Reopening FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Reopening

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) will be updated and added to periodically. Do you have a question? E-mail reopening@niskyschools.org.

The more recent Questions and Answers appear at the top of each section.

Reopening Plan – General

Q: Is the district prepared to evaluate this plan and make adjustments if needed?
A: Yes. We are committed to continually reflecting on, improving and fine tuning the plan as it is implemented. In fact, putting the plan into place when school begins will be the best way to find out what works and what needs to be adjusted. We will listen to the input of our families, faculty and staff and communities and also learn from our regional partners. We also anticipate after a period of time (e.g. 2-4 weeks) reconvening reopening subcommittees to reflect on and suggest improvements for their respective work areas. We regard the plan as a “living document,” and continue to make adjustments as we move toward reopening and this will continue after Sept. 14.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: My child is a student and I am not receiving any emails from the district. Who should I contact?
A: Please contact your child’s school’s Main Office, and inform either the building principal or secretary about this. They will help facilitate a solution, which will likely include working with the IT Support Team.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Was the reopening plan approved by the State?
A: The plan meets the health, safety and instructional requirements set forth by the New York State Department of Health and New York State Education Department. Governor Cuomo said that the state was contacting schools whose plans were deemed incomplete. We have not been contacted and are proceeding with the understanding that the plan is approved and the recognition that the plan will be adjusted and fine tuned as we move forward.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What percentage of families have asked for all virtual in Niskayuna?
A: Approximately 15 percent of students will be doing all-remote learning at the request of their families. The district does not anticipate publishing the data in an ongoing manner or breaking it down further at this time.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What is the first day of school for students?
A: The first day for students is Monday, Sept. 14. This will provide time for four staff development days prior to the beginning of the student year.

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2020

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Elementary School

Q. Will we be able to see how the middle school gyms, libraries, and cafeterias will be repurposed into classrooms?
A: A video highlighting some of the various changes to school from a K-12 perspective, is being worked on currently and will be shared with all stakeholders within the next two weeks.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: When will I find out the room and “Partnering Adult” assignment for my elementary school child?
A: Our plan is to send a letter to families with this information the week of Aug. 31.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will kids be able to use playground equipment during recess?
A: Yes, but only a class or section at a time.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will 5th grade band and orchestra be offered? If so, how will tryouts work for band?
A: Elementary instrumental music recruitment (Grade 4 Orchestra and Grade 5 Band) will take place later in the school year on a date(s) to be announced. Lessons for students already enrolled in the program will begin the week of Sept. 28 through virtual instruction. Students can access these lessons outside of the school day.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Without 5th grade accelerated math, will students who were supposed to be in it automatically be placed in 6th grade accelerated math the next year?
A: At the end of 5th grade, all students are reviewed for 6th grade math placement. This has not changed from past years.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: What will the in-person K-5 students be doing from 11:15-1:15 (while the ALL remote students have no instruction from 11:15-12:45 and then independent learning/office hours/extra help from 12:45-2:10?)
A: This question appears to confuse the schedule for students who opt for all-remote learning with the schedule if all students need to learn remotely because of COVID-19 conditions. To clarify:

  • When in-person school is taking place, elementary students whose families have opted for all-remote will join their class via Google Meet for the same length of the day that the students are at school.
  • In the event that school closes due to COVID-19, all students (those who attended in-person and those in the all-remote format) will transition to the all-remote schedule with livestreaming from 8:30 to 11:15 and independent learning/office hours/extra help from 12:45-2:10.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will K-2 students need their Chromebooks if there is another school closure?
Yes, we will ultimately have a Chromebook for every student K-12 and students in all grade levels will need them if there is another school closure. The Chromebooks that we have ordered for students in grades K-4 are the touch screen devices.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: When will elementary students have recess or be able to socialize?
A: While this year will be different, students will still be able to socialize with each other in class and at other times during the day as appropriate while wearing masks and utilizing social distancing. Our plan is for elementary students to have recess each day.

Last updated Aug. 20, 2020

Q: Will elementary children be going into the same location every day even though one day they will be with a teacher and the other day they will be with a Partnering Adult at school and connecting with their teacher via livestream?
A: Yes. The students will be in the same space. The teachers will be spending time in the two rooms on alternating days.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will there be any screening and orientation for kindergarteners?
A: Kindergarten orientation is planned for Monday, Sept. 14. It will include small groups of students and families meeting with teachers outside of the school within a three hour timeframe. Please look for more details the week of Aug. 31. The first day of school for kindergarten will be Sept. 14.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Who will be the “Partnering Adult” who is with students on the days when they are not with their classroom teacher, i.e. what positions will make up the Partnering Adult?
A: The Partnering Adult could be a special area teacher (e.g. art, music, P.E.), a reading teacher, a library media specialist, or a teaching assistant. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will the Partnering Adult be certified in education?
A: Yes, to the greatest extent possible, the Partnering Adults will be certified in education. Some of them will be certified teachers and others will be teaching assistants. All will supervise and assist students and work in collaboration with the classroom teachers.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will students be with the same person on the days that they are not in-person with their teacher?
A: Yes, the plan is to have the same adult(s) assigned to the class so that students form a connection both with their teacher and any other adults who are partnering with the teacher and supporting class. There may be exceptions or specific circumstances when this is not possible all of the time. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Are elementary teachers responsible for the students in front of them, students in another room, and students at home doing virtual?
A: Yes. The teacher will be working closely with a Partnering Adult to help guide the learning of the students they are not with in-person on a given day. For families opting for remote, the elementary teachers will rely on parents to support positive behavior and help with technology. Google Classroom and Google Meets will be the hub where students will get many of their assignments and all stay connected. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Why did the district choose to have classroom teachers also be responsible for students who opt for all-remote learning rather than have a dedicated teacher for students who are in an all-remote format by choice?
A:  It’s important to note that this approach is based on what we know at this time and the need to have sufficient staff to split class sections in half to ensure social distancing. After the Aug. 24 deadline for families to let the district know if they plan to have their children in an all-remote setting, we will re-evaluate staffing needs to see if any adjustments are possible or are needed.

