Q & A from 10-27-20 Parent Town Hall

In addition to questions that were answered verbally during the October 27, 2020 Parent Town Hall (in regards to modifying our learning plan and making Wednesdays a remote learning day for all students), the following are questions submitted to the Q & A box.  Additional questions that have been submitted will be added soon. Please be sure to check back periodically.
NOTE: Similar questions have been combined.

GENERAL 

Q: When can students change from hybrid to remote or remote to hybrid?
A:.  A survey will be going out from each building principal within the next two weeks for parents to request a change. Changes are being considered at the end of the first trimester (elementary schools) or semester (middle/high school).

Q: How is making Wednesdays all remote a benefit for students?
A:  This will enable teachers to plan stronger learning activities for remote learning days, learn new programs to support this learning, address students having difficulty with academics or technology, as well as meet specific student needs. It will also provide opportunities for more individualized, small group instruction and teachers will have more time to connect with families. As it stands now teachers have very little time to do this effectively for both cohorts.  In addition, we have received a great deal of feedback from parents that students need time to complete their work and that they would benefit from a social and emotional check-in. This will address the many concerns we have heard regarding remote days during the hybrid model. 

Q: Will the full remote schedule change to in-person instruction?
A: No. However, parents may opt to switch from remote to hybrid, or hybrid to remote at the end of the trimester (elementary) or semester (middle/high school). A survey will be going out from each building principal within the next two weeks for parents to request a change.

Q: If a Monday is a holiday will Cohort A go Tuesday, Wednesday and cohort B Thursday, Friday?
A: The all remote Wednesdays will only apply on 5-day weeks. If there is a 4 day week there will not be a remote day. Cohorts will be in school 2 days each.  

Q: Will cohort B students get more in person days to make it equitable between the 2 cohorts? The adjustment that was made is not equitable.
A: This is only an issue at the elementary level. The middle and high school cohort days are even, for the most part.  At this time, however, we do not plan to alter the calendar further. Going forward, we may run into occurrences such as inclement weather or COVID-19 related closures that could disrupt our calendar again. Rest assured we are closely monitoring the situation. Any modifications would give parents enough time to plan and would consider options that are least disruptive for families. 

Q: When cohort A attends on a Wednesday due to holiday, etc. that means cohort B again is missing instruction ( this time being remote instruction) how will this be equitable?
A: The remote Wednesdays are only in effect during weeks with five instructional days. Through December, the only Wednesday currently planned for in-person instruction is December 23, 2020. This day is designated as a Cohort B day.

Q:  Have students been informed of this change yet?
A:  No, they have not.

Q: When is this starting?
A: November 18, 2020.

Q: Do you foresee Cohort A and Cohort B attending school on the same days, with 3 feet of social distance, with Wednesday remaining remote? I ask because a coworker mentioned that her children's school district in CT moved to that model a few weeks ago. I would imagine that would depend on the number of COVID-19 cases?
A: Right now that is not a part of the plan, nor are there plans to do that. We are following the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Education Department guidelines that call for 6 feet for social distancing.  

Q: Is there a timeline or survey to move towards more on-site learning?
A:  As of now there is not  a timeline or plan for more in-person learning, as restrictions regarding social distancing has not been lifted. This decision would be made with any revised recommendations from the CDC, the NYS Department of Education, the NYS Department of Health and/or directives from the governor.

Q: Can Superintendent's conferences be on a Wednesday and not take away more in person time from our kids with their teacher?
A: All Superintendent's conference days for the 2020-2021 school year, with the exception of one 1/2 day (April 16) were moved to the beginning of September 2020. 

Q: What happens to the cycle days?
A: We will maintain the cycle day rotation. Services for students are scheduled based on cycle day.

Q: All students will be put into one of these situations correct? I want to be sure that ALL kids are getting something that day.
A: Yes. However our self contained special education students will still be attending in-person on Wednesdays.

