School reopening update (July 17, 2020)

We hear your questions: Will Otselic Valley reopen for in-person school in the fall, and what exactly is it going to look like? We’re working on that. 

On July 13, 2020, a number of documents for NYS school districts became available: the New York State  Education Department and the NYS Department of Health issued guidance and very specific checklists for school reopening plans. We are expecting more official information this week too.

These details are important because we must submit an Otselic Valley-specific plan for reopening to NYSED by July 31, 2020.

Additionally, the Governor indicated he will make a decision about reopening sometime in the first week of August based on current criteria: a region must be in Phase 4, and the average daily COVID-19 infection rate must be 5% or lower over a  14-day average. Schools could close again if the average daily COVID-19 infection rate is above 9% over a 7-day average.

Right now a Reopening Task Force at Otselic Valley is working to make sure we are prepared to meet the safe education needs of all Vikings no matter what we are asked to do: teach in-person, teach remotely, or a combination of the two.

The input of parents and guardians is important too. If you haven’t already completed the most recent brief survey, please submit it by Monday, July 20: Click this link to access the parent/guardian survey.

Here’s what we know so far:

SCHEDULING may need to be changed to accommodate a combination of in-person and remote learning. We do not yet know if this will be necessary but it’s important to anticipate this possibility.

FACE COVERINGS will be required in classrooms when social distancing is not possible AND on buses all the time. Mask breaks are expected to be available according to safety protocols that will continue to preserve student and staff safety.

SOCIAL DISTANCING protocols will be required to protect against the transmission of COVID-19 when on school property, including buses.

SCHOOL SPACES may need to be adjusted so that social density (the number of students and staff in a shared space) is reduced. This might include moving instruction to larger spaces like the MPR.

DAILY HEALTH SCREENINGS will be mandatory, including temperature checks and a screening questionnaire.

SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES will still be provided.

FOOD SERVICE will be available to all students, whether on site or remotely. 

PERSONAL HYGIENE, CLEANING, AND DISINFECTION will be promoted and practiced according to guidelines set forth by the NYS Department of Health and the CDC.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING will remain squarely on OV’s radar, as always. We know this is difficult, and adjustment to a new way of doing school may feel very different to a lot of our Vikings. 

TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT will be available just like in previous years.

SOME CLASSES like physical education, music, and science labs may look different compared to previous years. For example, more gym classes may be held outdoors as long as weather permits. We await further instruction about this.

We know you have many questions about each of these directives, and appreciate that many details still need to be worked out. Know that the safety of each student and staff person -- and by extension, their families -- is our priority, as is our commitment to an excellent education for all students in the Valley.

Our mission hasn’t changed because of COVID-19. The Otselic Valley family will always find new ways to “educate and inspire every student to achieve excellence.”  Thank you for your support.


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