COMMUNICATION

COMMUNICATION/FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego Board Of Cooperative Educational Services (Herkimer BOCES) has engaged with our stakeholders throughout the school closure and in preparing for the reopening. A BOCES provides requested services to the component school districts so we have worked closely with our component district leaders and staff as well as the BOCES leaders and staff to develop this reopening plan.

We began working with the Herkimer County Public Health Department in March and continue to do so. The Herkimer County Director of Public Health as well as the County Administrator and lead school physician from Bassett Hospital has joined our meetings in person and/or via Zoom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The District Superintendent stays in close communication with the labor association leaders and meets with them regularly to discuss plans, problem solve situations, and find solutions. Additionally, our association leaders participated in the regional workgroups as well as the BOCES Reopening Committee.

The entire BOCES region set up eleven work groups for different aspects of reopening (along the lines of the Board of Regents Reopening meetings) and each of the eleven superintendents oversaw one of the workgroups this summer. This allowed us to hear from many voices including parents, students, support staff, teachers, and leaders throughout the region. We shared these discussions through our regular Chief School Officer Cabinet (Cabinet) meetings. Pre-COVID, Cabinet meetings were once per month, but starting on March 13th, we have met several times a week in order to assure that our students and staff receive consistent information and services throughout the closure. This summer, the Cabinet continues to meet a couple times per week so that our practices and protocols are aligned across our region as we share staff and students.

Herkimer BOCES leaders have been working together on different aspects of reopening as we have to reflect what our component districts need for services. Our plan has to remain fluid so that we can adjust should a school district or the region require a change in instructional delivery or in protocols. The Herkimer BOCES Safety Coordinator has been instrumental in staying aware of ever-changing guidance and assuring that the region is following both mandates and best practices.

Herkimer BOCES also has a BOCES Reopening Committee of around 60 members. This is a broad representation of the many programs and services we offer our component districts. These meetings are being held via Zoom and are recorded so that administrators can go back to hear fine points and ideas.

COMMUNICATION PLAN

Herkimer BOCES continues to communicate the importance of adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health, as well as applicable protocols to students, parents, legal guardians of students, staff, and visitors. All of the communication plans below are in conjunction and collaboration with our regional schools to assure our messaging is consistent to parents, students, and the broader community.

This information has been shared in a variety of ways, including letters sent home, emails, social media posts, and through the use of the district’s “all call” messenger system. Herkimer BOCES has also developed a COVID-19 Information website (/o/hfhoboces/page/coronavirus-information) the topics covered in the communications and on the website include:

  • Face Covering and Social Distancing requirements

  • Hand hygiene

  • Cough/Sneeze hygiene

  • Instructional supports for parents

  • Trainings the district will be providing related to COVID-19

Communications will be sent prior to the first day of school and periodically throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Specific messages related to changes in protocols/requirements will be sent as needed and added to the district’s website as appropriate.

Signage has been placed at the entrances to each of the BOCES’ buildings regarding COVID-19, screening questions to consider prior to entering, and face covering requirements. The BOCES has also placed posters in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings regarding; social distancing requirements, hand hygiene, face coverings, and COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS: STUDENT TRAINING

Herkimer BOCES will ensure that all students are taught or trained how to safely and correctly follow new COVID-19 protocols. The BOCES has established protocols around the following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NYS Department of Health (DoH) identified health and safety areas that are believed to be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Hand Hygiene

  • Face Covering

  • Social Distancing

  • Respiratory Hygiene

These will be communicated by utilizing age appropriate materials and delivery methods both in-class and virtually via student email and social media. Topics will include:

  • Proper use of face coverings including doffing and donning

  • Minimum distances for social distancing

  • How and when to properly wash hands with warm water and soap ow with hand sanitizer

  • Alternatives to coughing or sneezing into your hands

VERBAL & WRITTEN ENCOURAGEMENT OF CDC/DOH GUIDELINES

Herkimer BOCES expects all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to adhere to the CDC and NYS DoH guidance for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Signage has been placed at the entrances to each of the BOCES’ buildings regarding COVID-19 and face covering requirements. The BOCES has also placed posters in various, conspicuous locations in its buildings including but not limited to:

  • Lobbies/Foyers

  • Offices

  • Hallways

  • Common Areas

Prior to the 2020-2021 school year, Herkimer BOCES will communicate any and all requirements regarding PPE to students, faculty, and staff through a variety of means (mailing, social media posting, website, etc.). Herkimer BOCES is utilizing an online training system to ensure that Faculty and Staff are trained on COVID-19 awareness which includes the importance of appropriate PPE. Additionally, administration will convey these requirements in an interactive format directly to faculty and staff on Opening Day. Faculty and staff will in turn communicate these requirements to students when in-person schooling begins and reinforce the requirements throughout the school year.

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (ACCESSIBLE): SCHOOL COMMUNITY

Any written communication provided by Herkimer BOCES will be in the language spoken at home among families and throughout the school community. These translations will be done by utilizing either online tools or the Refugee Center in Utica, NY.

Herkimer BOCES’ district website, where all plans will be posted, is Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant and accessible to members of the school community with visual and/or hearing impairments.