Q: Will there be Principal Coffees for elementary school parents?
A: Yes, there will be Principal Coffees at every level; high, middle and elementary.  Each principal will communicate to parents regarding the date/time of their session.

Q: Do the elementary kids will go in 2 days a week and always have 3 days remote,? I'm confused. I don't think the kids will benefit from this learning.
A:  Cohort A will be Monday and Tuesday in person. Cohort B will be in person on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday all students are remote. If a week has only 4 days there will be no remote Wednesday. This is for all students, not just elementary students.

Q: Our COVID numbers are less than that of other areas that have 5 days a week of in person instruction..... what data was this decision based on?
A: We are still under social distancing requirements, regardless of the numbers in our area. Our schools do not have the physical space to allow for all students to be in our buildings at once. Therefore we must still follow a hybrid schedule. Remote Wednesdays will allow for more individual or small group remote instructional groups to give students the attention they need. 

Q: Can you give an explanation as to why the choice was made to open they way we did? As opposed to a different district that has in person class 5 days a week. Similar districts with similar numbers have opened 5 days. 
A: Again, we opened our schools as per the guidelines of NYS for social distancing. Our schools do not have the physical space to allow for all students to be in our buildings at once. Therefore we must still follow a hybrid schedule.

Q: What is the district going to do about parents that work full-time and have a 4th grader staying at home alone now?
A: Unfortunately, the district is not able to provide child care. 

Q: Any word on possibly “extending” any of the holidays to create a better buffer for students who may show symptoms after being with relatives and other individuals?
A: The district will continue to follow the DOH guidelines. There has been no guidance received concerning this. The expectation is for the public to be socially distancing and not gathering in large groups to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What will happen with snow days? 
A: As of now snow days are still in tact. 

Q: Students had extremely different experiences with the amount of interaction with their teachers in the spring. Many had almost nothing. How will this be better?
A: Our current plan is very different than our plan in March. We have received positive feedback about our Return to learn plan that began in September 2020. We continue to work on and revise the plan to best meet the needs of our students. 

Q: How will it work for children who can not log in during the remote hours will the attendance be counted against them?
A: If this is the case, please contact your child's school, as students should have been logging in since September.

COMMUNICATION

Q: It is difficult to communicate with caregivers these different schedules. Will there be any attempt to simplify how assignments and zoom meetings are shared? It is hard because my children do not have 1:1 supervision in between meetings and when tasks are assigned in between ‘classes’ I can’t guarantee it can happen.
A: We will be discussing how information is shared with our students and families to find ways to make assignments more "user friendly".

Q:  Is there an update on allowing communication outside of the parents? My child is remote only currently, working from a daycare facility. Thus far, the school has been unable to accommodate communicating with the daycare facility in addition to parents, which creates a challenge. Can we start adding other authorized communication contacts?
A: It is recommended that you ask your child's teacher to speak with the building principal about this. If there is written permission from the parent for the teacher to answer questions for the daycare provider as opposed to the parent, that may be able to be worked out. The time that both the teacher and the daycare are available will be a consideration, since the teacher may have small groups running at the times the daycare provider is available. 

ACADEMICS

Q: What assessments or benchmarks will we use to determine student outcomes? In other words, how will we gauge if students have the requisite skills and knowledge for the next grade level? How will we alter our curriculum to help get student gaps resolved?
A: We continue to use assessments such as AIMS Web, DRA and class tests. Progress is consistently monitored.

Q: Many times these things are left as optional for kids and they opt to not go on and meet with their teacher. Will teachers contact students if they are missing assignments and meet with them as parents are working and not able to always be on top of the work?
A: Yes, all teachers will monitor work and reach out if there is an issue.

Q: Will the remote learning model followed on Wednesday be the same as the remote learning done on hybrid days?
A.  At the elementary level, the Wednesday schedule will be similar to the remote days when school was closed. Each school is working on building specific schedules. These will be discussed in more detail during the Principal Coffee sessions. 

