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Blueprint for COVID-19 School Reopening

If you would like to read this document in other languages, please click the Google Translate button on the bottom of this page. 
 
 

COMMACK UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT

Commack, New York

BOARD OF EDUCATION

Mr. Steven Hartman

President

Mr. Jarrett Behar

Vice President

Mr. William Hender

Trustee

Ms. Susan Hermer

Trustee

Mr. Justin Varughese

Trustee


ADMINISTRATION

Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Donald James

Associate Superintendent for Business & Operations

Mrs. Laura Newman

Executive Director of Instructional Services

Mr. Jordan Cox

Executive Director for Educational Resources & Special Projects

Dr. Michael Inforna

Administrative Associate for Instructional Technology

Mr. Jose Santiago

Curriculum Associate 

Mrs. Carrie Lipenholtz

Curriculum Associate 

Ms. Sari Goldberg

The Commack School District Mission Statement

Within the context of a caring community of learners, our primary mission is to provide an exemplary learning experience that will allow each child to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to become a successful, contributing member within our school community and greater society.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BACKGROUND                                                                                             

INTRODUCTION                                                                                           

COMMUNICATION/FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT       

Hand Hygiene

Proper Face Covering Procedures (how to wear and remove)                        

Social Distancing                                                                                         

Respiratory Hygiene                                                                                    

Identifying Symptoms                                                                                 

School Closures                                                                                           

HEALTH AND SAFETY                                                                                

Health Checks                                                                                             

Students                                                                                                      

Staff                                                                                                            

Social distancing, Face coverings & PPE                                                      

Infection Control Strategies                                                                          

Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures                                                                  

Bathrooms                                                                                              

Ventilation                                                                                             

Management of Ill Persons, Contact Tracing and Monitoring                        

Aerosol Generating Procedures                                                                    

If A Student or Staff Becomes Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School    

Return to School After Illness                                                                      

Contact Tracing                                                                                           

School Closures                                                                                           

Health Hygiene                                                                                           

Hand Hygiene                                                                                             

Respiratory Hygiene                                                                                    

Cleaning and Disinfecting                                                                            

Vulnerable Populations/Accommodations                                                    

Visitors On Campus                                                                                     

School Safety Drills                                                                                     

FACILITIES                                                                                                  

Bathrooms                                                                                                   

Ventilation                                                                                                  

Classrooms                                                                                                  

Custodial                                                                                                     

Other                                                                                                           

NUTRITION                                                                                                   

Meals Onsite                                                                                              

Meals Offsite/Remote                                                                                  

TRANSPORTATION                                                                                      

School Bus Staff                                                                                          

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING                                                        

SCHOOL SCHEDULES                                                                                 

Traditional Brick and Mortar                                                                        

The Commack Model                                                                                  

Every Other Day K-12                                                                                 

Long-Term Remote Learning (eLearning)                                                    

ATTENDANCE AND CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM                                       

TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY                                                      

Access to Devices                                                                                        

Access to High Speed Internet                                                                      

Demonstrating Learning in a Remote Setting                                                

TEACHING AND LEARNING                                                                      

In-Person Instruction                                                                                   

Remote/Hybrid Instruction                                                                           

SCHOOL ACTIVITIES                                                                                  

Childcare                                                                                                    

SPECIAL EDUCATION                                                                                 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)                                                  

Engagement                                                                                                

Collaboration                                                                                              

Access                                                                                                        

Documentation                                                                                            

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)                                                           

IEP Implementation                                                                                     

Provision of Services                                                                                   

Progress Monitoring                                                                                    

Best Practices - Contingency Plans                                                               

Compensatory Services                                                                                

IEP Implementation Documentation                                                             

Child Find                                                                                                   

Referral                                                                                                       

Initial and Reevaluations                                                                              

Eligibility Determinations                                                                            

Communication and Meaningful Outreach                                                    

Procedural Safeguards/PWNS                                                                      

Partnership                                                                                                  

Accomodations                                                                                            

Supplementary Aids                                                                                    

Technology                                                                                                 

BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND WORLD LANGUAGES                           

CERTIFICATION/INCIDENTAL TEACHING                                            

SUBSTITUTE TEACHING AND STUDENT TEACHING                           

TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION SYSTEM                             

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS                                                          

BACKGROUND

On March 7, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.0, declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. Community transmission of COVID-19 has occurred throughout New York state. To minimize further spread, various health and safety protocols have been determined as necessary to prevent the spread by the Department of Health.  

On March 16, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.4, ordering all schools to close no later than March 18, 2020. Subsequent Executive Orders extended such closure through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. On June 5, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.37, allowing in-person special education services and instruction during the summer term, provided that any District offering such services follow state and federal guidance.

On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.6, directing all non-essential businesses to close in-office personnel functions. Essential businesses, as defined by Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) guidance, were not subject to the in-person restriction, but were, however, directed to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and were strongly urged to maintain social distancing measures to the extent possible.

On April 12, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.16, directing essential businesses to provide employees, who are present in the workplace, with a face covering, at no-cost, that must be used when in direct contact with customers or members of the public during the course of their work. On April 15, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.17, directing that any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering must cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance. On April 16, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.18, directing that everyone using public or private transportation carriers or other for-hire vehicles, who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering, must wear a mask or face covering over the nose and mouth during any such trip. It also directed any operators or drivers of public or private transport to wear a face covering or mask which covers the nose and mouth while there are any passengers in such a vehicle. On May 29, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.34, authorizing business operators/owners with the discretion to deny admittance to individuals who fail to comply with the face covering or mask requirements.

On April 26, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced a phased approach to reopen industries and businesses in New York in phases based upon a data-driven, regional analysis. On May 4, 2020, the Governor provided that the regional analysis would consider several public health factors, including new COVID-19 infections, as well as health care system, diagnostic testing, and contact tracing capacity. On May 11, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that the first phase of reopening would begin on May 15, 2020 in several regions of New York, based upon available regional metrics and indicators. On May 29, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that the second phase of reopening would begin in several regions of the state, and announced the use of a new early warning dashboard that aggregates the state's expansive data collection efforts for New Yorkers, government officials, and experts to monitor and review where and how the virus is being contained to ensure a safe reopening. On June 11, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that the third phase of reopening would begin on June 12, 2020 in several regions of New York. On June 24, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that several regions of the state were on track to enter the fourth phase of reopening, starting on June 26, 2020.

On May 8, 2020, Governor Cuomo launched New York's Reimagine Education Advisory Council – made up of educators, students, parents/guardians, and educational leaders – to help school Districts, colleges, and universities reimagine teaching and learning as they prepare to reopen while protecting the health and safety of students and educators. 

INTRODUCTION

On Monday, July 13, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school Districts in New York can follow plans to reopen for in-person schooling in September if COVID-19 infection rates stay at 5% or lower in a given region.

Determinations will be made by region about opening and closing schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If a region is in Phase 4 and has a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average, schools in that region could hold in-person instruction. If daily infection rates exceed 9% over a seven-day average, however, schools in that region would not reopen. Similarly, should a region see such an average after reopening, schools in that region would also be directed to close.

While Districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the District is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as a model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents/guardians will have the choice to remain in the remote learning model. The District initiated a survey to the parents/guardians to gauge the number of students who will not be returning to in-person instruction.  The District will take the necessary steps to establish a remote learning platform to ensure continuity of instruction for those students who are unable to attend school.

The plan outlines the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year. This plan includes protocols and procedures for all Commack Schools

The health and safety of the District’s students,staff and families is the top priority. The District wants students and employees to 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 the District may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus, and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of the decision making as the District moves to open our schools.

Mr. Jordan Cox  and Dr. Michael Inforna will serve as the District’s COVID-19 Coordinators.  Mr. Cox and Dr. Inforna will work closely with the local health department and will serve as a central contact for schools, stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the District is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. The contact information for Mr. Cox and Dr. Inforna can be found on the District Website.  

