State Education Department presents framework to reopen schools

Albany. By July 31, all districts are required to create and submit to the Education Department their reopening plans.

| 14 Jul 2020 | 03:41

    The New York State Education Department has created guidelines to help schools as they plan to reopen, whether that occurs in person, remotely, or in a combination of the two.

    To assist school districts as they plan for reopening, the Education Department has developed a portal for submitting school reopening plans. The portal (at will open today (July 17). Guidance will be disseminated to schools prior to the opening of the portal and will include information on the following topics, among others.

    Health and Safety

    Schools will be required to perform health screenings; develop plans to maximize social distancing; develop plans to manage and isolate ill persons until they can be sent home; instruct students and staff in proper hand and respiratory hygiene; require face coverings; and develop cleaning and disinfecting procedures.


    Schools should include food service directors in reopening plans so they are able to provide all students with access to meals each school day whether school is in-person or remote; address all health and safety guidelines; and communicate with families in their language.

    Social/Emotional Well-Being

    This must be a top priority in supporting school transitions, not at the expense of academics, but in order to create the mental, social, and emotional space for academic learning to occur.


    Schools should promote social distancing; they may expand their physical footprint or change the way they utilize space; and they should continue to meet or exceed ventilation requirements.


    Each district will be required to perform regular school bus disinfection measures; train school bus staff regarding social distancing on the bus, at stops, and at unloading times; train staff regarding the wearing of masks; students will wear masks and social distance on the bus.

    Chronic Absenteeism

    School policies and procedures must focus on the consequences of lost instructional time and address absences before students fall behind in school.

    School Schedules

    Schools must create a comprehensive plan for a schedule that includes in-person instruction, remote instruction or a hybrid of both in-person and remote.

    Teaching and Learning Requirements

    Mandatory teaching and learning requirements include clear opportunities for equitable instruction for all students; continuity of learning; standards-based instruction; substantive daily interaction between teachers and students; and clear communication plans between parents and schools.

    Teaching and Learning Flexibility

    To allow districts to adapt to complications caused by the pandemic, certain flexibilities will be authorized including student/staff ratio in prekindergarten; a waiver allowing districts to convert pre-kindergarten from full-day to half-day; flexibility in the delivery of physical education; a blend of hands-on and virtual science laboratory experiences.

    Technology and Connectivity

    School districts must provide devices and internet access to students and teachers who currently do not have access; provide multiple ways for students to participate in learning in remote/blended models; provide instruction on using technology and IT support.

    Special Education: Mandatory Requirements

    School districts are required to provide a free, appropriate education consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and service providers and meaningful parent engagement.

    Special Education: Recommended Elements

    School districts should consider in-person services a priority for high-needs students and preschool students with disabilities and consider contingency plans to address remote learning needs.

    Reopening Plan Timeline

    By July 31, all districts are required to create and submit to the Education Department their reopening plans, which should be posted on their public website.