Elementary Reopening

Elementary Reopening
Posted on 08/05/2020

Dear Fort Ann Families,

The purpose of this letter is to share information about the FACSD Reopening Plan. As you know, the recent guidance released from the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Health requires the district to implement significant changes, to make our school environment as safe as possible, for students and staff. The new guidelines impact every procedure and practice in the school day and we are still working on the details of many of the changes. We hope you will be patient with us as we continue to adjust procedures and share new information with you.

This information in this letter is not inclusive of all changes being made to the school setting, in order to maximize student safety. It is intended to highlight the major changes that K-5 parents must be aware of, if their child will be attending school in the building. The full reopening plan can be found on the school website. It will also be presented at a virtual Board of Education meeting on August 18th at 6:30 PM. There will be a link to the meeting shared on the school website.

If you have decided to homeschool your children or to enroll them in distance learning, the district must be notified by Friday August 14th. 


We are looking forward to having students back in the building again. Please review the enclosed information and contact me with concerns or questions. ([email protected])  Thank you.


Michelle Discenza

Michelle Discenza

Elementary Principal

Fort Ann Elementary School 

Reopening Fall 2020

All changes in our school environment are based on guidance from the New York State Education Department, the New York State Department of Health, and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.


Students must wear masks on the bus and when moving about the building. A plastic shield is not considered an acceptable replacement for a mask.

Students do not need to wear masks during classroom instruction.

If there is a medical reason a student cannot wear a mask during the required times, please obtain a note from a medical provider, prior to the opening of school.

We encourage you to purchase a few masks your child is comfortable wearing. However, masks will be provided by FACSD if children need them.


We are required to maintain 6 ft of physical distance at all times. These conditions make it challenging for teachers to use best instructional practices. Additionally, if students are engaging in aerobic activity or singing, they must be 12 ft apart. 

Students will be seated at desks, arranged in rows and spaced 6 ft apart, in order to meet the required guidelines. We will not be able to group desks in tables or to have children sit in a group on a carpeted area. 

Most of our classrooms will hold about 14 desks when they are spaced 6 feet apart.

Student movement within the classroom setting will be more limited than ever before. Of course, we will still meet students’ needs to have drinks and use the restroom. There will still be outdoor recess.

Staff must minimize use of “shared objects.” This includes items such as: books, scissors, crayons, math manipulatives, tabletop games, and sports equipment.

Families will be able to send in a daily, healthy snack for their child. However, there will be no sharing of food brought from home with other children. 

Unfortunately, students will no longer be allowed to bring in birthday treats for classmates.

We encourage parents to send in a reusable water bottle. We will not be using water fountains in the school. However, our filling stations are no touch required and will still be in use.


Some students may be assigned to a different teacher than the one listed on their report card, in order to reduce the number of children in each classroom, to meet required guidelines.

Parents will be asked to check children’s temperature at home daily, before sending them to school and report it to the school using a questionnaire.

Spaces are being repurposed to allow the maximum number of students on campus. Areas such as the gym, cafeteria, library, and other large space may be used for students to receive core classroom instruction. Consequently, some specials (music, art, PE, library) may have to take place in the child’s classroom.

Students will be socially distancing in hallways, when waiting in line, in restrooms, and in all areas of the school. There will be signs reminding students to wash their hands.

Unfortunately, visitors to the school must be minimized. There will be no Meet and Greet this year. Parents will not be able to walk children to their classrooms on the first day of school. At this time, all parental visits must be pre-approved and for school business. In time, we hope we will be able to return to normal procedures. 


It is likely that students will spend time outside every day for specials and/or classroom instruction, so they will need to be dressed appropriately for the weather. Please do not send children in flip flops or other shoes that might not be conducive to walking outside.

When eating meals, students will not wear a mask. Meals may be in the classroom or in the cafeteria with six feet between students. We are still working on the details of this.

