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BCSD Reopening Plan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on August 21, 2020

The Bethlehem Central School District is continuing to engage parents, staff and community regarding plans for a successful return to school during the 2020-21 school year. A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding health and safety, teaching and learning, transportation, nutrition, facilities maintenance and other topics can be found below. These questions will be updated on a regular basis. Those updates will be dated and noted as new or revised as they are added to this list.

The entire BCSD Reopening Plan can be found here. A PDF version is also available. Please note these plans are subject to change and are being updated regularly. Thank you for your flexibility and patience as our reopening plans are refined with the best interests of students and staff in mind. 

School Schedules


Q. What is the proposed plan for returning to school in fall 2020?

A: The Bethlehem Central School District will offer a blended model for instruction that consists of in-person and remote learning. BC will prioritize in-person instruction for the youngest learners and those who need additional support. This would include daily in-person instruction for all students K-6, Skills and Intensive Skills students, and all English as a New Language (ENL) students. Students in grades 7-12 will receive in-person instruction every other day, alternating with remote learning every other day. Half of students in grades 7-12 (last name A-K) will be on-site for in-person instruction on A-day while the other half (last name L-Z) will receive in-person instruction on B-day. All families can choose remote learning. An outline of the reopening plan can be viewed here.

Q. Can my child choose remote learning from home? 

A: Yes, families may choose a Remote Learning option for their child/ren. Remote Learning may also be appropriate to accommodate families regarding specific circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Remote Learning schedule will follow an in-person school day as much as possible. Instruction will consist of both synchronous (where a student meets with a teacher or class) and asynchronous (guided independent work) instruction. This will depend on the grade level of the student as well as a content teacher’s choice of lesson plans. Parents who want to request Remote Learning for their child to begin the 2020-21 school year are asked to let the district know their choice on or before August 15, 2020. Learn more about the Remote Learning option for families: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/remote-learning-options-family-choice/

Q. Will students in grades 7-12 who are at home on alternating days follow their same schedule?

A: Yes. Whether in school or at home, all students in grades 7-12 will follow their schedule every day.

Q: Will 7-12 families have the option of switching from the A-K cohort to the L-Z cohort?

A: Unfortunately, due to the complexity of scheduling and the effort to keep families together and buses balanced, parents will not have the option to decide which days their children attend school. If you have a hardship or extenuating circumstance, please contact your child’s school principal.

Q. What is the schedule for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year?

A: As part of the Bethlehem Central School District’s reopening plan, the district is expecting to implement the following phased re-entry schedule for the 2020-21 school year. The phased re-entry days (Sept. 9-Sept. 15) will be used for instruction and to allow students to become acquainted with their teachers and classmates, learn about class expectations and review health and safety rules. All schedule information is subject to change. The schedule is outlined here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/reopening-phased-re-entry-schedule-for-students/

Q.During the phased re-entry will students be required to log in every day even when they are not scheduled to be at school in person?

A: Yes. Beginning Wednesday, September 9, all regular school days will be instructional days for students.

Q. Will schools run on the same daily schedule as in previous years?

A: The elementary schools and the middle school will have the same start and end times as last year. The high school start time has been changed to 8 a.m. The BCHS school day will end at 2:16 p.m. There will be no late buses so all students will dismiss from the high school and the middle school at the end of the regular school day.

Q. What are the daily school schedules and drop-off and pickup times for in-person instruction?

A: Schools will run on a full-day schedule. Please note the new 8 a.m. start time at the high school:

  • K-5: 9:10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. (Drop-off and pick-up will be staggered. Please watch for more details on these times.)
  • Grade 6-8: 8 a.m. t 2:45 p.m. (Drop-off can not be any earlier than 8 a.m.)
  • Grades 9-12: 8 a.m. to 2:16 p.m. (Drop-off can be no earlier than 7:45 a.m.)

Q: How will parents be notified of their child/ren’s class schedules?

A: As of now, it is expected that students will receive their class assignments by August 25. The class assignments will be posted to Aspen.

Q. Will there be after-school activities in fall 2020?

A: Interscholastic sports have been postponed until at least September 24. Any extracurricular activities such as afterschool clubs will be held virtually.

Q. WIll remote learning students be able to take part in afterschool activities?

A: Students in remote learning will be able to take part in any activities that are held virtually.

Q. Will there be before-school care or after school care for elementary students?

A: School’s Out Inc. has indicated it will operate its before- and after-school programs at all five elementary schools in 2020-21. For more information, please contact School’s Out Inc.: https://www.schoolsoutinc.org/

Health and Safety


Q. What is the district doing to minimize the spread of the coronavirus in school?

A: Currently, the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, is using multiple mitigation strategies in combination. This will require a coordinated effort on the part of schools, families and staff. These efforts include having students, teachers, and staff stay home when sick; appropriately covering coughs and sneezes; wearing cloth face coverings; maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces; and washing hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Q. Are masks or face coverings required?

A: Yes. Students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings at all times, indoors and outside, including on the school bus and in classrooms. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, 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. Documentation from a medical provider is required for a student exemption from this requirement.

Q. What is an acceptable face covering?

A: BCSD has been working closely with the district’s medical director to establish guidelines for face coverings. Please note the following:

Acceptable, or recommended, face coverings will:

  • completely cover both the mouth and nose;
  • fit snugly, but comfortably against the sides of the face;
  • be secured with ties or loops;
  • include three tightly woven layers of material;
  • allow for breathing without restrictions; 
  • can be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

    Unacceptable face coverings include:

    • gaiters;
    • bandannas; and
    • masks with valves or vents.

    It is important to remember that the use of face coverings/masks should be combined with other every day preventive actions and control measures such as frequent handwashing, social/physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, as face coverings do not protect against COVID-19 on their own.

    Resources:

    How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

    • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html

    How to Wash Your Cloth Face Covering

    Q. Will masks be provided to students and staff?

    A: Face coverings and related necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Staff and students are allowed and encouraged to use their own acceptable face covering, ensuring fit and breathability is acceptable to the user. The district will maintain a supply of disposable masks that will be available on school buses and in school buildings for students and staff who need them.

    Q. Can face shields be used in place of masks?

    A: Face shields may be used by some school staff, but they are to be worn in addition to face masks, not in place of them.

    Q. Are students required to wear masks in the classroom? On the school bus?

    A: Students will be expected to wear face coverings at all times, indoors and outside, including on the school bus and in classrooms, even when six-foot physical distancing is possible. There will be regular mask breaks and movement breaks that will be built into the school day. These breaks will be determined by building leaders and classroom teachers to maximize both safety and comfort and minimize distractions in the classroom. These face mask breaks can only occur when students are six feet apart, or outside and six feet apart.

    Q. Will those students exempted from wearing a face-covering for medical reasons receive instruction with other students in the classroom during the school day?

