiences whenever and wherever possible. Otherwise, administrators will work with students and class advisors to solicit student ideas and work to satisfy a unique and special “Senior Year” experience.
Q: Will there be a 6th grade orientation prior to the start of the school year?
A: Transition has already begun for last year’s grade 5 students. The Grade 6 Team has met with the group already last spring, presented a slideshow of faculty/staff introductions, communication, expectations, supplies, and a contact for parent questions, etc. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you need further questions answered.
Q: Will there be specials at the elementary school?
A: Yes. Art, music,technology and library will be provided with teachers pushing into classrooms. PE will be delivered outside as much as possible or in the gym with social distancing measures in place.
Q: Will 5th graders be changing classes?
A: No, fifth graders will remain in their homerooms and the teachers will change classrooms. This is being done to minimize transitions for students.
Q: Will there be live instruction?
A: Yes. On-campus instruction will be live instruction. We are also working to develop as many opportunities as possible for remote instruction to be provided in real time by a certified instructor.
Q: How do we sign up for remote learning?
A: A remote learning request form will be made available to registered students, and will be available for download on our COVID-19 Webpage shortly. That page can be found on our website, or by following this link: https://berlincentral.org/2020/07/31/bcsd-2020-2021-school-year-reopening-resource-page/
Q: Will students be eating in their classrooms?
A: Elementary students will be eating in their classrooms.
A: Middle/High School students will be eating in classrooms.
Q: Will RTI Reading and Math support be provided for remote students?
A: RTI support will be provided. However, please note that the times of these services, like all remote instruction, may not be equivalent as to what they would be in an in-person setting.
Q: What will the remote learning day look like? What is the duration?
A: The data we are compiling from students and teachers will help us to be as prepared as possible to determine the format and schedule of remote instruction. We hope to have more on this in the coming weeks. If you have not already done so, please try and complete the District survey as soon as possible so that we can better analyze our data so as to better understand our needs.
Q: Will students have recess? What will that look like?
A: Yes, elementary students will have a 30 minute recess period daily. The playground and surrounding area will be zoned to allow each classroom a playspace and prevent cohort mixing to the greatest extent possible. Though Middle and High School students do not generally receive recess, all students will be provided scheduled and coordinated mask breaks.
Q: What is the plan for remote learning so that all students receive the same education?
A: Our remote learning program will be substantively similar to the on-campus learning program, though there will be considerable differences in the delivery model. Research shows that students learning in a virtual environment cannot maintain the same duration of focus that students receiving in-person instruction can manage. The objective is to provide students with the resources and instruction to master the course content.
Q: Will Band be offered? Chorus?
A: Middle/High School students will attend band and/or chorus according to their schedule. Students will be separated according to recommendations and guidelines.
A: At this time we are still exploring how to safely provide band and chorus at the Berlin Elementary School, while adhering to the recommended 12 ft. of social distancing. We may provide individual or small group ensemble instruction for band and chorus due to space limitations.
Q: Will siblings be in the same cohort?
A: Yes- it is our intention to have all siblings in the same cohort. We are trying to cohort family members and students that live in the same household.
Q: Will students have science labs?
A: Though the model and methods for science labs will be subject to change in accordance with the NYSED Guidance Document, lab experiences will still be part of the learning experiences for students enrolled in classes that require such opportunities. The reopening guidance allows for a blend of hands-on and virtual science laboratory experiences.
Q: Will teachers or students be moving?
A: To the greatest extent possible, the Berlin Elementary school will be moving teachers and not students. However, we will need to transition for Physical Education, recess, and some specialized instruction.
A: At the Middle/High School building, there will be a combination of both student movement between classes, and teachers moving while students remain stationary. Certain classes such as science, chorus, band, and art need to happen in their specific locations due to the types of materials needed for productivity.
Q: Will School Within a School still be taking place?
A: Yes, the district plans to continue the intent of this program as best as possible by bringing students in SWS back to in-person instruction four days a week.
Q: When will we know which days our child is attending school?
A: As long as families have completed the School Reopening Survey, students can be separated into cohorts, which will be emailed to the student’s school email address during the week of August 17-21. Students should expect to receive their full schedule before the first day of school.
Q: If I choose remote learning, will tutoring be provided?
A: Tutoring is generally not provided for any students that are not out of school for medical or disciplinary reasons. Parents who wish to attain tutoring for their students must do so on their own. This does not represent any change in district policy.
Q: Will there be extra help for students who struggle with online learning?
A: Students engaged in remote learning will have the opportunity to seek support from their teachers through SeeSaw, Schoology, teacher email, phone calls, or contact on Wednesdays when all students are remote.
Q: Will parents be able to visit the classroom and meet the teachers before school begins?
A: At the Middle/High School, images of teaching/learning spaces will be available and posted on presentations. If parents would like to schedule individual meetings with teachers or school faculty/staff, they may request a meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
A: At BES, we are working to plan for a virtual “Meet the Teacher” experience. This will include photos and/or video of classrooms.
Q: How many kids will be in a classroom?
