•  

    ***

    Dear Parents and Caregivers – (11.16.20)

    In our recent change to our communications protocols, we had committed to sending any “new” information from the District Office on Friday’s. However, based on recent questions, new information from the state, and questions posed, we wanted to send an update today due to the timeliness of the information. For this version of the Updates, there are seven important items for your attention.       

    1. CLARIFICATION - School Instructional Model Appeals Timeline – A few of you have asked about the December 18 date for our next review of the appeals process as discussed in my last two Updates. To be clear, this is the date by which we will determine whether the rolling appeals process is indeed working and manageable or if we will instead have to return to a set date that parents will need to commit by. This requires no action from parents at this point as our rolling appeals are underway and being utilized by a number of you. Should we determine by or on December 18 that our process needs to be revised, I will update you at that time. 
    1. Instructional Model and Transportation Appeals – To allow us and our Transportation Department to better track the requests for changes on our buses, we are introducing a new form that will be utilized when requesting a change from remote learning to in-person or from parent/caregiver provided transportation to District transportation. If you are currently providing transportation to your child(ren) but now need them to ride the bus, please contact the Transportation Department at transportationrequest@bscsd.org to request the new form. Because of space restrictions as set by the NYS DOH requirements, we may not be able to immediately accommodate the request, but you will be put on a waitlist and contacted once an opportunity becomes available. If you wish to appeal for a change in learning model for your child(ren) and will need transportation, please contact your child’s building principal and they will provide you with the necessary forms. 
    1. Testing and Tracing for UPDATE: New York State Cluster Action Initiative – Over the course of the last several weeks, NYS has been detailing the Cluster Action Initiative that is intended to contain any outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus. If our region were to be designated as a “yellow zone” under this initiative, the Department of Health requires that schools who wish to remain open either “test 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation. If the results of the testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% of those tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at that school will no longer be required to continue”, or go fully remote. We are currently working with our District Physician to see if it is possible to partner with a medical firm who can provide the testing necessary for us to meet the 20% requirement. If we are able to identify one, we will then follow up with parents and staff seeking permission/agreement to be tested in such a scenario. If neither of these things are true, we would have to go fully remote. I will continue to update you on our progress in this regard. Again this is being done in case we were to become a designated yellow zone which is currently not the case. 
    1. Notification About Positive Tests – In any instance where we have a COVID-positive case in a student, staff member that will impact the health, safety, or operations of the schools, we will communicate directly with you. Whenever possible, we will send these communications prior to 9:00pm using the text, call, and email features of our School Messenger system. For anything after 9:00pm, we will communicate with you first thing the next morning. 
    1. Winter Sports Opportunities – At the November 4 Board of Education meeting, we presented the Board with the status of winter sports where we proposed to offer low-risk sports (bowling, Alpine skiing, and boys swimming and diving) and, should the state allow for competition in them, high-risk sports (girls and boys varsity basketball, boys hockey, and cheer/dance) in the upcoming season. Since that time, the state has moved the start of winter sports from November 30 to December 14 and has still not made a determination as to whether high-risk sports will be allowed to start. We will update the Board again this week and will continue to keep you posted. 
    1. NYS Education Department (NYSED) Digital Equity Survey – In June 2020, NYSED released a Digital Equity Survey that asked schools to provide data on computing devices and broadband access in students’ and teachers’ locations of residence. While responses were not received from all schools, the data show that the digital divide is a very real and significant concern in our state. As many districts and schools are operating in either a fully remote or hybrid instructional model for at least a portion of their students in the 2020-21 school year, access to dedicated computing devices and sufficient, reliable high-speed internet in students’ and teachers’ places of residence continues to be a significant need. To better serve students, families, and educators, it is imperative that NYSED has, and maintains, an updated, accurate, complete picture of the state of digital equity for New York students and teachers. As such, NYSED is re-issuing the Digital Equity survey and we are asking for parents, teachers, and administrators to complete this survey by Monday, November 30 so that we can share the results with NYSED thereafter. We anticipate this will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We are not surveying students at this time, but do anticipate doing so at a later date. Thank you!
    1. Passing Stopped School Buses – Please remember that when a school bus has its red lights on, it is illegal to pass it from either direction, even on a divided highway! Our transportation staff tells us that this happened a number of times on Route 9 in particular. Currently, the District is piloting a new stop arm system that is even brighter than past models in hopes of reminding drivers to follow these rules and to avoid the tragedy that all too often results from not doing so. 

