Reopening Plan

St. Thomas the Apostle School Reopening Plan
Updated Thursday, August 13th 1:00 p.m.

 

Overview

As a religious school, St. Thomas the Apostle plays an essential role in the education of students and in the economy of New York. The New York State Education Department respects the unique needs of religious and independent schools and the diversity of the wide array of school communities under the broad heading of ‘nonpublic schools’. The diversity of the New York religious and independent school educational community means that each school will need to create a plan to guide its reopening using applicable local, state, and federal public health and education guidelines. These guidelines formed the foundation for the work done by St. Thomas the Apostle School administration, teachers, staff, and parents addressing in-person, hybrid, and remote education keeping in mind the unique mission, facilities, governance, and traditions of our school community. In designing this plan, we remained focused on:

  1. the age and nature of enrolled students
  2. early childhood programming
  3. educational methodology unique to St. Thomas the Apostle School’s commitment to providing the highest quality Catholic education emphasizing faith formation and academic development within a safe and compassionate learning environment
  4. physical layout of the campus and its structures
  5. day programming meeting the needs of working families 

St. Thomas the Apostle School’s enrollment and physical space allows for us to alter space usage,  decrease the size of cohorts, and adjust teaching models to meet all guidelines for a successful and safe reopening. 

St. Thomas the Apostle School’s comprehensive reopening plans and procedures were drafted with the assistance of the school’s Reopening Committee and by using the following primary and secondary documents and resources:

 


 

Introduction

On Monday, July 13, 2020, 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. 

On August 7, Governor Cuomo announced that schools could reopen.

Determinations will be made by regions 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 schools have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the school 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 have been informed through email of the options available to them and are responding by survey and interview with their choice. Individual meetings will take place prior to the reopening of school to help us determine the needs of each student. We will confirm that each family choosing a remote learning environment has access to the necessary technology (bandwidth, hardware, software) to successfully complete the course of study.

The plan outlined here is for the reopening of St. Thomas the Apostle School for the 2020-2021 school year, following the building closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 the school campus. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Reopening Guidance for Religious and Independent Schools, the Religious Services Guidelines on the New York Forward website 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 school. 

Mr. Thomas Kane will serve as the school’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Mr. Kane will work closely with our local health department and will be responsible for maintaining compliance, updates, and modifications to any of the plan’s areas. He will serve as a central contact for stakeholders, families, staff and other school community members and will ensure the school is in compliance and following the best practices per state and federal guidelines. Thomas Kane’s contact information:

Mr. Thomas Kane, Principal
St. Thomas the Apostle School
42 Adams Place
Delmar, NY 12054
518-439-5573

 


 

Content Outline


Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, St. Thomas the Apostle School has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations. 

St. Thomas the Apostle School remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. This school’s reopening plan is available to all stakeholders via the St. Thomas the Apostle School website (www.stthomas-school.org/About/Reopening) and will be updated throughout the year, as necessary, in response to local circumstances. The link to the reopening plan appears on the St. Thomas the Apostle School website homepage along with other relevant and timely announcements related to the return of students to in-person and the launch of remote learning for students that have opted-out of in-person learning for the 2020 fall semester. In addition to web access of the school’s reopening plan, the reopening plan link will be communicated via email to all enrolled students through the St. Thomas school-to-home communication platform – Constant Contact. This platform allows for us to trace opened and unopened email. Unopened email will be followed up with telephone calls. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals. Printed copies of St. Thomas the Apostle School’s reopening plan may be requested by emailing office@stthomas-school.org

As part of its planning for the reopening of school and the new academic year, St. Thomas the Apostle has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to school staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. St. Thomas the Apostle School is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. St. Thomas the Apostle School will use its existing well established communication channels to provide instructions, updates, trainings, and need-to-know information via:

  • Print communication - postal mailings, facility signage, memos and flyers via student “backpack mail” (E-communication will correlate with print communication).

  • e-communication via email, text alerts, website, and social media platforms to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and will be disseminated as needed. E-communication includes:

  • E-communication will be made available in print form upon request

  • A Frequently Asked Questions page (www.stthomas-school.org/About/ReopeningFAQ) will provide further explanation pertaining to specifics of St. Thomas the Apostle School’s reopening plan.

  • A weekly Updates and Reminders email sent to staff and Parent/Guardians each Wednesday.

  • Faculty Information Coordinators will support the dissemination of consistent messaging to other staff and faculty regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, and requirements related to school operations throughout the pandemic. 

Faculty and Staff Teams:

  • Administration Team (Principal, Enrollment Director, Communications Director, Nurse, Parish Administrator, Janitorial Staff)
  • Early Childhood (Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4, Teacher Assistants, Service Providers)
  • Elementary (Grades Kindergarten, 1 and 2)
  • Upper Elementary (Grades 3, 4)
  • Middle School (Grades 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • Special Areas (Art, Music, Library, Physical Ed./Health, Technology) 

In-person trainings for faculty and staff on how to follow new COVID-19 protocols, hand hygiene, proper face covering wearing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene will be provided by local health department officials, and Diocesan health and safety staff. 

