Fall 2020 FAQ

It is the district’s intention to provide families with all of the information they need concerning the plans for Fall 2020. Please review the district’s plan in its entirety: Our Path Forward, and/or visit each school’s web page for more individualized information as it becomes available. If you can not find the answer to your question on any of these pages, or in the answers below, please reach out to your building principal. 

We will continue to update this page frequently, please be sure to check back. 

Video of COVID-19 Public Forum 

On Nov. 4, Sullivan County Public Health Services and Sullivan BOCES hosted a public forum to provide answers to commonly asked COVID-19 related questions.

Watch the video of the forum below: 

    When should students/staff stay home? When should they return to school? 

    The New York State Department of Health issued an updated guidance toolkit that contains helpful information to determine whether you or your child can attend school. Read the document here

    What specific steps are required prior to entering the school buildings?


    Students will have their temperatures taken daily prior to entering the building, according to written district protocol, with appropriate social distancing measures in place. If the temperature reading is above 100° F, or if the student reports experiencing other COVID-19 related symptoms, the student will be quarantined or isolated in the building’s dedicated “isolation” room, and the parents/guardians will be notified. The student will wait in the isolation room until his or her/parents arrive. Each school building has designated an isolation room, apart from the nursing suite that will be monitored by nursing personnel if a student needs to be placed in isolation. Face masks and other PPE must be worn at all times in the isolation room. Nurses will be protected with N95 masks, eye protection, face shields, gowns, gloves and shoe covers.


    All staff members must complete the daily health questionnaire accessible via QR code and paper copies at each building’s entrance.

    The questionnaire consists of five questions:

    • Have you had COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days? These symptoms include: sore throat, cough, chills, body aches for unknown reasons, shortness of breath for unknown reasons, loss of smell, loss of taste and fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Have you had a positive diagnostic COVID-19 test in the past 14 days?
    • Have you had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days?
    • Have you been under quarantine and not cleared to return to work?
    • Have you traveled to a state covered by the COVID-19 travel advisory in the last 14 days?

    Any staff member who responds “yes” to any of these questions may not enter the building. The MCSD security team will maintain a log of people completing the form, entering the building and a time stamp, but all specific responses will be wiped from the system daily.

    For more information, visit the Health and Safety portion of “Our Path Forward.” 

    What are your plans to keep students and staff safe in the event someone tests positive from COVID-19?

    The district will employ its infection control strategies  as outlined in the district’s plan and also will work in close contact under the guidance of the Sullivan County Department of Public Health to follow all protocols related to contact tracing. Please see the management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring section of Our Path Forward  for more information.

    What happens if a parent fails to screen his or her child before school?

    The district asks all parents to monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19 and to take their child’s temperature each morning before school to ensure it is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As an additional precaution, each student will have his or her temperature taken daily by a staff member before entering the building. If the temperature reading is above 100° F, or if the student reports experiencing other COVID-19 related symptoms, the student will be quarantined or isolated in the building’s dedicated “isolation” room, and the parents/guardians will be notified. The student will wait in the isolation room until his or her/parents arrive. Each school building has designated an isolation room, apart from the nursing suite that will be monitored by nursing personnel if a student needs to be placed in isolation. Face masks and other PPE must be worn at all times in the isolation room. Nurses will be protected with N95 masks, eye protection, face shields, gowns, gloves and shoe covers.

    What specific safety measures are the schools taking to ensure the preparation, handing, and distribution of food is implemented safely?

    Students will not dine in the cafeterias. The cafeterias will be used as a staging and serving area for the students only, in a modified grab-and-go setting with multiple “serving lines” set up to accommodate the quantity of students, and allow for social distancing. Neither staff, other than those assigned to the cafeteria areas for cleaning, nor students will have access to the cafeteria areas for any reason other than to pick up a meal at the appropriate scheduled time. The area will continue to be a contained safe food preparation and staging area.

    Students will obtain their breakfast immediately upon arrival to the school before proceeding to their homeroom classrooms.

    Students must use a hand sanitizer solution or wash hands before and after eating. Trained food services staff will create one self-contained, full reimbursable meal for each child, based upon choice and medically-documented substitutions. The district will continue to maintain the already implemented procedures to protect students with food allergies.

