Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – School Reopening 2021-22

General Questions | COVID Protocols | Testing | Travel | Virtual Instruction | Health Concerns | Transportation | Extra Curriculars & Special Classes | Food Services | Classrooms

Updated October 7, 2021

Below are answers to some of the many questions the district has received as part of the 2021-22 Back-to-School Q & A presentations held Aug. 23-Aug. 25. You can view the Q & A sessions at the links below. As additional guidance is received these questions and answers will updated as needed.

General Return-to-School Questions

When do students return to school?

The first day of school for all students K-12 is Thursday, September 9.

Will students be in-person every day?

Yes, all students will attend school every day, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays and school breaks.

What is the school day schedule?

  • Elementary: 9:10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
  • Middle School: 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
  • High School: 7:35 a.m. to 1:59 p.m.

Will extracurricular activities be offered?

Yes, the district plans to offer a full menu of athletics and afterschool extracurricular activities for students. Late buses will be available for middle and high school students who require transportation..

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COVID Protocols

Will physical distancing be required in school this year?

Per CDC guidelines, Bethlehem CSD will require 3-feet of distance or to the greatest extent possible in classrooms. In some classrooms, this means students will be 4-5 feet apart. During meals, six feet of distance will be required.

What do you expect the mask rules will be for students when school starts?

  • Indoors: At all times, per NYS regulations.
  • Outdoors: When 3′ of distance cannot be maintained.

Are students and staff required to wear masks on school buses?

Yes, students and staff will be required to wear masks on BCSD school buses, where physical distancing can be challenging. The federal government mandates mask-wearing on public transportation. 

Are the distancing rules different for adults and students?

The guidance is as follows:

  • Student to student (regardless of vaccination status): 3 feet
  • Adult to student (regardless of vaccination status): 6 feet
  • Adult to adult (both vaccinated): 3 feet
  • Adult to adult (if one or both are unvaccinated): 6 feet

What will quarantine protocols be this year if there is a confirmed COVID case?

The Albany County Department of Health released its final quarantine protocols on September 2. You can view them below:

  • Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH) Protocols – Updated Sept. 2, 2021

Will students and staff be required to wear masks outdoors?

Masks outdoors will be required in situations where three feet of distance can not be consistently maintained.

Will mask breaks be allowed?

Students may remove masks; when eating or drinking during designated breakfast/lunch/snack periods in assigned locations; and during mask breaks as directed by a teacher or school administrator. Protocols may change based on transmission rates and recommended guidance. Students and staff will have the option of unmasking while outside when at least three feet of distance can be consistently maintained and managed.

Are there specific rules for mask breaks?

Students may remove masks; when eating or drinking during designated breakfast/lunch/snack periods in assigned locations; and during mask breaks as directed by a teacher or school administrator. Protocols may change based on transmission rates and recommended guidance. Students and staff will have the option of unmasking while outside when at least three feet of distance can be consistently maintained and managed.

Is the district going to consider allowing students to take off masks when sitting in classrooms like we all can while seated in restaurants?

Not at this time. Students will be required to be masked at their desks. Obviously, they will be able to remove their masks to eat but as is best practice in restaurants during a period of high transmission, they will need to put their masks on when not eating.

Would you consider allowing recess for elementary students without masks?

Not while community transmission is moderate to high. Please keep in mind, however, that our COVID mitigation plan is intended to be fluid and could change.

Can you consider allowing vaccinated students and staff increased freedom (e.g. not wearing masks inside, being allowed to sit at cafeteria tables much like they would with families in a restaurant)?

Not while community transmission is moderate to high, especially while half of our student population is still not eligible for a vaccine. We will continue to keep our plans as fluid as possible and will remain optimistic that these protocols can be relaxed as we move through the school year.

Will you be requiring daily screenings?

No, daily screenings are no longer required. However, we will be asking families and staff to self-screen daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If a student or staff member has any symptoms of infectious illness, such as flu or COVID-19, should stay home and contact their healthcare provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status.

What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask in my child’s classroom or on the bus?