  • In-person trainings for students on how to follow new COVID-19 protocols safely and correctly, including but not limited to hand hygiene, acceptable and proper wearing of a face covering, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene will be provided by administration, school nurse, homeroom teachers, and special area teachers using local, state and federal health and safety guidelines, supported with visual signage, ensuring a consistent message to all students.  

  • Signage to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic will be posted in the main office of school, health office, classrooms, academic hallways, cafeteria, gymnasium, restrooms, and at all entrance/exit locations on campus. 

  • Verbal reminders during morning and afternoon announcements will help ensure all students, faculty, and staff adhere to CDC and DOH guidance regarding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically acceptable face coverings (a cloth covering nose and mouth).

In support of remote learning, St. Thomas the Apostle School will make computer devices available to students and teachers where appropriate. Families choosing to opt-out of in-person learning can request a Chromebook for remote learning. Requests can be made to Mr. Thomas Kane, Principal at 518-439-5573 or by email TKane@stthomas-school.org. Requests for a device must be made in writing. The device is to be used only by the St. Thomas student to whom it was loaned. St. Thomas the Apostle School will provide students and their families with multiple ways to connect with teachers during remote learning, including but not limited to email, text, talk, Google Classroom, Zoom and Google Meet sessions. 

St. Thomas the Apostle will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. St. Thomas the Apostle School’s Master Schedule of classes will be disseminated to the school community by September 1. Remote or hybrid planning conferences will be scheduled with students and families. 

St. Thomas the Apostle School is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, St. Thomas the Apostle School will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each student’s age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

  • Hand hygiene – Students and families will receive hand hygiene print literature developed by the CDC prior to the return of in-person classes. The print literature will coincide with the signage in school hallways, classrooms, offices, entry and exit locations, and restrooms. Students will be directed to wash hands upon arrival to school. Faculty and staff will instruct students verbally and visually to proper methods, all the while directly supervising. Hand sanitizing stations are available to students in various locations around the building – hallways, classrooms, health offices, administrative offices, and cafeteria, gymnasium, and entry/exit points. Faculty and staff will train students on proper methods of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer upon the return to school. Hand Hygiene student training will be completed in the same manner fire drill and safety drills are trained for at the beginning of each school year. Training on best practices of hand hygiene with students will occur during orientation days and upon return of in-person learning. 

  • Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove) - Students and families will receive cloth face covering print literature developed by the CDC prior to the return of in-person classes. The print literature will coincide with the signage in school hallways, classrooms, offices, entry and exit locations, and restrooms. Administration and faculty will model proper methods of wearing a cloth face covering, and how to safely put on and remove a cloth face covering. Training on best practices of proper face covering and usage with children will occur during orientation days and upon return of in-person learning. 

  • Social distancing - Students and families will receive social distancing print literature developed by the CDC prior to the return of in-person classes. The print literature will coincide with the signage in school hallways, classrooms, offices, entry and exit locations, and restrooms. Training on best practices of social distancing with children will occur during orientation days and upon return of in-person learning.  

  • Respiratory hygiene – Students and families will receive respiratory hygiene print literature developed by the CDC prior to the return of in-person classes. The print literature will coincide with the signage in school hallways, classrooms, offices, entry and exit locations, and restrooms. Administration and faculty will model proper methods of restricting the spread of respiratory droplets caused by sneezing and coughing, and how to safely dispose of tissues and potentially soiled face covering. Training on best practices of respiratory hygiene with children will occur during orientation days and upon return of in-person learning. 

  • Identifying symptoms - Students and families will receive symptom identifying print literature developed by the CDC prior to the return of in-person classes. The print literature will coincide with the signage in school hallways, classrooms, offices, entry and exit locations, and restrooms.  Upon arrival to St. Thomas the Apostle School parents and students will be asked verbally if they have exhibited any of the listed symptoms (viewable on printed placards). Families will be reminded to screen their child for symptoms and temperature prior to setting off to school through print and electronic communication. In the event a family decides to keep their child home for symptomatic reasons, families should call 518-439-5573 to inform the school office staff of the identifiable symptoms.  

St. Thomas the Apostle School will create and deploy signage throughout the building to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas: 

  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear

  • Hand washing

  • Adherence to social distancing instructions

  • Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

In addition to signage, St. Thomas the Apostle School will encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as classroom level trainings, electronic communication (email and website), and postings on social media.

St. Thomas the Apostle School is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our school will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan.

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. St. Thomas the Apostle School will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials. 

