Herkimer Central School District’s Reopening Plan is now available. Read more about reopening | Review the complete plan

Teaching and Learning

In an effort to assure high-quality teaching and learning a continuity of learning plan has been developed for the 2020-21 school year. This plan considers and plans for teaching and learning in-person, remotely, and through hybrid models of instruction. Our plan assures that instruction is aligned with the New York State Learning Standards and assures equity as well as quality for all learners.

Equity is at the heart of all school instructional decisions. All instruction in our district will be designed so that whether it is delivered in-person, remotely, or through a hybrid model due to a local or state school closure, there are clear, comprehensive, and accessible learning opportunities for all students. Such opportunities will be aligned with state standards. Our teaching and instructional plan outlines routine, scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from their teachers. Our plan is centered on instruction and academic programming that includes regular and substantive interaction with an appropriately certified teacher regardless of the delivery method (e.g., in person, remote or hybrid). Our teaching and learning plan includes a clear communication plan for how students and their families/caregivers can contact the school and teachers with questions about their instruction and/or technology. This information will be accessible to all, available in multiple languages, widely disseminated, and include clear and multiple ways for students and families to contact schools and teachers (e.g., email, online platform, and/or by phone) in an effort to assure learning for all.

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, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.

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, 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.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

For information relating to teaching and learning in Herkimer BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website at https://www.herkimer-boces.org/.

The district’s expectation is that all students will attend school, unless an underlying medical concern for the child or family prevents them from doing so. If such a health concern exists, parents should contact building officials.

In-person Instruction

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. Accommodating a six-foot radius around students may necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into classrooms.All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards. 

When in-person instruction is not possible due to space and time constraints, teachers may broadcast lessons to students synchronously or asynchronously, depending on the resources available and the needs of the students.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students, including having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom or taught remotely. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students while engaging in physical activity.

Students will be permitted to eat breakfast and snacks in the classroom only; the cafeteria will not be used for this purpose. Students will be offered a lunch to take home at the end of the school day.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom for any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students. Student transitions will be limited as much is practicable.

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

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid instruction

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.

Remote learning opportunities for students will include synchronous and asynchronous instruction, with substantive interactions numerous times throughout the instructional day. While 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 will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Grading guidelines for remote learning will be developed by the district and communicated to students and families should a transition to fully remote learning occur.

The instructional experiences will be designed to enable students to achieve the State’s learning standards, and will be comparable in rigor, scope and magnitude to a traditionally delivered unit of study. During remote learning, regular, substantive interactions between students and the teacher will include but are not limited to scheduled virtual and/or in person office hours, small group virtual instruction, learning activities virtually facilitated by the teacher, engaging in feedback loops, and other individualized or group student-teacher interactions appropriate to achieving the learning standards.

Fully remote instruction will include synchronous and asynchronous instruction that aligns with the hybrid instruction schedule as much as practicable.

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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