    A: Yes. Students who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face-covering can not be excluded from class.

    Q. What happens if a student who is not exempt refuses to wear a mask?

    A: Just as any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and other staff will work with the student to ensure understanding of the importance of using face coverings for health and safety and how compliance with this important new rule is not negotiable. If a student continues to refuse to wear a face mask, families will be notified and the student will be enrolled in the remote learning option.

    Q. What are parents required to do to screen children’s health before school each day?

    A: Parents/guardians will be responsible for checking each child’s health, including their temperature, before school each day. If a child presents with any of the following, they should be kept home from school:

    • Fever or chills, including a temperature of 100.0 F or above
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    The screening, which will be completed using an online application, will also include questions regarding symptoms of illness and possible exposure to COVID-19 as well as any recent travel.

    Please note that this screening is in addition to other conditions that should preclude students from attending school or any situation in which a child appears not to be well enough to participate in the activities of the school day.

    Q. I’ve heard there will be mask breaks. How will these mask breaks work?

    A: Building administrators will work directly with teachers to support the identification and implementation of scheduled and/or naturally occurring (e.g. lunch) mask breaks during the course of the school day. Masks breaks will be structured by faculty and staff, as they guide students through this process. Mask breaks can only occur when students are at least 6 feet apart, and the breaks will be staggered. This means that not all children will take a mask break at the same time. Each mask break will typically last for a few minutes. Students and staff will receive training in putting on and taking off masks in the safest way possible.

    Q: How is the health of staff being screened?

    A: All district staff members 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 supervisor as per the district’s reporting policies and seek medical attention. During the summer, the district has been using a Google Form that is filled out prior to the start of the workday. It is expected the district will use a third-party app for employee at-home screening at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Information will be provided to staff before the start of the school year.

    Q. What happens if a student’s health screening has not been submitted? Will they be permitted to enter the building?

    A: Screening student health at home before the school day is one of the most important tools the district will use to ensure that students are well enough to attend school. The NYSED and NYS Department of Health guidance calls for temperature taking prior to arrival to work or school. It is expected that parents will monitor this daily to ensure a child doesn’t have a temperature that exceeds 100.0 F. The district will take temperature if a student isn’t feeling well in school. Only a school nurse could take a child’s temperature.  For families who have difficulty completing the daily screening at home, there will be a process in place to assist those families. Families who, with the support of school officials, routinely fail to use the tool to screen for symptoms or exposure to COVID, the family will be asked to enroll students in remote learning from home.

    Q: What do I do if my child is showing COVID-19 symptoms?

    A: Parents are encouraged to contact your child’s doctor if your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19. Your child should not attend school if they are displaying these symptoms.

    For the most up-to-date list of symptoms of COVID-19, the school district encourages families to visit the CDC website regularly: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

    Q: If my child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, how long will they need to be out of school?

    A: The District will follow Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH) guidance on allowing a student or staff member to return to school after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

    If the test results are POSITIVE for COVID-19

    • Contact your child’s school nurse if a child tests positive or if you are a staff member, contact your direct supervisor.
      • The county health department contacts the individual/family with positive case to begin case investigation and contact tracing.
      • Positive student or staff will be placed on home isolation for approximately 10 days with symptom improvement. The county health department will monitor and provide exact return to school date.
      • The county health department will notify school and collaborate with school to complete contact tracing.
      • Identified close contacts will be quarantined from 14 days of last exposure, monitor symptoms, and testing may be recommended.
    • Upon release from isolation by the county health department, the student or staff member may return to school.

    If the test results are NEGATIVE for COVID-19

    • A note is required from medical provider clearing for a return to school AND a negative COVID-19 test result.
    • The student or staff member is allowed to return to school.

    Contacts to positive cases can return to school after a 14-day quarantine period if asymptomatic. If symptomatic, the county health department will continue to monitor and provide an exact return-to-school date.

    Q: What should my child do if they feel sick during the school day? Will I be notified?

    A:  If a student feels sick during the school day, they will report to the nurse’s office for evaluation and potentially be directed to a supervised isolation area prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. There are isolation areas that have been designated for every school building to be used to keep anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 from others who may require routine care, first aid or treatment of chronic ailments from the nurse.

    The following are the locations of isolation areas within each school building:

    • Eagle Elementary School – Room 12 (Conference Room B)
    • Elsmere Elementary School – Room 9
    • Glenmont Elementary School – Room 29 (formerly Counseling Office)
    • Hamagrael Elementary School – Room 16
    • Slingerlands Elementary School – Room 18
    • Middle School – Nurse’s Office (pre-existing)
    • High School – Nurse’s Office (Left wing)

    Dismissal procedures related to symptoms of illness will include the nurse or other available personnel walking the student to the front door of the school building once the parent arrives. Parents will not be coming into the school to pick up their child in the health office, as they are used to doing.

    Q: Will staff be trained to spot symptoms of COVID-19?

    A:  All faculty and staff will be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in students and other individuals. Any student who is suspected of having symptoms will be sent to the school nurse who will isolate the student, provide any necessary care, contact the student’s parent or guardian, and arrange for the students to be safely escorted from the school building.

    Q. What is the protocol if there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in the school?

    A: 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 any of our schools.

    To assist the Albany County Department of Health with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has 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.

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

    While the district works with ACDOH to determine if a school closure is necessary, the district will follow, at a minimum, these protocols set forth by the CDC and the New York State Department of Health:

    • Closing off areas used by a sick person and not using these areas until after cleaning and disinfection has occurred;
    • Opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area;
    • Waiting at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfection. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible; 
    • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, such as offices, classrooms, bathrooms, lockers, and common areas.

    Q: What should I do if I have traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days?

    A: Executive Order 205 requires all travelers coming from states with significant rates of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of their last contact with that state. The list of states that meet the criteria for required quarantine can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory

    Q: My child or a member of my family is considered to be high-risk for COVID-19. What are my options?

    A: 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.

    Parents of children that are more at risk of COVID-19 should speak with their child’s doctor and/or medical professional(s) to determine the best academic and service options for their child. Staff should contact Human Resources Director Amy Baluch if they have conditions that put them at an increased risk of COVID-19. Students who have family members who are in high-risk groups may also need to attend school remotely. If a child is unable to return to in-person instruction this fall, remote academic instruction and related services will be provided to meet the individualized education program (IEP) and/or instructional program to the greatest extent possible.

    All families can choose remote learning for their child. Families are asked to indicate their preference to begin the school year in remote learning by completing this form. Remote learning will remain an option for families, at least through the fall.

    Q. Why isn’t BCSD requiring COVID testing of students and employees?

    A: While schools play a role in identifying students, faculty, and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have had recent known or potential exposure to the virus, school staff are not expected to directly administer COVID-19 diagnostic tests. It is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct universal COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the Albany County Department of Health.

