Questar III Reopening Plan

Updated October 13 2020.

Letter from District Superintendent

Dear Members of the Questar III School Community:

Over the past several weeks we have reviewed hundreds of pages of guidance from the state and federal government in preparation for developing a school reopening plan.

We recognize the magnitude, complexity, and significance of this work to safely reopen our schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a BOCES, we will continue to plan, implement, evaluate, and adapt to the best of our ability to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff – and the best opportunity for our students to learn.

This is a balancing act with very high stakes – and while we continue to work closely with our local districts and health departments, there is no one-size-fits all strategy to reopen our schools. Our region’s superintendents have asked us to prioritize in-person special education and career and technical education (CTE) to the extent possible within our facilities while complying with state and federal guidance and decisions by policymakers and elected officials.

While we need to comply with a July 31, 2020 deadline to complete a reopening plan, please be assured that our planning process will not end there. We will continue planning (and updating our plan, as needed) following the Governor’s decision in August – and as we get closer to the opening of school.

Looking ahead, we know that this will require us to think and work differently, to collaborate, and to be open and transparent with our communications. The real value of any plan is the planning process itself. This is where our efforts will be stronger – allowing us to tackle a very real and difficult endeavor along with other critical work and initiatives unrelated to COVID-19.

Thank you to the parents, students, staff, and others that have shared their feedback on reopening. We recognize that your opinions on reopening will vary, with some excited and others concerned. Your feedback was instrumental in shaping our plans for reopening this fall.

While there is much outside of our control at this moment – and for the foreseeable future – we will continue to adapt to support our students and districts – changing lives, realizing dreams and doing together what can’t be done alone. Thank you for taking time to read this plan. Any questions or concerns may be directed to COVID19@questar.org.

Sincerely,

Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
District Superintendent
Questar III BOCES

Table of Contents

Introduction

Communication/Family and Community Engagement

Health and Safety/Facilities

Child Nutrition

Transportation

Social-Emotional Well-Being

School Schedules

Budget and Fiscal Matters

Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism

Technology and Connectivity

Teaching and Learning

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

Special Education

Bilingual Education and World Languages

Staffing

Appendix

Key References

Introduction

At Questar III BOCES our primary commitment is to the students, families and districts we serve. Our first priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our entire school community. When the 2020-2021 school year begins, school and campus activities will look much different than in any other year that has come before.  Our students’ educational experiences will be different, however; we are committed to ensuring the success of all students. Due to the emergence of COVID-19 and the ever evolving health and safety measures put in place to protect our communities, we also must adapt, evolve and be flexible. Our students depend on us to lead the way.

And so, in developing this plan we have committed ourselves to the following guiding principles.

  1. Our first priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our entire school community.
  2. Consistent monitoring of facilities, students, and staff in adherence to federal, state, and local guidance will strengthen our ability to protect our community and provide stability.
  3. All students must have equitable opportunity to access educational resources and support services, and we must work tirelessly to identify and remove barriers.
  4. Strong two-way communication with students and their families, educators, staff, and other community members will help us overcome challenges, grow partnerships, and reach shared goals.
  5. We must fully consider the unique needs, concerns, and experiences of our diverse community members and allow flexibility while fully supporting mandated COVID-19 containment measures.
  6. We must include advocates for special populations in our work and consider the impact our decisions and actions may have on members of these populations in order to identify and take measures to correct any inequities, exclusions, and oversights.
  7. We must recognize that communities are emerging from historic disruption and identify mindful academically integrated activities and larger initiatives to support students’ physical safety, social emotional well-being, and mental health.

This School Reopening Plan will guide the reopening of Questar III’s educational programs and facilities that aligns with regulations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). This plan also recognizes the possibility that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations from our partnering schools and agencies, any stay-at-home orders issued by the Governor, local assessment of infection level and spread of the virus, and/or coordinated community response efforts. However, it is our hope that this document will relieve anxiety caused by a lengthened state of uncertainty. Further, it is our hope that open collaboration and communication with our stakeholders will provide clarity and consistency while allowing for creative and flexible solutions for issues as they arise.

The plan outlined in this document represents the balancing of the myriad considerations Questar III will address in reopening schools safely and in sustaining their safe operation. Given our state of emergency, this plan recognizes the integral role that social-emotional well being plays in students’ development, while focusing on academic instruction that will enhance student achievement and address learning loss. Questar III further recognizes that to be successful in this work it must also sustain its staff in a way that helps them feel empowered to connect, heal, and build greater capacity to support our students, colleagues, and families.

Of course, as with every plan being developed throughout New York State, this document is fluid and will change as necessary based on guidance from the Governor, CDC, NYSDOH, Local DOH, and the NYSED. We strongly believe the services described throughout this plan are in the best interests of our students, families, staff, and community.

As we continue this work, the following “next steps” will help us to further develop, revise, and implement a successful School Reopening Plan.

  • Align plan with any future mandates or considerations issued by the NYSED and revise according to any updated federal, state, and local guidance
  • Review and revise the facilities plan based on any future mandates or considerations
  • Revise the 2020-2021 school calendar as necessary
  • Review and select instructional plans and strategies for modifying instruction as needed
  • Review and implement technology plan and ensure that students and staff have access to technology at home
  • Review and revise professional development plan based on recommendations included in this document as practical
  • Ensure that all facilities are prepared for reopening
  • Review and revise Human Resource policies as necessary
  • Communicate with partner schools and other stakeholders regarding plans for reopening
  • Ensure that the School Emergency Response Team (SERT) reviews the updated Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) in response to the 2020 pandemic

This plan includes procedures that apply in the following schools:

Questar III Facilities and Offsite Programs

  1. Career & Technical Education
    1. Rensselaer Educational Center
    2. Columbia-Greene Educational Center
  2. New Visions Programs
    1. STEM at RPI: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    2. Scientific Research & World Health: University at Albany’s Health Sciences Campus
    3. Medical: Samaritan Hospital
    4. Visual & Performing Arts: The Arts Center of the Capital Region
  3. Special Education
    1. Sackett Educational Center
    2. George Washington School
    3. Maple Hill Educational Center
    4. Rensselaer Academy
    5. Rensselaer City
    6. Catskill Academy
    7. Academy at REC
    8. Robin Sobol Transition Academy
    9. Columbia High School
    10. Columbia-Greene Educational Center
  4. Pre-K
    1. Berlin Elementary
    2. Cairo-Durham Elementary
    3. Ichabod Crane Primary
    4. Montgomery C. Smith Elementary, Hudson CSD
  5. Tech Valley High School
  6. Adult Education
    1. Rensselaer Educational Center
    2. Columbia-Greene Educational Center

Communication/Family and Community Engagement

Questar III strives to provide transparency through open communication and information sharing with families, staff, and community members. Particularly during this time, we are mindful that maintaining open lines of communication allows community members to express concerns, provide valuable feedback that may influence necessary ongoing changes as needs arise, and reduces uncertainties and anxieties that are already heightened in a COVID-19 reality.

Questar III seeks to ensure that all community members know where and how to access information related to the COVID 19 Reopening Plan. This organizational plan and any ongoing updates will be posted to the Questar III website (www.questar.org).

Questar III has designated its Director of Health, Safety, and Operations, Craig Hansen, as its COVID-19 Safety Coordinator and main contact for any COVID-related reporting and inter-agency communications. Questar III has also established a dedicated email address (COVID19@questar.org) for any COVID-19-related questions, concerns or feedback. In addition to all existing channels of communication (principals, school counselors, etc.), Craig Hansen is available for any questions or concerns that arise amongst school community members. At Questar III, our dedicated staff is ever helpful in advocating for student needs and facilitating open communications. This is essential to the work we have always done and to the work we must do going forward.

Since mid-March, when our schools closed by Executive Order, Questar III has been thoughtfully planning for reopening. During this process we have sought input and feedback from health and safety experts and community leaders as well as members representative of our school community at large. This includes faculty and staff, parents and guardians, school districts, and local health departments.

Some of our activities have included online surveys, virtual town halls, open virtual informational meetings and Q & A opportunities, and one-on-one outreach and communications. Stakeholders are encouraged to continue to provide feedback as this process will be ongoing and we value your input.

As the opening of 2020-2021 school year draws closer, Questar III will undoubtedly continue to build upon its communication plan and outreach efforts. For the interim, Questar III has set in place some procedures and plans to clearly communicate any COVID-19 related changes, requirements, and expectations to students, staff, families, and visitors as described below.

  1. Questar III will continue to provide information to students, parents, guardians, staff, and the larger school community through SchoolMessenger calls/texts, social media platforms, virtual town halls (via Zoom or other online platforms), mailings, emails, online trainings, building level letters/newsletters, website postings (questar.org), and the local news media.Topics of communication may include but are not limited to (1) notification of any upcoming feedback opportunities (surveys, feedback requests, or open planning sessions), (2) updates from federal, state, and local sources, (3) resources that can be used to communicate and reinforce social distancing, school entry/dismissal, hand hygiene, proper face covering wearing, and respiratory hygiene practices, (4) any changes in information about how to contact designated personnel, (5) information about schedule changes, transportation, or other important logistical information, (6) information about access to technology and related technical support, (7) reminders or clarifications about personal versus school responsibilities.Communication will be provided for special populations including persons with visual and hearing impairments.  Communication will also be provided in the language and mode of preference for those who speak home languages other than English.
  1. Questar III and its individual school sites intend to provide regular communications (as appropriate for the topic and intended audience) that may include updates, reminders, and/or general informational communications. Before students return to school, Questar III programs will communicate attendance policies and procedures, information about arrival and dismissal, and other pertinent opening day information.
  2. Questar III will notify the community and/or to those affected by COVID related building closures or changes to in-person instructional schedules.  Questar III will send out such notices via multiple means. This may include but not limited to parent letters/newsletter, robocalls, emails, announcements on the Questar III website, or postings on social media.
  3. Questar III buildings will include new signage, health and safety notices, descriptions of procedures/expectations, social distancing markers on floors, and hygiene posters reminding students, staff, and necessary visitors of personal responsibilities (e.g., hand washing instructions, appropriate use of hand sanitizer, disposal of certain personal items).
  4. Questar III will provide training to all staff and students to ensure common understanding of new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements, options, and ongoing changes related to school operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Training topics will include but not limited to hand hygiene best practices, proper face coverings and their use, respiratory hygiene, social distancing procedures in a variety of areas throughout our buildings, and other COVID-19 related health and safety topics.

Finally, Questar III acknowledges that clear communication, meaningful engagement, and ultimately our ability to successfully navigate these new circumstances must be a community-wide effort. Through our collaborative efforts we have learned much already, and we continue to encourage all community members to communicate concerns and challenges.

The information that follows is intended to provide full transparency and a comprehensive outline of current expectations, responsibilities, and required procedures so that all community members can develop a full, shared understanding of Questar III’s COVID-19 Reopening Plans.

For convenient reference, contact information and links are listed below:

Questar III BOCES District Superintendent – 518-477-8771

Questar COVID-19 Safety Coordinator – 518-477-8771 (COVID19@questar.org)

Health & Safety/Facilities

This section outlines facility compliance and health and safety requirements in alignment with New York State COVID-19 mandates. Questar III Director of Health & Safety, Craig Hansen, will serve as the COVID Safety Coordinator. The COVID Safety Coordinator is the central contact for school building leaders, staff,  families, and other school community stakeholders and is responsible for ensuring that the BOCES is in alignment with local, state, and federal guidance as well as best practices. Additionally, emails can be directed to a monitored email address dedicated to COVID specific communications (COVID19@questar.org).

