The Track Back

Update, as of January 8, 2021 - 4 p.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

Happy New Year! As anticipated, we are looking forward to transitioning back our Elmira High School hybrid students. The date of return for hybrid learning at Elmira High School is scheduled to begin on January 19, 2021. If you have a child in grades 10-12 returning to in-person hybrid instruction, please make sure you have submitted the completed COVID-19 testing form so that we may meet state requirements for testing in an orange zone.

Elmira High School Transition Schedule for Hybrid Students:

Cohort A Hybrid Students return Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Cohort B Hybrid Students return Thursday, January 21, 2021

If you haven't already submitted a consent waiver for returning hybrid students, we asked that parents/guardians please download/print and return a signed form back to your students' home school as soon as possible. A form .pdf can be found here.

In order to keep our schools open, we must remind everyone of the importance of following safety precautions including avoiding gatherings and unnecessary outings, maintaining at least six feet of distance when out, washing hands thoroughly and often, and wearing masks properly.

Thank you and be well,

Hillary Austin
Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District


Update, as of December 30, 2021 - 4:00 p.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

As we enter the new calendar year, we look forward to returning our intermediate students, grades 3-6, back to hybrid instruction beginning on Monday, January 4. This includes hybrid Cohorts A and B for Beecher Elementary, Broadway Elementary, Coburn Elementary and Hendy Elementary Schools.

If you have a child in grades 3-6 returning to in-person hybrid instruction, please make sure you have submitted the completed COVID-19 testing form so that we may meet state requirements for testing in an orange zone upon these schools’ return,

Happy Holidays and thank you,

Hillary Austin

Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District



Update, as of December 11, 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

We are writing with great anticipation of returning our pre-k, kindergarten, first and second grade hybrid students to in-person instruction once again beginning December 14, 2020. So long as our regional case levels allow, our primary hybrid students will return next week:

• Cohort A: Hybrid students, grades pre-k – 2, will return Monday December 14, 2020.
• Cohort B: Hybrid students, grades pre-k – 2, will return Thursday December 17, 2020.


As a reminder, virtual students will continue with online instruction on Schoology.

All health protocols advised by local and state health departments as well as the CDC will be continue for in-person instruction. Students and staff will continue wearing masks, temperature checks will continue at the start of each day (and at the bus stop), and handwashing will be encouraged throughout the day. We do encourage you to send water bottles with your student so that they can refill often throughout the day at our fresh water stations. As always, students and staff will maintain 6’ social distancing expectations throughout the day. Bus transportation will be back up and running for PreK-2 students on Monday morning and the same protocols will be followed.

A healthy school begins at home. Once again, we ask for parents/guardians to do a health assessment each morning before in-person school days. An email will be sent from the GST BOCES Well App for each in-person student. If you do not receive these emails, please contact your child’s home school. Most importantly, if a child has any symptoms, please keep the child home.

Even as we plan for this transitional track back to reopening schools, we must also recognize that plans could also change based on designations from the state. Please continue to read and listen to our district updates sent via email and phone calls.

With instructional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your student’s teacher or building principal. With technology questions, please don’t hesitate to email the tech help resource at techhelp@elmiracityschools.com.

We look forward to seeing our students once again in person! It is our collective responsibility to maintain a healthy school environment. As always, we encourage you to follow the guidelines set forth by health officials. We ask that you continue safety practices like wearing masks, maintaining safe distancing, and thoroughly and frequently washing hands.

Thank you and be well,

Hillary Austin

Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District




Update, as of December 6, 2020 - 12 p.m.

Dear Parents/Guardians of Hybrid Students, Grades Pre-K – Second:

Based on new state guidance and health department regulations, we recently communicated that the District is planning to transition our schools back to a hybrid in-person learning model. We will begin our strategic transition back to in-person instruction with our PreK-2 hybrid learners beginning December 14, 2020.

State regulations for schools in an orange zone will allow for schools to re-open with a testing plan of 20% of students and staff monthly. In order for students to return to in-person instruction, parent/guardian consent is required for school-based COVID-19 testing.

