VIDEO- Returning to School – Early August Update

Planning continues for a full-return to in-person learning K-12

August 3, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

As August begins, we know that many of you are wondering what the new school year will look like. The COVID-19 situation remains highly fluid and while we do not have much definitive information, we want to let you know what we are planning for and anticipating in some key areas. We are planning for a full return to in-person learning K-12. We continue to work with other school districts across the region and our public health partners to be sure we do this in the safest way possible.

Thank you for your attention to the information below. You can be sure that we will continue to provide you with as much information as needed as the school year approaches.

Mask-Wearing and Social Distancing

Based on the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), we know there is a strong likelihood that all individuals will be required to wear masks in school and on buses as the year begins. Our plan is to observe 3-feet social distancing when people are masked and 6-feet social distancing at times when mask wearing is not possible (e.g. when eating) to the greatest extent possible. We expect to learn more about other health and safety protocols in the near future and will communicate all of the necessary information as soon as possible.

Regional Virtual Learning Options

We are working with our regional school partners on a fully remote K-12 program for families who may wish to consider that option for medical reasons. In July, we surveyed K-6 families about interest in this and will follow-up with those who responded as soon as more information is available. In the near future we expect to be gathering information from families of students in grades 7-12 who are interested in a fully remote option for medical reasons.

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 for 2020-21, that has no impact on access to transportation next year. If you do plan to bring your child to and from school that would again be helpful, but that is up to the family of students eligible for transportation. The Returning Student Registration form that we are asking all families to complete by the end of this week asks if you are planning for your child to take the bus next year and those that answer no will not be scheduled for one. Please help us plan by filling out the form.

Vaccinations

We continue to encourage all who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to get one. COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective and free. 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.

School Start Times/Schedules

We plan to return the elementary and middle schools to their typical start and end times next year. As announced to high school families last week, we are shifting the Niskayuna High School start and end times later, as outlined below.

  • Elementary: 7:55 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
  • Middle School: 8:50 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • High School: 8:40 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Fifth Grade

Our plan is to have fifth grade students attend their elementary school and not a middle school as they did last year.

Athletics & Music

We recognize that there are many questions about athletics and music in particular. Our goal remains to maximize these and other student activities in a safe manner and we will be working with our regional school and public health partners to do so. As soon as we have more information about protocols related to athletics and music, we will share them.

In closing, while this remains a time of uncertainty, there is no doubt in my mind that the 2021-22 school year will be a successful one. Working together, I know we will do everything it takes to promote health, safety and learning. Please stay tuned for more information throughout this month.

Sincerely,

Cosimo