This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page addresses common questions and concerns related to the opening of schools in September 2021. It will be updated as new information is received.
Updated on September 20, 2021
HCSD’s 2021 School Operating Plan* outlines specific health and safety guidelines, such as a physical distancing, face masks for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting. Here are some answers to common questions about the 2021-22 school year.
*Please note: the District’s 2021-22 operating plan is subject to revision based on updated guidance and local public health conditions. As new information is released, HCSD may modify the plan accordingly prior to September or during the school year. Any changes will be shared with the school community as soon as possible.
- Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools (CDC)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Back to School Health and Safety Guide (NYS Education Department)
- When is the first day of school?
- When will bus routes be available?
- What is the plan to open schools in September?
- Where and how will students learn during the 2021-22 school year?
- Is in-person instruction safe?
- Is there a fully virtual learning option for those who want it?
- Will there be any remote learning days?
- Will there be remote learning for students on mandatory quarantine?
- Will Google Classroom be used this year?
- Will students receive Chromebooks?
- Will there be in-person parent/teacher conferences?
- Can teachers provide an outline of the curriculum to parents?
- What will student schedules look like?
- Where can I get student schedules?
- How will transportation be affected?
- Will there be fall sports and are spectators allowed?
- Will there be winter sports? (new 9/20)
- Is there going to be an afterschool program?
- What are the procedures for student drop off and pick up?
- What additional academic supports will be used to address learning loss?
- Can I choose homeschooling for my child(ren)?
Healthy/Safety Questions & Answers
- What mitigation strategies will be implemented?
- Will students and staff be required to wear masks?
- Will masks be provided?
- Can face shields be worn instead of masks?
- Can gaiters be worn as masks? (new 9/20)
- Can parents opt out of the mask requirement?
- Are students or staff required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
- Is physical distancing still in effect?
- Will desks be cleaned between classes?
- Where will students eat?
- Will water fountains be available this year?
- Can students bring their own hand sanitizer to school?
- Can the John L. Edwards school be used to help with physical distancing?
- How will you ensure proper ventilation in school buildings?
- Will students or staff be tested for COVID-19 at school? (updated 9/8)
- Will there be daily health screenings?
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- How can I help prevent the spread of the virus?
- How will contact tracing and quarantining be handled?
- Does a fully vaccinated person need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
The first day of the 2021-22 school year for students is Thursday, September 9, 2021. Unlike last year, students will not be phased in over the course of a few weeks. All students, PK-12, will begin school in person on September 9th.
See the 2021-22 one-page calendar for a quick view of important dates such as half days, conference days, testing dates and holidays.
The Hudson City School District is in the process of developing and finalizing an opening plan* for September 2021. Our opening plan for the 2021-22 school year prioritizes safe in-person instruction five days a week for all students. HCSD has been working closely with local health officials, stakeholders, Questar III BOCES and other regional school districts to create an opening plan that follows current health and safety protocols as outlined by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The preliminary opening plan* emphasizes layered mitigation strategies (i.e., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect the entire school community and members of their households. Once finalized, the plan will be posted on our website and shared with the school community.
*Please note: the District’s 2021-22 operating plan is subject to change based on updated guidance and local public health conditions. As new information is released, HCSD may modify the plan accordingly prior to September or during the school year. We plan to follow the science and heed guidance from various health officials to best protect the health and safety of all students and staff. Any changes will be shared with the school community as soon as possible.
All Hudson students, Pre-K through Grade 12, will return to the in-person learning environment five days per week. There will be no hybrid schedules combining in-person and remote learning. The District is prioritizing in-person instruction as we believe that is the best learning environment for students, particularly after a year of hybrid schedules and remote learning that left many students falling behind.
Yes. Similar to last school year, in-person instruction will require layered protections including indoor mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning and other safety protocols. We know these safety measures are effective based on our experiences during the 2020-21 school year and our ability to prevent widespread infection within the school community.
Only students who are deemed medically vulnerable with sufficient medical documentation from a healthcare provider or medical professional are eligible to participate in a fully virtual learning program. Any parent or guardian who believes their child will be unable to return to school for in-person learning due to an approved medical exemption must complete this form by Sunday, August 22nd to be considered (this form was sent to parents multiple times). Students with approved medical exemptions will likely be assigned to a regional distance learning program taught remotely through Questar III BOCES, Northeastern Regional Information Center (NERIC), or another alternate online platform depending on grade level and availability. Remote learning programs will not be taught by HCSD faculty and course options may be limited at the 7-12 level.
