Reopening Plan: Teaching and Learning

The school calendar typically includes one or more Superintendent’s Conference Days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus four three in-service days prior to students’ arrival and provide  other professional learning opportunities throughout the year to support to faculty and staff in the areas of social-emotional health, technology integration and equitable practices for high-quality instruction across the models – in-person/hybrid and fully virtual. As a result of these staff development days, the first student day of the year will be Monday, Sept. 14. 

Time at the opening of the school year will also be utilized for student, parent and teacher orientation. Teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school and teaching social distancing practices at developmentally appropriate levels.  

In the in-person/hybrid learning model, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students in self-contained settings, 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. Our approach to assessments will include a blend of diagnostic, formative and summative assessments.

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, standards will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings and skills necessary for students’ success in future study. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Grading practices will be reviewed and adjusted as needed to provide students and their parents with timely feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. In a hybrid and/or fully virtual model it may be best to follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Currently we are studying the use of a five-scale grading rubric based on levels of competency/mastery, which can then be aligned to numeric bands for NHS GPA purposes.

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

In-Person/Hybrid Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social 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 will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary and middle school classrooms.

In-person instruction will include regular, substantive interactions between students and teachers, opportunities for instruction that are accessible to all students and regularly scheduled times for students to interact with and seek feedback and support from teachers.

In grades K-6, direct instruction will be provided to students everyday by their classroom teacher. The method of direct instructional delivery will rotate every other day because students are spaced out over two classrooms. Example: 

  • Monday – Direct instruction will be provided by the classroom teacher to half of a class in-person and livestreamed to the other half of the class in another location in school supervised by another faculty or staff member.
  • Tuesday – Direct instruction will be provided by the classroom teacher in-person to the half of the class that was not with the teacher in person on Monday and livestreamed to the other half of the class in another location in school supervised by another faculty or staff member.

Direct, in-person instruction and livestream instruction will continue for the two groups in this alternating day format.

The instructional program in grades 7-12 will be provided in-person to 50% of students on a rotating basis alphabetically. During the days that students in grades 7-12 are not receiving in-person instruction, they will be expected to continue their learning, complete the week’s work and respond to teacher feedback. 

Important note: At present, we do not have all grade 7-12 classrooms outfitted for livestreaming. We are exploring the possibility of doing this, which would enable students in these grades to attend live class sessions each day (at school one day and remote the next, etc.). If we are unable to outfit all of the rooms with livestreaming, we will need to go with an approach that calls for independent learning on the days when students are not at school. If we are able to fully livestream from each room, the schedules outlined below will be updated based on this. 

In-person instruction will occur as follows (times are subject to change, based on transportation): 

K-4 Monday through Friday (7:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.)

Grade 5 Monday through Friday (9:45 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.)

Grade 6 Monday through Friday (9:45 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.)

Grades 7 and 8 (9:45 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.)   

  • 50% of students A1/B1 Days (every other day)
  • 50% of students A2/B2 Days (opposite every other day)

Grades 9-12 (8:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.)

  • 50% of students A1/B1 Days (every other day)
  • 50% of students A2/B2 Days (opposite every other day)

Important note: We are outfitting all grade 7-12 classrooms for livestreaming. This will enable students to attend live class sessions each day (at school one day and remote the next, etc.),  meaning that instruction will advance daily.

 

The following tables provide visual depictions of the in-person/hybrid schedules. 

In-Person/Hybrid Model K-6

In-Person/Hybrid Schedule: Grades 7-12 (Sample Week)

screen shot of the 7-12 schedule

During the days that 7-12 students are not receiving in-person instruction, they will be expected to continue their learning, complete the week’s work and respond to teacher feedback. To ensure high-quality hybrid learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, Google Classroom in grades 3-12. Seesaw will be used in grades K-2. The district will develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. Additionally, all students K-12 will have a district email address.

K-4 students will be housed in their neighborhood elementary schools. Grades 5-8 will be housed in their neighborhood middle schools and grades 9-12 in the high school. 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) may be pushed into the classroom in grades K-8. Spaces such as gyms, cafeterias and libraries will be used for instruction. Grades 9-12 will change classrooms based on student schedules.

Screen capture of a table showing where students will attend school

Whenever possible, students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction and movement. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in strenuous physical activity, however strenuous activity will be very limited if it occurs at all. For K-5, we will be focusing on individual, core body exercises and walking activities. For grades 6-12, we will be focusing on lifelong activities/personal fitness and less team sports until restrictions are eased. Students will be unable to change clothing for physical education, thus restricting the ability to have them participate in strenuous physical activity. 

