Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the 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 meetings/meetings, and one-on-one conversations.

The school remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the school website at https://smsaschool.org, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the website homepage. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals.

As part of its planning for the reopening of school and the new academic year, the school has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to school staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The school will use its existing communication channels – including Swift Reach messaging email, social media, and our website – as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic.

The 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. The school will rely on Swift Reach messaging together with hard copies 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, local health department guidance, and instructional and safety committee planning.

In support of remote learning, the school will make computer devices available to students and teachers where appropriate. If a student or teacher needs a device, they may request one through our technology department.  The technology department will be responsible for distributing devices and keeping track of those devices.  The school will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact their teacher's during remote learning, including email, Google Classroom, and telephone.

The school 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. The school will use Swift Reach messaging together with hardcopies for notification of schedules with advanced notice.

The 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, the school will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ 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:  Through age appropriate videos and signage, in person demonstrations and training, and communications with household students and parents/legal guardians will be taught proper CDC handwashing guidelines.
  • Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove): Through age appropriate videos and signage, in person demonstrations and training, and communications with households students and parents/legal guardians will be taught proper CDC wearing and removal of face coverings.
  • Social distancing: Through age appropriate videos and signage, in person demonstrations and training, visual floor markings throughout the school, and communications with households students and parents/legal guardians will be taught proper CDC social distancing guidelines.
  • Respiratory hygiene: Through age appropriate videos and signage, in person demonstrations and training, and communications with households students and parents/legal guardians will be taught proper CDC respiratory hygiene.
  • Identifying symptoms: Temperatures will be taken for any individual before entering the school, anyone with a temperature above 100.0 degrees will be asked to leave immediately with parent/legal guardians. All staff, faculty, and visitors will complete a COVID-19 screening before entering the building.  If symptoms occur during the day students or staff will be removed and sent to the isolation room with the school nurse.  The school nurse will immediately contact parents and plan for pick up.  Students will be escorted to parents via a dedicated exit with the nurse. All communication regarding notification by parents will be through the nurses email and phone line.   

The school will create and deploy signage throughout the school 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, the 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 age appropriate videos.

The 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 this reopening plan which can be found on our website smsaschool.org.  

In order to share our protocols and safety measures regarding containment we will communicate with stakeholders electronically, written, and by phone when necessary. 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. The school will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

School Closures

The 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.

We will collaborate with local health officials to determine parameters, conditions or metrics, such as increased absenteeism or increased illness,  that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.  The parameters used will be determined in conjunction with the Local Health Department following NYS guidelines.

The school may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The school will consult its school nurse and local 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 impact the ability of the school to operate safely.

If illness/absenteeism exceeds the state’s school population percentage guidelines in school operations will cease and we will begin remote virtual learning immediately.

Once the decision to close the school is determined, students and staff will switch to virtual learning.  The ability to make this transition to virtual learning will be put in place at the onset of school.  All non essential building personnel upon closure will be expected to continue work virtually.  All communication regarding a school closure will be communicated through electronic and written means.