    Should you have any questions about this information, please do not hesitate to let us know via our school opening email box at schoolopening@bscsd.org. 

    Our continued thanks for your ongoing support! 

    Ken Slentz

    Superintendent of Schools

    ***

    Dear Parents and Caregivers – (11.06.20)

    For this version of the Updates, there are four important items for your attention.       

    1. District Attendance Plans versus School Instructional Models – In our last update we noted that instead of holding you to the specific date of November 20 before we would allow a change to instructional models for your children (hybrid to remote or remote to hybrid), we would instead be utilizing a “rolling” appeals procedure through the next several weeks until December 18. This is for the instructional model only and should not be confused with our in-person attendance plans for each level – K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. As a reminder the plans are as follows based on the number of students that we can accommodate in our buildings and on our buses:
      1. Grades K-5 attend Monday – Thursday. All students are fully remote on Fridays.
      2. Grades 6-8 are divided in half by alphabet with ½ attending on Monday and Tuesday and the other ½ attending Wednesday and Thursday. All students learn remotely on Fridays.
      3. Grades 9-12 attend in-person every other week with grades 9 and 10 one week and grades 11 and 12 the other week. Students are fully remote on the alternative week. All students learn remotely on Fridays. 
    1. UPDATE: Traveling during the Holidays to NYS Advisory States – On Saturday, October 31 the Governor issued Executive Order 205.2 and the NYS Department of Health subsequently issued Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following out of State Travel on Tuesday, November 3. The Guidance states, in part, that

    All travelers entering New York from a state that is not a contiguous state*, or from a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice country, shall quarantine for a period of 14 days, consistent with Department of Health regulations for quarantine, unless: 1. For travelers who traveled outside of New York for more than 24 hours, such travelers must obtain testing within 72 hours prior to arrival in New York, AND 2. Such travelers must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine according to Department of Health guidelines, for a minimum of three days, measured from time of arrival, and on day 4 may seek a diagnostic test to exit quarantine.   

    *Contiguous states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. Travelers from these states are not subject to this guidance. Travelers who leave New York State for less than 24 hours do not need to obtain a diagnostic test before departing and do not need to quarantine upon return. However, such travelers must fill out the traveler form upon entry and must obtain a diagnostic test on the fourth day after arrival in New York.

    Please see the attached document from Saratoga County Public Health Services- Saratoga County Holiday Travel Guidelines

     

    1. School Closure in Anticipation of Uptick in CasesAlthough this question is becoming increasingly common in the region, we have no such inclination at this time given the success in the District and the region in controlling the spread of the virus to this point. That said, as with all things that we are collectively dealing with this year, should the data change and tell a different story, we will have the necessary conversations, adjust our thinking where it is advisable to do so, and keep you informed as we do. For now, I ask that we stay focused on staying healthy and well, and remember that Staying Vigilant Means Staying Open. 
    1. Winter Sports Opportunities – At this week’s meeting of the Board of Education meeting, administrators discussed a draft proposal to the Board for winter sports. This proposal was based on lessons learned from school reopenings across the state and country (cases are not being generated from schools) and over the course of our District’s last five weeks of our hybrid model. Our current proposal is to offer low-risk sports (Bowling, Alpine Skiing, and Boys Swimming and Diving) and, should the state allow for competition in them, high-risk sports (Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball, Boys Hockey, and Cheer/Dance) in the upcoming season. We are only able to offer Varsity level only for basketball as we have reduced gym space based on temporary classrooms occupying may of our gyms. We are now awaiting the release of additional guidance from the state before going back to the Board on November 18 with a final recommendation. I will provide any additional information we have in our next Update.

     Should you have any questions about this information, please do not hesitate to let us know via our school opening email box at schoolopening@bscsd.org. 

    Our continued thanks for your ongoing support!

     Ken Slentz

    Superintendent of Schools

    *****

     

    Dear Parents and Caregivers (10.27.20)

    For this version of the Updates, there are nine important items for your attention as we are in the process of making a number of changes to current processes and procedures.

    1. November 20 Change in Instructional Model (remote to in-person, or in-person to remote) Process – As an important component of managing our reopening in a way that allowed for as much consistency as possible in our class structures, we asked you to commit to the instructional model of choice - remote or in-person - for your children until November 20. During our reopening plan development, we anticipated reviewing appeals that day and making decisions accordingly. We now believe that this process would likely cause more disruptions than any of us can afford at this time.

