The following are frequently asked questions and answers about the reopening of our schools. If you would like to ask a question about reopening and the 2020-21 school year, or about the district’s Reopening Plan, please complete this form, which goes directly to Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Niedermeier.
Communication with our families
Q: How will parents be notified if the school needs to shift to fully remote learning?
A: DCS will use its existing communication channels – including the website, One Call Now school messaging system, email, superintendent’s virtual forums, in-person and virtual meetings, SNN messaging system and Board of Education meetings as appropriate – as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. For more info, visit the communications section of the reopening plan.
Q: How will parents be notified of their child/ren’s class schedules?
A: Information will be sent to parents by mail as in past years.
Q: Will I be notified if there is a suspected or confirmed COVID case, or quarantine, within the school community?
A: In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to potentially exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the county health department. Notification to the wider community will occur only under the direction of local health officials.
Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about the district’s reopening plan or health and safety protocols?
A: The district’s COVID-19 Coordinator is Superintendent Dr. James Niedermeier. Parents/guardians can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (518) 895-2279, ext. 241.
Health & Safety
Q. Are masks required?
A: Yes. Masks will be required for students in grades UPK-12 and staff at all times while inside school buildings and on school buses. Effective June 7, 2021, face masks are not required to be worn outdoors on school grounds, including during outdoor school sports. (See NYS Department of Health’s “Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools.”) For more information, please see the face coverings section of our plan.
Q. What is an acceptable face covering?
A: Cloth face masks that cover both the nose and mouth that include, but are not limited to, homemade sewn masks, school-provided masks, and “quick cut” masks, are acceptable. Surgical masks are also acceptable. More information about masks and mask care can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html.
Q. Will masks be provided to students and staff?
A: Yes, staff and students will be provided with masks and necessary PPE. Two disposable masks, hand sanitizer, and other necessary personal protective equipment will be provided at no cost to students. Disposable gloves and masks will also be provided should the need arise on buses or in schools.
Q. Can face shields be used in place of masks?
A: Face shields may be used by some school staff, but they are to be worn in addition to face masks, not in place of them.
Q. What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask?
A: Just as any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and other staff will work toward compliance with the student. Students unwilling to comply with social distancing or mask-wearing measures will be unable to attend school in person because of the risk this behavior may pose to others.
Q. What are parents required to do to screen children’s health before school each day?
A: Parents/guardians will be responsible for checking each child’s health before school each day. If a child presents with any of the following, they should be kept home from school:
– Temperature above 100.0 degrees F
– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– Chills (with or without repeated shaking)
– Muscle pain
– Sore throat
– New loss of taste or smell
Please note that this screening is in addition to other conditions that should preclude students from attending school (e.g., pink eye, vomiting) or any situation in which a child appears not to be well enough to participate in the activities of the school day.
Any students who exhibit any of the symptoms of COVID-19, have been with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been in areas designated as COVID-19 hotspots should stay home, notify the school nurse, and quarantine until documentation has been provided showing evidence of a negative test.
School nurse contact information
- Duanesburg Elementary School Nurse Amber Lounsbury, (518) 895-3000 ext. 229
- Duanesburg Jr./Sr. High School Nurse Stephanie Yauchler, Phone: (518) 895-3000 ext. 240
Q: What do I do if my child is showing COVID-19 symptoms?
A: Parents are encouraged to contact the child’s doctor if their child is showing symptoms of COVID-19. Your child should not attend school if they are displaying these symptoms.
Q: If my child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, how long will they need to be out of school?
A: The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation or
2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result and
3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation
The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.
Q: What should my child do if they feel sick during the school day? Will I be notified?
A: If a student feels sick during the school day, they will report to the nurse’s office for evaluation and potentially be directed to a supervised isolation area prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. For more information, visit https://www.duanesburg.org/duanesburg-csd-reopening-plan-for-2021/health-safety/#managementofillpersons.
Q. What is the protocol if there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in the school?
A: The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff and visitors of any of our schools.
