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 2020-2021 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.
TST BOCES Reopening Plan
Communication/Family and Community Engagement
To help inform our reopening plan, TST BOCES has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included a representative Re-Opening Task Force, online surveys, virtual forums/meetings, social media engagement and one-on-one conversations.
TST BOCES remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via TST BOCES website at www.tstboces.org and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances.
As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, TST BOCES has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. TST BOCES will use its existing communication modes including website postings, the BOCES newsletter, PR service, social media channels, mass notification software as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic.
TST BOCES Communication Goals:
- To encourage all students, faculty, staff, and visitors through verbal and written communication (e.g., signage) to adhere to NYSED, CDC, and DOH guidance regarding the use of acceptable face coverings - a face mask covering the nose and mouth, when a social distance cannot be maintained.
- To provide regular updates about health and safety, scheduling, and all other information faculty, staff and families should be aware of.
- To provide information to families through a wide array of platforms including mail, email, telephone calls, text messaging, social media and website postings.
- To provide information on how families can access technology and receive technical support to assist with utilization and maintenance of equipment.
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) developed communication materials accordingly, including the creation of sample messages/letters for COVID-19 cases or potential cases for various school audiences. We will utilize communication methods used by TST BOCES to inform the school community. Information will be dispersed in a variety of platforms that include:
- District website
- Call list/ROBO Call
- Email blast
- Online training
- Correspondence (letters) to homes
- Social media accounts used by district
- Town Hall Meetings (Zoom, WebEx, Google Classroom, etc.)
Clear messaging will be prepared and consistently communicated before re-entry, on the first day, during the first week, throughout the first month, and continuously throughout the year. Minimum monthly communication will provide information on the following topics:
- Who to contact with questions, concerns or suggestions. Empower people to make apositive difference and communicate the expectation for them to do so.
- The facts as we currently know them (NYSDOH, CDC).
- The importance of social distancing, monitoring symptoms of COVID-19 and when to stay home.
- Set protocols for entrance (screening) and the review process for staff calling in sick. Constant reminders for staff to stay home if they feel sick.
- Encourage and implement social distancing in bathrooms, break rooms, hallways, etc. Installing social distancing markers on the floors, etc.
- Practice proper hand hygiene. Staff is allowed to use hand sanitizer, but hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is still more effective. Hand sanitizer works best on clean hands.
- Encourage and practice proper respiratory etiquette (i.e., coughing or sneezing into your elbow if a tissue is not available).
- Encouraging personal responsibility for yourself and your work area.
- Educating the school community on district policies/procedures, including how to properly wear and dispose of a face mask/respirator.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our re-opening 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).
The following protocols and procedures will be in place in all TST BOCES programs for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact -our COVID-19 Safety Coordinator Dr. Jeffrey Matteson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-257-1551 ext. 1001.
-For more information about how health and safety protocols and trainings will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section above.
To ensure employees and students comply with communication requirements, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will:
- Post signage throughout the buildings to remind personnel to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning/disinfecting protocols.
- Establish a communication plan for employees, visitors, and parents/guardians with a consistent means to provide updated information. This will be accomplished through:
- Social media
- Print copy mailings
- Voice and/or video messaging
- Traditional media outlets
- Maintain a continuous log of every person, including staff, workers, and visitors, who may have close contact with other individuals at the work site, school, or area; excluding deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means.
- If a worker or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, TST BOCES will immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts, including notification of potential contacts, such as workers or visitors who had close contact with the individual, while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations.
- Where feasible, entry and egress in and out of all buildings will be limited to a single location. If applicable, a single point entry and single point egress will be identified to minimize cross traffic. All entry to the buildings will occur through the main entrance to a check-in point.
- A face covering must be worn by all individuals, students, staff, and visitors on Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) property when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Proper face covering includes, but is not limited to, a surgical mask, cloth mask, balaclava or bandana and must completely cover the individual's mouth and nose.
- A plastic face shield alone is not an acceptable face covering.
- All employees and students may choose to utilize their own face covering, however face coverings can and will be provided by Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) daily.
Daily Health Screening
- Prior to entering all Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) locations, individuals must complete a medical screening questionnaire. This questionnaire is accessible through the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) website at www.tstboces.org or through signage posted at all main entrances that provides a direct link to the survey using an iPhone or android phone. A paper option will also be made available at each entrance and can also be downloaded from tstboces.org and completed prior to arrival.
- Staff should complete this screening prior to arriving at work via the electronic submission form.
- Although filing of the health survey is preferred to be completed online, a paper option will also be made available at each entrance and can also be downloaded from tstboces.org and completed prior to arrival.
- Staff will be required to monitor their own temperature and symptoms prior to arrival on campus and throughout the day. Anyone whose symptoms response changes from a NO to YES during the day, must contact their supervisor immediately and await further instruction.
- Students and visitors will be screened for temperature at arrival.
- Parents are encouraged to monitor for temperatures and symptoms prior to sending their student on a bus, however students will be screened at arrival for temperatures.
- Visitors will have their temperatures taken upon arrival.
- All staff must sign in and out of each building with the welcome desk each time they enter and exit the building.
- Students will be signed in and accounted for as without fever/symptoms and able to attend school through attendance roll.
- For multiple individuals entering the building simultaneously, they will be required to maintain social distance until they can be signed in and screened.
- Corridors will be created where individuals can enter the facility when in-person screening is utilized.
- Multiple lines and entrances will be coordinated, if needed to reduce crowding.
- Markings (whether in tape or otherwise) will be placed on the ground or in the corridor to indicate six (6) foot lengths to provide for greater social distancing for individuals while in line.
- Only after all individuals have been accounted for, cleared through the medical screening and wearing proper face coverings, will access to the building be granted.
- Should a person fail the medical screening, specific procedures should be followed. Please reference the Suspect or Confirmed COVID-19 Case section for guidance.
- All individuals on Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) premises must maintain social distancing and face covering when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Proper social distancing is defined as a six (6) foot separation between individuals. When social distancing is practiced, such as in an isolated office or large meeting space, the individuals may remove their face covering. However, in common areas, such as breakrooms, hallways or bathrooms, the face covering must be worn.
- Ensure six (6) foot distance between personnel unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance. Any time personnel are less than six (6) feet apart from one another, personnel must wear acceptable face coverings.