    With 6 weeks of experience behind us now, we will move from a November 20 appeals day to an ongoing or “rolling” appeals procedure through the next several weeks until    December 18. Depending on level – elementary or secondary – this process may look a bit different and we may not be able to accommodate your request right away. Under the rolling appeals process, if your request for a change in instructional model cannot be accommodated immediately, you will be put on a waitlist and contacted once an opportunity becomes available for your child in the model that you prefer. While this may cause some delays in placement of our students, we believe that this will cause the least amount of disruption to our students’ education. Our goal in this process is to ensure that any additional adjustments allow for greater predictability and consistency in our classes while trying to maintain as much flexibility for students and families as we can.

    Therefore, if you are interested in a change in instructional program for your child - moving from in-person to remote learning or from remote to in-person learning, please contact your child’s building principal and they will assist you in the process and subsequently notify you of the determination.

    1. Traveling During the Holidays to NYS Advisory States – We discourage travel to states that are on the NYS Travel Advisory list at this time due to the disruption that it will cause to a student’s education upon their return. If a family still chooses to travel, they must be sure to register with the NYS Department of Health upon their return (register at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory) so that tracers can contact them each day to ensure that family members are symptom-free. Travelers including students will also be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon your return. Because this situation is not caused by a positive test or an exposure to a COVID-positive individuals, we do not have the ability for all such students to move out of in-person learning to remote learning for this short period of time due to the disruptions that this can cause. Given the hybrid model that is currently in place in nearly all classes in grades 6-12, students may request permission from the building principal to attend class remotely for the quarantining period. However, because we do not have the hybrid model in place in the majority of our K-5 classes (and those that do have a hybrid model are very carefully balanced), elementary students will instead be provided with materials, resources, and supports that will allow the student to keep pace with the class to the greatest extent possible during the absence. For all students, these arrangements would continue until such time as the quarantine period ends and the student is cleared to return to in-person learning.
    1. Testing and Tracing Impact - As noted in my last update, we have revised our processes and protocols in our COVID-19 Protocol for Evaluation of Symptomatic Illness and Testing and Tracing document. We continue to update this document based on situations that arise and our learning from them, as well as on updates and directives from the Department of Health and our District Physician. Please review this document to ensure that you understand what our action steps will be when we are notified of a positive test result from a student or staff member or an exposure of a student or staff member to a COVID-positive individual. In addition, we continue to review our communications protocol to ensure that we are providing as much information as possible while also being sure to protect the health rights of those students and staff involved in tracing. Moving forward, we will include the name of the school, the status (opened, closed, partially opened, etc.) and what can be expected for next steps from both the District and the Department of Health. Please know that we will not provide any specific information beyond this.
    1. Closure Due to Positive COVID Case and Tracing – If an entire classroom, building, or all schools must close due to COVID-related reasons, students would move to fully remote instruction the following day. If only certain students who attend an in-person class are required to quarantine, the following steps will be taken:
      1. K-5, 5 days or less – the student(s) will be provided with class work materials, resources, and supports that will allow the student to keep pace with the class to the greatest extent possible during the absence.
      2. K-5, more than 5 days – the teachers and principal will work to determine the best solution for the student(s).
      3. 6 – 12 – students will participate in classes through remote instruction.
    1. Using Cameras During Google Meet Sessions – Beginning Monday, November 2, all students will be required to have their cameras on during class sessions unless:
      1. The teacher gives permission for “cameras off” or
      2. A parents has permission from the principal to keep their child’s camera off due to specific circumstances which they describe to the principal. In these cases, students must commit to remaining engaged with the teacher as follows:
        1. Responding when called upon without exception,
        2. Responding to questions/prompts in the chat feature of Meet when asked, and
        3. Turning the camera on when both formal and informal assessments are being given.
    1. Election Day Schedule: On November 3, we are scheduled for a half day of instruction and a half Superintendent Conference Day. As I believe you are all aware now, in order to give everyone the opportunity to maximize instructional time and practice with remote learning, the half instructional day will be fully remote for all grades. Building principals have or will be notifying parents of this as well. 
    1. Snow Days in the 2020-2021 School Year – For the coming winter months, our processes will be a bit different than in the past.
      1. Weather-related Delay – on those mornings where we and our town highway departments need a bit more time to clear our campuses and our roads,
        1. Students in grades 6-12 will be fully remote and will follow their regular schedule for the day and attendance will be taken.
        2. Students in grades K-5 will be on a 1-hour delay for both remote and in-person learning and attendance will be taken.
      2. Weather-related Closure – While full closure will remain an option, 
        1. Advanced Notice – on those days where the weather is such that we are able to announce a closure the day/evening before, we may utilize a fully remote, synchronous (students are learning with the teacher via Google Meet) schedule depending on whether power is available in all parts of the District. Students would attend according to the regular schedule for the day and attendance will be taken.
        2. “Morning of” Notice – on days where we have to make the call by 6:00am, we may utilize a fully remote, asynchronous (students are learning independently student work without the teacher using assignments on Schoology) schedule depending on whether power is available in all parts of the District. Additional details will be forthcoming on this option.

