Reopening: School Closures

A closure refers to contingency plans, protocols and procedures for decreasing the scale or scope of in-person education or closing a school or district. The district will collaborate with the county health department to determine the parameters, conditions or metrics (e.g., increased absenteeism or increased illness in a school community) that will serve as early warning signs that positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing beyond an acceptable level.

Building administrators are to communicate regularly with their supervisors and district leadership if attendance rates impact the ability of the school to operate safely. The decision to close schools is made collaboratively and in consultation with the superintendent, the district's medical director, county health department, and local and state agencies.

Looking to the 2020-21 school year, Governor Cuomo has directed that school districts will adhere to the following data points in considerations for reopening in September and in evaluating the potential need for additional short- or long-term closures during the school year:

  • Districts or schools will close if the regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1
  • Districts or schools will close if the seven-day rolling average of the infection rate is above 9%
  • Districts or schools in regions in Phase 4 (Capital Region) can reopen if the daily infection rate remains below 5% using a 14-day average, unless otherwise directed by the Albany County Health Department
  • If the infection rate rises above 9%, districts or schools must wait until the 14-day average is below 5%
  • Once districts open in Phase 4 below 5% for a 14-day rolling average, districts or schools can remain open even if the rate continues to rise above 5% until it reaches 9% for the seven-day average
  • The Albany County Health Department will notify districts of the COVID-19 rate of infection data
  • District administrators may consider closing if absentee rates impact the ability of a school or schools to operate safely 
  • The district may choose to modify operations prior to closing to help mitigate a rise in cases. If infection rates are rising above 5%, the district will consider modifying school operations for medically vulnerable students and employees if they are participating in in-person activities
  • The district will consult the district’s medical director when making such decisions, and the medical director will collaborate with the county health department
  • The district will determine which operations will be decreased or ceased, and which operations will be conducted remotely. This will include a process to conduct orderly closures, which may include but not be limited to a phased approach

For more information about how school closure information will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.