The closing of schools in March 2020 had a profound impact on the Commack community.  This impact will continue to be felt through the 2020-2021 school year and beyond.  While no one can predict all of the challenges that may arise, it was imperative that the Commack School District develop a plan for the safe and orderly return to school for students and staff. 

The Guiding Principles for the District’s Blueprint for Reopening Schools are:

  1.  The health, safety and security of our students and staff is paramount in the successful reopening of Commack Schools.
  2.  It is critical to have strategies and support for students, families and staff members in place for each phase of recovery (before reopening, immediately after reopening and long-term support).
  3.  Due to the potential loss of formalized education as a result of COVID-19, it will be necessary to deliver a program that ensures the successful growth of our students toward the end of the 2020 - 2021 school year.
  4.  It is necessary to maintain a collaborative relationship with parents/guardians and the school community.


The Blueprint for Reopening Commack Schools is intended to provide the Commack community with a plan for reopening school buildings whether instruction occurs in-person, remotely, or a combination of the two.  The blueprint includes essential elements of the reopening plan such as health and safety, facilities, nutrition, transportation, social emotional well-being of students and staff, school schedules, budget and fiscal matters, attendance and chronic absenteeism, technology and connectivity, teaching and learning, special education, bilingual education and world languages, and staffing and human resources.

The 2020-2021 school year will be our time to recover, rebuild and renew the spirit of the Commack School District.  The District is committed to working with staff, students, parents/guardians, and the Commack Community to address the challenges the District will continue to face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with resiliency, tenacity and grit.

The Commack School District is committed to ensuring a successful and safe reopening of our school buildings.  The District will be providing training and instruction on health and hygiene protocols and procedures.  The instructional focus will be on core instruction, recovery of skills, and subsequent growth.  The District will work with school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to build and develop strategies and supports for students, families and staff members for each phase of recovery.  The District will provide professional development for secondary staff, students and families on remote learning for eLearning (off-site) days.  The District will also prepare staff, students and families to transition to eLearning in the event of a subsequent school closure.

COMMUNICATION/FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

To help inform our reopening plan, the District initiated a Reopening Task Force to seek feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials, health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included multiple committee meetings, connector groups, focus groups, online surveys, virtual forums/meetings, public Board of Education meetings, and one-on-one conversations.

The District remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents/guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the District website at https://www.commack.k12.ny.us/, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the website homepage.  Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the District website.

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the District has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to District staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The District will use its existing communication channels – including Livestream Broadcasts, The Commack App, email, text, School Messenger, website postings, and more– as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols, procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. 

The District is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The District will rely on Livestream Broadcasts, Prerecorded Videos to the Community, Video Tutorials, Email, Text Message, and more  to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that the District will share will be based on state guidance and information obtained through our District Task Force for Reopening which is a compilation of hard work from Administrators, Teachers, Staff, Parents/Guardians, and Students.

In support of remote learning, the District will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. The District has purchased 6,000 devices, one for every student in the District.  In addition, the District will have laptops available for every staff member. The District will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email and phone directory. 

The District will use existing internal and external communication channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.  On July 15, 2020, the Commack School District released preliminary structural models for reopening based on NYSDOH, CDC and NYSED Guidelines.  The District will continue to apprise the community regarding the details if and when a decision is made. 

The District will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents/guardians regarding the provision of special education services for their child. The special education department will continue to participate in Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) video conferencing meetings where information will be disseminated along with letters to parents/guardians on a regular basis.  Case managers are required to have on-going conversations with parents/guardians to keep them informed and in contact with the school to foster the home to school connection.

In addition, the District will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. Translation services have been provided to our teachers in order to eliminate any language barriers.  Furthermore, the online eLearning delivery platform allows for a full translation of any documents as well.

The District is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the District will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

Hand Hygiene


  •  Students and staff will be trained on proper hand washing techniques and frequency.
  •  Ample supplies will be provided in classrooms, bathrooms and hand sanitizing stations.
  •  Students and staff will be required to sanitize and/or wash hands upon entering the building.

Proper Face Covering Procedures (how to wear and remove) 

  •  Students and staff will receive training on how to properly wear and remove a face covering.
  •  Students will be required to wear face coverings when not seated at their desks (i.e. hallways, restrooms, buses, common areas). Students may wear masks all day if they choose. However, every desk will have a plastic sneeze guard. The removable sneeze guard installs on student desks and creates a see through barrier.

Social Distancing

  • Every classroom will have approximately 10-15 students (depending on room size) so they can be seated according to the NYS Department of Health guidelines. (6 ft. apart) Students will be required to wear face coverings when not seated at their desks (i.e. hallways, restrooms, common areas). 

Respiratory Hygiene

  • The District will provide training and signage, created by the Centers for Disease Control, on respiratory hygiene such as covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. 

Identifying Symptoms

  • The District will provide training  to parents/guardians through video tutorials in order to be aware of the protocols on how to inform their child's school should their child develop symptoms.  Parents/guardians will receive notification through the Commack COVID App with a form required to be completed related to health screening necessary to determine if their child/children may attend school and should consult with their health care provider.  Upon arrival, all students will pass through a temperature scanner and their COVID App form will be cross-referenced.   The NYSDOH states:  
    • Any individual who screens positive for COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, if screened at the school, must be immediately sent home with instructions to contact their health care provider for assessment and testing.  
    • Students who are being sent home because of a positive screen (e.g., onset of COVID-19 symptoms) must be immediately separated from other students and supervised until their parent/ guardian or emergency contact can retrieve them from school. 

The District will create and display signage throughout the District to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas:

  •  Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  •  Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to they will be worn 
  •  Hand washing
  •  Adherence to social distancing instructions
  •  Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

In addition to signage, the District will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) guidance regarding the use of PPE.

The District is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our District will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The District will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

School Closures

The District is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.

  • If a staff member or student comes into direct contact (within six feet) with a person with COVID-19, they must report such to the District. This is immediately reported to the Department of Health. They are then disallowed from entering school property and would likely be self-quarantined by the Department of Health for 14 days. Subsequently, if they had entered a school or building, said building would be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before students and staff would be permitted to return. The District will consult with the Suffolk County Department of Health to determine further guidance regarding closure.
  •  If a staff member or student comes into direct contact (within six feet) with a person with COVID-19, they must report such to the District. This is immediately reported to the Department of Health. They are then disallowed from entering school property and would likely be self-quarantined by the Department of Health for 14 days. Subsequently, if they had entered a school or building, said building would be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before students and staff would be permitted to return. The District will consult with the Suffolk County Department of Health to determine further guidance regarding closure.
The District may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The District will consult with the local Department of Health when making such decisions. 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations, requirements, 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 District schools for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact the District’s COVID-19 safety coordinators at jcox@commack.k12.ny.us or minforna@commack.k12.ny.us.

Health Checks

The District has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100.0° F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources.

The Commack School District will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screenings.

Students

  • Parents/guardians will receive notification through our COVID App.
  • Parents/guardians will be required to complete a form related to health screening necessary to determine if their child/children may attend school and if they should consult with their health care provider.
  • Upon arrival, all students will be socially distanced (6ft apart) wearing a face covering and supervised by staff.
  •  Students will pass through a temperature scanner.
  •  An individual who screens positive for COVID exposure or symptoms must be immediately sent home with instructions to contact their Health Provider.
  • Students who require screening to be completed at school will be treated in a confidential manner and the screening is completed as quickly as possible to minimize time away from class.
  • Students with a temperature of 100.0°F or greater or who have a positive response to a screening question will be isolated from other students.  The student’s parent/guardian will be contacted and he/she will be immediately dismissed from school.