 

School Closures

St. Thomas the Apostle School is preparing for situations in which the school building needs to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19, or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.  

St. Thomas the Apostle School may choose to modify operations, canceling activities, including closing areas/classes where individuals were infected, prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. St. Thomas the Apostle School will consult its school nurse (provided by the Bethlehem School District), and Albany County Health Department when making such decisions.  

School building administrators will communicate with the superintendent or his designee regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates of staff and students impact the ability of St. Thomas the Apostle School to operate safely. In-person instruction will transition to remote learning for all learners. Students and families will be given notice using existing communication channels informing students and families on what instructional materials to take home. Opportunities will be provided for the student (or designated person) to enter the facility to retrieve needed items for remote learning. DOH and CDC health and safety guidelines, including but not limited to density reduction, social distancing and face coverings will be followed.  

 


 

Health and Safety 

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 the St. Thomas the Apostle School campus. Our reopening plan incorporates recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Reopening Guidance for Religious and Independent Schools, the Religious Services Guidelines on the New York Forward website and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).  

The following protocols and procedures will be in place for the 2020-21 school year should in-person schooling resume. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact our COVID-19 safety coordinator at TKane@stthomas-school.org or 518-439-5573.

For more information about how health and safety protocols and training will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

 

Health Checks

St. Thomas the Apostle School has developed resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the careful observation of symptoms of COVID-19 and health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school. The resources include the requirement for any student or staff member with a fever of 100°F or greater and/or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection to not come to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Coronavirus symptoms was used to develop these resources.

St. Thomas the Apostle School in collaboration with the LEA (Bethlehem Central School District), CDC and DOH guidelines will implement the following practices to conduct mandated health screenings for all students and staff. Health check publications will be provided using pre-established communication channels. An electronic version of St. Thomas the Apostle School’s Health Screening Questionnaire is available atwww.stthomas-school.org. Prior to departing for school parents/ guardians are encouraged to take their child’s temperature and monitor for any listed potential COVID-19 symptoms. Students transported by public school bus services will have a health check screen as they depart from the bus, but before entering the St. Thomas the Apostle School building. School bus transported students that exhibit signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire will be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where the student is supervised, prior to being picked up. 

During parent and student orientation days, parents will be trained by staff on the use of the daily questionnaire at each arrival entry. In-person screenings will be conducted for all students and staff during the 2020 fall semester.

  

St. Thomas the Apostle School’s Health Screening Policy

On-site daily temperature checks and completion of the health screening questionnaire provided in the New York Forward Pre-K to Grade 12 School Guidelines for staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors (for the safety and well-being of our students) prior to entry into the building.

On-site daily temperature checks, with a non-contact infrared thermometer, and completion of the screening questionnaire (mentioned above) for students prior to entry to the building. All screening information is kept strictly confidential. Numeric body temperatures will not be recorded at screening locations. Students that have a temperature above 100°F will be denied entry and must return to the vehicle with the responsible party they arrived with, or be escorted to an isolation area and will be attended to by St. Thomas the Apostle School nurse or designated staff member until a responsible party can pick-up the student. Staff and visitors (that arrive for the safety and well-being of our students) that have a body temperature above 100°F will be denied entry to the building. All confidential health data/information will only be released to family members and upon request from local health department/contact tracer.

Staff completing health screenings are to make a visual inspection of the student for signs of illness which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness.

The health screen data collection will be in the form of a student roster; indicating that a temperature reading was completed and is in the acceptable range according to CDC and DOH guidelines,  and that the student did not positively answer any responses to DOH’s Daily Health Screening Questionnaire.

Families and staff are to notify St. Thomas the Apostle School if and when they develop symptoms, or if their answers to the questionnaire change during or outside school hours. Families and staff are strongly encouraged to send an email to tkane@stthomas-school.org indicating their health circumstances.  Families and staff may also call St. Thomas the Apostle School at 518-439-5573 to provide contact information, name and grade of student and current symptoms.

St. Thomas the Apostle School nurse or COVID-19 Coordinator will review incoming reports of screening by staff and parents/guardians and attest that they are completed.

St. Thomas the Apostle School nurse or COVID-19 Coordinator, Tom Kane, principal have been identified as the contact for staff or students to inform if they later experience COVID-19 symptoms.

Families and staff will be reminded daily through signage and electronic communication the importance of adhering to STS’s Health Screening Policy.

Additional school temperature screening protocols, including:

Students will be screened for temperatures at their respective drop off points at the school.  Staff will be trained in the proper protocols and procedures.  No records will be kept.

Students that are transported to/from school via bus transportation will be supervised by St. Thomas the Apostle School staff as they await their daily health screening.

Six foot social distancing and face coverings are required to be worn while awaiting screening.

Staff members who perform temperature and health screenings will be trained on the operation of the non-contact thermometer and screening methods recommended by the CDC.

