District-Wide School Safety Plan
School districts stand at risk from a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and man-made disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. Project Save is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in each school district and its schools.
School districts must be prepared to handle serious emergencies quickly and effectively. The district-wide safety plan is required by law to ensure that schools are ready to prevent and minimize the effects of serious incidents and are able coordinate efficiently with local and county resources. The district-wide plan is consistent with a detailed emergency response plan at the school building level.
The HFM Board of Education adopted district-wide and building level safety plans after a public hearing that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties. The plan is reviewed regularly and updated annually. Building level plans are confidential and provided to local police, sheriff and state police agencies, and are not subject to disclosure under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law or any other provision of law, in accordance with Education Law Section 2801-a. The district-wide plan is made available to the public.
PROJECT SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education)
Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES DISTRICT – WIDE SCHOOL SAFETY PLAN
Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17, Updated July 2021
Emergencies and violent incidents in school districts are critical issues that must be addressed in an expeditious and effective manner. Districts are required to develop a district-wide school safety plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of the district with local and county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies. The district-wide plan is responsive to the needs of all schools within the district and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level. Districts stand at risk from a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and manmade disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in each school district and its schools.
The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery (HFM) BOCES supports the SAVE Legislation and intends to facilitate the planning process. The Superintendent of Schools encourages and advocates on-going district-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.
The HFM BOCES District-wide School Safety Plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the HFM BOCES District Board of Education, the Superintendent of the HFM BOCES District appointed a District-wide School Safety Team and charged it with the development and maintenance of the District-wide School Safety Plan. The district wide plan was updated as of July 2021.
B. Identification of School Teams
As per Commissioner’s Regulation, Section 155.17 (c)(13), the HFM BOCES District-Wide Safety Team is composed of administrators, school safety personnel, and other school personnel.
The Chief Emergency Officer for HFM BOCES is the District Superintendent, Dr. David Ziskin.
C. Concept of Operations
1. The District-Wide School Safety Plan shall be directly linked to the individual Building-Level Emergency Response Plans for the school building. This District-Wide School Safety Plan will guide the development and implementation of Building Level Safety Plans.
2. This Plan has been developed using the New York State Education Guidance Document.
3. In the event of an emergency or violent incident, the initial response to all emergencies will be by the School Emergency Response Team.
4. Upon activation of the School Emergency Response Team, the Superintendent of Schools or their designee will be notified and, when appropriate, local emergency officials will also be notified.
5. County and State resources through existing protocols may supplement emergency response actions, including post-incident responses.
D. Plan Review and Public Comment
- This plan has been updated as of July 2021.
- The district-wide and building-level plan was adopted by the School Board in 2001 after a public hearing that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties. The plan must be formally adopted by the Board of Education.
- Full copies of the District-wide School Safety Plan and any amendments will be submitted to the New York State Education Department within 30 days of adoption.
- This plan will be reviewed periodically during the year and will be maintained by the District-wide School Safety Team. The required annual review occurred in July of 2021. Building-level Emergency Response Plans will be supplied to local police, the Sheriff’s department and the State Police within 30 days of the update.
- While linked to the District-Wide School Safety Plan, Building-Level Safety Plans shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law or any other provision of law, in accordance with Education Law Section 2801-a.
A. Prevention/Intervention Strategies
- Character Education Program
- Agency consultation provided in schools
- Dignity for All Students Act policy
- Code of Conduct policy
1. Information will be available to parents/guardians on how to identify potentially violent behaviors. Information is available from the school guidance office.
2. If a teacher or administrator feels help for a student is warranted, it will be discussed with appropriate school personnel to determine the next step.
3. An interpersonal violence prevention education package will be taught as appropriate.
4. The HFM BOCES recognizes that communication is a vital key in the prevention and intervention of violence in schools; HFM BOCES will continue to explore programs based on need.
5. HFM BOCES referral process is utilized for the reporting of potentially violent incidents and following HFM BOCES’s Code of Conduct.
6. Additionally, counselors are available in every school for students to share information where the source can be confidential.
