School Reopening

Questions & Answers About Reopening

We will be posting questions and answers submitted to AskQQSchoolReopeningPlan@lexnyc.org on this section of our website. Please follow the threads under READ MORE to read the questions and responses.
August 19, 2020

Question: If parents do not feel comfortable sending their child to school is there an option to learn online? 
 
Reply: Yes, if the School makes the decision to open for in person learning or hybrid learning, those who are not comfortable doing so can opt out and their child(ren) will be provided virtual learning by the School.  A form will be sent to families to opt out in the event the decision is made for in person learning or hybrid learning on Monday, August 31st.  If families decide to opt for virtual learning and the school opens in person learning or hybrid learning, families can “opt in” again at the end of the quarter which is on Monday, November 16th.
 
Families and teachers should continue to be in contact for both educational and related services needs such as speech.
 
 
Question: If all students uncomfortable not going school that mean do home school?
 
Reply: Homeschooling is education of children at home by parents.  For parents to be able to home school, there are New York Laws that parents/guardians must abide by.  If students are not comfortable going to school for in person learning, families can opt out and Lexington will provide Virtual Learning to students who are not attending in person.
 
 
Question: If we go the virtual route again, would the students receive more differentiated instruction and possibly different online setups, such as one-on-one or smaller group instruction?
 
Reply: We continue to do our best to meet the unique needs of each and every students.  We will also continue to offer differentiated instruction.  Families are strongly encouraged to collaborate with teachers/instructional assistants and department supervisors for specific needs or requests.
 
 
Question: Can there be tutors available to students virtually?
 
Reply: We offer tutors for Regents exams for High School students who will be taking these exams.  These are the only tutors offered by Lexington. 
  
 
Question: If you opt for the hybrid do you mean all the kids are to attend?
 
Reply: Yes, hybrid learning plan means all students are to attend Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Virtual learning will take place on Mondays and Fridays.  Families can still opt for full virtual learning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Again, a form will be sent only if the school decides on an in person learning or hybrid learning for the fall (Monday, August 31st).
 
 
Question: Who exactly do we contact re: questions and suggestions about school-wide issues?
 
 
 
Question: Can the school provide masks, wipes, Lysol spray and gloves for staff? 
 
Reply: Staff will need to bring their own masks as you cannot enter the building without.  Wipes, Lysol spray and gloves will be provided.  We will make every effort possible to have a reasonable and ample amount of supplies readily available.
 
 
Question: What is the start and end time of each school day? Will there be in person classes five days a week?
 
Reply: The start and end time remains the same as last year: 8:10am-2:35pm.  A decision will be made and announced this Friday, August 21st as to whether school in the fall will be five days a week in person, hybrid (T/W/TH in person and M/F virtual) or 5 days a week virtual learning. 
 
 
Question: How many students per class? 
 
Reply: Our ratios for class remain the same.  Depending on the IEP, mandated class size is either: 8:1:1, 6:1:1 or 6:1:2.  No more than 8 students in a class.
 
 
Question: Preschoolers who are not potty trained, how will this be handled?
 
Reply: If the school opens in person or hybrid, teacher/IA and department supervisor will continue to work with families.  If virtual learning, potty training will be handed by the family.
 
 
Question: Will there be times during the school day especially for younger children to have a "mask break"? 
 
Reply: Yes.  Staff will work with all students throughout the day to provide “mask breaks”.
 
 
Question: Will students have recess and/or gym daily? 
 
Reply: If the school opens in person or hybrid, recess will be offered for the children who have it on their schedule each day the student is in the school.  Gym will be offered in person the days it is on the student’s schedule.  If the school opens with virtual learning, gym will be offered throughout the week via an online platform or platforms.
 
 
Question: How will students be protected while traveling to school via a school bus
 
Reply: While the bus is an extension of the school day, Lexington does not manage the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and/or it’s regulations.  NYCDOE is working with OPT and shall issue their guidance/plan.  We will be screening each and every student as they enter the building, using Temperature Detectors.
 
 
Question: What is the criteria for the school to close again?  1 case of COVID?
 
Reply: CDC Guidance:  www.cdc.gov
 
Any school in any community might need to implement short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in a school building. If this happens, CDC recommends the following procedures regardless of the level of community spread:
 
Dismiss students and most staff for 2-5 days. This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school. This allows the local health officials to help the school determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.
  • Local health officials’ recommendations for the scope (e.g., a single school, multiple schools, the full district) and duration of school dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in the community.
  • During school dismissals, also cancel extracurricular group activities, school-based afterschool programs, and large events (e.g., assemblies, spirit nights, field trips, and sporting events).
  • Discourage staff, students, and their families from gathering or socializing anywhere. This includes group child care arrangements, as well as gathering at places like a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or the local shopping mall.
 
