Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why not continue the current hybrid instructional model?
A: The evidence is clear that the pandemic has resulted in a significant learning loss, particularly for younger students, and that there is no alternative to in-person face-to-face instruction. Although we have created a very effective instructional model, our students can't afford to lose any more days of in-person instruction. Our highest priority will always be safety. Throughout the pandemic, we have always followed the guidance, and the guidance now provides for increased in-person attendance with updated requirements to minimize the risk of spread. The District will continue to follow all of the extensive safety measures which have been in place all year and meeting all NYS requirements. We have tread cautiously as a District all year, and if we had doubts that this transition could not be done safely, we would not be proceeding.
Q: Should elementary schools be transitioning to 3 feet of social distancing at this time, based on community transmission rates?
A: The Ken-Ton School District follows all NYS requirements for in-person instruction. The CDC and NYS currently permit elementary schools to operate in-person instruction with 3 feet of social distancing during instruction without limitations based on community transmission rates. There are, however, limitations at the middle/high school level, which is why our middle/high schools are not transitioning to 3 feet of social distancing. Most importantly, the same precautions that have been taken throughout the pandemic will continue to be practiced every day including extensive cleaning/disinfecting, hygiene, and temperature/symptom screening.
Q: Under what circumstances would the District consider that transmission is taking place in a classroom?
A: Throughout the pandemic, the District has worked extremely closely with the Erie County Department of Health which very closely monitors transmission rates and positive cases. ECDOH works closely with all school districts in Erie County and will make recommendations any time there is a cause for concern, whether it’s based on positive cases or contact tracing in a school or individual classroom. The District will continue to work with ECDOH and will always follow all ECDOH recommendations.
Q: When will middle school or high school students be able to return to 5 days of in-person attendance?
A: Under the current CDC and NYS guidelines, it depends on the total number of cases over the past 7 days in Erie County and the 7-day positivity rate, since high schools do not cohort, and middle schools do not fully cohort. Erie County would need to maintain a positivity rate below 8% (5.5% as of April 17) and the total number of cases over the past 7 days would need to be below 100 (as of April 17, the 7-day total was 367). If Erie County were to meet this criteria as a lower-transmission area, middle/high schools would be able to transition to 3 feet of social distancing. However, the criteria will be very difficult to meet based on the total number of cases under the current NYS and CDC guidelines.
Q: If a student tests positive in a classroom with students spaced 3 feet apart, would the entire class need to quarantine, or only those students within 6 feet of the student testing positive?
These determinations are made by the Erie County Department of Health on a case-by-case basis. In general, students directed by ECDOH to quarantine would be those within less than 6 feet of the positive individual for more than 10 minutes. However, ECDOH may take other factors into consideration in determining whether an entire classroom would need to be quarantined. As always, the District will always follow all ECDOH recommendations/directives, and the manner in which instruction will be provided will depend on the unique circumstances in each case (e.g. grade level, number of students).
Q: Even though dividers are no longer recommended in classrooms, can the District choose to leave the dividers in place?
A: The CDC and NYS have changed their positions and no longer recommend dividers in the classroom. The Ken-Ton School District always follows the guidance which is based on the best information available from the medical community, which changes overtime as their understanding of the pandemic advances. The current recommendation from NYS is that dividers not be in used so these will be removed from classrooms and lunchrooms.
Q: Will mask breaks be practiced if students are within 3 feet of each other?
Mask breaks are permissible when students are 6 feet apart. The current guideline is for 6 feet of social distancing during mask breaks, so mask breaks would not be able to be taken when students are spaced 3 feet apart under the current guidelines. Students can take a mask break if they move at least 6 feet from other students.
Q: How will elementary schools handle lunch?
A: Planning for lunch is being done on a school-by-school basis, based on each building’s physical layout, available spaces, and attendance numbers. Some students will remain in the classroom during lunch, while other students will move to other available locations (such as cafeterias, community rooms, etc.) so that students are always 6 feet apart while eating.
Q: Will elementary school arrival/dismissal be staggered?
Schools are exploring ways to stagger morning drop-off times to minimize crowding during arrival. Dismissal presents unique challenges based on the layout of facilities, traffic/parking, etc. It is extremely important for all students and families to wear masks and practice social distancing during arrival and dismissal.
Q: Will middle school or high school special classes attend school on Wednesdays?
There are challenges related to bringing middle/high school special classes back to school on Wednesdays, without bringing all students back to school on Wednesdays. For example, electives the students would normally attend in person consist of a combination of synchronous/asynchronous instruction, since teachers are using Wednesdays to focus on smaller-group/remedial instruction, lesson planning, content digitizing, etc.
Q: Will a thorough cleaning be conducted each night?
A: The District’s extensive procedures for cleaning/disinfecting school buildings will continue to be practiced. This includes daily deep cleaning and disinfecting in preparation for the next school day.
Q: What options are being considered for Wednesdays at the secondary level?
A: Middle and high schools have posted information on their websites that outlines synchronous instructional support on Wednesdays.
Q: What is the plan for Regents Exams?
High Schools will have detailed updates with frequently asked questions about end-of-year Regents Exams/local course exams posted on their websites this Friday. The NYS Department of Education plans to administer four Regents Exams: English Language Arts on June 17, Living Environment on June 22, Algebra I on June 23 and Earth Science (written test only) on June 24. These examinations will be administered on the assigned regents days in order to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers. Students receiving remote instruction will be invited to take the assessment on the assigned day. Regents Exams will not be used for accountability purposes. Additional information will be sent out from the high schools.
Q: What options or venues are being explored for end-of-year events?
On April 12, NYS released new guidance on end-of-year activities. The guidance includes different rules and limits on participants/capacity for indoor and outdoor events. Schools are continuing to review this guidance, explore different options, and gather feedback from students and families. Other factors include the nature of individual venues such as Crosby/Adams (which can’t have tents installed), availability, weather eventualities, etc. Our schools are committed to ensuring that our students have safe and successful end-of-year events. Families should stay tuned for more information from their child’s school.
Q: Can additional sports be live streamed or recorded?
All JV and Varsity sports in the current “Fall2” season are live streamed and recorded. The Athletics Department will consider options moving forward for the spring season that starts on May 3.