Training, Drills, and Exercises
Three levels of annual multi-hazard school training will be considered in this plan for the upcoming school year:
- Required drills to be held throughout the school year (8 evacuation, 4 lockdown drills)
- General staff awareness training conducted either by BOCES HSRM staff and/or online training
- General student awareness training of emergency response procedures conducted by building staff (i.e. fire drills, lockdown drills)
Each year the District-Wide School Safety Team and/or Building-Level Teams will consider appropriate training for each of the groups listed above.
- Lockout and Lockdown drills are conducted throughout the school year, also, an early release drill is done at least once a year.
- After each lockdown drill we have a building-wide meeting to discuss the drill and make changes if necessary.
Implementation of School Security
School staff is trained to be vigilant pertaining to threats against students and staff (i.e. bullying, violent behavior, etc.). HFM BOCES continues to promote a culture of respect for the students and staff through the Dignity for All Students Act.
- Surveillance cameras placed in various locations on campus.
- Photo ID cards are issued to staff and tags to visitors, plus a sign in and sign out log. Visitors are required to wear a “Visitor” tag.
- Raptor Visitor Management system to be used to screen all visitors starting school year 2021-2022
- Swipe card system used for all staff.
- All outside doors to remained locked, but will be accessible as an exit.
- Buzzer system with camera at each main entrance.
Vital Educational Agency Information
Each Building-Level Safety Plan will include the following information:
- Transportation needs
- Business and home telephone numbers of key officials.
The Building-Level School Safety Team will ensure that this information is accurate and will be updated routinely.
B. Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behavior
1. Paying attention to early warning signs can help prevent or minimize violence to self and others. Certain emotional and behavioral signs, when viewed in context, can signal a troubled student. Teachers are trained to recognize the signs that can be used to signal a student who may need help. The more signs a student exhibits the more likely it is that he or she may need intervention. Early warning signs include, but not limited to:
- Depressed mood or chronic crying
- Decline in school performance
- Verbal expressions about one’s own death
- Giving away important personal possessions
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Sudden lifting of severe depression
- Recent withdrawal from therapy or psychological counseling
- Purchase of knives, guns, or ropes
- Verbal or written communications which appear to be saying “good-bye”
- Feelings of guilt
- Violent, aggressive behavior
- Exaggerated mood swings
- Running away
- Talking about revenge or getting even with parents
- Confusion and despair resulting from sudden death or suicide of a peer
- Any sudden obvious changes in behavior
- Eating disorders – changes in eating habits
- Sleeping disorders – insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Low energy level, constant fatigue
- Decreased productivity or effectiveness
- Pessimism about the future or brooding about the past
- Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activity
- Inability to show pleasure
- Reactions that seem inappropriate to the situation
- Statements of inadequacy or low self-esteem
- Social withdrawal – pulls away from friends
- Irritability or excessive anger (which may be directed towards parents, caretakers, or siblings), rebelliousness, and belligerence
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Physical complaints
- Preoccupation with illness, death, or catastrophic events
- Decreased attention, concentration, or ability to think clearly
2. If a teacher or administrator feels help for a student is warranted, it will be discussed with appropriate school personnel to determine the next step.
3. The Superintendent of Schools will set specific times for the building principal(s), in conjunction with the Professional Development Committee, to organize activities of particular concern as needed.
C. Hazard Identification
HFM BOCES has established procedures in the Building-Level Safety Plans for the identification of potential sites and the internal and/or external hazards that may be present in them. These procedures are developed in coordination with the local Emergency Management Office, Fire Department, and law enforcement agencies, and the use of a Risk Probability Checklist.