    NYSED guidance also indicates testing alone is insufficient to combat the spread of COVID-19, and so the district is focused on implementing multiple prevention and mitigation strategies, which include temperature and symptom screening, promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining health environments and operations, and preparing for when someone gets sick.

    The following is from the CDC:

    Universal SARS-CoV-2 testing of all students and staff in school settings has not been systematically studied. It is not known if testing in school settings provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, cloth face covering, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting). Therefore, CDC does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff. Implementation of a universal approach to testing in schools may pose challenges, such as the lack of infrastructure to support routine testing and follow up in the school setting, unknown acceptability of this testing approach among students, parents, and staff, lack of dedicated resources, practical considerations related to testing minors and potential disruption in the educational environment. Source: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-testing.html

    Additionally, pursuant to New York State Public Health Law, the Bethlehem Central School District is legally prohibited from administering a COVID-19 test to a child in the absence of parental consent. See: N.Y. Pub. Health Law Section 2504

    Districts do have a responsibility to identify who in the community is responsible for referring, sourcing, and administering testing (e.g., local health department testing sites, physician offices, hospital systems) and to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking care or undergoing testing).

    Q: Where can students, faculty and staff get information on testing for COVID-19?

    A: Information on testing can be found on the ACDOH health website

    https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results

    Students, faculty and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site.

    Q. What if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19?

    If a student or employee tests positive to COVID-19, we will uphold their right to privacy and confidentiality to the greatest extent possible, while also supporting any contact investigation by the Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH). As partners in this effort, we share information with local health officials so they can communicate with people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. News of a confirmed case may generate anxiety and concern, so it is important to be clear how the ACDOH handles communication with individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19:

    • The ACDOH is notified of any positive cases in the county. If a case is identified within the school community, the health department contacts the school district.
    • ACDOH uses the NYS Contact Tracing Program to conduct a contact investigation by interviewing the person who tested positive in order to identify close contacts.
    • Those close contacts are then notified by trained professionals as part of the NYS Contact Tracing Program in order to provide support and guidance to them on issues like quarantine and testing.
    • If you are not contacted directly by a health department representative, then you are not considered a close contact and do not need to quarantine.

    The ACDOH also works with the school district to determine necessary school- or district-wide communication and protocol (i.e. school closure).

    Unless the health department contacts you or your child, you are not identified as close contacts and thus, there is low identifiable risk for contracting COVID-19. You do not need to quarantine or to be tested for COVID-19. If a case or cases are confirmed within the Bethlehem school community, the health department will continue to communicate with anyone who needs to be notified, and the district will communicate with the wider school community.

    If and when a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, we will determine the level of closure in consultation with the Albany County Department of Health. “Cohorting” practices (the amount of intermingling among groups) will dictate whether a classroom, grade level, wing of a school building or entire school will close. Those in close contact with the individual who tested positive will then receive instructions from the ACDOH regarding testing, quarantine, and a timeline for returning to school in-person. Remote learning will be available for all who are not able to be physically present at school but who are well enough to participate. If too unwell to participate in distance learning, staff and students would utilize benefit time, or receive an excused absence, respectively.

    Q: Are schools responsible for contact tracing for students, faculty and staff?

    A. The Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH) has the primary responsibility for contact tracing, however, effective contact tracing is a joint collaborative effort. ACDOH will need the assistance of schools in providing staff and student lists and schedules and other information to identify exposed individuals.

    The NYS Contact Tracing Program works with confirmed positive COVID-19 people to determine who they have been in contact with. Trained specialists reach out to those contacts about possible exposure. If you have been identified as a contact you will get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993).

    Because the disease can be transmitted without symptoms, notifying people about a possible exposure is critical to stop the spread.

    So, if you get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993) please answer. It is confidential and private.

    ACDOH provides a worksheet that will help you identify contacts you have had so you can be ready for their call.

    https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results

    Q: Will families be notified if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community?

    Yes. If a case or cases are confirmed within the Bethlehem school community, the Albany County Health Department (ACDOH) will communicate with anyone who needs to be notified as part of contact tracing, and the district will communicate with the wider school community. This district-level communication would be coordinated with the epidemiologists from ACDOH and would follow a similar pattern of notifications of communicable diseases that have occurred in the district in the past (e.g. pertussis). In these instances, notification was made immediately to staff and families in the building affected in each case and a districtwide notification to all families K-12 and to all staff was communicated as well. (New: August 15, 2020)

    Q: What are the district’s plans for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings?

    A: The district will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed. At the middle school and high school, where students will be changing classes, teachers will be disinfecting student desks and high touch-points within a classroom between different cohorts of students during the school day.

    Q: Will fire drills and lockdown drills still be conducted? What will be the process for maintaining social distancing?

    A: Schools must continue to conduct mandatory fire 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

    Q: What if a family has travel plans? Is there anything we need to know?

    A: If you have travel plans, you will want to be sure you are aware of Bethlehem Central School District’s protocols regarding travel and daily health screenings for the 2020-21 school year. The district’s daily screening tool is an important part of the district’s reopening plan. Both staff and students will be required to use the online screening tool every day before coming to school. The screening is used to determine who can safely be at school based on observed symptoms, recent travel or possible exposure to COVID-19. 

    Any staff or students who travel out of the country or out of state to any location listed on the Governor’s Travel Advisory List will be required to quarantine for 14 days after returning to New York State. Persons who travel to any states listed on the Travel Advisory should self-report their travel to the school district. Employees report this information to their direct supervisor; families should report this information to their child’s school nurse. If a location has been removed from the travel advisory list while a person is serving their related 14-day mandatory quarantine, that person must still complete the full 14 days of mandatory quarantine before returning to school.

    In the event that someone within a household travels to another country or a state on the travel advisory list and returns to New York State, but the student or staff member does not travel, that student or staff member may be allowed to return to school without a 14-day mandatory quarantine. In the event that a person in a household who has traveled tests positive for COVID-19, the Albany County Health Department will identify all household members as close contacts and quarantine all members of the household for 14 days. 

    Facilities


    Q. What will class sizes be for in-person instruction?

    A: Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart in all directions. In our school buildings, capacity has been determined for every classroom, in every building. The district completed measurements for every classroom, and in consultation with the district’s architects, determined approximate capacity to be as follows:

    • 700 square feet – approx. 12 to 14 students
    • 750 square feet – approx. 14 to 16 students
    • 800 square feet – approx. 16 to 18 students
    • 850 square feet – approx. 18 to 20 students

    Q: How will desks be arranged in the classrooms? Will students be facing each other or facing forward?

