Westfield School Opening Guidelines–SORIS

INTRODUCTION

The Westfield Day School is an independent school located in Armonk, New York, that operates with the consent of the Commissioner as a grade 7-12 school for students with learning disabilities. The school building has been closed since March 12, 2020 due to the CoVid-19 pandemic and it has remained closed following the orders of Governor Cuomo. In keeping with the “continuity of learning” principles established by the Commissioner and Board of Regents, we immediately created an internet-based, full-time school for our students called “E-School”. Using a GOOGLE platform, we maintained our classes and our therapy services which continued through the end of the regular school session and into the summer session. The population of the school is generally between 20-30 students and 12-18 staff members including administrators and therapists. Our building has 16 small classrooms, a larger Commons area for gatherings including lunch, and administrative offices within a 4700 square foot perimeter. In collaboration with staff, parents and administrators (the “stakeholders”), and based on discussions and surveys, the plan represented here has been developed in adherence to the applicable guidelines of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Department of Education (NYSED).
No school activities will operate without meeting the minimum standards set forth in the NY State guidance, as well as applicable federal requirements, including but not limited to such minimum standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and OSHA. These standards will apply to all school activities in operation during the COVID-19 public health emergency until rescinded or amended by the State.
We will create a plan that will include the following considerations:

• Reopening of school facilities for in-person instruction;

• Monitoring health conditions of students and staff to ensure detection of infection;

• Containment to prevent spreading of the disease if infection is detected; and

• Closure if infection cannot be contained or if closure is otherwise necessary and/or required by the state or local department of health.

In formulating these plans, we will be mindful that the course of the pandemic cannot be confidently predicted. It is possible that conditions may warrant reopening, only to have the pandemic worsen again to the extent that the Governor or local health officials would order a new shutdown. Our plans will be flexible and will have contingencies including a physical reopening and a potential reclosing with all scenarios including delivering some or all programming remotely.

I. COMMUNICATION/FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Westfield Day School has engaged with all stakeholders in planning the reopening. This includes staff, parents, and students engaged in meaningful conversation through a zoom platform, emails and telephone discussions. The Reopening Plan and all updates will be posted on our school website. Email groups of each of the stakeholder group has been created and will be utilized for frequent communication and ongoing feedback. The school will work together with families to incur trust and confidence.
Westfield will utilize signage and instruction on safety and hygiene issues which includes encouraging adherence to the CDC and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE, particularly face covering and social distancing. Westfield will continue to communicate with all stakeholders as we either move forward to add additional in-person learning or pull back to less in-person and more distant learning. Additionally, there will be ongoing communication between the school and the local and state health department and NYSED.

II. HEALTH AND SAFETY

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection – The Administrative Assistant will maintain a log that includes date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection. She will also identify cleaning and disinfection frequency for each area of the building and surface types. Staff will be trained and assigned responsibility to maintain the cleaning of their classrooms throughout the school day. Students will be trained in proper methods of hand washing and use of face masks.
Cleaning and Disinfecting – is the primary responsibility of the school’s cleaning service. The following products will be used: Soap and water for routine cleaning and handwashing, hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60% alcohol base available in all rooms and hallways, Tough Guy Disinfectant, Lysol wipes, and when needed a Clorox and water solution. Our routine cleaning and disinfecting will take place daily including bathrooms and all high touch surfaces. Staff will
be assigned to cleaning the areas that their classes use on as frequent a basis as needed.

Staff members will also be given cleaning supplies to clean frequently touched surface areas.

● Water filling stations will be used

● Paper towel dispensers will be used

● Designated disposal stations will be set up and well marked

Screening – All parties entering the building will have their temperatures taken by the school secretary. If an individual has a temperature of 100 degrees or more, the individual will be denied entry into the building. If this is not possible, the person will be directed to an isolated room to await pick up by a parent or family member. The Department of Health will be notified as well as the parent. (See Appendix B) A screening questionnaire will be provided to staff on a daily basis and twice a week to all students. The questionnaire will be sent to parents via email twice a week and require a response for the student to enter the building and to participate in school. (See Appendix A) While in-school, the following practices will be in place to insure a hygienic environment:

● All staff and students will be instructed on proper hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

● Hand washing stations will be identified by proper signage in the building and will contain soap and paper towels and receptacles for disposal of waste.

● Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol will be placed in all classrooms, entrance lobby, hallways and other rooms that do not have sinks. (Parents can opt out of hand sanitizer)

● All will be reminded of the flammable aspect of alcohol based sanitizer

● Signage will be placed throughout the school to remind students of these hygienic practices

● Receptacles for PPE and paper towels will be placed around the building and properly labeled.

● The school’s HVAC filters will keep all windows open as weather permits.

III. FACILITIES GUIDANCE

When students and staff return to the school building for in-person instruction, it will be vitally important that the physical spaces they occupy are configured and maintained in a way that provides the maximum possible protection from spreading the coronavirus. Due to the small physical size of the school and small enrollment, we believe that we can safely accommodate all students and staff at one time in the building. To meet this requirement we have modified and reconfigured spaces and areas to ensure 6 foot social distancing.

Several of these alternatives could have implications for building and fire code compliance. However we can achieve this goal without any alteration or changes to the current layout of the building.

We can assure that all modifications or changes to the arrangement of the classrooms to comply with health and safety requirements of reopening for in person instruction will not require alteration or change to the building structure in any way.

Some further changes can be implemented in the existing structure:

● A Student Reading Room will be closed off.

● If a larger classroom is required, the conference room and Commons can be used for teaching.

● The school will eliminate bi-directional hallways except for emergencies and drills.

We can assure that Fire (evacuation) Drills and Lockdown Drills as required by Education Law and regulation and the Fire Code will be conducted with modifications to ensure safe social distancing.

IV. CHILD NUTRITION

Food Services/Meals – Our hybrid plan may not include lunch on campus as we may have half days of in person instruction and dismissal before lunch. If opening for full days, lunch will be brought from home or provided by a vendor who meets or exceeds the state and local food service standards.

● Any food deliveries to the school will be left outside and brought in by a staff member trained to have proper PPE when distributing packages brought in to the school.

● Lunch will be taken at individual, properly spaced desks.

● Students will be reminded that there will be no food sharing

● Proper cleaning/disinfection of used surfaces will be monitored by staff.

● Additional equipment of gloves, soap and water, disinfectant for cleaning surfaces, tissues and hand sanitizer has been ordered for lunch service

● Timers will be used to remind students about cleaning

● Single Use Gloves and aprons will be used when serving food

● There will be barriers installed at the point of pick up

● Only approved staff members will be involved in handling and delivery of food

V. TRANSPORTATION GUIDANCE

School buses are provided by Districts of Residence. We will confirm that all are following CDC guidelines

Drop Offs: Buses will be instructed to drop off students one at a time at the corner of the building sidewalk where they can maintain social distancing according to markings as they wait to be screened and entered. Private drop offs will be scheduled at the front of the building where students can join the entrance line and thereby reduce congestion at the entrance.

Pickups: Buses will queue up in the back of the building so that students may exit with proper distancing along the sidewalk. Private pickups will take place in the front of the building where students will be allowed to leave one at a time after remaining in a socially distanced line in the building.

VI. SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL WELL BEING

The Mission of The Westfield Day School is dedicated to helping children overcome educational and personal obstacles through a combination of academic and emotional support. All students are encouraged to participate in our mutually supportive school community. All students are first evaluated clinically and a comprehensive plan is created. They are then assigned to one of our trained therapists who meet with them twice per week. Also, all students participate in once a week Group Therapy. The Westfield Day School is a therapeutic day school.

Our standard focus on the emotional well-being of all of our students places us in a unique position to be able to address the social-emotional needs of our students whether they are students struggling with mild to moderate mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, social-emotional problems related to learning disabilities, or a history of academic or school related problems. The built-in, ongoing assessment and intervention for all the students’ social-emotional needs whether stemming from in-school difficulties or personal or familial ones, is the hallmark of the special Westfield therapeutic program.

Teachers are routinely supervised by the clinical staff who assist them in supporting the students behaviorally and emotionally. They are also trained to identify and note student progress in relation to each student’s comprehensive plan. Interventions are reviewed and adjusted to meet the varying responses of the student.