Q: Will the teachers be teaching on the Wednesday that the students are not in school or will they just be given an assignment?
A: At the elementary level there will be a combination of instruction and assignments. 

Q: Will teachers still be teaching live lessons from their classrooms on Wednesdays?
A: Teachers will be "live" on TEAMS during their office hours and can reteach any lessons that students have questions about. 

Q: Students aren't retaining information as it is when remote, so how is this plan helping them? 
A: Providing time where students can meet with their teachers to review any curriculum that they have questions about will aid in retention. Students can also access extra help with their teachers so that they can work on comprehension skills. 

Q: Does the school district believe that less in person instruction will benefit those children falling behind? If so how? 
A: Creating time for students to have one-to-one time with their teachers will help increase that student's understanding of the curriculum. Additionally, if you feel that your child is behind, please contact your child's counselor/principal and we can create a support plan to help them.

Q: I do understand it must be difficult to try to format a program for our younger children. It is obvious to me and every parent I have spoken to, that our children will be behind state standards going into the next school year. What is the district planning going into the next school year to address this?
A: The teachers are working to meet the students to the greatest degree. They are collecting performance information and making every effort to identify individual learning gaps. We encourage parents who have a concern about their child's education and progress to contact their child's teacher. 

WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

Q: If my child is not required to attend small group learning in the afternoon what will she be doing and how will it be monitored?
A: Assignments will be given by the classroom teacher.

Q: Why does this new Wednesday schedule have to apply to ALL grade levels? Why not let the elementary school aged children have that extra day and change it for the MS and HS students only?
A: The Wednesdays schedule does apply to K-12, however it does look different for the grade levels. 

Q: Will we be following the schedules we made for the first two weeks of school when all students were remote?
A: We will be remote and there will be some similarities, however in our Wednesdays plan all students in elementary would get a special regardless of cohort. High school students will have student-teacher conference time and/or students can work independently. 

High School

Q: Will virtual meets be mandatory for students or optional?  How many hours are the virtual meetings on Wednesdays?
A: For High School, only the Advisory period is mandatory. Students can access their teachers through teams for extra help, but that is optional.  The High School Advisory meeting is 30 minutes. Students can then follow their schedule with 20 minute periods.

Q: For high school, do we still have zooms all day long in classes, or off zoom independent work?
A: We will have 2 hours of built in time for independent work and a student can do 3 hours of zoom/teams with their teachers.

Q:  How this will impact sports?  Will students still have practice on Wednesdays?
A: Yes, the athletic schedule will remain the same.

Q: For the high school periods on Wednesday after the advisory meeting, are there office hours or do students have to be online in class?
A: They can do both. They can meet with the teacher via Teams or speak with a teacher on a free period.

Q:  Is there transportation to BOCES on Wednesday?
A:  Yes, CHS students in the BOCES program can attend BOCES classes on Wednesdays.

Q:  If the curriculum is meant to be covered over 5 days, won’t this force the teachers to either condense the curriculum to 4 days or put the burden on the students to learn the material on their own?
A: Wednesday instruction will be asynchronous learning and as such, students will not lose the day.  At the high school level, much of the curriculum is hands-on work or class discussion. Many of our high school students reported that they have a tremendous amount of homework in addition to being on the computer during remote days. The asynchronous time allows students the opportunity to complete this work so that they can focus on the curriculum while in school. 

Q: Regarding the extra help during the three-hour delay schedule: That's not a ton of time for a teacher to address the needs of every student who may have issues. It is also NOT necessarily one on one time. (and i understand that's not exactly feasible). Is it possible that teachers can set up additional time (for instance a 9th grader could meet with a teacher 11th period if that teacher doesn't teach then)?
A: Students are welcomed to meet with their teachers for additional extra help on the teacher's prep, if they are available. The office hours are in additional to their standard extra help time. 

Q: This is all very confusing, will you be sending out printable information for the High School.
A: Yes, we will send the student schedule that we shared during the Town Hall as well as the information for the HS Principal Coffee. 

