Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Q: Who decides whether the schools will reopen in the fall?

A: Ultimately, the power to regulate education rests with the Governor's Office. Schools were closed this year through executive orders which hold the power of law. The decision to reopen schools will also be directed by the State.

Q: Are we locked into the September plan for the entire school year? I am hopeful we are looking to get everybody in and back to normal as soon as safety, the CDC and/or Cuomo make it possible.

A: This decision will come down from the Governor’s office based on the New York phasing plan and metrics given to school districts for reopening and staying open. Please note that this will have to be a fluid plan as the Governor could make changes at any time, before and after school starts.

We are also not locked into the CCSD plan that we submit as we are allowed to make changes/expand our plan as the school year progresses. We will adjust our plans as needed to be successful.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Q:  What if my child is medically high-risk?

A: For any student who has a severe medical condition an individual plan will be developed. Please contact your building principal as soon as possible so that they can notify the appropriate people.

Q: If teachers choose to not return due to personal concerns regarding COVID-19, is the District prepared with adequate staff to cover their positions?

A: We are currently working on gathering this information and securing substitutes.

Q: Will all staff and students be required to wear masks?

A: Yes. The only exception would be for a medical accommodation or intolerance. In this case, a plan would be in place (such as the use of polycarbonate dividers) for the safety of all students and staff. If you feel your child needs a medical accommodation or has an intolerance, please contact your building principal as soon as possible so that they can notify the appropriate people.

Q: What are the consequences for not wearing a mask?

A: Those who are unwilling to wear a mask (and do not have a medical accommodation) would be subject to insubordination under the CCSD Code of Conduct.

Q: Will the District have adequate cleaning and PPE supplies on hand?

A: Since the beginning of the closure the Facilities Department has been sourcing and procuring cleaning and PPE products due to the long lead times associated with COVID-19.

Q: In the case of in-person schooling, will the district be providing masks to all faculty, staff, and students who do not have one?

A: Yes. The District will be providing and is currently procuring masks/PPE, hand sanitizer, and thermometers. We will do everything we can to keep our students safe and masks do make a huge difference.

Q: How can you enforce social distancing?

A: Some approaches to social distancing will be operational. These include spacing desks, creating barriers as necessary, staggering arrival and dismissal times, and maintaining cohorts of students. We will employ various developmentally-appropriate techniques to encourage and monitor social distancing behaviors. We recognize and acknowledge that our efforts are in the service of mitigating risk and points of contact, but cannot eliminate risks inherent in bringing faculty and students together

Q:  How will the District assess student health before entering school?

A: In accordance with the guidance released by the New York State Education Department, students must have their temperatures taken each day, ideally at home, before coming to school. To facilitate efficient entry to the schools and maximize instructional time parents/guardians must check their children’s temperatures and provide documentation that their child does not have a temperature greater than 100.0 degrees F each day. Students who have a fever of greater than 100.0 degrees F must be kept home from school. Specific protocols on reporting this daily will be provided by your school principal prior to the start of school in September. 

Additionally, the District will screen the temperatures of all non-student visitors before entering schools and is prepared to take the temperatures of students who did not have their temperature taken at home or staff who feel ill or exhibit symptoms during a given school day.

Q: How will the district stop parents from sending their kids to school sick?

A: This is very difficult. We are asking for cooperation from parents to check their student(s) before sending them to school. Are they feeling well? Do they have a temperature? If a student is not feeling well, we ask that parents keep their child home.

Q: What will happen if a student exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while at school?

A:  Each school will have a designated isolation area where students will be held until they are released to their caregiver to go home. During this time, students will be under the supervision of an adult to proper distancing and safety measures.

Q: If a household member has a fever or any other COVID-19 symptoms, but others do not, should they all stay home?

A. Yes, it is recommended that all household members quarantine.

Q: What will happen if a teacher or student tests positive for COVID-19 during the school year?

A: The District will assist the Department of Health with contact tracing and notification to those who may have been exposed to individuals who test positive for the virus. Dependent on the situation and in consultation with the Department of Health, the District may elect to shift from in-person instruction to a distance learning model on a class-by-class, school-by-school, or district-wide basis.

Q: What procedure will be followed for students who have fall allergies?