Location of Potential Sites: State Hwy 67 Internal or External Hazard: External
Location of Potential Sites: School Heating System Internal or External Hazard: Internal
Location of Potential Sites: School Bus Internal or External Hazard: External
Location of Potential Sites: Athletic Fields Internal or External Hazard: External
Location of Potential Sites: Field Trips Internal or External Hazard: External
Hazard Assessment (some external hazards are county wide)
Predictability: 1 Approx. Frequency: 5 Warning Time: 1 Seriousness: 2 Possible Responses: 4, 5
Predictability: 1 Approx. Frequency: 5 Warning Time: 1 Seriousness: 5 Possible Responses: 1,3
Predictability: 1 Approx. Frequency: 2 Warning Time: 1 Seriousness: 4 Possible Responses: 1, 3
Predictability: 3 Approx. Frequency: 2 Warning Time: 2 Seriousness: 5 Possible Responses: 1, 3
Predictability: 1 Approx. Frequency: 5 Warning Time: 1 Seriousness: 3 Possible Responses: 2
Predictability: 5 Approx. Frequency: 1 Warning Time: 4 Seriousness: 5 Possible Responses: 1,3
Predictability: 1) unpredictable through 5) very predictable
Frequency: 1) more than once/year; 2) annually; 3) every 2-3 years; 4) every 5-10 years; 5) rarely
Warning Time: 1) none; 2) minutes; 3) hours; 4) days; 5) exact likely dates known
Seriousness: 1) disaster (entire community w/casualties); 2) disaster (entire school w/casualties); 3) emergency (affects one or more individuals w/casualties); 4) emergency (entire community no casualties); 5) emergency (entire school no casualties)
Possible Responses: 1) Shelter-in-Place; 2) Hold-in-Place; 3) Evacuation; 4) Lockout; 5) Lockdown
A. Notification and Activation
Policies and procedures for contacting appropriate law enforcement officials in the event of a violent incident.
- The person in charge (Incident Commander) will decide if the level of the incident classifies it as a “violent incident” (consistent with the definition of such an incident as defined in the district’s Code of Conduct). If appropriate, the Incident Commander will call 911.
- In a crisis situation involving a violent incident, school staff should call 911 and notify the Incident Commander.
Procedures to contact parents, guardians or persons in parental relation to the students in the event of a violent incident or an early dismissal
- Parents/Guardians will be contacted via telephone and school website automatically by the school district. Notification also is provided on our Facebook and Twitter pages for our facility. In some cases, the public/parents may also be notified via media outlets.
B. Situational Responses
The district uses emergency information folders in each room for important directional information when a response action is needed. The Building-Level Safety Plans include identification of specific procedures for each action depending upon the emergency.
We have incorporated response protocols defined by the state education department. It establishes definitions of lockout, lockdown, sheltering, hold-in-place and evacuation. Our responses are based upon these guidelines and are included in the Building Level School Safety Plan.
Responses to Acts of Violence: Implied or Direct Threats/Acts of Violence
HFM BOCES has enacted policies and procedures dealing with violence. These policies and procedures deal with the safety of the school community, as well as the range of disciplinary action to be used when responding to threats or acts of violence.
Procedures and Guidelines are included in the Building-Level School Safety Plans for HFM BOCES. We use the NYS Police guidelines to bomb threats as protocol.
Procedures and Guidelines are included in the Building-Level School Safety Plans for HFM BOCES.
Procedures and Guidelines are included in the Building-Level School Safety Plans for the HFM BOCES.
Procedures and Guidelines are included in the Building-Level School Safety Plans for the HFM BOCES.
Procedures and Guidelines are included in the Building-Level School Safety Plans for the HFM BOCES. Also see Pandemic Response in Appendix 6.
Arrangements for Obtaining Emergency Assistance from Local Government
Policies and procedures for contacting appropriate law enforcement officials in the event of a violent incident are included in the Building Level Response Plan for HFM BOCES.
- The person in charge (Incident Commander) will decide if the level of the incident classifies it as a “violent incident” (consistent with the definition of such an incident as defined in the HFM BOCES’s Code of Conduct). If appropriate, the Incident Commander will call 911.
- In a crisis situation involving a violent incident, school staff should call 911 and notify the Incident Commander.
Arrangements for Obtaining Advice and Assistance from Local Government Officials
Procedures for obtaining advice and assistance from local government officials including the county or city officials responsible for implementation of Article 2-B of the Executive Law.
- The person in charge (Incident Commander) will decide if the level of the incident warrants obtaining emergency assistance. If appropriate, the Incident Commander will call 911
- In a crisis situation, school staff should call 911 and notify the Incident Commander.