The health and safety of the children and adults in our schools is paramount. Health and safety considerations must always come first in every decision made and every action taken by our BOCES. Whether instruction is provided in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model, schools have an important role to play in communicating with and educating school communities about the everyday preventive actions they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Prevention is accomplished by following health authorities’ recommendations in the following areas:

  • Health Screenings
  • Healthy Hygiene Practices
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cloth Face Coverings
  • Management of Ill/Symptomatic Persons
  • Cleaning and Disinfection

Each of these categories are essential as they represent the minimum standards. Additional considerations are based on best practices and/or recommendations from the CDC and the NYSDOH. These will be reviewed periodically to ensure BOCES plan alignment.

I. Health Screenings

As mandated by NYSDOH and NYSED, health screenings and temperature checks will be conducted for both staff and students upon arrival at Questar III sites. Parents/guardians, students, and staff will be provided with further information about return to school/work procedures and educational resources regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, the Questar III Communications Department will provide parents and guardians with COVID-19 protocol reminders throughout the school year via the platforms and methods explained in the preceding “Communications/Family and Community Engagement” section of this plan.

A. Screening Questionnaire/Collection of Information

The screening questionnaire has been developed to meet current NYSDOH guidance and will be used to determine whether an individual has:

  • Knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19
  • Tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • Experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature of 100° F or greater in the past 14 days
  • Traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

Questar III BOCES will maintain records that confirm individuals were screened and will document positive or negative results of such screenings as required, but individual health and personal information will not be recorded.

B. Arrival/Temperature Checks

Firstly, symptomatic students or staff members follow CDC’s Stay Home When You Are Sick guidance unless otherwise directed by a healthcare provider or the local health department. Questar III additionally encourages staff to complete required daily screenings and personal temperature checks prior to arrival at their assigned locations.  Similarly, parents/guardians are encouraged to perform health screening/temperature checks each morning before sending their child(ren) to school via bus or other means. Individual Questar III instructional programs will provide additional program or site specific screening information to parents/guardians as necessary.

Multiple entrances may be used for screening when possible to reduce crowding. Individuals entering the building simultaneously will be required to stand at socially distant locations as marked on sidewalks and floors until they can be screened. Upon entering a Questar III building or site, completion of the following general safety protocols will be required. All temperature checks will be performed by appropriately trained staff.

Staff

Daily temperatures and daily completion of the online COVID-19 Mandated Daily Screening will be required.

Students

Daily temperature checks and periodic completion of a screening questionnaire will be required upon arrival

All student drivers must follow health screening protocols upon arrival.

Visitors & Others

Visitor entry into school buildings will be limited to official school business. Please notify an appropriate building contract well in advance of arrival to make sure your entry has been approved.

Daily temperature checks and completion of a health screenings questionnaire will be required for all contractors, vendors, and other visitors.

Building and site access will be granted only after an individual has successfully passed screening requirements and is properly wearing an appropriate face covering.

C. Symptom Evaluation & Suspected Illness Dismissal

Parents/guardians, students, and all staff are advised that any person with a temperature of 100° F or greater and/or who exhibits symptoms of the COVID-19 virus infection, that cannot otherwise be accounted for, will not be allowed to remain in the building or facility. Students or staff exhibiting these signs (with no other known reasonable explanation) will be sent to the school health office for an assessment by the school nurse. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting evaluation and/or transport home. Administrators will contact a parent/guardian for pick-up of a symptomatic student when a school nurse is not available. Symptomatic staff members will be sent home. Questar III nurses and/or administration will refer symptomatic students and staff to the local health department and/or healthcare provider and will provide resources on COVID-19 testing.

Following is a list of common COVID-19 symptoms identified by the CDC as of July 13, 2020. This list is not all inclusive as some individuals may display other symptoms or none at all:

●         Fever or chills (100°F or greater)

●         Cough

●         Shortness of breath

●         Difficulty breathing

●         Fatigue

●         Muscle or body aches

●         Headache

●         New loss of taste or smell

●         Sore throat

●         Congestion or runny nose

●         Nausea or vomiting

●         Diarrhea

In addition, staff and students should also observe others for signs of any type of illness such as:

  • Rapid or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity)
  • Fatigue, and/or irritability
  • Frequent use of the bathroom

Students and staff are required to notify the school building when they develop symptoms or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours. Questar III has set up a dedicated email where COVID-19 communications can be sent (COVID19@questar.org).

II. Healthy Hygiene Practices & Notices

Guidance, recommendations, and reminders for healthy hygiene practices will be communicated regularly to all school community members throughout the course of the school year. Questar III programs will provide hand and respiratory hygiene instruction and reminders to students along with adequate time and supplies to allow for frequent and thorough hand hygiene.  Signs and posters will be posted throughout school facilities in highly visible or frequently used areas such as but not limited to (1) entrances, (2) restrooms, (3) communal areas, (4) classrooms, (5) staff areas, and (6) administrative offices.

Reminders and instructions related to healthy hygiene practices may be delivered in person, by video, or via announcements, posters, and signs. Such notices and communications will remind school community members that they should:

  • Stay home if feeling sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Report symptoms of, and any possible exposure to, COVID-19;
  • Properly wear, remove, store, clean, and, when necessary, discard PPE/masks;
  • Practice appropriate and thorough hand hygiene;
  • Follow respiratory hygiene and coughing etiquette guidelines; and
  • Adhere to social distancing instructions including covering the mouth and nose with acceptable face coverings when unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.

A.  Hand Hygiene

Students and staff must practice thorough hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Questar III programs will develop school day schedules that allow frequent and thorough hand hygiene. Traditional hand washing with soap and water, including lathering for a minimum of 20 seconds, is the preferred method.

At a minimum, staff and students should wash hands as follows:

  • Anytime hands are visibly soiled;
  • Upon coming in from outdoors;
  • Upon entering the building and each classroom;
  • Before and after snacks and lunch;
  • After using the bathroom;
  • After helping a student with toileting;
  • After sneezing, wiping or blowing your nose, or coughing into hands; and
  • After using shared objects or surfaces (e.g., electronic devices, musical instruments, writing utensils, toys, desks, table tops, CTE program tools/equipment, and therapy equipment).

Use of school approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) is required when soap and water are not immediately available. However, soap and water must be used when hands are visibly dirty. Signage will be placed near hand sanitizer stations to remind students and staff that  visibly soiled hands must be washed with soap and water. ABHS will be provided throughout common areas (e.g. entrances, communal areas) and near high touch surfaces. Students or staff that may be unable to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers for health reasons are asked to wash their hands with soap and water more frequently. Staff will assist students who are unable to wash their hands on their own.

NYSED’s Memo Regarding Handwashing Recommendations and Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer Use in Schools provides further information regarding the use of alcohol-based hand  sanitizers.

B.  Respiratory Hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, it is important that students and staff cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and that they dispose of the tissue appropriately.

Supplies of tissues and no-touch trash cans will be available in each room when feasible. lf no tissue is available, staff and students are reminded to use the inside of the elbow (or shirt sleeve) to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Individuals should always perform appropriate hand hygiene after sneezing, coughing, and handling dirty tissues or other soiled material.

III. Social Distancing

Social Distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a six foot space in all directions between yourself and others. Questar III will evaluate all instructional programs and related spaces to ensure social distancing can be safely conducted as is required in all Questar III facilities and programs, including BOCES contracted transportation.

Mask usage by all individuals will be required when social distancing cannot be conducted.

A.  Arrival and Dismissal

Student drop-off and pick-up will occur in designated areas to limit contact and to reduce entry of parents/guardians into buildings whenever possible per the NYSED guidance. In the event parents/guardian visits are required, social distancing and face coverings must be used.

Multiple entrances and exits, along with designated social distant waiting markers in supervised spaces, will be used to carry out proper social distancing. Student drivers will be required to comply with set protocols. Questar III contracted transportation will be required to assign seating for students going to New Visions and Tech Valley High School programs. Any questions related to other transportation providers should be directed to your child’s home district. Questar III will limit outside visitors to official business and any parent/guardian exceptions as deemed necessary by building administration.

B.  Classroom Considerations

Individual Questar III programs will ensure that students are assigned to groupings/cohorts and that limit interaction and gatherings on a daily basis. To maximize space, classroom desks/tables/furniture and items of non-instructional value may need to be removed. Desks and tables may be orientated to face in the same direction to reduce potential droplet transmission.

Windows may be opened to improve ventilation when health or safety are not at risk (e.g., allergies, elevation). Movement throughout the school will be reduced where possible by keeping students within a defined area or classroom and by modifying class schedules or coordinating class transitions.

C.  Special Subject Teachers

Special subject teachers (e.g., art, music) or service providers may go to individual classrooms rather than rotating all students through a shared space. Use of shared supplies and equipment will be limited to one group of students, and cleaning is required in between cohorts.

A distance of 12 feet in all directions is required to be maintained between individuals while participating in activities that require voice projection (e.g., singing) or aerobic activity (e.g., physical education).

D.  Restrooms/Lockers/Shared Spaces

Staggered use of restrooms will be implemented to limit contact. Restroom use may be monitored by staff to ensure adherence to face covering, social distancing, and hand hygiene guidelines and to monitor facility cleanliness.

Use of alternate classrooms and other spaces where students, faculty, and staff gather (e.g., hallways, entryways) will be monitored and/or restricted. Visual aids and demarcation labels will be used to illustrate traffic flow and appropriate spacing in hallways and other areas.

Lockers and other student storage assignments will be grouped by class cohorts in order to coordinate staggered use and limit contact. Students may not use another student’s designated spaces or personal belongings for any reason.

In person student assemblies, events, performances, field trips, and school-wide parent/guardian meetings will be restricted.

The use of alternate spaces such as classrooms will be assessed for breakfast and lunch use. lf lunchrooms are made available, Questar III will ensure classroom cohorts are grouped together while adhering to social distancing rules.

E.  Provisions for Medically Vulnerable/High-Risk Groups

The groups listed below are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 and may need added or alternative provisions for social distancing. Anyone affected by medically vulnerable/high risk group factors should consult with their healthcare professional regarding prevention. For example, in some cases students who have household members who are in high risk groups may require fully remote learning. Program administration will review accommodations to meet the needs of these students.

Staff who are at higher risk for severe illness should contact their supervisor and the Director of Human Resources in order to discuss concerns.

High Risk Factors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Chronic kidney disease, undergoing dialysis
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Immunocompromised
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Severe Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
  • other underlying conditions

Additionally, students with special needs or medically fragile (e.g. neurologic, genetic, or metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease) are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19  than other children. Questar III is mindful that the families of students at higher risk are already under significant stress. Per the NYSED guidance, it is important for parents/ guardians to work with their child’s healthcare providers so that an informed decision can be made on how to best meet the child’s needs at school while protecting health and safety. Transitioning these students back to school will require the careful planning and coordination of all providers.

Students with special needs or those with certain medical considerations who may not be able to maintain social distancing, adequately conduct independent hand or respiratory hygiene, or wear a face covering or mask must be documented through the Committee on Special Education or through the 504 Committee to receive accommodations.

Finally, if the parents/guardians choose to not send their child back to school, Questar III will assist in developing appropriate alternate educational delivery modes as necessary. Please see the section on CTE or Special Education for more details.

IV. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Questar III has reviewed the OSHA COVID-19 guidance and will take measures to protect staff from potential exposures according to their exposure risk pursuant to the Questar III BOCES Infectious Disease Plan. The CDC recommends that school-based health personnel use Healthcare Facilities: Managing Operations During COVID19 Pandemic  guidance when providing care to ill persons as part of infection control protocols.