- Tightly confined spaces will be occupied by only one individual at a time unless all occupants are wearing face coverings. If an area is occupied by more than one person, TST BOCES will keep occupancy under 50% of maximum capacity.
- Social distance separation will be marked using tape or signs that denote six (6) feet of spacing in commonly used and other applicable areas on the site (e.g., health screening stations, reception areas).
- In-person gatherings will be limited as much as possible and we will use tele- or video-conferencing whenever possible. Essential in-person gatherings, such as meetings, will be held in open, well-ventilated spaces with appropriate social distancing among participants.
- Designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries will be established, limiting contact to the extent possible.
- Hand washing - Students and staff must practice good hand hygiene to help reduce the spread. Staff and students should conduct routine hand washing and hand sanitization throughout the school and workday. Hand hygiene stations/sinks are provided for staff and students, including hand washing with soap, water and paper towels, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible. Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers will be provided throughout buildings and at main building entrances. Individual pump spray bottles of hand sanitizer will also be provided to staff as needed.
- All bathroom electric hand dryers have been disabled and paper towel dispensers installed for use in campus buildings.
Visitor and Vendor Visits
No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except for the safety and well-being of students. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child. Essential visitors to facilities and parent/guardian visitors will be required to wear face coverings and will have restricted access to our school buildings.
Visitors are required to complete the mandatory questionnaire (see TST BOCES Visitor Questionnaire) prior to any work or business in any buildings to determine access to the facility. Building receptionists at main entrances will be required to provide visitors with the questionnaire and have them complete it before allowing entrance into any TST BOCES facility. Receptionists will maintain a file of all completed questionnaires and keep a log of all visitors allowed into the facility. Visitors will be required to provide and don their own appropriate face covering prior to arriving or being granted access to any TST BOCES facility.
- All vendors must be wearing proper face covering prior to entering any building and it must always be worn when six (6) foot social distance cannot be maintained.
- All vendors must report to the Operations and Maintenance building first for temperature screening and to fill out the TST BOCES Visitor Questionnaire. The vendors must sign in with their identification.
- No vendor should enter a building unless necessary for completion of their job.
- All vendors must sign in and out at the main entrance of each building stating their destination at that building for contact tracing.
- Should a vendor become ill while on campus, they must alert the staff member they are visiting to report the issue and then immediately seek medical attention.
At the end of each day, the receptionist/designee must scan the sign-in/out documents and send them individually to: Director of Facilities, David Pitcher at email@example.com
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will train all personnel on new protocols and frequently communicate safety guidelines. Training on the precautions listed below will be conducted either remotely or in person. Social distancing and face coverings will be required for all participants if training is conducted in person. Training material is designed to be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers.
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will ensure all students are taught or trained how to follow new COVID-19 protocols safely and correctly, including but not limited to hand hygiene, proper face covering wearing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene. Additional training will be provided in:
- Prevention of disease spreads by staying home when they are sick.
- Proper respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Avoiding the use of communal objects. If communal objects must be used, provide information on proper disinfection procedures between use. Examples of communal objects include, but are not limited to, other workers’ phones, desks, offices, computers or other devices, and other work tools and equipment.
- Provide employees and students with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19.
- Risk factors and protective behaviors (i.e., cough etiquette and care of PPE).
Training for Screeners
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will identify individuals familiar with CDC, OSHA protocols, and DOH guidelines in each building who will be a trained screener. Screeners will wear appropriate employer-provided PPE, including at a minimum, a face covering, temperature screenings and social distancing. If social distancing or barrier/partition controls cannot be implemented during screening, PPE should be used when within six (6) feet of a student.
Training Topics for All Staff and Substitutes
- Proper hand washing: proper hand hygiene. Promote frequent and thorough hand washing by providing employees, the school community, and visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Provide training on proper hand washing and hand sanitizer use https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
- Proper cough and sneeze etiquette
- Social Distancing
- Provide training for faculty/staff on how to address close contact interactions with students as part of every day job tasks.
- Operating procedures (various by building)
- Entrance into the building
- Cleaning procedures
- Sick child pick up
- Staff who are sick or suspected to be sick
- Proper cleaning techniques
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Re-opening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- Hazard Communication – Right-To-Know
- Proper use of chemicals and Safety Data sheets
- No chemicals from home
- Transfer of hand sanitizer in smaller containers
- List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
- Exposure Control Plan – with a focus on Pandemic/COVID-19
- Personal Protective Equipment - PPE
- Update Hazard Assessment and PPE Selection Worksheet for all identified employees
- Proper type, use, and size
- Cleaning and sanitizing of the face covering (if applicable)
- Provide training for staff and students on wearing, putting on, removing and discarding PPE, including in the context of their current and potential duties
- Use of face coverings (donning/doffing) (cloth vs. surgical)
- Respirator Protection (N95 - required for identified employees per NYS)
- Included in the existing Respirator Protection Program or can be a separate Respirator Protection Program for medical staff only
- Training provided for identified personnel only
Signs and Messages
Signage/posters will be hung in classrooms and at building entrances and throughout buildings reminding personnel to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
When Students Eat in Classrooms
- Train teachers on food allergies, including symptoms of allergic reactions to food.
- Train all non-food service staff on any meal service-related activities they will be responsible for.
Space Design and Capacities
General Office Area
- All offices will be limited to 50% the rated occupancy for the space. Offices must normally maintain a minimum of 150 sq. ft. per individual.
- Where applicable all offices and small spaces will be limited to one (1) individual at a time.
- In a multiple occupant office, occupancy will be reduced to 50% normal load in addition to maintaining at least 6ft of separation between individuals.
- Additional protective barriers such as polycarbonate screens or strip curtains will be utilized to create a physical separation without hindrance to egress or airflow.
- Workstations will be reconfigured so that employees do not face each other, or establish partitions if facing each other cannot be avoided
- Face coverings should be worn in these multiple use office settings.
- Additional breaks may be allotted to allow individuals time to leave the space to remove their masks. Specific determination of these conditions will be determined by the individual’s program supervisor.