To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, 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 will not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
Q: My child or a member of my family is considered to be high-risk for COVID-19. What are my options?
A: We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities.
Parents of children that are more at risk of COVID-19 should speak with their child’s doctor and/or medical professional(s) to determine the best academic and service options for their child and communicate with their child’s school principal. Staff should contact human resources or the assistant superintendent if they have conditions that put them at an increased risk of COVID-19. Students who have family members who are in high-risk groups may also need to attend school remotely.
If a child is unable to return to in-person instruction this fall, remote academic instruction and related services will be provided to meet the individualized education program (IEP) and/or instructional program to the greatest extent possible
Q: Will testing for COVID-19 be conducted at school?
A: In most cases, no; however, in the event that testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district will work with the county health department to support implementation.
Q: Will schools be conducting contact tracing if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19?
A: The district will assist in contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department.
Q: What are the district’s plans for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings?
A: The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed. (For details about cleaning and disinfection protocols, visit https://www.duanesburg.org/duanesburg-csd-reopening-plan-for-2021/health-safety/#cleaninganddisinfecting.)
Q: Will fire drills and lockdown drills still be conducted? What will be the process for maintaining social distancing?
A: Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be announced in advance and conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.
Saliva is collected using the ORAcollect•RNA (OR-100/ORE-100) saliva collection device or the OMNIgene•ORAL (OM-505/OME-505) collection device. Collection is performed following the Instructions for Use included on the pouch of the OR-100/ORE-100 and OM-505/OME-505 collection devices.
Once received by the laboratory, the ORAcollect•RNA (OR-100/ORE-100) and OMNIgene•ORAL (OM-505/OME-505) collection devices containing saliva samples are incubated at 60 °C for 2 hours for viral inactivation. After incubation, samples are either tested individually or up to 12 samples can be pooled with equal volumes, as desired. Subsequently, RNA is extracted from either 100 µL of the individual sample or 100 µL of the pooled sample using the Clarifi COVID-19 Extraction Kit, for which 100 µl sample input volume is used. RNA is eluted in 30 µL of DNase/RNase-Free Water and 1.5 µL of the eluted RNA is used for the down-stream qRT-PCR reaction.
The test consists of three processes in a single-well assay: • Reverse transcription of total RNA to cDNA • PCR amplification of target and Internal Control cDNA • Simultaneous detection of PCR amplicons by fluorescent dye labeled probes
Q: What material is the COVID testing swab made of?
A: Polypropylene homopolymer MITT: Polyurethane foam. The ORAcollect·RNA ORE-100 and OR-100 consists of a double ended tube cap with attached integrated sponge that collects and transfers saliva samples from the mouth into the collection tube containing the nucleic acid stabilizing liquid. Upon contacting saliva cells, the stabilizing liquid lyses cellular and nuclear membranes to release and stabilize nucleic acids (RNA).
Q: How does the manufacturer sterilize the COVID testing swab?
A: Please refer to the manufacturer website.
Q: What specifically is the COVID Test, testing for?
A: Results are for the identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. The SARS-CoV-2 RNA is generally detectable in saliva specimens during the acute phase of infection. Positive results are indicative of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
Q: What are the parameters of the test?
A: For unvaccinated students/school staff: pool testing will be conducted for 20% of the unvaccinated community that provides consent to test. If the school community provides less then 20% consent, those who do consent will be tested weekly. If more than 20% consent, the testing will be conducted randomly, so the same people won’t have to test each week.
Q: What are the statistics and efficacy of the test? What is the reliability of the test?
A: Clinical Evaluation; Paired NP Swab and Saliva Clinical Study: The following supportive performance data were provided by Quadrant Biosciences Inc for DNA Genotek’s EUA submission. A right of reference from Quadrant Biosciences Inc was provided to DNA Genotek to leverage the clinical study data that evaluated the ORAcollect·RNA OR-100 collection device. Please refer to the EUA summary for the Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit for more detailed information on assay validation using saliva collected with the OR-100 device. A total of 63 Clarifi COVID-19 saliva swab specimens were collected within 0-5 days following collection of the comparative nasopharyngeal swabs (32 negative, 31 positive). Clinical nasopharyngeal specimen results were obtained from an EUA authorized SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assay. Saliva samples were processed using the Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit as per the Instructions for Use.
The Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit resulted in a positive agreement of 100% (31/31) and a negative agreement of 100% (32/32) as shown in Table 1 below.
Q: Who is compiling and reviewing the results?
A: Quadrant Bio Sciences staff process and review the results. The Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit is intended for use by qualified clinical laboratory personnel, specifically instructed and trained in the techniques of qRT-PCR and in vitro diagnostic procedures. The Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit is only for use under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization .Any additional questions regarding Quadrant Bio Sciences and their processes, please refer to their website: Home – Quadrant Biosciences
Q: What are their qualifications?
A: The Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit is intended for use by qualified clinical laboratory personnel, specifically instructed and trained in the techniques of qRT-PCR and in vitro diagnostic procedures. The Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit is only for use under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization. Any questions regarding qualifications of Quadrant Bio Sciences, please refer to their website: About Us – Quadrant Biosciences
Q. Will outside visitors be permitted into school buildings? Will outside groups still be able to use school facilities?
A: Outside visitors or volunteers will be limited. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings. Visitors must follow all safety protocols.
Q. What is the school district doing about getting clean airflow into classrooms?
A: Upon reopening, the district plans to increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible (e.g., opening windows and doors) while maintaining health and safety protocols, particularly for younger students. To read more about ventilation, visit: https://www.duanesburg.org/duanesburg-csd-reopening-plan-for-2021/health-safety/.
Q. How big will the class sizes be for in-person instruction?
A: Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned approximately three feet apart.
Q: Will restroom capacity be limited?
A: Restroom capacity will be reduced to provide for proper social distancing. School personnel will be utilized to monitor restroom areas throughout the day to ensure compliance with social distancing protocols. Distance stickers will be placed on walls or floors to demonstrate appropriate social distance while waiting in queues.
Q: Will students still use cubbies? Lockers?
Q: How is the district ensuring that any changes to its facilities are in compliance with fire code and other regulations?
A: All spaces to be occupied by school students and staff must meet the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code. The district will work with Capital Region BOCES Health, Safety and Risk Management to ensure compliance with these codes.
Q: Will students and staff have access to hand sanitizer?
A: Hand sanitizer will be available throughout each school building. If soap and water are not available, students and staff should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used. Parents may opt their child out of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer while at school. To do so, please send a written notice to your child’s school, per the State Education Department (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/documents/handwashing-recommendations-alcohol-based-hand-sanitizer-use-in-schools.pdf).
Q: Will students and staff have access to water fountains? How will water fountains be cleaned?
A: The district will ensure that students and staff have access to drinking water during the school day. Drinking fountain bottle fillers will be accessible and will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Q. Will lunches need to be brought to school every day? Or will they be provided? Will hot meals still be available?
A: School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. Students may also bring lunches from home and meals will be eaten in classrooms. Students will be encouraged to perform hand hygiene before and after meals. The sharing of food/beverages will be discouraged, and food allergies will be addressed to protect the health of all students.
Q: Where will students eat breakfast and lunch?
A: Elementary students will rotate between classrooms and the cafeteria. The Jr. Sr. High School students will be the cafeteria and the rear of Joe Bena Hall.
Q: How will students pay for their meals?
A: We strongly encourage all parents to utilize the MySchoolBucks program to keep cash transactions to a minimum. Any cash used for meal purchases must be in exact change and in an envelope labeled with the student’s name. There will be no fee charged to add funds to a student’s account.
Q: What hygiene practices will keep students safe during meals?
A: Students will be required to perform hand hygiene before and after eating. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating as long as they are appropriately socially distanced (six feet apart during meals).
Q: Will meals be provided for free again this year?
