- Learning Model
- Teacher Preparation
- Social, Emotional & Mental Health Support
- Health & Safety
- General Questions
How did the District determine the hybrid learning model is the most effective?
After considerable field testing and action research, using our summer programs and professional learning, the District determined it will be most effective to deliver high-quality instruction to small groups in-person on alternating full days of school, a hybrid learning model.
The model addresses the requirement to socially distance students, faculty, and staff. Class sizes will be at 50% of normal capacity. The extended day experience will stabilize students, normalize their school experience, and provide uninterrupted time for direct interaction with teachers and classmates. To ensure continuity of learning, students will not be pulled out of class for any support or lessons during the time they are in school. Students also will have the opportunity to interact with teachers on the days they learn from home.
What are the benefits of the District's hybrid learning model?
The alternating full-day hybrid learning model is constructed to maximize learning, minimize disruption, and maintain continuity of learning if we are required to go into full quarantine again. The model is structured on the premise that students' direct contact with teachers should not change if schools are closed again. High-quality teaching requires monitoring student engagement and interaction. The hybrid model supports these goals. If an entirely virtual model is required, the hybrid model seamlessly adapts. Students will maintain precisely the same schedule in the hybrid and virtual models. Class sizes remain at half the number of students, increasing the opportunity for students to have as successful an experience in the virtual environment as in the hybrid learning model.
Will there be a full virtual learning option while schools offer the hybrid model?
The District will offer a full virtual learning option. Complete details will be added to the Reopening Plan and shared with parents. Families will have the option to choose either full virtual or hybrid learning for their children. A survey to request your choice of learning model is forthcoming.
If a parent/guardian selects the virtual learning option, their child will be assigned to a student group (Husky & Pride) and follow the hybrid learning schedule from home. Days assigned as on site learning will be synchronous learning from home days. the student will follow the same schedule as students who are attending school. Students will experience synchronous and asynchronous learning from home the remaining three days per week. Parents are advised that there is no replacement for in person teaching.
Parents who select the virtual model for their students should be aware:
A student will be required to remain in the virtual model for a full marking period at the middle and high school level, and for a full semester at the elementary level. Students will only be permitted to change their placement to the beginning of a marking period or semester.
During live classroom lessons, teachers will do their best to simultaneously manage the in person and virtual environments.
Teachers are developing a grading system that will address the different circumstances under which students will be assessed.
In the event it becomes necessary for all students to learn from home every day as a result of a school or district-wide closure, the hybrid model will be adapted so student groupings are maintained (Husky & Pride). Students will follow the same daily schedule as if they were in school, and on-site learning days become synchronous learning from home days for all students. Please note, classes sizes will remain at half to support effective supervision, engagement, and instruction.
What has the District done to better prepare teachers to teach in the virtual environment?
Since May the District has worked tirelessly to prepare teachers to succeed in the virtual environment. They have participated in professional development focused on research-based approaches to teaching and learning in the virtual environment. More than 70 online workshops were offered to support teachers with more than 1400 registrants. This extraordinary participation is evidence of our comprehensive approach to professional development and our highly dedicated faculty.
Simultaneously, District leadership developed a comprehensive set of summer programs to support and extend student learning and serve as an instructional lab. These virtual programs served more than 700 students K-12. Through an action research model, teachers developed prototypes for synchronous and asynchronous learning. Among the outcomes of this Lab experience, elementary teachers developed more than 500 reading, writing and mathematics lessons for students to learn from home and for instruction during the school year.
As part of the district’s professional development program, teams of teachers have invested upwards of 1,000 hours redesigning curriculum for virtual learning. To ensure ongoing support, teacher leaders have been trained to partner with curriculum directors to serve as school-based experts in virtual instructional design.
How will the District support the social emotional needs of students during the pandemic?
Prioritizing the social-emotional needs of students is a critical component to student learning. The District has a robust Social-Emotional-Learning Curricula K-12 and is proactive in supporting wellness and providing social-emotional-learning and emotionally safe and sensitive classrooms for all students.