Staff


  • All staff will complete a Health Screening/Entry Requirements Questionnaire using our COVID App which will be monitored by a building Administrator.
  • If a staff member does not have access to the COVID app, a paper copy of the Health Screening/Entry Requirements will be made available. 
  • All staff shall wear face coverings or PPE based on job function per NYSDOH guidelines.
  • All staff are required to pass through a Temperature Scanner necessary to enter the school.
  • Any person failing the health screening may not enter the building or return to work until medically cleared.
  • If a staff member or student comes into direct contact (within six feet) with a person with COVID-19, they must report such to the District.
  • This is immediately reported to the Department of Health.
  • They are then disallowed from entering school property and would likely be self-quarantined by the Department of Health for 14 days.
  • Subsequently, if they had entered a school or building, said building would be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before students and staff would be permitted to return. This may call for the facility to be closed for a period of time.
  •  If a staff member or student with COVID-19 enters a school facility: 
  • This is immediately reported to the Department of Health and the school closed until the DOH assesses the situation and makes the appropriate recommendations regarding cleaning, disinfecting and possible self-quarantine of others and/or possible closing of the facility.

Social distancing, Face coverings & PPE

The District has developed a plan with protocols and procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.

Commack School District has acquired social distancing signage including social distancing decals on the floor, tape marking 6ft separation, directional arrows in the hallway etc.

If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to educational services and instruction, staff will be provided with additional PPE, gloves, face shields, or a barrier between the student and teacher.

Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings indoors and outside, including on the school bus, when six-foot physical distancing is not possible. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.

Students and staff will need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance.  Therefore, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school.

Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.

An employee is encouraged to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate a face covering will not be required to do so.

Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be periods of time when masks are not worn.

Face coverings should not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old. 
  • Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to educational services and instruction.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. 

 The District will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff on:

  • The proper way to wear face coverings.
  • Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering.
  • Proper way to discard disposable face coverings. 



We are asking students and staff to provide their own face coverings. However, in the event someone does not have an adequate face covering, the District will provide one.


Infection Control Strategies

Students and staff will be trained on proper hand washing techniques and frequency.
 Ample supplies will be provided in classrooms, bathrooms and hand sanitizing stations.
 Students and staff will be required to sanitize and/or wash hands upon entering the building.
 Student groupings are as static as possible by having the same group/cohort of students.
 Movement will be reduced, where possible, by keeping students within a defined area.
 Schedules are created to reduce student movement in areas such as hallways.  Secondary buildings are reduced to 50% capacity.

Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

Bathrooms

In order to maintain the required number of fixtures, the District will be monitoring bathroom access in order to maintain social distancing. Paper towel dispensers will be installed in bathrooms to replace hand dryers; existing hand dryers will be disabled; however, not removed.

Ventilation

Where possible, filtration will be upgraded to MERV 13; If possible, the District will look to upgrade the uni-vent filtration to that level as well. Ventilation will be closely monitored during the school year and will be immediately repaired as needed. Teachers are encouraged to open classroom windows to increase ventilation.

Management of Ill Persons, Contact Tracing and Monitoring

The District requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The District has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on the severity of their illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.

School

COVID Symptoms Isolation Area

Treatment/

Medication Area

Commack High School

Room A-3

Health Office

Commack Middle School

Room A-1

Health Office

Sawmill Intermediate School

Gymnasium

Health Office

Burr Intermediate School

 Room 103 

Health Office

Wood Park Primary School

 Room 10

Health Office

Rolling Hills Primary School

Room 33

Health Office

North Ridge Primary School

Conference Room

Health Office

Indian Hollow Primary School

Back Conference Room

Health Office

 

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) are available. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.

School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.

Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).

Aerosol Generating Procedures

Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. The District requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions.

Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished.

Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following the manufacturer’s instructions after each use.  

If A Student or Staff Becomes Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School

The District requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

Return to School After Illness

The District has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:


  •  Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation.
  •  Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result.
  •  Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation.

The District will refer to DOH’s Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

The District requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

Contact Tracing

The District will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the District.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the District has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.  

Commack School District is assisting with contact tracing by:

1.       Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members.

2.       Ensuring student schedules are up to date.

3.       Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited.

4.       Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff shall not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

School Closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education and/or closing the school. The District will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in the school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

The following conditions may warrant reducing in-person education or closing the school, in consultation with state and local health departments, and plan for an orderly closure; such conditions may include:

  • Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
  • Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Suffolk County Health Department.

Health Hygiene

The District will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout the school (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, auditorium, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:

1.       Stay home if they feel sick.

2.       Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.

3.       Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.

4.       Adhere to social distancing instructions.

5.       Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.

6.       Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.

7.       Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Hand Hygiene

Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices.

  •  Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
  •  Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands instead of a hand dryer, if they are available.
  •         If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.

Hand washing should occur:


  • Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
  •  After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
  • After using a tissue.
  • Before and after using shared materials.
  • Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
  • After coming in from the outdoors.
  • Anytime hands are visibly soiled.

Respiratory Hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the District will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.

Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.

  • Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
  • If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
  • Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

The District will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be utilized include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
  • Health offices, isolation rooms
  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
  • Breakrooms  
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens
  • Computer labs
  • Science labs
  • Classrooms
  • Maintenance offices and work areas
  • Bus Garage
  • Buses, school vehicles
  • Libraries
  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)
  • Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal) 

Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents/guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.

The District will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school, as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed. 

The District will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.                         

Vulnerable Populations/Accommodations

We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. The District will work closely with these individuals, to allow them to safely participate in educational activities and, where appropriate, reasonably accommodate, their specific circumstances.

Visitors On Campus

No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except if it concerns 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 will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings.

Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.

School Safety Drills

The District will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Schools must continue to conduct mandatory evacuation and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.

Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the District’s or other applicable school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.

The Commack School District modifications to evacuation drill protocols may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting drills on a “staggered” schedule, where classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once, and appropriate distance is kept between students to the evacuation site. Staggering by classroom, minimizes contact of students in hallways, stairwells, and at the evacuation site. If conducting drills using a modified procedure, it is required that the drill be conducted with all students in the school building on that school day, it may be necessary to do so during a class period that is extended for this purpose.
  •  In secondary schools students will attend every other day, which reduces capacity by 50%. The middle school and high school will ensure that all students participate in emergency drills while attending school in person.

Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:

  •  Lockdown drills will be conducted in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing/using masks.
  •  Lockdown drills will be conducted on a “staggered” schedule with smaller numbers of students present to maintain social distancing.  The District will ensure that all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills while they are in attending school in person.
  • Lockdown drills will be conducted in classrooms without “hiding”/ “sheltering.”   Staff will be expected to provide an overview of how to shelter or hide in the classroom.

FACILITIES

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the District, 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 stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

The District 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, the District plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

Bathrooms

In order to maintain the required number of fixtures, the District will be monitoring bathroom access in order to maintain social distancing. Paper towel dispensers will be installed in bathrooms to replace hand dryers; existing hand dryers will be disabled; however, not removed.

Ventilation

Where possible, filtration will be upgraded to MERV 13; If possible, the District will look to upgrade the uni-vent filtration to that level as well. Ventilation will be closely monitored during the school year and will be immediately repaired as needed. Teachers are encouraged to open classroom windows to increase ventilation.

Classrooms

Reconfiguration of classrooms will include:  reducing the number of student desks, providing protective barrier screens and spreading all furniture to maintain proper social distancing; no temporary or movable partitions are required at this time.

Custodial

Drinking fountains, restrooms, handrails, elevator controls and other hi-touch surfaces will be disinfected numerous times throughout the school day as well as in the evening. Day custodial presence will increase at the Intermediate & Secondary Schools. Each day, all evening custodians will disinfect all classrooms & offices thoroughly, including high touch areas (door knobs, light switches, desktops, etc.). Bathrooms will be thoroughly disinfected nightly, including floors. All schools have been issued mops and buckets specifically for bathroom use only; this will prevent any possible cross-contamination.