Q: K-6 what kind of spaces will the students who are not going to be in their classroom be in?
A: Students who are not going to be in their classroom will be in other rooms in the building including the library media center, the gymnasium and cafeteria. 

Q: How will the gym or cafeteria be set up to accommodate children?  How many classes will be in those locations? Will there be a large screen in these rooms so students are not looking at a small screen all day?
A: These locations will be set up to be as hospitable to learning and inviting as possible. In some cases there will only be one class in a large space and in other cases there will be two. There will be a large screen in these rooms for students and the partnering adult to observe instruction and interact with the teacher on the days they are not with the teacher in-person.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: When will parents find out what room their elementary students are assigned to? (e.g. classroom or gym/library, etc.)
A:This information may not be available until early September.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How will specials work at the elementary level?
A: One teacher in each area (art, music, PE) will be responsible for creating recorded lessons for students in grades K-5 to be delivered virtually in the classroom. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Why are specials provided virtually rather than in the classroom?
A: It’s important to note splitting each classroom section into two groups requires significantly more of our current staff members to be assigned to elementary class groupings. This includes our elementary K-5 special area teachers, who will be partnering with classroom teachers. In this model, we have reserved one teacher in each area (art, music, PE) to create recorded lessons for K-5 to be delivered virtually in the classroom. It is not possible for one teacher to go into 90 K-5 classrooms.   

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Was a half-day with the teacher every day for all students considered instead of alternating full days?
A: Yes. In the spring, as part of a preliminary rollout of planning for Fall 2020, the initial feedback from teachers was that a mid-day rotation would be confusing for students.  

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If one elementary teacher has a smaller number of kids who are choosing in-person in their section than the other teacher(s) at their grade level in a given school, will the classes be rebalanced?
A: Possibly. The deadline for families to inform the district if they are choosing all-virtual learning is close of business on Monday, Aug. 24. At that time, we will look at how these decisions impact our group sizes and if any adjustments need to be made.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will you allow requests to place children in the same room if they are in aftercare together or neighbors who are together outside of school to help with limiting exposure?
A: Not at this time. The reality is that we are working through significant details and logistical challenges to make this model work. We are not able to accommodate these requests and add the process that it would require into our planning.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If my child is home due to illness or injury, can they join the class via livestream?
A: If students are unable to be in school due to illness, we would like them to focus on resting and getting better rather than plugging into class remotely. If there is a longer-term illness or injury, the school will work with the parent or student on options for keeping up with school work during a long-term absence – similar to how it would have been handled in the past. Joining the livestream would be an option for this, but it is not meant to be a day-to-day decision.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will there be 5th grade accelerated math?
A: K-5 students will remain in their classroom for the duration of the day, which means that our typical approach to accelerated math, with some students moving locations to be grouped by ability, is not possible. Instead, the class sections will be a mix of students with different abilities. We will meet the needs of all students, from those who need extra support to those who would  have been in an accelerated setting in a typical year, through differentiated instruction. This generally refers to utilizing different instructional approaches and activities within a classroom based on student needs and abilities. Differentiation is not a new concept for our teachers and they are being provided with professional development in this area. Whenever we are able to return to a more traditional approach to school, our intent is to resume 5th grade accelerated math in the format that we have used in the past.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If 5th graders go to the middle schools, won’t those schools then be operating with a similar number of students as they normally have?
A: Moving 5th grade students to the middle schools allows K-6 students to attend school every day and maintains social distancing requirements. Students will remain in their classrooms, reducing movement in hallways.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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Middle School

Q: When will I get my middle school child’s schedule?
A: Even in a regular school year, middle school schedules are not disseminated until the first day of school. We anticipate that schedules may be visible on the Parent Portal during the week of September 7, but classes are subject to change as we continue to balance cohort numbers right up until the first day of school.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will 6th grade students receive world language instruction just as they do for other content areas? Is this the same for in-person as for ALL remote options?
A: Sixth grade students who are enrolled in world language courses will receive that instruction every other day, whether they are in-person or remote. This is the typical frequency for 6th grade world language. Students study world language daily when they move to grade 7.