No, however we will have plans in place to shift to fully remote learning if a complete or partial closure of our school buildings is needed due to COVID-related issues. As you know, a COVID-related shift to remote learning can happen quickly with little warning, so it is important to have a plan in place for your child(ren) in the event of an unexpected shift to remote learning.
Students who cannot attend school due to mandatory quarantine will be provided with classwork by their teacher(s). Teachers are encouraged to keep all assignments on Google Classroom so students can complete work outside of school, if necessary. However, there will be no synchronous (i.e., live, real time) virtual classes as was the case on remote days in the 2020-21 school year. It is important to be in communication with your child’s teacher in the event they are kept out of school for an extended period.
There may also be an opportunity for virtual after school tutoring that would assist students who are out due to a mandatory quarantine. The details are a work in progress at this time.
If large groups of students/staff are required to quarantine, the District may revisit the possibility of a synchronous learning model using Google Classroom and Meet.
Teachers are encouraged to post lessons and assignments in Google Classroom however the platform will not be used as heavily as in the 2020-21 school year. Google Classrooms will be set up so teachers are ready in the event we must switch to remote learning, however instruction will be primarily face-to-face this year unless local health conditions require some or all of the district to pause in-person instruction.
Chromebooks will be provided to all students for use during the school year. High school students can come to the school and pick up Chromebooks starting on Tuesday, September 7th between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Students can also receive Chromebooks at school once the school year starts if they are not able to get a device prior to the first day of school.
Students in Grades 6-12 will be allowed to transport their devices between home and school regularly. Elementary students will have access to Chromebook carts in every classroom for use in school, but the devices are ready to send home with students if needed.
Parent/teacher conferences will likely be a combination of virtual and in-person meetings dependent on local health conditions at that time. We hope to have more in-person opportunities however decisions on in-person events cannot be made until closer to the event dates due to the ever changing public health landscape. We plan to continue offering a virtual option for parent/teacher conferences for convenience.
All curriculum outlines for K-12 are available on the Curriculum page of our website (under “Academics”). Parents/guardians are encouraged to explore the curriculum maps and learn what content and skills are covered in each class and grade level. Many high school teachers also provide a syllabus at the beginning of the semester.
School starts at 8 a.m. for all students. Grades 6-12 will return to a nine-period schedule, with two lunch periods for each building to ensure sufficient distancing during meal times. Grades K-5 will return to a 10-period day. Students will have special area classes such as Art, Music and Band.
Student schedules should be available in the Student Portal or the Parent Portal. If you have difficulty accessing a schedule, contact the main office of your child’s school by calling 518-828-4360. Paper schedules were also mailed to families and should be arriving soon.
Yes. As recommended by the CDC and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), there will be universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors inside schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels. Additionally, Governor Hochul stated on August 24th that the New York State Department of Health plans to issue a state-wide mask mandate for all people in schools. Masks will be optional when outdoors on school property.
The reasons for the universal indoor masking recommendation are: 1) the prevalence of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 and, 2) the fact that children under age 12 cannot receive a vaccine at this time. Our experience last year demonstrated that masks are highly effective in reducing the risk of transmission, especially when worn in group settings where individuals from different households are in close proximity for an extended period of time (e.g., in a classroom).
Importantly, new CDC guidance on contact tracing indicates that in K-12 indoor classroom settings, the “close contact” definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. Given this guidance from the CDC, the District anticipates that fewer students would be quarantined by adhering to the indoor mask recommendation.
Like last year, face masks over the nose and mouth will be required indoors, especially when entering/exiting the school, riding school buses and walking in the hallways. There will be organized “mask breaks” with appropriate physical distancing during the school day. We explored other options such as barriers to reduce the need for face masks, but unfortunately schoolwide barriers are not cost effective at this time.
Children may need to be reminded how to properly wear a face mask before coming back to school. We strongly encourage that your child(ren) practices wearing a face covering at home before the start of the school year. Please reinforce with your child(ren) that the mask requirement is to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and their families. Here are some helpful resources:
- Tips to help your child feel more comfortable with face masks
- How to Wear Cloth Face Mask (CDC)
- Face Mask Do’s and Don’ts (video)
- How to Wear a Cloth Mask Safely (video)
- Wearing a Mask – A Social Narrative for Children (video)
Masks MUST be worn at all times in school and on the school bus unless there is a documented medical excuse. Individual needs regarding face masks will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If you have concerns about your child wearing a face covering for medical reasons, please contact your child’s principal.