Communicate with staff, parents, and students. Coordinate with local health officials to communicate dismissal decisions and the possible COVID-19 exposure.
  • This communication to the school community should align with the communication plan in the school’s emergency operations plan.
  • Plan to include messages to counter potential stigma and discrimination.
  • In such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
 
Clean and disinfect thoroughly.
  • Close off areas used by the individuals with COVID-19 and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
 
NYS Department of Health:
From memo issued March 9 2020
 
Guidance for Schools with Identified Cases of COVID-19 in Their Community The local health department will notify schools if and when a school must close due to COVID-19 and when a school can reopen. School administrators should work in close collaboration and coordination with the state and local health officials to close school and/or cancel large events. Schools are not expected to make decisions about closing or canceling events due to COVID-19 on their own. Schools can seek specific guidance from the State or local health officials to determine if, when, and for how long to take these steps. This does not limit the statutory or regulatory authority of a school board to close a building for other circumstances. The nature of these actions (e.g., geographic scope, duration) may change as the local outbreak situation evolves.
 
When a student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case, New York State Department of Health requires an initial 24-hour closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the school environment. That investigation will inform the plan determined by the local department of health as to any further required closure, or other necessary precautions to take for specific classrooms, or for specific individuals. Such plan must recommend actions for future positive COVID-19 cases as well.
 
During that initial 24-hour closure the school shall immediately take steps to clean and disinfect the school building(s) where the student or staff had contact prior to testing positive for COVID-19. That disinfection must be in accordance with NYS DOH guidelines and must be complete before accepting returning students.
 
  • Schools should work with the state and local health departments to communicate the possible COVID-19 exposure. This communication to the school community should align with the communication plan in the school’s emergency operations plan. In such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • If a student or staff member has been identified as testing positive for COVID-19, school and program administrators should notify state health officials to determine what additional steps are needed for the school community. In addition, students and staff who are well but are taking care of, or share a home with, someone with a case of COVID-19 must not attend school and must follow precautionary quarantine instructions from State health officials, who will determine when it is safe for them to return to school.
 
 
Question: As a health care professional I’m tested weekly, how often are school staff members and bus drivers and matrons tested
 
Reply: The following is from NYS Reopening Guidance booklet:  COVID-19 Testing - It is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students or staff members. The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted should be determined by a healthcare provider or the local department of health. CDC Interim Considerations for K-12 School Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing.
 
Bus drivers and matrons:  While the bus is an extension of the school day, Lexington does not manage the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and/or its regulations.  NYCDOE is working with OPT and shall issue their guidance/plan.  We will be screening each and every student as they enter the building, using Temperature Detectors.  We have complied a list of questions and concerns for the Office of Pupil Transportation and will be sharing their guidelines once they are released.
 
 
Question: I want to express that evaluations via Zoom have been extremely frustrating for me. There is so much that I cannot do via that method, at the same time I want to be safe. IF we return in person for work, that plan is in place to ensure safe practices not just for me but for Speech teachers, OT and PT?  So much of our work is very interactive, with using materials.
Also, there has to be some flexibility with evaluations and therapy sessions. Can those be modified based on the decision and comfort level of the provider? I know that Lexington answers to DOE in many ways but there has to be an understanding that this is not a normal time and full evaluations based on what others want cannot always be completed.
 
Reply: Lexington continues to find ways to address the challenge of protecting the health and safety of our students as well as our staff and related service providers.   While Lexington provides education and related services virtually we will continue to make decisions regarding face to face evaluation and sessions that take into consideration the health, safety and well-being of all our students and staff.  The NYS DOE and US Department of Education guidelines offer flexibility and adaptability in our efforts to provide services online and in person.  We must continue conducting evaluations and IEP reviews.  NYS DOE and local districts are aware that remote evaluations will not yield the same results as face to face evaluations and should be interpreted as such.  If a remote evaluation is not appropriate, Lexington will document the reason and ask for a postponement until a face to face evaluation can be done. 
Lexington School is reorganizing classrooms, evaluation rooms and testing materials and methods to comply with health and safety standards.  All staff and related service providers will be provided with PPEs.   


August 18, 2020

Question: The mayor has said today that testing of city teachers will not be mandated at this point.  He did say, however, that teachers will be provided testing for free.  Will Lexington's teachers be offered free testing as well?
 