Q: Will 7th and 8th grade students change classes, for example if they are in accelerated math or language classes?
A: To the extent that we can keep cohorts of students together, we will do so. However, there are cases that, because of individual student needs, some students will change classrooms.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How will the middle school music ensembles work?
A: Students will not report to the high school for music ensembles. Students in seventh and eighth music ensembles will meet virtually on the day that they are home for remote learning from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Students who are participating in all-remote learning will be assigned the days that they will meet with ensembles virtually from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Band and orchestra lessons will be virtual. 6th graders will participate in the virtual lesson program only. The Music Department will share detailed information about the program by September 14.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will there be an orientation for 5th and 6th graders who will both be new to the middle school building?
A: Our Middle School principals are working together and will be working with their teachers to make a plan for how we can welcome the students to school and become familiar with the building. It may not be the same as in the past, but we are working on making sure our students joining us at the middle school have the best possible experience.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will middle school students still have a world language choice and accelerated math while also staying in one classroom?
A: Our initial plan was to have all middle school students stay in their classroom for instruction without mixing different groups of students. In light of the world language choice and accelerated math program at the middle school level, as well as some special education scheduling needs, a limited number of students will need to spend some time with other cohorts of students in order to continue with these elements of the middle school program. Note: It’s not possible to do this for accelerated math for the 5th grade because of the broader-scale mixing of cohorts that it would require. This approach at sixth grade helps us provide for world language choices, continue accelerated math and meet special education Resource Room scheduling needs.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

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High School

Q: When will I get my high school child’s schedule?
A: We hope to have schedules available for students to see on the portal during the week of September 7th, but will be balancing classes right up until the first day of school so things could change.  

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will high school seniors be allowed to leave campus when they don’t have class?
A: No.  For the purposes of contact tracing, we are required to take attendance every Mod/Block of 9-12th grade students during the day. All students in grades 9-12 have been assigned to specific locations during their free blocks and lunches. They will need to go to those assigned locations and attendance will be taken.  

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: In the past, 9th grade students started school a day earlier than 10th-12th grade students so they could become a little familiar with the HS building and the location of their classes.  How will this be handled this year?
A: All 9th-12th graders will all start school on September 14.  We will have an extended homeroom on the 14th and15th so that teachers can help 9th graders understand their schedule and assist them with any questions they may have.  We are working on a “Welcome to the High School” video to show students around the high school.  We will still provide all 9th graders with the information needed for a successful transition.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How will social distancing be accomplished when high school students are changing classes?
A: Students will need to adhere to social distancing when in the hallways.  To assist them, we have put yellow tape on the floors, indicating a walking lane near the lockers, and will ask students to walk in those lanes as they move about the high school.  We have a couple of stair cases that don’t allow for 6 ft. social distancing so we will make those one way staircases. We will also dismiss students from classes in a staggered manner to assist with hallway congestion. There will be many adjustments that students will make to make in order to assist us with our social distancing plan, but we know that the students will do their part to make this work. 

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: If we have to go back to all-remote learning due to COVID-19, will art students at the high school be given art supplies to complete studies and assignments at home?
A: Remote art instruction will emphasize creative problem solving over medium-specific technique and require less specialized supplies that in-school art instruction. Advanced or AP students working on independent projects may be able to borrow supplies from the district to complete their work to the extent possible.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: If a student is learning remotely, how will they engage in classes where much of the learning is hands-on, such as science labs or ceramics?
A: Remote learning presents challenges in these areas. To accomplish this type of learning as much as possible, teachers and students will engage in physical demonstrations of certain areas of the curriculum as well as virtual simulations.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Is the daily rotation still A1-A2-B1-B2? What does this mean?
A: Currently the high school operates on an alternating A Day-B Day rotation. The A1-A2-B1-B2 means that there will be two A-Days followed by two B-Days. In the in-person/hybrid model, high school students come in every other day. On the day that students are learning from home, they are joining the class via livestream on Google Meet. (Because we have decided to livestream classes in grades 7-12 daily, instruction will advance each day compared to the original plan for an independent learning day at home.) This means that students who come in on A1 and B1 days, for example, would have an A-Day in-person, followed by an A-Day at home, followed by a B-Day in-person and a B-Day at home. This approach allows students to spend some time in-person with all of their teachers and come to school every other day, which we believe provides for a consistent connection to school at a time when not all students can be in-person every day. For a graphical, more detailed look at this, please see the sample schedule in the Reopening Plan.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: In the A1-A2-B1-B2 day schedule, will students have the same block classes two days in a row?
A: Yes. Students will attend one day in person and the next via livestream. The instruction will advance each day, as compared to the original plan for an independent learning day at home.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Where will high school students eat lunch? Will students who don’t have lunch in their schedule be able to eat in the classroom?
A: Students will be eating lunch in the gyms and cafeterias. We have not yet decided how we will handle those students who do not have lunch in their schedule, but we will establish a plan that allows them to eat.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Can HS students access the livestream on their days at home too if needed to reinforce lessons?
A: This question refers to the original plan where students would attend school one day and be at home for independent learning the next. This is no longer the plan. The daily livestreaming of all classes means that instruction and coursework will advance each day of school.

High school students will be expected to access the livestream on the alternating days. Because we have decided to livestream classes in grades 7-12 daily, instruction will advance each day and students will be expected to join the class on the days that they are home.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

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Instruction – General/Multiple Levels