If a student does not have a mask, they will be provided with one. Faculty and staff will be instructed to speak to the student about the reasons why they need to follow the guidance. If they continue to refuse, an administrator will be alerted and a parent/guardian will be contacted, if needed.

Will you be testing students in school?

A screening program to test asymptomatic individuals who are unvaccinated will be established according to the COVID-19 Layered Mitigation Plan. This testing program is set to get underway in early October. For students, parental consent would be required for testing. As of now, there is no plan to test students who present with symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. Those students will be sent home and families will be urged to seek testing and treatment from their health care provider.

Will hand sanitizer continue to be available?

Bethlehem will continue to provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the schools. Classrooms will incorporate regular handwashing breaks for younger students and all students will be reminded of the importance of hand hygiene.

Will there be a vaccine mandate for faculty and staff?

Yes. On September 1, the Board of Education approved a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment

Why does there appear to be very few differences in district protocols from high to low rates of community spread?

The changing dynamics of the pandemic, especially now with a highly contagious Delta variant, require that we take a cautious approach as we reopen for the 2021-22 school year. We are optimistic that if the transmission in schools remains low, these restrictions may be loosened. This plan is meant to be fluid.

Is there a contingency plan in place in the event cases spike again?

Yes. If we were forced to go remote, we would implement the same schedule and instructional plans that we used in 2020-21. First, we would ensure that all students have a device to use at home. Currently, all students in grades 3 through 12 will bring their devices home daily.

Will COVID testing be available for students/staff?

A screening program to test asymptomatic individuals who are unvaccinated, or who are not fully vaccinated, will be established according to the COVID-19 Layered Mitigation Plan. Unvaccinated students, especially those who participate in activities considered high-risk, will be prioritized for testing. Eventually, the district hopes to provide random screening testing for both unvaccinated students and vaccinated students and staff. For students, parental consent would be required for testing. As of now, there is no plan to test students or staff who present with symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. Those individuals will be sent home and families will be encouraged to contact their healthcare provider for evaluation and possible testing.

NOTE: Per CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. If you don’t meet those requirements you are NOT fully vaccinated.

Why are you only testing and screening unvaccinated individuals?

CDC guidance states that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to participate in screening testing, however, we will look to offer screening testing to vaccinated individuals, as we are able to do so. The goal of COVID-19 screening testing is to promptly identify and isolate cases who may have been exposed to COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated and to identify clusters where the virus exists. CDC recommends screening testing in areas with moderate to high community transmission levels; in areas with low vaccination coverage and for certain high-risk activities. We will focus our screening efforts on individuals who are not fully vaccinated as well as on those students who wish to participate in sports and other activities which present an elevated risk due to increased exhalation, i.e. exercise, singing, band.

How will the district be handling contact tracing this year, particularly among students who are vaccinated?

CDC indicates that it is our local public health authorities that determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions. We will work with the Albany County Department of Health on contact tracing efforts involving confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the school setting. The guidance regarding quarantine decisions and contact tracing from ACDOH can be found here. It demonstrates the importance of a layered mitigation strategy, including the consistent and correct use of wearing masks, 3 – 6 foot physical distancing, whether there was physical contact, length of exposure, vaccination status, and whether the contact is symptomatic.

I understand the change in terms of vaccinated persons not needing to quarantine. Will vaccinated students and staff still be notified of exposure?

Yes, although CDC guidance states that people who are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to quarantine, they should be made aware of their potential exposure to a confirmed case. In early August, CDC added a recommendation that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 be tested 3-5 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms. And, that they wear a mask indoors for 14 days in public, or until their test result is negative. ACDOH appears to be following that CDC recommendation involving contact tracing and quarantine protocols. The district works closely with ACDOH on contact tracing.

If a vaccinated high school students tests positive but is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms, how long will they need to stay out of school?