A: Presentation of fall allergies will likely result in a COVID-19 screening by the school nurse and/or the nurse aid. It may lead to the parent having to take their child to their physician to determine whether further testing is required.

Q: Will temperatures be taken at the door and multiple times during the day?

A: Not every student will have their temperature taken at the door. Since temperature is not necessarily a marker for COVID-19, it is important that parents complete the health screening for their child each day and submit it through the app.  Temperature checks will take place randomly during the school day.

INSTRUCTION

Q. Will CCSD provide a fully remote option?

A: Yes, CCSD will offer a fully remote option for families.  

Q: If I choose the remote option for my child, can I switch to in-person learning at any time (or vice versa--can I switch from in-person hybrid to fully remote at any time)? 

A: No. The time commitment will be for the semester or trimester (depending upon whether it is high school, middle school or elementary school). That means, those who choose either model, hybrid or fully remote, cannot switch until the semester or trimester ends.

Q:Is the school planning to use outdoor space to teach classes?

A:  The NYS Guidance Document provides for an outdoor class option if schools should decide to do so or need to because of space restrictions.  We are discussing that option and are looking at the pros and cons of students being outdoors.  We have had this discussion on our committees and will continue to look at that, but no decision. 

Q: In the hybrid model, will students living in the same household be in the same cohort so that they attend in-person on the same days?

A: The District will place students into cohorts alphabetically. Efforts will be made to assure students from the same household are in the same cohort.

 Q: Why are other schools in the region taking different approaches?

A: The state has left it up to each school district to create a plan that meets the mandatory components in their guidance. They have not mandated that a specific model be followed. Different schools will have different approaches as they will make schedules and cohorts that best fits the needs of their district, buildings, students and families. 

 Q: For those students who are learning remotely, can we expect more live instruction from the teacher?

A: For remote learning, we will have synchronous and asynchronous instruction and teachers will be live in real time with students.   

 Q: I’m concerned that my child did not adequately build his/her/they skills once remote learning started last March. How will teachers assess where each child is academically and help catch them up?

A: Students will be assessed to determine any learning gaps that need to be addressed. Teachers will work with students in whole class and small group setting as per each individual student’s needs. 

Q: How can you make remote learning work for students in either the hybrid or the fully remote models?

A: Our planning work to date on remote for the fall has focused on the following for all grades:

  • Attention to health, wellness, and joyful engagement, as well as curriculum alignment;
  • Teacher to student connections;
  • Student to student connections (clubs, extra-curriculars); and
  • Predictable structures and schedules:
    • Regular (synchronous and asynchronous) connections with students
    • Small group and individual engagement
    • Meaningful and engaging activities and projects
    • Clear definitions of student and parent expectations
    • Consistent and cohesive feedback and assessment

We recognize that face-to-face, in person instruction is the preferred modality for students. In the event that remote learning has to be implemented next year, our plans will specifically address issues of student engagement and provide appropriate grade-specific adaptations and supports.

Q: How are specials going to be managed? Can you tell us whether there will be band, chorus and PE if kids return to school in the fall?

A: We will offer specials, band, chorus, and PE.  We are still working on how that will be coordinated in the schedules k-12.

Q: My spouse and I are expected to return to our workplaces in September. Is the district providing childcare or some sort of support for young students who are learning remotely?  What about for families of first responders?

A: There are currently no District-run childcare programs.  Resources for parents include the Child Care Council of Dutchess & Putnam Inc.  (https://www.childcaredutchess.org/)
and Camp Wilbur Herrlich (https://www.campherrlich.org/)

Q: How will homework be affected in the hybrid model? Will there be more or less of it?

A: Homework will continue to be appropriate to the lesson, learning objective, practice needed, reinforcement etc. What will be important is how a student is progressing​ and how a homework supports student learning. If the amount homework is an issue, the parent/students should communicate the concerns to the teacher and the teacher can guide the student or clarify any questions.

Q: If enough families choose a fully remote option, will the District also provide a 5-day in-person option?

A: There are currently no plans to offer a 5-day in-person option.

SUPPORT SERVICES/SPECIAL EDUCATION/SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Q: If my child has an IEP or 504, how will his/her special needs be met?

