April 14, 2021
Subject: School Reopening Update
Dear K-6 Southern Cayuga Families & Friends:
Our target date for returning all K-6 hybrid students to every day in-person instruction is April 19.
On April 9, the NYS Department of Health released updated guidance for schools based upon the recent CDC changes. To ensure equity in education, the district will prioritize efforts to return students to everyday instruction while monitoring the dynamic nature of local community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. While the community infection rate has fluctuated over the past months, we are not aware of any school-based transmission of COVID-19 here at Southern Cayuga.
Recommended changes to our district plan based on CDC guidance are listed below:
Our elementary school will maintain physical distancing of at least three feet between students in classrooms and ‘cohorting’ will remain in effect. As a result, students from both A and B days will be in class together and attend school every day. Students will continue to function in pods and not interact with students from other classrooms. Physical barriers will remain available to all students.
Southern Cayuga will be adopting strategies used in neighboring counties to transport more students. Specifically, we will require all students to wear a mask and a face shield while riding the school bus. Once students exit the bus, they can remove their face shields before entering the school. The use of a face shield/barrier will allow more than one student per seat. Face shields will be provided to all students at no cost. All elementary bus runs have been reconfigured and will take effect on April 19.
Universal masking, screening, and all other precautions outlined in the district reopening plan except for the modifications listed above will remain in place until further notice. The district will also continue in-house testing of staff and students with consent and we’ve made tremendous progress getting our teachers vaccinated. 100% of those requesting vaccination have completed the process with the help of the Cayuga County Health Department.
If you have questions or recommendations about the upcoming changes, please let me know. If you would like to meet virtually, I could set up a Zoom call with you.
March 23, 2021
Dear Southern Cayuga Families & Friends:
On Friday March 19, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adjusted their recommendations for schools, reducing the social distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet. I am pleased to say that the change is a significant step forward in returning students to everyday in-person instruction.
Our immediate goal is to return K-6 grade students to school every day starting April 19, 2021. Our target date is tentative as we await further guidance from our state and county health departments. We are optimistic and have already begun the planning process.
Preventative measures such as face masks, social distancing, in-house COVID -19 testing, monitoring community infection rates, and the vaccination of teachers and staff all had a positive impact on our ability to move forward. You’re probably asking yourself, how are we going to make this happen?
Our transportation department has already begun the arduous task of redesigning all elementary bus routes to accommodate more students. In order to make this work, Southern Cayuga will be adopting strategies used in neighboring districts to transport more students. Specifically, we will require all students to wear a mask and a face shield while riding the school bus. Once students exit the bus, students can remove their face shields before entering the school. The use of a face shield/barrier will allow more than one student per seat. Face shields will be provided to all students at no cost.
Universal masking, social distancing of three feet, and instructional pods will remain in place until further notice. The district will also continue in-house testing of staff and students with consent and we’ve made tremendous progress getting our teachers vaccinated. 100% of those requesting vaccination have completed the process with the help of Cayuga County Health Department.
As I mentioned earlier, our target date is tentative as we await further guidance from our state and county health departments.
Patrick M. Jensen
Superintendent of Schools
Southern Cayuga Central School District
Date: March 9, 2021 --
Dear Southern Cayuga Families & Friends:
The Southern Cayuga School District is exploring the possibility of all K-3 hybrid students returning to in-person instruction five-days per week. Current social distancing restrictions remain a challenge as the six-foot rule remains in effect and significantly reduces capacity in classrooms and on the bus.
Frankly, we’ve reached a point where we can make a change as infection rates are now significantly lower and 88% of our teachers have received the vaccine. We will initially focus on our youngest learners as many of them have struggled with remote learning at home. At this time, the remote only and hybrid models would remain options for families.
We’re exploring the potential reconfiguration of K-3 students, faculty, and staff members to make this happen. We have the potential of shifting from two classrooms to three classrooms at several grade levels and still abide by health department requirements. We’re also exploring additional bus routes as we’re currently limited to 22 students per bus.
The first step in the process is to assess parent interest to determine the K-3 students who wish to switch from hybrid to full-time. A brief survey for K-3 parents will be sent tomorrow, please respond by March 15. We believe we have the certified staff and classroom space to make this happen at four grade levels. If we can make this happen, we would then explore expanding this opportunity.