Other

Social distancing markers will be installed where needed.  Signage will be installed in each student bathroom encouraging proper hand washing. COVID-19 prevention signs will be posted in each building. Additional hand sanitizer stations, along with signage depicting their location, will be installed throughout the buildings. PPE, including face masks, face shields, gloves, etc. will be provided to any staff member who requires it. Face-masks will be provided to any student requiring one.

 

NUTRITION

School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely.  The District will also distribute meals to those children receiving free and/or reduced lunch benefits on days students are working remotely.  The district will continue to work with our food distribution company, Whitsons Culinary Group to ensure that all health and safety guidelines are followed and the district is in compliance with Child Nutrition Program requirements.

 

Meals Onsite

The District is working with our food service distributor, Whitsons Culinary Group, to ensure that students will be able to purchase lunch. Further, free and reduced lunch recipients will be provided lunch every day, even remote days.  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.

The district will ensure social distancing between individuals while eating. If the cafeteria is not feasible, meals will be served in classrooms and/or in staggered meal periods to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning and disinfection between students.

The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household. Adequate space will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff to observe social distancing while eating meals.

Students will be taught about proper hand hygiene before and after eating. 

All buildings will be required to follow the District’s Allergy Plan. We will continue to follow the guidelines in the plan to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff.

Meals Offsite/Remote

Meals will be prepared and distributed to all students receiving free and/or reduced lunch benefits.  The District’s highly successful Grab and Go program served over 200,000 meals during the COVID school closure and we will be utilizing a similar model.  The District will also serve meals for all students working remotely that order meals for distribution.

TRANSPORTATION

The district will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable. 

Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus to the extent practicable; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering, but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents/guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses.

All buses that are used every day by districts and contract carriers will be cleaned/disinfected once a day. High contact spots will be wiped down after each run. Cleaning crews will perform a more thorough task of disinfecting and sanitizing the buses on a weekly basis. Backpack sprayers containing a disinfecting product that has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses including COVID-19 and is endorsed by the CDC will be utilized to maximize the benefits of our bus cleaning program. Changes to the frequency of this task will be made upon updated guidelines as necessary.

School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses. 

Wheelchair school buses will configure wheelchair placement to ensure social distancing of 6 feet.

Whether school is in session remotely or otherwise, pupil transportation will be provided to nonpublic, parochial, private, or students whose Individualized Education Plans have placed them out of district whose schools are meeting in in-person sessions.

All students are entitled to transportation by the district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents/guardians who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education.

School Bus Staff

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention. 

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield. 

Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 

Transportation departments/carriers will provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages. 

Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.

The Commack School District is committed to bringing all elementary students back into their school buildings this fall.  Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the number of Elementary School riders by 50%. If we fail to reduce our elementary ridership by 50%, elementary students will NOT be able to attend "brick and mortar school" daily, and students would attend every other day engaging in remote learning on the days they are not in a school building. 

In order to reduce the number of riders by 50% which will allow all elementary students to attend school daily, we are offering parents/guardians the opportunity to opt-out of transportation for the 2020-2021 school year only.

Students who participate in District provided transportation will adhere to the the following protocols:


  • Parents will receive an email, text, and/or push notification periodically in order to complete the health screening. A schedule will be published before the start of school.
  • All students will be required to wear a face covering on the bus and will be seated one in a seat, unless two students are from the same household.
  • The District will be reinforcing bus rules in the schools and ask that families do the same at home to help ensure the safety of bus riders. Every bus is equipped with a camera that will be used to identify students who break social distancing rules and/or remove their face covering.  The District will be enforcing a three-strike policy for offenders. Strike one results in a one-week bus suspension. Two strikes results in a two-week bus suspension. Three strikes will result in students being suspended from the bus for the remainder of the year. Please note, students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering for a proven reason will be provided accommodations. 
     

Protocols for bus drivers, monitors and attendants include:

  • The driver, monitor, and attendant may wear gloves if they choose to do so but are not required unless they must be in physical contact with students.
  • Transportation staff are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before and after am and pm runs to keep healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
    • touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hand
    • touch a contaminated surface or objects
    • blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects

Protocols of how students will disembark from transportation vehicles:


  •  When students embark and disembark the bus, they should follow social distancing protocols. 
  •  Since hand sanitizer is not permitted on school buses, hand sanitizing stations are available when students enter the building.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. The District has made resources and referrals available to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instruction. The District has done this by planning the following for students:

  • Virtual orientation programs will be facilitated by counselors, social workers, psychologists and teachers to re-orient students to the school building and new model of school.
  • Small in person and virtual groups will meet.  These groups are designed to foster and build relationships with adults and peers. Some themes will include: Mindfulness, Relationship Building, Self-Care, Self-management, Healthy living.
  • Teachers will work in unison with counselors and mental health providers on social emotional learning in the classroom, including a focus on the Social Emotional Competencies.
  • Continue the use of the District’s referral process for students in need of additional support. 

The District has established an advisory council.   In partnership with parents/guardians, administrators, teachers, support personnel and community members; school counselors will continue to review and update the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan to meet current needs.

The District will provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This is addressed by planning for ongoing Professional Development focused on:

  • Trauma Informed Teaching and Practices
  • Embedding Social Emotional Learning in the classroom
  • Providing  strategies on how to build connectedness with new students
  • Response to Intervention
  • Providing  strategies on how to build connectedness with new students
  • Response to Intervention
  • Recognizing the potential for higher rates of certain adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and/or stressors during school closures, and underreporting of those stressors, that may put students at higher risk of trauma

Additional areas in which staff will be supported are through:


  •  Providing referral procedure for Employee Assistance Program for mental health supports for staff
  •  Providing staff the opportunity to meet with mental health providers

SCHOOL SCHEDULES

COVID-19 required schools to make critical adjustments to their instructional model in March 2020 with little or no time to plan. As such, Commack Schools initiated a Reopening Task Force to identify items to consider related to the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year.  Listed below are the guiding principles that drove the work of the Reopening Task Force:

  • The health, safety and security of our students and staff is paramount in the successful reopening of Commack Schools.
  • It is critical to have strategies and support for students, families and staff members in place for each phase of recovery (before reopening, immediately after reopening and long-term support). 
  • Due to the potential loss of formalized education as  a result of COVID-19, it will be necessary to deliver a program that ensures the successful growth of our students toward the end of the 2020 - 2021 school year.
  • It is necessary to maintain a collaborative relationship with parents/guardians and the school community.

Based upon feedback from administration, parents/guardians, teachers and staff, Commack School District identified four (4) structural models for reopening based on NYSDOH, CDC and NYSED guidelines.  The preferred model is “The Commack Model,” however, alterations to transportation are necessary to implement The Commack Model.

  • In order to meet social-distancing guidelines, our buses can seat 22 students per bus as depicted.
  • In order to meet this guideline and have Brick and Mortar (in-school classes) every day K-5, ridership would need to be reduced by 50%. 
  •  In an effort to determine whether parents/guardians would support this the District sent a survey and an opt-out of bussing form to parents/guardians.
  • The opt-out of bussing would be for the 20-21 school year only. 

      

Structural Models for Reopening Based on NYSDOH, CDC and NYSED Guidelines

 Traditional Brick and Mortar

  • Students attend in-person Brick and Mortar Schools. 
  • Focus on core instruction, recovery of skills, and subsequent growth.
  • Prepare staff, students and families to transition to eLearning in the event of a subsequent school closure.    