PPE in the form of a cloth face covering and gloves is required to be worn by staff conducting health screenings. St. Thomas the Apostle School will provide all PPE required to be worn during health screenings. Additionally, face shields will be made available for all screening staff. 

  

Health Hygiene Practices

St. Thomas the Apostle School will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout St. Thomas the Apostle School (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, hallways, auditorium, staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with St. Thomas the Apostle School community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:

  1. Stay home if they feel sick.
  2. Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by St. Thomas the Apostle School.
  3. Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
  4. Adhere to social distancing instructions.
  5. Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
  6. Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  7. Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Hand Hygiene

Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices. 

  • Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.

Hand washing should occur:

  • Upon arrival to school

  • Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).

  • After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.

  • After using a tissue.

  • Before and after using shared materials.

  • Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.

  • After coming in from the outdoors.

  • Anytime hands are visibly soiled.


Respiratory Hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, St. Thomas the Apostle School will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene.

Students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.

  • Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately. 
  • If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
  • Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.

For more information about how hygiene information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

  

Social Distancing

St. Thomas the Apostle School has developed a plan with policies and procedures for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and boarding and onboarding district bus transportation. Training on the procedures for maintaining 6 feet social distancing will be provided to staff and students during orientation days. Additional verbal and print reminders will become part of the everyday reminders to students as they move through the building.

Social Distancing procedures include but are not limited to:

Red and Green directional arrows in hallways with plastic stanchions strategically placed creating one way directional movement.

Physical equipment will serve to remind and measure 6 foot spaces in classrooms, hallways, cafeteria and for students waiting in lines, or moving in the hallways. Physical equipment can include safety cones, colored dots placed on floors and walls, colored tape on floors and / or colored X on cafeteria table seats.

Smaller spaces will be posted with signage indicating the maximum number of students or staff allowed.

If social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, proper face coverings must be worn.  Face coverings must be worn in common areas such as hallways or school buses. For those medically unable to wear face coverings, a physical barrier, alternative location, additional social distancing and/or the relocation of others will assist with the medical accommodation.

The availability of safe transportation and local hospital capacity in consultation with local department of health officials were considered in the development of this reopening plan. 

  

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings
(updated 9/3/2020) 

Students, staff and visitors (that enter for the safety and well-being of students) will be expected to wear face coverings at all time both indoors and outside, including on the school bus. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings only while eating, drinking and during scheduled mask breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.

Face coverings are required in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around St. Thomas the Apostle School.

Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.

An employee is allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose. Employees with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so.

Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, so there may be scheduled face mask breaks.

Face coverings should not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance

St. Thomas the Apostle School will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:

  • The proper way to wear face coverings
  • Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
  • Proper way to discard disposable face coverings

Staff training on social distancing requirements, face coverings, hygiene, and PPE will be provided by local health officials and administrative staff. The recommendations of methods, protocols and guidelines for trainings related to health and safety are provided by CDC Guidance and New York State Education Department Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools Reopening Guidance

One time use and reusable cloth face masks will be provided to students, staff and visitors that are needed for the safety and well-being of our students that arrive without one. In the event a student’s mask is soiled, one will be provided to the student. St. Thomas the Apostle School has procured PPE from multiple distributors, ensuring an adequate supply to meet the needs of the staff and student body.

  

Management of Ill persons, Contact Tracing and Monitoring

St. Thomas the Apostle School requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during St. Thomas the Apostle School day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see St. Thomas the Apostle School nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. St. Thomas the Apostle School has designated areas to separate individuals with COVID- 19 like symptoms from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.

Students that are presenting with COVID-19 like symptoms of illness are to be treated in the nurse’s office accessible from the main hallway of St. Thomas the Apostle School. Staff are directed to use the intercom system to call the main office prior to sending a student to the nurse’s office. Students that need wound care, medication or nursing treatments will receive these services in a separate space created with physical barriers. 

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspected or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.

School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.


Aerosol Generating Procedures

Respiratory treatments administered by nurses generally result in aerosolization of respiratory secretions. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) potentially put healthcare personnel and others at an increased risk for pathogen exposure and infection. St. Thomas the Apostle School requires the following PPE to be worn during AGPs: gloves, N-95 or a surgical mask with face shield, eye protection and a gown. PPE will be used when: suctioning, administering nebulizer treatments, or using peak flow meters with students who have respiratory conditions.

Treatments such as nebulized medication treatments and oral or tracheostomy suctioning will be conducted in a room separate from others with nursing personnel wearing appropriate PPE. For nebulizer treatments, if developmentally appropriate, the nurse will leave the room and return when the nebulizer treatment is finished.

Cleaning of the room will occur between use and cleaning of the equipment should be done following manufacturer’s instructions after each use.  