Questar III will ensure that all staff receive training appropriate to their duties and will provide the necessary forms of PPE required for staff to safely fulfill those duties. An adequate supply of PPE has been acquired and will be maintained according to the NYSDOH and the NYSED Reopening Guidance. Parents/guardians of students with special conditions will receive notice of any necessary changes to the delivery of care. Any person with special concerns is encouraged to reach out to their supervisor or school contact or to send an email to COVID19@questar.org.

A.  Face Coverings

Face coverings are meant to protect other people when a wearer does not have symptoms but is unknowingly infected. Cloth face coverings are approved but these are not considered surgical masks, respirators, or other medical personal protective equipment. All individuals in school facilities and on school grounds must be prepared to put on a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance. All students and staff members must wear approved face coverings in classroom settings during instruction and whenever they are within 6 feet of someone. This also includes common areas, shared spaces (e.g. hallways, restrooms), and in other settings where people congregate, including buses.

Questar III employees may wear their own acceptable face covering with approval. Questar III will provide an acceptable face covering to employees (and students if they forget their own) and will maintain an adequate supply per Executive Order 202.16. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering are exempt.

B.  Mask Breaks

Wearing face coverings in an all-day setting such as school may be challenging for students (especially younger children), so scheduled mask breaks are important. Questar III will allow for the removal of face coverings during meal times and approved mask breaks only while maintaining social distancing.  In those cases where students are exempted from wearing face coverings due to medical or behavioral concerns, sneeze shields/barriers will be available for use.

Questar III will provide face covering training to students and staff and will additionally communicate expectations and requirements to the larger school community via signage, instructional videos or documents, or through other means as described in Section 1 “Communications.” All visitors who enter our facilities will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Visitors will be expected to show mindfulness of our shared responsibility to create a safe and welcoming environment by:

  • Properly wearing face coverings;
  • Washing hands or using of ABHS before putting on and after removing face coverings;
  • Properly discarding disposable face coverings;
  • Routinely cleaning reusable face coverings; and
  • Reserving face coverings for individual use only and refraining from any form of shared use.

Face coverings may not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old;
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing;
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance; or
  • Students whose health or mental health would be impaired by wearing such coverings, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction.

With prior approval from a program administrator or supervisor, students and staff may use alternate PPE (i.e. face coverings that are transparent at or around the mouth) for instruction or interventions that require visualization of the movement of the lips and/or mouths (e.g., speech therapy). These alternate coverings may also be used to benefit certain students (e.g., hearing impaired) whose educational interactions are equitably enhanced by seeing more of a staff member’s face.

V. Management of Ill Persons

To safeguard the health and safety of all, students and staff with symptoms of illness must be sent to the health office for assessment. The school nurse will assess whether any known non-contagious causes (i.e. asthma, allergies, chronic health conditions) may be presenting the same symptoms as COVID-19.  If a school nurse is not available to make an assessment, Questar III will isolate and dismiss any student or staff member who has a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 that have not been previously documented by a medical professional. Students will be escorted from isolation to the parent/guardian. Such individuals will be directed to follow up with a health care provider. Locations within Questar facilities and programs will be assessed for availability of designating isolation rooms separate from the nurses’ offices.

The following subsections describe plans in more detail.

A.  If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School

 Questar III will follow  Education Law § 906, which provides [w]henever…a student in the public schools shows symptoms of any communicable or infectious disease reportable under the public health law that imposes a significant risk of infection of others in the school, he or she shall be excluded from the school and sent home immediately, in a safe and proper conveyance. The director of school health services shall immediately notify a local public health agency of any disease reportable under the public health law[3]. The director of school health services, or other health professionals acting upon direction or referral of such director, may make such evaluations of teachers and any other school employees, school buildings and premises as, in their discretion, they may deem necessary to protect the health of the students and staff.

School staff must immediately report any students or staff illness to the school nurse or other designated school staff. Such reports should be made in compliance with FERPA and Education Law 2-d. If nurses choose to go to classrooms to make assessments of students, this also should be done in a manner that protects the student’s confidentiality.  Similarly, all student assessments must also be done in a manner that protects student confidentiality.

If there are several students awaiting school nurse care, students will wait at least six feet apart as designated by markers or as directed by school staff. Students suspected of having COVID-19 awaiting transport home by the parent/guardian must be isolated in a supervised room. Multiple students suspected of COVID-19 may wait in a dedicated COVID-19 isolation area if they can be separated by at least six feet. When enhanced social distancing precautions cannot be followed, a facemask (e.g. cloth or surgical) will be provided to the student (excluding those exceptions discussed in Section IV, A: Face Coverings).

School nurses and other school health professionals whose duties include providing care to ill students and staff will be trained in the use of appropriate PPE, care protocols, and identification of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), and other necessary information or precautions. The Questar III Nurse Practitioner will be notified and consulted for dismissal recommendations when any student or staff presents unexplained COVID-19 symptoms.

Questar III will notify the parent/guardian (or in cases of emergency symptoms, call 911) if their ill child symptoms are suspect of MIS-C (including fever, abdominal pain, vomiting,  diarrhea,  neck pain,  rash, bloodshot eyes, and feeling extra tired). The nurse or other school healthcare provider will recommend that any student with a potential MIS-C case receive immediate healthcare provider follow up.

CDC and NYSDOH Precautions

The CDC and NYSDOH have provided the following guidelines to be used after a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case is discovered.
●   Closing off areas used by a sick person until they can be cleaned and disinfected
●   Opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area
●   Waiting at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfection, or if not feasible, waiting as long as possible
●   Cleaning and disinfection of all areas known to be used or potentially used by the ill person
●   Individuals who have not had close contact (as determined by DOH guidance documents) with the ill person can resume school activities in the area immediately after cleaning and disinfection
●   If more than seven days have passed since the ill person visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary, but routine cleaning and disinfection will continue
●   If a student or staff member reports having tested positive for COVID-19, school administrators will notify and coordinate follow up actions with the local health department

A.  Return to School after Illness

If a person who has seen a healthcare provider is not diagnosed as being positive for COVID-19 symptoms, they may return to school when (1) there is no fever present (without the use of fever reducing medicines) and they have felt well for 24 hours; (2) If the healthcare provider diagnosed the individual with another condition and provides documentation recommending a return to school.

A person presenting COVID-19 symptoms who is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider (either by positive test or symptom consideration) or does not get a COVID-19 test, they must not be at school and should stay at home until (1) ten days after the individual first had symptoms; (2) at least three days since the individual last had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND (3) at least three days since the individual last experienced any other symptoms.  However, the CDC provides specific guidance (Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings) for individuals on home isolation related to COVID-19. Such individuals should communicate with the local DOH to determine when they may return to school.

Questar III BOCES will follow the requirements from the local health department of residency for the individual for return to work or school. The exception would be for any essential employee such as a school nurse to return while asymptomatic.

B.  COVID-19 Testing/Contact Tracing


COVID-19 Testing Plan

Per the New York State Department of Education’s guidance to schools for reopening, Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools,  “it is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. CDC Interim Considerations for K-12 School Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing  Schools should identify who in the community is responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing (e.g., local health department testing site, physician offices, hospital system) particularly in the event that large-scale testing at the school is needed. Schools wanting to perform COVID-19 testing must apply and be approved as a limited service laboratory (LSL). Please refer to the instructions and application materials, and if applicable, the worksheet for multiple locations.” Therefore, Questar III BOCES will not be testing individuals. A list of regionally available testing locations is available on the Questar III BOCES website at www.questar.org  for individuals that may want to be tested on their own and at the end of this plan. Individuals who choose to be tested on their own are allowed to be at work/school while awaiting results unless they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms. Questar III BOCES health care professionals will refer symptomatic individuals to their primary care provider (PCP).

SYMPTOM SCREENING PROCESS

In the event an individual screens confirmed for COVID-19 symptoms while at school, meaning that they have a fever, or appear symptomatic while at school with any of the COVID-19 symptoms identified by the CDC, they will be placed in an isolation area. For students, parents/guardians will be called to pick the student up from school immediately. Staff members will be asked to leave the school facility immediately. Individuals will be referred to their primary care provider (PCP) for evaluation. If the primary care provider (PCP) determines that the symptoms are not COVID-19 related, a note from the primary care provider (PCP) stating such diagnosis must be provided in order to return to school or work. If the primary care provider (PCP) determines that the symptoms are COVID-19 related, testing will occur.

It is imperative that individuals seek medical evaluation from their primary care provider (PCP) to determine whether or not these symptoms are related to a known or diagnosed condition other than COVID-19 (i.e. ear infection, allergies, etc.).

At the minimum, New York State Department of Health Guidelines requires “documentation from a health care provider following evaluation, OR a negative COVID 19 diagnostic test result and symptom resolution, OR if COVID 19 positive, release from isolation.” If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, isolation protocols will be required and release from isolation will be determined by the local health department of residency. Any symptomatic student or staff awaiting testing results should self-quarantine and will not be allowed to return to school until released by a negative COVID-19 test result.

If an individual is confirmed as positive for COVID-19, isolation protocols will be required for 10 days per CDC guidelines. An individual must be in isolation for 10 days and symptom free for 72 hours before a release from isolation may be considered. Release from isolation will be determined solely by the local health department of residency. A release letter provided by the local health department of residency will be required for the return to school.

If a confirmed test result occurs, the county of residency will be notified by the laboratory performing the test.  Individuals will also be notified by either the initial testing facility or their local health department for negative results. The parents of any student who has tested positive must notify the school district as soon as possible. If this were to occur, Questar III BOCES will contact the county of residency for confirmation and collaboration in beginning contact tracing activities. The Questar COVID-19 School Resource Person for the school will coordinate with the local health department for contact tracing purposes.

In the event a student is under mandatory quarantine by the local health department, Questar III BOCES will provide remote learning for the student for the length of their quarantine.

COVID-19 TESTING SITES

New York State Testing Site                   

State University New York at Albany

1400 Colonial Quad

Albany NY 12208

Must make an appointment by

Calling: 1-888-364-3065 or

Completing an online form: www.covid19screening.health.ny.gov

 

Community Care Physicians

713 Troy Schenectady Road                   

Latham NY 12110                                                         

518-863-3600

Priority 1 Urgent Care                               

2080 Western Ave                                                      

Guilderland NY 12084                                                

518-867-8040                                                                            

 

Whitney Young

920 Lark Drive

Albany NY 12208

518-465-4771

Rite Aid – Colonie                                                        

1863 Central Avenue                                                

Colonie NY 12205                                                         

518-267-3496                

Columbia Memorial Hospital Rapid Care 

2827 Route 9  

Valatie, NY 12184 

518-758-4300 

WellNow Urgent Care                                               

446 Fairview Avenue                                                 

Hudson NY 12534                                                

518-267-3496                                                                

                                                                                         

 

Columbia County Department of Health

325 Columbia Street

Hudson NY 12534

518-828-3358

www.columbiacountynyhealth.com

Greene County Dept. of Health

411 Main Street

Catskill, NY 12414

518-719-3600

CareMount Medical Urgent Care

6734 Route 9

Rhinebeck NY 12572

1-844-484-6564

Kingston Mid-Town Mobile Site 

27 Grand Street 

Kingston, NY 12401 

845-303-2730 

Emergency One Kingston 

40 Hurley Avenue 

Kingston, NY 12401 

845-338-5600 


Contact Tracing Plan

As noted in the New York State Department of Education’s guidance to schools for reopening, Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools, “Contact tracing is a public health function performed by local public health departments to trace all persons who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This allows public health officials to put in place isolation or other measures to limit the spread of the virus. Schools must cooperate with state and local health department contact tracing. Schools can assist public health departments in knowing who may have had contact at school with a confirmed case by:

  • keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members;
  •  ensuring student schedules are up to date;
  • keeping a log of any visitors which includes date, time and where in the school they visited; and
  • Assist local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual at school in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local department of health.”