A: The answer to this question will vary depending on the size of the classroom. In every classroom student desks will be placed at an appropriate location to ensure social distancing (36’/student). On average classrooms will house, in most cases, no more than 17 students safely.
Q: How will therapies such as OT, PT, and speech be provided for students that select remote learning?
A: This will need to be determined on an individual basis.
In the spring, committees were told to develop IEPs for the 2020-2021 school year as if school were back in session, or as if circumstances were back “back to normal.” Your student’s IEP reflects that recommendation. However, the state reopening guidance states, “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.).” http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/reopening-schools/nys-p12-school-reopening-guidance.pdf
Q: Will extracurricular activities be offered?
A: Some extracurricular activities are determined by agencies beyond our District’s discretion; eg. NYSPHSAA, or New York State Public High School Athletic Association. For Berlin-specific extracurricular activities, we are working with the Berlin Teacher’s Association, as well as the coaches and advisors of the various extracurricular opportunities we offer, to assess how we might successfully build these opportunities under the COVID-19 restrictions. Each opportunity will be assessed based on safety and effectiveness, and their viability will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Will students with an IEP be attending four days per week at the 7-12 level?
A: Yes, the current plan allows for students with disabilities (students with an IEP) to return to in-person instruction four days a week. If your student attends an out-of-district program, your student will attend according to that program’s reopening plan.
Q: What learning platforms will be used; how will instructions of assignments be delivered, how will students submit work?
A: For grades 4-12 we will be using the Schoology Learning Management system for communication, grade books and assignments. For grade K-3 we will be using the SeeSaw platform. For each of these, we are in the process of gathering professional development information for families to assist them with navigating the learning platforms. We are currently investigating a few different video conferencing platforms, and will choose one platform for all teachers to use for the 2020-21 school year. Based on feedback from parents, we are going to limit the platform and conferencing sites so that the school year is easier to navigate.
Q: What happens to extracurricular activities if we are fully remote?
A: Administrators are investigating the possibility of holding extracurricular activities remotely, whenever possible. Advisors are working with Building Principals to develop remote plans so that these opportunities may continue to be offered to students as fully as possible.
Q: Will students be participating in PE?
Q: For remote learning, how many hours per day on the screen? Will it allow for small group instruction with Peer interaction?
A: The amount of hours of screen time may vary depending on subject, grade level, and student population. We have developed an assortment of teaching models that would support small group work to be done virtually, allowing for peer interaction with an academic focus.
Q: If we pull our child completely for homeschooling, would we need to submit homeschooling paperwork to have him return next year, or could he simply be tested to be sure he meets the academic level to stay with his current class?
A: Yes. To be clear, a Homeschool student is no longer enrolled in the District. Their education is completely driven, assessed and supplied by the family. Homeschool students are also not eligible for most District-oriented supports, with few exceptions specifically related to Special Education identification. District-oriented supports includes participation in extra-curricular activities and sports.
Q: In the school plan, students with IEP’s will be going 4 days a week, can we reduce the number of days our daughter goes to school?
A: We are strongly encouraging families to send their students with disabilities to school four days a week. If there are special considerations around this issue, those can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Will there be consistent guidelines (rules) for remote learning classrooms?
A: Yes, digital etiquette has been created and will be shared with students. Implementation of remote learning guidelines will be described on the District website. We are still developing the nuances of these guidelines for the various subject areas and grade levels. The target date for posting them on the Berlin Central website is Friday, August 14th.
Q: If families do not have internet access will paper copies be sent home? If so, how many times per week?
A: Yes, on a case-by-case basis. Requests can be made through the buildings where the students attend.
Q: If things go back to normal at some point can I re-register my four year old for Pre-K? Can he start in the middle of the year?
A: We currently have a waiting list for our Pre-K program. You are welcome to register your child and have them placed on our waiting list. Yes, we do fill openings as they occur throughout the school year.
Q: Will parents receive more information about the Day 1/Day 2 format to better understand what it looks like?
A: Yes. We will host three Open Houses for parents to better explain some of the finer details about the schedules, as well as teaching and learning for this year. The dates for the Open Houses and the link to join these meetings will be posted on the School Website and Facebook, and will be emailed to families.
Q: How will students socially distance on buses?
A: Due to the limitations of space and resources, it’s not possible to maintain a 6 ft radius per student on a school bus. Because of this, students and staff will be required to wear a proper face covering while loading, riding and unloading the bus. Students will have assigned seating and will sit one to a seat unless they are members of the same household.
Q: How will transportation look when a situation arises and a family may need a different drop off/pick up location?
A: Unfortunately, due to the restrictions regarding district transportation, a student’s regular assigned routes cannot be changed. In this instance, a parent will need to make arrangements for the student to be picked up from school or his/her regular drop off or pick up location.
Q: How will bus drivers know if a child’s temperature has been taken?
A: We are putting into place an application (app) called EduForm. The daily parent health check form and temperature reading will be reported by parents in the app every morning. Drivers will have a list of those students who have not been screened and those students will not be picked up. The exact process for the use of this application will be communicated in a future correspondence with parents, prior to the beginning of school.