A: Yes. All DCS students will be served breakfast and lunch at no cost during the 2021-22 school year. This is made possible through USDA grant funding through June 2022, or until the funding runs out. There is no cost for student meals. This includes breakfast and lunch, either at school or via parent pickup (home menu). Students will still need to have money in their MySchoolBucks accounts to pay for extra items and milk.
Q. Will bus transportation still be provided? Are there any changes to who can ride the bus to and from school?
A: All students are entitled to transportation by their home district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the deadline to request out-of-district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.
Q. Will social distancing be enforced on buses?
A: To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school. While seating charts will be used, social distancing will not be enforced on buses.
Q. Will masks be required on the bus?
A: Students, drivers and staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school transportation (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated). Students who are medically able will wear a face covering at all times while on the bus. If your child is picked up at a stop with other students, masks should be worn and social distance should be maintained as much as possible. If your child is medically unable to wear a mask, please contact the Transportation Director. Additional space will need to be allotted to you child to maintain separation for other students.
Q. How many students will be in each seat?
A: Students may sit two to a seat.
Q. What will be the bus schedule?
A: Transportation schedules will be communicated to parents before the start of school. Parents with questions or concerns about their child’s bus schedule may contact Dan McConnelee, Transportation Director, at email@example.com or (518) 895-8310.
Q. What about alternate bus stop requests?
A: Alternate transportation requests (i.e. Bus note to friends house) will not be allowed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Seating is limited and assigned so will not be able to facilitate extra students on a day-to-day basis.
Q. Can I drop off my child/ren in the morning, but use the bus after school?
A: Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. If your child only needs one-way transportation to or from school, please contact Dan McConnelee, Transportation Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 895-8310 with that information.
Q. Can my child be dropped off or picked up at different locations during the week?
A: This may be possible in certain cases. Please contact Dan McConnelee, Transportation Director, at email@example.com or (518) 895-8310.
Q. What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?
A: All buses that are used every day by districts and contract carriers will be cleaned/ disinfected at the end of the a.m. and p.m. shifts upon returning to the transportation facility. High-contact spots also will be wiped down between each bus run. If we have a case of COVID-19 in the district, any bus that that person has recently ridden will be pulled out of service until it has been cleaned, disinfected, and cleared to return to service in consultation with the Department of Health.
Q: Will hand sanitizer be available on the bus?
A: School buses will not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.
Q: How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?
A: Students embarking and disembarking buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent possible and wear a face covering.
Q: What supports are available for my child’s mental health needs?
A: The social emotional well-being of students and staff is a priority for the district, especially during the pandemic. To support our school community and ensure students’ social emotional learning, the district has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral and emotional needs of students, faculty and staff for when school reopens for in-person instruction.
The district has established an advisory committee that involves shared decision-making and is comprised of parents, students, school building and district leaders, teachers, certified school counselors, and other pupil personnel service providers. The committee updates the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan, which has been reviewed and updated to meet current needs.
The district will address professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff.
School staff will participate in Emotional First Aid training and other workshops focusing on the mental health and wellness of students. In addition, school opening for students will be focused on ensuring a positive transition back into the school environment and will be sharing information with them about what school will be like when they return to campus.
Q: What is the district doing to support the mental health of its staff?
A: The district provides resources and referrals to address the mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of faculty and staff.
Q. When will know school schedules and my student’s daily schedule?
A: Our principals are communicating with all parents/guardians about their children’s schedules through letters and back-to-school messages. Individual student schedules with both classroom numbers and Google Meet links are being sent home in August.
Q: Will elementary students have recess?
A: Recess is an important part of the school day and will still take place, though in smaller groups than in the past and with practical distancing and hygiene considerations. Students need not wear masks during recess. Playground equipment will be cleaned per CDC guidance.
Q: Will students still have assemblies? Field trips?
Q. Will students stay in the same classroom all day?
A: No. Students will change classes as normal.
Q: What about chorus and band?
A: Physical Education, vocal music, and band instruction require six feet of social distance spacing between individuals per NYSDOH guidelines when singing or playing wind instruments. We will also provide bell covers for wind instruments.