Questar III BOCES will continue to work closely with Rensselaer, Columbia, and Greene Counties Departments of Health and any other department of health as applicable to staff and/or students.

In the event an individual is identified as a confirmed case within a school, the local health department will determine a starting date for which the school will need to provide contact tracing information. This date will be 48 hours prior to the individual becoming symptomatic. To this end, Questar III BOCES will need to keep records that will be made available to the local health department for those who may have been in close contact with the confirmed case.  Any close contacts will be identified by the local health department. The COVID-19 School Resource Person identified by Questar III BOCES may be asked to assist the county with quarantine surveillance monitoring of contacts in connection with a confirmed case in a school.

If a student or staff member is identified by the local health department as a contact, they will be contacted by a county Case Manager and be instructed to quarantine for 14 days. Any contact identified by the local health department may not return to school (or work) until such a time as they are released from mandatory quarantine by the Case Manager.

C.  School Closures

School closure decisions will occur in consultation with the local health department. This may involve the closure of a classroom or entire facility depending on the quantity of suspected and/or confirmed cases. There may be no need to close a school building if the local health department determines that the identified close contacts are excluded from school and the facility may continue normal operations. Full closure of a school facility may be necessary in some situations and will be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

Questar III will collaborate with the local health departments to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level. The District Superintendent will additionally consider closing school if absentee rates impact the school’s ability to operate safely. Questar III may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. Questar III will consult with their medical director and/or the local health department when making such decisions.

 VI. Cleaning and Disinfection

Questar III will follow the latest CDC and NYSDOH guidance for cleaning and disinfection of school buildings  (Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection;Cleaning and Disinfection Decision Tool ).  The Questar III Operations & Maintenance Department will maintain logs at each site that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.  This will include the scheduling of frequent high touch surface cleaning for areas including:

  • Tables
  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Countertops
  • Handles
  • Desks
  • Phones
  • Keyboards and tablets
  • Toilets and restrooms
  • Faucets and sinks

All cleaning and disinfection will be performed in accordance with CDC and NYSDOH guidelines.  Questar III will continue to ensure that only EPA registered and DEC approved disinfection products (EPA approved disinfectants; DEC) are used to prevent COVID-19 spread.  When EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, approved alternative disinfectants will be used (e.g., 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water or 70% alcohol solutions).

Assigned staff will be trained to properly conduct any cleaning required as part of their duties. Students will not be present when disinfectants are in use and will not participate in cleaning and/or disinfection activities, with the exception of CTE students who will continue to be trained in the appropriate use of cleaning as part of their educational program (e.g. Culinary, Intro to Foods, Cosmetology, Auto Tech, Auto Services, Heavy Equipment).

A.  Playgrounds

Playgrounds located at George Washington Academy and Maple Hill will be maintained and cleaned by appropriate personnel in accordance with CDC guidance which requires routine cleaning of equipment and high touch surfaces.

B.  School Health Office Cleaning

Cots, bathrooms, and equipment will be cleaned after each use. Disposable items (e.g., disposable thermometers and pillow covers) will be used as much as possible. All Questar III nurses’ offices will be equipped with a GLO UV light disinfection unit. Units will be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer and will be run on a 24 hr cycle. Nurse’s offices and any identified isolation rooms will be cleaned daily.

More information on cleaning health office equipment is on the New York State Center for School Health’s website under COVID-19.

VII. Other Considerations

A.  Health Physicals and Screenings

As a result of the current challenges, NYSED has made the following special provisions for screenings and physicals:

  • For exams conducted on or before January 31, 2021, other proof of a health examination will be accepted beyond the Required NYS School Health Examination Form.
  • Beginning February 1, 2021 health examinations must be documented on the Required NYS School Health Examination Form or an electronic health record equivalent.
  • Student athletes may participate in the Fall 2020 sports season even if they do not have a current health physical.
  • Parents/guardians will have additional time to schedule and complete health examinations required for school.
  • 2020-2021 hearing, vision, and scoliosis screenings will be waived unless such screening has otherwise been deemed medically necessary.

B.  Safety Drills

Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct 8 evacuation and 4 lockdown drills each school year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, drills will still be required.  All drills will be coordinated through the Questar III Health and Safety Office.

Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, Questar III may implement new protocols within guidelines to minimize the risk of spreading infection during drills. As part of school reopening orientation and training, students will be instructed in the event of an actual emergency, maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

Safety drill modifications will include conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once to minimize contact in hallways, stairwells, and exits. In this circumstance, all students in the school building will participate in a drill during the same school day.

Similarly, lockdown drills may be conducted on a “staggered” schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing. If conditions limit “hiding”/ “sheltering” during lockdown drills, all students will be provided with an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.

Questar III will ensure that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participate in drills conducted when they are on campus. If schools use a “hybrid” model that reduces student numbers on alternating schedules, Questar III will schedule drills to ensure that all students receive instruction in emergency procedures and can participate in drills while in attendance on campus.

C.  Onsite and Offsite Child Nutrition

Questar III BOCES programs will work closely with home districts to follow School Food Authorities (SFA) policies when communicating  (through guidelines described in Section I “Communications”) about school meal services, eligibility, options and changes in operations.  The building principals will serve as the main contact for receiving and responding to related communications.

For onsite meals, students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating if they are appropriately socially distanced. If not feasible, alternate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals. This may include serving meals in alternate areas (e.g., classrooms) or in staggered meal periods and/or the use of clear barriers. Shared spaces will be properly cleaned and disinfected between use.

The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited unless individuals are members of the same household.

All meals provided to Questar III programs are delivered from contracted school districts. Appropriate precautions will be taken to continue to protect students with food allergies, including attention to food menu offerings. Delivered meals will be handled according to applicable health and safety guidelines, and will include glove use by staff during delivery and the cleaning of surfaces prior to meal consumption.

Students will be provided time to perform hand washing before and after eating. Students will be socially distanced so masks can be removed when eating. Sharing of food and beverages will be discouraged. Staff will be required to clean and disinfect surfaces after meals are consumed. Posters and other aids on hygiene reminders will be displayed.

In the event of remote instruction, home districts will provide meals to students. To avoid oversights, Questar III program administrators will make contact with home districts to ensure meals are being provided to students who would normally eat meals at Questar III programs.

Transportation

Questar III BOCES only contracts for transportation needs for New Visions programs and field trips. All other transportation is coordinated and provided by home districts.  The school bus is an extension of the classroom; therefore, many of the recommendations that apply to school buildings (like social distancing and frequent cleaning) will apply to the school bus and the contractors that provide services.

A.  School Bus Requirements

As outlined in the “Health and Safety” section of this plan, all parents/guardians will be required to ensure their child/children are not experiencing any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have a temperature of 100° F or greater prior to boarding buses/vans. When students embark and disembark the bus/van, they must follow social distancing protocols. It is recognized this will increase the time required to load and unload buses/vans at stops.

Students will be required to social distance and wear masks on buses (excluding those exceptions discussed in the “Health and Safety: PPE: Face Coverings” section of this plan). However, students who do not have a mask must be provided with one by transportation staff. Students who do not have their own mask can NOT be denied transportation.  Questar III students will be required to follow all standard bus rules and in keeping with mask guidelines will not be allowed to eat or drink while on school transportation.

Questar III expects that all contracted bus vendors will clean/disinfect their buses once a day and that high contact surfaces will be wiped down after any AM and PM runs.  School buses will not be equipped with hand sanitizer and school bus drivers, monitors, and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses due to its flammability and potential liabilities.  When temperatures are above 45 degrees, school buses will transport passengers with roof hatches or windows slightly opened to provide air flow, except where this would interfere with a student’s medical needs.  Questar III will communicate these expectations with all contracted bus vendors so that they may train and provide periodic refreshers to all personnel accordingly.

B.  School Bus Staff/Contractor Responsibilities

Transportation carriers will be required to assign seating for all students and should place members of the same household together whenever possible. Wheelchair school buses must be configured to ensure social distancing of 6 feet.  Additionally, students who are transported in a mobility device should use seating positions that provide the required social distancing.  Students who are exempt from mask wearing  will also be assigned to a seating that is socially distanced from other students.

School bus drivers, monitors, and attendants must wear face coverings along with an optional  face shield. Those who have direct physical contact with students must wear gloves. Contracted transportation carriers will be responsible for providing this PPE for all school bus staff and should additionally provide hand sanitizer in all transportation facilities (i.e dispatch offices, break rooms, garages). Transportation staff should also be informed of proper hand hygiene in keeping with  practices described within this document and should be reminded (via signage or other methods) to wash hands before and after AM and PM runs. Contracted Transportation providers must verify that staff will be trained (including periodic refreshers and updates) on identifying the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and all other expectations and requirements described under the “Transportation” section of this plan.

C.  Arrival at Program

Questar III will employ staggered bus arrivals and departures to ensure social distancing.  Student drop-off and pick-up will occur in designated areas to limit contact and to reduce the need for parent/guardian building entry. Upon building entry, students will be required to use hand sanitizer and to follow all screening protocols, including adhering to social distancing markers while awaiting screening.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control FAQs for COVID-19 https://www.cdc. gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-faq.html. Accessed 6/20/2020.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs FAQs for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools-faq.html. Accessed 6/30/2020.

[3] Effective February 1, 2020, the 2019-Novel Coronavirus was added to the Public Health Law as a significant threat to the public health, and the NYS Commissioner of Health designated 2019-Novel Coronavirus as a communicable disease under 10 NYCRR Section 2.1.

Social-Emotional Well-Being

The guiding definition of social emotional learning (SEL) for Questar III BOCES is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions,” as defined by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning).

Questar III is committed to the inclusion of SEL and to consideration of our school community members’ states of well-being as an integral part of its reopening plan. In planning for reopening, the Questar III planning team thoughtfully discussed and created its Guiding Principles, which are included in the introduction to this document. Although Guiding Principle #7 specifically mentions social emotional well-being, it is the foundation on which all others are built.

Given the extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 transition will be uniquely challenging. It is our goal to support the mental, social, and emotional health of students, staff, and families in a way that will create a culture and a learning environment in which individuals can thrive.

Whether student learning takes place in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid form, we must once again create an interconnected community that honors the unique needs, concerns, and experiences of our diverse community members. In support of this effort, Questar III will emphasize the practice of integrating SEL into academics and will plan for delivery modalities that can effectively meet the diversity of students’ needs. This will require on-going, in-depth evaluation of our programs, our practices, and of ourselves.

To this end Questar III will:

  1. Ensure that BOCES-wide and building-level comprehensive counseling program plans (created in consultation with certified school counselors) is further developed, reviewed, and updated as new needs and insights emerge;
  2. Convene a diverse advisory council so all stakeholders can participate in the development, review, and update of the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan. This may include but not be limited to families, students, board of education members, school building and/or BOCES leaders, community-based service providers, teachers, certified school counselors, and other pupil personnel service providers, including school social workers and/or school psychologists;
  3. Share resources that address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs;
  4. Provide referrals for support services and programs with emphasis placed on any available telehealth options;
  5. Provide professional development opportunities for staff that addresses (1) SEL and well-being of students, (2) SEL and well-being of adults, (3) restorative practices, (4) mental health education, (5) systemic racism and implicit bias, (6) culturally and linguistically responsive-sustaining practices, and (7) other related topics;
  6. Plan community re-engagement activities (e.g., town hall meetings, staff-student-family forums, etc.) to assist students, staff, and families in transitioning back to school;
  7. Provide consistent student access to BOCES support staff, which includes school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, and/or other support staff;
  8. Assist staff in embedding SEL practices as a part of academic instruction, whether the delivery is remote, in-person, or in hybrid form;
  9. Promote the importance of strengthening both staff-student relationships and staff-family relationships;
  10. Emphasize the need for clear and consistent communication between staff and families;
  11. Leverage data (e.g., surveys, student progress data, attendance and engagement data, etc.) in order to better understand community needs and to develop responsive SEL supports that will build relationships between students, staff, and families.