A: In a fully remote setting: Students with IEPs- the special education teacher assigned to your child will be instructing them within the time frame designated for direct instruction. The teacher will also be available to work with your child in small groups remotely, as needed. For students with a 504, accommodations will still be delivered as appropriate. Any related services within a 504 or IEP will be delivered remotely either individually or in groups based on scheduling with families. In addition, pre-recorded videos, assignments, and drilling of skills will be provided.

In a  hybrid setting: Students with IEPs- the special education teacher assigned to your child will be instructing them within the time frame designated for direct instruction. The teacher will also be available to work with your child in small groups remotely on Wednesdays, as needed. For students with a 504, accommodations will still be delivered as appropriate. Any related services within a 504 or IEP will be delivered in person on the child’s cohort day, or remotely on Wednesdays either individually or in groups based on scheduling with families.

Q: What resources are available to help my children cope with distance learning when they are frustrated, sad, disengaged, or confused?

A: First, we must acknowledge the complicated range of emotions we have all been experiencing over the course of this pandemic. Our students have experienced these same feelings. Carmel’s support systems for students remain accessible. If you have concerns about your child(ren)’s mental health, you should initially contact your child’s teacher and set up a time to have a detailed discussion. Additionally, the school psychologist and social workers are always willing to help through direct counseling sessions or recommendations for more in-depth interventions.

Q: What steps does a parent/guardian need to take for students who are medically high risk?

A: If you feel your child is medically high risk, contact their principal as soon as possible. Determinations will be made for those who qualify for 504 accommodations.  If your child already has a 504 accommodation, it is still important that you contact the school principal to ensure this designation has been noted.  Parents/guardians should also contact the building principal if there is a household member who is considered medically high risk.

FACILITIES

Q: How will the buses, classrooms, cafeterias and other areas of the school be kept clean?

A: The district will follow the NYS Department of Health and CDC guidelines for cleaning all buses and district facilities on a daily basis.

  • All classrooms, bathrooms and public areas will be completely cleaned and disinfected nightly.
  • Every classroom will be provided with disinfectant wipes for disinfecting surfaces as needed.
  • Gang bathrooms and public areas will receive added attention during the day wherever and whenever possible.
  • There is no plan in place to clean all building bathrooms after each use during the day – that would be logistically impossible.

Q: How will bathroom occupancy be managed?

A: Distancing inside gang bathrooms will be accomplished by locking off or closing at least every other fixture.  Occupancy signs will be posted at the entry to all gang bathrooms. Monitor staffing is still being discussed.

Q: Will the district get desks for classes that don't have them to help with the social distancing guidelines? Many Kindergarten classes have tables.

A: We are currently assessing our inventory in every school building to know exactly what we have and how to maximize our space to allow for social distancing. We are required to ensure social distancing in our classrooms.

Q: How will poly carbonate dividers be used and where will they be placed?

A: The poly carbonate dividers being purchased for classrooms will be portable and can sit atop any given surface.  Additionally, the District is purchasing table dividers for use at the elementary level. The District is also purchasing desktop poly carbonate barriers for students that are not able to wear a mask.

Q: It was mentioned that additional custodial staff will be hired to help with cleaning. Will that be in place when school begins?

A: The District is in the process of hiring additional custodial staff to help with the nightly disinfecting process and it should be in place when schools reopen.

Q: What about the current ventilation system? How will the system be filtered and cleaned during the day?  Will MERV-rated filters be installed?

A:  Guidance from the State and the CDC requires we maintain and ensure that our ventilation systems operate properly, which we do through our regularly scheduled maintenance program.  The DOH and CDC guidance suggests that we increase ventilation if possible.  To that end, we are overriding the automatic damper controls on our ventilation systems to push the maximum amount of outside air into our classrooms.  All of our units are constantly filtered and those filters are replaced as per the pre-set schedule in our automated work order system.  We have not upgraded to higher MERV-rated filters  because a higher rated filter is more dense. This would make it harder for the air to move through them. That would effectively reduce the volume of air moving through our ventilation systems, when it should be increased.  We have fans in many classrooms and plan to use them to increase ventilation as long as they do not blow from one person onto another – as per CDC guidance.  Open windows may also be utilized to increase ventilation whenever and wherever appropriate.

Q: Have hand-washing stations been added?