Patrick M. Jensen
Superintendent of Schools
Southern Cayuga Central School District
February 11, 2021 --
SCCS Sports Return --
Winter sports games/meets at SCCS began on Feb 4. For a schedule of contests this season, click here.
Since there are no on campus spectators allowed due to the Pandemic, we offer live-streaming of all home games/meets.
Basketball: There are two options to live-stream home basketball games....
A high-definition live stream is offered via the NFHS Network for Boys and Girls Varsity & JV basketball, please click here to subscribe to this service, which is $10.99/mo, cancel at any time.
In addition, we offer a lower-quality, free live-stream of the boys and girls games, using the following link... https://ensemble.
Swimming: We offer free live-streaming of our home Varsity Boys Swim meets using the following link... https://ensemble.cayboces.org/
For swim families interested in 'Meet Mobile', a live results app that costs $2.99. The app provides live updates from the timing/score computer as events are in progress. Instructions for 'Meet Mobile' can be found on the Boys Swimming Google Classroom page.
Best wishes to our teams this Winter Season! Go Chiefs!!
January 14, 2021 --
Subject: School Re-Opening Plan
Dear Southern Cayuga Families & Friends:
The Southern Cayuga School District plans to reopen to in-person instruction on January 19, 2021. Tuesday will be an A-day for both schools.
Since January 1, the Southern Cayuga School District received notification that five additional students tested positive for COVID-19. Three secondary and two elementary students were placed in mandatory isolation last week. The Cayuga County Health Department informed the district that contact tracing would not affect students or staff based on school attendance.
At the beginning of January, Cayuga County had one of the highest infection rates in the state and averaged over 100 new cases each day. Fortunately, both the infection rate and number of daily cases have decreased in the last week. Hopefully, that trend will continue.
Over the past two weeks, on-campus COVID testing continued and I’m pleased to report no positive cases among our teachers or staff members. If you have questions about testing, please contact the school nurses. In addition, vaccine distribution shifted from medical personnel and long-term care facilities and now includes teachers and school personnel.
If you’d like to know more about vaccine distribution in New York State check out the attached link. https://covid19vaccine.
Patrick M. Jensen
Superintendent of Schools
Southern Cayuga Central School District
January 2, 2021 --
Subject: School Closure --
Dear Southern Cayuga School District Community:
The Southern Cayuga School District, along with all school districts in Cayuga County, received a recommendation to close all county schools to in-person instruction from the Cayuga County Health Department. Cayuga County currently has one of the highest infection rates in New York State.
Unfortunately, the number of positive cases and persons in quarantine throughout the county requires a shift to remote learning at this time. The additional time will allow the Cayuga County Health Department time to identify and monitor case increases as we go through the incubation time period following the holiday break. The health department expects positivity rates to increase even further over the next couple of weeks.
Our tentative reopening date to in-person instruction will be Tuesday, January 19, 2021 -- A-Day (South) for both EH & Jr/Sr HS.
Patrick M. Jensen
Superintendent of Schools
Southern Cayuga Central School District
Date: October 29, 2020
Subject: Elementary School Reopening
Dear Southern Cayuga School District Community:
The Southern Cayuga School District is pleased to announce that the elementary school will reopen on Monday, November 2, 2020. I spoke with the Cayuga County Health Department today and they indicated no additional positive cases of COVID over the past week have been associated with the students and staff placed in quarantine.
Monday will be an ‘A’ day for the elementary school and we look forward to the return of students.
The school will continue to screen all persons upon entry to the building, ask persons to maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently, and require masks throughout the school day. As an additional precaution, we will further limit contact among adults, asking them to hold all meetings through Google Meet or Zoom, even if for a minute or two.
Please understand the situation could change any minute. If it does, I will send another email and voice message. Unfortunately, positive cases of COVID-19 within the Cayuga County have topped 100 active cases in the past week. It is imperative that students and staff who display symptoms stay home and seek medical attention.
COVID-19/Coronavirus School Closure Information and Resources
Instructional Plan: During this period of extended closure, Southern Cayuga CSD will continue to provide instruction through online instruction and instructional packets that were mailed to homes. Our teachers and students in grades 7-12 are well prepared to utilize their chrome books for online learning through Google Classroom and Google Docs. In anticipation of a potential closure, the district sent home chrome books with all students in grade 3-12 last Friday. Students in primary grades will receive instructional packets in the mail.
