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District outlines reopening plans for 2020-21

Filed in District, District News by on July 29, 2020

The following information was updated on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

At the July 28 Board of Education meeting, the Bethlehem Central School District outlined plans for a possible reopening of school buildings if schools are allowed to open in the fall. These are preliminary plans that are designed to prioritize in-person instruction while meeting all New York State health and safety guidance. 

Currently, these plans are focused on two models of instruction for BC students in the 2020-21 school year:

  • In-Person Hybrid Model – Students in grades K-6 students receive in-person instruction daily, Monday through Friday, while students in grades 7-12 are assigned to an alternating schedule of in-person and remote learning every other day. Special education Skills and Intensive Skills, English as a New Language students K-12 would receive in-person instruction daily.
  • Remote Learning Model – All students would have a choice of remote learning from home. Due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, mandatory remote learning may be necessary at any time. 

The decision of whether schools will resume in-person instruction is expected to be made by Governor Andrew Cuomo between August 1 and August 7. Following that directive, district-level decisions in the Bethlehem Central School District will follow these guiding principles:

  • BCSD will adhere to New York state guidelines and ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
  • The district will maximize instructional opportunities for all students, but prioritize in-person instruction for the youngest learners and those who need additional assistance.
  • Remote learning will be an option for all students.
  • All plans will be implemented with flexibility in mind; the district will likely need to adjust due to changing conditions associated with COVID-19.

Key elements of the district’s plan to return to in-person instruction can be found below. All facets of the BCSD plan will comply with health and safety regulations set forth by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

If you have any questions regarding the summary found below, please email your reopening questions and comments to districtoffice@bethlehemschools.org

Health and Safety K-12

  • Social distancing will be required in all buildings and on school grounds. If school buildings reopen, the number of students in each classroom will be reduced to ensure compliance with CDC guidance on proper social distancing. Classroom capacity will be adjusted to allow all student desks to be positioned at least six feet apart in all directions.
  • Face coverings will be a must. Every student and staff member will be required to wear a face-covering (that covers the nose and mouth) at all times. Face coverings will be removed during lunch, snacks and during regularly scheduled movement breaks throughout the day. Students who are medically unable to tolerate a face covering will be exempt from this requirement with documentation from their medical provider only.
  • Classroom space will be maximized for health and safety. In addition to being spaced at least six feet apart, all desks will be positioned facing the same direction to limit face-to-face contact. Some classrooms will be reconfigured, with fixed bookcases or partitions removed to increase the square footage of instructional spaces. Some class sections will need to be split to meet social distancing requirements. Additional rooms or common-area spaces may be identified and used as instructional space. Teachers and staff may be reassigned to accommodate in-person instruction needs at different grade levels 
  • Schools will minimize the movement of students and students will be grouped in smaller cohorts as much as possible. This means students K-5 will eat in their classrooms and students 6-12 will eat lunch in large areas with social distancing (gyms, cafeterias). There will be no assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be “pushed into” the classroom. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. The district will adhere to a 12-foot distance between students when engaging in physical activity.
  • There will be daily health screenings for all students and staff. These must be completed prior to arrival and all students and staff must take their temperature at home. Anyone with a fever of 100.0 F or higher or who has a positive answer on the daily health screening will be required to stay home.
  • A comprehensive plan for managing and isolating students or staff with illness and for determining the need for school closings as a result of COVID-19 infection will be coordinated by the district’s health team, in coordination with the Albany County Department of Health

Instructional Plans by Grade Level

Outlined below are key elements of the Hybrid Model plan. At each grade level, families who have health or safety concerns can choose Remote Learning.

Grades K-5

  • Daily in-person instruction with social distancing.
  • K-5 students will attend school at their home elementary school.
  • RTI teachers may be reassigned to reduce class sizes and provide more direct support and instruction for all students.
  • Special areas (art, library, music and PE) will primarily be push-in models, where teachers come to the classroom.
  • Choir will not be offered at the beginning of the year.
  • Sharing of materials and supplies will not be permitted – when necessary, items will be disinfected between use.
  • Movement and mask breaks will be built into the school day.
  • Recess will be scheduled with supervised activity and social distancing.
  • Lunches will be served in the classrooms.
  • Staff will be encouraged to use outdoor space to the extent possible.

If a K-5 family chooses Remote Learning:

Grades K-2 (2 – 2½ hours of synchronous instruction)

  • Students will log on to their learning device daily (iPads for kindergarten/Chromebooks for grades 1-2).
  • The day will begin with the morning meeting/community building activities, attendance will be taken.
  • Students will receive direct instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. In most cases, this synchronous instruction would not be delivered consecutively, but in periods throughout the school day.
  • Instruction in all other curricular areas will be asynchronous.
  • Students will be connected with a teacher/class for approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours each day.