Q: Will students be outside during the day?
A: Students in grades K-8 may spend time outside at the direction of their teacher. This could be for a learning activity that lends itself to spending time outdoors or for a short break at times.Please note that while students will not be permitted to remove their masks while indoors (expect when seated and eating for for specific instructional purposes), students and teachers will be able to remove masks outside provided that there is 6 feet social distancing in all directions. Students in grades 9-12 will not be outside during the day, however it’s important to note that high school students will be changing classrooms during the day while this is not the case from K-8.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will the district’s homework policy be modified?
A: In order to respond to student needs and the variability that hybrid and remote instruction brings, teachers will allow students opportunities to redo, revise and resubmit assignments within a 5-week period of time. If students in grades 6-12 need additional time at the end of a marking period, we will follow the typical (pre-COVID) process for requesting incompletes.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will K-6, students be using Google Meet/Chromebooks even on the days that they will be in class with their teacher?
A: It will depend upon the lesson and the teacher. Some learning will be done on the Chromebook as it might have at any other time. Other assignments may not lend themselves to as much technology. When students are in the room with their teacher, they wouldn’t need to be in a Google Meet to follow the instruction. However, there may be cases where Google Meet could be used for them to connect with classmates who are in the other room (not with the teacher that day) or at home.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will there be snow days this year where there is no instruction, or will those become all-remote learning days?
A: Our current plan is that days when the weather prohibits in-person attendance (i.e. “snow days”) will become remote learning days.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: What will Physical Education look like at the middle school and high school level?
A: Whenever possible, students will go outside for physical education instruction and movement. For grades 6-12, we will be focusing on lifelong activities and personal fitness. Students will be unable to change clothing for physical education, thus restricting the ability to have them participate in strenuous physical activity.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: When students are live streaming either from home or from the classroom in which the teacher is live streaming to, will the live stream be a two-way interaction?
A: Yes. Google Meets are the hub where teachers and all students connect, regardless of where they are. This is a two-way interactive platform and students can interact with and work with classmates who are connected as appropriate, based on the learning activity and direction of the teacher.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How will the music program work?
A: General music K-5 will be delivered virtually through recorded instructional modules. 

Seventh and eighth grade students in middle school ensembles will meet virtually on the days that students are home for remote learning from 8:15 to 9 a.m. We are still exploring options for sixth grade ensembles.

Music lessons for students in grades 4-12 will be delivered in virtual meetings.

High school music ensembles will meet in a similar manner to other high school courses, with students both in-person and joining remotely. Students in bands and choruses meeting in person will be spaced 12 feet apart in accordance with state guidelines. Orchestra students will be 6 feet apart.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will there be physical education (P.E.) classes? Will students need to wear a mask during P.E.?
A: Yes, there will be P.E. classes and students will be required to wear a mask.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Have you considered the sound in the larger spaces?
A: Yes, there will be conference mics set up every classroom, including the larger spaces that will house students. Setups in gyms will vary based on the specific ways that the space will be used, and there will be times where students will need to use their headphones to best hear any livestream instruction.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How will teachers in K-6 effectively be able to teach to three audiences (students in front of them, students livestreaming from the other classroom, and students livestreaming from home)?
A: We recognize that this is a challenge, but we also know that our teachers are educational professionals who can make this work for students. Google Classroom and Google Meets will be the hub where students will get many of their assignments and all stay connected. We will be providing a video tour of the technology in the near future as well as ongoing professional development in both the technology and the approaches to teaching students in multiple locations. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will students in-person also be livestreamed? Will students at home “see” students sitting in the classroom? Are there any confidentiality concerns?
A: Depending on the day, the activity, and how the teacher is approaching instruction, students may see students in the classroom and are likely to be interacting with them at various times. The latest legal advice we have is that given that these are class meetings that we are not recording and posting for all to see, this is a reasonable approach that does not violate any confidentiality considerations.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How will teachers differentiate instruction for students who need to catch up and students who moved further?
A: As we return to school, teachers will use a combination of diagnostic and formative assessments to identify and address gaps. Diagnostic assessments include NWEA for ELA in grades 3-11, 3-8 in math, and targeted probes and pre-assessments. Formative assessments include exit tickets, quizzes and checklists and typically occur during the learning process to inform instruction. Teachers are versed in differentiating instruction to meet varied student needs and we will continue to support this.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Are the teachers going to wear their masks when teaching? Are you concerned  that students in the room and on a Google Meet will not be able to hear them?
A: Yes. All classrooms will be outfitted with conference room mics, which should help ensure that students can hear their teachers. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will students be able to use paper or will everything be online?
A: It depends upon the goals of the particular instruction that is taking place and the learning activity. There is certainly value in variety, but we also want to make sure that we are engaging students and thinking carefully about when we use paper and pen when the technology is available, especially in the older grades.

Last updated Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What are students in grades 7-12 doing on the days when they are not at school in-person?
A: All grades 7-12 classrooms will be outfitted with livestream technology. This will allow instruction to advance every day. On the days students are at home, they will join the class remotely. There are no longer independent learning days at home, which  were in the original plan but  are no longer needed due to the daily livestreaming.

Last updated Aug. 18, 2020

Q: In grades K-6, can I only send my child to school on days that they will receive in-person instruction with their teacher (in the room) and have them watch the livestream at home on the alternate days when they would be watching it in school?
A: We are offering an in-person/hybrid model and an option for all-remote learning that families can choose. The benefit of being in school are all of the interactions that can take place with teachers, other adults and classmates. The goal of any class group, in any year, is for students to form a connection with each other, learn together and grow as individuals and a group. Our goal is to create a learning community and a learning community has to be together in a consistent format to thrive. Being at school also provides access to and opportunities for a variety of services such as in-person meetings with mental health professionals, the school nurse, and school meals. Our plan also provides for proximity between a teacher and all of their students that has benefits. For these reasons, we are not offering an option for students to attend in-person only on days that they are in the room with their teacher.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will livestreams be two-ways, i.e. will teachers and students be able to interact when students are joining remotely?
A: Yes. This is an interactive medium. Students who are joining a class stream, whether from another room at school (K-6) or at home, are joining a class meeting where they can interact with their teacher and others.