The Commack Model

Every Other Day K-12

Long-Term Remote Learning (eLearning)

ATTENDANCE AND CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM

The following mechanisms will be used to collect and report daily teacher-student engagement or attendance while in a remote or hybrid environment.

  • During live lessons, teachers will track which students attend.
  • Students will complete an electronic check-in form each time they enter their online classroom (This is monitored by teachers and administrators to see when what time, and how often students are interacting and engaged).
  • Each time a student submits an assignment in the online learning environment, the assignment is marked "turned in" and is timestamped.
  • All attendance will be entered into our student management system which is utilized for State reporting purposes. 

TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY

Given the possibility that the District may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, the District has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Access to Devices

It is imperative that students and staff are able to stay connected in a remote eLearning environment.  The District will be implementing a 1:1 device program for students K-12.  Every student K-12 will receive a personal Chromebook. In addition, all staff members will have access to a laptop should the need arise.

Access to High Speed Internet

The District will monitor and track student engagement and participation.  In the event that there is a family who is unable to connect to the internet, the District will provide contact information for Altice and Optimum (local internet providers) with the family.  

Demonstrating Learning in a Remote Setting

Commack Schools will utilize an online learning platform to deliver instructional materials. Students and staff have Google accounts and access to the tools within the G-Suite. Every teacher will have a Google Classroom which aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.  Students will apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes; create original works as a means of personal or group expression; use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues and identify trends and forecast possibilities. Teachers will be able to communicate and collaborate with students, staff and parents/guardians in new and more meaningful ways. Students will interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media; communicate information and ideas more effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats;  develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures in a safe context while also learning about the responsible use of information technology.

TEACHING AND LEARNING

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, the District will provide support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

As the District enters 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.  In-school learning will consist of:

  • Maximizing in-classroom instruction for students who need it the most (younger students, special education students).
  • Ensuring student groupings are as static as possible by having the same group/cohort of students. 
  • Reducing movement, where possible, by keeping students within a defined area.
  • Training and instruction on health and hygiene protocols and procedures.
  • Focusing on core instruction, recovery of skills, and subsequent growth.
  • Building and developing strategies and supports for students, families and staff members for each phase of recovery (reopening, immediately after reopening and long-term support).
  • Training secondary staff, students and families on remote learning for eLearning (off-site) days.
  • Preparing staff, students and families to transition to eLearning in the event of a subsequent school closure. 

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, younger students, special education students, and English language learners.

The District will assess all students regarding their academic and/or social-emotional indicators for the purpose of identifying students who are at-risk, and may require support that varies in terms of level, intensity, and duration.  The District will initiate general curriculum review panels to look at areas in need of adjustment, such as mathematics, literacy, and science.

 

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

In-Person Instruction

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 elementary classrooms.  Commack School District is fortunate to have the space in all K-5 Elementary classrooms to house our students and still maintain proper social distancing. 

The Secondary Schools in-person instruction will be every other day with a focus on Core Instruction.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Our schools 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 held virtually. 

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

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, our District has developed an eLearning model and schedule that is agile and in sync with our onsite program.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers providing live instruction and lessons to students.

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.

SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Field Trips: Field Trips:  All field trips are canceled until further notice.

Co-urricular Activities:  We are making determinations regarding co-curricular activities (i.e. clubs, intramurals) on a case by case basis with consideration of social distancing, PPE usage, and cleaning and disinfection, as well as risk of COVID-19 transmission. 
 
Athletics:  A determination will be made by NYS Public School Athletic Association and/or Section XI regarding Athletics and the District will abide by that determination. If they determine Athletics will take place, parents/guardians that are uncomfortable may withhold their child by said athletics.
 
Large Group Events:  All large group events have been canceled until further notice.
 
Community Use of Schools:  All community use of facilities are disallowed until further notice. However, once permissible by the State, the District will begin to approve field usage.
 
School Visitors: Responsible Parties should limit on-site interactions (e.g., designating separate ingress or egress for faculty and staff, eliminating bidirectional flow of individuals to the extent practicable). As a result, we will limit visitors to essential and/or necessary functions (i.e. picking up your child). This means parents/guardians will not be present in classrooms, hallways or other areas.

Childcare 

A written plan is in place for before and aftercare programs run by SCOPE. Policies regarding before and aftercare programs include social distancing, PPE usage, cleaning and disinfection requirements, as well as risk of COVID-19 transmission. Protocols in how to maintain cohorts, if applicable, or group members of the same household will be considered.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

A student’s Individual Education Program (IEP)s is followed to the greatest extent possible. All Special Class students will attend classes daily in person (8:1:2; 8:1:3; 12:1; 15:1).

Engagement

All materials will continue to be provided in a family’s native language (via technology at Hubbs) and agency interpreters will continue to be used for CSE meetings. CSE/CPSE will continue to follow best practices in communicating in a parent friendly fashion when in meetings and when interpreting results of testing at meetings. All parents will be invited to participate in all conversations regarding student functioning.

Collaboration

Commack will continue to work closely with preschool agencies and Out- of-District programs to identify the specific service plans for each center-based program/related service agency.  The District will continue to ensure that we are following the IEP to the greatest extent possible when working with local schools and programs.

Access

Commack has and will continue to provide students with their necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services and technology. Elementary students will receive instruction from their special education teachers as stated on their IEPs. Students will access all curriculum and materials in person.  Secondary special class students will attend school daily and have an increase of time from 40 minutes to 53 minutes at CMS and 54 minutes at CHS per subject. Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) and Resource Room (RR) students will meet in person every other day for 53 minutes at CMS and 54 minutes at CHS.  This will increase the amount of time students have direct, in-person, instruction for all core subjects and special education services.

Documentation

Commack will continue to document attendance and student participation for live instructional days as well during video conferencing sessions.  When services are denied by families, providers will continue to file the requests/absences. These requests inclusive of communication with families indicating the denial of programs/services will be honored and documented within the contact log in our online data system (IEP DIRECT).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

The District will continue to educate students in their least restrictive environment. As such, students who are placed in split programs (i.e., Special Class and Integrated Co-Teaching) will continue to be enrolled in their appropriate and approved programs. Currently, students in our elementary special classes are paired with a buddy class to allow time with their non-disabled peers.  Due to constraints with Department of Health (DOH) guidance of static grouping we will have students participate virtually for specials with their non-disabled peers. The IEP will continue to reflect the process (management section) of how we provide instruction and access to LRE (different for each student).

IEP Implementation

With the recognition of the fact that services are most effective in-person,  the District’s plan allows for students to receive in person programming to the greatest extent possible.  Special education students who have the most significant level of needs are scheduled to attend every day in person. Their program is provided in person rather than the A/B day format. Related service groups are created based on classroom rosters, to the greatest extent possible. Providers will create groups to service from one class when possible. The goal is to have students in groups which are appropriate based on their level of need while at the same time maintaining static grouping.

Provision of Services

Elementary students will be onsite daily, all related services will be provided in person.  All secondary students in a special class program will be onsite daily and will receive all related services in person. Secondary students in ICT or RR may require services to be provided both in person and virtually to provide the required frequency of the related services.

Progress Monitoring

Teachers must continue to take specific data to support the academic progress of their students both in person and virtually.  Teachers and providers are required to identify data collection methods that will determine the level of service students need. This data will help to identify student need/level of functioning and guide recommendations moving forward. This data will provide documentation of continued student progress to guide decisions about levels of service. The current state guidance indicates “until schools return to normal conditions, the same flexibility with respect to IEP implementation for delivery of services during school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to apply to the programs and services whether delivered in-person and/or remotely (e.g., flexibility with respect to the mode and/or manner; group or individual sessions; specific group size for related services, frequency, duration and location of related services, and special class size ratio etc.).”