Students will be asked to wash their hands with soap and water multiple times per day. For example, hands will be washed upon arrival, prior to lunch, after leaving the classroom to receive a service, after playing outside, and after using the restroom. 

Hand sanitizer will also be available and used on a limited basis, at teacher discretion. Handwashing is preferred.

Students will spend most of their day in their classroom, seated at a desk. This is not an option our staff would ever willingly select. Please keep in mind, this change is being made to meet the guidelines required for having children back in school. 


All students must wear a mask when boarding the bus, throughout the bus ride, and when exiting the bus.

Only one child will be allowed to sit in each seat. The only exception is that children living in the same household may be seated together.

It is critical that students remain in their assigned seat for the entire ride. If students are unable to ride safely, and are putting others at risk by not sitting appropriately, parents will be asked to provide transportation.

Students will be released off the bus in a slow, staggered manner, to allow for social distancing.

If you are changing transportation arrangements for your child/children this year please contact Mark Larrow ([email protected]).


We anticipate that more parents will be dropping off and picking up their child. Changes to these procedures are still being determined and will be shared with parents in late August. 

The district is empathetic to the needs of working parents and also wants to stagger the arrival of students, in order to allow social distancing. We are working on a plan to allow parents to drop off children in the parent turn around, beginning at 7:45 AM. An adult will escort elementary students to their location. More details will be shared as we go forward.


Parents have the option to choose full time distance learning (at home) for their child. We request that you commit to this for the entire first trimester, at a minimum. 

If you opt for your child to participate in distance learning, please be aware that the teacher may be different than if he were in school each day. 

If you choose distance learning for the first trimester, when your child reenters school, he or she may be placed in a different homeroom, as the originally assigned homeroom may be at full capacity.

Throughout distance learning, each student’s work will be graded. Parents will need to make sure work is completed and turned in electronically. After corrections are made, it may need to be resubmitted.

If a parent is unable to submit work electronically due to lack of internet access, the work will need to be dropped off at school or mailed, on a weekly basis.

Students may also be required to participate in live teaching sessions (via google meet). 

Consistent lack of participation and completion of work will result in  unsatisfactory grades.

Parents also have the option to homeschool. There is a difference between distance learning and homeschooling. If a family opts for distance learning at home, a teacher will provide lessons and grades. With homeschooling, the parent assumes responsibility for providing curriculum and meeting NYS guidelines.

If you have decided to sign your child/children up for distance learning, please complete the enclosed agreement and return it to us by August 14th, via email ([email protected]) or the postal service. You may also drop it off at school, Monday-Thursday, 8-2.

If you have decided to choose to homeschool your child, please call Shelley Gregorio by Friday, August 14th at (518-639-5594).


School districts are required to provide a free appropriate public education consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and receiving special education and services.  

In the event of distance learning, case managers will work with the parent to create a distance learning plan for students with disabilities to ensure continuity of instruction.

Parents of students with disabilities who decide to homeschool and want their child to still receive services per an IESP, Individualized Education Services Plan, must let the Fort Ann Board of Education know their desire via letter by August 14th.  

Any student in the distance learning or homeschooling model receiving related service (speech, OT, PT) will more than likely receive those services via distance learning. 

If you have questions or concerns regarding special education services, please contact Lori Johnson, Supervisor of Special Education. ([email protected])


The district would greatly appreciate any parent that is able to provide transportation to/from school for their children. This will allow us to have all students start school at the same time, rather than having multiple bus runs and different start times.

Please help your child become comfortable with wearing a cloth face covering. Find a few that fit your child comfortably. Teach your child how to put the mask on or take it off, independently and without contaminating it (see enclosure). Please be prepared to wash your child’s mask daily.

Please review thorough handwashing (20 seconds) and emphasize the importance of it to reduce germs and keep everyone healthy. 


Please reach out to Michelle Discenza, Elementary Principal, with any concerns or questions. You may call 518-639-5594 or email ([email protected]).

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2023 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.