- Where possible TST BOCES will establish additional shifts to reduce the number of employees in the worksite at one time
- Will stagger shift start and end times greater than normal when possible (while still ensuring safe operations), to eliminate employees from congregating during the shift change-over, and from overcrowding at entrances and exits
- Will reduce tasks requiring large amounts of people to be in one area
- Employees will be encouraged to use virtual meeting tools, including phone and virtual teleconference, in lieu of in-person meetings, whenever possible
- If in-person meetings are essential, consider limiting meeting attendance depending on local, state, and federal guidelines.
- Will limit in-person meetings (refer to NYS guidance) if virtual meetings are not feasible
- If meetings are to occur in person, they will be conducted efficiently
- Social distancing among participants will be required
- Lingering and socializing before and after meetings will be discouraged
Break Rooms and Lunch Rooms
- Breakroom use is discontinued if a minimum of 6 ft. separation cannot be maintained when consuming food or drink.
- Staff are advised to take their lunch and breaks in their private offices or classrooms; in their vehicles or outside at the picnic table throughout the campus.
- Staggered break schedules may be utilized to assist with separation concerns.
- If staff wish to take breaks together they must do such in a large space or outside, where at minimum 6ft. of separation can occur.
- Amenities that are handled with high contact frequency, such as water coolers, coffee makers, and bulk snacks will be replaced with alternatives where possible.
- Communal meals will not be provided to employees, and food will not be available in common areas where employees may congregate.
- Congregating in copier rooms/areas is discouraged.
- Cleaning supplies will be provided at copier stations.
- Staff are encouraged to wipe down touch surfaces post and prior use.
- All bathrooms regardless of size will be limited to one person at a time.
- Individuals must knock before entering a bathroom to ensure there is no other occupant present.
- In special circumstances where a student must be assisted in the use of the lavatory, the adult present must be wearing all applicable personal protective equipment including a face covering and when medically applicable, the student will be wearing a proper face covering as well.
- Signage will be posted on entry indicating one person at a time.
- Automatic hand dryer use will be discontinued and replaced with touchless paper towel dispensers.
- Touchless water fixtures will be installed where applicable.
- Where feasible hallway traffic may be limited to single flow direction.
- Where single flow is not applicable, bi-direction traffic will be permitted.
- Directional flow will be identified by indications on the floor/stairs
- Adequate distancing will be obtained between all individuals by taped off lanes on the corridor floors/stair treads.
- All individuals must also allow for adequate space between when traveling in the same direction.
- Occupancy in each classroom will be specific and determined based on the overall square footage of the space.
- Each Student, teacher and support staff will receive not less than 6 ft. of separation from others.
- Additional considerations will be taken to account for space utilized for classrooms and teaching material.
- Overall class sizes will be reduced to accommodate all safety parameters.
- Students, teachers and support staff will be required to wear a proper face covering.
- Where possible special area teachers and Pupil Personnel Services staff will travel to the classroom to provide instruction.
- Restrict items in the classroom to that of obvious use.
- Remove any unnecessary furniture.
- Remove any soft surfaces that are difficult to disinfect such as:
- Area Rugs
- Soft fabric chairs
- All students and staff are required to wear appropriate face coverings.
- N95 Respirator use for nurses should be limited to situations of suspected COVID-19
- Nurses must receive proper training and fitment of N95 Respirators prior to use.
- Where applicable, nurse stations have been reconfigured to:
- Maintain social distancing of no less than 6ft.
- Create “sick” and “well” zones.
- Students that receive daily medication will be treated separately from students presenting with symptoms of illness.
- Nebulizer treatments will be conducted in a separate isolated space with adequate fresh air circulation.
- Physical separation will be achieved by utilizing:
- Individual exam rooms
- Polycarbonate barriers
- Retractable dividing curtain walls.
- Isolation Room/s
- Individuals presenting with symptoms representative of COVID-19 should be immediately isolated to reduce risk of transmission.
- A separate room will be utilized where applicable.
- Where applicable, separate, independent room/s with a door in close proximity to the exterior will be utilized for quarantining individuals who present with symptoms representative of COVID-19.
- Where excess space is not available. Nurse stations will be equipped with dividing curtains allowing for both a physical divide and at minimum 6ft of separation.
- The Circle of Courage room in Building D will be used for this purpose at the onset of in person instruction.
Reception areas will remain at all entrances of each building.
- Where a multi- entrance design is used, additional reception areas will be instituted.
- They will serve as the primary location for accounting for all individuals entering and exiting the building.
- Polycarbonate barriers have been installed to protect all individuals.
- Floor demarcations have been installed to indicate where visitors shall stand to maintain social distance.
- Reception areas have had seating removed or adequately spaced to provide at minimum of 6ft of separation.
- Frequently touched materials such as magazines have been removed.
- The use of shared space and equipment use will be limited where feasible.
- Blocks of computers will be sectioned off to ensure social distancing is maintained.
- Tables of computers will be reconfigured.
- Cleaning and disinfection of computer labs and keyboard will be frequent.
- Students should be instructed to wash hands prior to and after touching the keyboards along with other frequently touched surfaces.
- Remove all soft covered surfaces that cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected.
- Bean bag chairs
- Upholstered couches or chairs
- Area rugs
- Reconfigure space to ensure social distancing.
- Tables will be limited to one individual at a time where applicable.
- Polycarbonate barriers may be installed to create a physical barrier.
- Desks will be rearranged
- Small reading nook use should be discontinued unless:
- limited to one person at a time.
- Cleaned and disinfected routinely
- Tables will be limited to one individual at a time where applicable.
- Borrowing of materials such as books may need to be discontinued if adequate disinfection cannot be achieved.
- Create directional traffic flow patterns between bookcases to ensure social distancing
- Portable hand wash stations will be installed in the main entrances of each building.
- Alcohol based hand sanitizer will be available in each entry, all corridors, and each classroom.
- Limited to one occupant at a time.
