Reopening FAQ

translation instructionsLast updated on August 11, 2020

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This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page addresses common questions and concerns related to reopening schools in September 2020. It will be updated as new information is received and details are finalized.

What is the plan to reopen schools in September?

The initial plan to reopen our schools can be viewed here. Several stakeholder committees are meeting weekly to review guidance from the New York State Education Department (SED) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH). As of August 7, 2020, we are moving forward with the following reopening plans:

  1. a hybrid schedule to reduce daily capacity in buildings and buses (i.e., half of students on Mondays and Tuesdays, and half of students on Thursdays and Fridays, with at-home learning on Wednesdays for all students to allow for cleaning and sanitization)
  2. all remote learning

We will continue communicating with families, staff and the school community as details are finalized. As always, your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated as we work through this process.

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Is there a fully virtual learning option for those who want it?

Yes, the District is offering families of students entering Grades K-10 the option of full-time online instruction as a replacement to in-person instruction within the school buildings. Learn more about the Virtual School option. The deadline to register for Virtual School is Sunday, August 16, 2020.

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How would a hybrid schedule work?

For Grades 6-10, the model we are pursuing is a two-day rotation with half of students in school Monday/Tuesday (Blue Group) and the other half in school on Thursday/Friday (Gold Group). Wednesday would be reserved for deep cleaning and disinfection of all areas of the schools with all students and staff working remotely. At this time, the initial reopening plan calls for Grades 11 & 12 to engage in remote learning Monday through Friday.

All students in PK-5 would attend school for in-person instruction four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) with remote learning on Wednesdays.

See a visual of the draft hybrid schedule on page 4 of the reopening plan presentation.

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If I have multiple children in Grades 6-10, will they be in the same “group?”

While it is not guaranteed, the schools are working together with the Transportation Department to make every attempt to schedule households/siblings on the same hybrid schedule (i.e., Blue Group or Gold Group).

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Is there a hybrid schedule option for PK-5?

No. At this time the hybrid model is only available for students in Grades 6-10. Students not attending school in person all four days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) will be marked absent for the days not attended.

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How will elementary students be phased into the school building?

To help our youngest students acclimate to their new school environment, we plan to “phase in” Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5 over the course of three weeks. All PK-5 students will begin school on Monday, September 14. Students should engage with teachers remotely (to the extent possible) starting on September 14 until their grade is phased in to the physical school building according to the table below:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1
UPK – K only UPK – K only REMOTE UPK – K only UPK – K only
Week 2
UPK – Gr. 2 only UPK – Gr. 2 only REMOTE UPK – Gr. 2 only UPK – Gr. 2 only
Week 3 (9/28-10/2) UPK – Gr. 5 UPK – Gr. 5 REMOTE UPK – Gr. 5 UPK – Gr. 5

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Will students be issued Chromebooks for the first few weeks until their grade is phased into the school?

Yes, students will be able to get school-issued Chromebooks to support their remote learning before they are phased into the physical school buildings. Parents will be notified when details for Chromebook distribution are determined.

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How will special education students be phased into the school buildings?

A full schedule of how special education students will be phased into each school building will be shared once it is available. All special education students will attend school in-person four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday).

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Will school breakfast and lunch be available to students on remote days?

Yes. We will continue to make meals available to all students, regardless of whether they are in school or learning from home. The locations for meal pick-up will be posted on our website when they are determined.

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Will there be a kindergarten screening?

Yes, plans for safe kindergarten screening are in the works and families will be notified shortly.

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Will students and staff be screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes, all students and staff will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms daily and individuals with symptoms will be separated and sent home. The District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screening:

  • A parent or guardian will be asked to screen their child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms each day prior to sending them to school. Parents should check their child’s temperature daily and keep them home if they have a temperature of 100.0°F or greater.
  • For students, daily temperature check and screening upon arrival at their designated entrance.
  • For staff, daily self-reported temperature checks and completion of the screening questionnaire.
  • Records will be maintained according to guidance and regulations.
  • If an individual has a temperature of 100°F or greater or has a positive response to a screening question, they will be isolated from others and immediately dismissed from school for evaluation by their health care provider.
  • If an individual develops symptoms during the school day, they will be isolated from others and immediately dismissed from school for evaluation by their health care provider.
  • If an individual develops symptoms outside of school, they should not report to school and immediately contact their medical provider.

Staff and students should not enter schools or district buildings if any of the following screening criteria apply. The individual is:

  • Sick or has been sick with COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days. Symptoms to watch for: fever (100.0°F or higher), cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
  • Has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. These individuals must follow all isolation and quarantine guidelines from the local health authority or their physician.
  • Has a household member who is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or who is awaiting their own test results.
  • Has traveled internationally or on a cruise in the past 14 days, or has traveled to a state that requires a 14 day quarantine. These individuals must follow current CDC self-quarantine recommendations: View the current CDC recommendations.

Any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection will not be permitted to come to school.

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Will walkers be screened before entering the building as well?

Yes, all students and staff will be screened before entering the school buildings regardless of how they arrived at school.

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What symptoms should I look out for?

The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and coughing. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, 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.

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How can I help prevent the spread of the virus?

The best ways to prevent the virus from spreading are to stay home when ill, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, keep your distance from others and disinfect frequently used areas and objects (i.e., phone, doorknobs) with at least 60% alcohol.