 

If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of COVID-19 at School

St. Thomas the Apostle School requires students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will be separated by at least 6 feet. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources on COVID-19 testing.

  

Return to School After Illness

St. Thomas the Apostle School has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:

  1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
  2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
  3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

St. Thomas the Apostle School will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

St. Thomas the Apostle School requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.


COVID-19 Testing

St. Thomas the Apostle School will comply with CDC guidance and NOT conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the administration will work with the Albany County Department of Health to secure appropriate testing protocol.

 

Contact Tracing

St. Thomas the Apostle will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, St. Thomas the Apostle School has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.  

St. Thomas the Apostle School will assist with contact tracing by:

  1. Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
  2. Ensuring student schedules are up to date
  3. Keeping a log of any visitor that enters for the safety and well-being of students which includes date and time, and where in St. Thomas the Apostle School they visited
  4. Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program

If/when COVID-19 cases are discovered in St. Thomas the Apostle School, in consultation with the local health department, the school will proceed according to their provided guidance. Timely and appropriate communication to the St. Thomas community will be through existing communication channels.

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

For more information about how COVID-19 containment efforts will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.


School Closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education and/or closing St. Thomas the Apostle School. St. Thomas the Apostle School will collaborate with the local health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

At a minimum, the plan will incorporate the following:

Conditions may warrant reducing in-person education or closing St. Thomas the Apostle School, in consultation with state and local health departments, and we plan for an orderly closure; such conditions may include:

  • Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1.
  • Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
  • Schools in regions in Phase IV can reopen if the daily infection rate remains at or below 5% using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the LOCAL (Albany County) health department.
  • If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%.
  • Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
  • School will be notified by Albany Health Department on the situation.
  • School administrators will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of St. Thomas the Apostle School to operate safely.
  • St. Thomas may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
  • St. Thomas the Apostle School will consult their school nurse and the local department of health when making such decisions.

For more information about how school closure information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

  

Cleaning and Disinfecting

St. Thomas the Apostle School will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Cleaning and disinfection logs will be maintained that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.

Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include

  • Bathrooms
  • Health offices, isolation rooms
  • Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
  • Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, handrails, copy machine keypads, etc.)
  • Cafeterias/Kitchens
  • Classrooms
  • Maintenance offices and work areas
  • Libraries
  • Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
  • Playgrounds (cleaning only)
  • Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)

Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.

St. Thomas the Apostle School will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around St. Thomas the Apostle School, as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed. 

St. Thomas the Apostle School will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.  

For more information about how cleaning and disinfection information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

  

Vulnerable Populations/Accommodations

We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal to provide reasonable accommodations that ensure these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities. 

  • For students choosing to participate remotely, technology will be provided to assist them.

  • Staff members can expect reasonable accommodations to allow them to fulfill their professional duties in a manner that mitigates the risk to their health.

  

Visitors on Campus

No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on St. Thomas the Apostle School campus, except for the safety and well-being of students. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school building.

Visitors must follow all safety protocols as listed above.




Facilities Guidance

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in St. Thomas the Apostle School, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly. In carrying out projects or tasks supporting infection control, requirements will be met for changes associated with building spaces. Plans for changes or additions to facilities will be submitted to comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC) and the State Energy Conservation Code.

The function, position and operation of stairs and corridor doors, which have closers with automatic hold opens (and are automatically released by the fire alarm system), will remain unchanged.

St. Thomas the Apostle School plans to meet the deadline for submission of Building Condition Survey or Occupational Safety Inspections on time.

Upon reopening, St. Thomas the Apostle School plans to increase ventilation, to the greatest extent possible. Water systems will be flushed in buildings that have been unoccupied.

St. Thomas the Apostle School will revisit Emergency Response Plans, protocols, and procedures and make modifications in light of COVID-19.   

The facilities reopening plan and activities which will occur include:

  • Fire Code Compliance: The construction, alteration, relocation, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, maintenance, removal, and demolition of every building or structure, and every appurtenance connected or attached to any building or structure, must comply with the requirements of the 2020 New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (BC), except as specified in 19 NYCRR 1221.2(d). Such activity may require building permits and review by local municipalities and/or code enforcement officials to ensure such compliance.  St. Thomas the Apostle School will consult their local authority that has  jurisdiction for code enforcement (Town of Bethlehem). Changes or additions to facilities may require review by local municipalities and/or code enforcement officials to ensure such compliance. 

  • Doorways: Any doors that have closers with automatic hold opens are normally held in the open position and are automatically released by the fire alarm system. The function, position, and operation of those doors must remain unchanged. Fortunately, they need not be touched during normal use.

  • Time Management: St. Thomas the Apostle School leaders will manage time and schedules to reduce student use of the corridors. 

  • Leave Doors Open: When children are entering or exiting the school, to reduce the spread of the virus from touching door levers and knobs, doors will be fixed in the open position with a staff member present. This is only permitted at doors without door closers and doors which are not fire rated.