- Automatic hand dryer use will be discontinued
- Touchless soap dispensers are in place at each sink
- Touchless paper towels dispensers have been installed
- Touchless faucets are currently in most bathroom spaces
- Areas where old style fixtures exist- they will be replaced as applicable
- Entry doors to gang bathrooms will be left open where applicable to reduce the need to handle
- Vestibules/Reception Areas
- Polycarbonate barriers will be installed to provide protection for Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) staff and individuals presenting
- Water Fountains: In general, building water fountains will be turned off and disabled so that they are inaccessible as they are difficult to continually disinfect and maintain in a sterile manner. Where possible, they will be replaced with units with bottle fillers. Drinking water can be obtained through cold water faucets in most buildings in several locations including classrooms, conference rooms, lounges and other rooms. Bottled water may also be provided as needed at the discretion of TST BOCES and will be required to meet applicable sanitary code and other requirements. Bathrooms, science classrooms and locker room sinks should not be used for drinking water but may be used for hand washing only.
- Floor Demarcations
- All entrances or areas of static wait have floor signage installed allotting for a minimum of six (6) feet of separation between all individuals
- Corridor floors and Stairway treading have been fitted with stripping to indicate directional traffic flow and social distancing.
- Corridor doors will all be affixed open using electromagnetic hold-open devices to minimize the need to touch doors.
- Temperature Screening Equipment.
- TST BOCES building HVAC systems are maintained and operated in an appropriate manner to minimize the spread of infectious disease. As part of the plan to reopen the TST BOCES campus, each HVAC unit has had preventive maintenance conducted where needed and also have been inspected for proper operation during the summer months. Additionally, TST BOCES ventilation systems utilize MERV 11 high capacity rated filters which meet current NYSSED standards for air filtration systems. These filters are changed three times per year (will be changed next prior to the start of the regular school year in August 2020). HVAC systems are operated continuously during all times that the campus buildings are occupied.
- Windows may also be opened and used to provide the availability of fresh air, but may not promote proper air movement throughout the space without the use of fans to direct exhausted air to the outdoors. Windows should not be opened when building air conditioning or heating systems are in operation. Additionally, windows should not be considered a substitution to mechanical ventilation systems due to the lack of filtration available to reduce or lessen potential allergen exposure.
- The vast majority of occupied school classrooms and work areas are provided with some form of mechanical ventilation which is typically filtered supply and return air through a rooftop mounted HVAC unit and ductwork system or unit-ventilator. However, a few occupied spaces exist where mechanical ventilation systems are not provided. Where these spaces are used for occupancy, staff members housed in these spaces should follow appropriate social/physical distancing rules and separate work areas from other staff members by a minimum of six feet and wear face coverings as appropriate.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Cleaning and disinfection of classroom spaces, bathrooms within classrooms and work areas should be conducted routinely each day upon class or cohort changes by department staff members. Staff members should keep a log of any cleaning and disinfection related work that they conduct. TST BOCES will provide cleaning/disinfection logs for staff use.
- Staff members must use disinfectant products supplied by TST BOCES (disinfectant wipes and/or disinfectant spray and paper towels) to routinely clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in work areas and classrooms such as light switches, tables, sink and toilet fixtures, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards and tablets, etc. Limit the sharing of objects and discourage touching of shared surfaces. When in contact with shared objects or frequently touched areas, wear gloves, sanitize or wash hands before contact. NOTE: Only non-Clorox, non-bleach and non-ammonia based disinfectant products should be used to clean and disinfect computer related equipment and peripherals (i.e. monitors, keypads, IPADs, laptops, etc.).
- TST BOCES facilities will also be cleaned and disinfected regularly on a daily basis by Operations & Maintenance Department staff. Information regarding daily cleaning and disinfecting procedures and appropriate product use is available from the Facilities Services main office. Additional cleaning and disinfection will also be conducted during the work day in building restrooms and other high touch areas by Operations & Maintenance Department staff.
- At the end of each day, staff members should make sure that desks, tables, counter tops and work areas and other surfaces are maintained clutter free with items stored in enclosed cabinets or drawers so that surfaces can easily be cleaned and disinfected. If surfaces are not maintained clutter free, TST BOCES Operations & Maintenance Department staff will not be able to clean and disinfect the surface.
- Upon learning of a positive COVID-19 individual that has been in any BOCES facility, BOCES will immediately close down that facility, or portion of the facility, and conduct deep cleaning and disinfection operations no sooner than 24 hours after being made aware of the positive case. If more than seven days have passed since the person who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection will not be required but routine cleaning and disinfection will continue.
- Campus playgrounds will be cleaned per CDC Guidelines, however, outdoor areas, like playgrounds require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.
- School health office cleaning will be conducted by health office staff after each use of cots, bathroom, and health office equipment (e.g. blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes, etc.). Disposable items will be used as much as possible. These items include disposable pillow protectors, bed coverings, thermometers and specula’s.
TST BOCES will require that meals such as breakfast and lunch are provided and served in individual classrooms or work locations to eliminate large gatherings in the cafeteria. Staff members will be supplied with additional garbage and recycling receptacles which will be collected throughout the day and dumped by Operations & Maintenance Department staff.
Management of Ill Persons
- Students and staff members with symptoms of illness must be sent to the school health office where the nurse or school medical director will assess the person’s symptoms. If the nurse or medical director is not available, the staff or student will be isolated if necessary until they can be sent home.
- If a staff member or student becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 at school, the person will be excused from the school and sent home immediately, in a safe and proper conveyance. The school nurse and/or medical director will be immediately notified and will notify the local health department. The medical director or other health professionals (i.e. school nurse) acting upon the direction or referral of the director, may make such evaluations of students, teachers and any other school employees, in their discretion, that they may deem necessary to protect the health of the school community.
- While waiting in the school facility for discharge or to be sent home, any students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms at school will be placed in a designated separate isolation room. If a separate isolation room is not available, all individuals should be kept at least 6 feet from the student and the student should be asked to wear a mask if they can tolerate it and it does not cause breathing difficulties. Students should be escorted from the isolation room directly to the parent/guardian and the parent/guardian should be instructed to contact their healthcare provider or follow-up and evaluation with a local clinic or urgent care center.
- TST BOCES will comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. Students and staff members exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should be encouraged to contact their personal healthcare provider for assessment and follow-up.
- TST BOCES will work the local public health department and officials to trace all persons who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 of any individual that may have been present at TST BOCES who has tested positive for COVID 19.
- These tracing efforts will only apply to students and staff members of TST BOCES.
- If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, TST BOCES will immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts, including notification of potential contacts, such as other employees or visitors who had close contact with the individual. Confidentiality will be exercised and maintained for all reporting and tracing efforts as required by state and federal laws and regulations.