A: Additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizing stations have already been added to the Cafeteria areas in every building.  Hand-washing stations are portable so they can be moved around as needed, depending on the circumstances.

Q: What cleaning products will be used?

A:  All our disinfectant products are approved by the CDC for killing COVID-19, as per their guidance.

Q: Will there be enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students?

A:  The District has been stockpiling PPE as much as possible since the start of the outbreak and we are part of a PNWBOCES bid that stipulates rapid delivery of future orders.  Staff and students can also bring their own PPE (in accordance with CDC guidelines).  

Q: Will hallways and staircases be one way? Will there be markers on the floors?

A: There will be six foot markings on the lower part of the wall down every hallway.  Directional arrows will be used as needed in every stairwell and hallway.

Q: Due to the fact that schools have been closed since March, have the building water systems been tested for water borne contaminants?

A: Although the buildings have been “closed” to students and staff for the past couple of months, all the building systems, including its water supply, remained in use the entire summer, out of necessity, to allow us to complete our in-depth, summer cleaning program.  Eventus, our water plant operator, continues to conduct scheduled monitoring and testing as required by the State throughout the summer months as well – not just during the school year.  Additionally, we have a faucet flushing program in place for those faucets or fixtures that don’t get used as often as the rest during the summer months.

Q: What is being done to prevent biofilm and bacteria growth in air ducts while the buildings are not in use?

A:  As with our water systems, our AC and ventilation systems also continue to function over the summer to provide fresh air and or / cooled air as designed, to our buildings. Over the past 6 or 7 years, we have hired the Cunningham Duct Cleaning company to clean and disinfect our duct work systems District-wide as part of an on-going duct cleaning program. Additionally, our automated air filter replacement schedule ensures new air filters in place for the start of every school year--this year was no exception.

FOOD SERVICES

Q: Where will students eat lunch?

A: Students will be eating meals in the school cafeteria or other designated alternate areas (e.g. gym, etc.), with proper social distancing.

Q: How would situations like snack/lunchtime be managed when mask-wearing is not possible?

A: Social distancing is key when students cannot wear masks. Cafeterias and lunchtimes will be set up in a way to allow for social distancing.  

Lunch will be provided to students in need, whether they are in school buildings or remote learning. We are still working on the cafeteria set up for in-school learning models and may need to be creative. We will work with Principals to find out what will work best for their buildings.

Q: How are students with severe food allergies protected?

A: We will follow the District Protocol for Allergies. Allergy free tables will be available in all schools meal locations, along with increased table spacing. For Grab & Go Meal service, Parents are responsible for allergies and must inform staff at the distribution site of any special requests.

Q: How will you keep the children safe during lunch time at school?  They will have their masks off at this time. 

A: All food service staff will complete food service staff training on district policies and protocols on health and safety, to include: Sanitary Code for Food Service Workers -  COVID – 19 Safe Food Handler – (Social Distancing, Personal Hygiene, Masks, Gloves, Cleaning and Sanitizing food surfaces). In addition:

  • Students and staff will have hand-washing stations available in all eating areas to insure proper hand washing before and after eating meals.
  • Each principal has determined the maximum allowable occupancy that will be available for meal consumption in the Cafeteria and other available areas and scheduled the student lunch periods accordingly to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time and to allow for social distancing. Students will be organized in small groups to remain together by classroom, while social distancing.
  • Physical distancing guides will be used in food service areas including: tape on floors, signage and increased table spacing, along with additional seating areas.
  • We are implementing a touch-less  pay system. Students will either verbally provide their name, or use an ID card with the bar code scanner. 
  • We have suspended self-service food selections, menus will be limited, and meal orders will be placed in the morning so we can to expedite the selection process. We will provide pre-portioned condiments, and pre-wrapped napkins and utensils that cashiers & servers place on trays.
  • Tables, chairs and other frequently touched hard surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected between groups of students.

Q: Will there be some type of barrier or plastic separating each child?

A: We will be installing poly-carbonate protective safety shields for serving lines and cashier stations, tables will be spaced to insure social distancing.

Q: What will school lunch look like?  (What food services will be offered?)