District Resources Available for Use in an Emergency
Building Resources: Kitchen and serving areas
Transportation Resources: School buses, school vans, and maintenance vehicles
Personnel Resource: Staff with CPR/FA training, bus drivers
Other Resources: AEDs, Portable Fire Extinguishers
Agencies authorized to Request Use of Resources:
County Emergency Management Office
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
American Red Cross
Local Fire Departments
FMCC Public Safety
Protective Action Options
Superintendent of Schools or designee will announce the closing of school. Communication will be sent to all officials needed to proceed with the cancellation.
1) Preliminary Procedures
a) An annual request is made of parents of students to notify the school district where their child should go in the event that they are not home during school hours. Drivers will be alerted and substitutes contacted by the Transportation Office as to the possibility of an early or emergency dismissal.
2) All students are transported by bus back to their home schools.
Evacuation (before, during and after school hours)
Procedures and guidelines are included in the building-level school safety plans for HFM BOCES for an evacuation.
Sheltering Sites (internal and external)
Procedures and guidelines are included in the building-level school safety plans for HFM BOCES for sheltering sites.
Support for HFM BOCES
All HFM BOCES’s manpower and resources will be available if it should endure an emergency. Mental health counseling, building security and restoration will be items of primary focus. Response and recovery will be a district goal.
Besides building security and restoration, the strategies will also include damage assessment, relocation and continuation of the educational process. A post-incident response critique, the notes from the incident command team and lessons learned will be assessed. Plans to mitigate the likelihood of occurrence or impact, if the incident does occur again, will be reviewed. If possible, efforts will be made to improve HFM BOCES facilities resulting in them being more resistant to suffering similar or worse damage.
Disaster Mental Health Services
HFM BOCES understands how an emergency can have a major effect on the well being of students, staff and community at large. HFM BOCES will coordinate resources with County Mental Health Services and the Post-Incident Crisis Response Team.
Appendix 1: Listing of all school buildings covered by the district-wide school safety plan
Building: HFM BOCES, 2755 State Hwy 67, Johnstown, NY 12095
Appendix 2: Policies and procedures for working with the Media
- Media interaction may be handled by: Superintendent or Designee
- A law enforcement / emergency response agency PIO; or
- Jointly, by both PIO’s listed above
Public Information Officer Information
- Incident Commander and PIO functions may be handled by two different persons.
- HFM BOCES PIO may work under, over or in cooperation with law enforcement and emergency response agency PIO’s.
- The PIO should set forth clear media guidelines and communicate these guidelines to the media in writing.
- The PIO should use a press release template for both a news conference script and/or a written press release.
- The PIO should receive information and forms from the Incident Commander and other key function personnel on a regular basis throughout the emergency event.
- Students, parents and guardians should be mindful of the situation during an emergency event when approached by the media for an interview. Safety and security issues may be comprised
Students should not communicate with the media via cell phone or other type of communication when on campus during any type of emergency situation.
Appendix 3: Student Release in an Emergency
Students will be released only to parents and persons identified on the HFM BOCES Emergency Card. They may be asked to provide proof of identification upon arrival in order for the school to release the student(s). During an extreme emergency, students will be released at designated reunion location(s). Parents should be patient and understanding with the student release process.
Appendix 4: Emergency Contact information form
Located within each Main Office
Policies and procedures for responding to implied, or direct threats of violence or acts of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel, and visitors to the school:
- Corporal Punishment
- Alcohol and Other Substances
- Child Abuse and Maltreatment
- Drug Free Workplace
- Firearms in School
- Policy for Maintenance of Public Order on School Property
- Code of Conduct
- Sexual Harassment
- Student Management Policy
- Title IX/504/Civil Rights
Appendix 6: Pandemic Response
In accordance with state Education Law, HFM BOCES has developed a pandemic response plan in the event a public health emergency involving a communicable disease is declared.
HFM BOCES will work closely with the county health departments in Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties to determine the need for activation of this plan.
It is possible that HFM BOCES programs and our component school districts may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning during a pandemic based on recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies and state stay-at-home orders. The level of infection, the spread of virus and response to the disease in our community will be at the forefront of our decisions regarding the safe operation of school programs.