    All meal components will continue to be monitored and documented for proper temperatures and appropriate meal plan requirements prior to, during, and after service. Students will not be allowed to share meals or tables.

    Students will not have access to the salad bar, although pre-made chef salad varieties will be a daily option, along with typical alternate food choices.

    Only food service staff will have access to the individual food components of the meal and will wear the proper PPE. Staff will place the meal in a closed disposable tray on a barrier table for the student to pick up.

    There will be no ala carte menu items or snacks available for purchase, to limit contact between students and food service workers, and to speed the meal service process. The goal is to feed the children a nutritious meal in a timely fashion to ensure students will have ample time to return to their classroom and eat their meal.

    The MCSD Food Service Department follows all New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Guidelines and updated CDC guidelines. The MCSD Food Service Director sends a letter to the NYSDOH annually each August to request two in-house inspections for Child Nutrition requirements, and the NYSDOH inspects the facilities at least once per year; more often if they have the availability to do so.

    How will student attendance be taken?

    Student attendance matters, whether a student is receiving instruction remotely, or in person. Student attendance will be documented and reported to the New York State Department of Education.

    At the elementary level:

    In-person attendance will be recorded in a traditional manner. Students physically present, tardy, or departing early will be recorded as such.

    It is possible that students who are scheduled to report in-person in a specific day participate remotely for whatever reason. The specifics associated with situations such as this will need to be managed on a case-by-case basis.

    Remote attendance will be recorded for students that demonstrate online activity either by participating in synchronous instruction or socialization with the teacher/staff; and/or demonstrate productivity by submitting completed tasks on or before an established deadline. It is worth noting here that learning task deadlines need to occur on a regular basis (daily is ideal) but learning task deadlines need to be arranged such that students have a reasonable workload. By having at least one assignment or academic task due for evaluation each day we will have a concrete means of measuring attendance when a student is participating remotely.

    Note that collection of attendance for hybrid (in-person/remote) learning is accomplished by applying each of the above situations for the applicable mode of learning for that specific student on that specific day.

    At the middle school level:

    Teachers will use a variety of ways to determine student engagement while using both the remote or hybrid experience. The faculty will be using TEAMS Planner to schedule assignments with due dates. Teachers will use TEAMS insight which can teachers know how long a student was engaged in completing an assignment, assignment turn in, Completion of Do Now/Discussion Board question for the day.

    At the high school level:

    Student attendance will be required and recorded daily. For students attending in-person sessions, daily attendance will be taken in their assigned classroom. When students are working remotely, synchronous (live online video with teacher) instruction may be scheduled. Student attendance during synchronous instruction is expected. When students are working remotely on asynchronous (assigned coursework without live online video with teacher) instruction, teachers will utilize the Microsoft Insights application within Microsoft Teams to monitor daily student participation/attendance in their course.

    Since student lockers aren’t been used on the secondary level, where should my child store his/her lunch?

    Students will keep all belongings at their workstation throughout the day. Pre-packaged lunches will be delivered to students by staff members during the day. Students who choose to bring their own lunch should plan to pack non-perishable items, as the lunch will remain with their belongings at their workstation. The school will make accommodations for students with food allergies, or with medically-required diets. For more information,  about food services at the high school, please visit: https://www.monticelloschools.net/monticello-high-school/monticello-high-school-reopening-framework/#food

    If I enroll my child in remote learning, when can I switch to in-person learning?

    Because the number of students enrolled in each cohort greatly impacts our staffing and safety protocols, please consider your enrollment choice to be a semester-long commitment.

    How will you ensure that students keep their masks on during the day?   

    All students are expected to abide by the Code of Conduct. In the event a student refuses to wear their face mask appropriately or follow the district’s social distancing protocols, they will be sent to speak with administration, parents will be notified, and the student will be counseled. Students who show a pattern of unsafe behavior will be reassigned to Cohort D (full remote learning). 

    Please speak with your child before school begins about wearing their mask appropriately and following social distancing protocols. 

    What is an acceptable face covering? 

    Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose and attach over the ears or behind the head.

    Can students and/or staff wear face shields? 