    A: Desks will be arranged in classrooms to ensure that students are positioned no less than six feet apart while seated. All desks will face the same direction to minimize risk. Teachers may rotate students’ assigned desks throughout the year.

    Q. What is the school district doing about improving ventilation in classrooms?

    A: In consultation with HVAC professionals, the Bethlehem Central School District has an enhanced HVAC System protocol plan due to COVID-19 which includes:

    • Increasing airflow where feasible with natural ventilation by opening doors and windows when safe to do so. Also, the setting on all HVAC unit ventilators will be increased.
    • An air ventilation upgrade adjusting dampers to increase outside air intake from 10% to approximately 22% and increasing run time to 24 hours/day, seven days a week.
    • A filter upgrade replacing filters where possible to MERV-13 filters and also increase routine filter replacement to every three months.
    • Disabled demand control ventilation in large spaces. Demand control is used ordinarily as an energy efficiency strategy in large spaces such as gyms, auditoriums and cafeterias. By disabling this mechanism, the district can maximize airflow at all times.

    Q: Who monitors and maintains the ventilation systems?

    A: Using the computerized building automation system (BAS), the Operations and Maintenance staff check for ventilation issues every day. Each teacher also monitors the condition of their classroom space. If there are any concerns, teachers contact Operations & Maintenance. The BAS controls and monitors all the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems around the district. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: At what temperature will doors and windows be opened?

    A: Teachers will be encouraged to open windows as much as possible, however, these decisions will be made by individual teachers who will consider factors including the number of students present along with conditions both inside and outside. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: I understand the district will be upgrading to MERV-13 air filters. Is there anywhere that these can not or will not be used?

    A: The only units that can not physically accept MERV-13 filters are the window and ductless split air conditioning units. The Operations and Maintenance team is going to monitor the operations of all the different ventilation systems at every school building and will assess accordingly. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: Do dampers to the outside automatically close when a certain temperature is reached and does this result in no outside air circulation? 

    A. Yes, the dampers do modulate and close during colder weather.  The outside air damper however never closes completely.  SED requires that outside air is always brought into a classroom. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q. Is mold present in any of our ventilation systems?

    A. The district’s Operation and Maintenance team is not aware of any active mold in the district’s ventilation systems.  The district conducts periodic inspection and preventative maintenance of these systems, at which time staff corrects any operational issues or concerns. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: Are the maintenance records for the schools’ ventilation systems public record? If so, where can they be found?

    A. System preventive maintenance is performed on a regular basis by building custodians, and includes filter replacements, applying oil, and vacuuming components. Other than noting the date of the filter change on the filter itself, there are no formal records. However, if there is a repair to a particular unit, those records are maintained within the work order system. If there is a question about a particular building’s system, please direct your inquiry to Gregg Nolte at gnolte@bethlehemschools.org.

    Q: What disinfectant is the school going to be wiping surfaces with? How long does it need to stay on the surfaces?

    A: Will the school have enough time to clear the desks and facilities properly? Schools will be using OxivirTB disinfectant to disinfect surfaces in classrooms and other areas. Oxivir TB has a one minute dwell time, meaning that it only takes one minute to kill germs. The district has a comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting plan for our facilities, equipment and buses. This will be a joint effort with various staff including custodians, teachers, aides, food service, and bus drivers. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: Is this disinfectant an irritant to staff or students?

    A: OxivirTB is non-corrosive and non- irritating to skin and eyes. It can be used without personal protective equipment, enabling use by teachers or staff in classrooms or other public areas. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q: What about HEPA filters? Will they be used in classrooms or other areas?

    A: The district will use portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to help enhance air cleaning in higher risk settings including health offices and in some of our special education classroom settings. (Added: Aug. 31, 2020)

    Q. Will outside visitors be permitted into school buildings? Will outside groups still be able to use school facilities?

      A: No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on school campuses, except pre-approved vendors, contractors or substitute teachers or staff. All of these individuals will need to complete a health screening before being admitted to the building.  Parents/guardians will not be allowed in school buildings 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. 

      Q: Will there be plexiglass barriers at any school building locations?

      A: Plexiglass barriers will be used in office and work locations where there is frequent interaction between staff, and between staff and students.

      Q: Will students still use lockers? Cubbies?

      A: Yes and no. The use of cubbies will still be allowed at the elementary level, but use will be staggered so there is no congregating of students near the cubbies. Lockers for older students will not be allowed to minimize students who would ordinarily congregate in these areas. Students in grades 6-12 will be instructed to use backpacks instead of lockers. Teachers will limit materials that need to be transported to and from school. (Updated August 13, 2020)

      Q. How will school supplies that are typically shared be handled?

      A: To reduce the sharing of items, students at the elementary level will be assigned their own box of manipulatives that may be needed for learning. Books that are borrowed from the library or are distributed in class will be set aside once they are returned and will not be available for use by other students until after a period of at least 24 hours.

      Q: How is the district ensuring that any changes to its facilities are in compliance with fire code and other regulations?

      A: All spaces to be occupied by school students and staff must meet the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Code. The district will work with its representative from the Capital Region BOCES Health, Safety & Risk Unit to ensure compliance with these codes.

      Q: Will students and staff have access to hand sanitizer?

      A: Touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout each school building.  Parents may opt their child out of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer while at school. To do so, please send a written notice to your child’s school.

      Q: Will students and staff have access to water fountains?

      A: The district will ensure that students and staff have access to drinking water during the school day.

      Q. Should we be concerned about stagnant water in our schools affecting water quality?

      A. Every summer the district uses and runs water in all schools during summer cleaning and maintenance to ensure water quality. This summer was no exception. In fact, because of the shutdown in March and the announcement in early May that students would not be returning, these summer maintenance activities began earlier than usual so water has been flowing in all school buildings for many months.

      Teaching and Learning


      Q. What will classrooms and schools look like in the fall?

      A: Classrooms and other instructional spaces will be reconfigured to ensure a positive, welcoming learning environment that maximizes social distancing for students and staff. In classrooms, occupancy will be limited to ensure 6-foot distance. Individual desks will be positioned six feet apart. Desks will face the same direction to reduce transmission of droplets from talking, coughing or sneezing. Lockers and cubbies will not be used to limit students congregating in one area. Soft seating and materials with upholstery or fabric will be removed so items can be easily cleaned/sanitized. Non-traditional spaces such as cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, art/music rooms, and the outdoors, may be used for instruction.

      Q: How will you have enough staff to cover class sections with social distancing in grades K-6, when all students will attend school every day?

      A: At the elementary level, the district is able to expand sections where needed by reassigning Response to Intervention (RtI) teachers to classroom instruction. In Grade 6, teachers of World Language will be reassigned to classroom instruction. The district will also be reviewing data from the Remote Learning request form to determine in-person instruction needs and remote learning instruction needs. These data could result in changes to teaching assignments.