BOCES has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district will use its existing communication channels – including the HFM website, emails, mass notification system alerts, signage, training opportunities and other means to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout a pandemic.
Health & Safety
As appropriate, HFM BOCES will develop resources to educate parents/guardians and staff members regarding the signs of communicable illness and will require daily health screenings for anyone entering a program location, if appropriate.
Prior to entering any BOCES location, individuals must complete a medical screening process. HFM BOCES will utilize a web-based school health management system for screening all staff and students to the greatest extent possible.
The following requirements will also be in place:
- For staff or students who do not have internet access, in-person screening protocols will be followed.
- Visitors, contractors and vendors will be screened prior to entering the building using a paper questionnaire.
- Staff will be required to monitor their own temperatures prior to their arrival and throughout the day. Anyone whose symptoms response changes from a “No” to “Yes” during the day, must contact their supervisor immediately and await further instruction.
SOCIAL DISTANCING, FACE COVERINGS & PPE
HFM BOCES has developed protocols for maintaining social distancing of all students, faculty, and staff when on school facilities, grounds and transportation.
To ensure compliance with physical distancing requirements, HFM BOCES will do the following:
- HFM BOCES programs will require that all students, staff and visitors maintain an appropriate social distance as recommended by health officials whenever possible on school facilities, grounds and transportation.
- Measurements of classrooms will be taken and desks, tables, etc. will be arranged to provide proper distancing.
- Bi-directional traffic in hallways and other common areas will be limited, and the direction of foot traffic will be designated by floor markings.
- Indoor and outdoor areas of school buildings will be repurposed as needed; with consideration given to the safety of students/staff with allergies, asthma, etc. When necessary, classes with limited space will utilize other available rooms in the building and additional staff will be utilized and lessons will be live streamed into additional rooms.
- During student crisis intervention that prevents social distancing, PPE will be used to the greatest extent possible. Student safety will be paramount when intervention is needed.
- Post social distancing markers using tape or signs.
- Tightly confined spaces (i.e. elevators) will be occupied by only one individual at a time.
- Limit in-person gatherings as much as possible and use tele- or video-conferencing when possible. Essential in-person gatherings will be held in open, well-ventilated spaces with appropriate social distancing among participants.
- Establish designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.
HFM BOCES will follow any guidance from local health officials regarding the requirement of face coverings.
Because students and staff may need to be prepared to wear a face covering if another person unexpectedly cannot socially distance, they will be required to wear a face covering in all common areas (e.g., entrances and exits) and when traveling around the school.
Face coverings will be provided to students and staff, if needed, at no cost.
Individuals may remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and for short breaks, if possible, so long as they maintain appropriate social distance.
Staff, students and visitors are allowed to wear their own acceptable face covering if they choose.
Those with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so but, alternative options will be provided (i.e., face shield and/or plastic (polycarbonate) separator). Any special circumstances concerning masks should be documented in the students IEP, if applicable.
BOCES will post signs throughout the buildings and will instruct students, parents/guardians and staff, contractors and vendors on:
- The proper way to wear face coverings
- Washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering
- Proper respiratory hygiene
- Proper way to discard disposable face coverings
- Face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance
HFM BOCES has a plan in place for obtaining and maintaining adequate supplies of cloth face coverings for school staff, students who forget their masks and PPE for use by school health professionals.
INFECTION CONTROL STRATEGIES
HFM BOCES will utilize several different infection control strategies, including time management, plastic (polycarbonate) separators and alcohol-based hand rub dispensers and staggered arrival and dismissal times.
These strategies will support appropriate social distancing whenever possible:
- Time Management: School leaders should manage time and schedules to reduce student use of the corridors. The traditional practice of changing classes between periods results in congested hallways and creates challenges to precludes social distancing.
- Leave Doors Open: To reduce the spread of the virus from touching door levers and knobs, doors may be fixed in the open position. This will only be permitted at doors without door closers and doors which are not fire rated.
- Plastic (Polycarbonate) Separators: The use of light-transmitting plastics is recommended in locations where social distance or mask requirements cannot be complied with or easily regulated. These may be added to places such as reception desks, in between sinks in bathrooms and used in classrooms or spaces that social distancing is not possible. Reception areas will also have impermeable dividers installed.