Mental health, behavioral, and emotional support is available to students as they return to school. Psychologists have received substantive clinical training in trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive teaching practices in addition to ongoing training in cognitive-behavioral and dialectical behavior therapies to help students develop skills in emotional regulation, mindfulness, and distress tolerance among other wellness skills.
This past summer, psychologists and teacher leaders facilitated Professional Development in trauma-sensitive classrooms for faculty. District staff is trained in how to talk with and support students during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, and are skilled in supporting students to develop coping and resilience skills. A district-wide behavioral specialist supports a comprehensive approach to addressing the social-emotional-behavioral needs of students and families.
Our professional staff will be vigilant in supporting students; however, students or parents in need of support should reach out directly to their teacher, counselor or principal.
How will the District support the well-being of teachers during the pandemic?
There is nothing more important than ensuring our teachers are well supported and are placed in a circumstance that supports their success and the success of their students. The District had been working with our teachers since May to prepare for the reopening of school. The greatest challenge for teachers is simultaneously managing in-person learning and the virtual environment. During the summer, teachers engaged in over a thousand hours of high-quality curriculum and lesson development in preparation for the return to school. They have redesigned units, lessons, and curriculum to effectively deliver instruction in the new school year. Teachers will be provided time each week throughout the year to plan and work collaboratively on how best to support student learning.
What is the process for daily COVID-19 screening for students, staff and visitors?
The District will send a daily digital survey to parents via a dedicated, secure mobile app, which requires them to answer COVID-19 screening questions and to report whether or not the student/staff member has a temperature of 100° Fahrenheit or higher that day. When students arrive at school, a student-specific QR code will be scanned to confirm that the screening questions and temperature were taken for each student. The same process will be used for staff each day. When visitors arrive at the school, they will be required to answer the same screening questions and have their temperature taken before being granted entry to the school.
How are you keeping children who ride the bus to school safe?
Consistent with state-issued public school transportation and New York State Department of Health guidance, students and adults who ride school buses are required to wear masks. Students are not permitted to sit together, with the exception that siblings from the same household may sit together.
- The district will limit students to one per seat which is 50% or less of full bus capacity (approximately 21 students per bus).
- All students and monitors on school buses will be required to wear a face mask at all times (e.g., entering, exiting, and while seated), unless a disability or medical condition prohibits wearing of a face covering. If a student does not have a mask, one will be provided.
- Eating and drinking is not allowed on school buses and will be strictly enforced.
Drivers and Monitors:
- School bus drivers will wear a face mask unless it inhibits their ability to drive.
- Drivers and monitors will be trained regarding the use of PPE, social distancing, and symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- Drivers and monitors will complete daily COVID-19 symptom screening before beginning bus routes.
- Masks and gloves will be provided to drivers and monitors; monitors will wear masks at all times, and gloves will be worn when direct contact with students.
Health and Safety:
- Bus windows will be open for ventilation when possible.
- High contact areas will be disinfected between morning and afternoon bus runs.
- School buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily.
How will the policy to wear masks be implemented?
Students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times while on school property, in school buildings, and on school buses. Mask wearing will be strictly enforced for all students, faculty and staff, with the following exceptions: while eating lunch, during designated mask breaks under the supervision of an adult, students or employees unable to wear a mask due to medical necessity (with district authorization), and outdoors when socially distanced and permitted by faculty or staff. In the event a student arrives at school without a mask, one will be provided by the District.
Are there times when students do not wear masks?
Lunch: Students will be permitted to take off their masks while eating but will be required to replace them when their meals are finished. Cafeteria furniture has been arranged to limit the number of students at each table to ensure social distancing while eating. Students will be assigned to a cohort with whom they will eat each day they are at school.
Mask Breaks: Wearing masks over an extended period of time especially for young students is challenging. We will provide built-in mask breaks. Teachers are given the flexibility to take their class outdoors at any time, or to large instructional spaces where students can be afforded a mask break. Teachers will do periodic check-ins as some students may require more frequent breaks.