As a general principle we stress the importance of “relational learning” as this approach most appropriately fits our school philosophy. The “five core principles” of SEL are a normal part of every teacher’s interactions with every student. To assist teachers with this approach, they are in regular communication with the students’ therapists and the director of the clinical program. They also receive regular support for their efforts through the close collaborations between all teachers and the academic director who is also supervised by the director of the clinical program.

The Westfield Day School, a therapeutic day school, is designed to assess, identify and intervene with a wide range of student difficulties in coping as well as enabling students to improve their adjustment to the variable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VII. INDEPENDENT SCHOOL SCHEDULES

To maximize in-person instruction, schools we will implement measures to decrease density and congregation in school facilities and on school grounds, when possible, such as:

● We will limit in-person presence to only those staff who are necessary to be at the school during normal school hours;

● We will continue to Maintain or a remote workforce (e.g., administrative staff,teaching staff) to accommodate social distancing guidelines

● We will shift design of class schedules to accommodate social distancing guidelines by allowing for online and distance learning to happen simultaneously

● A phase in approach to full time attendance will be imposed, starting with half days eliminating lunch service

● We will utilize distance learning to “decompress” the campus population

All options being considered the 180 day school calendar and would begin on time on September 10, 2020. This could be modified if health conditions change.

All options of instruction will include regular and substantive interaction with a competent teacher. Any lessons done on line will be synchronous.

The following scenarios were being considered and prepared for as a reopening:

OPTION 1 – Open school for full time in school instruction following all of the guidelines mentioned in this document.

● Lunch will be brought from home or provided by a vendor who meets the standards herein. Any food deliveries to the school will be left outside and brought in by a staff member.

● Our surveys show that a significant number of staff and parents are either unsure or opposed to coming into the building. Therefore we are preparing to provide live-streaming of all in person classes for those students who remain at home. Staff can also live-stream their classes for students either in the building or at home.

● We will always be prepared to switch to as much of an online format as needed in the case of an overriding health issue.

OPTION 2 – To have only distance learning. Last spring, from March until June 2020, we were able to have synchronous learning and students were able to meet with all of their teachers online on a daily basis.

● We will be using our communication plan to determine the appropriateness of the distance learning format for all students.

● A distance learning platform would be a temporary set-up until the health conditions in the school or geographic area are deemed safer by local and state officials.

OPTION 3 – Any hybrid plan will include roughly 50% of the classes online and 50% in the school.

● In Hybrid Option A, students will be in-person in the morning (9 AM-11:45 AM) only and have lunch and distance learning (1:15 PM- 2:30 PM) in the afternoon from their homes. Students would eat lunch at home.

● In Hybrid Option B, the schedule would alternate between distance and live learning on certain days

● In Hybrid Option C, students will be in-person in the morning (9 AM-11:45 PM). Students who wish to bring lunch and participate in distance learning until 2:30 PM in the school building under supervision will have that flexibility..

○ All live classes would also need to be live-streamed for students who could not come in for all Hybrid options.
○ Teachers who could not come in could teach remotely even if the students are in the school building. A teacher assistant would be assisting the students in the school. This will be in effect for all hybrid options.

THE PLAN:

After several communications with parents, it became clear that parents needed to have the flexibility to have the students in school for all or part of the day, or if feeling unsure, keeping him/her home without missing school.

Additionally, we have some staff members that prefer to work remotely due to compromised health conditions within their household.

The plan we selected, Hybrid Option C, most easily allows us to meet the concerns presented in our dialogues with the parents and staff..

● It allows students to come to school for a full or half-day, or stay home and continue distance learning.

● It allows teachers to prepare one lesson plan, while keeping in mind that some students will be in-person and others will be accessing that class online.

● It allows flexibility for students to come in as many days per week as is feasible and work from home on other days.

● It allows teachers to teach from home if they deem it necessary

● It means that we can supervise students in distant learning if the parents prefer.

● It will allow us to seamlessly transition to E-School if needed, or to Full-time in person if we can.