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2020

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Student Support & Special Education

Q: How do students receiving special education services meet with their teachers if they can’t move classes in middle school?
A: To the extent that we can keep cohorts of students together, we will do so. However, there are cases that, because of individual student needs, some students will change classrooms.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How will students receive special education services at the high school?
A: Students will receive consultant teacher services and resource room in school the same way they have in the past. When working remotely the students will be able to engage with their special education teachers virtually.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: What happens if a student needs teacher assistant support based on their Individualized Learning Plan? Will that TA possibly have been reassigned to be with an elementary group on the day it is not with their teacher?
A: Individual needs are being considered when assigning teaching assistants. If a student has a ratio TA or is in a special class program, the TA support will remain as is written on the IEP. If a student is in a smaller cohort of students where the adult/student ratio is already lessened and small group work built into the day, additional TA support may not be necessary.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: There is generally a shortage of social workers and counselors. Is this an issue in our district? Do we have the capacity to provide the mental health support our students need?

A: We are building time for Social Emotional Learning into our everyday schedule to support all students. Social emotional needs will be met with counselors, social workers, psychologists, teachers and teaching assistants. Our school district now has more mental health professionals on staff than ever before, including a dedicated social worker at each elementary and middle school and two social workers at the high school, along with a school-based mental health clinic.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will students receive related services such as speech and physical and occupational therapy both in-person and in a remote setting?
A: Yes, we plan to provide related services in the frequency and duration outlined in each student’s IEP.  Speech and language services, OT/PT and counseling may be delivered in person or virtually.  Service schedules and groupings will depend on available physical space, student instructional schedules (i.e. in-person/hybrid and fully remote), staffing assignments and overall student numbers within applicable cohorts.  

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will Academic Intervention Services (AIS) be provided both in-person and in an all-remote setting?
A: For students returning in the in-person/hybrid model, K-8 AIS will be provided within the classroom by classroom teachers via smaller class sizes, increased individualized support and differentiated instruction. 9-12 students will be scheduled in AIS following the Master Schedule.

For the all-remote model, AIS will be provided via both live instructional Meets with reading teachers and as part of classroom teachers’ instructional Meets.

Our scheduling teams are still working through how AIS might be provided to students who have opted for remote learning. After the Aug. 24 deadline for families to inform the district if they are opting for all-remote learning, we will know more about student AIS needs and staffing options.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

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All-Remote Learning Option

Q: How will attendance be taken for students whose families have opted for all-remote learning?
A: We will be taking attendance on a daily basis for all students who are on site and who are joining us from remote locations.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: If I chose to keep my elementary-age child home for all-remote learning, how long will they be expected to sit in front of the Chromebook?
A: This depends on the day, the learning, and the teacher. However, it will not be the entire school day start to finish. There will be short breaks, a lunch break, recess, as well as times that all students may be spending time reading or practicing that lend themselves to turning off the Chromebook or not needing to look at it for a period.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will students who are in an all-remote format have any opportunity to meet their teachers in-person?
A: Kindergarten students and parents will have this opportunity at their orientation on September 14. Students in grades 1-12 may have this opportunity in the future. Details will follow as planning continues and if this is feasible.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How do we inform the district of our decision to opt for all-remote learning?
A: If you indicated that you would not be sending your child to school on the Returning Student Registration form, you do not need to do anything more. If you said you would be sending your child to school on the form  and are now planning to opt for all-remote, please contact Christine Perrella in the Office of Instruction, cperrella@niskyschools.org or (518) 377-4666 x 50703. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: For families who choose all-remote learning, is the option to opt in after the first 10 weeks still an option?
A: Yes. Families who would like to begin in-person/hybrid learning at the 10-week mark should inform the district by the 5-week mark.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What is the process for opting into all-remote if a family starts the year in-person? Do the same time frames for notifying the district apply?
A: A family who starts the year in in-person/hybrid learning can opt for all-remote learning at any time. They will need to let their school principal know of this choice. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If a student opts for all-remote learning, does that mean they will have the same schedule as if they were in the in-person/hybrid model? They would just be live streaming with their class, correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If an elementary student’s family is opting for all-remote learning and then the whole district moves to all-remote learning, how will the schedule differ? Will it still be 7:55 – 1:15 or does it follow the 8:30-11:15 schedule?
A: Students whose families are opting for all-remote learning are following the schedule of those doing in-person/hybrid learning and connecting to school via livestream. If the decision needs to be made to go to all-remote learning for all students, then all students would follow the same schedule, which for elementary students was modified for 8:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. virtual class meetings. For a graphical, more detailed look at this, please see the sample schedule in the Reopening Plan.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If parents of elementary students opt for all-remote learning and then decide they are comfortable with the kids moving to in school learning, will they be with their regularly assigned teacher?
A: That would be ideal, but because we are taking care to manage the size of class groups, it cannot be guaranteed that students would be in-person with the same teacher. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will students whose families are opting for an all-remote format be considered part of the class and able to interact with the teacher and classmates?
A: Yes. Google Meets are the hub where teachers and all students connect, regardless of where they are. This is a two-way interactive platform and students can interact with and work with classmates who are connected as appropriate based on the learning activity and direction of the teacher.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Parents can choose by week 5 to let kids do in-class learning (implemented at week 10). Will there be a second option to change the learning plan or is that first decision window the only available decision opportunity?
A: Yes. Our plan at the current time is to follow this similar 5-week/10-week timeframe for each marking period. We will announce the precise dates in the near future.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What is the status of the remote learning option for families? Has the district decided which model students will use if their families decide that they will engage in remote learning only?
A: For grades K-6, students whose families opt for all-remote learning will join class meetings via the same livestream as the group of students who are not with their teacher on a given day. The classroom teacher will be teaching to students in the room, students in another room in the school and any students in the class whose families have opted for remote-only learning. For grades 7-12, students whose families opt for all-remote learning will follow their course schedule the same way that students attending in-person will.

