School 2020 Reopening FAQs
The page will be revised as we receive the latest information from the New York State Department of Health and New York State Education of Department. The latest and updated questions/answers are in red.
Commonly Asked Learning Model Questions
Q: Why can’t the district bring more students in for in-person learning?
A: The key factor in determining the number of students who can come to our schools at any given time is the requirement for 6’ (six feet) social distancing from the State of New York and Department of Health as a preventative measure for the spread of COVID-19.
In order to provide adequate spacing between students in classrooms and areas such as cafeterias, it was necessary to divide our students into two cohorts that come to school on alternating days.
Where/when possible, we have been able to have certain groups of students come in more frequently. These groups include Pre-K and our special education students with the highest level of need. Most recently, we will be increasing in-person time for our Special Education Integrated Co-teach students in grade 3 as well as Kindergarten students to four days.
Q: Why were you able to increase the amount of in-person time for these groups and not others?
A: In addition to space in common areas, such as cafeterias, there are generally two variables: classroom space and staffing requirements.
For Pre-K, we were fortunate to have the existing rooms and staffing to be able to split the sections in half and allow for adequate distancing in the pre-k classrooms.
For our special education students with the highest level of need, these classes tend to be smaller in number and thus allow for the required distancing in classrooms.
For Kindergarten students, we began the school year with smaller class sizes than in grades 1-5. This fact, combined with the number of families/students choosing remote learning allowed for us to accommodate the additional students in the classroom and number of days of in-person instruction. However, the ability to maintain this increase is highly dependent on families maintaining their commitment to the remote option.
Q: My child has very few in-person students in their class. If so many students are choosing remote, why can’t more kids come to school in person?
A: The number of families/students choosing the remote option has fluctuated and continues to fluctuate. We have had a high of 33% opting for remote and a low of 24.5%. The current percentage is 30%. There have been over 700 requests for changes since the opening of school. In addition, numbers differ from class to class, grade to grade, course to course, and school to school.
Q: Why can’t one teacher be assigned to teach all of the remote students?
A: As noted above, the number of students choosing remote has fluctuated greatly throughout the first two months of school. Although it might work out that there is the exact number required to dedicate a classroom teacher for remote learning at a particular grade level in a particular school, there are wide variations within buildings and throughout the district. Even if remote numbers held steady, it would be inappropriate to provide this model at one grade level or for one building if we were unable to provide it for all. Doing so for subject-specific classes in grades 6-12 is not practical due to certification and training requirements.
Hiring and assigning an additional teacher at each grade level in each K-5 school solely for this purpose would require approximately 25-30 additional teachers, which equates to approximately $2.5 to $3 million in unbudgeted costs.
Q: Why didn’t you use the middle schools and high schools to house additional K-5 class sections?
A: Early on, the District made the decision not to expand the K-5 classrooms into the secondary buildings at the expense of those students in grades 6-12. Even with expanded space, additional staffing such as teacher aides or teaching assistants would be required to guide and supervise students opposite the teacher’s time in the classroom. Additional staffing costs are estimated at $1.25 million. In addition, this would fragment the school community into multiple sites, requiring duplication of supplies and equipment as well as services in areas such as administration and support services.
Q: Other school districts are bringing their K-5 students in; why can’t we?
A: Each school district has a unique set of variables and characteristics that allow for different approaches and possibilities. Examples of variables include the total number of students at each grade level, number of buildings, smaller class size, shared K-8 and/or 6-12 buildings, contractual requirements, transportation systems, etc. Lakeland has some favorable features that other districts do not have and vice versa.
Q: Why can’t we eliminate the Flex Day and have students come in more often?
A: As a reminder, the original learning plan called for Wednesdays to be completely asynchronous (not live). However, we received feedback from families, saw the value in having an additional day of synchronous (live) instruction, and made that change. The Hybrid learning environment is incredibly challenging for teachers, and in order to provide a high quality hybrid learning model, our teachers need time to plan, time to collaborate, and time to engage in professional learning and make adjustments to their practice. Flex Wednesdays provide a small window of opportunity for teachers to talk to one another, collaborate on lesson planning, and become better at their craft.