Q: It is my understanding that the students only need to sign on to the Advisory meeting section of the day and the rest of the day is essentially optional. I have two high schoolers who have no social/emotional needs that need to be discussed in the advisory meeting now scheduled for that day and so, in effect, they have school only four days a week now. It doesn't seem fair to the students who don't need this extra special time to have to sit through this meeting and then also to have to miss out on a regular instruction day with their teacher and self teach themselves whatever asynchronous work is assigned. When my two children heard this Wednesday plan, they both said, "Great, a day off!" Why can't the students who need more one-on-one help go to the teacher's extra help hours like they would if school was the normal way it was in the past? My children said their teachers already offer that option on top of teaching five days. Additionally, I would have thought parents would have been consulted before a change like this was going into effect. It is impossible to come up with a plan that suits all students but one that decreases school hours does not seem wise to me. In essence, after looking at your cohort A/Cohort B days effected slide, kids will have 24 less school days this way if this stays in effect until June. how can that be good for most students?
A: The Wednesday schedule is structured to give students time away from the computer screen. Many of our students have reported that they had an additional 3 hours of homework on the computer. That is in additional to 7 hours of screen time during the school day. Our current schedule can be overwhelming to many of our students. The Wednesday schedule allows students to complete their asynchronous work, as well as have one to one time with their teachers to answer any questions they may have about the curriculum. 

Q: My sons are in some of the same classes, what if they both want time one on one with the teacher. Could they do that at the same time for the convenience of the teacher?
A: Yes, students will follow their current schedule so that the teacher will be in Teams with them. 

Q: During remote learning there are times that links DO NOT WORK. Teachers do not always have time during a class to help the numerous students who have this problem, and thus many students receive zeros for not doing an assignment. In some cases a teacher never resolves this problem, removes the assignment at the end of the period and the students' who had their hands raised never found out what to do. They never got to do the assignment, never got to speak to the teacher, and received a zero for not getting the work done. It doesn't seem fair, does it? Sometimes it happens consistently with some teachers, and then the next class nothing is ever said about the problem. And again it reoccurs. This should not happen. Where can students go?
A: Students can email their teachers and meet with them during their office hours and discuss any work that was missed. 

Q: For the high school, what will be the format of the asynchronous instruction? Must a student be online in Teams or can the student also download and work off-line? How are small groups assigned? Are teachers available during asynchronous instruction?
A: The teachers will place the work on Teams (through the feed) and students can enter their page and access the work. The small groups are assigned by grade and the students will have a teacher or school counselor who will be leading the group. Teachers are available during asynchronous instruction via email and they are available to students from 10:10 - 1:50. 

Q: For the high school, during the Wednesday office hours periods, is the student required to be online on Teams, or is it only for situations where the student believes that he/she needs help?
A: The office hours are for students to meet with their teachers and get one-to-one help. Teachers can ask students who are in need to attend the session as well. 

Q: For high school office hours, does a student need to schedule a meeting with a teacher, or will the teacher be available for all students during the 20 minute period?
A: Teachers will be available to students during that time. We encourage students to reach out to teachers if they have specific concerns so that their needs are met during this time. 

Q: In the high school, if a student has a free period, can they also "meet" with one of their teachers during this time?
A: Yes. Teachers will have time to meet with students. 

Q: How will teachers cover the curriculum in 80% of the instructional time, especially for rigorous courses such as AP?
A: Teachers will be able to to continue the curriculum. They may use this time to offer students some support individually or in groups. 

CHS Advisory Meetings

Q: Who are the advisors for the advisory meetings? How are the students broken up on the high school level? What format will the only mandatory part of the day be... TEAMS? Zoom? 
A: The teachers are the leaders of the SEL advisory meetings. Students will be assigned to the advisory by grade level. The format will be shared with the students as we get closer to 11/18. Most meetings will be held via TEAMS. 