    Our closure announcement on TV, the website, and School Messenger would include this information as well as BOCES, ECHS P-TECH and Parochial School information. We will also be sure to note the difference between school closure and District closure so as to be clear regarding who must be on our campuses that day.

    1. Improving Consistency in Communications – With our dependence on email as our major form of communication continuing to grow, we want to be as efficient as possible while also giving families as great a degree of predictability as possible as to when communications can be expected. Therefore, beginning the week of Monday, November 2, the following communications processes will take place:
      1. K-5 Parent/Caregiver information – All new information coming from the elementary schools will be sent on Thursdays.
      2. 6-12 Parent/Caregiver Information – All new information coming from the middle and high schools will be sent on Wednesdays
      3. District Office Communication – This information will be sent out on Fridays.

    While reminders may periodically be sent on other days, all new information will follow this process.

    1. School Lunch Updates – Beginning Monday November 2nd the school lunch program at all elementary schools will undergo several changes. These changes are being made to address issues incurred during the past several weeks. Your patience is appreciated during these challenging times.
      1. Parent Meal Order Forms – The meal order form sent home with students will no longer be necessary. Students will order their lunch meals during breakfast each day.
      2. Breakfast – There will be one choice each day for breakfast. This meal will include the entrée, a portion of fruit or juice, and milk. No advance ordering is necessary.
      3. Lunch – For lunch there will be a hot and cold option available daily. The main entrée will rotate each day and will include the entrée, a vegetable, fresh fruit, and milk. The second option will be the bagel/yogurt meal which includes a vegetable, fruit and milk as well. As mentioned, this will be ordered by students during breakfast.

    All meals will be free for all students throughout the school year and milk is available for purchase (charged to student accounts) and/or is available free with meals.

    Should you have any questions about this information, please do not hesitate to let us know via our school opening email box at schoolopening@bscsd.org.

    On behalf of all of, thanks very much for your ongoing support.

    Ken

    Ken Slentz

    Superintendent of Schools

    *****

    Phasing In Our Students to Schools and Campuses: (10.5.20)

    • September 21 – Varsity-level “lower-risk” sports begin practicing following the rules set forward by the Athletic Department and the Department of Health.
    • September 28 – Certain Special Education students in self-contained classrooms will begin to attend in-school so as to allow them to learn routines, expectations, and protocols before their peers join them.
    • October 5 – The District’s hybrid model begins with transportation and in-person-learning.

    Expectations for reopening: As we move towards students returning to the classrooms, just a few reminders for everyone:

    • Cover up – Wear Masks. This is a rule, plain and simple. Please work to build the habit for yourselves, for each other, and as models for our students. Please also reinforce this rule with students and colleagues alike. As an update on what constitutes a mask according to the CDC (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.)  Specifically, the guidance notes the following:
      • Further, the NYS Department of Health states that face shields worn without other face coverings are not considered adequate protection or source control against COVID-19 and should not be used.
      • Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
      • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
      • Masks should be worn by people two years and older
      • Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance
      • Do NOT wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators
      • CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters or face shields. Evaluation of these face coverings is on-going but effectiveness is unknown at this time.
    • Wash up – Please continue to practice hand and coughing/sneezing hygiene.
    • Keep your distance – maintain at least 6 feet apart (12 ft if in PE or music/band) when on the buses, in hallways, and in classrooms.

    Thanks again to all of you for your patience and partnership as we work through these first few weeks of school reopening. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school office for additional information or clarifications.