Questar III BOCES believes that all students can learn and grow towards their fullest potential and ensures equity in access through a Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS). This includes educational experiences for all students, which includes (Tier 1),  targeted or tailored support that is often delivered in smaller group settings  (Tier 2), and more individualized and specially designed interventions intended to identify and correct inequities (Tier 3).

MTSS requires teachers, administrators, and other support providers to mindfully consider both whole community needs and individual circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased academic and social-emotional needs at all levels. In planning for SEL staff professional development and academically integrated SEL learning activities, special care must be taken to consider the individual stressors students, their families, and staff members may be experiencing.

Some in our community have faced long standing inequities caused by structural racism and social and economic hardships. Some face newly emerged or ongoing physical and mental illnesses, abuse, neglect, loss, or other circumstances that cause increased stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, or fear of the unknown. For some the sudden isolation and separation from support systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused difficulty that has impacted student performance and well-being. These challenges may cause anxieties about returning to school.

School Schedules

When school resumes, there will inevitably be many uncertainties. Questar III recognizes that people perform best in environments that provide consistency, stability and clear expectations. While we believe that in-person instruction offers numerous irreplicable benefits that help build the kind of strong relationships that bolster learning and personal growth, however; there are many factors beyond our control that may impact our delivery model. It is our hope that our careful planning for both a safe return to in-person instruction and possible contingencies will help our school community prepare for the coming changes and possible transitions to remote or hybrid instruction.

Questar III looks forward to welcoming students and staff back to our campuses for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Pending the Governor’s decision in August, Questar III is planning to be at one hundred percent (100%) student capacity daily.

In planning for students’ safe return, Questar III has considered several flexible restructuring measures that can be implemented to decrease density and congregation within school buildings and on school grounds. Some of these measures include:

  • Staggering schedules and allowing more transition time between classes to reduce congestion in hallways, walkways, and buildings;
  • Staggering arrivals and dismissals by program;
  • Assigning students to specific entry points where they will follow screening protocols as described in the Health & Safety section of this document; and
  • Shifting schedules to accommodate social distancing guidelines.

A.  For All Questar III Programs:

  1. Dedicated time will be reserved for Questar III staff to review new schedules and to receive instruction and practice for safety protocols. The Questar III school calendar may be shifted in order to use the first three days of the 2020-2021 school year for Professional Development days. Students and staff will be notified officially of this change.
  2. In the event that a building/program is instructed to convert to a hybrid model, the building/program will reduce class size by approximately 50% during in-person learning. Approximately half of student enrollment will be assigned to in-person learning while the other half will be assigned remote learning, with the exception for those programs described otherwise noted. All students will be expected to engage in remote learning activities when they are not on campus, which may include attending live virtual instruction.
  3. In the event of a Questar III COVID closure, all affected buildings/sites will be closed for all students and employees, and academic instruction will be delivered remotely. Students will be expected to engage in remote learning activities and attend live virtual instruction during this time. In order to maintain consistency and to foster good habits of mind, schedules will resemble in-person classes as much as possible.

The building and program specific subsections below outline any additional building or program specific scheduling guidance.

B.  Rensselaer Academy

Rensselaer Academy (RA) will use lengthened instructional periods to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. Teachers will rotate to instructional areas allowing students to remain in their classroom cohorts.

C.  Sackett Center

Students will be grouped in cohorts for homeroom, check and connect, lunch, and study halls to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. Whenever possible students will be grouped according to academic goals and credit attainment plans, and staff will make every effort to limit group cross-over.

During remote instruction, staff will provide structure by providing students with a predetermined daily schedule that will resemble in-person classes as much as possible.

D.  George Washington

George Washington (GW) will use lengthened instructional periods to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. Teachers will rotate to instructional areas allowing students to remain in their classroom cohorts.

E.  Catskill Academy

Students will be grouped in cohorts for homeroom, check and connect, lunch, and study hall to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. New York State Alternate Assessment  (NYSAA) students, elementary, and middle school students will be grouped together as cohorts throughout the day. High School Regents track students will be grouped according to academic goals and credit attainment plans whenever possible, and staff will make every effort to limit group cross-over. Teachers will rotate to instructional areas allowing students to remain in their classroom cohorts.

F.  The Academy at Rensselaer Educational Center

The Academy will group students in cohorts for AM/PM homeroom and lunch to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. Whenever possible students will be grouped according to academic goals and credit attainment plans, and staff will make every effort to limit group cross-over.

G.  Robin Sobol Transition Academy

The Robin Sobol Academy will use lengthened instructional periods to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure. Teachers will rotate to instructional areas allowing students to remain in their classroom cohorts.

H.  Columbia High School Program

The Questar III Columbia High School Program will use lengthened instructional periods to reduce the use of shared spaces and potential exposure.  Teachers will stay in their instructional classroom to limit contact and possible contamination as normal.

I.  Maple Hill

Classrooms at Maple Hill are self-contained throughout the day but may collaborate with one another for related services as well as integration opportunities. In addition, Regents bound classes will remain as a cohort except when an academic need or grade level need arises.

J.  CTE at Rensselaer Educational Center, Columbia-Greene Educational Center, and Durham Elementary School

Each CTE program housed at these locations has a classroom and large workshop space that allow for appropriate social distancing at full capacity. Students will remain in the classroom or workshop areas as much as possible during their time in the centers to decrease hallway congestion and potential exposure.

The CTE centers are prepared to stagger arrival and dismissal times for students entering and exiting the building as described under the “Transportation” and “Health & Safety: Arrival” sections of this document.

K.  CTE Offsite CTE Programs and New Visions

Each off-site program will continue to work with their sponsoring organization to adhere to social distancing requirements. Arrival and dismissal times for students enrolled in these programs will be staggered to decrease congestion as health screenings are taking place.

If needed, a program may enter a hybrid A/B day rotation as described above in the Questar III “All Program” sections in order to safely maintain social distancing when enhanced precautions are required. However, all programs are prepared to comply with Questar III’s hybrid model and COVID-19 closure guidelines as directed.

Budget and Fiscal Matters

BOCES are public education cooperatives or educational service agencies that serve as extensions of local school districts. A BOCES provides programs and services that districts are unable to offer on their own or that are more economical to share with other districts. The outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to negatively impact New York State’s economy and financial condition. The full impact of COVID-19 upon the State is not expected to be known for some time.

Questar III BOCES will ensure fiscal preparedness during the reopening school year.  For the 2020-21 school year, our programs remain strongly subscribed.  Budgets have been developed and reconciled based on the commitments made by the school districts we serve.

The BOCES is not dependent on state aid (unlike our participating school districts).  The potential reduction in state aid to school districts could hamper a district’s ability to pay Questar III invoices in a timely manner. As a result, cash flow could be impacted. Questar III has a process in place to project and monitor cash flow. To continue with operations and to ensure Questar III meets its obligations, we will evaluate the need to address any temporary cash flow shortfalls through short-term borrowing by the issuance of Revenue Anticipation Notes. Approvals are in place to issue Revenue Anticipation Notes if needed.

Questar III BOCES will provide guidance to its program and service managers in monitoring their budgets and for additional expenses that may be incurred due to COVID-19. To avoid additional expenses, programs and services will evaluate existing resources and re-deploy where necessary. In the event additional expenses are necessary, Questar III will track those expenses separately in order to provide fiscal transparency to its districts and to apply for FEMA and other eligible grant funding.

Questar III BOCES will continue to meet existing state and federal reporting requirements and deadlines except where modified by law, regulation or executive order.

Questar III BOCES will continue to monitor the situation and will take such proactive measures as may be required to maintain its operations and meet its obligations.

Attendance, Attendance Reporting, and Chronic Absenteeism

  1. Attendance and Attendance Reporting

Attendance policies and procedures will be communicated (as described under the “Communications” section of this document) with families and students prior to the start of the school year or if the instructional model changes during the year. When school starts in September, all Questar III programs will track attendance in SchoolTool, our student management system, regardless of whether in-person, hybrid, or remote schooling is provided. Teachers will record daily attendance based on the required, scheduled student contact/engagement in assigned activities. Daily reports will be generated to identify students who are absent and/or chronically absent.  Families and students are reminded that Quesatr III must report attendance for all enrolled students of compulsory age. Appropriate notifications will be made in accordance with Questar III Board of Education attendance policies.

  1. Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing at least 10 percent of a student’s enrolled school days. For a full academic year, this is equivalent to 18 days per school year, or two days per month. While there is no one-size-fits all approach to addressing chronic absenteeism, Questar III is committed to providing preventative interventions to address physical, mental, and emotional health related chronic absenteeism.  We recognize that students and families are experiencing many different stressors because of the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, and these factors will influence student attendance at times. We also recognize the great importance of relationships; we understand that students’ past and present experiences of in-person, hybrid, and/or remote learning may impact attendance.

Questar III is committed to working with students and families to overcome these challenges and will set the following practices in place.

  1. Student Attendance will be nurtured by: (1) communicating the attendance policy clearly to families and students, including noting the expectations for participation during in-person, hybrid, or remote instruction, (2) explaining the importance of attendance to the entire school community, (3) tracking daily attendance in SchoolTool so that all responsible personnel have access to the information and so student attendance issues can be identified early.
  2. Early Identification and Intervention will be targeted through: (1) continuation of attendance data monitoring and clear communication with parents/guardians and the student as issues arise, (2) development of supportive intervention plans that include parent phone calls, counseling, instructional modifications, etc., (3) use of a team approach that may include coordinating with social workers and behavioral intervention staff and/or conducting home visits to work with the family to motivate the student’s return to school, (4) coordination of responsive measures with the home district guidance counselor and otherwise developing partnership with the home district to to ensure the student and family are receiving needed resources and supports.
  3. Positive School Culture focuses on providing engaging instructional experiences developed by: (1) continually evaluating and enhancing students’ learning through creative and innovative instructional practices, (2) providing teachers and school leaders with multiple levels of support so that they feel more empowered to help students, (3) providing educational activities that will encourage positive social and emotional character development, (4) reinforcing civically responsible behaviors that have the power to build an ideal school culture.

Technology and Connectivity

Access to technology is essential for the successful roll-out of this plan. Questar III BOCES is committed to ongoing planning and will implement and/or expand the use of technologies to ensure equitable access for staff and students. Questar III has initiated the following plan, which is mindful of student and staff home access to reliable internet and computers.