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2020

Q: What is the deadline to notify the district that my family is opting for all-remote learning?
A: The deadline is close of business on Monday, August 24. If you are opting for all-remote learning, please contact Christine Perrella in the Office of Instruction at cperrella@niskyschools.org or (518) 377-4666 x50703.

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2020

Q: If a family chooses an all-remote format, can they opt in to the in-person/hybrid program?
A: Yes, but only at designated intervals. Families who choose the all-remote option who would like to switch to the in-person/hybrid format will be able to do so at the 10-week point provided they notify the Office of Instruction by the fifth week of the marking period.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If a family chooses to participate in the in-person/hybrid model, can they choose the all-remote format at any time?
A: Yes. Going from in-person to remote can take place at any time. If you are opting for all-remote learning, please contact Christine Perrella in the Office of Instruction at cperrella@niskyschools.org or (518) 377-4666 x50703. Please note that once you opt for all-remote learning, you cannot opt back to in-person learning until a designated time frame.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

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COVID Protocols

Q: If a student feels ill during the day and is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, what should they do?
A: Each building has a designated isolation room/area for students and staff who have COVID symptoms while at school. This is a separate area from the school nurses office. Students should go to this isolation area. The decision on whether they need an escort or not will depend on their condition and their age/level of responsibility. Teachers will arrange for an escort if needed. If a student is not feeling well, but does not have COVID symptoms, they should go to the nurse. We will talk about these procedures with students in an age-appropriate manner as the year begins.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: What conditions will result in a school closure?
A: If the COVID infection rate reaches the threshold set by the Governor for the region, we could expect that school will be closed. There may be other times that a school, schools or the district may need to be closed. It’s not possible to establish a set criteria for when a closure would be needed because we know from our public health partners that every situation is different. If needed, we will consult with the applicable county public health department (our schools serve students in 3 counties) and will not make any decisions about closing school without the guidance from our public health partners. We also note the possibility that on any given day we could be short staff and need to be closed due to a variety of circumstances. If we need to close a school or alter the schedule in this event, we will follow the same protocols that we use on a snow day – Media/TV, text messages, e-mails and the website. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q:  Is the school district conducting COVID testing of either teachers and staff or students?
A: The school district is not conducting testing of any students or staff members. Testing for any infection is not within the purview of the school district. Instead, we will work closely with and share information from the state and local public health departments in any situation that requires it. If an individual presents with COVID-like symptoms, we will refer them to their family physician and the local health department for follow-up, potentially including information about testing. The New York State Department of Health website contains a searchable directory of test sites in the state and notes that tests conducted at state testing sites are free of charge.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What will the process be for return to school if a child is sent home due to symptoms, e.g. fever, cough. Will a child need to be tested before return or will it be based on improvement of symptoms?
A: Students who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 will be referred to their family physician. The doctor is in the best position to decide the next steps, including whether a COVID test is needed. We are continuing to work with public health partners and the school medical director to decide what protocols we can and should put in place in terms of clearing students to return to school.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What will be the protocol if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case among a student or staff member in a school?
A: We will coordinate with the applicable county public health department (our schools serve students in 3 counties) in the event that a student or staff member is confirmed to have a case of COVID-19. Notification, contact tracing and testing would all take place based on the guidance of public health authorities. We recognize the desire for information about exactly what would happen in the event of a confirmed case, but our public health partners tell us that the steps to be followed vary based on the facts of a given situation. Our public health partners now have months of experience with contacting people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. We trust their expertise and know that keeping the community safe is their highest priority.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

Q: What happens if a student or family member becomes ill and must be quarantined? Will they automatically become part of the all-remote option? Will they be able to return to on-site learning when the quarantine is over?
A: Students will be able to join the virtual class meetings from home following the same schedule as students whose families have opted for all-remote learning. Following the quarantine period, our expectation is that a student would return to school although we expect to have more detailed protocols for this process in place.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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Health Screening

Q: How will the daily temperature checks of students be conducted?
A: The daily health screening includes a temperature check for students and staff daily. Anyone with a temperature of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or more will not be able to come to school. We are using an application through a company called EdVista for this. The system will send parents an email daily with a link for each of their students to complete the screening. Consistent with state guidance, we are strongly encouraging families to conduct this temperature check and complete the health screening at home prior to coming to school each day. Additional details about this application with instructions for how to complete it will be provided prior to the start of school.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Is it possible to screen students and staff at the school to be sure they do not have a temperature 100.0°F or greater and/or symptoms of COVID-19?
A: At this time, our plan is for families and students and staff to conduct this screening at home. It would be a significant logistical challenge to conduct the temperature screening at school. The app that we are using to facilitate the screening for students and staff members syncs with our   management systems and will allow us to run daily reports of those who have not attested that they, or their child’s, temperature is less than 100.0°F.  This will allow us to screen those individuals in the morning.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How long does the health screening take?
A: It should take less than 5 minutes the first time. As with any process, it will become faster as families become more familiar with it.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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Childcare