    The Path Forward: Returning to School: Ballston Spa Central School District | WRGB 

    *****

    Dear Parents and Community Members:  (09.13.20)

    Welcome (again) to the 2020-21 school year in Ballston Spa. Below, please find the latest updates on a number of topics related to our reopening with the start of remote learning for all students on September 14. Before I get to that information though, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the significance of this past Friday. Although it now seems like forever ago, September 11, 2001 remains deeply engrained in so many of our memories as the day the world stood still. As I noted to our team on Friday morning, for our students, this is now one of many days that they read about in textbooks and in various memorials for the day. That is both good and regrettable as history is so often forgotten in the fast-paced world in which we now live. But while the world stage has certainly changed since that time, the memories have not. For those of you who were directly impacted by this event and particularly those who lost acquaintances, friends, and loved ones in the events of that day, please accept our sincere condolences. We have not forgotten.

    1. Student Orientation – Thanks so much to you all for working with building leaders, faculty, and staff in picking up the instructional materials, Chromebooks and for taking the time to participate in last week’s orientation days. As we went through each day, it was so gratifying to see the students and the readiness they are displaying to get back to their schooling. For those that were not able to attend the orientation days, please be sure to stay in close contact with your child’s teacher and principal just as you would in a typical school year.
    2. Technology Challenges – Gone are the days where our biggest technology challenge was resetting the time on the VCR after a power outage. We are now dealing with a wide variety of challenges that could arise at any given time due to our dependency on technology in our reopening models. Please be assured that when such challenges arise, we will work as quickly as we can to resolve them so as to keep the focus on teaching and learning. To assist with this, please be sure to review the information sent by building principals so as to familiarize yourselves with the assistance that is available and to help establish routines and expectations of your children over the coming weeks. Your partnership with us in this regard is greatly appreciated! Please also keep in mind that because this is still new to students and teachers alike, there are going to be areas that don’t yet equate to in-person learning. We are absolutely committed to getting better each day once we go “live” with our online learning, but we want to keep it simple to start so as to maintain our focus and build early successes that we can expand upon as we move forward. As I noted to our staff in a recent update, if our first assumption is that everyone has positive intent, we will be off to a good start.
    3. Visitors to our Schools – As a reminder, no walk-in visitors will be allowed to our schools until further notice. All visitors must have an appointment and will be asked to complete a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken at the front desk before being allowed to proceed into the building. Masks must be worn at all times. If a wellness check or wearing of masks is refused, entry into the building will also have to be refused in order to keep everyone in the district healthy and safe. As I have said before, if each of us plays our part in adhering to the rules of reopening and health and safety in particular, we will have fewer disruptions and the chances of getting back to a more typical year will be that much greater.
    4. Fall 2020 Athletics – On Monday, September 14 at 6:00pm, the Board of Education will hold a special meeting to address the fall sports season based on the guidance provided by the State Department of Health and the State Public High School Athletic Association, and the capacity of the District to host the available sports. For additional information on how to attend, please check our website HERE.
    5. Food Service Begins This Week – Just a reminder that our food service program begins this week on Monday, September 14. For information on where meals can be picked up, please check our website HERE.
    6. Communications – Just like the typical school year, please direct questions or concerns to your child’s teacher, school counselor, or building principal so as to get the most detailed and timely responses. We will continue our periodic Updates, newsletters, and video messages to keep you as informed as possible given the likelihood of ongoing changes including the impact of positive COVID-19 tests on students and staff or quarantining because of contact tracing procedures by county health departments.
    7. Get Better Each Day – Finally, as I noted to our staff on our opening day, my challenge and expectation is that as we reopen with our various phase-ins over the coming weeks, we will work diligently to get better every day. We will rely on our internal partnerships, our parent partnerships, and our community partnerships to make this happen as our District mantra – Educating Everyone Takes Everyone – comes to life starting tomorrow morning.

    We are so very excited to start the teaching and learning for the year. We look forward to working together to provide our students with every opportunity that we can in order to get them off to an excellent start this year.

    Most sincerely and with many thanks-

    Ken Slentz

    Superintendent of Schools

    Ballston Spa CSD

    *****

    Dear Parents and Caregivers: (09.03.20)

    Please review the latest video message from the Superintendent for an update on our reopening plans. It is posted HERE.
    The slides are also posted HERE.
    The reopening plan summary is located in the reopening information HERE .

    Thank you

    *****

    Dear Parents and Caregivers of BSCSD students: (08.26.20)

    As I noted in the Updates sent earlier this week, we are asking you to fill out the 2020 Student Registration form for each of your children for our hybrid in-person/remote or fully remote learning model (currently scheduled to begin October 5th). This registration process will allow us to know exactly how many students will be attending each of the two models and allow us to finalize our hybrid in-person/remote model. Please be sure to use your child’s legal name (e.g., William Smith instead of Bill Smith) when completing the registration form.