Flex Wednesdays are the only days on which all students are engaged in the same model of learning. This provides a consistent and unique opportunity for whole-class instruction and atmosphere.
In addition, Flex Wednesdays provide an additional opportunity for thorough cleaning and sanitizing of our buildings. Additionally, these days have provided a buffer day which has been helpful when we have had positive COVID cases and needed to conduct contact tracing.
There is no current plan to eliminate the Flex Day.Social Distancing and Face Coverings
Wearing a mask and maintaining social distance not only protects you but everyone around you.
Pediatricians Answer Top 10 Questions Regarding Face Masks in Children
A: Chapter 2 of the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics Response
Q: Will students be able to wear face shields instead of face masks?
A: No. Face shields without masks are discouraged by the New York State Education Department.
Q: Will there be mask breaks for students?
A: Yes. Masks can be removed briefly when socially distancing, preferably outdoors, and when eating.
Q: Will students and staff who are exempt from wearing a face mask be in contact with other students and staff wearing a face mask?
A: If a student or staff member is unable to wear a mask, then social distancing will be enforced. The student not wearing a mask must be bussed separately or driven to school.
Q: Do students and staff have to maintain a 6-feet distance from others at all times?
A: Pursuant to New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Guidance, schools must ensure that appropriate social distancing (i.e. 6 feet/barriers) is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds (inclusive of students, faculty, and staff) unless safety or the core activity requires a shorter distance. Schools must maintain protocols and procedures for students, faculty, and staff to ensure appropriate social distancing to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when on school grounds and in school facilities, including the responsibility to configure spaces so individuals can maintain social distancing. As a baseline, face coverings are required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. Further, face coverings are “strongly recommended” by the NYSDOH at all times, except for meals and instruction with appropriate social distancing. However, schools can require face coverings at all times, even during instruction; and it is strongly recommended in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 community infection.
Q: Can a district require that students and employees wear face coverings at all times?
A: Yes. The NYDOH “strongly recommends” that an acceptable face covering be worn by all individuals at all times. However, if face coverings are to be worn by all individuals at all times, districts should allow students to remove their face covering during meals, instruction, and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Please note that, in its School Reopening FAQ revised on July 22, 2020, NYSED stated, “schools can require face coverings at all times, even during instruction; and it is strongly recommended in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 community infection.”
Q: Are students required to wear masks and social distance on a school bus?
A: All students are required to wear a mask and should maintain appropriate social distancing. The only exception to the mask requirement is that students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by wearing a mask are not required to do so and must be bussed separately or driven to school.
Q: Are cloth face masks acceptable face coverings?
A: Per the NYSDOH Guidance, acceptable face coverings include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut) and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
Q: How can a school district enforce its requirements that face coverings be worn?
A: Students: Should a student willfully and knowingly violate the district’s face covering requirements, the student will first be directed to wear a face covering, and if the student does not have one from home, be provided with one. Should the student refuse the directive to wear a face covering, the student may receive age-appropriate consequences using the progressive levels of discipline found in the district’s Code of Conduct.
Employees: Should an employee willfully violate a district’s face covering requirements, such employee will be directed to wear a face covering and provided with one. Should the employee disobey the directive to wear a face covering, the employee may be disciplined as provided for under New York State Law and/or relevant collective bargaining agreement.
Visitors/Vendors: Should anyone entering or on school facilities and/or school grounds violate the district’s face covering requirements, they should be directed to wear a face covering to remain on school facilities/grounds. If they refuse, they can be asked to leave the school facilities/grounds.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Ventilation will be maintained with the adequate, code required ventilation (natural or mechanical) as each system was designed.
- There will be weekly inspections of HVAC equipment to ensure outside air requirements are met.
- Ventilation with outdoor air, to the greatest extent possible, will be utilized by opening windows and doors while maintaining health and safety protocols, and fire codes as necessary.
- Regular inspections and replacement of air filters and installation of higher efficiency MERV 13 air filters, where applicable.
