Phasing In Our Students to Schools and Campuses:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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-
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 .
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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com or contact the respective school’s main office for specific information.
Thanks very much!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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
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:
- Continued attention to safety and security of students, staff, and, visitors (where they are allowed in our buildings.)
- 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);
- Advanced and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of buses and buildings;
- Protocol for how we will address and isolate students or staff who become ill during the school day;
- Students and staff wearing of masks/face coverings on buses and in our buildings with certain exceptions;
- Social distancing requirements and guidelines at bus stops, on buses, when entering the school building, in the school building, and in our classrooms/labs;
- Restrictions on how and where breakfast and lunches will be made available/served;
- Training availability for students, staff, and parents on health and safety protocols and effective components of remote learning; and
- 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.