    Please complete the registration process no later than Monday, August 31

    The form and link to various supporting information can be found HERE.  Please note that this is a different form than what is filled out for new students and families, so please go directly to this link as a Google search will take you to the new student section. In addition, please review the information below regarding the District’s Remote Learning Program.  

    One of our goals in all of our planning is to keep our approaches as simple as possible to maximize effectiveness and minimize confusion. To meet this goal and to provide as similar a learning experience as possible for all of our students and to be as consistent as possible for parents, students, and teachers alike, we have the following support structures in place for our Remote Learning Program:

    1. Remote Learning Program description - Please review the overall plan including student and parent expectations HERE.

    2. Common Video Conferencing Platform - Google Meet will be utilized for student and classroom meetings.

    1. Common Learning Management System - Schoology will be the platform for all students and staff across K-12. This online platform is where assignments, assessments, and student work will be housed. Additional information about this platform will be available shortly.  
    2. Common Learning Devices - As many of you experienced in the spring, not every computer shows the same structure/layout for Schoology or other programs that we have in place to support virtual instruction. Therefore, in order to ensure that each student has as similar an experience as possible in their remote learning and to minimize frustrations for all involved, we are asking that every student pick up a district-issued Chromebook to use in our Remote Learning Program. Schedules for pick-up of Chromebooks and instructional support materials will be sent to you from your building administrators.

      5. Technical Assistance - Trainings and Help Desk services for students, parents, and staff will be available to help solve challenges with our programs and platforms. More information will be coming prior to September 14 on these services.

      We look forward to seeing all of our students on screen on September 14, 2020 and remain confident that we will see many of them in person on October 5. As a reminder, we expect to make a final decision about this date by September 18.  Please submit questions to schoolopening@bscsd.org or contact the respective school’s main office for specific information. 

      Thanks very much!

      Ken

      Ken Slentz, Superintendent of Schools

    *****

    Dear Parents and Caregivers: (08.24.20) 

    As we quickly near the opening of school for remote learning on September 14 and in-person learning on October 5, I wanted to provide you with some important, pertinent information as well as important dates:    

    1. August 17 Training Update and Impact– As I recently noted in an update to you last week, one of our staff members tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after having participated in one of our trainings in our high school cafeteria. I also noted that temperatures were taken of those people who were in attendance. After further review of the information, temperatures were in fact not taken during this training and I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. It was certainly not my intention to provide any inaccurate information. Based on our overall review of this and of other meetings that have been held this summer, we will begin implementing the same health and safety protocol for all essential meetings and in-person trainings over the next few weeks that we will utilize during the school year and staff have been notified accordingly. 
    1. Plans for Testing and Tracing– Related to the positive case identification, we received a number of questions about what we will do in such cases if we experience them this fall. Our protocols are included in our draft plans which are posted on the School Reopening Information section of our website which can be found at https://www.bscsd.org/Page/13199. We will continue to revise and report these plans as we receive additional information from the county and state. 
    1. Student Registration for fall– One of the key steps for our October 5 opening for in-person learning is the registration process for the model of learning that our students will choose to participate in – remote or in-person. While the parent survey gave us a good indication that some 23% of our students will remain remote after we open, there were a number of other parents who were undecided and requested more information before making their decision. We now need to know exactly how many students will be attending remotely, and how many will be attending in-person.  To that end, this week we anticipate providing both additional information as well as the registration form for all students. Once we have the responses in hand, we can begin the work of building class schedules, assigning teachers, determining room availability, and assigning grade levels to buildings. Based on our revised model, we now anticipate that all grade levels will be able to remain in their current buildings and we will confirm this once we have the results of the student registration forms. 
    1. Elementary Student Supplies List – By Wednesday of this week, all elementary schools will have their information posted for student supplies for the year ahead. Should you have any questions, please contact the main office of your child’s building. 
    1. Fall Athletics– As you may have seen in the news today, Governor Cuomo has approved limited fall sports to begin on September 21. There are a number of seeming contradictions to existing state level guidance and so the New York State Public High School Athletic Association will be meeting over the coming days to determine how they and the respective sections across the state will manage this. Once we have additional details we will share this with you. 
    1. School District Finances– We have received a few questions regarding what is happening with the tax dollars due to our three week delay for in-person learning. As I mentioned during one of the community forums this past week, the Governor’s Division of the Budget (DOB) issued their latest fiscal update recently (see FY 2021 First Quarterly State Budget Financial Plan Update if interested – warning – it’s a 403 page document!) in which it was stated that, because no additional Federal pandemic aid has been authorized, DOB began withholding 20 percent of most of our state aid payments in June, and that all or a portion of these withholdings would become permanent unless additional federal aid is received, and even then it depends on the amount of aid received. While we had made initial plans to help offset any potential reductions as noted in our budget communications, those plans had to quickly change based on our re-opening planning and the state requirements under which we have to operate. Specifically, we have had to hire additional staff and purchase additional equipment including PPE, cleaning materials and supplies, and cleaning equipment in order to manage our reopening plans. The combination of additional expenditures and decreasing revenue has left us with little to no remaining flexibility in our plans going into the fall and we continue to utilize the tax dollars accordingly. As we expect this situation to continue to evolve, we will continue to update the Board of Education at their upcoming meetings on this topic and I will include information in future updates as well. 