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) & Special Education Programs

Capital Region BOCES will be bringing students onsite for both CTE and special education programming. These programs have enough space to socially distance. All integrated coursework for CTE will be done online. High school AM/PM CTE programs will make allowances for students so that they can attend live instruction in the hybrid model outlined in this plan.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Remote Instruction

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, we will implement the following schedules for fully remote instruction.

In a remote instructional model, synchronous direct instruction will be provided in core content areas as well as specials and electives. As above, all instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

In grades K-5, schedules will be adjusted to balance live, direct instruction from classroom teachers via screen time and independent work time. Therefore, time allotments for K-5 virtual direct instruction are shorter than we would use for in-person direct instruction.  

Student schedules in grades 6-12 will reflect modified master schedules, so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously. Remote instruction will occur as follows: 

While 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. If remote instruction is required, teachers and administrators will work together to prepare learning materials/go-bags of resources to support learning from home.

To ensure high-quality hybrid learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, Google Classroom in grades 3-12. Seesaw will be used in grades K-2. The district will develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students. Additionally, all students K-12 will have a district email address.

Remote instruction will occur as follows: 

K-5 Monday through Friday

  • Direct instruction online with teachers (8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)
  • Student independent work, teacher office hours and extra help daily (1:00 p.m.-2:45 p.m.)

Grades 6-8 Monday through Friday

  • Direct instruction online with teachers based on student schedules (9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.).
  • Students can receive extra help and work with teachers individually and in small groups as they do when learning is in-person, by identifying times that they are available for this.

Grades 9-12 Monday through Friday

  • Direct instruction online with teachers based on student schedules (8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.).
  • Students can receive extra help and work with teachers individually and in small groups as they do when learning is in-person, by identifying times that they are available for this.

The following tables provide a depiction of the remote learning schedule outlined above. 

Tentative K-5 All Remote Learning Schedule

Daily All Virtual Grid Schedule for Elementary

All Remote Learning: Tentative Grades 6-8 Remote Learning Schedule

Screen capture of a table showing the 6-8 remote learning schedule

All Remote Learning: Tentative Grades 9-12 Remote Learning Schedule

Screenshot of a table showing the 9-12 all remote learning schedule

Opting-In/Out of Remote and In-Person Learning

Parents may choose to opt for a remote learning program if school is in-person/hybrid. There will be windows of time during which parents must notify the district via their building principal of their wish to choose a virtual model. Please note that if a family that has previously chosen an all-remote program for their child(ren) subsequently requests to return to in-person instruction, students may not be placed in their neighborhood school due to social distancing requirements and the effort to keep students in appropriately-sized cohorts.

For a September start of remote only, families must notify the district by the close of business on August 24. Families who opt for all-remote learning to start the year who would like to opt in to in-person learning can do so at the 10-week point of the year  provided that they inform the district by the 5-week point. 

It is important to note that if parents choose to opt for a remote learning program when school is offered in-person/hybrid, that program will not be the “Remote Instruction” program outlined above. If the district is operating in an in-person/hybrid format, the approach for students whose families opt for all-remote is as follows:

  • Grades K-5: Students whose families opt for all-remote learning will be part of the K-5 Virtual Academy, in classes with a dedicated teacher for all remote learners. More information about the  K-5 Virtual Academy is below.
  • For grades 6-12, students whose families opt for all-remote learning will follow their regular class schedule the same way that students attending in-person will. Classrooms will be outfitted with livestream capabilities. Based on staffing and the programmatic differences between elementary and secondary levels, K-5 is the only level that we are able to offer a virtual academy for.

About the K-5 Virtual Academy

Students in grades K-5 who will be learning entirely remotely (by family choice) will be assigned to a class with a dedicated remote learning teacher. There are clear academic benefits to a teachers’ planning and instruction being geared toward a group that is entirely virtual.

Please note the following about the K-5 Virtual Academy:

  • Students will be assigned a teacher just as those who are learning in-person are.
  • In order to make this work, some students (both in-person and remote learners) will have a different classroom teacher than previously announced.
    Virtual academy classes may include students from any or all of the five elementary schools.
  • As a result of this change, overall class sizes for some in-person sections will increase, although many have been divided into two as part of the reopening plan and cohorts will generally not be larger than 15 students.
  • Class sizes of students in the Virtual Academy will range from approx 21-27 students.
  • Families who opted for all-remote learning for their child in grades K-5 should expect to hear more details about the Virtual Academy from their school principal next week.
  • The first day of the Virtual Academy is the same as the first day for all students, Sept. 14.
  • The virtual academy will  go from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily with lunch from 11:15 a.m. to noon and time for office hours, English as a New Language instruction, Resource Room and teacher planning from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.