Dobbs Ferry Middle School Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Will children/staff who have traveled to states on the NYS 14-day quarantine list be required to stay home from school during that time period?
- Yes- this is required under the law. We want to ensure that all of our students and staff returning to school on Tuesday, September 8th are safe and COVID-free. To try and mitigate the chance of infection, we are asking our school families to please adhere to the following advisory from New York State.
- New York State Travel Advisory
Please be aware that New York State has issued a travel advisory for anyone traveling into New York from one of the 33 states that have a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19. If your child will be in any of those 33 states, your child must quarantine for 14 days from the time they return to New York before they will be allowed to come to school.
With the first day of school scheduled for September 8th, that means that if you have traveled to any of those 33 states you must return from your travels no later than August 22nd and begin to quarantine if your child is planning to attend school and is participating in any of the hybrid models. Your health and safety means everything to us!
2. Why isn’t the District using Livestreaming when students are not in school?
- Live Streaming, although a valuable resource for some things, has little value as an educational learning tool. Think about logging on to your computer and watching a BOE meeting or other live streamed event. You are simply “staring/watching” a screen. There is no interaction between you and the people you are watching and they are unable to interact with you. We do not believe that middle school students simply “watching” a teacher teach other students has any value at all and would be extremely difficult for middle school students to sustain over the course of a school day. Yes - other Districts are using live streaming - we simply do not agree that this is the right remote learning environment for the Dobbs Ferry Middle School.
3. What will remote instruction look like in a hybrid model for children who are quarantined?
- If the whole class is quarantined, the class would most likely switch to remote learning. If individual children are sick, those parents should be in close contact with their assigned classroom teacher to figure out how to support their child while they are absent.
4. What would prompt the District to switch from hybrid to remote? (Is it only the infection rate guidance that Cuomo issued, or are there other District-specific events that would trigger a switch to remote?
- The infection rate as related by the Governor would certainly close schools in a region and require the switch to remote. If there are building-based cases, this will be a District decision determined by a number of factors. We would obtain guidance on this kind of closing decision from our District Medical Director, and it would also depend on how long it will take for cleaning and sanitizing. Closures of anywhere from 24-72 hours should be expected.
5. If you choose the remote learning option, will there be intervals where you can opt in or out?
- Yes. Current intervals (subject to change) include the following quarters; August 16-November 1, November 2-January 31, February 1-April 5, April 6-June 25. These dates have been revised since the survey.
6. Will any teacher who wishes to opt-in to remote teaching be accommodated?
- The District has obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act that require this if teachers meet the criteria as established by the CDC or DOH. A reasonable accommodation could be an assignment to remote instruction.
7. Will incoming 6th graders get to meet their teachers, tour school before opening day and get their lockers?
- Yes, the 6th grade students will be invited to participate in a special “meet and greet” with their teachers. They will meet their teachers, visit their classrooms, and tour the school. Lockers will not be used during the 20-21 school year. Students will not be assigned or be able to use lockers this year because of COVID precautions. They can use their individual backpack to carry all necessary books, pens, pads, etc. to and from school each day.
8. What will remote learning look like during the “off” days?
- When not on campus, students will complete assignments and learning opportunities that were assigned by their teachers during their live meet sessions. These assignments will be posted to Google Classroom and could include accessing educational software and collaborating with their classmates.
9. What is the Wednesday “Flex” days all about?
- The Wednesday Flex day will provide valuable opportunities for teachers to provide related and academic intervention services, virtually meet with students individually and/or in small groups as necessary, collaborate with colleagues, plan instruction, and respond to parent inquiries
10. What happens if a school holiday falls on a Monday?
- Wednesdays are designated as Flex Days. However, in the case of a Monday holiday or the Tuesday Election Day, that cohort of students will come to school that week on Wednesday to make sure they don’t miss their in-person day. For more detailed information on the Middle School hybrid program, please visit the “Reopening Dobbs Ferry Schools Website”
11. Do Blue/White student cohorts ever intermingle or collaborate on projects/assignments?
- While students will spend most of their in-schools hours with the same group of people, there will be opportunities to study offline with friends and work remotely on assignments.
12. What additional space in the building is being utilized as classroom space?
- By splitting the Middle School students into two cohorts, we have reduced the amount of students in the building, as well as each class at any one time. We are taking over many of the High School classrooms on the third floor. We will also be using the library, gymnasium, auditorium, and cafeteria for additional space.
13. Will Google Meet remain the remote learning method?
- Yes, Google Meets remain the remote learning method. Students will:
- Log into Google Meet or Classroom as appropriate at the scheduled time
- Remain only when the teacher is present
- Be sure you have all the supplies you need before logging in (pen, paper, Chromebook, and any other materials your teacher has asked you to bring)
- Mute your microphone when not speaking
- Stay fully engaged during the entire class
- If appropriate, use the chat function to ask a question or provide a response to another person’s question
- The District’s Code of Conduct will continue to be in full effect
- Daily attendance, consistent completion of school work, and participation in all class activities are required
14. What would happen if the Middle School has to go back to 100% remote learning?
- The plan for 100% remote instruction will be implemented in the event that conditions are such that we are unable to keep our school hybrid models open. The need to shift to a 100% remote learning position may be influenced by a variety of factors including directives from New York State and/or the NYS or Westchester County Health Departments.
