Superintendent Memo (August 17): Reopening Plans for 2021-2022 School Year
August 17, 2021
The following message from Lansingburgh Superintendent, Dr. Abitabile, was emailed to all Lansingburgh families on Tuesday, August 17.
Please review this information carefully as it describes the COVID-19 mitigation protocols that will be in place for the start of the 2021-2022 school year in Lansingburgh.
Dr. Abitabile's message is also available on district letterhead here.
All school reopening news and COVID-19 updates can be found on the district’s 2021-2022 Reopening Updates page here.
Dear Lansingburgh School Community,
Late last week, the NYS Education Department (NYSED) released Health and Safety Guidelines for the 2021-22 School Year. These guidelines were created based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Using these, along with the priorities highlighted in the U.S. Department of Education’s recent Return to School Roadmap, we are now able to release Lansingburgh’s protocols for the start of the upcoming school year. These protocols will be implemented at the start of the school year and can be adjusted as conditions change.
The District will continue to monitor the level of community transmission using the CDC County COVID Tracker. When making these determinations, the CDC uses two data points: 1) The number of new cases in the county over the past 7 days; and 2) The percentage of accurate COVID-19 tests that come back positive in the county over the past 7 days.
Prioritizing in-person learning is a key point of the guidance from NYSED, CDC and AAP. Lansingburgh is planning a 100% return to in-person learning with no option for remote learning.
The District is aware of the potential for some students to request remote instruction. Remote instruction will be provided by an NYS Certified teacher through an outside provider and not a Lansingburgh CSD Teacher. Please note that course options and electives will be limited for students in grades 6-12. To allow for proper scheduling, class sizes and budgeting purposes, this does require a commitment for the ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR.
This option is only available to those children who have a disabling medical condition that may prohibit their safe return to in-person instruction. These students will be referred to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) if they are already classified as a Special Education student or will be referred to our 504 Team who can determine appropriate accommodations with input from a student’s caregivers and health care provider.
Families will need to provide supporting documentation from the child’s treating physician to confirm the medical basis of this request. The CSE or 504 Team, including caregivers and doctors, will collectively determine if the student requires remote instruction. Accommodations are only available to the student with the disabling medical condition, not their siblings. The District is also not obligated to provide remote instruction to a child who resides with someone else who has a heightened vulnerability to COVID-19.
If you are interested in pursuing remote instruction for the 2021-22 school year, please take a moment to complete this FORM. It is scheduled to close at 6 AM on Monday, August 23rd.
Additionally, we will have plans in place to shift to full remote learning if a full or partial closure in our school buildings is needed due to COVID-related issues.
The NYSED, CDC and AAP recommendations currently call for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to continue wearing masks when inside K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. We plan to follow these recommendations and all Lansingburgh students and staff will be wearing appropriate face masks inside school buildings to begin the 2021-2022 school year. Mask breaks will be given periodically throughout the day. Masks will not be required when outdoors but are strongly recommended, especially when in crowded areas. Should someone find themselves in need of a mask, one will be provided to them when they enter our schools.
Daily COVID Screenings/Attestations
Lansingburgh will no longer require daily student COVID screening attestations. We still strongly encourage families to be very mindful of when students or someone in their household are exhibiting COVID symptoms. In either case, students should not come to school.
The CDC has provided this flowchart that can be used to determine what families should do if a student is not feeling well: WHAT TO DO IF A STUDENT BECOMES SICK OR REPORTS A NEW COVID-19 DIAGNOSIS AT SCHOOL.
As an added mitigation strategy, we are currently working with the Rensselaer County Department of Health to provide screening testing that will help to identify infected people, both with or without exhibiting symptoms, who may be contagious. For example, the District may randomly test 10% of students and/or staff weekly, depending on the level of community transmission. Testing is anticipated to be non-invasive (saliva-based). Parental consent to test is required, in accordance with the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Physical Distancing in the Classroom
We plan to reduce the required amount of physical distance between students from 6 feet to 3 feet when in the classroom. Increased spacing is required for Physical Education, Choir and Band.
Meals will be distributed in the kitchen area and eaten in the cafeteria. Physical distancing will be maximized to the greatest extent possible in both areas. Mask removal will be limited only for the duration of eating to limit potential exposure. Hand washing/sanitizing before and after will be strongly encouraged, as an additional mitigation strategy.
School transportation will follow the same safety guidelines as public mass transportation. This means universal masking for all our school bus passengers, eliminating the need for household seating cohorts on busses and eliminating the required physical distancing on busses. With these measures in place Lansingburgh can transport more students.
Positive/Suspected COVID Cases in School & Contact Tracing
We will follow similar protocols for this as we did in 2020-2021. When made aware of a positive COVID case in the schools, we will notify impacted Lansingburgh students and staff members ASAP about their exposure and the need to quarantine. We will inform the Rensselaer County Health Department of Health about the case and work with them to ensure proper contact tracing is carried out in our school community.
Notification of Positive Cases of COVID-19
If the District is notified of students/staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 by the Rensselaer County Department of Health, we will continue notifying the school community of the details to the level of specificity that does not break the privacy of anyone involved.
Learning During a Quarantine Period
Should students need to quarantine due to possible COVID exposure, we are still required to provide an appropriate education while they are not physically attending school. Various instructional models will be utilized depending on the length of the quarantine.
Athletics/Extracurricular Activities/Performing Arts
Currently, there are no recommended restrictions other than universal masking and appropriate spacing when indoors as previously stated above.
School Use of Facilities/Visitors
The District is currently allowing the use of our facilities, both indoor and outdoor, as applicable through District Policy. Classroom visitors, student teachers, etc. are allowed into our buildings and are required to follow the same safety precautions as students and staff members.
Finally, if you plan to have your eligible student or yourself vaccinated prior to the first day of school (September 7), I encourage you to do so as soon as possible. The Rensselaer County Department of Health has set up numerous mobile vaccination clinics, making it easier than ever to get vaccinated.
If interested, here is the SCHEDULE FOR THE “POP-UP” CLINICS through the county. While not 100% effective, vaccinations are still the best layer of protection available to mitigate the harmful effects of this virus, therefore remaining our best option to minimize disruptions in our educational programs at Lansingburgh.
As we begin to wind down the last couple of weeks of summer, I look forward to opening day and a successful return of our students and staff to the Lansingburgh Central School District.
Dr. Antonio W. Abitabile, Ed. D.