If internet access is unavailable, the district has set up additional wifi hot spots on the exterior of the building near the district office/ag wing of the campus. Just drive up, log in, and download to Google Docs. If that doesn’t work for you, please let us know and we’ll send packets of materials.
Our teaching staff is available each school day; if you have a question, please do not hesitate to reach them via email. During the next week, all classroom and course teachers should be reaching out to students and families. Many of our secondary courses will continue to operate via Google Classroom.
Meal Plan: The Southern Cayuga Central School District will be offering free grab and go breakfast and lunch to all students who need it beginning March 18 on a daily basis. These meals will be available between the hours of 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM at the high school loading dock for pick up. There will be signs to guide you where to go and someone to greet you at your vehicle. Please do not exit your vehicle as the meals will be delivered to you. There will be free wifi access for students in the vicinity of the meal pickup point to allow students to download classroom information if needed.
Please contact Loretta Van Horn at 315-364-8711 x. 1103 or at email@example.com with questions or concerns.
Facilities: Our school building will be closed to all staff, students, and community during the closure. The entire district will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected during this time, and we need to limit individuals in these areas in order to do so. The closure includes all school buildings, grounds, and playgrounds.
Childcare: Health Care Workers If you are a first responder or an essential healthcare work, and you need help with childcare so you may continue to go to work to serve our community during this pandemic, please contact the district office at 315-364-7211.
Medicine: Our nursing staff will be in the school buildings on Monday March 16th during regular hours so you can pick up your child’s medicine. If you cannot make it during time, please contact your school’s principal to arrange an alternate pick up time.
Support: We understand that this may be a challenging time for our students, and some of them may want to speak to a counselor or need some additional support. Please feel free to reach out to your students building principal and they will coordinate couseling to meet the needs of our students.
COVID-19 related School Safety Guidance
Revised 10-4-2020/revised 8-25-2020/original 8-12-2020
Current evidence indicates that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets or contact. Contact transmission occurs when the virus contaminated hands touch the mucosa of the mouth, nose or eyes. The virus can also be transferred from one surface to another by contaminated hands, which facilitates indirect contact transmission. Consequently, hand hygiene is extremely important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and wash with soap and water as soon as possible.
Wearing of facial mask/ facial covering can help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings; particularly when face masks/ covers are properly used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting.
To properly wear a face mask/ face cover, wash and dry your hands before and after touching or adjusting the mask, touch only the bands or ties when putting on and taking off your mask, make sure the mask fits to cover your nose, mouth and chin.
The Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES, will communicate directly with members of the Cayuga County Health Department regarding COVID-19 issues and protocols. The primary COVID-19 contacts at the Cayuga County Health Department are:
Kevin Zippel, PhD., RN
Supervising Community Health Nurse
Nancy Purdy, BSN, RN
Director of Community Health Services
The Cayuga County Health Department designates (315)-253-1560 for primary use which is answered at the office during typical working hours and after hours by a 24 hour 7 day a week answering service who will contact appropriate personnel as requested. The Cayuga County Health Department fax number is 315-253-1156.
The Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES will communicate with the Cayuga County Health Department for any COVID -19 related concerns and questions pertinent to the operations of their districts including but not limited to the public health and well-being of the District’s students and employees.
The Cayuga County Health Department will communicate with the Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES regarding COVID-19 related information or concerns pertinent to the public health and well-being of the District’s students, faculty and staff; including but not limited to quarantine and isolation of students and employees.
The Responsible Parties at any school district/BOCES will communicate with the Cayuga County Health Department when learning from a staff member, student or parent that they have tested positive for COVID-19. In turn, the Cayuga County Health Department will verify the information is accurate before contact investigation is launched within the school district/BOCES.
Close Contact- a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.
Contact Tracing- interview a person having been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection to determine whom they may have been contact with during the timeframe of being infectious in order to prevent spreading of the infection. Contact tracing is led by the Cayuga County Health Department. The school will be required to provide attendance records, contact information and other supportive information as requested to the health department.