Students are expected to have their own masks to wear at school and on the bus, however disposable masks will be available as needed (i.e., if a student forgets their mask or their mask becomes soiled). The District will also provide each student with one (1) reusable cloth mask that can be laundered (we suggest hand washing or using a mesh laundry bag with mild detergent and air drying).
Face shields alone do not provide sufficient protection, therefore if you choose to wear a face shield then you must also wear a mask over the nose and mouth.
Gaiters are acceptable as face coverings however they must be two-ply or doubled over to provide two layers for sufficient protection.
At this time, parents/guardians cannot opt their students out of the mask requirement as it is important for everyone to be wearing masks for them to be effective in preventing virus transmission. However, individual needs regarding face masks will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If you have concerns about your child wearing a face mask for medical reasons, please contact your child’s principal.
Unless otherwise mandated, the District will not require students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming school year. At this time, COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice. However, some individuals may be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter the schools, such as student teachers or other necessary visitors.
While not required, it is strongly recommended that individuals 12 years old and above get vaccinated as this is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the pandemic. Currently, there are three vaccines available: Pfizer for ages 12+, Moderna for ages 18+ and Johnson & Johnson for ages 18+. We urge families to contact their family physician to ask questions about COVID-19 vaccine options. Although not 100% effective in preventing COVID-19, the available vaccines are the best layer of protection to lessen the harmful effects of this virus (i.e., hospitalization and death) and remain our best option to minimize disruptions in our educational programs.
If interested, click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you.
Yes, physical distancing is one of many prevention strategies that will help maintain a safe in-person learning environment. The CDC currently recommends that schools maintain at least three (3) feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. A distance of at least six (6) feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.
Increased spacing (at least six feet) may be needed for activities with a greater risk of transmission such as indoor Physical Education, Choir and Band (particularly singing and wind instruments). Physical Education teachers will prioritize outdoor activities as weather permits.
Since students are permitted to move between classrooms this year, we understand that it may not be possible to maintain three feet of distance in hallways during class transitions. However, the time frame for moving between classes is only 3-4 minutes and therefore not a concern according to the Columbia County Department of Health (assuming everyone properly wears a mask).
Since students are permitted to move between classrooms this year, they will likely share certain items such as desks and chairs. Per CDC guidelines, in general, cleaning once a day is sufficient to remove potential viruses that may be on surfaces. Daily disinfecting removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection. Additionally, students will be encouraged to practice proper hand washing and hand sanitizer will be available for use when needed. Per the health guidelines, classroom desks will not need to be disinfected after each period. Surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff.
Junior and senior high school students will receive “grab and go” breakfasts upon arrival to be eaten either in the cafeteria, the gym or homeroom. There will be two lunch periods for each building to reduce crowding and ensure sufficient distancing (at least 3 feet). In the cafeteria, there will be QR codes at each seat for students to scan with a Chromebook or cell phone to assist with contact tracing, if needed. Tables and seats will be cleaned between each student.
At the elementary school, all students will be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria with physical distancing enforced. Some grades will eat breakfast in the cafeteria and some grades will eat breakfast in classrooms.
Students and staff are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to use at fountains and refilling stations. Disposable cups will be available, if needed. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to manage sanitizing traditional water fountains between each use during the school day. Water will be readily available as there are multiple water refilling stations in Hudson Jr./Sr. High School and Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School.
There will be hand sanitizer available for use at school, but students may carry personal-size bottles of hand sanitizer in school and on school buses if they want to. The size of the bottle should not exceed eight (8) ounces in volume and should be secured when not in use.
While utilizing the JLE building seems like a good option, there are several reasons it is not possible. The main reason is that the building lacks a required state assigned BEDS code, running water, furniture, and equipment (including the kitchen and instructional technology in classrooms). We also do not have enough staff to use JLE as a fully functional school. The District would need to hire several new positions, including an administrator, a school nurse and food service workers, which are not part of the 2021-22 budget.
Proper building ventilation will continue to be a priority. Our current air filtration systems meet all required safety levels, and we have prioritized the use of our one-time American Rescue Plan funds to upgrade our air filtration systems throughout the district.
We are anticipating that school transportation will follow the same safety guidelines as public mass transportation. All students and staff must wear face masks while entering/exiting and riding on a school bus, regardless of vaccination status. Windows and roof hatches will be open to increase ventilation on the bus, weather permitting. Cleaning and disinfecting will continue daily following each bus run.
