Communication/Family and Community Engagement

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COVID-19 Transparency & Notification Protocols

The Duanesburg Central School District is committed to as much transparency and information sharing as possible with regard to COVID-19 in our school community. We want to share information about how the community would be informed if there is a positive case. We also want to share information about how cases are reported on the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Report Card.

If you have any questions about these or any other COVID-19 procedures, please contact Elementary School Nurse Amber Lounsbury alounsbury@duanesburg.org, Jr./Sr. High School Nurse Stephanie Yauchler syauchler@duanesburg.org, or Superintendent James Niedermeier jniedermeier@duanesburg.org.

Notifying our Community of Positive Case

In the event of a positive case among Duanesburg Central School District students or staff members, we will issue an email notification to all employees and to all families district-wide via One Call Now. We will also post the information on our website.

Our notification to families will indicate which school the individual is connected to. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws restrict the district from disclosing or confirming any personally identifiable information and we cannot identify anyone who has tested positive.

We are committed to keeping you informed while also respecting the federal and state laws that prohibit the release of confidential medical information. It is the role of Schenectady County Public Health Services to contact individuals who were potentially exposed and should be tested. The public health department will reach out to all contacts of an individual confirmed to have COVID-19 and advise on the need to quarantine and arrange testing for those exposed.

We will not issue any COVID-19 notifications until we have received confirmation from a county public health department.

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Report Card

The New York State DOH has launched an online COVID-19 Report Card that provides information about cases connected to schools and higher education institutions. All schools in New York state, including Duanesburg, submit information daily to the state for this report card, or “dashboard.”

It is important to note that in addition to school districts, COVID-19 cases are also being reported to the state directly by labs. For this reason, there could be a case reported on the dashboard that either the district is unaware of or has not yet been verified with us by the county department of public health. Labs report cases by student address, which means a case involving a student who does not attend a district school (e.g. a home school, private or parochial school student), could appear in the district’s dashboard in a column titled, “Lab Reported Positives based on Residential Address.”

Additionally, DCS may be required to report a “presumptive positive” case. These cases could include a member of our community who has a) elected not to take a test and, instead, follow self-quarantining procedures, b) not received results within 48 hours of taking a test, or c) is unwilling to share pertinent symptoms with school health staff.

We continue to emphasize that we will notify our community directly once we receive confirmation from the county health department of a student or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19.


School Closures

The district is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.

We will collaborate with the Schenectady County Department of Health regarding the identification of early warning signs  such as increased absenteeism or increased illness that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult the Schenectady Department of Health when making such decisions.  

School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. Educational programming and school operations remotely will continue if  closing the school district should be deemed necessary. 

If, after consultation with the Schenectady County Department of Health, school closure is deemed necessary, the district will notify all parents as soon as possible via OneCall Now so that they may make alternative arrangements for the care of their children. 


Communication & Reopening Plan Development

To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations. 

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at https://www.duanesburg.org/duanesburg-csd-reopening-plan-for-2021/, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature that is being added to the district website. 

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district 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.

The district is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely on the dedicated reopening/COVID-19 webpage, One Call Now school messaging system, email, superintendent’s virtual forums, school-specific communications from principals to parents/guardians, notices posted in each school and office areas, and in-person and virtual meetings to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance, county health department guidance and the work of the district’s reopening committee.

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 we 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.

At this time, students requiring internet access will also be able to obtain mifi hotspot devices. 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. Families who do not have access to the internet will be able pick these devices up at their child’s school.

The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, phone, and Google Meet.

The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. Individual student schedules will be sent in August.

The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. Students receiving special education services will receive services equivalent to those they may be familiar with. Whenever possible, these services will be delivered in the student’s preferred mode of communication.  

In addition, the district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. 

The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove)
  • Social distancing
  • Respiratory hygiene
  • Identifying symptoms 

The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas: 

  • Staying home if feeling sick
  • Cough/sneezing etiquette
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
  • Hand washing
  • Adherence to social distancing instructions
  • Symptoms/prevention/reporting  of COVID-19

In addition to signage, the district will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as videos and in class presentations. 

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.