Currently, ACDOH states that an individual who tests positive would isolate for at least a full 10 days and until each of the following conditions are met:

  • At least 10 days have passed since onset of symptoms or if they never had symptoms, at least 10 days have passed since their COVID-19 test; AND
  • Fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications; AND
  • Symptoms are generally improving

Will an elementary student (or any unvaccinated student) be required to stay home if a member of their household tests positive?

Current CDC guidance states that individuals not fully vaccinated who have had close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) should quarantine at home and be referred for COVID-19 testing. Regardless of test result, they should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure. So, yes, the elementary or unvaccinated child would most likely be quarantined if a member of their household tests positive for COVID-19. 

Will an unvaccinated student be required to stay home if a member of their household has symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes. On Sept. 30, 2021, the district received guidance from the Albany County Department of Health stating that when in an area of high or substantial transmission, it is recommended that schools exclude asymptomatic unvaccinated household members (including siblings or children) of symptomatic students/staff while awaiting health care provider evaluation and/or COVID-19 testing results of the symptomatic student/staff. 

Will a negative COVID test or quarantine be required for a student’s return after being kept home sick?

Anyone with symptoms of illness compatible with COVID-19 should follow up with their healthcare provider for evaluation and possible testing, regardless of vaccination status. If testing is recommended and the test result is negative, the student will be able to return to school per our current illness management policies, i.e. fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, improvement of symptoms, etc. If the student’s COVID-19 test result is positive, then ACDOH will provide guidance to the parent on isolation protocols. If testing is not recommended, due to an alternative diagnosis, then we would request that documentation from the healthcare provider.

Is a specific type of COVID-19 test required for symptomatic individuals in order to return to school?

Yes. A negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) is required for people with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school. NAATs include but are not limited to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which are the most sensitive type of test available in detecting COVID-19. A lab-based NAAT is the preferred test; however, there are now rapid NAAT or PCR tests available. The district will accept negative rapid NAAT or PCR tests for individuals with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school.

Rapid antigen tests are widely available and may produce results faster than NAATs; however, these tests are generally less sensitive than NAATs and can fail to detect cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic individuals. Therefore, the district will not accept negative rapid antigen test results for individuals with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school.

ACCEPTED FOR RETURN

Lab-Based NAAT COVID Test (Negative for COVID)
  • Includes Lab-Based PCR test 
Rapid NAAT COVID Test (Negative for COVID)
  • Includes Rapid PCR Test

NOT ACCEPTED FOR RETURN

Rapid Antigen COVID Tests

Where can individuals get tested for COVID-19?

For an updated listing of COVID-19 testing sites in Albany County visit https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results and/or https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you. There is no out-of-pocket charge for COVID-19 tests conducted at many locations, though insurance information may be requested. It is always advisable to check with the site or your insurance provider to confirm if there will be any costs associated with the test.

Will there be a daily COVID tracker this year?

No, daily screenings are no longer required. However, we will be asking families and staff to self-screen daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If a student or staff member has any symptoms of infectious illness, such as flu or COVID-19, they must stay home and contact their healthcare provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status.

Last year, Governor Cuomo mandated that if positive covid cases in a region were above 5%, schools would be required to close. Will there be a threshold at which schools will close this year?

There is no threshold. As you may recall, last year’s thresholds changed throughout the year. However, if we are directed to close by Executive Order, we will do so. More importantly, we are closely monitoring community-based transmission and will do the same with any transmission within the school community. Last year, we had no evidence of school-based transmission, however, widespread quarantine led to staff shortages in some instances. Should we see a spike in school-based transmissions, we will work with the Albany County Department of Health to determine the best course of action.

How has the air quality and filtration at the schools been improved or meet standards to filter fresh air into the classroom?

All district HVAC units have been fitted with MERV-13 air filters to enhance air filtration. These have been installed throughout the entire school district. Additionally, the fresh air dampers (outside air) on all HVAC units will be adjusted to 100% once classes begin. This means that all spaces will be receiving fresh air from the outside versus recirculating air within the building. While the weather permits, faculty and staff are encouraged to open windows in their spaces to provide additional fresh air.

How quickly can the district respond to changes in community transmission? How frequently will it review certain restrictions if transmission decreases?