  1. Questar III BOCES is gathering data from teachers and families to identify their level of access to devices and high-speed broadband. Respondents that indicate they have inadequate availability of high-speed internet will be prioritized, and subsequently contacted to discuss alternative options. At residences where other forms of internet access are unavailable, cellular hotspots will be provided to the extent practicable.  In rural areas where cellular coverage may not be available, every attempt will be made to identify a public facility where WiFi is available for drive up access.  For example, the student’s home district and the Questar III educational centers may have external WiFi and parking available.  The organization will continue to assess the ongoing technology and connectivity needs of our families (through survey, interviews, school outreach, etc.). In the event, students and/or teachers do not have internet access, the organization will take necessary steps to meet their needs where plausible.
  2. Questar III BOCES will maintain, manage, and support equipment and other assets or resources by (1) documenting which students, families, and staff have organization assets in their possession, (2) procuring, managing, and/or maintaining hardware, software, licenses, learning management systems, etc. that support and improve virtual instruction and student engagement, (3) putting in place a technology “Helpdesk” system for parents, students, and teachers to report technical issues that affect remote learning.
  3. Protocols for (1) the care of Questar III equipment, (2) picking up or returning equipment, (3) accessing technical assistance will be communicated to teachers and families according to the guidelines described in the “Communications” section of this document.
  4. Questar III will provide professional development and coaching opportunities that specifically address the challenges and opportunities presented by remote and blended learning. This may include instruction in the best practices of emerging technologies or commonly used educational platforms (i.e. Google Classroom tools, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other web conferencing tools).
  5. Questar III BOCES will provide all students with access to learning materials and resources in multiple formats, whenever possible. In the event students do not have sufficient access to devices and/or high-speed internet, the organization will provide the students with alternate methods to access materials and instruction (e.g., material pick up at school, bus drop off at homes).

Teaching and Learning

In order to ensure high-quality teaching and learning, Questar III has worked to develop a Continuity of Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year.  While our plan for remote instruction is similar to the plan that we used during the 2020 school year, we have used what was learned from this experience to inform our plan for the upcoming school year. Our plan developed with special considerations for in-person, remote, and hybrid modes of instruction as well as fluid transition between each.  Our plan assures that instruction is aligned with the New York State Learning Standards and that all learners receive high quality, equitable instruction and support.

Equity is at the heart of all school instructional decisions. All teaching and learning activities will be designed to have clear, comprehensive, and accessible learning opportunities for all students.  Whether instruction is delivered in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model, instruction will be thoughtfully aligned with state standards. Our teaching and learning plan outlines routine, scheduled times for students to interact with their peers and teacher(s) as well as designated time to seek teacher feedback and additional support. Our plan is centered on instruction and academic programming that includes regular and substantive interaction with an appropriately NYS certified teacher regardless of delivery method (e.g., in person, remote or hybrid).

Our teaching and learning plan includes a clear communication plan for how students and their families/caregivers can contact the school with questions about their instruction and/or technology. This information will be accessible to all, available in multiple languages, widely disseminated, and will include multiple ways for students and families to contact schools and teachers (e.g., email, online platform, and/or by phone) in an effort to assure learning for all.

All students must have the opportunity to feel safe, engaged, and excited about their learning, whether in-person, remote, or in a hybrid model. During the upcoming school year, it is of the utmost importance that individual student needs and equity are put at the center of all learning experiences. We recognize that due to the 2019-2020 school closure, students may need additional social, emotional, or academic support to ensure success in the 2020-2021 school year.  Flexibility is essential, and schools will be prepared to shift between in-person, remote learning, and a hybrid model.

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff faced this spring when delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, Questar III has realigned these teacher-only days to address current teacher needs. Based on teacher feedback, these in-service days will be focused on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration for in-person, remote, or hybrid models of learning. We will also use this opportunity to meet prior to the start of school to plan for individualized student learning and support as well as to discuss professional development needs for administrators, teachers, and teaching assistants for the upcoming school year,  particularly those needs related to teaching remotely and the use of technology.

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, students with disabilities, English Language Learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical, and so administering pre-assessments intended to assess student prerequisite skill or content knowledge will be common practice.  Conveying a positive mindset about student learning is in everyone’s best interest, and as in other years we will move forward. Students and teachers will need time to re-adjust to the school setting, and creating a climate of safety, comfort, and routine will lay the foundation for success. As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.

We must apply a flexible approach to our instructional planning and delivery so that the educational needs of students are met to the greatest extent possible. This includes prioritizing learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study. During the 2020-2021 school year, course or grade level content may need to be adjusted or reduced to ensure students receive the level of support they need to move beyond learning losses. Additionally, Questar III will offer additional training and support to students and their families to ensure their comfort with instructional programs and any technological platforms and devices used to deliver instruction.

Checklist for Instructional Planning

Each program/building should carefully consider the following steps when implementing the Questar III Reopening Plan:

❏ Identify various instructional models based on given factors and resources, including information that is currently available, safety, space and building capacity, transportation, student and family needs, and staffing, with special attention to ensuring that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is being met.

❏ Review schedules to ensure that academic and IEP goals can be met for all students regardless of the instructional modality.

❏ Identify any specialized PPE needed.

❏ Order materials and resources necessary for a safe return to school.

❏ Reconfigure classrooms to ensure that physical distancing requirements can be met.

❏ Identify alternative spaces in the school that can be used for students and offices.

❏ Schedule time for teacher collaboration and meetings to address student learning.

❏ Use assessment tools to determine individual student needs and identify extra supports required such as remediation, SEL, tutoring, etc. to ensure both academic and social-emotional needs are addressed.

❏ Develop protocols for grading, progress reporting, and documentation of teaching that meet NYS Learning Standards and IEP goals.

❏ Develop an enrollment plan that accounts for updating records and emergency contact information.

❏ Develop communication strategies for staff, parents, and the community; and provide information about how the schools should be contacted with questions/concerns.

❏ Ensure that all staff and students receive health and safety training to cover new protocol and procedures.

❏ Update the technology plan to ensure that all students have equitable access.

 I  Early Learning: Pre-Kindergarten

  1. In-Person Instruction

Questar III recognizes that Pre-K programs and services are best delivered in person and that careful, ongoing  planning will be required to protect health and safety when students return to school. Therefore, Questar III has developed its Pre-K teaching and learning plan with built in flexibility that takes the special needs of early learners into consideration.

In some cases, Questar III programs may be operating a hybrid model, with reduced, in-person enrollment based on the most up-to-date recommendations. Additionally, Questar III, in partnership with its host districts, is exploring possible revisions to arrival and dismissal times for both half-day and full day programs. This will provide time to ensure proper sanitization between sessions.

B.   Pre-K Scheduling

Pre-K program staff will also follow any calendar changes made to accommodate professional development during the opening days of the 2020-2021 school year. In the event COVID-19 cases increase at any of the Pre-K sites, the classrooms will follow the protocol set forth by each host district working, following either a hybrid model or remote learning.

In the event Questar III or host sites are ordered to close, Pre-K programs will also close for all employees and students. Questar III staff will provide instruction remotely and will continue to follow continuity of learning plans.

C.  Enrollment and Facilities Plans

Prior to reopening, Questar III (in partnership with host districts) will monitor the cohort sizes. The number of students in each classroom may be capped at the current recommended health and safety levels to ensure proper social distancing can be maintained (which includes configuring desks no less than six feet apart).

Each Pre-Kindergarten space will be evaluated by Questar III’s Health & Safety Director in coordination with on-site district representatives. Furniture, equipment and student resources will be minimized to create more distance between students.

Common area space use, bathroom use, and screening procedures are being coordinated through collaborative planning with host districts.

D.  Pre-K Screenings, Lunches, and Daily Procedures

Our staff and students will be screened daily and our staff will participate in ongoing training provided by our Health and Safety team to follow proper sanitation guidelines and our students will be provided with regular instruction on proper safety protocol.

Questar III will ensure that students in full day programs will eat lunches in assigned seats six feet from other students. For classrooms without an interior bathroom, an adult will accompany each child to the bathroom to ensure that proper handwashing and the wearing of face covering occurs and that napping materials will be sanitized daily and assigned to individual students.

Pre-K instruction and delivery will follow the Questar III and teaching and learning expectations/guidelines based on our Continuity of Learning Plan. Our delivery of instruction has been modified to refrain from practices that encourage physical contact (ie., Buddy systems, physical hand holding).

Primary instruction will continue to be delivered by a certified teacher. For flexibility, to comply with social distancing, a Teaching Assistant is assigned to each classroom to oversee students during learning centers.

Instruction periods will be extended to reduce the number of shared instructional spaces and potential exposure.

For in-person programming, learning centers will be restructured to avoid multiple students using the space at one time. Arrangements have been made to provide students with individual sets of materials so that there is no sharing of resources.

All individual Pre-K classrooms will remain as a cohort of students. They will not move to other classrooms or participate in mixed groups in order to limit potential exposure.

In addition to preparing for in person instruction, teachers are prepared with resources to teach remotely. Remote learning plans have been structured to appropriately accommodate the amount of time that young learners will spend in direct instruction and directly viewing screens

Questar III is collaborating with our host districts to coordinate administration of the required Pre-K screenings and will follow the safety protocols required and adhere to the adjusted timeline.

Pre-K classrooms will limit the number of volunteers and require that all plans to include visitors will need administrative approval.

Visitor protocols have been written and will be communicated with staff to be shared with any potential visitors.

Related service providers will follow all health and safety protocols set forth by NYSDOH.

II.  Instructional Delivery (K-12)

A. In-Person Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be monitored to ensure that we adhere to the appropriate guidance regarding social/physical distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students may, in some cases, necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms. In a small number of situations, current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards. Our administrators and teachers will work collaboratively to ensure that students receive high quality rigorous, standards-based instruction that will meet their academic needs and allow them to attain the learning standards in all curricular areas.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) will be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible, students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students during any physical activity, per NYSED guidelines.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, including but not limited to recess or any necessary transition, to reduce potential exposure.

B.  Remote/Hybrid Transition Model

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our BOCES has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will focus on all subject areas. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

As noted previously within our plan, student schedules will remain largely the same whether instruction is in person or remote (so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously). In cases of asynchronous learning, schedules for remote students may be modified, as needed. To the greatest extent possible, cohorts will be self-contained, pre-assigned groups of students with appropriate group sizes. In certain instances self-contained cohorts are not possible and in these cases, the introduction of additional classroom personnel will be minimized. These groups will remain for the duration of the COVID- 19 public health emergency.

Our plan takes into consideration the possible contingency of fully remote learning.  Understanding that there are challenges with remote instruction that are particular to certain school communities as well as individual students, we will ensure teachers have daily contact with students in some format in order to support both their academic needs and social emotional well-being. Similar to our implemented plan during the 2019-2020 school year, a contact log will be kept to track these interactions regardless of the instructional setting.

To prepare a seamless transition between models, Questar III administrators and staff established the following best-practices and lessons learned to improve outcomes for remote instruction:

  • Assigning tasks for at-home completion and then have students apply the knowledge gained in the school setting (i.e., have students practice a skill at home and then apply it during a class activity).
  • A flipped classroom approach where students first learn about a topic at home and then come prepared to learn more about it in class (e.g., students watch a video about The Haka at home, then in school the teacher answers questions and teaches in more depth).
  • Consider switching from providing direct instruction to more of a student-directed instruction approach.
  • Provide synchronous learning opportunities (distance learning that happens in real-time) with opportunities for asynchronous learning as much as possible; record lessons to provide to students who may not have access in real time.
  • Continue the use of Google Classroom and/or SeeSaw and look at the use of additional platforms/extensions to improve digital pedagogy: breakout rooms (Zoom or Google Meet), conversation, Poll Everywhere, etc.
  • Ensure that every student has a device and WiFi. Allow students to bring Chromebooks or iPads home.
  • Set up clear expectations for students – schedule (start and end times for each class), live conferencing with teachers, amount of work, required work, required classes, communication, etc. (need explicit details of what is expected).
  • Provide online counseling, tutoring, skills classes, and IEP services.
  • Weekly staff meetings will include professional development on digital success, techniques, case management, student support, etc.
  • Provide professional development and training for parents/guardians on use of Google Classroom and SchoolTool. Parents/guardians will be provided with their child’s account info as well as the ability to sign-up for daily parent/guardian summaries.
  • Divide school into small social-emotional support/advisory groups – make sure students are supported.
  • Provide support that may include home visits for students who are absent during distance learning (due to possible social-emotional issues) to discuss needs with families – to increase engagement; more at home intervention and counseling; use of TAs to structure and engage students; and tutoring.
  • Reduce language barriers by having bilingual staff available for student and parent phone calls, if needed.

