Communication/Family and Community Engagement
To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual meetings and one-on-one conversations.
The district 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 district website at https://www.johnstownschools.org/reopening-plan/, 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 and each school’s web page. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the G-Translate feature available on the district website.
As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, families, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication channels – including ParentSquare notification system and district web site– 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. Families of ENL students will be provided a copy in their written home language.
The district 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 district will rely on ParentSquare communications in the form of emails, text messaging , phone calls, and Facebook links – 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. Additionally, signage on school property will be updated as needed, press releases and media notification will be made according to the communications procedures. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and that of the Fulton County Public Health Department.
In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. Families will be surveyed to determine whether a device, connectivity or both may be required, and distribution will occur during the opening days of school. The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including through email and communication through ParentSquare.
The district 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. A summary of the plan will be mailed to families and posted on ParentSquare. All school schedules will be posted on the website. If this schedule change occurs, a robo call will be made to check the website.
The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. Families will be given the contact information for their student’s case worker and the phone contacts for each school and the special education office.
In addition, the district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. Each student has an assigned staff member, who will act as a family liaison and regular family contact.
The district 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 district 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: Age appropriate videos will be sent and posted. Colored gel to check for clean hands will be used for our youngest students (Pleasant Avenue). All students will be provided training on their first day of in-person instruction. Signs posted in bathrooms will serve as reinforcement of proper procedures.
- Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove): Age-appropriate videos will be sent and posted. All students will be provided training on their first day of in-person instruction. Signs will be posted throughout the school.
- Social distancing: Age-appropriate videos will be sent and posted. All students will be provided training on their first day of in-person instruction. Signs will be posted throughout the school.
- Respiratory hygiene Age-appropriate videos will be sent and posted. All students will be provided training on their first day of in-person instruction. Signs will be posted throughout the school.
- Identifying symptoms: CDC posters will be posted, and information will be sent with opening packets and through ParentSquare. The home checks will be performed through ParentSquare, which will contain information and guidance. The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district 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 district 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 the district web site.
The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district 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 our reopening plan.
In the event that a student or staff member is sick, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.
The district is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need 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. Determinations will be based upon current Executive Orders of the NYS Governor, the New York State Department of Health, and the Fulton County Public Health Department.
The conditions that may warrant reducing in-person education or closing the school, in consultation with state and local health departments, and plan for an orderly closure; such conditions may include:
- Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1.
- Schools will close if the 7-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%.
- Schools in regions in Phase 4 can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed from the Fulton County Public Health Department.
- If the infection rate rises about 9%, schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
- Once schools open at Phase IV below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise about 5% until it reaches 9% for the 7-day average.
- School will be notified by Laurel Headwell, Executive Director of the Fulton County Public Health Department on the situation.
- School administrators will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely.
- Schools may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%; consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and staff if they are participating in in-person activities.
- Schools should consult their medical director and/or the local department of health when making such decisions.
The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult Dr. Sunkara and the Fulton County Public Health Department when making such decisions.
School building administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. If one building is to be closed, then the district will go into remote learning until such time that operations can safely resume. The HFM BOCES District Superintendent, Dr. Ziskin, will be notified upon closure and subsequent opening. Established school closing routines will be enacted, including the notification of families through robo calls and the notification of radio and television media:
For School Emergency Closings/Delays
- School Website: www.johnstownschools.org
- Facebook: greater-johnstown-school-district-ny
- Twitter: Johnstown Schools NY @johnstownSD
- School Messaging System: ParentSquare App
- RADIO STATIONS:
- WENT 1340 AM and 105.1 FM
- WIZR 930 AM and 102.9 FM (Northville 104.3 FM)
- WCSS 1490 AM and 106.9 FM
- WBUG 99.7 FM and 101.1 FM
- WVTL 1570 AM
- WFLY 92.3 FM
- WGNA 107.7 FM
- WYJB (B95) 95.5 FM
- WRVE (the River) 99.5 FM
- WGY 810 AM and 103.1 FM
- WSKS (Kiss FM) 97.9 FM and 105.5 FM
- TELEVISION STATIONS:
- WRGB Channel 6 (CBS)
- WTEN Channel 10 (ABC)
- WNYT Channel 13 (NBC)
- WCWN Channel 15
- WXXA Channel 23 (Fox)
- Spectrum Local News
HFM regional transportation will be notified in advance of any closure or schedule alteration, and schools will call child care providers and contacts as per established closure procedures.