Return to School After Illness
- TST BOCES will follow CDC guidance for allowing a student or staff member to return to school after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. If a person is not diagnosed by a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) with COVID-19 they can return to school:
- Once there is no fever, without the use of fever reducing medicines, and they have felt well for 24 hours;
- If they have been diagnosed with another condition and has a healthcare provider written note stating they are clear to return to school.
- If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider based on a test or related symptoms OR has not been tested, but is positive for related symptoms, they should not be at school and should stay at home until:
- It has been at least ten days since the individual first had symptoms;
- It has been at least three days since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); and
- It has been at least three days since the individual’s symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.
When a person has been identified (confirmed) or suspected to be COVID-19 positive; the process at Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) could include:
- Having school administrators collaborate and coordinate with local health officials to make school closure and large event cancellation decisions.
- Establish a plan to close schools again for physical attendance of students, if necessary, based on public health guidance and in coordination with the local DOH. Establishing a decision-making tree at TST BOCES level.
- Develop a plan for continuity of education, medical and social services, and meal programs and establish alternate mechanisms for these to continue.
- Implement as needed short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in a school building. If this happens, CDC recommends the following procedures:
- Closing off areas used by ill person(s) and locking off area(s), signage can also be used to ensure no one enters the area. If possible, wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Do not use the area(s) until cleaning and disinfection has taken place.
- Opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill person(s), focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
- Communicating as soon as possible with staff, parents, and students.
- Using DOH guidance/procedures for when someone tests positive.
- In consultation with the local DOH, a school official may consider whether school closure is warranted and period of time (prior to re-opening) based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local DOH.
- In accordance with guidance for quarantine at home after close contact, the classroom or office where the COVID-19-positive individual was based will typically need to close temporarily as students or staff quarantine.
- Additional close contacts at school outside of a classroom should also quarantine at home.
- Since TST BOCES serves students from multiple school district, closing of schools could be a regional decision. Plus, it could be a regional decision based on NYS identified metrics:
- NYS Dashboard
- Schools will reopen if a region is in Phase IV and the daily infection rate remains below 5% using a 14-day average
- Schools will close if the regional infection rate is greater than 9% using a 7-day average after August 1, 2020
- NYS Dashboard
- Thresholds will be determined on a case-by-case basis dependent on the numbers (school closures may be a response).
- Buildings may consider closing if required cleaning products (bleach and water can be used as a cleaning product) and PPE are not available.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in TST BOCES, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities that require review by the Office of Facilities Planning (OFP), will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code.
The function, position and operation of corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.
The Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Visual Inspections on time. In addition, lead in water sampling will be carried out upon the reopening of school under conditions consistent with when the building is “normally occupied.”
Upon reopening, TST BOCES plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.
Emergency Response Protocols & Drills
The 2020-2021 school year may include hybrid models of the traditional school day. Emergency response drills, including evacuation and lockdown drills, may be spread across the different student populations dependent on the day each population is present the day the drills are scheduled.
Emergency Response Protocols
Areas will be identified in each school that will be used for the Shelter-in-Place along with areas that cannot be used for due to certain types of environmental hazards (i.e.: high winds, tornado, etc.). Shelter-In-Place protocols will be the same with the following changes:
- Provide 6 feet of space between students and staff during the Shelter-In-Place
- Use of face coverings throughout the event may be considered
- If 6 feet between staff and students cannot be achieved, face coverings should be worn at all times during the event
- Plan to have extra face coverings on hand in the event that a person does not have one
- Listen for updates and respond accordingly
Hold-In-Place protocols will be the same the following changes:
- Provide 6 feet of space between students and staff during the Hold-In-Place
- Use of face coverings throughout the event may be considered
- If 6 feet between people cannot be achieved, face coverings should be worn at all times during the event
- Plan to have extra face coverings on hand in the event that a person does not have one
- Listen for updates and respond accordingly
Evacuation protocols will be routinely the same with some minor adjustments:
- Identify areas outside of the building in advance that will allow 6 feet of separation of students and staff. Verify that students and staff will not impede emergency responders
- In effort to get all staff and students out of the building as quickly and efficiently as possible, face coverings should be worn at all times
- Plan to have extra face coverings on hand in the event that a person does not have one
- Identify, in advance, who will be holding the door to get out of the building, therefore reducing the amount of people touching the door hardware when leaving the building. Personnel that will be conducting this task may be assigned to holding the door for one or more classrooms or until confirmation that everyone has vacated the building
- As written in the established protocols, bring all necessary items needed and consider adding the following items: extra face coverings, in the event a face covering becomes unusable and hand sanitizer
- If no extra face coverings are available, instruct anyone that does not have a face covering to use their shirt to cover their nose and mouth during the event
Lockout protocols will be the same, besides maintaining six (6) feet of space between students and staff in the area.
During a Lockdown, there will be a violation of the six (6) foot recommendation between people. In order to protect life safety, lockdown protocols will be mostly the same process as they have been conducted in the past.
- Evaluate, in advance, if there is room to social distance without being in the line of sight
- Face coverings should be worn during the event at all times
- Plan to have extra face coverings on hand in the event that a person does not have one
- Instruct anyone that does not have a face covering to use their shirt to cover their nose and mouth during the event
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will follow SFA policies when communicating about school meal services, eligibility, options and changes in operations. All meals provided during the public health emergency will be available at no cost to all children. All communications will be provided through a variety of communication methods including website, social media, emails, robocalls, newsletters, and regular mail and translated into the languages spoken by families.
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) has identified Tama Stotts as the contact person to receive and respond to communications from families and to school staff. Families will be reminded in food service communications during the summer.
School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely.
For information about how meal information will be communicated, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
For students onsite, meals will be provided while maintaining appropriate social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.
- Every Monday breakfast will be provided in the classroom, cold, without a choice for components. Students will have a menu to select their choice for breakfast for the rest of the week.
- Food allergies will be monitored by food service personnel and the health office as they become known, as has been our procedure.
- Pre-wrapped sporks for student use will be ordered instead of open plastic ware.
- Staff will be provided a time to go to the cafeteria for pickup of student meals. The cafeteria will be marked for social distancing.
