Communication & Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the district has sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, and employee unions. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations. We have asked our community to participate in an online survey to gather their initial thoughts. We regularly update the community via our website and our social media channels, through which we also solicit feedback. We will be holding a town hall-type event as well. Both the administrative and teachers union have been excellent partners as this plan has developed.

The district remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the district website at, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the website homepage, was discussed publicly at our recent Board of Education meeting, and shared widely via our social media channels, as applicable. Every effort has been made to ensure that the plan is accessible to all individuals in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the WordPress feature available on the district website. The website can be translated in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district 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 our Auto-Dialer, our student and family emails, our website, and our social media channels– as well as appropriate signage and training opportunities to support the dissemination of consistent messaging regarding new protocols and procedures, expectations, requirements and options related to school operations throughout the pandemic. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the WordPress feature available on the district website. Additionally, we are fortunate to have our own ESL teacher on staff who can make direct family contact to our families who need translation.

The district is committed to establishing and maintaining regular channels of communication and has reviewed and determined which methods have proven to be the most effective in communications with our school community. The district will rely on our auto-dialer, our website, traditional mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate news, requirements and updates related to reopening and in-person instruction, including social distancing requirements, proper wearing of face coverings and proper hand and respiratory hygiene. The information that we will share will be based on state guidance and our building teams, our administrative teams, our our Head Nurse, our District Medical Director, and Capital Region BOCES Safety Service.

In support of remote learning, the district will make computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. From grades 1-12 we are a 1-1 Chromebook district. Every student and teacher across these grades has their own device. As well, should an IEP of 504 Plan call for additional devise we make those available. The district will provide students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including traditional phone, email, and via our student learning platforms like Google Classroom or GoGuardian.

The district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible. This will be done by traditional mail, email directly to students, our auto-dialer, our website, and by way of our social media channels. This will happen in an on-going manner to give our community as much notice as possible to the format of school for their students.

The district will follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child.

  • Interpreters are provided when needed (Google Meets, phone call)
  • Snail mail, email and phone calls are utilized to communicate with families
  • Written consent has been obtained to communicate electronically with parents
  • Master list of emails has been created
  • Students have been provided Chromebooks with communication extensions and apps
  • In addition, the district will make every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. The plan can also be translated into other languages, via the WordPress feature available on the district website. Additionally, we are fortunate to have our own ESL teacher on staff who can make direct family contact to our families who need translation.

Communication regarding health expectations

The district is committed to ensuring that all of its students and their families are taught and re-taught new expectations related to all public health policies and protocols. As part of this continuous training, the district will assess the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and will provide frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education will help ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully return to the school setting. These trainings will cover:

Hand hygiene

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.
    • Training methods to be used will be videos, posters, social media educational post and in person demonstration as needed.

Proper face covering procedures

Wear your Face Covering Correctly

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily

Removal of Face Covering

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place  cloth face covering in the washing machine, dispose of disposable face covering in the trash.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
  • Students, staff, vendors and visitors will be required to wear face coverings on campus when social distancing is not possible.
  • Students shall wear these face coverings during extracurricular activities, as well as on school buses.
  • Students wearing face coverings from home must be school appropriate and shall not interfere with the district’s dress code policy.

Masks provided

  • If a staff member or student forgets or loses their mask, a disposable one will be provided for the day.


  • School administration or staff will be stationed at entry points throughout each campus to remind students to wear face coverings prior to entering campus.
  • Each school will have a COVID Safety Person to work on compliance issues at the school level.

Common areas and classrooms

  • Students must wear face coverings in each area where social distancing is not possible. This includes a classroom if desks are not spaced at least six feet apart, as well as cafeterias, hallways and other shared spaces.
  • Teachers can work with students to provide designated “mask breaks” during which time students will be socially distanced.


  • Students or staff must have a medical issue for which a face covering would cause an impairment.

Social distancing

  • Students will practice social distancing from the arrival on campus through departure.
  • Students will load on school buses from back to front, increasing social distancing and limiting exposure to others.
  • Meals will be eaten in classrooms in order to deter students from congregating in the lunchroom.
  • Staggered release schedules may be utilized in an effort to decrease crowding
  • Training methods to be used will be videos, posters, social media educational post and in person demonstration as needed

Respiratory hygiene

The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Therefore, the district will emphasize the importance of respiratory hygiene. 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.
  • Training methods to be used will be videos, posters, social media educational post and in person demonstration as needed.
  • The district will create and deploy signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19.
    • Signage will address protocols and recommendations in the following areas:
    • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Acceptable face coverings and requirements related to their wear
  • Hand washing
  • Adherence to social distancing instructions
  • Symptoms/prevention of COVID-19

Identifying Symptoms

  • Conduct symptom screening for any person entering the school building. This includes staff, students, family members, and any other visitors physically entering the school building.
    • Parents/Guardians will be asked to screen students prior to school.  Students and staff will asked to remain home if they have any of the following symptoms:
      • Fever or chills temperature over 100
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Fatigue
      • Muscle or body aches
      • Headache
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Sore throat
      • Congestion or runny nose
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Diarrhea

Parents/guardians and staff will be reminded to conduct daily COVID-19 screenings through a push notification from the Pinpoint app.

Staff and students will be encouraged to self-monitor symptoms throughout the day. Staff or students who develop symptoms during the school day must notify school health services or another identified point of contact in the school building immediately.

Ill students that will need to be picked up from school will be contacted by a nurse.  Upon arrival to school please do not exit your vehicle, instead please call the phone number provided to inform them you have arrived and a staff member will escort your child out of the building to your vehicle.

Training methods to be used will be videos, posters, social media educational post and in person demonstration as needed.

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district will operate under a standard procedure for addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic. These procedures are outlined in the Health & Safety section of our reopening plan [provide link].

In the event that a student or staff member is sick or symptomatic, notification to exposed individuals will occur pursuant to the state’s contact tracing protocols as implemented by the local health department. The district will not notify the wider community unless specifically directed to do so by local health officials.

School Closures
The district is preparing for situations in which one or more school buildings need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases.

HFCSD will collaborate with the Washington County Department of Health and Washington County Public Safety as needed. Our consultation and collaboration includes Patricia Hunt, Director of Public Health, Kathy Jo McIntyre, Assistant Director of Publi health, Glen Gosnell, Director of Public Safety, and Tim Hardy, Deputy Director of Public Safety.

The district may choose to modify operations in one or more schools prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. The district will consult its medical director, Dr. Robert Nielson, as well as those contacts listed above when making such decisions.

School building and district administrators will communicate with each other regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. Decisions around school and district closures will happen on a case by case basis in collaboration with the above parties, following their guidance and their contact tracing efforts.

Should any type of closure be necessary, all communications will be driven by the HFCSD district office. We will employ our Auto-Dialer, our email lists, our website, as well as our social media channels. Should any type of closure be necessary, faculty and students are ready to switch to fully remote learning and our Nutrition Services will continue to feed all students in the district twice a day.

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