At Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) our primary commitment is to the students and families we serve. Our priority must be keeping them safe. When the 2021-2022 school year begins, on-campus programs will look much different than previous years due to COVID-19 and the health and safety measures that continue to evolve. This School Reopening Plan will define clear guidance for the reopening of our educational programs and aligns with the regulations developed in collaboration with NYSDOH and the NYS Education Department.
The areas outlined in this plan represent the myriad considerations that TST BOCES will address to reopen schools safely and to sustain their safe operation. It is important to note that our plan retains a strong focus on academic instruction to enhance student performance and address learning loss. An emphasis on the social-emotional needs of our students is a priority and therefore have addressed this within our plan.
This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following programs:
- Career and Technical Education
- Pathways to Technology Early College High School
- TST Regional Alternative School
- High School Equivalency Preparation
- Exceptional Education including Foundations, Branches, Bridges, Springboard MS, Steps, Career Skills, Therapy, Turning Point, Springboard, Lighthouse and Itinerant Programs
To be clear, the health and safety of our students, our staff, and their families is our top priority. We have developed a plan that intends to ensure that students and employees feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, component school districts, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the COVID-19 virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of decision making as we move to open our schools.
District Superintendent Jeffrey A. Matteson will serve as TST BOCES’ COVID-19 Coordinator. He will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure TST BOCES is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines.
Of course, as with every plan being developed throughout New York State, this document is fluid and will change as necessary based on guidance from the state, CDC, and NYSED and in consideration of our families and our staff. We strongly believe the services described throughout this plan are in the best interests of our students, families, staff, and community.
The development of this plan was guided by and grounded in the following guiding principles:
- Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
- Providing the opportunity for all students to access education in the fall;
- Monitoring schools, students, and staff. When necessary, modifying schedules to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
- Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities that are emerging from this historic disruption.
- Fostering strong two-way communication with partners, such as families, educators, and staff;
- Factoring into decision making the challenges to the physical safety, social emotional well-being, and the mental health needs of our students caused by school closure; and
- Considering and supporting diversity in our schools and school districts as we provide education is essential.