- Students will be provided free breakfast and lunch in person
- Breakfast and lunch will happen in classrooms to decrease gathering and mixing of cohorts.
- Staff will gather student lunches and breakfasts in collaboration with food service personnel
- Teachers will implement hand washing instruction and procedures before and after food service. Teachers will ensure that students use soap, wash for 20 seconds and dispose of their materials properly.
- Students who have chosen to attend virtually or in person will be asked to confirm their choice for a 10-week block of time. If they are virtual, we will deliver a box of food for the week.
- Students who need to have a change due to COVID, illness or quarantine will have access to pick up meals for the day/time until they can be added to the delivery list or return to school.
- We will survey families to determine preference for remote learning or in person.
Although the bulk of transportation of students to our campus is conducted by component school districts, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will conduct its transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. TST BOCES will limit or minimize non-essential travel and field trips as much as possible. However, in the event that a TST BOCES school bus is needed for use to transport students/passengers to their home, to a component school district, to work-study programs to-and-from the campus or special field trips, the following procedures will apply:
- Staff members should ensure that any students that will be transported on any TST BOCES school bus should be screened prior to being allowed to board any TST BOCES bus for symptoms of COVID-19 and not be allowed on the bus if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
- TST BOCES school bus drivers must also complete daily health screenings and should not report to work if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Drivers and staff should also take appropriate hygienic measures prior to bus trips including proper hand washing and not touching face or contaminated surfaces.
- TST BOCES bus drivers will be provided with appropriate PPE that should be used in the process of picking-up, loading and unloading/discharging passengers. Face coverings, including face shields and masks will be provided and must be worn by the driver on the bus at all times when passengers are on the bus. Hand sanitizer will be available for drivers in the bus garage and is not allowed to be carried on any school bus. Disinfectant wipes and gloves will be provided and carried on the school bus. Drivers and staff members may choose to wear protective gloves but are not required to do so.
- Sneeze guards and other protective barriers cannot be installed on any TST BOCES school bus without prior approval from the NYSDOT.
- Students should wear a face covering while on the school bus if physically able to do so. Face coverings/masks will be provided by TST BOCES as needed.
- Students should social/physical distance while on the bus and maintain a minimum of 6 feet from each other whenever possible. Bus drivers can use marking tape to designate seats or locations that are not available for use to help maintain social/physical distancing.
- Buses should be loaded with students beginning at the rear of the bus.
- Bus drivers should work with staff members to assign seats to passengers and siblings or children who reside in the same household should be encouraged to sit together. No more than one passenger should be allowed per seat unless passengers are of the same family unit ideally with an empty row in between passengers.
- When passengers are on the bus, buses equipped with roof hatches should operate with the roof hatches slightly open when ambient temperatures are above 45 degrees. Windows should also be opened if possible to increase outside air ventilation rates on the bus. However, windows should not be opened if it will pose a safety risk to passengers vulnerable to asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Fans and air conditioning should also be used whenever possible.
- At the end of each trip and/or when the bus is returned to its parking location adjacent to the bus garage, the bus driver will be responsible to clean the bus and disinfect it with disinfectant products supplied by TST BOCES. The driver is responsible for:
- Cleaning and disinfecting all commonly touched surfaces in the vehicle (i.e. steering wheel, dashboard knobs, shifting lever, heat and air conditioner vents, window controls, door controls and locks, etc.).
- Vehicle doors and windows should be open while cleaning and disinfection work is taking place.
- For buses returned to the bus garage after bus trips are completed for the day, TST BOCES bus maintenance staff will also conduct routine inspections and additional cleaning and disinfection of BOCES school buses as required including using the disinfectant spray system to disinfect all seats and seat backs and other equipment.
- If it is determined that a bus has transported an individual that tested positive for COVID-19 or has exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, a 24-hour waiting period must occur before the bus is cleaned and disinfected. Affected buses can be used immediately after cleaning and disinfection.
- Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will emphasize to parents and students prior to reopening schools that TST BOCES has thoroughly disinfected all buses and student transportation vehicles
- Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will communicate with parents and students that student transportation vehicles are included in TST BOCES’ COVID-19 plans and what part students and parents will play in ensuring safety and minimizing infection while utilizing TST BOCES transportation services
Loading/Unloading & Pickup/Drop-off
- Dismissal times will be staggered to best suit building needs and to promote social distancing
- Adjustments will be made by program:
- For unloading and entry, and loading and departure
- Route timing which will be affected by delayed loading/unloading processes
- Arrival and departure activities shall be supervised to ensure social distancing
Social Emotional Well-Being
In planning for our re-entry in September, TST BOCES has formed a subgroup of the Re-opening Task Force to examine the guidance provided by the Department of Health and NYSED for our re-entry in the Fall. Our work is grounded in our beliefs the most equitable opportunities for educational success rely upon the comprehensive support for students and families provided in our schools with our professionals and the systems of support we have built. These supports include academics as well as the social and emotional well-being of our students. We are committed to prioritizing social emotional well-being - not at the expense of academics, but in order to create the mental, social and emotional space to access rigorous academic content with confidence. In support of this belief, a Social-Emotional Learning team was created consisting of certified teachers, certified school counselors, licensed mental health professionals and school administrators. This task force team was created to develop a cohesive and strategic plan, regardless of the re-entry phase, to support students and staff upon for the 2020-2021 school year; this includes a means to identify and actively support student and staff well-being and mental health concerns through a range of pre-determined tactics to be employed by those dealing with difficult situations. This plan will focus specifically on how to best support students and staff in a blended learning model scenario, which includes a mix of both in-person and virtual classroom instruction. This plan includes considerations for teams to rapidly transition between face-to-face and continuous remote learning, which may be required based on the pandemic.
