North Tonawanda City School District Emergency Remote Instruction Plan
The NTCSD developed the following Emergency Remote Instruction Plan to address the instruction of students if extraordinary circumstances prevent students and staff from physically attending school. The Emergency Remote Instruction Plan meets the requirements of New York State Education Commissioner’s Regulations for inclusion in the 2023-2024 District-Wide School Safety Plan.
The NYS Education Department (NYSED) authorized a “snow day pilot” program during the Covid-19 pandemic 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. This program allowed school districts to deliver instruction remotely on days in which they would otherwise have closed due to an emergency.
To give districts greater predictability, in September 2022, the NYSED Board of Regents amended section 175.5(e) of the Commissioner’s regulations to codify this flexibility. Districts that would otherwise close due to an emergency may, but are not required to, remain in session and provide instruction through remote learning and count these instructional days towards the annual hours requirement for State Aid purposes. Instruction must be provided to all students and be consistent with the definition of remote instruction, as explained below. In addition, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, such instruction must be consistent with the school district’s Emergency Remote Instruction Plan.
NYSED also amended section 155.17 of the Commissioner’s regulations to require public schools, BOCES, and county vocational education and extension boards amend their
District-Wide School Safety Plans to include plans for remote instruction beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. This gives the public an opportunity to provide feedback on such plans for remote instruction prior to their adoption. The Emergency Remote Instruction Plan must include the methods that the school district will ensure the availability of: devices; internet access; provision of special education and related services for students with disabilities; the expectations for time spent in different remote modalities.
Such plans also require that each chief executive officer of each educational agency located within a public school district report information on student access to computing devices and access to the internet each year.
NYSED additions to section 100.1 of the Commissioner’s regulations define the term “remote instruction.” This definition identifies various ways in which remote instruction may be delivered, but which must include, in all situations, regular and substantive teacher-student interaction with an appropriately certified teacher.
The NYS Board Regents adopted the amendments noted above that became effective as a permanent rule on September 28, 2022. Sections 200.7, 200.16, and 200.20 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education were amended, and became effective September 13, 2022, and December 12, 2022, as an emergency action for the preservation of the general welfare to permit approved special education providers to provide remote instruction in the 2022-2023 school year on days they would otherwise close due to an emergency and to count such instructional days towards 14 minimum requirements and to identify the ways in which such remote instruction may be delivered. These amendments relate to remote instruction and its delivery under emergency conditions for students in approved private schools for the education of students with disabilities, state-supported schools, state-operated schools, and approved preschool special education programs. These updated regulations now provide the same flexibility for remote instruction under emergency conditions that was given to school districts. The effective date of the final rule was January 25, 2023.
The Commissioner's regulations define remote instruction as “instruction provided by an appropriately certified teacher, or in the case of a charter school an otherwise qualified teacher pursuant to Education Law §2854(3)(a-1), who is not in the same in-person physical location as the student(s) receiving the instruction, where there is regular and substantive daily interaction between the student and teacher.” For the purpose of this plan, remote instruction means the instruction occurring when the student and the instructor are in different locations due to the closure of one or more of the district's school buildings due to emergency conditions as determined by the Superintendent of Schools. Emergency conditions include, but are not limited to, extraordinary adverse weather conditions, impairment of heating facilities, insufficient water supply, prolonged disruption of electrical power, shortage of fuel, destruction of a school building, shortage of transportation vehicles, or a communicable disease outbreak, and the school district would otherwise close due to such an emergency.
UNSCHEDULED SCHOOL DELAYS AND EARLY RELEASES
Instructional hours that a school district scheduled but did not execute, either because of a delay to the start of a school day or an early release, due to emergency conditions, may still be considered as instructional hours for State Aid purposes for up to two instructional hours per session day, provided the School Superintendent certifies such to NYSED, on the prescribed NYSED form, that an extraordinary condition existed on a previously scheduled session day and that school was in session on that day (NYSED Part 175.5).
The Emergency Remote Instruction Plan shall identify various ways in which instruction may be delivered, including synchronous and asynchronous instruction. In all situations, remote instruction requires regular and substantive teacher-student interaction with an appropriately certified teacher.
Synchronous instruction engages students in learning in the direct presence (remote or in-person) of a teacher in real time. During remote instruction, students and teachers attend together from different locations using technology. Asynchronous instruction is self-directed learning that students engage in learning without the direct presence (remote or in-person) of a teacher. Students access class materials during different hours and from different locations. During an emergency closing, synchronous instruction is the preferred method of instruction, whereas asynchronous instruction is considered supplementary instruction.
ENSURING ACCESSIBILITY AND AVAILABILITY (INTERNET, COMPUTERS / DEVICES)
The NTCSD shall survey families to find out who has a reliable high-speed internet connection. A survey conducted in 2020 identified families who live in the district that do not have access, therefore remote learning is a challenge, if not impossible, for these students. Since 2020, every student who enrolls in the district provides information on internet access and computer accessibility. All survey information is stored and available in the e-school data system. When students do not have internet access, the district works with the families to develop a plan to provide instructional materials for them as well as a process for recording attendance and grading. The district works with the community to provide locations where internet access could be used if they are able to use these locations.
Commissioner’s regulation 115.17(f) outlines the annual data collection that districts must submit to SED every year by June 30. It requires the school district to survey families regarding internet and device access at the student’s place(s) of residence. The chief executive officer (School Superintendent) shall survey students and parents and persons in parental relation to such students to obtain information on student access to computing devices and access to internet connectivity. Fill out our survey.
District policy 7150 and procedures are followed to ensure computing devices are made available to students or other means by which students will participate in synchronous instruction.