Q: Will athletics, clubs or extracurricular activities still be offered?
A: Interscholastic sports will be offered with appropriate modifications.
Q: Will child care be available?
A: Before-school care will be provided in the Elementary School beginning at 7 a.m. until the school day begins. This program will be staffed and run by the YMCA and will follow all aspects of the district’s reopening plan. Afterschool care will be offered for UPK students in the Elementary School. This program will be staffed and run by the YMCA and also will follow all aspects of the plan.
Technology and Connectivity
Q: What technology do we need to have at home to participate in remote learning?
A: In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. The district will continue to provide devices to students 1:1. Because the district will begin 2020-21 with a mix of remote and in-person learning, we will continue with the practice of assigning electronic devices to each student. Distribution of devices will take place on the first day of school.
Q: We do not have internet access at home. Can the school help?
A: Students requiring internet access will also be able to obtain MiFi hotspot devices when they are assigned Chromebooks on the first day of school, and families who do not have access to the internet also will be able pick these devices up at their child’s school.
To accommodate all who need these devices, we will ask families with the ability to get online not request one so there are enough for those who need them.
Q: What do we do if my child’s tablet breaks or stops working?
A: If a student’s Chromebook or other device breaks or stops working, you should immediately notify your child’s teacher or building principal so that they are aware of the situation and can direct you accordingly.
Teaching and Learning
Q. How is the district preparing for remote instruction?
A: In the event of a Full School or District Closure or quarantine: Schoolwide or districtwide closures will be communicated via OneCall Now. If a school or the district is closed, students should login to their homerooms at the normal school start time to receive additional announcements and review remote instruction schedules.
Meals and transportation will be provided to students in remote-learning situations.
Q. Is remote learning an option for families who do not want to send their child to in-person instruction?
A: Remote learning is only available for students who may be medically unable to attend school.
Q. If we choose remote learning, do we have to stay with that learning model for the whole year?
Q: How will students be held accountable for attendance and classwork?
A: There will be an expectation for daily attendance and full participation of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in-person or remote.
Q: Will remote learning be synchronous (students expected to be online at a specific time) or asynchronous (students completing work on their own schedule)? What will interactions with teachers be like?
A: Remote and in-person learning will be synchronous: they will occur at the same time.
Q: Will my child still be able to attend their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at BOCES?
A: Students will still attend Career and Technical Education or other programs through BOCES. Please see the BOCES reopening plan for more information on how CTE programs will be conducted at https://www.capitalregionboces.org/about-us/reopening-plan/.
Q: My child has a documented medical need for remote instruction, How will my child’s IEP be affected by remote learning?
A: The district’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) will develop a communication tool that explains how services might differ in remote or hybrid environments and work with parents to ensure that all student needs are met to the best of the district’s abilities. Special education teachers will monitor the progress of all students on their caseload and will communicate regularly with parents and school administrators. All special education students will be provided 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.
Q: Will my child still be transported to off-site programs?
A: Students who receive services at off-site programs will continue to be transported to them.
Q: What do I do if I have questions or need additional support for my special education student?
A: Contact Andrea Conover, Director of Special Education, firstname.lastname@example.org, (518) 895-2580, ext. 221.
Translation of reopening information
Q: How will the district provide translations of reopening information for students and families?
A: The G-Translate feature available on the district website can be used to translate the district’s reopening plan.
Q: How will instruction be provided to students who are English language learners?
A: While Duanesburg Central Schools currently has no English Language Learner students, should an ELL student move into the district, we will seek to employ an ELL-certified teacher and, if necessary, provide the student with Response to Intervention support in language arts.
Q: Will all instruction be delivered by a certified teacher?
A: 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.
Q: Will teachers and principals continue to be evaluated during this time?
A: Yes. All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the district’s approved APPR plan. Evaluations will focus on elements of the Danielson Framework for Teaching and the Multidimensional Principal Leadership Rubric that align with the unique and challenging educational environment that we will likely experience.