  • Plastic Separators: The use of light-transmitting plastics will be used in locations where social distance or mask requirements cannot be complied with or easily regulated (e.g., to separate individual lavatory sinks from each other). Light-transmitting plastics will comply with Building Code Section 2606.

  • Alcohol-Based Hand Rub Dispensers: St. Thomas the Apostle School will provide adequate hand washing facilities and determine the most effective use of alcohol-based hand rub dispensers. Alcohol-based Hand-Rub Dispensers are permitted to be installed in rooms and corridors in limited quantities in accordance with the 2020 Fire Code of New York State (FCNYS) Section 5705.5.

  • Dividers at Doors and Other Points of Congregation: Any modification to an egress point that will include a divider or spacer (meant to control commingling) will be approved by local code enforcement. 

  • Work with engineers to establish proper filtration requirements: St. Thomas has consulted with engineers and contracted for the installation of a mechanical ventilation system.        

  • Alterations to the configuration of existing classrooms or spaces or the introduction of temporary and/or movable partitions, the change must be submitted to the local municipality and/or code enforcement officials for review.

  • Any tent, either temporary and permanent, that is used by St. Thomas the Apostle School is regulated by code and must be submitted for a building permit.

  • St. Thomas will maintain the minimum number of toilet fixtures that must be available for use in a building as established in the building code.

  • Drinking Water Facilities: St. Thomas will maintain one drinking fountain for each one hundred occupants.

  • St. Thomas will maintain adequate, code required ventilation (natural or mechanical) as designed.


Infection Control Strategies

St. Thomas the Apostle School will employ infection control strategies including immediate closures of spaces where potentially-infected individuals have spent time; by isolating individuals in designated separate areas immediately; the availability and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the building; use of traffic control strategies that include additional entrances for students and movement within the building.

All students at St. Thomas will be in classrooms with at least six (6) feet of social distancing between student work areas.  We will reduce the number of students in K-4 classrooms (no more than 10) to allow for the natural movement of students in these classrooms without coming within 6 feet of another student.

Students are grouped in grade level cohorts with extremely limited exposure to students in other grade levels. Lunch is brought from home by the students and will be eaten in the classroom.  No hot lunch program exists at St. Thomas.

Special area classes will be provided in the classroom.

Physical education which can be provided outside with 12 feet of social distancing.

  

Additional infection control strategies

  • Arrival and dismissal: Students will enter the building from 4 different entrances depending on grade level.  Students will maintain social distancing when entering the building. Arrival will be staggered over a 45 minute period each day (7:30-8:15)  Dismissal will be staggered from 2:30-3:15 to ensure no commingling. 
  • Increased ventilation: The installation of an AC/Ventilation system will provide the necessary ventilation of air throughout the building.  Teachers will be encouraged to open windows when practical.
  • Plastic separators: The use of clear plastics will be considered for locations in the classroom where students may be working closer than six(6) feet.
  • Portable hand sanitizer dispensers: Where there are limited hand-washing opportunities, alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in rooms and corridors in limited quantities in accordance with health and safety regulations.


Facility Alterations and Acquisition

  • St. Thomas does not anticipate any structural changes to the classrooms and existing classrooms will continue to be used as such.

  • Any addition of moveable partitions will be reviewed and approved by the local code enforcement department.

  • Any change to egress, fire alarm system, ventilation, and lighting may be affected and will be updated on all submitted plans.

  • St. Thomas will use cafeterias, libraries, and gymnasiums as part of our reopening plan: A floor plan of the entire room showing the furniture layout with egress aisles will be published. Lighting, ventilation, means of egress, and fire alarm coverage will be indicated. 


Space Expansion

Tents for Additional Space

  • St. Thomas is considering using a tent as part of an outdoor learning environment.

  • St. Thomas will adhere to all building codes and inspections prior to following any installation of a tent.

  • St. Thomas understands:
    Temporary structures and tents are those erected for 180 days or less. The Building Code Section 3103.1 indicates, “tents and membrane structures erected for a period of less than 180 days shall comply with the Fire Code of NYS”.


Plumbing Facilities and Fixtures

  • The minimum number of toilet fixtures that will be available for use in a building is established in the building code.

  • Drinking fountains are a code required plumbing fixture. One fountain is required for each one hundred occupants.

  • Water system will be flushed prior to school reopening.

  • St. Thomas will install of physical barriers made of clear polycarbonate plastic between toilets and sinks if six feet of separation is not feasible

    • St Thomas is considering installing touch-free paper towel dispensers.

  • St. Thomas School will ensure distancing rules are adhered to by using signage, occupied markers, or other methods to reduce restroom occupancy at any given time, where feasible.


Ventilation

St. Thomas school will provide and maintain the proper ventilation according to Code for all areas in the building.

