Instruction & Supports

Remote Instruction | In-person Instruction | Hybrid/Remote Instruction | Supports for Special Education Students | Supports for Bilingual Education/World Language Students | Social-emotional supports | Childcare

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.  

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, UPK-5 students, special education students, and English language learners.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice. 

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, the content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.

Since May, teams of HFCSD professionals have been working on our Reboot Learning Plans to do just this. Taking into account time lost since March and a condensed period of time across the 2020-21 SY, revised curriculum plans have been built. Additionally, these academic Reboot Teams were supported by our Equity and Access Reboot Teams, ensuring to the greatest extent possible that all students have access to the learning.

Grading practices in K-5 will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will return to pre-pandemic grading practices in 6-12.

For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website.

At the time of this writing, HFCSD is working with our Teacher’s Association and our BOCES in developing a plan for a virtual academy allowing students who cannot return to participate fully in the educational program.

Remote Instruction

Should our schools be forced to close again on an emergency basis, we are prepared for asynchronous remote learning via our Chromebooks in grades 1-12. For UPK and K, we will relaunch our parent/guardian-oriented Google Classrooms and implement a paper-based packet pick up and drop off system for our youngest learners.

For information about how school schedule information will be communicated to students, families, and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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In-person Instruction (including school schedules)

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart. In general, our classrooms can safely hold 12 students. Classes that cannot be reduced to this number (eg- SwD Co-Teach) will use larger rooms in each building like the libraries, gyms, and cafeterias.

Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. This will require AIS, Reading, and special area teachers to be in classrooms with students. Our learning plans take this into account so that primary instruction will always occur with the classroom teacher, and special classes will occur on Fridays.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students. Alternate entrances and exits will be used to limit the passing and mixing of students in the hallways. Students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria. Until further notice, we will eliminate assemblies, field trips, and other large-group activities when we cannot both accommodate all students and safely do so.  Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) will be pushed into the classroom and into at-home activities.  Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students. Additionally, where possible, we will use separate exits and entrances to further limit exposure to additional staff and students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

With required safety, health, social distancing, and hygiene measures taking a greater portion of our school day than normal, the time dedicated to classroom instruction will look different as well.

For our students in grades UPK-5, a substantial portion of the day will be in the areas of literacy and numeracy. ELA, math, and at the lower grades, phonics will be non-negotiable. As referenced earlier, our HFCSD Reboot Teams have been working since May to make this work in a way that focuses on the highest priority learning, remains aligned to state standards, and provides an opportunity for academic and personal growth.

For our students in grades 6-12, teachers will see these students in person two days a week, with asynchronous learning for the remainder of the week. During the days when students are not in-person, substantive interactions between students and teachers are needed. All students will have an adult who makes contact on those remote days so that the connection and engagement continues. For example, in middle school, this would be through the team structure. In high school, it would be through the homeroom (9-12) structure.

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Hybrid/Remote Instruction (including school schedules)

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Student schedules will remain the same when instruction is in person or hybrid. Should HFCSD have to return to a fully remote model, schedules are built so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on asynchronous pre-recorded mini-lessons for instruction. This runs parallel with teachers finding ways to provide live support, office hours, and individualized/personalized help. While the recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices in K-5 will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will return to pre-pandemic grading practices in 6-12.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

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Supports for Special Education Students

In-person learning has been prioritized for our Students with Disabilities. This allows us to implement IEPs, including all accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids, and assistive technology as legally required, as well as provide in-person related services as well, like counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech services.

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Supports for Bilingual Education/World Language Students

As we reopen with in-person/hybrid scenarios, we will complete the ELL identification process within 30 days of welcoming students back to school. This will also be complete for any ELL students who may have enrolled in HFCSD during the 2019-2020 school year since March 13th, 2020.

Units of study for ELL students will be provided based on their most recently measured English language proficiency.

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Social-emotional supports

We recognize that the social-emotional well-being of our students and staff during these challenging times is critically important. The district has made available resources and referrals to address the mental health, behavioral, and emotional needs of students, faculty, and staff when school reopens for in-person instructions. This has done this by:

Focusing on the five core components of SEL (defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, CASEL) for all stakeholders, which are:

      • Self-Awareness
      • Self-Management
      • Social Awareness
      • Relationship Skills
      • Responsible Decision Making

The district will identify students and families in need of additional support during the re-opening of school through utilizing a referral form and SEL weekly check-ins during instruction.  Resources are available to address mental, behavioral, and emotional needs of our students and will be available to assist in SEL instructional and social practices at all grade levels.  Also, referrals to outside services and support can be made by the school counselors, school psychologists, and/or school social workers and associates.  The school district has a Resource Guide developed by our communication specialist, which is available to staff and the school community.

The district has established an advisory council (our SEL Reboot Team that will merge into our existing Mental Health Task Force) that involves shared decision-making and is comprised of families, students, members of the board of education, school building and/or district/charter leaders, community-based service providers, teachers, certified school counselors, and other pupil personnel service providers. The advisory council will inform the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan. This program plan has been reviewed and updated to meet current needs.

The district addresses professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on how to talk with and support students during and after the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as provide support for developing coping and resilience skills for students, faculty, and staff. This is addressed by:

Using information derived from a school-based needs assessment, decisions to address community support will be discussed and planned.  Participants involved in this process are intended to represent all stakeholders in the school community and work in alignment with the school counseling program plan K-12. 

Addressing Professional Development Opportunities for Faculty and Staff:

      • Prior to the reopening of schools, all staff will participate in an on-line introduction for mental health self-awareness and student mental health.
      • Superintendent Conference Days (number TBD) will have providers available for in-person training, depending on DOH guidelines, to determine capacity per training.

Providing On-Going Support for Students:

      • Through a variety of communications, students will be able to access support staff as needed, for check-ins and/or request for assistance.
      • Weekly check-ins for all students is strongly encouraged, with an SEL form to be provided for instructional staff, K-12.

Providing On-Going Support for Faculty/Staff:

      • Utilize the already established character education calendar of themes for the pacing of content to develop/share with staff.
      • The district SEL staff will use a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to help determine and provide services for students, including three-tiers of social-emotional support for student needs.

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HFCSD does not run before or aftercare programs. With the limitations of staffing, contracts, space available, busing, and social distancing required, these will not be hosted.

During our emergency closing in the spring of 2019, we connected our families with available child care locally and through the BOCES. Since BOCES programs are returning in-person as well, we will continue to connect our families with our local/regional child care network by way of a survey link on our website.

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