Tomorrow, Monday December 7, we will email parents/guardians of hybrid students in grades Pre-K – 2 consent forms to be completed online for hybrid learner(s). The electronic form will provide you an opportunity to authorize consent or decline consent for testing of your child through our school-based COVID-19 testing system. If you have multiple hybrid students in grades pre-k, first or second grade in your household, you will receive one email per student.

We ask that you please complete this electronic consent form for each of your hybrid students by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday December 8, 2020.
We understand that you may have questions before making a decision.

Please read the information below in order to assist you. If you have additional questions before making your decision, please feel free to contact your school principal.

• Chosen at random, 20% of students and staff will be tested monthly as long as we remain in an orange or yellow zone designation.
• BinaxNOW Test: The mandatory tests will be performed by trained personnel and require only the lower nasal cavity to be swabbed. Results will be available within 15 minutes. Please click here for a video simulation of the test to know what to expect.
Review Frequently Asked Questions about school-based COVID-19 testing by clicking here.
• StayWell Health Survey: We ask that you remain diligent about completing the daily StayWell health survey emails for hybrid learning students. As a reminder, if you answer “yes” for your child to any question on this survey, your child must stay at home until our school nurse and/or the Chemung County Department of Health provides procedures for the student to return to school.

We are committed to re-opening our schools safely and in accordance with all state and local health requirements. As a reminder, virtual learning will continue for those who decline testing. Students enrolled as 100% virtual learning are committed to online instruction through January 29, 2021.

We remind all families that state requirements can change at any time so please continue to check your emails and listen to our district-wide phone calls for updates. It is important to note that the District or individual schools could potentially face having to move to remote instruction again if local infection rates warrant this, we have staff shortages due to quarantines and/or positive COVID-19 cases, or if ordered by the Governor. Our plan must be sustainable as we accommodate the required testing and contact tracing that will be necessary once students return again.

Thank you for your continued cooperation as we work to provide in-person learning for students and a safe learning environment for our entire school community. If you have questions, please feel free to contact your school office.

Sincerely,

Hillary J. Austin

Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District



December 3, 2020

Dear Elmira City School District families,

We are writing with new developments regarding a hybrid school re-opening plan for our Elmira students. Through guidance from the Governor’s office and our County officials, we have learned that the new orange zone regulations allow for schools to re-open with a testing plan of 20% of students and staff monthly. All other CDC and health department guidelines of mask wearing, social distancing, temperature checks, health surveys and more are still required in order for schools to re-open. Monthly testing of 20% of students and staff is in addition to these health protocols.

We are committed to re-opening our schools safely and in accordance with all state and local health requirements. Given the current set of guidelines set forth by the Governor, we are building a transition plan to re-open our schools once again in a hybrid model. Given all of the requirements for testing and monitoring, we will begin with a strategic transition back to in-person instruction, beginning with our PreK-2 hybrid learners.

PreK-2 students will begin on December 14, 2020 in our hybrid model. Cohort A (Monday/Tuesday group) will begin in-person instruction once again on December 14, 2020 and Cohort B (Thursday/Friday group) will begin in-person instruction once again on December 17, 2020.

If all goes well with transitioning primary students and the infection rates allow for it, we will then transition hybrid students in grades 3-6 back into our buildings beginning January 4, 2021. Hybrid students in grades 7-9 would then transition back on January 11, 2021, and hybrid students in grades 10-12 would transition back with the start of the new semester at the end of January 2021.


It is important to note that the District or individual schools could potentially face having to move to remote instruction again if local infection rates warrant this, we have staff shortages due to quarantines and/or positive COVID-19 cases, or if ordered by the Governor. Our plan must be sustainable as we accommodate the required testing and contact tracing that will be necessary once students return again.

Of course, the health and safety of our families is our top priority. As we have learned through this years’ experience, this is a day to day situation and at any point that it is deemed unsafe for our students to be in our schools, we could revert to remote.