  • St. Thomas the Apostle School has A/C and ventilation in all classrooms and office space.


School Safety and Emergency Drills

St. Thomas the Apostle School will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. St. Thomas must continue to conduct mandatory fire and lockdown drills according to the existing statutory schedule. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.

Protocols to conduct required school safety drills with modifications ensuring social distancing between persons. Considerations for plans include:

Fire Code Section 404 requires that schools maintain Fire Safety, Evacuation, and Lockdown Plans and these plans include how lockdown and evacuation drills are conducted. Methods to promote and provide for social distancing during the evacuation drills are ultimately the school’s decision and responsibility. Those changes must be included in the Fire Safety plans.

  • Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight (8) evacuation and four (4) lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration should be given to how a school may modify their drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and staff safe in an emergency; however, steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. As such, it may be necessary for schools to conduct drills in the school year using protocols that are different than they are used to.

  • Regardless of the modification used when conducting a drill, students should be instructed that if it was an actual emergency that required evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

Modifications to Lockdown Drills may include, but are not limited to:

  • lockdown drills conducted in classroom settings maintaining social distancing and using masks.

 


                  

Child Nutrition

In the event of closure, or when remote learning, students requiring meals can be provided meals from their home school district.  Arrangements can be made through the school office by calling 518-439-5573.



 

Transportation Guidance

The school will conduct transportation activities that are consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and NYSED School Reopening guidelines. Students and school staff must wear acceptable face coverings on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated) and maintain appropriate social distancing at all times. All students who receive transportation from the public school district are encouraged to adhere to CDC and NYDOH.  

 

School Bus

Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus; however, students whose physical or mental health would be impaired are not required to wear a face covering but must be appropriately socially distanced. Members of the same household may be seated within 6 feet of each other. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. 

School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.  

All students are entitled to transportation by the public school district to the extent required by law. Transportation departments do not have the ability or the right to deny transportation for children who are in foster care, homeless or attend private or charter schools. Parents who may have missed the due date to request out of district transportation due to a reasonable excuse may file a 310 appeal with the Commissioner of Education. 

 

School Bus Staff 

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention.  

School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield.  

Transportation staff (drivers, monitors, attendants, mechanics and cleaners) will be trained and provided periodic refreshers on the proper use of personal protective equipment and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.  

Transportation departments/carriers will need to provide Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves for drivers, monitors and attendants in buses as well as hand sanitizer for all staff in their transportation locations such as dispatch offices, employee lunch/break rooms and/or bus garages.  

Drivers, monitors and attendants who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.


Students on Transportation

  • When students embark and disembark the bus, they will follow social distancing protocols. The limited number of students arriving via bus will not require any additional protocols or steps.  This plan will be updated accordingly.

  • St. Thomas the Apostle School has reconfigured the loading and unloading locations for students who are transported by bus, car or are pedestrians.  

  • Students will have access to hand sanitizer upon entering the building.

For more information about training protocol for students and staff and how transportation information will be communicated, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

 


 

Social Emotional Well-Being

We recognize that the social emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. The school has made available resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. 

The school addresses professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff.  This will be developed and implemented by:

  • Partnering with local healthcare providers
  • Partnering with Catapult Learning for School counseling services

 


 

Religious and Independent School Schedules

TO BE UPDATED following the plan submission to SORIS.

For information about how school schedule information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

 


  

Attendance

St. Thomas will record all student attendance daily. This includes in person and remote learners. Remote learning engagement will be measured by participation in online learning meetings/classes along with the level of work completed by the student and regular checks for understanding.

 


 

Teaching and Learning

All reopening plans rely on the following guiding principles:

  • St. Thomas the Apostle School will adhere to New York state guidelines and ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff.

  • St. Thomas the Apostle School will offer in-person instruction for all students.

  • Remote learning will be an option for all K-8 students.

  • The learning plan will be implemented with flexibility in mind; St. Thomas the Apostle School will likely need to adjust due to changing conditions associated with COVID-19.

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, St. Thomas the Apostle School will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration. 

As we enter the new school year, our teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels. 

For students, several days at the beginning of the year, depending on the grade level, will be used for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.

We anticipate that students will have the opportunity to be benchmarked prior to the start of the school year.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

 

In-person Instruction
Updated 9/3/2020

 

Planning for the 2020-21 school year against the backdrop of COVID-19 requires flexibility in determining the scope of in-person instruction. Public health data and decisions made by New York State may determine whether:

  • All students return for in-person instruction, with social distancing

  • In-person instruction is prioritized for certain groups of students, with social distancing

  • School buildings are closed and instruction is remote only

Upon school buildings reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart in all directions.

K-4: Learning cohorts no larger than 10; class cohorts no larger than 20.

5-8: Class cohorts no larger than 21.