      Q. Will students stay in the same classroom all day?

      A: School schedules for the reopening of school will be designed to minimize the movement of students within the building.

      • At the elementary level, students will not leave their classrooms. Instead, special area subject teachers will come to the classroom. 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 grades K-5, lunch will be served in the classroom. Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and 6-foot spacers on the floors.
      • Grade 6 students at the middle school will also be taught in one classroom, with minimal movement throughout the day. Lunch for grade 6 will take place in larger areas including the cafeteria, upper gym, and the LMC.
      • Students in grades 7-12 will change classes. Hallways and stairways will be configured to reduce congestion and students will be dismissed from classes one row at a time. At the end of the day, students will be dismissed by wing or hallway to reduce congestion. Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and 6-foot spacers on the floors.

      Q. Can you describe the Remote Learning option for students in grades K-12?

      A. Remote Learning is a choice for all families. Details and schedules of how these programs will look are still being determined. A summary of Remote Learning at all levels can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/remote-learning-options-family-choice/

      Q: What platforms will be used for remote instruction?

      A: Teachers will use either Google Meet or Zoom for remote instruction.

      Q. If remote learning is a family’s choice, will Chromebooks be provided?

      A: Yes, if a family chooses remote learning, a student Chromebook will be provided. This is not the case if a family chooses to homeschool instead of the BCSD remote learning option.

      Q. Is it true that a K-5 student who enrolls in remote learning but chooses to return to in-person instruction may not be assigned to their home school?

      A: Due to social distancing requirements and the assignment of staff to in-person and virtual classrooms, students returning to in-person schooling may be assigned to schools other than their home school, if the home school is at maximum capacity to ensure safe social distancing requirements. Every effort will be made to keep students at their home school.

      Q.Has the elementary curriculum been adjusted to account for learning gaps from the conclusion of the last academic year?

      A: Yes. Teachers will spend time at the beginning of the school year assessing students to determine where these gaps exist and will incorporate 2019-2020 standards that were unaddressed or abbreviated into the 2020-2021 learning sequence, and provide additional supports for students with any unfinished learning from last spring.

      Q: How will students be held accountable for attendance and classwork?

      A: There will be an expectation for daily attendance and full participation of all students. All attendance procedures will be in full effect whether students are in-person or remote.

      Q: Will remote learning be synchronous (students expected to be online at a specific time) or asynchronous (students completing work on their own schedule)? What will interactions with teachers be like?

      A: Remote learning will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous. Remote learning will look a little different at each level. For more information on remote learning: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/family-choice-bcsd-remote-learning/

      Q. Is remote learning an option for families who do not want to send their child to in-person instruction?

      A: Yes. Remote learning is an option for all students. Families can opt in to remote learning at any time. However, once in remote learning, the student would be required to stay with remote learning until at least the end of the quarter. For the first quarter, that would be November 13, 2020. For planning purposes, the district is asking parents whose child/ren want to enroll in remote learning for the start of the 2020-21 school year to make that decision by August 15, 2020. All information on remote learning (as of Aug. 11, 2020) can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/family-choice-bcsd-remote-learning/

      Q. Will everyone have access to the remote learning resources, even if they are attending some form of in-person instruction?

      A: The district has a plan for remote-only learning in the event the schools are shut down due a COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, any student who may be out of school for a prolonged period of time due to illness or quarantine will have access to remote learning while at home.

      Q: How do I participate in remote learning if I don’t have internet access or a device?

      A: The Bethlehem Central School District is a 1:1 district, which means that every student is assigned a device for learning. Students in grades 1 through 12 each have an assigned Chromebook; and students in kindergarten have access to an iPad. Prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year, there will be device distribution days that will allow

      Q: We are unable to access the internet where we live. How will instruction be provided for my child during remote learning?

      A: Families who may need assistance with internet access can contact the BC Technology Department at 518-439-4921 x77777 or helpdesk@bethlehemschools.org.

      Q: What do we do if my child’s school laptop breaks or stops working?

      A: If a student’s laptop or device breaks or stops working, you should notify your building principal and contact the BC Technology Department at 518-439-4921 x77777 or helpdesk@bethlehemschools.org.

      Q. What is the difference between remote learning and homeschooling?

      A: Remote learning is delivered by the school district for students who are enrolled in school, but are not attending in-person instruction. Instruction is provided by certified teachers in accordance with New York State Learning Standards. Chromebooks are provided to remote learners. Parents who wish to homeschool their child must provide written notice to the school district of their child’s withdrawal from the district, and submit an individualized home instruction plan, as well as quarterly reports and evaluations, to the district. All instruction is provided by the parents or guardians.

      Q. If RtI teachers are reassigned as classroom teachers, will elementary students identified as needing reading and math services get RtI support this year?

      A: Yes. While RtI math teachers are being reassigned to regular classrooms, reading specialists will still be available. In most classrooms, there may only be 1-2 students who need math support and that support will be provided by the classroom teacher. This is possible due to the smaller number of students in each classroom.

      Q. Will students receiving related services through SESS receive those services when school resumes?

      A: Yes. Students will receive related services, such as occupational therapy, speech, etc. in accordance with each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

      Q. How will students’ work be graded or evaluated?

      A: Student work will be evaluated by classroom teachers using standards-based grading. Progress reports and report cards will be provided according to the regular school year schedule. Any adjustments that may be needed as a result of COVID-19 will be communicated with families in detail.

      Q: Will my child still be able to attend their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at BOCES?

      A: Our understanding is that Capital Region BOCES will provide Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes every day. The details are still being coordinated with BOCES and all information will be shared with students and families prior to the start of the school year. 

      Q. Will there be spaces for outdoor learning?

      A: Yes. The district plans to use all available outdoor spaces, weather permitting, for class instruction per teacher request. The district is currently working to secure tent structures that could be added to school grounds. These structures must be approved for occupancy by the New York State Education and that process could delay use of tents on school grounds.

      Q: How will physical education be taught?

      A: Students will still participate in Physical Education classes. Whenever possible, students will use outside space for physical education instruction. The district will adhere to NYSDOH guidelines of maintaining 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity. Face coverings will be required at all times.

      Q.When will staff receive professional development and what will this consist of?

      A: As we look to reopen the Bethlehem Central School District for 2020-2021, we have designed a professional development plan that is focused on health and safety, social-emotional learning and technology tools for delivering high-quality remote and hybrid instruction for students. Instructional staff will take part in three full days of professional development before the start of the school year: Sept. 1-2 and Sept. 8. Tuesday, September 8 was added as a Staff Development Day. It had originally been a regular school day for students.  In addition, on Aug. 11-12, hundreds of teachers are participating in a Technology Bootcamp that is providing more than three dozen sessions intended to help teachers and students connect in a changing and challenging classroom and online environment.