School-based COVID-19 testing consent is required from parents in order for students to return to in-person instruction. Chosen at random, 20% of students and staff will be tested monthly as long as we remain in an orange or yellow zone designation. Schools will send consent forms to parents/guardians as soon as possible in order to be returned and filed for our records. As a reminder, virtual learning will continue for those who decline testing. Students enrolled as 100% virtual learning are committed to online instruction through January 29, 2021.

Unsure about testing? Please watch the video below to understand the standard process for school-based testing. Additionally, we have published Frequently Asked Questions on the District website for your information.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your students’ school principal. As we’ve learned this year, plans and protocols could change suddenly and we are committed to communicating with you as frequently as necessary.

Through these unprecedented times, I want to reiterate the strength that I have observed from our Elmira Express community. From family engagement, to innovative academic delivery, community support, and more, I am so proud to be working along side many amazing individuals. In Elmira, we have an attitude of fortitude and with this, we can accomplish anything when we work together.

Thank you and be well,

Hillary J. Austin

Hillary J. Austin

Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District



Orange Zone Designation and Remote Learning

Update, as of November 19, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

We are writing to provide further information about school planning and the survey we recently conducted regarding school-based COVID-19 testing. Nearly 1500 families responded to the survey to indicate if they would support their children being COVID-tested in order to return to school vs. those who would not. Survey results approximate that 3 out of every 4 students would return to school with the understanding of being tested for COVID-19. This is critical insight as we move ahead with our planning efforts. It is our goal to always be transparent and timely with our communications so you are aware of the circumstances presented to the district as we continue navigating these uncharted waters.

As you can imagine, there are many considerations for school-based testing including parent consent, testing availability, coordination to become certified testing sites, etc. We have continued to explore the feasibility of testing 100% of our student and staff population. As we remain in an orange zone designation, it has become very evident that this is not achievable with the numbers that we would have to test. The uncertainty of testing supplies and necessary PPE, as well as the demand of people resources, is making it insurmountable.

With guidance from our Board of Education, we will continue remote instruction while our schools are in the orange zone.

Per health department guidelines, there is an extensive process in order for schools to become certified testing sites. It is important to note that the only way we can return to in-person hybrid learning without testing is if the Governor designates our region as a green zone. Note that schools in a yellow zone also require testing.

Below are the COVID-zone testing requirements, for your information:

• Orange Zone (this is our current designation): To reopen to in-person hybrid instruction, the state requires the district to test 100% of staff and those students who would be in hybrid learning prior to reopening the building. After this initial testing, the state requires weekly testing of 25% of the staff and students in the building each week the school remains in the orange zone.
• Yellow Zone: Schools may reopen to hybrid learning as long as 20% of the students and staff in the building are tested weekly while in the yellow zone and are able to discontinue testing after two weeks if the positivity rate falls below the rolling average.
• Green Zone: No testing is required for schools to operate under safety guidelines.

Our next step is to continue testing 20% of our staff while in an orange zone and develop a plan for testing once we are moved to a yellow zone designation.

Thank you for your continuing support of our students and their education. And as always, we also thank you for following safety practices to help decrease the effects of COVID-19 on our community by wearing masks, maintaining safe physical distance, washing hands thoroughly and regularly, and avoiding unnecessary outings and contacts.

Sincerely,

Hillary J. Austin
Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District



School-Based Covid-19 Testing

Update, as of November 12, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

As you know, the state health department’s daily reporting of COVID-19 indicates percentages that currently keep our schools in an ‘orange-zone’ micro-cluster of COVID-19 cases. Given this designation, return to an in-person instructional model is dependent upon school-based COVID-19 testing. New York State requires 100% of students and staff of ‘orange-zones’ to be tested prior to students returning to school and 25% of students and staff as long as the county is designated as an ‘orange-zone’ micro-cluster.