- Follow EPA 6 steps for Safe and Effective Disinfection
- All disinfectants are EPA-registered
- BioShield Disinfectant Spray (every 3 months) high touch services with electrostatic sprayers and misters
- Scheduled checks of room ventilation rates: Thermo/Hygrometer
- Scheduled checks of room humidity levels: Thermo/Hygrometer
Cleaning and Disinfecting Supplies for Classrooms, Hallways, Offices, and Large Spaces
- Symmetry hand sanitizer dispensers with Ion pure for antimicrobial protection
- Symmetry hand sanitizer dispensers with 60% alcohol hand sanitizer
- EPA-registered disposable wipes and hand sanitizer
- Clorox 360 disinfectant spray, Buckeye Ecosystem E23 spray, Oxivir spray, and wipes. Sprayers and misters spread these disinfectant products that meet EPA’s list for use against COVID-19 pathogens
- HVAC MERV 13 filters Installed where applicable and replaced as needed
Food Service/School Meals
Q: What protocols are being taken for students eating in the cafeteria?
- Staff will be trained on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), additional sanitation standards, and social distancing guidelines.
- Food will be wrapped or prepackaged where applicable. All self-service areas will be removed and students will be served in a contact free manner. Social distancing will be achieved in the serving areas through signage, floor markings, and supervision. In places where students and staff can not maintain social distancing, partitions will be in place.
- Utensils will be individually wrapped and disposable.
- Cafeteria seating will be arranged to allow for social distancing.
- Tables, chairs, service areas, and other frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected between groups in addition to before the start and at the end of service.
- Students will be required to perform hand hygiene before and after eating. This will be promoted through signage and the increased accessibility to sinks and hand sanitizer.
- The Lakeland CSD will encourage students to use the online payment system MYSCHOOLBUCKS to deposit funds on their lunch account and pay.
- Students paying with cash or check will have the remainder of their funds deposited onto their account, no change will be issued.
- Student transactions will be processed at the register in a touch free manner. These may include but are not limited to scanning IDs, verbally speaking ID numbers, or using the student’s name
A: Students must be 6 feet apart or be separated by a barrier while consuming meals.
Students with Disabilities
Q: What kind of accommodations should be provided to students who are at high risk themselves or live with a person at high risk for developing severe complications if they contract COVID-19?
A: Schools must develop protocols for providing accommodations to students who are themselves at high risk or who live with someone who is at high risk. The determination of accommodations will be made on an individual basis. The risk may be sufficiently mitigated for some students by taking extra precautions, such as additional or more specialized PPE (masks, gowns, gloves, N95s), use of physical barriers, etc. A student who is immunocompromised may require remote instruction. For a student with a disability, the District may consider appropriate options for maintaining the student in his/her least restrictive environment to the extent possible.
A: The NYSED Reopening Guidance provides that, when using a phased-in in-person or hybrid instructional model, schools may consider if certain students should be given priority for more frequent in-person instruction. The determination should be based on educational or other needs. Those prioritized may include students in early grades, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
Q: Must districts provide remote instruction for a student whose parents are afraid to send them to school, if neither the student nor anyone in the household, is at risk?
A: NYSED has not given any definitive answer to this question. The NYSED Reopening Guidance, under the heading “Medically Vulnerable/High-Risk Groups” states, “if the parents/guardians choose not to send their child back to school, schools will need to provide instruction remotely.” Generally, if a parent refuses to send a student to school, the parent would either have to home school the student or, ultimately, the school, as a mandated reporter, would have to report potential educational neglect. In this regard, however, the NYSED Reopening Guidance indicates that schools should not make a report of neglect regarding a child who is not attending school because the parent believes it to be unsafe due to the pandemic, and the child is participating in remote learning opportunities. We are awaiting definitive guidance.
Health and Safety
Q: Will students' temperature be checked upon arrival at school?
A: At present, temperatures will not be checked on the bus or school. We rely on parents/guardians to complete a questionnaire each morning, which includes taking the temperature at home. If the questionnaire is not completed, the student will be escorted to the Health Office, screened by the School Nurse and the family called to complete the questionnaire. If the family is unavailable, the student will be sent home unless they are to answer the questions independently based on age.
Q: What is the specific process if a student in my child's class tests positive?