In the event a student, faculty or staff member is unable to wear a mask due to medical or educational necessity, additional PPE is required. District authorization is required.
If a student has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 what is required before the student is permitted back to school?
The District is awaiting guidance from the NYSDOH to develop a clear protocol that will be followed when students present with symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19.
What qualifies as an exposure to COVID-19?
Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a person displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer. Close contacts will be required to quarantine. Proximate contact is defined as being in the same enclosed environment such as a classroom or office, but greater than 6 feet from a person displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19. The Westchester County Department of Health will determine if a proximate contact should be under quarantine.
How long will contacts to positive COVID-19 cases be required to quarantine?
Individuals who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the day they were last exposed. A negative test does not release an individual from quarantine because the incubation period requires quarantine for 14 days.
When should an exposed individual get tested for COVID-19?
Testing should be conducted approximately 5 days after exposure. Exposed individuals must remain on quarantine until being tested and must immediately return to quarantine following such testing. If a person tests positive, they will be placed in isolation (for a period determined by the NYSDOH). Even if the test is negative, the individual must continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.
If a child tests positive and has a sibling in the school, should the school keep the sibling out of school?
Yes, unless the siblings reside in separate households, the sibling must be placed on quarantine which would mean that the sibling should not attend school during the required 14-day period for quarantine.
Does the student have to quarantine if the parent had contact and is quarantining, but does not have symptoms?
If a member of the household is quarantining because of either a known exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual or because of travelling, other members of the household can leave the home if that person can quarantine properly from the household members. A quarantined person should:
Separate themselves from other members of the household
Use a separate bedroom and bathroom
Do not share linens, towels, eating utensils, cups and plates
Limit time in common household areas, such as kitchens.
Under which circumstances would a student be required to have to take a COVID-19 test? If results take up to 14 days to be received, what arrangements students will be taught virtually during their quarantine or recuperation?
The District cannot currently mandate that a student undergo a COVID-19 test but, as described above, a student with COVID-19 symptoms will be required to stay home for 10 days and be symptom free for at least 72 hours before returning to school, or until he/she has a negative COVID-19 test result. While the District is still finalizing plans for the educational support students will receive while home recovering or during quarantine, students will have access to assignments and synchronous instructional time with their teacher while at home.
Do students coming back from vacation from states on Governor Cuomo’s travel advisory need to quarantine?
Yes, students who are coming to New York from any of the states on the travel advisory need to quarantine for 14 days. The most up-to-date list of states subject to the travel advisory can be found here.
If a person travels to a state with a mandatory quarantine upon return to NY, but their child, who lives with them, did not travel, does the child also have to quarantine, or can they attend school?
No, the child can attend school as long as the traveler in the household remains asymptomatic and does not test positive for COVID-19.
Where can students, faculty and staff get tested for COVID-19?
A list of testing sites can be found on the Westchester County Department of Health website under the testing, results and treatment lab. Students, faculty and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site.
Is there a charge for COVID-19 tests conducted at state-run facilities?
No, there is no out of pocket charge for COVID-19 tests conducted at state-run facilities, but insurance information may be requested.
If a parent or caregiver in the household has been exposed to COVID-19, what is required for students to attend school or to have access to virtual learning?
If a parent or family member has been exposed to COVID-19, the student(s) in the home will be required to quarantine for fourteen days as per NYSDOH guidance. During this time, the student(s) will have access to virtual learning, which will include assignments and synchronous instructional time with their teacher while at home.
When can a person who has tested positive return to school? Is it the same process for students, faculty and staff?
If the individual who tested positive has symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) the clearance criteria for release from isolation are:
It’s been at least 10 days since the individual first started experiencing symptoms; AND
The individual hasn’t had a fever in at least 3 days, without taking fever-reducing medication (such as Tylenol); AND
Any shortness of breath/coughing/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell has improved.
If the individual who tested positive is asymptomatic the Clearance Criteria are:
It’s been at least 10 days since the person’s first positive COVID-19 test was collected; AND
The individual hasn’t had any subsequent illness.
