2020-21 School Reopening Plan: Introduction

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The Middleburgh Central School District in collaboration with the MCS COVID-19 Taskforce and in consultation with the New York Department of Health, Schoharie County Department of Health, New York State Department of Education, and Capital Region BOCES has developed this reopening plan and guidance for instruction at the Pre-K to Grade 12 grade levels. This document was created to provide all students in grades Pre-K through 12 and their families, as well as district employees, contractors, and visitors with the necessary information to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

The health, safety, and well-being of the children and adults in our schools is our top priority. In addition, we will always keep the issue of educational equity at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making.

We recognize that one size does not fit all. We will always consider the tremendous diversity that exists throughout our school district and how each aspect of the plan needs to be flexible to meet the needs of our community. As we proceed through the fall we will enable and encourage parents, teachers, administrators, and the community to develop and deliver workable solutions when unique concerns arise. We will succeed through our collective effort.

We will proceed with the understanding that planning for schools to reopen is not a one-time event. We will continuously monitor the situation and provide updated guidance, policies, and regulatory changes as the situation requires. Ultimately the Governor of the State of New York has the authority to produce executive orders limiting our ability to provide instruction as is addressed in the plan.

Additionally, the guidance stresses the need for regular and frequent communication between districts and parents and the critical importance of parental involvement and family engagement. Finally, the document reminds us that we must always work to create and foster culturally responsive, student-centered learning environments that affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities; prepare students for rigor and independent learning; develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices; and empower students as agents of social change.

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

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

While districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning, as well as a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model.  Parents should inform the school in writing by August 15, 2020 if they plan to have their children participate in remote learning.  If parents initially choose remote learning but later want in-person learning, they can notify the school of this request in writing and their children can join in-person learning at the beginning of the next marking period.

The plan outlined here is for the reopening of schools in the Middleburgh Central School District for the 2020-21 school year, following the building closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan includes procedures that will be followed in the following schools:

●       Middleburgh Elementary School, www.middleburghcsd.org

●       Middleburgh Jr./Sr. High School, www.middleburghcsd.org

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families is our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

It is possible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies, and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection, the spread of the virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decision making as we move to open our schools.

Superintendent Brian Dunn will serve as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Mr. Dunn will work closely with our local health department and the district’s COVID-19 Task Force.  That team will be responsible for coordinating the work related to COVID-19 and school operations.  Mr. Dunn will serve as a central contact for schools and stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the district is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines.    Mr. Dunn’s contact information is posted on the district website and will be disseminated with all COVID-19 related materials being sent home to families and staff.