A: If a student tests positive, that class, teachers and contacts will have to quarantine for 14 days. Lakeland CSD will work with the Westchester County Health Department to determine a course of action.
Q: What is the specific process if a student in my child's class is exposed to COVID-19?
A: An exposed student would be required to quarantine for 14 days. A contact of a contact will not be placed in isolation unless symptoms develop.
Who is a contact of a contact?
Q: If a staff member or student tests positive or is symptomatic, will testing of the class be done at school?
A: No, at this time, no testing will be done at school. The student or staff member will be referred to their health care provider or an urgent care facility for evaluation and testing.
Q: What happens if a student becomes ill during the school day?
- The ill student will be escorted to the isolation area and assessed by the School Nurse. If the student is experiencing one or more COVID-19 symptom(s), the student’s parents/guardians will be contacted to pick up the student and advised to go to a medical provider for evaluation.
- It is expected that the student will be picked up within 15 to 30 minutes after being contacted.
- The parent/guardian will be informed that the student may not return to school unless fever free for 24 hours (without using fever reducing medication) AND without symptoms for ten days AND a written medical clearance to return to school. Further testing is up to the medical provider.
- If the student is experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, a pulse oximetry of 93%, and below and clinically suspect, the District Medical Director will be contacted. Under his direction, cocooning and isolating contacts will be considered until we have a medical note stating it is a non-COVID disease. If a low risk for COVID-19, we may not isolate the rest of the class.
A: At present random tests will not be done at school unless Governor Cuomo signs an executive order. In any eventuality, testing will not be done unless parents are present and given written permission.
Q: If a student self quarantines as a result of possible close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, will they have access to full online instruction from home?
Q: What is the district policy for families being caught ignoring quarantine policies?
A: What a family does outside of school is not the purview of the district. The student will not be able to return to school unless the 14 day quarantine period is complete. The New York State Health Department will monitor the families.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
A: There are wide range of COVID-19 symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever (fever = 100 or above) or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Q: Will a student be sent home during the school day if they experience one or more COVID-19 symptoms (listed above)?
A: Yes, parents will be notified immediately and students must be picked up within 15 to 30 minutes after notification.
The ill student may NOT return to school unless all of the following criteria are met:
- Fever free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medication),
- AND without symptoms for 10 days,
- AND written medical clearance from their Healthcare Provider in order to return to school
A: Yes. Students and staff returning from states that are affected by a travel advisory need to quarantine for 14 days prior to their return to school. Please refer to this link for a list of states on the list. https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory
Q: What is required in order for students and staff who had symptoms of COVID- 19 to return to school?
A: Schools must establish policies in consultation with the local health department(s) about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screen positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment. This returning to learning protocol must include at a minimum, documentation of evaluation by a healthcare provider (healthcare provider note clearing a person to return to school), negative COVID-19 testing, and symptom resolution, or if COVID -19 positive, release from isolation as required by NYDOH and New York State Education Department (NYSED) Guidance.
Q: What steps are being taken for students traveling on a school bus?
- All students and any staff on the school bus must wear face masks.
- All buses will be disinfected after each day's runs in addition to having frequently touched surfaces wiped down after each tier of bus runs.
- Staff and students will be trained and have periodic refreshers on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), additional sanitation standards, and social distancing guidelines.
A: Based on the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the New York Department of Health (NYDOH) guidelines, buses may have up to 42 students per bus (2 per seat). As of now, in most cases, there will be 25-30 students on Lakeland CSD buses. These numbers will likely decrease based on parent provided transportation and students opting for remote learning.
Two-hour Delayed Opening
Q: What is the status of the delayed opening section of the reopening plan?
A: Because of the potential hardship this element of our plan would create for our families, the two-hour delay has been removed from the schedule.
100% Remote Learning Option
Q: Will the district be offering a 100% remote learning option to students?
A: Yes. We will be providing that choice to families. It will not be necessary to have a medical reason for this option. If you prefer the 100% remote learning option, please fill out the form we have created regarding participation (a completed form must be submitted for each child attending Lakeland CSD schools). Please note that this option will require a minimum 10-week commitment from families. We will consider requests to change a student’s status to remote learning after the initial enrollment period on a case-by-case basis.