      Q: Does the live streaming or recording of a class present major privacy issues?  

      A: No. Federal privacy guidelines do not prohibit the use of videoconferencing technology for distance learning, nor does it prohibit the recording of lessons. It is important to remember that the camera is focused on the teacher in front of the classroom, that non-students do not attend live or recorded classes, and that students and parents do not share or record any portion of class videos on their own.

      Q: Will students still take state exams (e.g., the 3-8 math and ELA assessments, Regents exams)?

      A: Any Grades 3-8 and Regents examinations required by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) will be made available to students in the appropriate grade level. If examinations are waived, the district will communicate that information to families. 

      Q: Will students still be able to borrow books from the school library?

      A: Yes. In addition to an extensive online collection of books and other media, students will be able to borrow printed materials from the library. The library media specialists will have a protocol in place for a book(s) to be signed out and when returned, that book or materials will be held in a separate area for at least 24 hours until it is returned to circulation. There will also be a pre-ordering process in place to request books from the library so only library staff handles the materials with appropriate PPE.

      Q. Will there be band and chorus for students due to the 12-foot distancing requirement for these activities?

      A: The district is still unsure exactly how band and chorus will look in 2020-21. At the beginning of the year, there will be no chorus or band at the elementary level. At the secondary level, teachers will try to provide instruction outdoors with 12-foot distancing. Alternate activities will be scheduled by these teachers when outdoor instruction is not optimal.

      Q: Will substitute teachers and student teachers be part of the school setting in 2020-21. If so, what type of health screening will substitutes and student teachers have before entering the building?

      A: We expect there will be the need to have substitute teachers in our buildings during the 2020-21 school year. Student teachers may also be in classrooms this year. Substitutes, student teachers and all staff will be required to submit an electronic health screening, with temperature check, prior to entering the building.

      Q: Will elementary students have recess? If so, will recess be outside if conditions permit?

      A: A special committee is looking into all safe options for recess. Elementary students will still participate in recess. Elementary principals will work with staff to develop alternative recess activities that abide by social distancing guidelines. Playground equipment will be cleaned per CDC guidance.

      Q: Will students still have assemblies? Field trips?

      A: Pursuant to NYSDOH guidance, schools must ensure that appropriate social distancing is maintained between individuals while in school facilities and on school grounds (inclusive of students, faculty, and staff). Because of these guidelines, assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities will not be held at this time.

      Q. How will the district decide if there is a need to go fully remote? Will that decision be made districtwide, or on a more individual basis (school, class, etc.)?

      A: The district will collaborate with the Albany County Department of Health 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.

      At a minimum, schools will close in accordance with direction from the governor and New York State Department of Health if the 7-day rolling regional average of the infection rate rises above 9%. In that instance, schools throughout the region must wait until the 14-day average is below 5% before reopening, and permission must be grated from the local department of health and other governing agencies.

      The district will be notified by the Albany County Department of Health regarding the status of infection rates. The district reserves the right to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult St. Peter’s Health Partners Slingerlands Pediatrics when making such decisions.

      Q. Will science students who are taking Regents courses still be able to complete laboratory requirements?

      A: New York State is adjusting lab requirements. Students will still be required to complete 1,200 minutes of lab work but students can utilize virtual lab simulations. The current plan is to have a variety of virtual simulations and hands-on experiences. In many cases, teachers will display a lab set-up and have the class (remotely or in-person) collect the data.  The ultimate focus will be placed on the analysis of data as opposed to the actual collection, which will meet the 1,200 lab minute requirements.

      Special Education


      Q.How will my child’s IEP be affected by the reopening plan?  

      A: The District will work with its Committees on Special Education (CSE) and Preschool Special Education (CPSE) to ensure that students’ individualized education plans (IEP) will be implemented during both in-person and remote learning to the greatest extent possible. The continuum of special education services will be available whether the instruction is delivered through in-person, hybrid learning, or remote learning. Student programs, related services, accommodations, and modifications as indicated on students’ IEPs will be closely monitored for consistent implementation across all modalities of service delivery. 

      Q. Can my child still receive services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy remotely?

      A: Yes, related services will be provided in accordance with a student’s IEP.

      Q. Will my child still be transported to off-site special education programs?

      A: The district will continue to provide transportation when offsite programs are offering hybrid or in-person learning.

      Q: Which special education programs will be offered on a daily basis?

      A: All K-12 skills and Intensive skills programs will be offered on a daily basis. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: Will CPSE/CSE/504 meetings still occur?

      A: All CPSE/CSE/504 meetings will continue to operate virtually. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: My child is scheduled for the Resource Room, will this still be offered?

      A:  Yes, Resource Room will continue to be offered. At the elementary level, we will make every effort to group cohorts of students together. At the 7-12 level, students may need to be grouped outside of their alphabetic group to maintain balanced classes. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: Will my child and his/her speech therapist need to wear a mask in the therapy room?

      A: Yes, we are looking at utilizing clear masks for speech services and for hearing impaired students and staff. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: My child’s IEP calls for aide support, will this still be offered?

      A: Aides will be assigned to students on in-person learning days per their IEP. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: Will my child be able to bring all of their manipulatives/materials to elementary school?

      A: Each student will have individual bins of materials including their digits and manipulatives. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: Will my child need to wear a mask all day?

      A: Yes, all students and staff will wear face coverings. There will be mask breaks built into the day. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q: My child is in a BOCES program, will they still be operating?

      A: Yes, BOCES programs are scheduled to begin on Monday, September 14. (New: August 14, 2020)

      Q. How will special education services at BCSD be delivered by grade level?

      A: The following provides a brief summary of special education services by each grade level for 2020-21:

      K-5 Related Services
      • Cluster students in the same cohort; Pull cohort or push into classroom.
      K-5 Resource Room
      • Cluster students in the same cohort; Pull cohort or push into classroom.
      K-5 Co-Teach/DCT
      • Co-teach in the classroom.
      K-5 Skills
      • All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.
      K-5 Intensive Skills
      • All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.
      Grade 6 Related Services
      • Cluster students in the same cohort; Pull cohort or push into classroom.
      Grade 6 Resource Room
      • Scheduled as part of one of the student’s eight class periods.
      Grade 6 Co-Teach/DCT
      • Co-teach in the classroom.
      Grade 6 Skills

      All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.

      Grade 6 Intensive Skills
      • All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.
      Grades 7-12 Related Services
      • Scheduled during a free class or 1:1 virtually on a home day.
      Grades 7-12 Resource Room
      • Alternating in-person instruction and remote instruction.
      Grades 7-12 Co-Teach/DCT
      • Alternating in-person instruction and remote instruction.
      Grades 7-12 Skills
      • All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.
      Grades 7-12 Intensive Skills
      • All students receive in-person instruction five days/week.