Q: What options will families have who need to work earlier than the school day or after the day ends?
A. We are currently working with our partners at the Schenectady JCC to explore options for childcare within the district. More information will be provided as soon as it is available. You can find other childcare resources in the region on this page: https://www.niskayunaschools.org/childcare-school-reopening/. Please contact the provider of your choice.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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Transportation, Pickup & Dropoff

Q: When will I get the bus schedule for my child?
A: At this time, we anticipate bus schedules being available the week of Sept. 8.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will traffic flow be adjusted at the schools to accommodate for increased parent drop-offs and pickups? When will this information be available?
A: Yes, this will take place if needed and will be school-specific. If any modifications to traffic patterns are needed, this information would be available the week Sept. 8, sooner if possible.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will a student who needs daily transportation to an outside district (e.g. Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical Centers) be provided with these transport services?
A: Yes. More specific information will be provided when bus schedules are available, which is anticipated for the week of Sept. 8.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: If the high school or the entire district closer go virtual, will transportation to Career & Technical Education (CTE) centers or the Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen be available?
A: It is difficult to answer this question with absolute certainty because a situation in which the district needs to go all virtual could impact available staffing for this or schedules in other districts. However, if the high school or district were closed and we had the ability to continue to transport students to CTE centers or other programs, it would be our intention to do so.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How do we inform the district of our decision to not take the bus?
A: If you indicated that you would not be using district transportation on the Returning Student Registration form, you do not need to do anything more. A bus will not be scheduled for your child.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: I said that my child would not be taking the bus on Returning Student Registration, but we will need a bus some days.
A: Please contact Transportation Director Mary Mabb  at mary.mabb@neric.org or (518) 370-0160 so that we can make sure your child is included on a bus route.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If I indicated that we will be using district transportation on Returning Student Registration, do I need to do anything else? What if I change my and plan to transport my child at all times?
A: If you indicated that you will be using district transportation on the Returning Student Registration form and that is still your plan. If your plans have changed and you do not plan for your family to utilize district transportation at all, please contact Transportation Director Mary Mabb  at mary.mabb@neric.org or (518) 370-0160. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: I am preparing to drop off/pick up my kindergartener instead of having him on the bus.  Since parents are not allowed to get out of their cars, how will my child know where to go? During pick up, how will they know I am there?
A: We are continuing to work on our pickup and dropoff protocols with safety as our number one priority. Once plans are in place for each building they will be communicated clearly to all families and we will work with our students on them at the beginning of the year. 

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What will be done to control traffic at schools given the likelihood of a greater number of families dropping children off at school and picking them up?
A: We are continuing to work on traffic control measures at arrival and dismissal times with safety as our number one priority. Once plans are in place for each building they will be communicated clearly to all families.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: How will buses be disinfected?
A: Buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily. High contact surfaces will be wiped down after the morning and afternoon runs by drivers. Spray gun stations will be established at the bus garage for full disinfecting of all inside areas of the bus and will be performed on a regular schedule.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will there be aides on buses to ensure social distancing and help with other needs?
A: There will not be aides on buses unless one is required by a student’s individualized education plan (IEP).

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What is the process for opting out of transportation? What else should I be aware of in terms of transportation?
A. Students in families who indicated on the Returning Student Registration form that they will not be using district transportation will not be scheduled for a bus. If you indicated that you will not be using district transportation and your situation changes and you now need a bus, please contact Transportation Director Mary Mabb at mary.mabb@neric.org. Additionally, please note that there can only be one pickup and one dropoff location for each student. (These pickup and dropoff locations can be different, such as when a student is picked up at home in the morning and goes to another location after school each day.) At least one week notice is required for all transportation changes.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

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Facilities

Q: Has the ventilation system been inspected/rated to make sure it is effectively moving  air in order to mitigate the possibility of virus transmission?
The district maintenance staff along with Johnson Controls and Technical Building Services have been working on air handling units on all buildings this summer. All necessary repairs and preventive maintenance is being done. This has included new belts, motors, controllers, bearings and drives depending on the specific unit.

More Information: School Ventilation Systems Q&A

Last Update: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: What rating of air filters are used? Are MERV-13 filters used?
A: The majority of air handlers in the district are designed to use a MERV-8 filter. Increasing the density of the filter (MERV-13) in these units will actually decrease the amount of air flow. The increase in pressure from the motor trying to move a specific volume of air through a denser filter will cause the motor to work harder, run hotter and eventually fail. Failure of a ventilation unit is not something that we want to risk at any point, especially this year.

More Information: School Ventilation Systems Q&A

Last Update: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How is air flow, quality and filtration being managed?
A: Our ventilation systems are maintained on a regular basis by trained staff as well as mechanical contractors in conjunction with our architect. The maintenance staff is currently checking all air units to ensure that they are properly functioning. We currently have our contractor performing routine maintenance on all of our large air handlers. They are also in the process of determining which units if any can accept higher MERV filters without causing restriction in air flow and damage to the unit itself. All of our air units are controlled by a building management system that is readily accessible by all maintenance staff and that can be adjusted as needed. This system will be monitored hourly to maintain proper air flow. Whenever possible, windows and doors will be opened to allow for the inflow of natural air, while also following state safety guidelines related to opening windows and doors. Additionally, when temperatures are above 45°F, school buses will transport passengers with roof hatches and /or windows slightly opened to provide air flow.