A: Students will no longer make self-serve food selections. All meals, sides, milk, fruit, utensils, and napkins will be placed on their trays by the food service staff and given to them at the end of the serving line. Limited Menu Options, limited Ala Carte snack items and pre-made Grab & Go Meals will be served to expedite meal service.  In the hybrid or remote learning models, we will be operating under dual models, “in school” and “grab & go” meal service.

Q: Will poly-carbonate dividers be used at tables for students since they won't have masks on?

A: We are currently looking into this.  Having dividers, however, does not negate the requirement for social distancing and students must maintain the 6-foot distance from others.

Q: It has been mentioned that there will be additional monitors in schools to ensure protocols are being followed. Will this include extra monitors for the cafeteria?

A: Yes, at the August 19, 2020 meeting, the Board of Education approved adding monitors for all schools, due to COVID-19. These monitors will be available to provide additional support in the cafeterias.

TECHNOLOGY

Q: How can we ensure that all students receive an equitable experience and equitable access to the internet during this unprecedented time?

A: We are working to ensure everyone has meaningful, daily interaction with their teachers, that students have the devices needed for online learning, and access to internet.

Q: What programs will be used for distance and/or remote learning and what are the system requirements?  What is the best device?  Is it better to have a laptop or can we use our desktop? 

A: Our learning platform is Microsoft Office 365. We use a variety of educational  program/applications which will be accessible this year through Classlink, using the same credentials as Office 365 - students' usernames and passwords. Classlink's single sign-on gives students and staff instant access to all their online programs/applications in one place, from any device. Desktop or laptop can be used. Should families wish to purchase devices for their children, please refer to our minimum system requirements.  

Q: Will every student be supplied with a Chromebook for remote learning?   If we use a Chromebook will it be sufficient for running remote learning programs? 

A: District devices are laptops, which have the Microsoft Office 365 platform downloaded onto them. This provides the best use of the features available. Chromebooks can be used, but their use is limited to the online versions of programs and applications.  Chromebooks generally do not have the capacity to download programs, and therefore, do not allow the user access to all the available program features.

Q: Will the district supply a device for each student? How do you request a device? How do you request internet access?

A: We DO NOT currently have enough devices for all students. However, laptop or hotspot devices for internet access can be requested by emailing techsupport@carmelschools.org

Q: Can the district handle the traffic of hybrid or distance learning? 

A: Yes. Recently the District increased its broadband capability from 600 MegaBytes to 2 GigaBytes.

Q: Will students be required to bring their home laptop to school? If she/he cannot bring it to school, will one be provided while in the building (if needed)? 

A: The District will have a small number of devices in each building for day loaners, but there will not be enough to handle the needs of everyone. Students will be encouraged to bring their own device, or the District device they have been loaned.

TRANSPORTATION

Q: I plan to drive and pick up my children most of the time, but on rare occasion they may need to take the bus. Will they have access to occasional bus service? Will we have the ability to switch back to bus at any time?

A: No, due to the need for social distancing we cannot accommodate students who will ride the bus occasionally.  Switches can be made at the end of a semester (middle/high school) or trimester (elementary schools).

Q:  How are you limiting students on buses? What is the proposed plan to maintain social distancing in the school bus? Are masks required while riding the bus? How will this be monitored?

A: Students are split alphabetically A-L and M-Z by school and route. Students will sit one to a seat with the exception to siblings who will be seated together. Masks will be required to be worn at all times on the bus. We will need parent involvement to help reinforce with their children the importance of keeping the mask on at all times while on the bus. We do not have the available personnel required to accommodate having a monitor on every bus.

The exception to the mask requirement are students with physical or mental health impairments. Appropriate changes for these students will be accommodated.

Q: How will buses be cleaned between runs/schools?

A: Drivers and monitors will wipe down high contact areas between runs. Once a day each bus will be deep cleaned, either between the shifts or at the end of the day.

Q: According to the opening plan document, school buses will not be equipped with hand sanitizer. Can kids bring and use hand sanitizer in the buses while riding?

A. The District cannot supply hand sanitizer on buses. Students, however may bring and use their own hand sanitizer.

Q: Will students have their temperature checked on the bus?

A: Drivers cannot be distracted from doing their job to safely load children on the bus. We do not have the resources to add monitors for every bus. Parents will be responsible to ensure their child is healthy and fever free before they board the bus.