Best Practices - Contingency Plans

If a student is sick and unable to attend school, or if in-person instruction must be suspended, Commack will offer virtual or remote services for students within a reasonable amount of time if students are not able to attend in-person programs and services.  This is aligned with NYS Department of Education Guidance (Q & A, June 2020).  IEPs will not be amended. The District will continue to work to the greatest extent possible to provide services as closely related to the IEP.  The special education office will continue to monitor the provisions of service and the students' progress.  Additionally, if the state requires an amendment to the IEP to reflect the current provisions of service, the special education office will work collaboratively with the CSE, including the parent, to make appropriate changes. 

 

Compensatory Services

According to the NYS Education Department, compensatory services are provided to students with disabilities to remedy the school District’s failure to provide a student with a disability with appropriate services during a time when a student was entitled to FAPE and was denied appropriate services. Compensatory services do not have to be provided in exactly the same form of education and/or services that were denied during the period of entitlement to FAPE. With regard to changes based on COVID, students are not automatically entitled to compensatory services due to the way services were provided and if they did not mirror the way they were meant to be within the IEP.  When closed due to the Executive Order, schools may not have been able to provide all instruction and related services in the same manner as they typically provide.  As such, alternative delivery, even when in a different mode, frequency or duration, would not necessarily result in a denial of FAPE. However, given the numerous variables and individual nature of student need, Commack is working diligently on how to best assess, determine and implement additional supports as needed.

Many options will be considered with regard to compensatory services.  We will be reviewing students' level of functioning and will be reviewed beginning in September and make any necessary and warranted changes to their services at that point in time.  The goal is to support our Commack students in meeting their needs. Therefore, additional supports may not be considered “compensatory” but rather an increase in services to help close the “gap” that may have widened during the closure.  This increase would be provided as warranted by data and documentation of the skill set.  The Department of Education states that if appropriate, compensatory services could be provided in a number of ways. Commack is following guidance put out by the state to ensure that we are meeting our students' needs while following the direction of local and state guidance.

 

IEP Implementation Documentation

IEP progress reports will continue to be specific in regard to how services are provided and the child’s progress. Comments will continue to be required stating the specific circumstances of the students’ provision of services.

Child Find

The special education department will continue to work with families to initiate referrals to CPSE/CSE. The department will work with the county regarding students who are transitioning from Early Intervention to preschool so there is no lapse in services. In addition, schools continue to meet with their child study teams (or instructional support teams) to ensure students are getting evaluated and supported as needed.

Referral

The referral process for initiating an evaluation by the Committee of Special Education will remain the same.  Parents/guardians and/or school personnel can refer students to the Committee of Special Education if they are concerned a student is not making adequate progress. Parents/guardians can find guidance on the Commack UFSD website at A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Commack School District. It is important to work with staff and parents/guardians, so they understand the referral process. Parent and staff referrals will continue to be considered as per the Commissioner’s Regulations.

Initial and Reevaluations

Initial evaluations and reevaluation testing are currently being completed and will continue while students are in the building. In the event of a school closure, a records review will be used for all reevaluations.  If school closures persist, it will be important to conduct evaluations virtually, if warranted.

Eligibility Determinations

Video conferencing will continue to be used for all CPSE/CSE meetings and will continue while students are in the building. This includes initial eligibility meetings, program reviews and annual reviews. The results will be discussed at video conferencing CSE/CPSE meetings.

Communication and Meaningful Outreach

The special education department will continue to participate in Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) video conferencing meetings where information will be disseminated along with letters to parents/guardians on a regular basis. Case managers are required to have on-going conversations with parents/guardians to keep them informed and in contact with the school to foster the home to school connection.

Procedural Safeguards/PWNS

The District will continue to send procedural safeguards via US mail and email. This information is sent home following the same guidelines as indicated by the regulations of the commissioner. The District will continue to meet via video conferencing as well as amend the IEPs with parental consent, when appropriate, to limit undue delays with student programming as per state regulations.

Partnership

The Special Education Department will continue to attend the BOCES monthly meetings (which have been weekly since March) to stay abreast of changes.  In addition, students who are in Out-of-District programs will continue to be monitored for progress and possible need for program changes. The Special Education office staff will reach out biweekly to programs who house our students to inquire of any updates or changes to their programing.

 

 

Accomodations

Teachers will continue to use multisensory teaching and learning methods.  All elementary students and special class students will engage in onsite learning.  Secondary ICT students will have both in person and distant learning opportunities. All staff working with students that have an IEP will be expected to know and implement all accommodations listed on the IEP. Accommodations such as extended time, separate location, etc. will continue to be given both onsite and during distance learning classes, to the greatest extent possible, as appropriate.

Supplementary Aids

Students' IEPs are followed to the greatest extent possible with regard to supplementary aids. Children will have access to aids which assist in their learning. Each child has a case manager (or teacher of record) who assists in making sure that students have access to items needed.

Technology

All students who have the need for assistive technology on their IEP have continued access. All students in the Commack School District are being provided with a Chromebook as part of a 1:1 Device initiative. The District has provided parents with technology assistance for challenging IT situations.  The District has also supported students who are in Out District Placements with IT supports.  The District will continue to be responsive to technology requests/concerns.

BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND WORLD LANGUAGES

The District plans to reopen every day elementary and every other day Secondary (6-12) alternating onsite in-person instruction and eLearning on the offsite day. The District will complete the ELL identification process within 30 school days of the start of the school year for all students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20, as well as all students who enroll during summer of 2020 and during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year. After this 20-day flexibility period, identification of ELLs will resume for all students within required 10 school days of initial enrollment.

Required instructional units of study to all ELLs will be provided based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level during in-person or remote instruction.

 

CERTIFICATION/INCIDENTAL 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.

SUBSTITUTE TEACHING AND STUDENT TEACHING

The District will continue to employ certified substitute teachers whenever possible. In the event a non-certified substitute is necessary, the District will follow all New York State guidance.

The District will continue to support prospective teachers in their student teaching assignments. Student teacher placement will be at the discretion of interested Commack teachers.

 

TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION SYSTEM

All teachers and principals will continue to be evaluated pursuant to the District’s approved APPR plan.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below are responses to the numerous questions that have been posed to the District over the last several months as we engaged in the planning necessary for the re-opening of school. 

Health & Safety

Will students be required to wear face coverings?

Students will be required to wear face coverings when not seated at their desks (i.e., hallways, restrooms, buses, common areas), and when they cannot maintain social distancing. Students may wear masks all day if they choose. However, every desk will have a clear protective shield. The lightweight, removable sneeze guard installs on student desks and creates a see-through barrier.  These barriers are easily disinfected with the disinfecting misters and can be wiped with a baby wipe. 

How will Commack’s COVID App work?

Parents will receive an email, text, and/or push notification periodically in order to complete the health screening. However, a schedule will be published before the start of school.

That’s a good question - The app will supply a list of names to the school, prior to school opening for the day, of students whose parents didn’t enter information into the app. The information will be immediate.

How and when will student temperatures be taken?

The District encourages parents/guardians to take their child(ren)’s temperature before departing for school. Parents/guardians will also be asked to complete an attestation on the Commack COVID app confirming that their child does not have a temperature above 100.0 F. Additionally, upon entry into the school building, students’ temperatures will be taken by walking through a temperature scanner.

Bus Supervision – Will students be required to wear a face-covering on the school bus, and how will this be enforced?

All students will be required to wear a face-covering on the bus and will be seated one in a seat, unless two students are from the same household.

We will be reinforcing bus rules in our schools, and we ask that families do the same at home to help ensure the safety of our bus riders. Know that every bus is equipped with a camera that will be used to identify students who break social distancing rules and/or remove their face covering.  We will be enforcing a three-strike policy for offenders. Strike one results in a one-week bus suspension. Two strikes result in a two-week bus suspension. Three strikes will result in students being suspended from the bus for the remainder of the year. Please note, students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering for a proven reason will be provided accommodations.