III.  Grades 7–12: Units of Study

The New York State Education Department regulations outline specific time/unit of study requirements for various subject areas. The unit of study definition (180 minutes per week or the equivalent) provides a framework for the instructional entitlement for our students in these grades. However, it is also noted that instructional experiences are not defined solely as a student’s time spent in front of a teacher or in front of a screen, but time engaged in standards-based learning under the guidance and direction of a teacher.

These experiences might include, but are not limited to: completing online modules or tasks; viewing instructional videos; responding to posts or instructor questions; engaging with other class participants in an online or phone discussion; conducting research; doing projects; or meeting with an instructor face-to-face, via an online platform or by phone. In order for this flexibility to be available to students, Questar III must ensure that the learning is supported, and students have access to assistance from their teacher when they need it.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While the recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

A.  Science Laboratory Requirements

  • Per Commissioner’s Regulations, courses that culminate in a Regents examination in science must include 1,200 minutes of laboratory experiences. Due to the possibility of a hybrid or fully remote model of instruction as a result of COVID-19, the 1,200-minute lab requirement can be met through hands-on laboratory experiences, virtual laboratory experiences, or a combination of virtual and hands-on laboratory experiences coupled with satisfactory lab reports for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Laboratory experiences specific to each science course will be aligned; depending on the mode or modes of instruction; and identifying a viable vetted list of acceptable virtual labs or a combination of virtual and hands-on labs that a student would need to complete for each science course that culminates in a Regents examination.

B.  Visual and Performing Arts

Due to the hands-on nature of Arts instruction, additional considerations have been given to both the management of Arts instructional spaces, as well as the development of instructional methods to teach the Arts via remote or hybrid models.

In-Person Instructional Model

  • Consideration will be given to what students have already learned when designing curricula for next year. What artistic processes have students focused on during previous remote learning? What might need to be emphasized in the 2020-2021 school year?
  • Possible remote lessons will be prepared in advance.
  • Shared materials and surfaces will be cleaned following appropriate CDC and state guidelines.
  • Singing can transmit the virus. Additional precautions such as smaller groups, alternative spaces (such as having chorus outside) and increasing the distance between students will be implemented.
  • Students will maintain individual kits of “high touch” supplies such as scissors, markers, pencils, erasers, etc. to limit sharing of supplies between students.
  • Ensure a distance of 12 feet in all directions is maintained between individuals while participating in activities that require projecting (i.e., singing and playing wind instruments).
  • Limiting use of or alternatives for hard to clean supplies (i.e., clay).
  • Create visual markings on the floor to reinforce social distancing.
  • Position hand hygiene supplies close to shared materials and surfaces.
  • Increase transition time to account for additional cleaning time.

C.  Remote Instructional Model

  • Plan individualized projects that can connect and reinforce in-person classroom learning.
  • Plan for how to give students assignments, feedback, and track their progress/success.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will work to standardize the use of an online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices will follow a framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will use a five-scale grading rubric based on levels of competency/mastery, which can then be aligned to numeric bands (for grading purposes).

D.  Hybrid Instructional Model

During in-person instruction, Questar III will:

  • prepare students with the skills and knowledge they will need when working remotely (e.g., online platforms, tools, available resources, etc.).
  • Use digital platforms and other methodologies that will enable students to collaborate on group projects even if at home.
  • Focus on personalized learning
  • Utilize resources such as digital field trips and online arts collections.

E.  Physical Education

Questar III’s school reopening plan will ensure students will participate in physical activity under the direction and supervision of a certified physical education teacher to the extent practicable, whether in-person, remote, or hybrid models are utilized.

In-person Instructional Model

  • Should ensure that a distance of 12 feet in all directions is maintained between individuals while participating in activities that require aerobic activity and result in heavy breathing.
  • Will consider use of a microphone
  • Focus more on individual pursuits or skills rather than traditional team sports or activities (e.g., dance and rhythms, exercises without equipment, fitness, mindfulness)
  • Use games and activities that require no physical contact.

Remote Instructional Model

  • Create opportunities for students to share and connect with one another.
  • Consider special events or activities that can be done remotely (e.g., At-Home Family Field Day).
  • Consider using videos or images demonstrating activities or skills.

Hybrid Instructional Model

  • Consider assigning tasks for at-home completion and then have students apply the knowledge gained in the school setting (i.e., have students practice a skill at home and then apply it during a class activity).
  • Consider a flipped classroom approach where students first learn about a topic at home and then come prepared to learn more about it in class (e.g., students watch a video about The Haka at home, then in school the teacher answers questions and teaches in more depth).
  • Consider switching from providing direct instruction to more of a student-directed instruction approach.
  • Provide synchronous learning opportunities (distance learning that happens in real time) with opportunities for asynchronous learning as much as possible; record lessons to provide to students who may not have access in real time.
  • Additionally, students are more interested in seeing videos created by their own teachers than shared videos created by other teachers.

Academic Intervention Services (AIS)

As the New York State Assessments in grades 3-8 were not administered in the 2019-20 school year, the BOCES programs shall support any students which need additional assistance in academic subjects. The BOCES will use but not limit to the following:

  • Fountas and Pinnell
  • STAR Reading and Math Assessments
  • Benchmark and lesson embedded assessments
  • Common formative assessments
  • Unit and lesson assessments
  • Results of psychoeducational evaluations
  • Diagnostic screening for vision, hearing, and physical disabilities as well as screening for possible disabilities pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulations Part 117

Grading

Given the flexible instructional models, Questar III BOCES’ grading policies will be applicable to each model and will remain clear and transparent to students, parents, and guardians.

Assessment

  • Students will be assessed in an ongoing fashion regardless of instructional model, through a variety of means. Student progress will be communicated to students, parents and caregivers through SchoolTool.
  • Opportunities for educators to collaborate and plan for the creation of pre-assessments will be built into our schedule for staff.
  • Students who have identified testing accommodations will be followed.
  • Through collaboration, we will determine those students who are in need of AIS in accordance with guidance and plan to provide in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid model.

Libraries

Within our programs, school library media specialists will provide resources to students, teachers, and others, and collaborate to support high-quality instruction in-person as well as in hybrid and remote models.

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

Career & Technical Education

A.  CTE Content and Delivery

While planning for CTE instruction, whether in-person, remote, or hybrid, Questar III CTE will ensure that all NYS Learning Standards as well as requirements for industry certifications, or postsecondary credentialing, and by state agencies are met. Additionally, Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and Cosmetology programs will follow curricula where required clinical hours are mandated by other state agencies.

CTE course instruction will continue to be delivered by appropriately certified CTE teachers. Instructors who are required to hold a NYS professional license for a particular content area (i.e., C.N.A. and Cosmetology) will maintain such license without lapse.

Registered Internship Programs: Internship hours for registered programs will be completed in either a fully remote format when practical, or in-person. The work-based learning coordinator and other school staff will determine, in collaboration with business and industry partners, where remote and/or hybrid experiences are practical given a student’s training plan.

  • Non-Registered Work-Based Learning (WBL) Experiences: Where practical, and when supervised by school staff, non-registered work-based learning experiences will be conducted in a remote or hybrid format.
  • Questar III will exercise discretion if a student is unable to meet the minimum hours requirement set for the program and/or credential being sought.
  • CNA students are required to complete supervised clinical hours under regulations set forth by the Department of Health. All regulations from the Department of Health will be followed when planning and supervising clinical experiences.
  • Supervised clinical experiences for students in Cosmetology programs will meet all guidelines set forth by the Department of State.

B.  CTE Labs, Clinical Spaces, and Work-Based Learning Sites

CTE laboratory spaces will be set up to accommodate social distancing, and all other procedures described in the “Health & Safety” section of this document. All CTE laboratory/clinical instruction and supervision will be delivered by the appropriately certified CTE teacher. In order to adhere to social distancing protocols, flexibility will be allowed for other staff (under the guidance of the CTE teacher) to supervise student groups in a non-laboratory/clinical setting.

Questar III will collaborate with all business and industry partners to identify and ensure safe and healthy work-based learning opportunities. Students will be provided opportunities to participate in work-based learning, either in-person or remotely to the extent possible. In implementing work-based learning for the 2020-2021 school year, Questar III will consider the following:

  • All registered work-based learning programs will be supervised by an appropriately certified work-based learning coordinator.
  • Questar III WBL coordinators will refer to the work-based learning manual for guidelines on certification and how frequently students should be supervised.

Depending on the industry, business and industry partners may have a reduced ability to sponsor students for work-based learning experiences. Priority for experiences will be given to those students who need work-based learning hours to meet graduation or CDOS exit credential requirements. The WBL coordinator will remain actively engaged with the needs of business and industry as they may change rapidly.

C.  Modifying Learning for Social Distant/Remote Learning

  • Questar III will identify content that takes precedence in the event instructional capabilities are modified and/or changed throughout the year;
  • Questar III will identify those activities that must take place in a classroom and those that can be completed independently;
  • Questar III will determine what students need to complete all learning activities and how to provide access to necessary materials;
  • Questar III will consider individualized student “to go” kits to enable students to pivot to remote learning if necessary. These kits will be assembled by learning module and exchanged out as students complete each module;
  • Questar III will utilize online platforms when teaching in person to build practice among students in the event that Questar III may need to switch to remote learning;
  • Questar III will create instructor videos demonstrating skills or teaching content for use both in and outside of the classroom;
  • Questar III will consider live streaming video of what is taking place inside the classroom in the event some students are home, and some are present;
  • Questar III will consider opportunities for instructors to operate portable video cameras during lessons. For example, when an instructor is providing a laboratory demonstration, he or she can display to students in their seats instead of them standing closely watching the demonstration;
  • Questar III will consider modifications to laboratory skills or clinical days to reduce risk of transmission (i.e., designated lab/clinical days); and
  • Questar III will determine procedures for sharing, disinfection, and decontaminating materials and equipment.

D.  Student Engagement

  • Questar III will create a set schedule for class meeting times. Class meeting times should be used to address large group instruction and/or issues impacting the whole class.
  • Questar III will schedule small group and/or individual check-ins around full class meeting times.
  • Questar III will consider incorporating current topics into the field of study to aid in interest and engagement along with incorporating current industry safety and infection control practices within curricula.
  • Questar III will ensure a positive and respectful classroom culture exists to support students’ social-emotional needs.

Considerations for Students with Disabilities

The WBL coordinator, transition coordinator, and all other service providers will work collaboratively to design work-based learning experiences that are in line with students’ individualized education program (IEP) goals. Where practical, remote or hybrid experiences will be used towards work-based learning hours.,Questar III will be considering placements in the school building if participating outside businesses are not able to meet students’ IEP requirements (job coaching, PPE, etc.).

Business and Community Partnerships

A high quality CTE program is planned with input from business and community partners. Questar III will consider the following for the 2020-2021 school year to continue business and community partner engagement:

  • Questar III will continue to have business and community participation in advisory council meetings. Questar III will utilize videoconferencing if necessary.
  • Questar III will establish and communicate clear safety protocols that will be expected prior to student and instructor participation at internship or clinical sites. Questar III will determine who will provide appropriate PPE for students and instructors.
  • Questar III will incorporate industry partners into virtual student interactions, student career development, and instruction to the extent possible.
  • Questar III will seek legal counsel regarding potential changes and the implementation of those changes into existing agreements and waivers, especially in light of COVID-19.
  • Questar III will re-evaluate labor market needs with business and industry partners and adapt curriculum and program offerings as appropriate.