      Social-Emotional Well-Being


      Q: What supports are available for my child’s mental health needs?

      A: The social-emotional well-being of students and staff is a priority for the district, especially throughout this pandemic. To support our school community and ensure students’ social-emotional learning, the district will coordinate counseling efforts with our school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists to provide counseling services to all students; deliver social-emotional lessons to address a variety of topics to include: self-regulation, emotional regulation, anxiety, social skills and coping strategies at the elementary level; review and implement crisis response strategies depending on student needs; develop social-emotional lessons to include self-care, self-management, self-awareness, healthy relationships and decision making at the middle and high school levels; and provide professional development for faculty and staff on social-emotional health and wellbeing for both children and adults

      Q: How can a student reach out to counselors if stressed?

      A: Students who are in distress or in need of social and emotional support may visit their school counseling office, contact the school nurse, or contact the building principal.

      Q: How will social-emotional support be provided during remote instruction?

      A: During remote instruction, students will be able to contact counselors by email. Counselors will be available to meet with students remotely via Zoom or Google Meet. Counselor contact information can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/mental-health-resources-from-our-counseling-staff/

      Q: Will students entering new school buildings have some form of orientation or tours ahead of time?

      A: Yes. The district always looks forward to welcoming new or rising students into its buildings. Building principals will contact families directly with plans for orientation, virtual tours and more. The beginning of the school year will be dedicated to ensuring that all students feel comfortable in the return to school for the 2020-21 school year. The schedule for the phased-in start to the school year can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/reopening-phased-re-entry-schedule-for-students/

      Q: Will parents/guardians be allowed to escort their child(ren) into the building on the first day back to school?

      A: No. While parents are encouraged to provide transportation to and from school for their students, parents will need to goodbye to their students while in the car. Visitors will not be allowed inside our school buildings and we will need to ensure that drop-off (and pick-up) are as efficient as possible to minimize disruption to the instructional schedule.

      School Activities


      Q: Will athletics, clubs or extracurricular activities still be offered?

      A: The district is exploring the types of activities that can be conducted in a safe environment with appropriate social distancing protocols. Interscholastic sports have been delayed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) until at least Sept. 21. Additional guidance on athletic activities is forthcoming. When it becomes available, the district will communicate that information to families. There may be opportunities for clubs and other extracurricular activities to be held virtually. Students will be encouraged to participate in these sessions.

      Q: Can my child participate in athletics, clubs or extracurriculars if they are doing remote learning?

      A: Students in remote learning will be able to participate in all afterschool activities and extracurriculars that take place virtually. Students in remote learning will not be allowed to take part in activities that take place at school. This restriction is due to contact tracing data and details the district would be required to provide to the Albany County Department of Health should a case of COVID-19 be identified within the school community. Appropriate contact tracing of students in remote learning would be difficult and could hinder efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

      Q. Are before- and after-care programs available?

      A: School’s Out Inc. will operate both before- and after-school programs for students at each of the elementary schools: Eagle, Elsmere, Glenmont, Hamagrael and Slingerlands.

      Q: Will music and drama performances still take place?

      A: In order for the district to adhere to NYSDOH and NYSED guidance, in-person group gatherings will not be permitted for the foreseeable future.

      Q: Will my child be able to travel to other schools to participate in events?

      A: The district will not be offering any events or school activities at this time that would involve students traveling to other schools. The only exception to this would be Career and Technical Education or other programs through BOCES, including special education programs/services, that are related to a students instructional program. The details of these BOCES programs are still being worked out with our partners at Capital Region BOCES.

      Child Nutrition


      Q. Will lunches need to be brought to school every day? Or will they be available at school?

      A: School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. Students may also bring lunches from home.

      Q: Where will students eat lunch?

      A: Elementary students will eat in their classrooms. Each morning, teachers will take a lunch count and submit this information to the school cafeteria. The school cafeteria will prepare and deliver pre-packaged meals to the classrooms at lunchtime. Noon aides will monitor children as they wash hands, eat lunch and clean up using bins located inside or just outside the classroom. Noon aides will bring students to recess before or after lunch.

      Middle and high school students will eat in three large areas that can accommodate 6-foot social distancing. Pre-packaged meals will be ordered in the morning and will be available for pick up in different locations. At the high school, alternate plans will be made for students who do not have a lunch period in their schedule.

      Q. Will breakfast be available at school?

      A: Yes, breakfast will be available at the start of the school day. Student participation at breakfast is small enough that it is possible to socially distance students when getting and eating breakfast in the cafeteria.

      Q.What about meals for students who are enrolled in remote learning only?

      A: Students enrolled in remote learning will still have breakfast and lunch options available to them. Those who enroll in remote learning will be contacted directly by the Food Services team.

      Q: How will students pay for their meals?

      A: To minimize the need to handle cash, the district recommends using MySchoolBucks. All children have an individual MySchoolBucks account that parents can put money into rather than sending in lunch money daily. Money will be withdrawn from your child’s account when they purchase lunch or a snack. You can set up account e-mail notifications to alert you when this account runs low. Students are allowed to borrow if they do not have funds for meals. We automatically email you when your student’s balance goes below zero. You can add funds to your child’s account by:

      Online with MySchoolBucks ($2.49 fee per transaction). In order to encourage online payments, we are giving one free meal per every $50 and greater payment made through MSB.

      Check sent to school. Checks should be made payable to “BC School Lunch”, in an envelope marked with the child’s name and “lunch”. Checks should be handed into classroom teachers.

      For families who wish to use cash, the Food Services Department will work with these families to arrange for contact-free payment where possible.

      Q: What hygiene practices will keep students safe during meals?

      A: Students will be required to perform hand hygiene (washing with soap and water for 20 seconds) before and after eating. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating as long as they are appropriately socially distanced.

      Q. My child has a food allergy. How will this be handled with meals being served in the classroom?

      A: Allergy information will still be connected to a student’s meal account and meals prepared for classroom delivery will be made according to diet prescriptions for students that have a physician note on file with the school nurse.

      Transportation


      Q. Are there any changes to who can ride the bus to and from school?

      A: The Bethlehem Central School District provides transportation to all elementary students, to middle school students who live more than a half-mile from BCMS, to high school students who live more than a mile from BCHS, and to resident students who attend private and parochial schools within 15 miles of their homes. As the district prepares for the return to school for 2020-21, families are encouraged to provide transportation to their students when possible to reduce congestion on school buses and allow for social distancing to the extent practicable.

      Q. Will social distancing be enforced on school buses?

      A: Students, drivers and staff should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable on the school bus. Members of the same household will be required to sit together. The district is working to keep the maximum bus capacity at 50%. To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school. 

