Communication/Family and Community Engagement

To help inform our reopening plan, the district sought feedback and input from stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians of students, local health department officials and health care providers, employee unions and community groups. Engagement efforts included online surveys, virtual forums/meetings and one-on-one conversations. A committee from both the Elementary School and the Jr./Sr. High School also met in July to determine the best course of action as students returned in September.

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 erschools.org, and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances. The link to the plan appears on the district website, Elementary School website and Jr./Sr. High School website homepages. The plan is broken down under the “Reopening Plan” tab on each homepage. 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 G-Translate feature available on the district website. Schools will mail information to select families who have been identified to not engage in online learning or communication. 

As part of its planning for the reopening of schools and the new academic year, the district developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to district staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners and vendors. The district uses its existing communication channels – including robocalls to students and staff, emails to students and staff and the East Rochester Union Free social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) – 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 East Rochester Union Free School District also relies on Monroe One BOCES to assist with translation services. 

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 relies on the district website and social media pages 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 share will be based on state guidance and both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. 

In support of remote learning, the district has made computer devices available to students and teachers who need them. The district provided students and their families with multiple ways to contact schools and teachers during remote learning, including email, phone directories and Google Team pages. 

The district uses 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. Schedules were sent to staff and families through email in mid-August, with a robocall reminder to check for that information. A link to schedules is also available on the East Rochester Free Union website under the “Reopening Plan 2020” section. 

The district continues to follow its existing engagement and communication protocols with parents regarding the provision of special education services for their child. Calls and emails were sent to families with students who require special education services, as needed. A letter to families was also sent at the beginning of the school year, with details specific to special education

services. 

In addition, the district makes every effort to ensure that communication to parents/legal guardians is in their preferred language and mode of communication. The East Rochester Union Free School District website offers translation for families of English language learners. All updates will be communicated via the district website, as well as through letters emailed to families. The district also uses Google Translate and services from Monroe One BOCES for materials sent directly to families with English language learners. 

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 assessed the best approach to communicating the information for each students’ age group and provides frequent opportunities for students to review these policies and protocols. This targeted education helps ensure that all students and their families know what is expected of them as they successfully returned to the school setting. These trainings covered: 

● Hand hygiene: Signs are placed throughout the building, reminding students and staff of the importance of washing their hands. Teachers regularly encourage students to wash hands. Hand sanitation stations have also been placed throughout the building, including in every classroom. 

● Proper face covering procedures (how to wear and remove): Per a Board of Education policy that was approved before the start of school, all students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks while on district transportation or the campus whenever social distancing is not possible. Masks with vents are NOT permitted. An email sent to families explains the policy. Teachers reviewed protocols with students at the beginning of the school year. Signs are also placed throughout the building. 

● Social distancing: Students remain in cohorts to cut down on interaction. Desks are placed 6 feet apart within classrooms. The district also purchased personal protective equipment for teachers who requested it. Students are required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. East Rochester staff will monitor the enforcement of masks. Social distancing guidelines will be shared with parents through an email to families and will be available on the district website. 

● Respiratory hygiene: Signs are placed throughout the building, informing students and staff of the importance of wearing masks, covering coughs and sneezes and refraining from touching their face. Reminders are also posted on the district’s social media accounts. 

● Identifying symptoms: Families received a letter explaining the symptoms of COVID-19 and how to perform a health screening each morning. If a student presents symptoms during a screening, they will not be admitted onto campus. If a student begins to develop symptoms while outside of school, parents/guardians should contact the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator by emailing ercovid19director@erschools.org or calling (585)248-6370. There

Are signs throughout campus, depicting the symptoms of COVID-19. If a student or staff member begins showing symptoms while on campus, they will notify their teacher/administrator and be moved to an isolation room until they are able to leave. Teachers addressed these protocols with families during the opening week of school. 

The district created and deployed signage throughout the district to address public health protections surrounding COVID-19. Signage addresses 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 

In addition to signage, the district encourages all students, faculty, staff and visitors through verbal and written communication to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE through additional means such as letters emailed home to families, social media posts, website articles and robocalls to family homes and cell phones. 

The district is committed to creating a learning environment that protects student and staff health, safety and privacy. Our district operates 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 on our website. 

The district will share information regarding containment with all stakeholders through letters sent via email and robocalls to both family homes and cell phones. 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. 

School Closures 

The district continues to prepare 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. 

East Rochester school personnel meet regularly with the Monroe County Department of Health, who reviews county health data and provides guidance on how best to manage COVID-19.

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 the Monroe County Department of Health Director, Dr. Mendoza, when making such decisions. 

The Superintendent of Schools will communicate with school administrators regularly and, if needed, will consider closing school if absentee rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. The determination on when to cease operations is made in collaboration with the Monroe County Department of Health. The East Rochester Union Free School District is following a blended model of learning so, in the event of a school closure, a transition to remote learning should be seamless. 

In the event that the East Rochester Union Free School District will close, the Superintendent of Schools will meet with school administrators to discuss the logistics of how best to close the building and make a determination on when online learning will begin.