Q: How is the social/emotional check in going to work? I assume its not one on one. So how are the groups being developed and if a kid is in a group with no one they know are they really going to feel comfortable to open up?
A:  The social/emotional advisory meetings will be 30 minutes long and they will be led by a teacher. The advisories are created by grade and the students may currently have that teacher or it might be a teacher new to them. The Advisory Model is one that has been successful and is purposely created to have students meet a new teacher. Over the next few weeks, students will get to know their teacher and develop a rapport with their group. 

Q: Why do the high schoolers need to go to the mental health check in? Why can it not be optional?
A: Many of our students are feeling overwhelmed with our current schedule. The advisory will serve as their attendance for the day, as well as time to speak with their peers and a staff member. 

Q: How will high school students learn of their advisory meeting times?
A: The advisory will appear on the student's schedule and students will receive a notification from their teacher before the advisories begin. 

Middle School

Q: Shortening first period which is my child's regents level class - why? Nothing at all happens in their homeroom.
A: If this question is in reference to GFMS, the first period has been combined to include homeroom and social-emotional check-in.  The time for first period has been extended and is a total of 32 minutes. All other periods are 20 minutes.

Elementary Schools

Q: Before when in remote, 2nd grade had 3 meetings only. now, looks like it will be a full schedule on Wednesdays?
A: It will not be all day remote live teaching. It will look similar to what remote only days looked like at the start of the year.

Q: On Wednesday will Cohort A be in morning and B be in the afternoon for elementary level as they did in the past for remote days? Hopefully they will let Cohort B also have morning times.
A:  Currently, for the elementary level,  we plan to have both Cohorts attending remotely in the morning. 

Q: Would students have specials even on hybrid days for kindergarten?
A: Students will receive specials on Wednesdays, but not on the home hybrid days.

Q: At the Elementary level, how often will the students meet with the teacher throughout the day?
A: Teachers will meet with students for one hour. There will also be an opportunity for additional small group instruction, individual support, and special area classes.

Q: Will the elementary schools still have Cohort A and B meeting separately? If this happens how much direct instruction could they possibly be getting?
A: We are working on schedules for each elementary building and taking into consideration how the times and groups work best for each class/grade level. 

Q: I have 2 kids in 4th grade. What are the teachers doing to strength their abilities in math in reading as they are going to middle school next year?
A: The teachers are working to meet the students to the greatest extent possible. They are collecting performance information and making every effort to identify individual learning gaps in order to close them. While in school, teachers are able to focus more closely on individual students due to the lower numbers each day. While online, the teachers also continue to engage the students in small group instruction in order to identify and meet individual students' needs.

Q: Will there be more live instruction on the remote cohort days? 15 minutes for a 7 year old with two working parents is clearly not enough. Would the elementary schools consider having at-home and in-school students learning in the same classroom at the same time? 
A: There will be live instruction at the elementary level. As of now, we will not be combining remote only and Hybrid students. 

Q: Would there be a consideration to combine cohorts due to limited number of in person students enrolled? Especially for the younger grades K-2, who are desperately requiring in person learning. 
A: We would look for guidance from NYS regarding safety for our students.  We are currently limited due to social distancing protocols.

Q: Class sizes for kindergarten are small, why can’t cohorts be together? Desks can definitely fit with 14 students. School is crucial at this stage and K-3 should be in person more.
A: Again, the elementary class size is based on what is safe as per NYS guidelines and our reopening plan. 

TECHNOLOGY

Q: Will there be a standardization of how to use Teams and other technology? I'm noticing a vast difference between teachers based on what appears to be convenience for them. However, there are different types of students and parents to consider as well. For example, my child is currently remote only and I am finding it very difficult to track what has/needs to be done. Since we don't turn in assignments or have anything electronically, I'm also feeling like I'm unsure where my child is excelling and struggling to understand what we should focus on at home or request he focus on at daycare.
A: We will be providing more direct training in the Teams platform to create more consistency between classes. This will be part of the Wednesday professional development.