Research shows the importance of mental and emotional well-being for students and staff, which has both psychological and ultimately academic outcomes. We know, after this prolonged closure, many of our students and staff will require social-emotional supports to help them re-engage and re-enter work and school. At TST BOCES, our commitment is to create emotionally and physically safe, supportive and engaging learning environments promoting all students’ social and emotional well-being and development. The pandemic has elevated the role of leaders in creating conditions helping students practice empathy, create social bonds across distance and adapt to new learning experiences. Counselors, school-based health programs, and wrap around supports will play an extremely important role in the adjustment period when buildings reopen and access to school counselors and school-based health programs will be invaluable supports to our students. It will be critical to determine students who might be at risk for needing mental health supports. School counselors and administrators will be equipped with tools and information needed to see each child through a social emotional lens. We remain committed to supporting all students and maintain our whole child commitment as well as equipping all staff to connect, heal, and build capacity to support our students. Supports will include:
- Subgroup planning related to the following:
- Restorative practices
- Family surveys
- Staff surveys
- Scripts for discussing trauma and concerns related to the pandemic
- Resources for community and on campus mental health supports
- Frequent and clear communication with families about the plans, implementation and contribution.
- Onboarding for all staff, focusing on their return. Time, resources, and social emotional support will be provided to help staff take better care of themselves in order to better care for students.
- Using restorative practices with staff
- Providing professional development with choice and autonomy for those who have the capacity
- Communicating the plans for reentry and the organization’s plans in relating to staff in regard to human capital, safety and childcare.
Additionally, all TST BOCES employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers many free services including face-to-face and virtual counseling. Information about all social-emotional supports will be made widely available to the TST BOCES community through our communication channels and through resources found on our website. We are committed to developing/making accessible family/caregiver-appropriate social and emotional learning (SEL) content to be used during all phases of our re-entry.
Transitions are important every year, and they will be even more important this fall returning from continuous remote learning to in-person instruction in buildings or a phased in approach to in-person instruction. TST BOCES will support transitions in a culturally responsive manner and engage students, families, and communities in the process of identifying needs and supports. Transitions take many forms and include returning to school in the fall, moving from one grade band to another, or dealing with the varying emotional needs as a result of the health pandemic.
What Mental Health Professionals Can Do In Schools
- Educate staff, parents, and students on symptoms of mental health needs and how to obtain assistance
- Promote social emotional learning competency and build resilience
- Help ensure a positive, safe school environment
- Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making
- Encourage good physical health
- Help ensure access to school-based mental health supports; facilitate the expansion of school-based mental health supports
TST BOCES, as a service provider, has developed program schedules for delivery of instruction based on the in person virtual model. This means that coursework will be developed, housed and primarily delivered in an online environment with in person direct instruction available when students are allowed to be present on campus. This model allows for flexibility for students who need to receive instruction remotely due to COVID-19 considerations or if infections or infection rates force another in person school closure. With this in mind, here are the various scheduling considerations for TST BOCES educational programs:
- Staggered start and end to the school day. Certain busses/districts assigned certain times offset by 15-minute intervals.
- Each bus assigned a drop off spot and students are assigned an entrance into the building. Staff are assigned to monitor each entry point (up to 4) to decrease the number of students and increase flow.
- Breakfast in the classroom gathered by staff
- Scheduled times for students to practice handwashing (before and after breakfast and lunch, between activities, following using the bathroom, before and after using the playground, etc.)
- Playground time will be scheduled
- Outdoor learning spaces will be available when reserved
- Support spaces will be closed and adults reassigned with access to the spaces by one adult and one student at a time.
For information about how school schedule information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication section of our reopening plan.
Attendence, Attendence Reporting and Chronic Absenteeism
All schools in the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) will take daily attendance whether school opens in September in-person, hybrid, or remote. Attendance policies and procedures will be communicated with families and students prior to the start of the school year or if the instructional model changes during the year. Communication will take the form building level parent letters/newsletter, robocalls, emails, text messaging, and social media. Teachers will record daily attendance in School Tool, our student management system, based on the required daily scheduled student contact and engagement. Daily reports will be generated to identify students who are absent and/or chronically absent. Contact with the families will be made daily to determine reasons for absence and needs or barriers the student may have to participate in daily lessons.
Universal TST BOCES Attendance guidelines:
- Students who: turn in work, log in to an online work session, log onto an online therapy session, make contact with instruction or non-instructional staff during the school hours and/or attend in person will be marked as present. Students who do not have consistent internet connectivity will be expected to send a picture or accept a phone call in order to count toward their presence during online instruction.
- Staff will be made aware of the role of educational neglect during the pandemic.
While there is no one-size-fits all approach to addressing chronic absenteeism, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) is committed to providing interventions to prevent and address health-related and mental health chronic absenteeism. We recognize that many factors will influence student attendance and may be greatly impacted by the instructional models provided; in-person, hybrid, and remote.
The Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) addresses chronic absenteeism as follows.
- Nurture a culture of attendance
- Communicate clearly to families and students what the attendance policy is and expectations for participating based on the model of instruction
- Explain the importance of attendance to the entire school community
- Track daily attendance, tardies, and student engagement in one central, secure location with a tool that helps you can quickly see how these data points impact student behavior.
- Early Identification and Intervention
- Each school regularly monitors attendance data and communicates with parents about issues as they arise.
- Use data to identify which students are at risk, so you can intervene before isolated absences become chronic absenteeism.
- Establish intervention plans; parent phone call, home visit, counseling, instructional modifications, engage community partners, etc.
- Create a more positive school culture and a focus on engaging instruction
- Evaluate and address your students’ engagement in learning
- Provide teachers and school leaders with multiple levels of support to help students stay more engaged and act positively.
- Help students achieve positive social and emotional character development, while reinforcing the behaviors that make up your ideal school culture.
- Use goal-based incentives and rewards to motivate attendance and positive student behaviors where age appropriate.
Technology and Connectivity
Access to technology is essential for the successful roll-out of this plan. The Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) has been committed to ongoing planning and implementation of district technologies to ensure equitable access for staff and students. The team has initiated plans that are mindful of student home access to reliable internet and computers.
During the school closure, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) was able to gather data and asked teachers and families to identify their level of access to devices and high-speed broadband from their residence. TST BOCES will continue to assess the ongoing needs of our families for technology and connectivity (survey, interviews, school outreach, etc.) In the event, students and/or teachers do not have access, TST BOCES will take the necessary steps to meet their needs where plausible.
- Students and staff will have access 1 to 1 technology. Students will transport their Chromebook or iPad to and from school daily. Devices will be charged daily upon student arrival to school.
- TST BOCES staff will work with families and districts to ensure stable and reliable internet access for all students, when/where possible
- Staff who do not have access to reliable internet, will be granted access to the Smith building on a case by case basis to perform their job ‘remotely’ if closure is needed.