If you have not done so already, please complete this transportation survey about your child’s transportation to and from school for the upcoming school year to assist with our planning. You should fill out the form even if your child will not need transportation (i.e., you or an approved contact plan to drop off/pick up your child at school each day).
Click here for the 2021-22 bus routes (this page requires a password, which was provided to parents/guardians via phone and text message on September 7, 2021). If you have questions, please contact the Transportation Office at 518-828-4360 ext. 2100.
The CDC identifies multiple prevention strategies in a layered approach to promote safer in-person learning and care. This is particularly significant due to the fact that students under age 12 cannot receive a vaccine at this time. These strategies include but are not limited to:
- Consistent and correct use of masks indoors
- Physical distancing
- Improved ventilation
- Potential screening testing to quickly identify cases
- Proper hand washing – Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Respiratory etiquette – Cough or sneeze into your mask or use a tissue or the inside of your elbow (if a mask becomes soiled, a clean one will be provided)
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of schools and buses
On September 2nd, the New York State Department of Health issued a new directive to schools regarding COVID testing. Schools are being directed to implement weekly screening testing—or the testing of asymptomatic individuals—for all faculty and staff, however they “may be permitted to opt-out of mandatory weekly screening testing if they provide documentation of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” Schools must also offer screening testing for unvaccinated students on a weekly basis (with consent from a parent/guardian), however students are not required to be tested unless they are participating in sports. Learn more about COVID-19 testing.
At this time, we are working with other local school districts and the Greene County Department of Health to facilitate the staffing, supplies and information that will be required to implement the Commissioner’s Determination on the testing of students, staff, and contractors as soon as practicable to ensure a safe environment for our school community.
We will notify you of the process for providing documentation of full vaccination (to opt-out of testing) or information on testing as soon as possible. We again ask for your patience and understanding as we work through these new directives.
The CDC no longer recommends temperature checks or screening questionnaires at school, therefore HCSD does not plan on utilizing daily health screenings for students or staff. This is also based on our experience last year with daily temperature checks upon arrival. During the 2020-21 school year, morning temperature checks did not “catch” any cases of COVID-19 within the in-person population. Since we learned that checking all student/staff temperatures upon arrival is not as helpful as previously thought, the practice will not be continued in the 2021-22 school year. We still strongly encourage families to be mindful of when students or someone in their household is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, in which case students should not come to school. Read more about COVID-19 symptoms below.
The CDC recently determined that daily health surveys are no longer required. However, all employees and parents/guardians are expected to understand their obligation to ensure that individuals reporting to school are fever and symptom free each day this school year. This important step will provide the initial layer, as outlined in the District’s plan, to limit exposure and spread of COVID-19 in the school setting. Each employee and family is responsible for daily temperature checks at home. Employees will not report to work and parents/guardians will not send a student to school with any of the following symptoms that are atypical from the individual’s normal health and wellness:
- Sore Throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Fever (above 100.0 degrees F)
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Congestion or Runny Nose
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, and new loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea. If you or a family member experiences any of these symptoms, you are encouraged to stay home and speak with your healthcare provider.
The best ways to prevent the virus from spreading are to stay home when ill, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask indoors, keep your distance from others and disinfect frequently used areas and objects (e.g., doorknobs, light switches) with at least 60% alcohol.
The District is discussing contact tracing and quarantine protocols with the Questar III BOCES Health and Safety team as well as the Columbia County Department of Health. More details are expected on the contact tracing and quarantine protocols soon.
Does a fully vaccinated person need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
No, if you are fully vaccinated and exposed to a COVID-positive individual, you do not need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. You should monitor your health closely and if you develop any symptoms, stay home from school and contact your healthcare provider.
HCSD plans to offer interscholastic sports to students this fall. Per CDC guidelines, it is recommended that schools currently located in regions classified as “high” transmission zones should either cancel higher risk sports or ensure that all students participating in higher risk athletic teams are fully vaccinated (as of August 25, 2021, Columbia County is labeled “high” in terms of community transmission; see Table 1 below). For the Fall 2021-22 season, this requirement would affect participants in Football and Girls’ Volleyball. At this time, vaccination is not required to participate in fall sports, however it is strongly encouraged. If interested, click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you.
Although there is no vaccination requirement at this time, the District is planning on mandatory frequent testing for all student-athletes to ensure the health and safety of all Hudson athletes and coaches as well as those throughout the Patroon Conference. The frequency of testing may depend on a sport’s relative risk of transmission. The Binax antigen test would be used. Parent/guardian consent for screening testing of students will be required. Learn more about COVID-19 testing
- 1 Levels of community transmission defined as total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days (low, 0-9; moderate 10-49; substantial, 50-99, high, ≥100) and percentage of positive tests in the past 7 days (low, <5%; moderate, 5-7.9%; substantial, 8-9.9%; high, ≥10%.)