- HFM BOCES will make every effort to increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible (such as opening windows and doors) while maintaining health and safety protocols, particularly for younger students.
- Alcohol-based Hand Rub Dispensers: Alcohol-based Hand-Rub Dispensers will be installed in locations throughout HFM BOCES locations at entrances and where hand washing is not readily available in accordance with FCNYS 2020 Section 5705.
- Points of Congestion: Social distancing should be maintained in areas that may become congested such as entry doors at arrival and dismissal times. Social distancing and face coverings will be required at these spots at all times. Staggering arrival and dismissal times will be used when appropriate to help with these congested areas.
MANAGEMENT OF ILL PERSONS, CONTACT TRACING AND MONITORING
HFM BOCES requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If a nurse is not available, ill students and staff will be sent home to follow up with their health professional. If several students are waiting to see the school nurse, students the recommended social distance. BOCES will designate areas to separate individuals with symptoms from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.
PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspected or confirmed case, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If a N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.
School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.
Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).
HFM BOCES will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.
To assist the local health department with contact, HFM BOCES has developed a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program through a web-based program.
HFM BOCES will assist with contact tracing by:
- Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members using the Frontline absence reporting system for employees and SchoolTool for students.
- Ensuring student schedules are up to date.
- Keeping a log of any visitor, which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited.
- Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program.
If a case is discovered in the school, in consultation with the local health department, BOCES will do the following:
- School administrators will collaborate and coordinate with local health officials to make school closure and large event cancellation decisions.
- Schools may be closed for physical attendance of students, if necessary, based on public health guidance and in coordination with the local DOH.
- Follow established program plans for continuity of education, medical and social services, and meal programs and establish alternate mechanisms for these to continue.
- Schools might need to implement short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in a school building. If this happens, CDC recommends the following procedures:
- Closing off areas used by ill person(s) and locking off area(s), signage can also be used to ensure no one enters the area. If possible, wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Do not use the area(s) until cleaning and disinfection has taken place.
- Opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill person(s), focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
- Communicating as soon as possible with staff, parents, and students.
DOH guidance/procedures for when someone tests positive:
- In consultation with the local DOH, a school official may consider whether school closure is warranted and period of time (prior to re-opening) based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local DOH.
- In accordance with guidance for quarantine at home after close contact, the classroom or office where the positive individual was based will typically need to close temporarily as students or staff quarantine.
- Additional close contacts at school outside of a classroom should also quarantine at home.
- Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff will not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.
If Students or Staff become Ill with Symptoms of communicable disease at school
HFM BOCES requires students or staff with signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. Students will be supervised in the isolation area while awaiting transport home and will maintain the appropriate social distance. Students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian. Students or staff will be referred to a healthcare provider and provided resources regarding testing.
Return to School after Illness
HFM BOCES has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:
- Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
- Negative diagnostic test result
- Symptom resolution, or release from isolation
HFM BOCES will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a positive person.
The determination on whether a test needs to be conducted will be determined by an individual’s healthcare provider or the local department of health.
In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will work with the following providers:
- Sara Boerenko, Montgomery County Public Health Director, 518-853-8200
- Laurel Headwell, Fulton County Public Health Director, 518-736-5720
- BOCES physician.
HFM programs will emphasize healthy hygiene practices for students and staff by providing initial and refresher education in hand and respiratory hygiene, along with providing adequate supplies and time for frequent hand hygiene. Signs will be posted throughout our facilities (e.g., entrances, restrooms, cafeterias, classrooms, administrative offices, auditoriums, custodial staff areas) and regular messaging will be shared with the school community. Signage will be used to remind individuals to:
- Stay home if they feel sick.
- Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
- Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
- Adhere to social distancing instructions.
- Report symptoms.
- Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
- Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Protocols will also be communicated to parents/guardians via the HFM BOCES website and other tools to observe for signs of illness in their child that require staying home from school.
Students and staff must carry out the following hand hygiene practices:
● Wash hands routinely with soap (any kind) and water for at least 20 seconds.