Q: I am STRUGGLING with all of this technology and my child is being penalized for it. That just isn't fair. And no matter how many videos the teacher(s) send me on "how to" I just don't get it. How can we fix this problem of the child(s) being penalized for the parents lack of tech savviness?
A: Please contact your building principal. We are here to help and may be able to walk you through or assist your child during the school day to help carry over at home.

FULLY REMOTE STUDENTS

Q: Does this new Wednesday model also apply to fully remote students?
A:  Yes

Q: For the fully remote students, is the only change that on Wednesdays the remote teachers will get professional development? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays will remain the same?
A: Yes

Q: What will these changes look like for fully remote kids?
A: There will be very little change - just more individual time on Wednesdays - and not every Wednesday.

Q: Regarding remote learning, is the district planning to rotate when the cohorts meet each trimester in terms of the times during the day they are asynchronous with their teachers? This way each cohort can benefit from either working in the morning vs. the afternoon. This is especially beneficial for the elementary school students who are early risers and thrive in the earlier part of the day.
A: At this time, rotating the schedule is not an option due to the constraints of specials, small group leaning, and the building schedule.  If your child works better independently at a certain time of day, please share that information with your child's teacher.  This will help the teacher know how best to set up a small group or independently learning time.  

SPECIAL EDUCATION/RELATED SERVICES/ENL

Q: Does remote Wednesdays apply to students who are in the special education program who attend 5 days/week?
A: There will be no change for these students.

Q: For a child in an ICT class (with IEP) that may be struggling, is there an opportunity for them to attend more in-person school days?
A: Unfortunately not at this time due to the social distance requirements.  However, we will be able to provide for small groups to meet virtually on non in-person days if needed. Please contact you CSE chairperson in Pupil Services to discuss. 

Q: In my experience so far, students who require an ICT program are not receiving any additional support during remote days. Hoping going forward this will be addressed .
A: The remote Wednesdays should help staff address concerns of ICT students. Any additional support needed on hybrid days can also be discussed with the CSE. 

Q: What about the kids that are struggling that don’t have special needs or an IEP- when will they be helped?
A: During remote Wednesdays, students who are struggling have the opportunity for small group instructional support with teaching assistants or RTI Teachers. Please contact your child's principal.

Q: How will related services (occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.) be handled?
A:  Services will be provided as scheduled.

Q: What about ENL students whose parents don’t speak English well and can’t help their kids with their independent work?
A: Please contact your building principal. We can provide additional support for ENL students on Wednesdays.

Q: What are the minor adjustments that will be made to Special Education and ENL programs?
A: The adjustments are indicated on the last page of the PowerPoint presentation. Students in special classes grades 7-12 will now have opportunities to come in daily. Students in integrated co-taught classes will now get small group remote instruction on Wednesdays. ENL students will now get small group instruction remote on Wednesdays. 

Q: Can school counselors, especially in the elementary schools, do group sessions with the kids?
A: Yes, school counselors have been providing group sessions with students who are in the same class. They are avoiding crossing students from multiple classes in order to avoid any potential exposure to COVID. 

Q: For elementary school students that receive Tier 3 reading intervention, will they continue to receive their 3:1 class on Wednesdays?
A: Students who receive specialized reading instruction will continue to receive this class on remote learning days. 

Q: In one of the presentation graphics it showed that the Bridge students would still attend school in person all 5 days. How will Wednesdays work for the high school bridge student? The teachers aren't holding class per se so are those students just going to go to each class for 20 minutes and do homework? Also, are they not going to get assigned to these social/emotional home rooms since everyone else is online and they aren't? I'm assuming they would just do the social/emotional portion with a bridge teacher and with just the other bridge students?
A: This will be addressed in a separate meeting with Parents of Bridge students. 

Q: How are you going to take care of the kids that are struggling that are not RTI and IEP?
A: The time on Wednesdays is to address ALL students. It is expected that some small group work WILL include non-IEP students.