      Q. Will masks be required on the bus?

      A: Students, drivers and staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school transportation (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated). If students need a face covering, they will be provided with one by the driver prior to entering the vehicle. Students who are unable to tolerate a face covering — and who have received a formal, written exemption from the district’s medical director — are not required to wear a mask, but must be appropriately socially distanced.

      Learn more about COVID-19 safety measures on school buses in this video.

      Q. My child will be taking the bus for the first time this year. Is there information available for first-time riders?

      A: Yes. Our transportation team has an orientation video for kindergarten students and those using the bus for the first time. They outline all of the regular safety rules and have added information regarding COVID-19 safety as well. The video, “Buster’s First Ride,” can be viewed here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/bcsd-transportation-orientation-video/

      Q. Will students’ temperatures be checked before entering the bus?

      A:  Students’ temperatures will not be checked by school personnel before boarding buses. Instead, parents will be required to complete a temperature check and health screening at home, before the start of the school day.

      Q. Can my child sit with their friend on the bus if they have been spending time together this summer?

      A. No. Only siblings or members of the same household will sit together unless students are otherwise directed by the bus driver. Seats will be assigned to all students and they will not change unless otherwise directed. (Updated Aug. 25, 2020)

      Q. How many students will be in each seat?

      A: Students must sit one to a seat unless they are members of the same household or otherwise directed by the driver.

      Q. Will members of the same household be required to sit together?

      A: Yes. To maximize social distancing on the buses, siblings and members of the same household who travel on the same bus will be required to sit together. 

      Q. When will bus routes and schedules be released?

      A: Transportation schedules are posted to the Aspen Parent Portal. To find your child’s bus route and bus stop information, look on the left side of the student file in Aspen, and then:

      1. Click on the Membership tab;
      2. Click on the Transportation tab; and
      3. Click on the Details tab.

      Parents with questions or concerns about their child’s bus schedule may contact Transportation Director Cindy Jurewicz at 518-439-3830. (Updated Sept. 5, 2020)

      Q. Will there be late buses at the high school?

      A: There will be no late buses to begin the 2020-21 school year.

      Q. Can I drop off my child(ren) in the morning, but use the bus after school?

      A:  Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. If your child only needs one-way transportation to or from school, please contact Transportation Director Cindy Jurewicz at 518-439-3830.with that information.

      Q. Can my child be dropped off or picked up at different locations during the week?

      A: Keeping students in smaller cohorts will be part of health and safety precautions in 2020-21. In order to reduce mixing student cohorts on the buses, students will not be permitted to alter from their scheduled morning and afternoon routes. If a student is transported somewhere other than their home address (daycare, second home address), that alternate transportation would have to take place every day of the week with no exceptions.

      Q. What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?

      A: All buses that are used every day will be cleaned/ disinfected twice a day. High-contact points will be wiped down after the final morning (AM) and buses will be disinfected fully following the afternoon (PM) runs. (Updated Sept. 3, 2020)

      Q: Will hand sanitizer be available on the bus?

      A: On August 27, 2020, the New York State Department of Transportation authorized school districts to allow the use of hand sanitizer on buses. There is no appropriate location for a hand sanitizer dispenser on the school bus, however, both students and staff will be able to bring their own personal hand sanitizer (8 oz. container or smaller) onto the bus. Hand sanitizer must be stored in a bag or backpack when not in use. (Updated Sept. 3, 2020)

      Q: How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?

      A: Students embarking and disembarking buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent possible and wear a face covering. Staff will be available at the elementary schools to assist students in getting on and off the buses while maintaining distance.

      Q: Will the new start time at the high school impact bus transportation for BOCES CTE students?

      A: Yes. BCHS students who are enrolled in morning classes at the Capital Region BOCES CTE campus will now ride a private/parochial bus that leaves from the middle school. Students will either take the transfer bus from the high school to the middle school and board the private/parochial bus at the middle school. Students must be at the middle school by 7:15 a.m. to take the bus to CTE. This transportation change only affects students in the morning program at CTE.  A letter with the bus information for those in the morning CTE program (who have been assigned to Route 36 from the middle school) has been mailed to families of these students by the district’s Transportation Department. (New: Aug. 25, 2020)

      Q: Does the district expect more traffic as students head back to school?

      A: Yes. It is important to know that 87% of all students have chosen in-person instruction and while students in grades 7-12 will only be coming to school every other day, the district expects more families will be driving their students to school. The traffic impact will be especially noticeable at the elementary schools where students will attend school every day. The schools are working very hard to create arrival and dismissal procedures that are safe and efficient. However, this may take a few weeks to ensure a smooth process. That means families should expect additional traffic and should plan schedules accordingly, especially at the start of school. Families will also want to be aware that the high school has a new start time of 8 a.m. This means the high school and the middle school will be starting at the same time, with more buses and cars on the road in the morning. (New: Sept. 3, 2020)

      Communication/Family and Community Engagement


      Q. Would you consider scheduling more Q & A sessions specific to each school (Elem/MS/HS) rather than K-12?

      A: There will be Q & A sessions for each school in the coming weeks. The schedule can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/reopening-q-a-sessions-continue/

      Q: How will parents be notified if the school needs to shift to fully remote learning?

      A: The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. Staff Gmail, the district website, the Aspen Parent Portal and the district’s School Messenger system will be the primary means of communication with families. Direct mail will be used for families with limited access to email or the internet.

      Q: Will families be notified if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community?

      Yes. If a case or cases are confirmed within the Bethlehem school community, the Albany County Health Department (ACDOH) will communicate with anyone who needs to be notified as part of contact tracing, and the district will communicate with the wider school community. This district-level communication would be coordinated with the epidemiologists from ACDOH and would follow a similar pattern of notifications of communicable diseases that have occurred in the district in the past (e.g. pertussis). In these instances, notification was made immediately to staff and families in the building affected in each case and a districtwide notification to all families K-12 and to all staff was communicated as well. (New: August 15, 2020)

      Q: How will I communicate with my child/ren’s teachers during remote learning?

      A: The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email and phone. To contact teachers, administrators or staff, visit our Contact Us page on the district website.

      Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about the district’s reopening plan or health and safety protocols?

      A: The district’s COVID-19 Coordinator is Superintendent Jody Monroe. Parents can contact Ms. Monroe by email at jmonroe@bethlehemschools.org or by phone at 518-439-7098. JoAnn Menrath is the School Nurse Coordinator. She can be reached at jmenrath@bethlehemschools.org.

      Q: Who should I contact if I need reopening resources translated into another language?

      A: Families who need district reopening information translated into another language can use the Google Translate feature on the district website at the top right side of the page. For other translation questions, please contact World Language and English as a New Language (ENL) K-12 Supervisor Luis Avilés at laviles@bethlehemschools.org or by phone at 518-429-4921 x22248.