Incubation Period- the interval between the time of invasion by an infectious agent and appearance of the first sign or symptom of the disease in question. For SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 the incubation period is on average 4-5 days but may be as long as 14 days. 5% of persons will develop symptoms in 2 days; 50% of persons will develop symptoms in 5 days; 95 % will develop symptoms within 14 days.
Infectious Period- period of time during which a case is able to transmit a disease to others. The infectious period for COVID 19 starts 2 days before someone develops symptoms; is most infectious day of symptom onset; and infectiousness wanes over the course of 10 days.
Infectivity of COVID-19 - is determined by its reproduction number, or R0 (pronounced R naught), which current epidemiological estimates suggest lies between1.5 to 3. This means that every COVID-19 patient may infect up to three other people on average.
Isolation- the Health Department will require, through public health order, a person to go into mandatory isolation who has tested positive for COVID-19 and shall be monitored by the health department.
Proximate Contact - is defined as anyone within the same enclosed environment, such as a classroom, office or gathering, for 60 minutes or more with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. The total minutes across the infectious period will determine the need for quarantine.
Precautionary Quarantine- A resident of New York State (NYS) returning from travel to a designated state for designated period of time or an international traveler arriving to NYS are required to quarantine for 14 days. It is possible having traveled to these areas, the traveler is a proximate contact of a positive Covid-19 individual(s).
Self- Care- ability to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider.
Social Distancing- also called physical distancing, means keeping a safe space between yourself and other poepl who are not from your household. To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet away from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Quarantine- the Health Department will require a person having proximate or close
The Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES will monitor daily the employees, students and necessary visitors for symptoms of COVID-19, to include daily screening before entering the school buildings.
Employees and students should be encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, scratchy or sore throat, a new loss of taste/smell, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Refer to the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Pre-K to Gr 12 COVID-19 Toolkit dated September 2020 for more symptom information.
Employees and students are not to attend school if feeling ill
COVID-19 testing is contingent upon availability of specimen collection material, appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and laboratory capacity. As such, the specific recommendations for specimen collection sites may be altered to reflect resources, timeliness of analysis and response. It is recommended all people seeking a COVID-19 test call in advance to schedule their appointment and assure health care personnel are appropriately attired. Additional opportunities for COVID-19 testing may become available over time. Contact your health care provider or urgent care center if you do not feel well and may need COVID-19 testing.
At the time this plan is written, here are local resources for COVID-19 testing. At all testing sites bring your health insurance card if you have one.
- Personal HealthCare provider
- Federally Qualifying Health Care Center:
- East Hill Family Medical Center in Auburn 315-253-8477
- Family Health Network in Moravia 315-497-9066
- Port Byron Community Health Care Center in Port Byron 315-531-9102
- Cayuga County Urgent Care Centers including:
303 Grant Ave. Auburn, NY
Urgent Care of Auburn
37 West Garden St., Suite 105 Auburn, NY
WellNow Urgent Care Center
271 Grant Ave.Auburn, NY
- Out of county testing sites:
Upstate University Health System
Syracuse Community Health Center
819 South Salina St., Syracuse
Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm.
No appointment necessary
Cayuga Medical Associates Ithaca, NY
Appointment and Registration: cayugahealth.org/
Or call 607-319-5708.
Appointment is required and testing criteria must be met
Call the NYS Department of Health hotline number for additional sites:
The Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES will immediately notify the Cayuga County Health Department (CHHD) upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test result by an individual in school facilities or on school grounds, including employees, students, and visitors. The CCHD will verify the person has tested positive.
The Cayuga County Health Department will lead the COVID-19 contact tracing effort partnering with the Responsible Parties at any school district/BOCES to provide names, addresses, phone numbers of pertinent people. Additionally, the Responsible Parties at any school district/BOCES will be required to provide attendance records, contact information and other supportive information as requested to the health department.
If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in school, the Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES may choose to temporarily move instruction to a remote format until all contacts can be identified, notified and placed in quarantine.
The CCHD will notify the Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES of any positive or quarantined employees or students.
Refer to the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Pre-K to Gr 12 COVID-19 Toolkit dated September 2020 for more symptom information.
