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HFM BOCES reopening plan available

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Staff Reopening FAQs

Below are answers to frequently asked questions submitted by HFM BOCES staff. We will continue to add to this page as additional questions are submitted. Please note that some questions related to specific individuals or programs have been addressed directly with the staff member who submitted them. Every question submitted will be responded to either here or directly to the individual.

Information about the HFM reopening plan was also shared during a series of forums for staff. Click here to view a recording of the Aug. 20 forum.

Are face masks required? 

Yes. Face coverings are required to be worn by all individuals at all times except for meals and at times designated by an administrator or staff.

Will BOCES be providing face masks to students and staff?

Face coverings and related necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided to students and staff at no cost, and we will have an adequate supply. Staff and students are also allowed and encouraged to use their own acceptable face covering. Face shields may be used by some students and staff, but they are to be worn in addition to face masks, not in place of them. Videos, posters and in-person instruction will be provided to students and staff regarding proper procedures for mask use and respiratory hygiene.

How will adult mask wearing be enforced?

Adults are required to wear a mask.  Signage regarding mask wearing will be posted in all areas. Supervisors will address individual non compliance. Please speak with your supervisor if you have concerns.

Will health screenings be required before students and staff report to school each day? 

Prior to entering any BOCES location, individuals must complete a medical screening process. HFM BOCES will utilize a web-based school health management system (ParentSquare) to the greatest extent possible. The health management system will be reviewed daily to ensure all those present in school have completed the health screening.

Will visitors be screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes, visitors will be required to complete a health screening and temperature check upon arrival at our buildings and visitor logs will be maintained. Only essential visitors, approved by BOCES will be allowed on school campuses.

If staff have to quarantine due to a COVID-19 related issue, how do they record the absence?

Frontline, our absence management system will have an option for COVID-related absences.

What if a staff member/student is unable to wear a mask for a medical reason? Will parents/staff need to provide a medical note if they or their child is unable to wear a mask?

Students who are unable to medically tolerate a face covering are not subject to the required use of a face covering; a medical note will be required. The physical health and mental health of all students and staff will be considered on a case by case basis. When face coverings cannot be worn, social distancing and alternative PPE, such as a face shield, will be considered.

For students with an IEP or 504 plan, limitations to face coverings must be indicated in those documents.

Will students be eating in the cafeterias?

For students served by the HFM School Nutrition Service, meals will not be served in cafeterias. Meals will be provided in classrooms based on a pre-ordering system. Each pre-ordered meal will be labeled with each student’s name. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced. Similar procedures will be followed for students who are served meals by their home districts.

Will restrooms for students and staff be cleaned throughout the day, or just after school?

Regular cleaning and disinfection of our facilities will occur, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces. Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more often depending on frequency of use.

We are currently hiring additional custodial staff to complete this extra work.

What if a staff member or student develops COVID-19 symptoms during the school day? Will there be a separate location to take ill students/staff within the school building.

HFM BOCES requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. BOCES has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. The COVID- 19 isolation areas are separate from other areas used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, etc. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and will have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.

Will students be expected to socially distance on fire or lock down drills?

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. PPE will also be in use. Modifications may be necessary such as implementing a staggered schedule for drills. The modifications will depend on the school/programs.

Will students need to socially distance 12 feet for P.E. and music (singing), as per state guidelines?

Yes. We will be following all CDC and NYSED guidance related to social distancing requirements.

Are there parents/guardians that are requesting all home learning for their child(ren)?

Yes. Each program administrator will be reviewing the requests.

Will it be mandatory for someone to come pick up an ill student?

Students with symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent directly to the dedicated isolation area. Parents will be contacted and students will be escorted from the isolation area to their parent/guardian when they arrive at school. If parents have no way to come to school to pick up their child, we will work with the school district to arrange transportation for the student.

BOCES requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have no symptoms before returning to school.  The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

Required documentation to return to school for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 may include one or more of the following based upon input from the local department of health:

  • Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
  • Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
  • Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

Are the ventilation systems in our schools up to the standards set forth by the state?

HVAC contractors have visited the HFM main campus to ensure our system meets safety requirements. Adjustments have been made to increase ventilation as much as possible. BOCES administrators have also been in touch with our component school districts to ensure their systems meet requirements.

What is our plan if there are any COVID cases in any of the component school districts, recognizing that even if the students do not participate in any BOCES programs, their fellow students and our teachers do.

HFM BOCES and our component districts are required to assist local Department of Health officials with contact tracing. Our reopening plan addresses contact tracing in more detail.

Is BOCES providing regular, rapid results testing for teachers, staff, and students when asymptomatic spread is so prevalent?

Based on the guidance of our local public health agencies we are not currently providing testing. Health officials have advised us that currently the priority is to test sick/symptomatic people first, then test asymptomatic individuals if they may have been exposed. Essentially, if a person has been in direct contact with a COVID positive person, then an asymptomatic person would need to be tested. It is not clinically required to test people unless they are symptomatic.

Is hand sanitizer allowed on school buses

On Aug. 21, NYSED provided an update regarding hand sanitizer on school buses. The department has temporarily approved the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers (40 oz. or less) on buses and will allow students and staff to have personal-size quantities (8 oz. of less) while aboard a bus. Installation of dispensers is only allowed in the area of the driver and must be secured to withstand any sudden stop or impact. Personal-size hand sanitizer should also be secured when not in use.