- 2 Examples of low-risk sports are diving and golf; intermediate-risk sport examples are baseball and cross country; high-risk sport examples are football and wrestling.
- 3 High-risk extracurricular activities are those in which increased exhalation occurs, such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, or exercise, especially when conducted indoors.
Spectators will be allowed at sporting events but they must adhere to the health and safety guidelines (e.g., wearing masks indoors) and maintaining appropriate physical distance of three (3) feet. Masks are optional outdoors. Whether indoors or outdoors, please make an effort to keep space between yourself and others. We may need to establish a capacity for certain sports to ensure proper distancing can be maintained. No one may attend a sporting event if they have any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
HCSD plans to offer a range of winter athletic opportunities to our students in as safe a manner as possible. In accordance with current CDC guidance on transmission levels (see Table 1 above) and at the recommendation of the Columbia County Department of Health, all public schools in Columbia County are requiring the following mitigation measures to be in place for the start of winter sports due to the increasing prevalence of the highly contagious Delta variant. To protect in-person learning and avoid the potential cancellation of winter sports, HCSD will join other county school districts in the following mitigation measures:
- To participate in indoor “high-risk” winter sports (basketball, volleyball, cheer), student-athletes who are eligible for the vaccine (12 and older) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In order to be fully vaccinated by the time the season begins, prospective student-athletes should begin the vaccination process as soon as possible and must receive their second dose no later than November 1, 2021 for Varsity/JV or November 8, 2021 for modified sports.
- If prospective student-athletes are not yet eligible to be vaccinated (under 12 years of age), they must submit to weekly screening testing to participate in indoor “high-risk” winter sports. Parental consent is required for the testing of student-athletes. Screening testing for approved participants who are unvaccinated will begin on the first day of scheduled practice.
- All student-athletes must wear face masks during contests and practices indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Families of students interested in “high-risk” winter sports are required to confirm proof of vaccination (if eligible) with the school nurse by November 1, 2021 (or November 8th for modified sports).
Each school has different procedures for morning drop off and afternoon pick up:
- Elementary School Drop Off/Pick Up
- Junior High School Drop Off/Pick Up
- Senior High School Drop Off/Pick Up
Yes, the Hudson Bluehawk Nation Afterschool Program will have a fall program for K-8 students. Registration forms were mailed to K-5 families in August and registration for Grades 6-8 will occur after school starts.
Faculty utilize many intervention strategies depending on each student’s progress and needs. One area of particular focus will be writing for elementary students. The District is also looking into using federal American Rescue Plan funds to provide late bus services that would allow students to attend extra learning time with teachers three days a week. Plans for late buses are still in development.
Yes, homeschooling for the 2021-22 school year is an option if you do not feel comfortable sending your child(ren) back to school in September. Please note that there are differences between homeschooling and the remote learning model we had last year, such as:
|Responsibilities||The parent/guardian is responsible for all aspects of the child’s education including: planning lessons that correspond with NYS standard school curriculum, securing the necessary instructors and materials (computer, books, tests, etc.), and reporting on a quarterly basis in addition to a final yearly assessment.||A New York State certified teacher is responsible for all aspects of the child’s education including: planning lessons that correspond with NYS standard school curriculum, reporting on a quarterly basis and a final yearly assessment. The parent/guardian is responsible for ensuring their child logs attendance in virtual learning, engages with their teacher and completes the required assignments.|
|Instructional Materials||Instructional materials/equipment are not provided (e.g., curriculum, textbooks, computer, tests).||Instructional materials/equipment are provided by the school district.|
|Diploma Requirements (High School Only)||At present, residents of New York State may not use a high school program of correspondence study (i.e., homeschooling) to meet the requirements for a secondary education in New York State. This means that courses completed may not be accepted as credit toward a diploma should you choose to re-enroll your child in public school. High school-level home schooled students do not receive a diploma, however a parent can request a letter that certifies they completed all their home instruction requirements. One will be given after the materials are reviewed.||All secondary curricula are designed to meet state diploma requirements and therefore credits received count toward a diploma.|
If homeschooling is your preference or if you have additional questions, you must contact the Office of School Improvement at 518-828-4360 extension 2134 or email Theresa Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.