Employee/Student Has Tested Positive For COVID-19 Employee/Student Has Been In Close Contact With Positive Covid-19 Person Employee/Student Is Symptomatic Having No Close Contact With Positive Person Employee/Student Has Had Close or Proximate Contact With Someone In Quarantine A contact (Person C) of a contact (Person B) is not considered at risk unless Person B tests positive for COVID-19. Person C is not subject to quarantine. Employee/Student Has Traveled To A State Designated As Having Significant Community Spread OR Any International Travel
Cleaning and Disinfection
Based on data from lab studies on COVID-19, it may be possible that a person can get COVID- 19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through close contact from person-to-person.
Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes many germs and dirt from surfaces.
Disinfectants kill germs on surfaces. Killing germs on a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading the virus.
The following practices will be utilized by the Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES to reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19 and other contagious germs.
The Responsible Parties at any school district/ BOCES will follow these practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other contagions:
- Daily routine cleaning of surfaces with disinfectants shall be conducted throughout the school
If a student or employee becomes ill:
- Close off areas internal to the building used by the person who is sick.
· Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting, unless waiting 24 hours is not feasible, then wait as long as possible. Clean and disinfect commonly touched areas used by the ill person like desk, locker, bathroom office, keyboards, mouse, telephones etc.. Allow the areas to dry before reuse.
- Wait 24 hours to vacuum the space if needed. When vacuuming routinely or as part of extra cleaning, temporarily turn off room fans and if possible turn off the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
Regular use of the room and objects may continue after disinfection.
September 3, 2020
SCCS FAQ’s - Meal Program
What will mealtimes look like for students at school during Covid-19?
Breakfast on days when students are in school:
- All students from Pre-K to 12 who wish to eat breakfast will do so in the classroom
- Breakfast will be pre-ordered the day before and will be at the students’ classrooms when they arrive at school
- Masks will be worn until student is seated at desk
- Hand sanitizer will be provided before and after eating
- Students who do not qualify for free/reduced lunch must have money on their cafeteria account to order/purchase breakfast
- Cafeteria accounts may be funded through myschoolbucks.com or by sending in a check made out to the SCCS – Cafeteria Fund
Lunch on days when students are in school:
- All students will eat in the cafeteria
- Hand sanitizer will be provided to all students
- Students may bring their lunch or purchase lunch in the cafeteria
- Students will be socially distanced and wear a mask while walking to their seats or going through the lunch line
- There are directional arrows and six-foot social distance markers for students to follow while proceeding through the line
- Once seated, students may remove their mask while they eat
- Upon leaving the cafeteria, students will put their mask on and be provided hand sanitizer to return to class
- After each lunch period, the cafeteria will be closed for a complete sanitizing. Sanitizing includes any area students came in contact with, including the line students walked through to pick up their lunch as well as all tables/desks/chairs where students were seated
On days when students are not in school:
- Students who qualify for free/reduced meals and wish to have breakfast and/or lunch provided for the days when they are not required to be at school, will take grab-n-go meals home with them as they leave school
- Students who do not qualify for free/reduced meals may also order a breakfast and/or lunch to take home for the days when they are not in school; the cost will be deducted from their cafeteria account
- Parents of students who qualify for free/reduced meals may pre-order meals and arrange for pick up through the cafeteria
- Meals for multiple days will be able to be picked up at one time
- Meals will be grab-and-go and will be picked up at a specified time and place at the school
- If there are transportation issues, parents may contact the district office
What is a grab-and-go meal?
- A meal that meets all nutritional guidelines but can be packaged in a to-go bag
- A meal that is ready to be consumed without requiring much preparation
- Information regarding grab-n-go meals will be on district website under the cafeteria section
What is the district doing to help ensure student safety?
- Temperature/health screenings of all staff/students
- Thermal cameras installed at both entrances of school
- All classrooms configured to adhere to social distancing rules
- Plastic barriers placed on all desks
- UV wands to scan library books
- Hand sanitizer in all classrooms
- Teachers will sanitize desks in the Jr/Sr high school between class changes
- Bathrooms configured to promote social distancing
- Additional cleaning staff working to keep high touch areas/bathrooms sanitized throughout the school day
- Sanitizing machines purchased to be used for additional sanitizing of all areas
- Acquired EPA-recommended cleaning/disinfecting products approved to kill the virus
What types of PPE has the district purchased?