Students, staff and visitors (that enter for the safety and well-being of students) will be expected to wear face coverings at all times both indoors and outside, including on the school bus. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings only while eating, drinking and during scheduled mask breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. Face coverings must be worn in all common areas including but not limited to hallways, restrooms, offices. Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering will not be required to wear one.

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students may necessitate that desks are positioned facing the same direction. Some classrooms will be reconfigured, with fixed bookcases or partitions removed to increase square footage. Class sections will need to be split during the day to meet social distancing requirements. 

Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of class sections (PK-4) needed to ensure social distancing.  Aides will be hired to help supervise and offer academic support during the instructional day.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards and diocesan guidelines.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This means students will eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria. Accommodations will be made for students with food allergies. In addition, there will be no assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities.

Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom.  Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. St. Thomas the Apostle School will adhere to a 12-foot distance between students when engaging in physical activity. Health guidelines require there is 12-foot social distancing for physical education as well as chorus and band instruction.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

 

Remote Learning

In the Remote Learning model:

  • A remote learning option will be available for students in K-8.

  • In the event of a school closure, instruction will switch to virtual-only learning, PK-8

K-4 Remote Learning:

St. Thomas the Apostle School is in the process of configuring a combination of live-streamed lessons, recorded lessons, and online access to instructional materials for students who choose to learn remotely.  St. Thomas the Apostle School will work with families to ensure they have the proper broadband connection and technological hardware to ensure a positive educational experience.

Prior to starting remote learning, the parent/guardian will meet with the school administration to set a schedule and expectations for the remote experience.

K-4 students choosing to learn remotely will be required to maintain a set daily schedule that may include a combination of live streamed lessons, recorded lessons, and the timely submission of work. Due to the changing nature of the guidelines, it is possible that a dedicated teacher who only works with remote learners will provide the live lessons. 

Proper broadband connections are necessary for remote learning. Hardware and software will be made available to students who will learn remotely.

Please note that if schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

5-8 Remote Learning:

Students will participate in all classes in real time via livestream. Students will be expected to follow their normal academic schedule during class time and submit their work in a timely manner. It is expected that students will complete all their work on their own and not receive assistance on tests and other measures as directed by the teacher.

Proper broadband connections are necessary for remote learning. Hardware, and software will be made available to students who will learn remotely. 

Prior to starting remote learning, the parent/guardian will meet with the school administration to set a schedule and expectations for the remote experience.

Please note that if schools are ordered to be all virtual, the Remote Learning model as described above could be different.

Long-term or short term closures may occur as a result of COVID-19 infection rates. In the event the school must close for any period of time, St. Thomas the Apostle School designed a hybrid learning model.  This model has a schedule that will allow it to continue in a completely remote model.

Instruction will continue in all core subject areas. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Remote learning opportunities for students in the middle grades (5-8) will include a greater emphasis on instruction in real time, with live instruction being seen via video calls such as Google Meets or Zoom. Lessons will be recorded for students unable to connect during the scheduled time.

St. Thomas the Apostle School will make every effort to standardized the remote learning platform to ensure quality experiences for those learning remotely. Instruction for both students and parents will be available to set up the necessary connection.

Students will be evaluated following a standards based framework that allows for regular and timely feedback.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

 

Technology and Connectivity

St. Thomas the Apostle School has enough technology in the form of Chromebooks to be a 1:1 school.  We can provide a device to each student when necessary.

When schools closed in spring 2020, we were able to collect information from families about their access to broadband internet at their homes. We will survey parents before the beginning of school to determine areas of need for any family who will need to learn remotely.

A device distribution plan will be put in place to meet the technology needs of both students and staff for the 2020-21 school year.

 


  

Athletics and School Activities  

 

Liturgy

No liturgical services will be provided until further notice.


Faith Formation

Faith formation classes will not be held in the school building until further notice.


Extracurriculars

No in person extra -curricular activities are currently planned for the reopening of school.

We are currently working on creating virtual activities, or activities which can be safely practiced while adhering to the social distance guidelines outlined in this plan.

Currently, Interscholastic sports, including CYO, are not permitted at the time of publication of this guidance, and additional information on athletic activities is forthcoming. 


Childcare

These is no morning care at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

After care will be designed by cohort and will not involve comingingling of cohorts. Adjustments to this plan will be posted as needed.

Policies regarding before and aftercare programs include social distancing, PPE usage, cleaning and disinfection requirements, as well as risk of COVID-19 transmission. Protocols in how to maintain cohorts, if applicable, or group members of the same household will be considered.

 


 

 Bilingual Education and World Languages

  • St. Thomas currently enrolls no students requiring instructional units of study as ELLs.

  • Students in Grades 6-8 will continue to receive World Language instruction according to NYS Standards and the commissioner's regulations. 

 


Key References

Additional References