    Students and staff may wear a face shield in addition to a face mask, but not instead of a face mask.  

    Are bandanas allowed?  

    Bandanas are not allowed. Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose and attach over the ears or behind the head.  
    Will students need to wear masks while in class? On the bus? On district property? 

    Students and staff must wear a mask at all times while on district property, including in class, in the hallways and on the bus. The only time a student or staff member may remove their mask will be while eating lunch, or during a scheduled mask break. There will be at least two scheduled mask breaks per day where students will be allowed to remove their masks with appropriate social distancing measures.  

    What if my child has a medical condition that prevents him or her from wearing a mask?  

    Employees and students with healthcare provider documentation stating they are not medically able to tolerate face covering will not be required to do so. Employees should contact their immediate supervisor and families of students should contact the building principal for more information on accommodations. 

    Will there be sports/extracurricular activities? 

    Interscholastic sports have been delayed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) until at least Sept. 21. Additional guidance on athletic activities is forthcoming. When it becomes available, the district will communicate that information to families. 
    There will be no face-to-face extracurricular activities at the start of the school year. There may be remote (virtual) extracurricular opportunities, however, no final determinations have been made. Any information regarding extracurricular opportunities will be communicated home to families as soon as it’s available. 

    Will there be before/after-school childcare available at the district? 

    The Early Drop Off Programs at both the elementary and secondary levels will not occur when in person instruction begins in the Fall. If funding and facility usage allows, the district may phase these programs in at a later date. 
     The Empire funded after-school program at the elementary level will not resume in September as anticipated. Instead, if funding and facility usage allows, this program may be phased in and adhere to protocols established by the district during the instructional day.

    Any provider of programs as such in nature will need to adhere to the necessary health and safety guidelines.

    Specific childcare plans are being developed in collaboration with community partners and will adhere to the specific guidelines set forth by NYS and OCFS.   

    Why is the district requiring parents to choose a cohort before all details (pick-up times, specific daily schedules, course roster, etc.) have been finalized? 

     The number of students opting to attend in-person instruction impacts many aspects of the plan – including how much available space we have in each building, the number of bus runs and arrival/departure times we will need to accommodate students, staffing needs and many other factors that go into scheduling the school day.  

    We are asking parents/guardians to make a commitment based upon the described student experience as well as based upon the individual disposition and needs of their child. We understand the desire for additional details but we’re not able to make these final determinations until we have an understanding of the number of students who will attend in-person instruction.  

    Can the bus pick up or drop off my child to their daycare/caregiver?    

    The district has had to make many changes to its typical transportation plans to ensure adequate social distancing measures are in place. It is drastically limiting the number of available seats on each bus, staggering arrival and departure times, doubling the number of bus runs each morning and afternoon and continuing to deliver meals to students who are attending instruction remotely.   

    Because of these factors, the transportation department must organize its bus runs into zones based upon a student’s place of residence. These geographic zones determine whether students are in cohort A or in cohort B and ensure that siblings who reside together are in the same cohort. Therefore, for consistency and to organize routes by zone, we are only able to guarantee transportation to and from a child’s home address.  

    If you have recently moved, or need to update your address on file, please contact the district’s registrar at 845-794-0128, ext. 78905   

    Please see https://www.monticelloschools.net/our-path-forward/#transportation for more information about transportation 

    Can students use their own devices instead of the district-issued devices? 

    Students can use their own personal device, however, some devices may not be compatible with the platforms used by the district. In addition, our tech support team can not offer assistance for personally-owned devices. For these reasons, we recommend students use the district-issued device. 

    Who is liable if a student damages a device?  

    Although students and their parents are responsible for the district device, accidental damage will be covered by the district for one device.  Repeated damage to devices will result in revocation of device privileges. 

    When will I know whether my child is in Cohort A or B?  

    The enrollment survey closed on Aug. 15, and we are working with our transportation team to create bus routes based upon location. We hope notify parents of their child’s placement by the end of August/beginning of September. However, approximately 20% of parents have not completed the enrollment form. Without these responses, we are unable to complete the cohort organization process. If you have not yet completed your enrollment form, please contact the main office of the school(s) your child(ren) attend as soon as possible.