● Dry hands completely after washing. Use paper towels to dry hands if available instead of a hand dryer if they are available.
● If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on the hands until it is completely absorbed. DO NOT dry hands if sanitizer is used.
Hand washing should occur:
● Before and after eating (e.g. snacks and lunch).
● After going to the restroom or after assisting a student with toileting.
● After using a tissue.
● Before and after using shared materials.
● Before and after putting on or taking off face masks.
● After coming in from the outdoors.
● Anytime hands are visibly soiled.
BOCES programs will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations, as follows:
● For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
● For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical. Hand sanitizing stations will be available in common areas, classrooms, near entrances and exits and other locations.
● Accommodations for students who cannot use hand sanitizer will be made.
As recommended, students and staff must carry out the following respiratory hygiene practices.
● Cover a cough or sneeze using a tissue. If a tissue is used, it should be thrown away immediately.
● If you don’t have a tissue when sneezing or coughing, sneeze into your elbow.
● Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
● Face coverings are protective. Wearing a face covering will keep the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being widely dispersed into the air.
CLEANING AND DISINFECTING
BOCES will ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH.
Examples of facility types where cleaning and disinfection frequency will be distinguished include:
- Athletic training rooms, locker rooms
- Health offices, isolation rooms
- Administrative offices (main office, reception area)
- Frequently touched surfaces in common areas (door handles, elevator buttons, copy machine keypads, etc.)
- Computer labs
- Science labs
- Maintenance offices and work areas
- Bus Garage
- Buses, school vehicles
- Large meeting areas (auditoriums, gymnasiums, music rooms)
- Playgrounds (cleaning only)
- Outdoor seating areas (plastic or metal)
Students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and such information will be provided to parents and/or legal guardians on ways to reinforce this at home.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. This will include desks and cafeteria tables, which should be cleaned and disinfected between each individual’s use. Cleaning and disinfection will be rigorous and ongoing and will occur at least daily, or more frequently as needed.
The HFM BOCES will ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.
We recognize that some students and staff members are at an increased risk for developing communicable diseases, live with a person who is at an increased risk, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment. It is our goal that these individuals are able to safely participate in educational activities.
In consultation with home districts, student population reviews will be conducted to identify any students that would fall into a vulnerable population who are at increased risk. Special circumstances will be discussed and accommodations will be established on a case by case basis.
Identified students will be offered alternate approaches, such as alternative schedules or hybrids of in-person and remote learning.
Additional PPE will be provided to individuals with underlying health conditions
Accommodations for students and staff in vulnerable populations or who live with persons in a vulnerable population will be addressed individually and will be determined on a case by case basis. Staff members who are concerned about returning to campus must contact Human Resources.
VISITORS ON CAMPUS
Only essential visitors, approved by HFM BOCES, will be allowed on school campuses. Essential visitors to facilities will be required to wear face coverings and will be restricted in their access to our school buildings. Essential visitors will be required to complete health screening protocols prior to entering the building. Parents/guardians will report to the front office and not go beyond unless it is for the safety or well-being of their child.
SCHOOL SAFETY DRILLS
BOCES programs will conduct fire (evacuation) drills and lockdown drills as required by education law and regulation and the fire code without exceptions. Embedded programs will participate in home school drills as required. Drills will be conducted in a manner that maintains social distancing at exits and gathering points outside the building, while still preparing students to respond in emergencies.
In the event of a government ordered shutdown we are required to have a plan for future shutdowns that may occur. As part of that plan we are required to provide information on those positions that would be required to be on-site or in district for us to continue to function as opposed to those positions that could realistically work remotely. Below is a list of employees essential for HFM BOCES:
- Deputy Superintendent
- Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs
- Chief Financial Officer
- Facility Director
- IT Personnel
- Transportation staff
- Principals/Coordinators of BOCES programs (CTE, Adirondack Academy, PTECH)
- Special Education Director and Coordinators
- Food Service Workers
- Instructional Staff
- Support Staff
- HSRM staff
Employees deemed non-essential and will telecommute will be provided with the necessary technology (laptop, software, cellphone, etc.) in order to be able to complete their work responsibilities.