Remote Learning at the Middle/High School:
- Follow student and teacher regular 9-period day
- Follow current “Wednesday” (condensed) Bell Schedule daily
- 8:12am - 2:20pm
- 38-minute periods (teachers 5 periods = 190 minutes live daily)
- 3-minute breaks between periods (passing time)
- Student lunch and Free Periods (Academic study) as scheduled
- Teacher lunch, preparation and professional period as scheduled
- 2:20pm - 3:20pm each day available for flexibility to meet with students individually and/or
- in small groups as necessary, collaborate with colleagues, plan instruction, and respond to parent inquiries
- ENL/AIS/Related Services provided as scheduled
15. What professional development have the teachers and administrators undergone to better prepare for remote learning?
- Throughout this summer and continuing into the fall all of the MS teachers have been engaged in various professional development opportunities. The focus of this learning has focused on teaching and learning in the virtual environment. Many teachers participated in our in-house, 15 hour course on Grades 6-8 Google Classroom.
- Topics included:
- Organization and Executive Functioning in GSuite
- Social Emotional Learning in Distance Learning
- SAMR Model of Technology use
- Assessment and Feedback
- Classroom, Google Meet, Jamboard, and other specific learning tools
- Topics included:
- Led by their Content Leaders, teachers have worked in subject specific teams to share best practices and newly acquired knowledge, as well as, design common language and expectations for students in the virtual environment. An additional Superintendent’s Conference Day was added prior to the school year. A significant amount of time will be provided for teachers to work in teams to hone their craft for both the hybrid and remote model.
16. Will you be sending around surveys throughout the year to check in about how the hybrid or remote learning is working for everyone?
- Yes, we will be regularly reviewing how things are going and asking for feedback and input from teachers and counselors, as well as parents and students.
17. How much oversight can there actually be for hand washing/sanitizing?
- Handwashing will be explicitly taught (ex. Instructional videos etc.) and emphasized to every student and class. Every grade level classroom will have hand sanitizer available and students will be encouraged to use it frequently. Both before and after lunch, they will also be reminded to wash their hands and there will be portable hand washing stations, as well as hand sanitizer, for those students needing to be in the cafeteria and other community areas.
18. Will you be doing temperature checks or COVID-19 testing?
- We are following the NYSED and CDC guidance on this procedure. Each morning parents will have to complete the daily health screening assessment at home, including a temperature check, using a web based application that can be done on a computer or smartphone. We have temperature kiosks that will be set up at school entrances and we will randomly check students’ temperatures to make sure everyone is complying as required. The District will take steps to ensure that any process has multiple avenues of completion and is not used as a basis to exclude students from school. Students who may require screening to be completed at school will be treated in a confidential manner and will have the screening completed as quickly as possible to minimize time away from class. COVID-19 testing will not be done on site. Students or staff with temperature or symptoms will be immediately isolated and referred to a testing center. We expect parents to partner with us in making sure that we do everything possible to keep our students and staff safe, so that we can continue to keep our youngest students in the school. This is a community responsibility.
19. Will specials and after-school activities be available?
- Yes, all exploratory classes are being offered as part of the students scheduled classes. However, our District Medical Director has advised us that we need to rethink all in-school chorus and band, including any performances because of the airborne nature of the virus. Therefore, singing and the use of band wind instruments will take place during remote instruction only. Live performances are suspended until further notice. After-school activities are suspended at this time. Clubs will take place virtually.
20. Will school community events be canceled?
- Most school community events will be cancelled or repurposed virtually at least for the time being because of the large number of people and the size of our community spaces.
21. Will Middle School school students be required to wear masks all day?
- Yes, unless prohibited for medical reasons cloth masks or surgical masks are preferred. All students will be given two cloth masks at the beginning of the school year. According to health officials, it is clear that masks *plus* social distancing are the most effective preventative measures in mitigating the chance of transmitting COVID-19.
22. How will restrooms be used and will they be cleaned after each use?
- All restrooms will be thoroughly disinfected in between cohorts days. Maximum capacity signs are posted on every bathroom and hand-washing signs will be located above each sink. To maintain social distancing, a limited number of sinks and toilets will be identified for use in each bathroom. We will be providing direct instruction to students regarding bathroom procedures. Bathrooms will also be cleaned twice daily.
23. Are Middle School students going to eat lunch in “The Commons” every day?
- Yes. Students will sit at individual tables that are spaced 6 feet apart. Students will be able to bring their lunch to school and/or buy a school lunch which will be a “grab n’ go” type meal.
24. Has the ventilation system been upgraded in the school and will every room be recycling fresh air?
- The Middle School air handlers and ventilation system allows fresh air to come into the building/classrooms continuously. In addition, the following measures have been taken:
- Replacing HVAC filters with increased MERV 11 filtration which is the maximum capacity of what our HVAC systems are capable of. Guidance requires MERV 8.
- Opening windows and doors to increase outside air ventilation.
- Using HEPA filtered air purifiers in areas with no windows nor access to outside ventilation