It would depend on the specifics within our Layered Mitigation Plan. Should the metrics move the community into a different level of transmission, the district would likely need 2-3 days to communicate changes with faculty, staff, students, families and community members. Some operational changes could take longer than that.

Why is the district being so stringent when it comes to community use of school facilities?

The district is limiting visitors to reduce the potential spread of the virus. While in a high-transmission zone this means no outside groups can use our facilities. If we move to the substantial level (one level lower risk), the district will consider allowing outside groups but only BC students would be able to participate if the transmission level is substantial.

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COVID Testing

Will a negative COVID test or quarantine be required for a student’s return after being kept home sick?

Anyone with symptoms of illness compatible with COVID-19 should follow up with their healthcare provider for evaluation and possible testing, regardless of vaccination status. If testing is recommended and the test result is negative, the student will be able to return to school per our current illness management policies, i.e. fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, improvement of symptoms, etc. If the student’s COVID-19 test result is positive, then ACDOH will provide guidance to the parent on isolation protocols. If testing is not recommended, due to an alternative diagnosis, then we would request that documentation from the healthcare provider.

Is a specific type of COVID-19 test required for symptomatic individuals in order to return to school?

Yes. A negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) is required for people with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school. NAATs include but are not limited to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which are the most sensitive type of test available in detecting COVID-19. A lab-based NAAT is the preferred test; however, there are now rapid NAAT or PCR tests available. The district will accept negative rapid NAAT or PCR tests for individuals with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school.

Rapid antigen tests are widely available and may produce results faster than NAATs; however, these tests are generally less sensitive than NAATs and can fail to detect cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic individuals. Therefore, the district will not accept negative rapid antigen test results for individuals with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school.

ACCEPTED FOR RETURN

Lab-Based NAAT COVID Test (Negative for COVID)
  • Includes Lab-Based PCR test 
Rapid NAAT COVID Test (Negative for COVID)
  • Includes Rapid PCR Test

NOT ACCEPTED FOR RETURN

Rapid Antigen COVID Tests

Where can individuals get tested for COVID-19?

For an updated listing of COVID-19 testing sites in Albany County visit https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-results and/or https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you. There is no out-of-pocket charge for COVID-19 tests conducted at many locations, though insurance information may be requested. It is always advisable to check with the site or your insurance provider to confirm if there will be any costs associated with the test.

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Travel

Are there special protocols we have to follow if we travel?

The district’s COVID Reopening Task Force encourages families or staff members who are intending to travel to following CDC guidance on travel. The CDC travel guidance can be found here.

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Virtual Instruction

Will there be a 100% virtual or hybrid program offered?

Bethlehem will not offer a virtual or hybrid option.

Why is there no virtual option for students this year?

This summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its recommendations for the coming school year and unequivocally pushed for “[the] goal of having students physically present in school.”  In 2020-21, virtual learning was meant to be an emergency stopgap during a time of great uncertainty. That experience did prepare us well in the event we need to return to a virtual learning model.

Will instruction be available if a student is quarantined?

Students who are quarantined by order of the Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH) due to potential exposure to COVID-19 during the school year will be provided with an interim instructional plan by their teacher(s) to ensure learning can continue from home during the quarantine period.

Will high school students be able to log into class from home if they are quarantined or sick?

We are not planning to offer this as an option due to the inherent difficulties and distractions in both teaching and learning when students are participating in two very different ways. The degree to which students were engaged with the material online in 2020-21 was not acceptable. This year, we do not expect as many students will be quarantined due to the revised quarantine protocols released by ACDOH for 2021-22. Those that are will be provided with an interim instructional plan by their teachers.

What happens when entire classrooms are quarantined if no remote learning?

In reviewing contact tracing and quarantine protocols from the Albany County Department of Health, we do not expect whole classes to be quarantined this year as they were last year. However, if an entire elementary class were to quarantine and the teacher was able to teach, instruction will be delivered virtually when possible.

Will students have a remote day of school if there is a snow day?