- Utilize Google classroom or Schoology to load content. This platform will also be deployed when in person in order to ensure/teach virtual learner skills.
- Workbooks will be used at the elementary level, laid out with weekly plans. These will be used in the classroom, so that students have the knowledge and practice necessary to access the work when online is not an option (due to mental health, connectivity or family preference).
- Provide educators with professional development
- Google suite
- PDF editor
- Using a tablet to write while teaching virtually
- Progress monitoring in-person and remotely
- Develop an IT support program for teachers. A person will be available to troubleshoot.
- Access for students and families to IT support
- Utilize a video and curricula library so that others can access materials and resources.
- Use google meet for recording lessons
- State Education Department Issues Guidance to Reopen New York State Schools (July 16, 2020)
- State Education Department Presents Framework of Guidance to Reopen New York State Schools (July 13, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, NYS Department of Health (July 13, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
- (June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Food Services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- (June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Office-Based Work during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- (June 26, 2020)
- Interim Guidance for Public Transportation Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. (June 26, 2020)
- New York State Department of Health Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- New York State Education Department Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Website
Teaching and Learning
In an effort to assure high-quality teaching and learning a continuity of learning plan has been developed for the 2020-21 school year. This on campus in person virtual plan considers and plans for teaching and learning in-person, remotely, and through hybrid models of instruction. Our plan assures that Instruction is aligned with the New York State Learning Standards and assures equity as well as quality for all learners.
Equity is at the heart of all school instructional decisions. All instruction in our district will be designed so that whether it is delivered in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model due to a local or state school closure, there are clear, comprehensive, and accessible learning opportunities for all students. Such opportunities will be aligned with state standards. Our teaching and instructional plan outlines routine, scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from their teachers. Our plan is centered on Instruction and academic programming that includes regular and substantive interaction with an appropriately certified teacher regardless of the delivery method (e.g., in person, remote or hybrid). Our teaching and learning plan includes a clear communication plan for how students and their families/caregivers can contact the school and teachers with questions about their instruction and/or technology. This information will be accessible to all, available in multiple languages, widely disseminated, and include clear and multiple ways for students and families to contact schools and teachers (e.g., email, online platform, and/or by phone) in an effort to assure learning for all.
The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, TST BOCES will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health, cultural competence and technology integration.
As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.
When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.
Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.
Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.
Grading practices will be designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.
Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.
Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms.
All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
Our programs will minimize the movement of students. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible, students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.
To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition to reduce their exposure to additional students.
For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section [provide link] of our reopening plan.
Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, TST BOCES has developed an in person hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.
Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.
To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.
Grading practices will be designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.
For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
TST BOCES will be putting a pause on all extracurricular activities during the re-opening period. This will be reviewed periodically after school re-opening.
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) reopening plan provides a framework to ensure that all students with disabilities continue to have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living in the least restrictive environment (LRE). As a special education service provider, our plans reflect the services provided to special education students on behalf of our sending districts. In our regular education programs (Regional Alternative School; Career and Technical Education) we will apply the services to disabilities framework. In consideration of the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and staff, our plan is designed to enable transitioning between in-person, remote, and hybrid learning environments to ensure the provision of FAPE consistent with the changing health and safety conditions that exist.
Special education programs and services of the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (TST BOCES) provide equity and access for students with disabilities to be involved in and to participate and progress in the general education curriculum with access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability related needs of students. While not all formats allow for maximum benefit to students, these programs and services can be provided in all formats (live-person, hybrid, or remote). TST BOCES will document the programs and services offered and provided to students with disabilities as well as to the communications with parents in their preferred language and mode of communication. TST BOCES will ensure access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability related needs of students.
TST BOCES is committed to providing meaningful parent engagement in the parent’s preferred language or mode of communication regarding the provision of services to his/her child to meet the requirements of the IDEA. Further, we will maintain regular communication with the parents/guardians and other family members of to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process
TST BOCES will maintain records to document the implementation of each IEP. The documentation will include, but will not be limited to: narrative records of how the student is adjusting to live, hybrid, and remote instruction during 2020-21, a record of what instruction and services were provided, a record of formative, summative, and standardized assessments and their results as well as progress monitoring documentation, a record of school-family collaboration, and the provision of any compensatory services records.
Bilingual Education and World Languages
Support of English language learners (ELLs) at TST BOCES will be comprehensive, high-quality, and culturally responsive.
TST BOCES is committed to comprehensive, high-quality, and culturally responsive instruction for ENL students, we will provide the required instructional Units of Study to all ELLs based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or hybrid instruction. Further, we will maintain regular communication with the parents/guardians and other family members of ELLs to ensure that they are engaged in their children’s education during the reopening process which includes telephone contact, text messages, social media, emails and regular mail in their preferred language. We will provide all communications for parents/guardians of ELLs in their preferred language and mode of communication.
TST BOCES will provide professional learning opportunities for our teachers that support best practices and equitable instruction for ELLs as well as general education students to help address learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 school closures.
In order to assure that students have opportunities to study world languages we are prepared to teach in the in-person, hybrid, or remote format upon reopening. TST BOCES will support our students as they work towards earning the New York States Seal of Biliteracy.
Through using our BOCES resources, we are well prepared to reopen our schools and serve ELLs, MLLs, and students learning world languages as they expand their skills, knowledge, and facilities with languages.
Teacher and Principal Evaluation System
All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to TST BOCES’ approved APPR plan. TST BOCES will consider whether their currently approved APPR plans may need to be revised in order to be consistent with their plans for re-opening under an in-person, remote or hybrid instructional model. School leaders will continue to attend annually required Lead Evaluator training.
Certification, Incidental Teaching and Substitute Teaching
All teachers will hold valid and appropriate certificates for teaching assignment, except where otherwise allowable under the Commissioner’s regulations (e.g., incidental teaching) or education law.
Student teachers from NYSED registered college or university programs can serve under the supervision of fully certified teachers in TST BOCES. Student teachers will follow all of the social distancing, mask wearing, health status reporting, and other COVID-19 procedures that the teachers follow. Student teachers will serve under the supervision of our full-time certified teachers only. At no time will a student teacher be used as a teacher of record.