The Bedford Central School District released its highly anticipated reopening plans this week and unveiled another questionnaire to gauge parent’s comfort levels sending their children to school this fall.
The extensive 41-page document will provide guidance for the district’s five elementary schools, middle school, high school and the Hillside Program as they prepare for a school year like no other.
“Together, as a district and community we will continue to move forward and engage students in learning,” the reopening outline reads.
Due to the moderate risk of exposure to coronavirus that still exists in Westchester, the district has announced it will begin the school year using a hybrid instruction model. This means schools will remain open with enhanced social distancing measures and reduced building density.
In accordance with Center for Disease Control guidelines, students, employees and all other building occupants will also be screened for COVID-19 before they arrive at school. Screening will be performed remotely and consist of temperature checks, assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and answering a questionnaire. To ensure compliance, the district has established the position of COVID-19 coordinator who will oversee all aspects of the district plan. BCSD also designated a site safety monitor who will ensure compliance with this plan at the district’s schools. Additional site monitors have been identified in departments throughout the district.
Even if children are healthy enough to attend school, actually getting there could pose another challenge. In order to maintain social distancing, district buses will need to operate at reduced capacity. For this reason, students are being encouraged to find alternative modes of transportation — parent drop-off, walking and biking, for instance.
To reduce close contact of persons entering and exiting the building, schools will also be communicating with students and staff to stagger arrival and drop-off times and locations.
Once inside the building, all students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, aside from periodic mask breaks. When walking to class, students will follow visual guides marked on the floor to ensure social distancing in hallways and stairways.
Class dismissals will be staggered, as will lunch pickups/deliveries to classrooms from the cafeteria (elementary) and designated lunch periods (secondary).
The coveted senior privilege of leaving campus for lunch has been revoked this year for safety reasons.
Classrooms will be set up for optimal physical distancing, with some large common areas repurposed as classrooms. Occupancy in any space will not exceed 50% of the maximum on-site capacity.
Regarding extracurriculars, school officials will meet in September with club organizers to evaluate each club and whether or not it can resume. In terms of athletics, the district is following guidance from the New York State Department of Education, the Department of Health and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
In the event a person becomes ill with COVID-like symptoms while at school, procedures have been put in place to minimize exposure, contact-trace and, if necessary, close the school for a short time.
The school has also established a reentry plan for individuals to follow once they are approved to return after experiencing symptoms or testing positive.
“This plan has built in flexibility to adjust to changes through this pandemic,” the district outline stated.
In the event the district determines for safety reasons it must fully move to remote instruction, students will engage in learning electronically and not report to the school buildings.
In this case the district will:
- Continue to provide essential meal services.
- Restrict only essential staff to report in-person.
- Leverage virtual tools and platforms to keep in-person reporting to a minimum.
- Coordinate with local and state Department of Health officials.
- Participate in contact tracing efforts, to the extent feasible.
- Close off affected areas of the school building and if possible, wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
Regarding remote instruction, the district has issued an assurance that education would be
aligned to the New York State Learning Standard and continue to provide substantive interaction between teachers and students, including routine scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from their teachers.
A remote model must also address the provision of free appropriate public education consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing special education and services, district officials noted.
To view the reopening plan in full and the 2020 Learning Guides, visit bcsdny.org.