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What is the attendance policy?

If a student is ill (fever, etc.) they will be considered “excused sick” like any other time. A note from the parent/guardian will be required, otherwise the absence will be unexcused.

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Will students and staff be required to wear masks all day?

Face coverings over the nose and mouth will be required for most of the school day, especially when entering/exiting the school (and the bus) as well as walking in the hallways. Basically, if someone is moving they must be properly wearing a mask. However, there will be organized “mask breaks” during the school day with social distancing in place. We explored other options such as barriers to reduce the need for face coverings, but unfortunately schoolwide barriers are not cost effective at this time. We are working closely with Needham Risk Management and our insurance carrier to install shield guards that are safe for school settings in high traffic areas such as main offices and any other areas identified by our risk management group.

We strongly encourage that your child practices wearing a face covering at home before the start of the school year. Please reinforce with your child that the new mask requirement is to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and their families. Here are some helpful resources:

Individual needs regarding face coverings 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 school principal.

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Will masks be provided?

Students are expected to have a mask of their own before returning to school. The District will also provide each student with one (1) reusable cloth mask that can be laundered (we suggest hand washing with mild detergent and air drying). Disposable masks will be available on an as needed basis.

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Can face shields be worn instead of masks?

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.

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What happens if my child shows up to school or the bus stop without a mask?

Disposable masks will be available both on school buses and in each school. Masks MUST be worn at all times on the school bus unless there is a documented medical excuse.

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How will transportation be affected?

To reduce capacity, only one student will be allowed per seat (a reduction from 2 – 3 students per seat). Seats will alternate between window and aisle seats. All students must wear a mask at all times. High contact areas will be wiped down after each bus run. In accordance with State guidance, members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other and can share a seat.

As bus capacity will be greatly reduced, the District strongly encourages alternative forms of transportation where possible including parent drop off/pick up, walking, biking or public transportation. School staff are in the process of contacting families to determine their transportation preferences and this information will be noted in our Student Management System.

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How will social distancing be achieved on school buses?

Students will be seated according to the 50% pattern to allow for sufficient social distancing (i.e., one rider per seat, alternating between window and aisle seats). In the example diagram below, O represents a student seat and X represents an empty seat:

bus diagram showing how students will sit on the school bus alternating between window and aisle seats

Students will be assigned seats according to the seating schematic above. Siblings or children who reside in the same household may be seated together. This will alter the above schematic somewhat to provide appropriate social distancing, however, it will not necessarily affect the number of riders.

The bus will be loaded from the back to the front and unloaded from the front to the back. This means that the first students on the bus will sit in the back, and the students sitting in the front will be the first to get off the bus.

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What are the transportation options if I do now want my child to ride the school bus?

Other than the school bus, student transportation options include drop off and pick up by parent/guardian or other individual, bicycle and walking. School staff are in the process of contacting families to determine their transportation preferences and this information will be noted in our Student Management System.

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What is the maximum number of students in a classroom?

The number of students and adults in a room will vary based on the available square footage of each room. We are working with our Risk Management team to determine the maximum capacity of each room while ensuring sufficient social distancing with desks spaced six feet apart.

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What will a typical day in the classroom look like?

The schedules for each grade are currently under development.

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When can we expect teacher assignments and supply lists?

Teacher assignments are currently being determined. This year is more challenging than previous years so your patience and understanding are appreciated.

Supply lists should be posted soon, however there are some school supplies that are standard every year and could be purchased before the supply lists are completed. Examples of elementary school supplies include #2 pencils, handheld pencil sharpener, crayons, colored pencils, erasers, glue sticks, composition notebooks, loose leaf paper, dry erase markers, and headphones or earbuds. Examples of junior high school supplies include colored pencils, #2 pencils, black or blue pens, highlighters, loose leaf paper, tabbed dividers for three-ring binders, and headphones or earbuds for use with Chromebooks. Full supply lists will be posted on our website when they become available.

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Will there be fall sports?

Yes, however the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced on July 16 that fall sports will be delayed until September 21 and there will be no regional or state championship events this fall. NYSPHSAA has back up plans for condensed sports seasons should the fall sports season be further delayed.

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Can a student participate in sports if they are in Virtual School?

Yes, a student cannot be restricted from participating in sports even if they have selected Virtual School for the semester as long as they are receiving credit for three courses and physical education. See this memo from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association for more information.

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Can the John L. Edwards school be used to help with social distancing?

While utilizing the JLE building seems like a good option, there are several reasons it is not possible. The primary reason is that we 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 2020-21 budget. The building also lacks a state assigned BEDS code, running water, furniture, and equipment (including the kitchen and instructional technology in classrooms).

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Will visitors be allowed in schools?

No. No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for in emergency circumstances or to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.  Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings, need to be screened through our visitor management software system, and follow the District’s health screening protocols.

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Can I choose homeschooling for my child(ren)?

Yes, homeschooling for the 2020-21 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 online learning we had in the spring, such as:


Homeschooling Online Learning
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.

Get more information about home instruction regulations and the Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) that must be submitted by parents. Here is additional information about the required IHIP.

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 as soon as possible.

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What if I have more questions?

This page will be updated as more details of the reopening plan are finalized. If you would like to submit a question for consideration, please use the form below.

Reopening Questions

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