How will the District ensure buildings are adequately cleaned and sanitized?
The District has rearranged custodian schedules to accommodate more cleaning throughout the day. Our custodial staff is fully staffed into the evening: 10:00 PM at the elementary schools, and 11:00 PM at the middle and high school. Each school will be completely sanitized using electrostatic cleaners throughout the entire building on a daily basis. Cafeterias will be thoroughly cleaned between lunch periods.
It is not possible at the high school for teachers to travel to students, as each class is a unique set of students. The middle school will limit the change of classes when possible, but students will change settings throughout the day to provide needed breaks in routines, to eat lunch in small, socially-distanced cohorts in the cafeteria, and to access encore classes.
The following protocols are in place to address the changing of classes: Teachers will distribute large sheets of paper at the beginning of every class for students to cover desks. Students will be required to remove and dispose of paper sheets as they exit. Sanitizing supplies are available in every classroom, including hand sanitizer.
The use of lockers at the middle and high school will be limited. Students will be provided implements for their own use in technology and art.
Are schools responsible for contact tracing for students, faculty and staff?
While the NYSDOH has the primary responsibility for contact tracing, effective contact tracing is a joint collaborative effort, and the District will share information with the NYSDOH as required, which may include providing staff and student lists, schedules and other information to identify exposed individuals, arrange for testing, etc.
Will contact tracers release the name of the positive individual to their contacts?
No. Contact tracers will tell potentially infected persons that they were exposed – they will not disclose the identity of the person to whom they were exposed.
Who decides if schools open or close?
All public schools in New York State are required to open in September for some degree of in-person instruction, unless the Governor’s Office determines infection rates dictate otherwise.
According to the Westchester County Department of Health, the decision as to whether a school or classroom should be closed because of COVID-19 rests solely with the school and school district. The Westchester County Commissioner of Health has the legal authority to determine who needs to isolate and quarantine due to COVID-19 positive cases and/or exposure to a COVID-19 case. Relying on guidance from the New York State Department of Health and in consultation with the New York State Education Department, the District will make the determination when a classroom(s) or school(s) needs to be closed as a result of positive cases of COVID-19.
Will siblings attend school on the same day?
To the best of our ability the District will schedule siblings at the secondary level for in-person instruction on the same days. Elementary siblings will be scheduled for in-person instruction on the same days when possible.
May I drop my child off before school begins so I arrive at work on time?
All existing drop of options at elementary schools remain unchanged. Each school will have a designated space for students who arrive before the start of the school day, provided the number of students permits for social distancing.
Is there an after school program?
After-school daycare will be provided to students who are in attendance at school on a given school day for those students whose parents have registered for this service through the Harrison Children’s Center. Safety precautions (i.e., social distancing, wearing face coverings, hand washing, etc.) will be enforced by staff who supervise the after-school program.
Will I be allowed to visit my child’s school?
Visiting school buildings is discouraged unless absolutely necessary. In the event of a necessary visit parents/guardians should contact the school in advance. All visitors are required to undergo a COVID-19 screening, including the taking of temperature using a dedicated, secure mobile app designed for this purpose. Parents/guardians are encouraged to schedule virtual appointments with faculty when necessary. Each school will outline procedures for any necessary visits to buildings and communicate those procedures with parents/guardians.
When will student schedules be released?
The District will expedite notification of student schedules to give parents as much time as possible to plan for the start of school.
What is the status of extracurricular activities and interscholastic athletics?
To the greatest extent possible, HCSD will permit extracurricular activities (i.e., clubs) to occur on school grounds outside of the school day, with proper safety protocols in effect (e.g., social distancing, use of face coverings, hand washing, etc.). Clubs may also meet virtually on days when students are not in attendance, as practicable. Interscholastic sports will only be permitted to the extent allowed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Education Department. In the event that the district must implement full virtual learning from home model, then extracurricular clubs and interscholastic sports will be maintained virtually to the extent possible to support the social and emotional well-being of students through these enriching activities.