    Despite the many challenges that we face in our reopening planning, it is nonetheless very exciting for us to think about seeing our students on September 14 and to then begin an in-person transition on October 5. Virtual grade level meetings are taking place, orientations are being planned, Chromebook and materials pick up schedules are being built, and our planning teams continue refining the details of our reopening. So long as we all continue to do our part in managing the virus, I fully expect that I will be able to announce on September 18 that we will in fact be ready to go for in-person learning on October 5. 

    On behalf of our entire team, thanks so much for your understanding, support, and partnership as we continue through these uncharted times. 

    Thanks very much. 

    Ken 

    Ken Slentz, Superintendent of Schools

     

    ****

     

    Dear Parents, Caregivers, and Community Members: (08.14.20) 

    As I noted in my communications with you last Friday, Governor Cuomo has announced that schools may  reopen, but that it was up to school district superintendents to make the final decision as to whether they will  reopen so long as the regional infection rates remain low. I am writing today to announce the very difficult decision that I have made in this regard. In short, while our first day of instruction for all students remains Monday, September 14 via remote learning, in-person learning at the Ballston Spa Central School District will not begin until Monday, October 5

    I am incredibly grateful for the amount of time, energy, and the thinking that our many planning teams have devoted in an attempt to allow us to open safely for in-person learning on September 14. However, there are still far too many variables and changes in information at this time for me to say with the necessary confidence that I can keep our students and our staff healthy and safe while also keeping them properly focused on teaching and learning. 

    By announcing this decision today, our intent is to give parents as much time as possible to arrange for the additional child care; for our staff to participate in trainings that focus on strengthening our remote learning program plan; to continue to monitor and learn from the information coming out of schools across the country who are already opening and seeing a number of challenges in doing so; and to continue our preparations for in-person learning to begin on October 5. To this end, our remote learning registration form will not be required at this time, but will be sent as we get closer to October 5 if we are allowed to reopen. 

    Next week, we will hold three community forums to further discuss our rationale, the details of our remote learning plan, and what possibilities might exist for providing childcare and food service for our families. We will also be working to adjust our plans and postings to reflect this change in direction. For the forums, you may submit questions to the schoolopening@bscsd.org mailbox with the subject line “Forum Question” or you may submit the questions via the chat feature of the WebEx platform. More details are posted on our website regarding the dates, times, and format of the forums. 

    Please know that as difficult as it was for me to make this decision, I fully understand that the difficulties that this presents for many of our families is even greater. We will work diligently over the coming weeks to try to find solutions that will be as helpful as possible while also keeping the health and safety of our students, staff, and community at the forefront of every decision that we make. 

    Sincerely, 

    Ken Slentz

    Superintendent of Schools

    Ballston Spa CSD

     

    *****

     

    Dear Parents and Caregivers: (08.07.20)

     As some of you are aware, the Governor announced this afternoon (with a good deal of nuancing) that schools can reopen in September under the rules set forth by the Departments of Health and Education. The Governor will monitor the data between now and then and if there is a spike in positive COVID 19 cases, he will change his decision. 

    The Governor also announced that, in addition to posting our full reopening plan, by next Friday, August 14, we must also post separately our plans for:

    • Remote learning (we continue to work on specific components of how this will be delivered),
    • COVID-19 testing of students and staff, and
    • Contact tracing in a school after a positive test.