How will the District deal with medically high-risk students’/ family members?

The District will work with families to accommodate the needs of all students.  If you completed the return to school survey and answered, “you do not plan on sending your child to school” please anticipate follow-up written communication from the District.  If you did not complete the survey, please email sgoldberg@commack.k12.ny.us, and Mrs. Goldberg will assist you in the process.

What happens if anyone in the school tests positive for COVID? Does everyone in the school need to quarantine for 14 days?

If anyone tests positive for COVID-19, it will be immediately reported to the Department of Health. The DOH will assess the situation and make the appropriate recommendations regarding cleaning, disinfecting, and possible self-quarantine of others and/or possible closing of the facility or portion thereof.  Know that the District will notify the school community and, if necessary, the Superintendent can make the determination to close a portion of or entire building in the name of safety. 

If one person has COVID, does the entire school get shut down? Is there rapid testing available if that happens?

The Department of Health will make the determination (along with the Superintendent) regarding school closures.  It is possible that a room, a wing, or the entire school could be closed for a period of time, depending on the tracing of the individual’s contact with others and travel within the building.  As far as rapid testing, schools will not be testing students or staff.  That is the purview of the State, County or an individual’s private physician.

Sneeze Guards:  Are the desks and sneeze guards going to be thoroughly cleaned/ disinfected between classes? 

Generally speaking, all students will remain in the same room throughout the day with teachers traveling from room to room.  Otherwise, the rooms will be disinfected when a new group is to enter the room.

Sneeze Guards: Why are we installing Sneeze Guards?

The Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control as well as State guidelines, highly recommend face coverings whenever students are unable to socially distance. We recognize this is challenging for some individuals, even when they are at their desk. Given the nature of teaching and learning, teachers in elementary schools may need to move about the room, assisting and supporting students. The nature of younger children in particular, means they may inadvertently move their desks, which will minimize social distancing; sneeze guards will help protect students in this event. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in the event the infection rate in the area rises, schools without protective barriers may be required to insist students wear masks all day when in school.

Sneezing: What if a student stands up and sneezes outside of the sneeze guard or sneezes on people on purpose? 

We will be doing a great deal of educating children on hygiene, which will include the best way to sneeze, and/or cough, etc.  However, this is not foolproof, which is why students must wear masks whenever not seated at their desks.  Regarding students who purposely sneeze without a mask or being behind a sneeze guard, we will immediately bring the full weight of the Code of Conduct on said student.  We realize this is reactionary, and again will insist that students keep their masks on whenever they get up from their desk or not behind a sneeze guard, which are designed to block incoming droplets as well as outgoing.

Will students stay in the same class all day to minimize possible exposure?

In sum and substance, in elementary school (K to 5), students will stay in one class all day with specials (art, music, etc.) being “Zoomed” or special area teachers rotating in when possible. Teachers will take precautions as they move from room to room, and cleaning protocols have been put in place as well. In the secondary schools, students will stay in the same room as much as possible, and the majority of specials will likely be remote on the day students are not in “brick and mortar” schools.  Teachers, curriculum specialists, and building administrators are working out the granular details of student schedules to minimize hallway movement. Please know that it is unlikely that the secondary school students will be in the same room all day.

Will students be wearing masks in the hallways? Will they stay in one classroom to avoid hallway travel? 

Students will remain in one classroom as much as possible (more difficult in the HS). However, whenever up from their desk, they must wear a mask.

Will Physical Education be required? If so, how would that work?

Physical Education is required.  However, it will be significantly modified.  We are working on programs similar to our Movement in the Arts program, which allows students a level of movement without coming into contact with others, allows 6 feet for social distancing and supports at least the basic precept of Physical Education – the State will allow this programming during the pandemic.

Lunch is a big question mark. How are kids not going to sneeze or “shed” on each other with no social distancing at lunch? Or, will the kids eat lunch at their desks? 

Social distancing will be adhered to at all times; there are no masks.  We have yet to fully design lunch programs, but it is possible students will be eating at their desks.

The COVID app, nice in theory. But, many people don’t tell the truth. How will you deal with that?

Again, we understand this is not foolproof, but we must believe that our fellow citizens will do the right thing in an effort to keep everyone healthy.  Further, we will have temperature checks before anyone can enter a school. 

Will there be separate nursing areas for kids who are sick and kids who get hurt?

Yes, we will have a quarantine area for anyone suspected of being exposed to COVID or demonstrating symptoms (these individuals will be picked up by a family member as soon as practical).  The nurse’s office will remain in use for general injuries, medication dispersal, and/or general illnesses.

How will food allergies be addressed if students are eating in the classroom?

All buildings will be required to follow the District’s Allergy Plan.  We will continue to follow the guidelines in the plan to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff.

Will students share supplies?

Students will not be sharing supplies.

How will bathrooms, classrooms, and buses be properly disinfected?

Our facilities will be disinfected several times a day in accordance with CDC guidelines. This includes utilizing hospital grade disinfecting solutions and electrostatic disinfectant sprayers. The District will maintain cleaning schedules, daily logs, and redeploy the necessary staff to ensure the guidelines are met.

What type of filters are in each of the buildings’ vents? 

All existing HVAC RTU’s (rooftop units), which can be upgraded to MERV 13 filtration, will be.  However, the majority of our classrooms have “uni-vents” which draw fresh air from the outside and provide heat in the winter.

Will there be several entry/exit points for children so that hundreds of children don’t go through one entry at a time?

Each school will communicate their plans for student arrival and dismissal to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, students, and parents/guardians.  Be assured that schools will take into account the staggered arrival and dismissal times, the number of students for each time period and assure that proper CDC and DOH protocols are followed at all times.

Will there be monitors in the bathrooms?

There will be NO monitors in bathrooms

Will Commack mandate a COVID vaccine?

Commack Schools cannot mandate that your child be vaccinated.  However, if the State or Federal government mandates COVID vaccinations to return to school, we will likely be charged with enforcing such.

Schedule

Will the hours of the school day remain the same?

The District is making every effort to keep the arrival and dismissal of school as close to the regular times as possible.

What does A/B day schedule mean?

An A/B day schedule is “every other day” schedule. For example, if your child is placed in the A schedule he/she would attend school Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the first week and Tuesday and Thursday the next week. This would repeat itself every two weeks.  If your child is placed on B schedule, he/she would attend Tuesday and Thursday the first week and Monday, Wednesday and Friday the second week. 

  •  On the days students are not in “brick and mortar” school they will have regularly scheduled live, remote instruction.  Attendance will be taken, participation will be accounted for and students will be graded for any and all online classes.

Why use an A/B Schedule as opposed to attending school Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday every week for secondary students?

At this time, we put together the most comprehensive program designed to keep students engaged daily both academically as well as socially.  In short, our program will allow students to be in “brick and mortar” schools every other day and have a set schedule of remote learning opportunities on the days they are not in the building.  In this manner they are not out of the school building 5 of 7 days each week and continuity of program and social interactions can more readily be achieved. 

Will the District schedule secondary school siblings and neighbors on the same day so they can carpool together?

We will make every attempt to have siblings attend on the same day.  However, given the variables (grades, courses, electives, etc) it may be challenging to group siblings in this manner.  We understand this will be very challenging and we are doing everything we can to support parents during these trying times.

Will secondary students have set days or a rolling schedule?

If we are able to return to in-person instruction students will be on an A/B day schedule.  For example, a secondary student may attend onsite on A days and have a virtual learning day on B days. This will be an every other day schedule. Some weeks there will be 3 A days in a week and 2 B days and then the following week there will be 2 A days and 3 B days.

Why can’t secondary students attend school every day with half in the morning and half in the afternoon?

Guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting of school facilities between uses such as an AM/PM model cannot be met.   Further, transportation costs, lack of additional buses and drivers and the extra staffing needed to run morning and afternoon schedules would also preclude us from running an AM/PM schedule.

Will drop off and pickup times be staggered if I provide transportation?

Each school will communicate their plans for student arrival and dismissal to ensure the safety and well-being for our staff, students, and parents/guardians.  However, when there will be too many cars, drop-off and dismissal will be staggered and we will make every possible allowance for parents who have to be at “two places at once.”

Is this the plan for the whole year, or can it change and go back to the old “normal” schedule?

Although conditions may change, it is unlikely that COVID will subside to the degree necessary to remove social distancing requirements allowing us to return to a “normal” schedule.  However, it is possible that infection rates could rise enough that we are forced to move to a long-term remote model.  For example, schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after August 1 (utilizing a seven-day average).  If schools close, the District will implement a remote learning plan.

Transportation

Is the opt-out for bussing only for K-5?

Yes. The opt-out for bussing is only for K-5.  Since secondary students are on an alternating day schedule, there will be enough seats for all students to have their own.

If we need a bus in the PM but not AM, is that possible?

The District will continue to work with your family to accommodate your transportation needs.  Please contact our Transportation Department at 631-912-2020 for further information.

Instruction

How will the elementary school day work and where will we get the teachers?

Classes will have approximately 50% fewer students per section in 20-21 than they did last year.  This doubles the number of sections.  Therefore, in the elementary schools, “regular” classroom teachers will teach the core subjects to approximately 15 students in the morning and a different set of 15 students in the afternoon.  When students are not with their “regular” classroom teachers, they will be in class with another teacher (reading, art, music, etc.).  These teachers may teach their subject area, they may facilitate a remote lesson with another content area teacher, assist students with assignments and more.  We recognize that this is not ideal.  However, given that we are moving from 100, K to 5 classrooms to 200, K to 5 classrooms, this is the best model.  Otherwise we would have to furlough some staff in order to hire 100 classroom teachers (if we could find 100 high quality candidates) this would damage our special area programs such as art, music, PE, tech and more irreparably; we don’t want to lose amazing teachers; and given that this is likely a one (1) year model, it was deemed that this is the best alternative.

What happens to Band, Orchestra and Chorus?

In order to ensure student groupings are as static as possible and reduce movement where possible, students in Band, Orchestra and Chorus will be remote (we are exploring new and progressive ways to do this).  Please note, the music department continues to work on options for some in-person instruction after the school year gets started.

Will students be able to move during the day if PE is virtual?

The physical education staff is working to ensure that students will be able to move at various times during the school day.  There will be opportunities built into the school day that will allow for physical breaks, Movement in the Arts, and other activities that allow for social distancing.

Will remote learning be available for families who do not want to send their children to school?

Yes, if you were unable to avail yourself of the survey, please contact 631-912-2009 and they will assist you in determining what accommodations (remote/home instruction) best meet the needs of your child(ren).

Will students with special needs attend school every day?

Our Special Education Office is working on a plan in which students with disabilities may attend school every day depending on the educational program specified on the student’s IEP.  For now, all students in self-contained classes will be able to attend school every day. 

Will students receive reading services and when will they be provided?

Reading services will be provided to elementary students during the school day. Please know that given the circumstances these services may look different.  Reading services for students in secondary schools will be driven by student schedules and may be during the regular school day or provided remotely. Again, given the circumstances, these services will look different than they did prior to COVID.

For the children who receive special education services in secondary education. How are these related services going to be offered? 

Secondary students will receive related services onsite.  However, this may impact their participation in other classes.

Will Wilson Tech be available?

Wilson Tech has shared with the District that they do plan on opening every day for on-site instruction.  Commack High School is working with Wilson Tech to create schedules for those students who are registered to attend.

Will SCOPE be available?

At this time, SCOPE will be available for before and after care.

Will NYS Regents be exempt again, if we continue with every other day schedule at the middle school and high school?

At this time, we do not know if the State will administer Regents exams.  However, we will proceed in such a way as to attempt to assure student success.

Will all students be required to use a Chromebook?

The District is pleased to announce a new 1:1 Chromebook initiative where

EVERY child will receive a Chromebook for use!  As part of their instruction, teachers will be utilizing Chromebooks and Google Classroom to enhance their curriculum and support student use of Chromebooks at home during remote instruction.

If we have to move to remote instruction, what will that schedule look like?

If we are to move to remote instruction for a few days a child’s schedule will remain the same as it is for on-site learning – they will simply meet the teacher online.  If the school is closed for an extended period of time further information regarding scheduling will be communicated.  If we do need to provide remote instruction for an extended period of time the District is committed to a schedule, live instruction/interaction between students and teachers, defined grading structures, and attendance/participation requirements. 

General

Will there be Kindergarten Orientation?

The District recognizes the importance of Kindergarten Orientation for our students and their parents/guardians. We are working on a plan for Kindergarten Orientation. Once the plan is finalized we will share the information with our incoming Kindergarten families.

How will the District accommodate families where both parents work?

The District recognizes that two working parents/guardians can be difficult.  One of the driving forces in our decision to have elementary students attend school every day is to accommodate working families. 

Can students buy lunch or will they have to bring their own?

The District is working with our food service distributor, Whitson’s, to ensure that students will still be able to purchase lunch.  Further, free and reduced lunch recipients will be provided lunch every day, even remote days.

Why can’t we use Commack buildings that are not utilized as remote learning centers so kids can go to school every day at the secondary?

Please be aware, we have five (5) rental buildings with a total of approximately 100-110 classrooms, each of which has tenants with leases.   Further, we have approximately 3,500 secondary students.  If our class sizes are reduced by approximately 50% that means relocating about 1,750 students to other sites.  If we are to socially distance 1,750 students, we would need approximately 135 classrooms; there would need to be a significant increase in staff including instructional, custodial, and security staff; and we would need to provide socially distanced transportation (as we’ve mentioned several times, there is a shortage of bus drivers and a dearth of buses – we would need approximately 80 at $100,000 per year for a total of $8M for buses alone). 

How does the no parent rule impact the PTA?  Will there be no book fairs, holiday boutique etc.?

The District is limiting visitors to essential and/or necessary functions (i.e. picking up your child). This means parents or any visitors will not be present in classrooms, hallways, or other areas.  We will make a determination later about whether we can manage book fairs etc.

Are secondary school students sitting in the same classroom all day long?

According to the re-opening guidance from the New York State Education Department schools should create schedules in which students will be grouped in cohorts and allow for limited movement.  There may be some instances in which students will need to move to a different classroom for a class such as Science to allow for access to a Science lab set-up. Throughout the day, secondary students will be provided with opportunities to safely interact with their peers and allow for breaks.

Will students have the opportunity to have outside recess or engage in activities outside?

Students will have opportunities, weather permitting, to go outside for lunch and lessons as designed by the school and/or teacher.  Otherwise, we are working on other means of outside recreation that are safe based on the age of students and available facilities. 

Will secondary students have access to their lockers?

At this time secondary students will not have access to their lockers. 

Will schools offer extracurricular activities and athletics?

Each school building will be identifying which extracurricular activities that the school offers to see which, if any, will be able to be offered based on all of the safety guidelines established by the NYSED, DOH, CDC, and the District.   Please be aware that the District does not make the decision regarding athletics for both middle and high school. We are awaiting further guidance from Section XI.

Driver Education

At this time, it is anticipated that driver’s education will not be offered. 

 

Contact Information
By Mail:  P.O. Box 150, Commack, NY 11725
By Phone:  (631) 912-2000
By Email: webmaster@commack.k12.ny.us
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The Commack School District Mission Statement
Within the context of a caring community of learners, our primary mission is to provide an exemplary
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