Student Career Development

Questar III CTE programs of study will continue to provide high quality career advisement and exploration opportunities to students through either an in-person, remote, or blended instruction environment. Questar III will consider the following when planning student career development experiences in the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Using the CTE Career and Financial Management framework to enrich career development if hands-on learning and skill practice may not be feasible in person.
  • Using virtual options to facilitate career exploration including, but not limited to job shadowing; guest speakers; career fairs; interview skills; job training; professionalism and proper use of virtual platforms; and other activities that allow safety guidelines to be followed by all involved.
  • Utilizing school counselors and other school staff to facilitate and support career development and advisement within Questar III BOCES.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)

  • Consult with the respective state and national organizations for each CTSO to determine what their policies and procedures are for a COVID-19 impacted school year.
  • Consider if conferences, meetings, service projects, programs of work, and events can be conducted remotely if face to face meetings cannot take place. NYSDOH guidelines regarding social distancing, equipment, and events must be followed when planning CTSO events.
  • Consult with local legal counsel regarding any concerns regarding Ed Law 2-d and any other questions regarding allowable platforms for teleconferencing.
  • Consult the NYSED CTSO page for additional information as it becomes available.

Program Approval, Data Reporting, Perkins, and Civil Rights

Program Approval

  • Questar III will ensure that program applications for reapproval and/or initial approval of CTE programs, work-based learning programs, and health science operational approvals will continue to follow established schedules and deadlines.
  • Questar III will utilize Digital signatures and/or a PDF of a signed application(s) as an acceptable initial electronic submission of re-approval and initial approval forms. Original signatures will be on the paper applications which will be mailed to the CTE Office.
  • Questar III will submit any changes to NYSED-approved CTE programs on a program amendment form to the Office of CTE for approval.

CTE Data Reporting

  • CTE data will be reported for the 2019-20 school year for NYSED-approved CTE programs using streamlined procedures found on the Office of CTE data reporting page.
  • CTE data will be reported to the SIRS by Questar III as the agency that operates the NYSED-approved CTE program.
  • Questar III will report work-based learning experiences for Grades 11-12.

Perkins

  • Questar III will utilize the grant documentation submission deadlines which are posted on the Office of CTE home page.
  • Questar III will consider amendments submitted for the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA) for COVID-19 related needs.
  • Questar III will submit digital signatures and/or a PDF of a signed application as the initial electronic submission of the CLNA, CLNA Summary, and application with budget forms FS-10 and FS-10A. Original signatures will be on the paper grant applications and FS10s which will be mailed to the CTE Office.

Civil Rights

Questar III will not require flexibilities in order to be in compliance with federal civil rights laws. Questar III will continue to comply with federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It is New York’s responsibility to comply with these civil rights requirements, including through the State’s Methods of Administration State Plan under 34 C.F.R. Part 100, Appendix B.

Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities

Interscholastic Athletics

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts have delayed the Fall sports start date until Monday, September 21. Questar III does not offer athletics as part of its education programs.

Extracurricular Activities

All Questar III extracurricular activities and meetings will be held via Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams. Advisors will choose the online platform that is most familiar and appropriate for the students involved in the extracurricular activity. An online calendar of meeting dates and times will be maintained. Advisors for each club or organization will email out a troup email of meeting notes to all members.

Outside community usage of Questar III buildings for meetings outside of school hours are currently suspended. If this suspension is lifted each organization is responsible for conducting health screenings of each participant and arranging proper disinfectant cleaning of all rooms used by the group. The group is required to maintain social distancing and provide mask covers to all participants.

Special Education

Questar III’s reopening plan provides a framework to ensure that all students with disabilities continue to have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living in the least restrictive environment (LRE). In consideration of the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and staff, our plan is to provide services fully in-person to the extent allowable.

Special education programs and services of Questar III will provide equity and access for students with disabilities to be involved in and to participate and progress in the general education curriculum with access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability-related needs of students. While not all formats allow for maximum benefit to students, these programs and services can be provided in all formats (live-person, hybrid, or remote). Questar III will document the programs and services offered and provided to students with disabilities as well as to the communications with parents in their preferred language and mode of communication. In addition, Questar III will ensure access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability related needs of students.

Questar III is committed to providing meaningful parent engagement in the parent’s preferred language or mode of communication regarding the provision of services to his/her child to meet the requirements of the IDEA. Further, we will maintain regular communication with the parents/guardians and other family members to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process. At Questar III, we recognize that clear, ongoing communication and collaboration are critical to ensuring students receive access to high-quality special education programs and services. The school reopening plan addresses meaningful parent engagement via parent forums, surveys, and individual communication regarding the provision of services to his/her child to meet the requirements of the IDEA. Parents have a legal right to be informed regarding identification, evaluation, educational placement, and provision of services. Please refer to the NYSED Procedural Safeguards Notice July 2017 at www.nysed.gov. Questar III encourages families to remain in close contact and communicate with their child’s special education teacher, related service providers, program principal, and CSE chairperson to ensure their child continues to participate and progress in the general education curriculum and make progress towards achieving individualized goals.

Questar III will plan and support collaboration between the committees on preschool special education (CPSE) and committees on special education (CSE) and program providers representing the variety of settings where students are served to ensure there is an understanding of the provision of services consistent with the recommendations on individualized education programs (IEPs), plans for monitoring and communicating student progress, and commitment to sharing resources.

Questar III will maintain records to document the implementation of each IEP.  The documentation will include, but will not be limited to: narrative records of how the student is adjusting to live, hybrid, and remote instruction during 2020-21, a record of what instruction and services were provided, a record of formative, summative, and standardized assessments and their results as well as progress monitoring documentation, a record of school-family collaboration via contact logs, and the provision of compensatory services records.

Bilingual Education and World Languages

Questar III BOCES is committed to supporting comprehensive, high-quality, and culturally responsive instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) and Multilingual Learners (MLLs) and languages other than English for students upon reopening.  Questar III BOCES will ensure that ELL/MLLs have the same access to instruction via in-person or remote learning as other students attending BOCES programs. Support of ELLs/MLLs will be comprehensive, high-quality, and culturally responsive.  We are well prepared to reopen our schools and serve ELLs, MLLs, and students learning world languages as they expand their skills, knowledge, and proficiency with languages through our BOCES programs and services.

Identification

Questar III BOCES currently has an English as a New Language (ENL) Itinerant Service to support ELLs/MLLs in component districts.  We also have ELLs/MLLs enrolled in our Career Technical Education programs and a part time ENL teacher.  We will work with our component districts to ensure that the ELL identification process is completed as required by Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154.

  • ELL identification within 30 days from start of the school year for students enrolled in the 2019-2020 school year or the 2020 summer.
  • ELL identification within the first 20 days of 2020-2021 school year. After this 20th day period ELLs must be identified within 10 days of enrollment.

Units of Study

Questar III BOCES will provide the required instructional Units of Study to all ELLs/MLLs based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction in coordination with their home district.  The BOCES will exercise the flexibility allowed by the OBEWL in implementing the units of study in coordination with the home districts with the use of remote instruction thus using a hybrid model as appropriate.  In terms of students studying world languages we will ensure that they meet their required units of study to meet their Foreign language requirements for graduation. We are fortunate to host the Capital Region Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN) supporting districts across eight BOCES across the North East region of New York State.

Communication with Parents/Guardians

Questar III BOCES will maintain regular communication with parents/guardians of ELLs/MLLs and students learning world languages to ensure that they are engaged during the reopening process and provide all communications for parents/guardians of ELLs/MLLs in their preferred language and mode of communication. We will use translation services if needed to ensure that parents and guardians receive ongoing communication in the language and mode of their preference. Parents/guardians of ELLs/MLLs will be assured:

  • Regular communication with families/parents of ELLs during reopening must be in the preferred language and mode.
  • Provide support and instruction as practicable on the use of technology in their preferred language.

Further, we will use various modes of communication with the parents/guardians and other family members of ELLs to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process which may include telephone contact, text messages, social media, emails and regular mail in their preferred language.

Teaching and Learning

The teaching and learning of our ELLs/MLLs and students learning a world language will follow research-based best practices.  We will incorporate the principles found in the NYSED Blueprint for ELLs/MLLs, the Framework for Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education, and resources available through the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages and the RBERNs. Native language supports will be used as applicable to support students’ learning English as a New Language (ENL).  Students taking foreign languages in our programs, mainly Spanish and Latin will be provided instruction through online learning platforms that include but are not limited to APEX and Educere.

Technology

Questar III BOCES will ensure that ENL teachers incorporate online resources, digital tools, and media in daily in-person lessons in order to facilitate a smoother transition into any future school closure and remote instruction. The use of technology will be paramount in the programs to ensure that the ELLs/MLLs learn the necessary skills to pivot to remote learning quickly and to better prepare them for their futures.  ELLs/MLLs’ technology needs and internet access will be addressed as with all students to ensure equity of access to learning. Students learning a new language will have equitable access to technology that promotes engaging activities at appropriate proficiency levels aligned with ELLs/MLLs and LOTE students proficiency levels.   

Professional Development

Questar III BOCES RBERN will provide professional learning opportunities for our BOCES staff that support best practices and equitable instruction for ELLs/MLLs to help address learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 school closures. Professional development opportunities will be aligned to CR Part 154 requirements and best practices for ELLs/MLLs and students learning world languages.

We will ensure that our staff be provided with appropriate professional learning opportunities to meet regulatory requirements:

  • 15% of professional learning hours for all educators focused on ELLs/MLLs needs
  • 50% for bilingual and ENL teachers targeted on specific ELL/ML needs

Some topics of professional learning for teachers and/or parents/guardians in our programs will include but not be limited to:

  • Using technology to promote independence and engagement
  • Parents as partners in the learning of a new language
  • Providing effective and meaningful feedback
  • Promoting peer to peer interaction
  • Co-planning and co-teaching to support ELL/MLLs·

Designing lessons that accelerate language learning

  • Analyzing data and progress monitoring to support instructional decisions

Assessment strategies to inform student progress

  • Best practices in learning a new language and supporting four language modalities
  • Building positive relationships with students, parents and among teachers
  • Strategies to support critical thinking and student engagement
  • Preparing students to earn the Seal of Biliteracy

Foreign Languages

In order to assure that students have opportunities to study world languages we are prepared to teach Spanish and Latin via online platforms to include but not limited to APEX and Educere upon reopening.

Progress Monitoring

Questar III BOCES will ensure that ELLs/MLLs progress is monitored over time.  Given that the NYSESLAT administration of the Spring of 2020 was cancelled, we will seek to identify tools that can be used for this purpose. The BOCES will use the recommended checklist for developing or selecting ELP progress monitoring assessments and the Multilingual Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) Screener as applicable.

Staffing

Teacher and Principal Evaluation System

All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the organization’s approved APPR plan. Questar III will consider whether their currently approved APPR plans may need to be revised in order to be consistent with their plans for re-opening under an in-person, remote or hybrid instructional model. School leaders will continue to attend annually required Lead Evaluator training.

Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching

All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignment, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.

Student Teachers

Student teachers from NYSED registered college or university programs can serve under the supervision of fully certified teachers in Questar III BOCES. Student teachers will follow all of the social distancing, mask wearing, health status reporting, and other COVID-19 procedures that have been adopted by Questar III staff. Questar III will adhere to guidance outlined in board policy regarding supervision of Student teachers. Student teachers will serve under the direction of our full time certified teachers only. Questar III will ensure Student teachers are given the opportunity to develop critical knowledge and skills. At no time will a student teacher be used as a teacher of record.

Appendix

Remote Learning Plan

Key References

Additional References

 

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