An Update on Planning for 2021-22

Dear Colleagues, Families, Students and Community Members,

As we begin this last week of an extraordinary year, we know that what next year will look like is on the minds of many. We want to share as much information as we have at this time in some key areas. We hope the summer provides an opportunity to relax and recharge for all. We assure you that we will provide information throughout the summer as we have it.

In terms of exactly how we will be operating next year, we don’t fully know right now. We need state guidance about the protocols that will be required to answer the questions that we all have. However, we want you to know what we are thinking about and planning at this time

In-Person Instruction

Our plan is to have all students K-12 attend school in-person every day next year. If three-feet of social distancing in classrooms is required, as currently recommended by the CDC, we believe we can accomplish this in classrooms. However, three feet of distancing on the bus and at meal times does present a challenge. Our hope is for updated guidance that provides us with the ability to have all students in person every day.

Virtual Learning

Our priority is having the ability to provide in-person learning for all students K-12. In order to do this, we will not have the capacity in Niskayuna alone to provide a virtual learning option. We also understand that some families may still prefer this. We are working with our neighboring school districts through Capital Region BOCES to explore the potential for a virtual option that is regional. We will provide more information about this if and when it is available.

School Schedules

Our preferred scenario for next year is to return the elementary and middle schools to their typical start and end times and shift the high school day later:

  • Elementary: 7:55 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
  • Middle School: 8:50 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. (as of now, music continues to take place at the high school prior to the start of the day until the capital project construction allows our new 5-6/7-8 configuration)
  • High School: 8:10 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Our ability to implement this schedule is dependent on how the state guidance related to transportation in particular is structured.

Fifth Grade

Our plan is for fifth grade students to attend their elementary school next year. The only thing that we envision that could potentially change this is if state guidance causes us to revert to the instructional model in place this year.

Transportation

All students who are eligible for and want transportation next year will be placed on a bus route. If a family chose to transport their child(ren) to school this year, that has no impact on access to transportation next year. The online Returning Student Registration form that all families complete this summer will ask if you are planning for your child to take the bus next year and those that answer no will not be scheduled for one. This information will be critical.

Masks

In New York State, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing in many settings. Under current guidelines, inside school buildings are not one of these settings right now and children under the age of 12 are not eligible for a vaccination. It remains to be seen if masks will be required next year. Under current guidance, individuals of all ages do not need to wear a mask on school grounds outside of the building.

Daily Screening

We do not know at this time if a daily health screening will be required for students and staff members.

Vaccinations

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. After you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing some things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.” The CDC currently recommends that everyone ages 12 and up get a COVID-19 vaccination. You can find a vaccination appointment near you at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/. You may also be able to get a vaccine at a retail pharmacy.

Athletics and the Performing Arts

Our expectation is that interscholastic athletics and in-person musical and drama events will take place next year. It is not yet known what parameters will apply to these events.

Other School Events (e.g. Back-to-School Night, PTO events, etc.)

We are hopeful to resume many school events in-person at school next year, yet guidance from the state and local considerations will determine what takes place and how it does.

Thank you for your attention to this information and everything that you have done to promote health, safety and learning in our school community this year. We will provide as much information as possible throughout the summer and wish you all the best.

Sincerely,

Cosimo