Only because we are a small school that we can allow for this flexibility. A child can come to school at 9:00 am and stay until 2:30, or come for just the half day in person and in the afternoons work remotely from home, or access classes solely online. The difference between morning and afternoon is that morning classes will be live and afternoon online, no matter where the child is accessing it from.

The actual schedule is presented below:

Hybrid Plan C 

– *The plan is devised to be primarily in person in the morning and online in the afternoon. However, students/staff who do not participate in in-person instruction can access the morning classes online; students who do not wish to leave school, can do their online classes under supervision from the school. Students in 1:1 classes will be modified to meet individual needs.

VIII. TEACHING AND LEARNING

Westfield Day School will continue to teach to the New York State Learning Standards.

CONSIDERATIONS for REOPENING
The following implementations are designed to help our students feel safe, engaged, and provide continuity of instruction.

● Remote instruction was offered during the summer to for students who required remediation or enrichment

● Staff members will meet before the start of school to discuss individual student needs and share best practices with in-person, remote, or any of the hybrid models

● Flexible staffing will enable some teachers to teach remotely even if students are in school classroom

● Training and support will be offered to students and families to ensure comfort and ease with instructional program and technology platforms

● Built in to the program will be “Mask Breaks” and “Movement Breaks”

SUBJECT SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS

Science Labs – The 1200 minute science lab requirement will be met with a combination of virtual labs and hands-on experiences. Only viable vetted labs will be used for virtual experiments and to meet the needs of the NYS Regents exams. This will be coupled with the mandatory lab reports. The measurement will be the quality of the labs as
opposed to the time spent on the labs.

Art – All students will be supplied with a box of materials needed for a variety of art assignments. These materials cannot be shared. Projects will be introduced in school and when possible completed at home.

● Using technology, students can study the works of masters and art history.

● Graphic Art classes will become a focus unit

● Digital field trips will be utilized to visit museums and see artists works

● Focus will be on personalized learning

Music – Performance based music classes will take place both online or in person. Instrumental classes will continue to be in a 1:1 format.

● All instrument surfaces will be wiped down and cleaned before and after each class.

● Windows and door will remain open

● We will create a series of directed listening assignments based on quality recordings of band literature and a to develop music literacy

● Online concerts will be accessed and shared with students

Physical Education – In each of our three options accommodations will be made to our PE program to insure students health and safety
IN-PERSON LEARNING

• Per New York State Department of Health Guidelines, Westfield will ensure that a distance of 12 feet in all directions is maintained between individuals while participating in activities that require aerobic activity and result in heavy breathing

• Focus will be more on individual pursuits or skills rather than traditional team sports

• We will use games and activities that require no physical contact and do not require students to be in close physical proximity to each other.

• We will include opportunities for student choice and incorporate student-suggested activities when appropriate.

• Ensure lessons are planned around the available space for instruction.

REMOTE LEARNING

• We will create opportunities for students to share and connect with one another.

• We will create activities that students can participate in safely in their homes such as Yoga, pilate or strength training

• We will encourage at home activities such as walking, shooting baskets, etc and have parents sign-off on the students participation.

HYBRID LEARNING
• When in school, have students participate in individual physical activities that comply with physical distancing guidelines and require little or no equipment. When students are at home, have them focus on activities for motor skill development (e.g., underhand throwing, self-toss and catch, catching with a parent or sibling).

• We will provide synchronous learning opportunities and record lessons to provide to students who may not have access in real time.

• We will allow for student choice and provide opportunities for students to engage with teachers directly and often.

General Education

● Project based learning, use of multimedia will be promoted. In this way assignments that can be introduced in person and finished at home. Students can share in topical discussions over a distance learning platform.

● Use of the Google Classroom Platform when teaching will assist students in becoming comfortable with technology for school performance. It will make it easier for students to transition to distance learning should this become necessary.

GRADING

Our grading policy will include a variety of alternative assessments, giving weight to class participation and attendance. We will continue to use the A-F format for grading. Progress Reports will continue to be sent out on a quarterly basis.
Academic Support will be available to all students every day in a remote learning format. Some students will have this period built into the schedule.

IX. ATHLETICS AND EXTRACURRICULAR

Westfield Day School does not participate in intramural sports of extracurricular activities.

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