Parents of hybrid students will receive a survey by email today asking about an intention to send students back to school with the understanding that hybrid students will be tested for COVID-19 (100% of students before the start of in-person learning and 25% in the weeks to follow). The data will be used to determine how and when ECSD returns to in-person learning. We ask that you please complete this survey by Monday November 16, 2020.




About COVID-19 Testing In Schools

School-based testing requires a high degree of coordination and information exchange among health departments and schools. We have worked in partnership with the local and state health officials to develop a strategy for this school-based testing.

What type of test will be administered?
New York State has provided Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ testing kits. BinaxNOW™ is a fast, reliable and portable rapid test that includes a non-invasive nasal swab.

How is the sample taken?
The test is a non-invasive nasal swab and results will be available in 15 minutes.

What does it test?
Diagnose current COVID-19 infection by detecting viral proteins.

Who administers the test?
Trained school district personnel will administer testing, wearing necessary PPE in order to comply with CDC and health department regulations in certified school-based health centers.

How long does it take to get the results?
Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ is a rapid test, taking approximately 15-minutes fore results.

We recognize these are challenging times that often conjure questions and decisions that seem impossible. It is our goal to provide you with as much information as possible in order for you to feel informed and well-educated about this school-based COVID-19 testing plan. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the District with your questions.

Our Elmira community is built on an attitude of fortitude and we appreciate you remaining Express Strong for our students!  Download the informational .PDF to print.

Thank you and be well,

Hillary J. Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District







As we continue adapting in the face of a global pandemic, one thing’s certain: the Elmira Express family will emerge stronger. To keep our schools and the local community as healthy as possible, the District is planning for a safe return by following the detailed guidelines outlined by New York State.

The Elmira City School District's Track Back 2020 re-opening plan is an ever-changing and dynamic document, developed with equal voices heard. The document is a product of many conversations including the valued perspectives and insights from our parents, students, staff and health officials. The District surveyed students, faculty and staff to glean their opinions on various parts of the school's operations for the fall.

Parents! Have you registered for a Parent Academy to learn more about The Track Back Re-Opening Plan? Sign up for a Virtual/Remote Parent Academy today.

The Track Back PlanFrequently Asked Questions
(Submitted on July 31, 2020)

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Read by The Track Back Plan By Topic

A Message from the Superintendent >>

The Road Map >>

A Plan for Testing and Tracing >>

Safety Protocols >>

Health and Wellness >>

Instructional Information >>

Remote Learning >>

Hybrid Learning >>

English Language and World Languages >>

Bus Transportation >>

School Meals >>

Ask a Question >>

Please note that due to the nature of the COVID pandemic, The Track Back re-open plan is not static. As such, please refer back to the information within this website (and PDF) frequently for the latest updates.



Update, as of August 10, 2020 – 4:15 p.m.

Dear Elmira City School District Families,

You may have read today that the Elmira City School District School Re-Opening plan was not received by the New York State Education Department or NYSDOH. The plan was successfully submitted on Friday July 31st to both NYSED and NYSDOH.

We received confirmation from New York State Education Department on Friday July 31, 2020 stating that they received the Elmira City School District’s “The Track Back” plan for re-opening schools from. The District also completed the necessary steps required by the New York State Department of Health and submitted the affirmation on July 31 and reaffirmed with NYSDOH today when we received notification that our school district’s name was on a list that required attention.

The link below will take you directly to our “The Track Back” portion of our website where you will find our Re-Opening Plan and a Frequently Asked Questions document that the District will keep updated.

To learn more about this plan and to ask questions regarding school re-opening, we encourage parents to sign up for an upcoming Parent Academy to interact directly with school administrators. The full lists of dates and times for these virtual Parent Academy informational sessions can be found here: https://www.elmiracityschools.com/news/what_s_new/parent_academy_q__a_sessions___the_track_back

As we’ve done from the beginning, we will continue keeping our families informed throughout our school re-opening planning. We appreciate your ongoing support.

Thank you and be well,

Hillary Austin

Hillary Austin
Superintendent of Schools
Elmira City School District