The District has built snow days into the school calendar for the 2021-22 school year. There are no remote days of school planned at this point.

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Health Concerns

How will you address students’ social-emotional needs?

We recognize that students and families have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic differently. Building leaders, counselors, social workers, school psychologists, teachers and staff will be focused on a supportive return to school for all students. If you have specific concerns related to your child, please contact your child’s school counselor or principal.

How will you accommodate children with serious medical conditions?

We will work collaboratively with families of students who have serious medical conditions. An alternative learning plan is available when there is a documented medical necessity. Please contact your child’s school nurse to further discuss your child’s needs.

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Transportation

What are the plans for bus transportation?

Masks will be required for students and staff. There will be assigned seating. Windows will be open to allow for airflow, and sanitizing will continue twice daily in the new year. Parents are encouraged to transport their children when possible. 

Will students have assigned seats on the school bus and what spacing will be observed between students?

Students will have assigned seats on the school bus. There are no distancing requirements on the bus, however, depending on bus occupancy students will be separated to the greatest extent possible.

What will occur if a student arrives at school/gets on the bus without a mask?

Students who arrive at school/get on the bus without a mask will be provided with one.

The district is encouraging parents to drive students to reduce bus occupancy because we are in the red zone. Will we lose our spot on the bus and already filled out the bus commitment form?

Anyone who can transport their child while we are in a high transmission zone should do so. This will not jeopardize your child’s bus transportation. Even if a child is temporarily removed from the bus route after not using the bus for an extended period, you can resume pick-up and drop-off at any time with 1-2 days’ notice to the Transportation Office.

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Extracurriculars & Special Classes

Why is the district requiring vaccination for student participation in high-risk sports and extracurriculars? 

The district is following the guidance provided by the CDC and the NYSED related to high-risk sports and extracurricular activities where there is high community transmission. The requirement is part of our layered mitigation efforts, designed to protect students and staff and to ensure our instructional program is not compromised by widespread quarantine or closure. We are committed to providing students with a full educational experience and as many opportunities as possible for extracurricular involvement.

What is accepted as ineligible for the vaccine for students participating in high-risk sports or extracurricular? What process is required to deem someone as ineligible?

The COVID vaccines are available to all individuals aged 12 and older and may be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions. If you have questions about your child getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you should talk to your child’s healthcare provider. If there is a medical reason preventing your child from getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you would need to provide documentation from your child’s healthcare provider indicating that information. The district’s medical director will review that information and make a determination on whether your child would be able to participate in a high risk sport, such as football, without the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is the process for obtaining a medical exemption for a student who is not vaccinated but wants to participate in high-risk sports or extracurriculars?

If a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State certifies that the COVID-19 vaccine is detrimental to a child’s health, the requirement for that vaccine is waived until such immunization is no longer detrimental to the child’s health. The physician must provide information as to why the COVID-19 vaccine is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the vaccine is medically contraindicated, if known. It is the responsibility of the person in parental relationship to the child to provide the physician’s signed medical exemption request to the child’s school nurse who will provide it to the district’s medical director for review. If there are questions surrounding the exemption request, parents will be asked to sign a release which will allow the district’s medical provider to speak with the child’s physician who provided the request. The school may exclude the child from extracurricular activities if the medical exemption is not sufficiently documented.

If you are requiring football players to be vaccinated in order to play will they only be playing schools that also have that same requirement?

Some other districts appear to be requiring vaccination while others are not. There are no plans to alter the schedule at this time.

Will there be choir and band this year?

Yes, there will be choir and band this year. However, distance rules (at least for the start of the school year) for those who are singing or playing wind instruments will be 6 feet rather than 3 feet. 

Are their vaccination requirements for students who take band or chorus in school?

No. Only extracurricular activities that require singing or the use of wind instruments will require that eligible students be vaccinated. During the instructional day, distancing requirements can be maintained consistently and will be, at six feet between students. During extracurricular activities, it is more difficult to monitor adherence to these rules.

Will fifth graders have Nature’s Classroom this year?