- Disposable masks
- Cloth masks
- N95 masks
- Clear face shields
- Rubber gloves
- Isolation gowns
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitizing wipes
- Acrylic sneeze guards
- No-touch thermometers
September 1, 2020
The most recently revised school reopening plan dated August 28, 2020 can be reviewed by selecting the plan located in the right hand column.
SCCS FAQ’s School Reopening
August 17, 2020
Will the school require masks and social distancing?
Yes, students and staff will wear masks during transitional times, which includes riding on a bus, entering the school, walking in the hallway, using bathrooms, or transitioning between secondary classrooms. Students may take masks off when seated at their desks if social distancing of six feet can be maintained.
Elementary students may also take off their masks to eat lunch, as six feet distance will be maintained, and outside the school building for planned breaks.
Secondary students will wear a mask other than during scheduled mask breaks and while seated eating breakfast and lunch. If a student has a documented medical reason for not wearing a mask, a health plan will be developed and those students will be required to wear a face shield. Mask-breaks may happen, at the teacher’s direction, during seated, quiet independent work time or when outdoors as long as social distancing is maintained.
Students will be required to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands throughout the day.
Will health screenings occur? Who is responsible for determining if our child becomes symptomatic?
Yes, all staff members and parents/guardians have an important role in this process. Parents should begin the day by taking your child’s temperature and checking for the following symptoms; fever, chills, flushed cheeks, difficulty breathing, fatigue, irritability, cough, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and/ or diarrhea. If displaying any of the symptoms or if their temperature exceeds 100oF, please stay home.
Students and staff will have their temperature checked by trained staff as they enter the school on a daily basis. The district will use non-contact thermometers/scanners. If greater than 100oF, the student will meet with the school nurse in isolation and parents will be contacted to pick up their child immediately. Staff members will be sent home.
What are my child’s options for instruction?
The district will provide two options for students and families.
The hybrid model alternates between in-person and remote learning on alternating days. Students would either attend school on an A or B day as designated by the district. Social distancing requires bus and classroom capacity to be significantly reduced (50%), limiting class size to 12 or fewer students. Our plan will allow students to connect in-person with their teachers every other day, provide certified teachers in every classroom, and minimize contact between pods of students and staff members. All students will be taught in actual classrooms versus repurposed spaces such as cafeterias, auditorium, or gyms.
For the remote only model, teachers will be assigned to provide assignments and instructional videos for students.
Why did the district choose the alternating day hybrid model?
We believe in-person contact with students every other day is the best option for our students. Remote learning is challenging for some students and having in-person contact will help keep them on track and provide the support they need. Other models have 5-7 day breaks between in person instruction and we believe those models will adversely affect student engagement. We will provide an A/B day schedule for the first couple of months so parents can plan ahead. We also believe limiting students’ contacts to as few as possible adults will help mitigate the risk even further. The A/B model also provides 20% more in-person instruction on a bi-weekly basis for each pod.
Is a COVID-19 test required prior to the start of classes?
No, testing is not required for students or staff to begin the school year. According to the Cayuga County Health Department, testing may be required if an individual has been in proximate contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID -19. The individual may be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation by the health department.
Will the year definitely be starting on time?
At this time, we anticipate opening the hybrid model on September 8 or 9 depending on whether your child will attend in-person learning on an A or B day.
Will we be kept informed of current cases in our school? How will we be notified?
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, students and staff who have been in close contact with that individual will be notified by email or phone. The district will work proactively with the health department to complete contact tracing and determine who will be notified for an individual case.
If it is determined that a pod/group of students and staff must be quarantined due to a positive case of COVID-19, parents will be notified immediately. Timing is dependent on receipt of test results and contact tracing by the health department.
Will the kids have access to microwaves to heat food at lunch?
At this time, I do not anticipate that being an issue. An adult will be present to help students.
What will replace the time that was previously used for specials? More instruction, or is this time being used as a buffer due to new cleaning/hand washing protocols?
The ‘specials’ teachers at the elementary level will be asked to provide activities for classroom teachers to complete with their students. Each of the specials and support teachers will be assigned to a specific classroom ‘pod’ to work directly with students and the classroom teacher. I expect additional time will be needed to wash hands and for other safety protocols.
What metrics will be used to determine whether schools close again?
Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Health have created a formula to close schools based on the number of positive cases within a region. The district will work with the Cayuga County Health Department to determine if that threshold has been reached within our region or community. Please understand that these processes may change with little notice as the COVID-19 guidance is continually being updated. If you want to know current infection rate, please check out the link provided.
On July 13, 2020, the Governor announced;
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new, data-driven guidance for reopening schools in New York State. Schools in a region can reopen if that region is in Phase IV of reopening and if its daily infection rate remains below 5 percent or lower using a 14-day average since unPAUSE was lifted. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a 7-day average, after August 1. https://forward.ny.gov/percentage-positive-results-county-dashboard
Will desks and surfaces be sanitized between students if they switch classes?
Yes, we intend to have supplies for teachers in classrooms and have additional cleaning staff on hand to clean high contact surfaces and bathrooms.
Have air circulation units been updated or installed?
All have been cleaned and serviced. New units typically cost in the $10K range and require a voter approved capital project to be then approved by state education department which can take up to one year for approval.
How much PPE have you secured for the staff & students?
The district has followed the guidelines established by the NYS Department of Health and purchased the required equipment. In addition, the district will supply masks to students and staff if needed. Students may wear cloth masks from home.
Will they have the use of lockers?
All students will be issued a locker. With less than half of our students each day, there will be additional space between most lockers. Students can use their locker at the beginning and end of the day as well as before and after lunch. Otherwise, additional locker use will be discouraged.
At the secondary level, students may carry a regular size backpack since they will not be using their locker throughout the day. Students will bring their materials to and from school each day. Most teachers who use a textbook can post information in Google Classroom, so we shouldn't need to issue textbooks to students.
Southern Cayuga CSD Reopening Plan Update (July 31, 2020)
Dear SCCS Friends and Families,
I await news from Albany on whether schools will be permitted to reopen in September. The district is preparing for either contingency and yesterday uploaded our reopening plan to our webpage. I hope you find the information helpful.
Perhaps the biggest challenge remaining is the transportation of students as bus capacity will be severely curtailed due to social distancing. As some families have indicated they plan to keep their kids at home or to drive them to school, principals Luke Carnicelli and Jean Amodeo will continue to reach out to parents to confirm their decision. If families chose to keep their children home, the district will provide remote instruction. Over the next week, we ask families to commit to their decision and we’ll reevaluate the arrangement on November 1.
If you look around at school districts in Central New York, a variety of plans are being presented within neighboring communities. Our hybrid plan balances in-school and remote learning by alternating days. We believe our model will sustain student engagement as students will connect with their teachers and peers in-person every other day. We plan to provide a calendar through Thanksgiving indicating A and B days. We understand that any scenario creates challenges for families and we hope to resume normal operations as soon as possible.
We acknowledge that school for students will look different in the fall. Social distancing, masks, and health checks will be a daily practice. The district will be required to take the temperature and assess the well-being of all students and staff every day. Details for basic safety and wellness guidelines can be found at the beginning of the district’s reopening plan.
A typical day for students should begin with parents/guardians taking their temperature to be sure it is under 100°F. At the bus stop students will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked by an adult on the bus, in order to board the bus. We ask elementary parents to remain visible to the driver just in case their child’s temperature exceeds 100o F and they’re not allowed to ride on school transportation. Students will be social distanced on the bus unless seated with siblings.
Upon arrival at school, a health screening will take place and if no sign of illness, students will proceed directly to their classrooms. Anyone displaying signs of illness or a temperature over 100oF will remain isolated until they are picked up by parent/guardian. Detailed protocols for returning to school after an illness begin on page four of the reopening plan. Breakfast will be served in classrooms for the foreseeable future to help reduce student traffic in the hallways.
Once students have settled in classrooms, they may remove their masks if social distancing can be maintained. Elementary classrooms will be self-contained, with two adults working with 12 or fewer students on a daily basis. Our goal is to have no other students or staff members enter a self-contained pod of students at any point during the day. Our safety conscious approach will limit contact and thus lower the potential for infection. Pods of students will eat lunch in the cafeterias; we plan to have two students per table maintaining social distancing. Students will also have multiple recess/outside/mask breaks throughout the day. At the secondary school, students will transition between classrooms on a staggered schedule. Masks will be required whenever they travel outside of the classroom or cafeteria. If social distancing can be maintained, masks may be removed within classrooms. At the end of the day, all students will need to leave campus at dismissal time as there will be no afterschool activities. If fall sports and/or extracurricular activities are allowed to proceed in late September, that will change.