     Regarding communications, the Governor directed that all districts must conduct the following by Friday, August 21:

    • At least three discussion sessions with parents which can be held in person or remotely. (To maintain everyone’s health and safety, our sessions will be held through a WebEx virtual meeting platform and the schedule for meetings will be sent and posted on Monday, August 10).
    • At least one discussion with all teachers and administrators about the details of our reopening plan.

     As we continue our planning on the larger plan and for each of these components, we have now posted a revised Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to our school opening webpage. Because there is additional information in the FAQ document and that there are a number of questions to our schoolopening@bscsd.org mailbox that we have not yet been able to answer yet, we are extending the deadline for the completion of our parent survey to Monday, August 10 at 5:00 pm. Please answer each question to the best of your ability with the current information available.

    Finally, on Monday afternoon, August 10, we will post a revised version of our Reopening Plan based on feedback we have received from ongoing meetings at both the District and building level.

    Our continued thanks.

    Ken Slentz
    Superintendent of Schools
    Ballston Spa CSD

     

    ****

     

    Dear Parents and Caregivers of Ballston Spa students – 

    We continue our work and planning for the reopening of schools in September. While we currently have a general plan in which all of the technical requirements from the Department of Health and the State Education Department are met, making this technical plan an operational plan for each of our schools will require additional work and additional information. The work will be in the form of Board of Education communications and feedback; school-based work groups consisting of parents, administrators, teachers, school staff, employee organization leaders;  work with our employee associations; reviewing emails to our schoolopening@bscsd.org mailbox; reviewing and acting upon additional information from the state, and/or reviewing updates from our school district attorneys.  

    For additional information, we are asking for your help in letting us know the intentions that each of you have for your child(ren) for the fall. The parent survey at the link below asks for the key information that will assist us in determining transportation capacity and routes, building organization and classroom structures, our food service arrangement, and how we can best develop a process for gathering student health information prior to the start of school each day. 

    All of this, as I have mentioned before, is contingent upon the announcement from the Governor that schools will be allowed to reopen in September. That announcement is expected next week. Although this will likely be covered in all of the major media outlets, we will nonetheless communicate directly with you once that announcement is made. In the meantime, please be sure to check our School Opening Information page on our website for additional information about our planning. 

    Our thanks for your continued support, patience, and assistance as we work towards September. 

    Ken Slentz
    Superintendent of Schools
    Ballston Spa CSD

     ****

    Please review the Parent Survey Information and the FAQ documents below and then complete the PARENT SURVEY by August 10, 2020 at the following link for each student you have enrolled in the BSCSD:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfcGkA4rwpesItysJ5zdb7svdrXXg6KsWGOqkSgkrsiYJV4WQ/viewform

    Thank You.

    Reopening Plan Parent Survey Information 073020

    Reopening Plan FAQ

     

    *****

    As of July 17, 2020, we have received over 150 pages of guidance from the Governor and the State Education Department. The BSCSD is continuing our group work on developing three reopening models – fully open, fully closed with remote learning, or a hybrid of these two models.

    We will be communicating with parents in the days ahead as to what each of these models looks like, but for each of the plans that include in-person attendance, you can safely assume the following conditions will be in place:

    1. Continued attention to safety and security of students, staff, and, visitors (where they are allowed in our buildings.)
    2. Health checks/screenings of students at various times using various methods throughout the day (please be sure to follow the usual guidelines as to when to keep your child home. See https://www.bscsd.org/health for more information);
    3. Advanced and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of buses and buildings;
    4. Protocol for how we will address and isolate students or staff who become ill  during the school day;
    5. Students and staff wearing of masks/face coverings on buses and in our buildings with certain exceptions;
    6. Social distancing requirements and guidelines at bus stops, on buses, when entering the school building, in the school building, and in our classrooms/labs;
    7. Restrictions on how and where breakfast and lunches will be made available/served;
    8. Training availability for students, staff, and parents on health and safety protocols and effective components of remote learning; and
    9. Continuous communications through consistent form and various means including website, email, social media, direct mailings, voice/text messages, video messages and presentations. 

    Managing our way through a pandemic is a team effort that will rely on each and every one of us to play our part in taking care of ourselves and of one another.

    District Reopening Plans based on the state guidance will be submitted by July 31st; and then a determination about reopening of schools will be made by the Governor during the week of August 1-7, 2020.

    For additional information, please visit the subpages in this section, send your comments/inquires to Schoolopening@bscsd.org or call the BSCSD District Office at (518)884-7195.