North Tonawanda City School District Emergency Remote Instruction Plan
INTERNET AND DIGITAL DEVICE ACCESS
COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL: INTERVENTION
NON- INSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES: TRANSPORTATION, FOOD SERVICE, MAINTENANCE, CUSTODIAL, CLERICAL/ ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT
NYSED Plan Requirements
- Policies and procedures to ensure computing devices will be made available to students or other means by which students will participate in synchronous instruction;
- Policies and procedures to ensure students receiving remote instruction under emergency conditions will access internet connectivity;
- Expectations for school staff as to the proportion of time spent in synchronous and asynchronous instruction of students on days of remote instruction under emergency conditions with an expectation that asynchronous instruction is supplementary to synchronous instruction;
- A description of how instruction will occur for those students for whom remote instruction by digital technology is not available or appropriate;
- A description of how special education and related services will be provided to students with disabilities and preschool students with disabilities, as applicable, in accordance with their individualized education programs to ensure the continued provision of a free appropriate public education; and
- For school districts that receive foundation aid, the estimated number of instructional hours the school district intends to claim for State Aid purposes for each day spent in remote instruction due to emergency conditions pursuant to section 175.5 of this Chapter.
INSTRUCTIONAL HOURS FOR STATE AID AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
Pursuant to Section 175.5 of Education Law the school district may decide to transition to remote instruction in the event emergency conditions dictate the closure of the PreK through Grade 12 facilities. Under the provisions of New York State Education Law and the district Emergency Remote Instruction Plan any instruction sessions provided during the closure of the school facilities are counted towards annual hour requirements for meeting 180 days required for State financial aid.
Annual Hourly Requirements for the purpose of apportionment of State Aid (for districts receiving foundation aid) are noted below:
- 450 instructional hours for pupils in half-day kindergarten
- 900 instructional hours for pupils in full-day kindergarten and grades one through six
- 990 instructional hours for pupils in grades seven through twelve
The district estimates the number of instructional hours it intends to claim for State Aid purposes for each day spent in remote instruction due to emergency conditions from a minimum of 1 remote instruction day due to emergency conditions, up to the full year’s annual hourly requirement.
Whenever a school building must close to instruction due to the activation of its District-Wide School Safety Plan or Building-Level Emergency Response Plan, a Report of School Closure must be submitted to the Commissioner of Education by the School Superintendent as required under CR 155.17(f) via the NYSED Report of School Closure portal. Even when remote instruction is provided during an emergency closure, a Report of School Closure must be submitted. This also applies when instruction can be delivered in an interim location or via another instructional modality.
When it is determined that it is safe to re-open a school building after an emergency closure, the School Superintendent must notify the Commissioner by completing a corresponding Report of School Re-Opening, via the NYSED Report of School Re-Opening portal.
The Report of School Closure is intended to provide immediate notification to the Commissioner regarding an emergency closure. The Report of School Re-Opening notifies the Commissioner of the re-opening and also collects the actual duration of the closure, the location and modality of instruction, and detailed information that may not have been available at the time of the closure.
Reasons for building closures may include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, power outages, instances of infectious disease, extraordinary adverse weather conditions and threats of violence. It is no longer required to submit a Report of School Closure for routine snow days
ANNUALLY BY JUNE 30TH
The School Superintendent shall notify the NYSED Commissioner of the results of the survey on student access to computing devices and access to internet connectivity through the Student Information Repository System (SIRS) every year by June 30th.
END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR
The school district shall report the Emergency Remote Instruction Plan through the State Aid Management System at the end of the school year. After the close of the school year starting with the ending of 2023-2024, the School Superintendent reports remote instructional days under emergency conditions through the State Aid Management System and certifies this at the time NYSED’s Form A is submitted as part of other required certifications. Using the NYSED prescribed form, the School Superintendent certifies to NYSED:
- That an emergency condition existed on a previously scheduled session day and that the school district was in session and provided remote instruction on that day;
- How many instructional hours were provided on such session day; and
- Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, that remote instruction was provided in accordance with the district’s Emergency Remote Instruction Plan.
BOARD OF EDUCATION APPROVAL
As part of the District-Wide School Safety Plan, the school district’s Board of Education shall make the Emergency Remote Instruction Plan available for public comment and public hearing for no less than thirty days (30) prior to adoption. The plan must be adopted as part of the
District-Wide School Safety Plan annually prior to September 1st and posted on the district website in a conspicuous location.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DURING EMERGENCY CLOSING VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION
School districts are required to implement support, services and accommodations, as indicated in students’ IEPs or 504 Accommodation Plans, to the best of their ability, when providing virtual instruction.
Special education teachers who provide ICT, CT (direct/indirect) will initiate outreach to their students’ general education teacher(s) to collaborate on instructional modalities and any necessary accommodations or modifications required of assignments or assessments for the day. When general education teacher is working with students synchronously, the special education teacher will participate in the lesson.
Special education teachers who teach resource room, self-contained special classes (12:1:1, 8:1:1, and 15:1) should follow the same guidance and expectations as classroom teachers in regard to pedagogy, content, class meetings, and flexibility.
Teacher aides are available for instructional support by way of participating in class meetings, keeping up on classroom assignments and expectations, and serving as additional academic support.
Related service providers are to provide “tele-therapy” services, to the best of their ability. Related service providers are expected to adhere to similar guidelines as other professionals in regard to student and teacher work at home, communication, and flexibility and they will use the students’ IEPs to determine an appropriate/reasonable level of communication and support.
Documentation Requirements: Special education personnel are expected to document all support and services provided to students during this time. Document the manner, means, duration of time, follow up efforts, etc. IEP progress monitoring is required to be collected and reported to parents following the schedule listed on students’ IEPs. Medicaid session notes continue to be a requirement for eligible related service providers. Special education teachers/service providers are responsible to hold any virtual professional meetings already scheduled on a day that becomes a virtual instruction day.