Our school reopening plan provides far greater detail. Please take time to review. Again, it is found on the homepage of the district website. Our primary goal is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff through this difficult time. Further updates will be provided as changes occur. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
SCCS Superintendent of Schools
Southern Cayuga CSD Reopening Plan Overview
New Yorkers have excelled as a community in their efforts to combat the coronavirus. As a result of our willingness to wear masks, maintain social distance, and isolate when needed, the reopening of school buildings is now a possibility for September 2020.
Southern Cayuga CSD has been planning for one of three potential scenarios for the fall. A return to in-person learning, a continuation of remote learning, or a combination of the two. The administrative team has reviewed extensive guidance documents provided by the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Department of Education to develop a reopening plan for our schools. We believe that students and staff need to return to school in a safe and responsible manner and as a school community, we must abide by the guidance provided.
If Southern Cayuga is permitted to reopen schools, we will utilize a hybrid instructional model, blending in-person instruction and remote learning on alternating days. Specifically, students would attend school in person on either an A or B day and stay home on the opposite day. The model reduces class size by 50%, allows for appropriate social distancing, and reduces the need for masks for a portion of the day. Students from the same household will attend in-person instruction on the same day.
Furthermore, elementary classrooms will be self-contained, with two adults working with 12 or fewer students on a daily basis. Our goal is to have no other students or staff members enter a self-contained pod of students at any point during the day. Our safety conscious approach will limit contact and thus lower the potential for infection. We recognize the safety challenges for our younger students and the need for additional adult support.
Our secondary school will also be at 50% capacity each day and students will notice far fewer students in classrooms and in the hallways during transitions. Bell schedules have been adjusted to reduce the number of students passing in hallways at the same time. Social distancing and masks will become a norm at school.
The purpose of the overview is to provide the basic ‘gist’ of what we are planning to do. Details can be found on the additional pages of this reopening document which can be located on the district webpage. Governor Cuomo announced that a decision about reopening schools would be forthcoming by August 7.
SCCS Superintendent of Schools
March 14, 2020
Dear Southern Cayuga Families,
As governments, businesses, sports, and other social groupings curtail events in an effort to contain the coronavirus and reduce the potential for individuals to be exposed, schools have been working diligently with state and local officials to do their part in keeping students and staff safe. Unfortunately, the time has come to close school. Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Southern Cayuga Central Schools and all component school districts of the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES will close until April 12, 2020. No students should report to school on Monday, March 16 or during the duration of the closure. This decision was not made lightly, and we know the impact and hardship this will present for our families and community; however, the risks of this virus to our school and community necessitates closure at this time.
We will continue to communicate and provide updates in the days and weeks ahead.
Superintendent of Schools
March 12, 2020
Dear Southern Cayuga Families,
As you may know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to New York State and we continue to receive guidance from local and state authorities regarding this virus.
First and foremost, if your child is sick, please keep your child home.
Our district nurses are closely monitoring the well-being of students and staff. If students display flu-like symptoms at school, we are required to send them home immediately. Please make sure that all of your contact information is current as it is imperative that we promptly isolate ill students from those who are healthy.
The CDC recommends two effective strategies to reduce the spread of illness; traditional hand washing with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds and covering one’s mouth when one coughs or sneezes. Using a tissue or the inside of one’s elbow to cover the mouth or nose is preferable to using the hands.
Our district continues to target the use of cleaning and disinfectant products on high touch surfaces such as doorknobs, drinking fountains, tables, desks, bus seats, and railings. By killing germs on these surfaces, we can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
As many of you might be curious, the county health department will notify if and when a school must close due to COVID-19. At this time, no schools have been closed in Cayuga County. If a staff member or student has been confirmed with COVID-19 at a school, the health department would close the school for an initial period of 24 hours and continue to assess the situation. Reopening a school would require a thorough cleaning and disinfection to be completed prior to staff and students reentering. A thorough cleaning would likely take more than a couple of days to complete. In addition, the elementary and secondary schools are drafting instructional plans in case of an extended closure.
Thank you for your support and for keeping your children home when they are sick.