Grades 3-5 (2½ – 3 hours of synchronous instruction)

  • Students will log on to their Chromebooks.
  • The day will begin with the morning meeting/community building activities, attendance will be taken.
  • Students will receive direct instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. In most cases, this synchronous instruction would not be delivered consecutively, but in periods throughout the school day.
  • Instruction in all other curricular areas will be asynchronous.
  • Students will be connected with a teacher/class for approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours each day.

Please note that these plans are subject to change. If schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

Grade 6

  • Daily in-person instruction with social distancing.
  • Grade 6 will be housed at Bethlehem Central Middle School.
  • Schedule will be modeled similar to the elementary where students are in a single cohort to the extent possible.
  • The school day will be an 8-period day.
  • Middle school teachers will still teach content by subject (ELA, Math, Sci, SS).
  • World language in Grade 6 will not be offered so these teachers can co-teach with content area teachers to reduce class sizes and provide more direct support for students.
  • Special areas (art, library, music and PE) will primarily be push-in models, where teachers come to the classroom.
  • Sharing of materials and supplies will not be allowed.
  • Movement and mask breaks will be built into the school day.
  • PE, Choir and Band all require 12-foot distancing so this will significantly limit activities and the scheduling of students in these classes.
  • Lunches will be served in three large areas with six-foot distancing.
  • Staff will be encouraged to use outdoor space to the extent possible.

If a Grade 6 family chooses Remote Learning:

  • Students will follow an assigned schedule and receive live instruction in each of the core subject areas.
  • Students will receive all non-core instruction through pre-recorded videos and assigned tasks.
  • To limit possible COVID transmission, Remote Learning students would not be able to participate in any in-school activities.
  • Families who want to resume in-person instruction would be able to do after November 13, 2020.

Please note that these plans are subject to change. Please note that if schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

Grades 7-8

  • Students will remain at Bethlehem Central Middle School.
  • Alternate day model (Orange and Black) with students at BCMS every other day for live in-person instruction, with social distancing, while the other half receives live remote instruction.
  • School day will still follow a 9-period day.
  • PE, Choir and Band all require 12-foot distancing so this will significantly limit activities that we are able to offer.
  • Sharing of materials and supplies will not be allowed.
  • Students will be assigned to a classroom every period.
  • Attendance will be taken during both on-site and virtual learning days.
  • Student work will be graded and are expected to be present for all classes delivered remotely.
  • ENL students will receive in-person instruction daily.
  • Students in special education Intensive Skills and Skills classes will receive daily instruction.

If a Grade 7 or 8 family chooses Remote Learning:

  • Students will follow an assigned schedule and receive live instruction in all subjects except physical education.
  • Students will receive physical education instruction through pre-recorded videos and assigned tasks.
  • To limit possible COVID transmission, Remote Learning students would not be able to participate in any in-school activities.
  • Families who want to resume in-person instruction would be able to do so after November 13, 2020.

Please note that these plans are subject to change. Please note that if schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

Students in Grade 9-12

  • Students will remain at Bethlehem Central High School.
  • Alternate day model (Orange and Black) with students at BCHS every other day for live in-person instruction, with social distancing, while the other half receives live remote instruction.
  • School day will still follow an 8 period day
  • PE, Choir and Band all require 12-foot distancing so this will significantly limit activities that we are able to offer
  • Sharing of materials and supplies will not be allowed
  • Students will be assigned to a classroom every period
  • High School students will not be permitted to leave campus and return during the day
  • Attendance will be taken during both on-site and virtual learning days.
  • Student work will be graded and are expected to be present for all classes delivered remotely.
  • ENL students will receive in-person instruction daily.
  • Students in special education Intensive Skills and Skills classes will receive daily instruction.

If a Grade 9-12 family chooses Remote Learning:

  • Students will follow an assigned schedule and receive live instruction in all subjects except physical education.
  • Students will receive physical education instruction through pre-recorded videos and assigned tasks.
  • To limit possible COVID transmission, Remote Learning students would not be able to participate in any in-school activities.
  • Families who want to resume in-person instruction would be able to do after November 13, 2020.

Please note that these plans are subject to change. Please note that if schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

Parent and Student Q & A Sessions

Three parent Q & A sessions were held in early August and can be viewed here

There are building-level Q &A sessions being held throughout the month of August. A list can be viewed here

A Frequently Asked Questions page will be regularly updated here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/bcsd-reopening-plan-frequently-asked-questions-faq/