Q: Will transportation be provided to/from Questar programs?
A: There will be no change to transportation for New Visions programs. Transportation will be provided to most Questar programs. The logistics are being developed now and will be communicated to parents and staff before the start of school.
Q: Will technology be supplied by the district?
A: Technology devices will be supplied by the district for enrolled students whether attending in-person or remote. The distribution plans are being developed now and will be communicated to parents and staff before the start of school.
Q: How will meals be provided to families on Wednesdays?
A: All food service distribution plans are being developed now. This includes how meals are provided for in-person and remote students. These plans will be communicated with parents and staff before the start of school.
Q: Will students still be allowed to bring their lunch from home?
A: Yes. However, sharing of food with anyone from another household will be prohibited.
Q: Will lunch be served in the cafeteria or will students eat in the classrooms to limit exposure?
A: Students will eat in classrooms
Health & Safety
Q: When do temperatures need to be taken?
Q: If families have no internet access how are they supposed to submit daily temperature checks?
A: If a family does not have internet or access to a smartphone, they should contact the district office to request paper copies of the reporting tool.
Q: If parents are not home when temperatures need to be taken before school, can students take their own temperature?
A: If the student is capable of providing the information, then that would be acceptable
Q: When specifically does my child need to wear a mask?
Q: What is the protocol if someone tests positive?
Q: What is the protocol for when a student may return to school if sick (non Covid)?
Q: What is the protocol if a child becomes symptomatic at school? How will they be treated?
A: The student will be evaluated by the school nurse. If the school nurse determines that the student needs to go home, parents will be notified to pick up their child and to consult with their primary care physician. The student will be sent to the designated isolation room to await parent pick up.
Q: What are the requirements for face coverings? Color, design, etc.
A: The face covering must cover the nose, mouth and chin. The face covering may be store bought, hand made, or disposable providing it meets the above criteria. The face covering must follow District dress code guidelines regarding decency and appropriateness.
Q: Will students and staff be tested weekly for Covid?
A: No. Please refer to the District and DOH protocols for testing requirements.
Q: I’m an essential worker exposed at any given shift during work. I’m more protected than most people outside of the medical field but I wonder how the school feels about me and others that have no choice about going to work and having my children go to school.
A: The District respects the work that all essential workers are undertaking during this time of National and Global crisis. The dedication, commitment and service that you and your colleagues are providing is critically important to the recovery of our Nation and the safety of all our citizens.
Q: Are we allowed to evaluate the situation semester by semester to determine if we want to send our children to school?
A: We are asking parents to commit their decisions to send their child(ren) to school in ten week intervals in order to allow the buildings and transportation departments time to adjust for social distancing considerations, as needed. In the event that a situation arises that requires an earlier change to your child(ren)’s learning program, we ask that you provide us ample notice as these changes are impactful and difficult to manage.
Q: What measures of accountability does the district have in place for students and instructors who fail to comply with the current health and safety standards during the school day?
A: Some students will need training on how to wear masks properly. We will work to communicate and model the expectations as clearly as possible. NYS Law requires face coverings in public, and the District intends to fully comply. If individuals do not have an appropriate face covering, one will be provided. If individuals refuse to properly wear a face covering, we will take immediate measures to resolve the problem to ensure the safety of everyone.
Q: If our child has a compromised health issue what steps would you like us, the parents, to take?
A: If this is a concern that has been the subject of discussion with your primary care physician (PCP), please communicate with the building nurse so that we may respond according to the PCP guidance. If you are just interested in making the school aware of a concern that is not actionable, again, please contact the school nurse.
Q: What will the classroom set up look like?
A: Classrooms will be set according to the DOH guidelines for social distancing. A minimum of 36 square feet has been provided for each student desk in an effort to reduce the opportunity for viral contagion. Classrooms equipped with tables for learning will be provided with an approved Safety Shield to again reduce the opportunity for viral contagion.
Q: Have any additional cleaning staff been hired?
A: We are in the process of attempting to secure additional staff members to help with the additional cleaning that is planned for the 2020-21 school year.
Q: What new cleaning will be done and how will this be regulated?
A: As per DOH guidelines, cleaning will occur after each school day, while “high touch” surfaces; i.e. door handles, bathrooms sinks and stalls, and other common areas; will be cleaned continually throughout the day. Routine cleaning schedules are being developed by the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds.
Q: How often are rooms being cleaned and with what chemicals?
A: All areas of the school buildings will be cleaned daily, normally during the evening / night time hours by well trained custodial staff. Cleaning chemicals and compounds must meet NYS SED “Green Cleaning” regulations enacted a few years ago, but more specifically COVID- 19 guidelines established by the EPA; CDC and Department of Health. Nearly all cleaning chemicals and compounds used by district personnel fall within a range of 0 according to the NFPA 704 rating system for health, flammability, reactivity and special hazards meaning there is very low to no risk to human health including children (students).
Q: Has the district filtration system been upgraded?
A: The district Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds is working with a vendor to outfit all HVAC equipment with HEPA filtration filters to improve the environment within the school buildings. The goal is to have these filters in place before the opening day of school.