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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PPE, Social Distancing, Safety & Hygiene

Q. Are there any types of masks that are not allowed?

A. At this time, the only type of mask or face covering that is not acceptable in the district are the masks with exhalation valves. The reason is that these types of masks protect the individual wearing them but do not offer protection to those who are around these individuals. There has been some discussion raised about the single-ply gaiter-style face coverings. It is impossible to tell visually if any face covering is single ply or not, so gaiters are allowed at this time. Our position continues to be that rather than policing different types of masks, our efforts are better focused on making it clear that the standard is a mask or face covering will be worn at all times.

Last Updated: Sept. 22, 2020

Q. Are there situations in which a mask might not be worn?

A. There are limited situations when a mask might not be worn in school or on school grounds. For example, when students or staff members are seated, socially distanced from others and eating, they may remove their masks. Students and staff members may remove their masks when outdoors and social distance from others can be ensured, as in the case of short, teacher-directed mask breaks. Individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented medical condition will be provided with a face shield to be worn. It is also acceptable for individuals to remove masks in situations when they are alone and/or clearly not within any proximity to another individual. When another person enters the room or the physical space, all individuals should wear masks.

Last Updated: Sept. 22, 2020

Q. Do students need to wear a mask at recess?

A. Yes, due to the level of movement and activity, it is not possible to ensure that students are 6 feet apart or more throughout recess. Masks must be worn.

Last Updated: Sept. 22, 2020

Q: Will the district define what an acceptable face covering is?
A: No. All students and staff will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times except  those very limited situations that have been discussed. The district does not have the capacity to continually check whether a particular face covering is approved for or to enforce situations where it might not be deemed “acceptable.” We believe that as a community, our efforts are better focused on making it clear that the standard is a mask or face covering will be worn at all times, and we believe that we will best achieve compliance by keeping it that simple.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will plexiglass shields be installed in buildings?
A: Clear protective barriers similar to what you see in local stores and businesses will be installed in offices and other high traffic areas, but not in classrooms. Students, teachers and staff in classrooms will be wearing masks and socially distanced.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will pediatric size masks be available for elementary aged students?
A: Yes.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Are masks required or recommended?
A: Masks or face coverings are required. There are only two times that masks will be permitted to be removed: When individuals are eating (seated and socially distanced) and for specific instructional purposes at the direction of the teacher.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: If a mask is required at all times except for eating, why are class sizes being reduced? Aren’t masks to be used when you can’t social distance?
Social distancing to the greatest extent possible is required by the New York State Department of Health’s Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at PreK-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Pandemic (7/13/20). The guidance states, “Specifically, appropriate PPE means, at least, an acceptable face covering, which is strongly recommended to be worn by all individuals at all times but is required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing.”

Last updated Aug. 11, 2020

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Technology & Chromebooks

Q: Will all students have access to a district-issued Chromebook this year? 

A: Yes. We have procured one Chromebook for each student K-12. More specific information about how this will work at various grade levels will be provided in the coming weeks.
Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: What is the process to obtain Chromebooks?
A: This information will be shared in the coming weeks.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Q: Will families who opt for all-remote be able to obtain a district Chromebook?
A: Yes.

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Food Services

Q: Will meals be available to students who are in an all-remote learning format?
Yes, meals will be available to all. Students who are eligible for free and reduced price meals will be able to receive them. We will be sharing information on the website and through School Messenger about how students can receive meals if they are in an all-remote learning format, including those who need to preload money on our payment system.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will meals be available to grades 7-12 students on the days they are learning at home?
A: Yes. Information will be posted on the district website about the pickup day and time.  

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will a hot lunch be served?
A: On some days a hot lunch will be served.  

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will peanuts and treenuts be allowed for lunch?
A: No. Because of allergies and the fact that students will be eating in their classrooms (K-8) and peanuts and treenuts will not be served and students will not be able to bring them in. The high school has been largely peanut and treenut-free for the past few years.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Athletics & Extracurricular Activities

Q: What is the status of fall sports? Has it been decided that some sports are happening based on the Governor’s announcement?
A: The Governor has announced that certain “low-risk” sports such as tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey and swimming can begin on Sept. 21. Football and Volleyball were cleared for training but not matches and games at this time.  We are working with our partners in Section 2 and the Suburban Council as well as the district to answer questions and develop the necessary guidelines that will apply to sports. While the Governor has given the go-ahead, we have some work to do before we can say how interscholastic athletics will proceed. We are engaged in this work and will keep our community updated. 

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: If a student has opted for all-remote learning, can they still participate in interscholastic sports?
A: Yes. 

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will transportation be provided from home to school for practices and games for students who have either opted for all-remote learning or who are home for remote learning (i.e. on the alternating day they are not at school)?
A: This is one of the issues that needs to be worked out. We recognize that not all students would have transportation, but at the same time, getting students to and from school for the academic day must be our top priority as it relates to our transportation resources.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: Will the district provide transportation from the middle schools to the high school if a student is participating in JV or Varsity athletics?
A: This is another issue that needs to be worked out. We recognize this need, but also have to recognize that getting students to and from school for the academic day must be our top priority as it relates to our transportation resources.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020

Q: How will club meetings be conducted?
A: We recognize the value that clubs play in the lives of our students and want this to continue to the greatest extent possible this year. Due to safety precautions, student clubs will be meeting virtually and we will be encouraging this. There will not be any club homerooms this year.

Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2020