It is unlikely given the current situation. Last year, in absence of Nature’s Classroom, schools hosted an onsite day-long science and nature event for fifth graders at school.

Will there be field trips for students this year?

There will be no field trips approved for grades K-8 at this time. For grades 9-12, field trips (day trips only) may be scheduled with the approval of the high school principal. Unvaccinated students would be required to be tested prior to any field trip. The testing would take place at school, with parental consent. Approximately 85% of high school students are currently vaccinated. Because of this, when there is a positive COVID case identified at school or on a school bus, these vaccinated students are not required to quarantine unless they are or become symptomatic.

Will there be school musicals this year?

Yes, we expect there will be school musicals this year. However, students participating in any extracurricular considered high-risk (including singing, use of wind instruments) will be required to be vaccinated while the district is in an area of high transmission.

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Food Service

Is the BC Food Service Department being impacted by supply chain shortages?

Yes. All school districts are navigating the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff shortages in all sectors have created supply chain issues that impact deliveries and the availability of some of the food items students eat and some of the supplies we use on a daily basis to prepare and serve our meals. To ensure as much consistency as possible, and to reduce last-minute menu changes or supply shortages, our department is using two satellite storage trailers (including a freezer) to stock up on food and other items that we know we will need to provide meals to our students. Family flexibility and understanding will be key to making the 2021-22 school year go as smoothly as possible.

Will students be able to eat in the cafeteria?

Distancing of at least 6 feet must be maintained during meals. Elementary students will eat lunch in their classrooms. Students in the middle school will eat in either the cafeteria or the Library Media Center. At the high school, students will eat in the cafeteria and other large spaces. High school seniors will be able to leave campus if they are approved for off-campus privileges.

In elementary school will children rotate to cafeteria and specials or will those subjects happen in their classroom?

Specials will take place outside the classroom and students will travel to those locations; art, music, library, PE etc. Students will begin the year eating lunch in the classrooms.

Would it be possible for some students at the MS to be allowed to take their lunch to their classroom desks to help minimize crowds? Or K-5, for students schools to eat outside?

Schools will look for all opportunities to maximize space between students, especially during meal times. Some of these options will be weather permitting.

Will there be free and reduced lunch this year? Do I have to apply?

Breakfast and lunch is free for all students in 2021-22. You do not need to fill out an application. However, some additional government nutrition programs are available to families who would otherwise qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch so those families are encouraged to apply in order to be eligible for those benefits. More information will be posted to the district website later this week.

What is the plan for students at the high school who do not have a lunch period?

Similar to last year, students will not be allowed to eat in class, at least at the beginning of the year. There will be more convenient locations/times to be able to purchase food and eat closer to the actual classroom. The high school is working out details regarding options for these students.

Some local high schools are allowing 11th and 12th graders to leave for lunch to help reduce crowding in the cafeteria. Has BCHS considered this or any other strategies?

The senior privilege of allowing students to leave for lunch will be in place this year in order to reduce overcrowding.

What is the cost of breakfast and lunch at school?

Breakfast and lunch are free this year for all students K-12.

How will lunch work at school this fall?

Grades K-5

Each morning, teachers will take a lunch count and submit this information to the school cafeteria. The school cafeteria will prepare and deliver meals to the classrooms at lunchtime. Noon aides will monitor children as they wash hands, eat lunch and clean up using bins located in or just outside the classroom. Noon aides will bring students to recess before or after lunch. This is the same as in the 2020-21 school year.

Grades 6-8

There is no more pre-ordering. Meals are available to grab & go. Students will come through the lunch line and grab a pre-packed, complete meal to take with them to their assigned seating area. Seating is socially distanced and students are assigned to either the cafeteria or the library. The library will also have a lunch line so students do not need to travel and lose any time to eat.

Grades 9-12

There is no more pre-ordering. All meals are available in the BCHS cafeteria. The BC Blend Coffee Shop is OPEN 7:30 am-1:00 pm with FREE Breakfast and many of the favorite a la carte offerings later in the day. Eagle Snacks will be open 9:45 am-2:30 pm. The regular lunch lines with hot food, cold sandwiches & salads will be open periods 4-7 every day. The menu will be emailed to all students each month. Cafeteria seating is socially distanced. Students without a lunch period may eat at designated eating areas in hallways outside of classrooms before heading into class if needed. Many grab-and-go (quick) meal options will be available to accommodate students’ busy schedules.

What will the school menu look like?

Grades K-5

The lunch menu will look the same and still be available on the school website. Some options at the elementary level will change to better accommodate service to the classroom K-5. The only snack item available at the elementary level will be carton milk ($0.50). Bottled water will not be available for purchase this year. Students should plan to bring a reusable water bottle that can be refilled as needed.

Grades 6-8

At the Middle School lunch menus will be set up for fast service and we will be adding a lunch line to accommodate more students getting lunch. Menu options may change as a result. Three snack items will be available for purchase daily, one of each type (beverage, chips, cookie). All items meet USDA Smart Snacks requirements.

Grades 9-12

At the High School lunch menus will be the same and there will be even more ways to make student’s favorite items into a free lunch meal! We will be bringing back the BC Blend Coffee Shop and other a la carte options for purchase this year as well.

Will there be frequent menu changes?

As you may have heard in the news lately, supply chain issues are impacting many industries. The food service industry has been particularly hard hit. While we are working and planning diligently to ensure our high standards of service will continue, it is likely that there will be more frequent menu changes than a normal year. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these new challenges.

My child has a food allergy. How will this be handled this year?

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

Will breakfast be available?

Yes, and it is free too! Breakfast is available at all levels.

Grades K-5

Due to increased participation last year we will be expanding access at the K-5 level with grab & go breakfast available in the hallway/common areas at morning dropoff. Breakfast can be eaten in the classroom and/or saved for snack time later in the day.

Grades 6-8

Middle School breakfast will be offered in the cafeteria and kiosk locations near school entrances in the mornings.

Grades 9-12

High School breakfast will be offered in the cafeteria and kiosk locations near school entrances in the mornings.

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Classrooms

What will my child’s classroom look like?

Student desks will be arranged at a minimum of three feet apart, all facing the same direction. Students will not be able to face one another or be seated together at tables, at least for the start of the school year. We have been advised by the Albany County Department of Health that desks facing the same direction is best practice. Should transmission rates begin to drop, we will look to build more flexibility into classroom seating arrangements.

Will schools be using outdoor spaces like they did last year?

Yes. Teachers will be encouraged to use as much “outdoor time” as possible. This, of course, is depending on the weather and the lessons being taught.

What are the classroom cleaning protocols this year?

There will be daily disinfecting of all desks by teachers. They will do this either in the morning or at the end of the day.

Can teachers use fans in the classrooms?

Yes, fans are allowed to be used in classrooms. However, they should be used to circulate air but should not be blowing directly on any individual.

What should I expect for Open House?

All Open Houses will be virtual. Teachers will connect with you from their classrooms.

Will students be able to share materials with other students for labs, projects, etc.?

Yes. Items will be disinfected daily and students should wash/sanitize hands after use.

Will taking student attendance (at the high school) return to normal?

Yes.

Will there be time in the next two weeks for high school students to walk their schedules?

There will be two opportunities:

  • Monday, Aug. 30 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and
  • Tuesday, Aug. 31 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Can you share what percentage of HS and MS students are currently vaccinated?

BCHS: (Grades 9 – 12) – Data as of Aug. 24, 2021

  • Approx. 80% fully vaccinated
  • Additionally, 4% of students have received 1 dose of a 2 dose series

BCMS: (Grades *7 & 8)

  • Approx. 50% Grade 7* students fully vaccinated;
  • Approx. 70% Grade 8 students fully vaccinated;
  • Additionally, 1% of students have received 1 dose of a 2 dose series
    • *20% of grade 7 students are not eligible for vaccine due to being < 12 years of age

Note: The above percentages are constantly changing as new information comes in about a student’s vaccination status; and, as the enrollment numbers change.

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