Reply: COVID-19 tests are available at no cost nationwide at health centers and select pharmacies. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FCCRA) ensures that COVID-19 testing is free to anyone in the U.S., including the uninsured. Additional testing sites may be available in your area. Contact your health care provider or your state or local public health department for more information. New York State continues to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 on a daily basis. The guidance below enables New York State to prioritize resources to meet the public health need. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov

August 17, 2020

Question: Will there be a team to investigate what virtual learning approaches and activities work for Deaf students and to set up guidelines for all teachers to adhere to? 
 
Reply: No, there will not be a team.  School Supervisors are always seeking new methods and materials and welcome the suggestions of Faculty and Staff members to find potentially good sites and materials.  This will continue to be a collaborative and collective effort amongst everyone.

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Question: Will there be training for teachers to learn about different technology uses, ways of engaging students in learning, etc.?  

Reply: Yes.  A schedule for Tuesday afternoon Professional Development topics will be shared with Faculty and Staff members on September 8th.  This will include topics related to educational technology where there is/has been most need.  It is important that we all continue to be open and flexible to the many options available.

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Question: DL is a full time learning experience. Teachers cannot be expected to do both – distance teaching and in person teaching.  If I am teaching in person full time and planning for in person full time, it is impossible for me to also teach remotely and to plan for remote activities as well as homework etc. 
 
Reply: In the situation we are currently in, that is the expectation whether it is ideal or not.  There continues to be discussion as to how to make such a situation work best for everyone if we find ourselves in this situation.  The key to making it work is being open-minded, flexible and adaptable. 
 
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Question: If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19 but does not have any symptoms, will he/she/they be allowed in school? 
 
Reply: No.

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Question: Will the school always have cleaning supplies readily available to staff? Prior to COVID these items were very difficult to come by (Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, etc...).
 
Reply: Lexington School & Center for the Deaf has identified several vendors who are working with us. We will make every effort possible to have a reasonable and ample amount of supplies readily available. 
 
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August 14, 2020


Question: Busing- I did not see in the reopening plan that the student’s temperature will be taken prior to entering the bus/ upon pick up.
 
Reply: While the bus is an extension of the school day, Lexington does not manage the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and/or it's regulations. NYCDOE is working with OPT and shall issue their guidance/plan. We will be screening each and every student as they enter the building, using Temperature Detectors. 
 
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Question: The reopening document states DOORS will OPEN to students at 8:00, grab a To Go breakfast and go straight to homeroom where they will be monitored by the Teacher and IA in the classroom.  Right now our contract says staff begin at 8:05, and have not been notified that it has changed. 
 
Reply: There is no change for EFM start time.  Morning duty staff will be assigned around the building to supervise students prior to the 8:05 a.m. start time. The morning duty staff will be responsible for students as they enter the building and are escorted to the classes. Currently there are 23 people who have applied for morning duty.  There will be a plan for supervision of students between entering the building and going to the classroom after hirings are complete.  As expected, it will take some time for the students to enter the building, get tested and go to class. 
 
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Question: It also states morning duty staff will arrive at 7:30 to monitor students in the hallway, etc., however the students do not enter the building/doors don’t open until 8:00.
 
Reply: Morning duty staff will arrive at 7:30 to be prepared and ready and will be there in the event students need to enter earlier.

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Question: Breakfast in the classroom- how long will children be allowed to “eat” in the classroom since this will be taking place inside the classroom- 8 to 8:15? Or an allotted time?  
 
Reply: This will depend on when the students come into the classroom. Breakfast may take longer than 8:00 to 8:15.   The earlier students may need to have some quiet activity while the later students finish their breakfast.  Start time is 8:10, but it can be up to the discretion of teachers how much time is allotted for breakfast based on student arrival.
 
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Question: The reopening document states that teachers and instructional assistants will stay for daily dismissal. It is not clear if they are to stay until ALL kids are dismissed? Until their own students are dismissed? Until the contractual time of 2:35? 
 
Reply: There has been discussion amongst Supervisors of dismissing students’ from class at 2:25pm to allow EFM staff some time to escort students to designated areas by bus.  This is still being discussed and finalized.  There will be dismissal staff who will stay as per usual for dismissal.  There has not been and will not be a change of contractual time without following proper protocol.
 
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Question: In the reopening document, it states that teachers should continue to use technology/ platforms etc. in the classroom and teach the students to become familiar with them. However this was a big issue in the spring and summer. Many of our students were issued DOE devices, which do and did not allow for students to use the apps that we have chosen to use, for example SEESAW.  Our students will need access to the platforms that we are using- either on their own device, on a Lexington device, or on a DOE device. If we continue using DOE devices, someone would need to contact them and ask that our specific apps/ platforms be added to their devices for our students to use. Otherwise, they cannot access it.  
 
Reply: There is a contact email for nonpublic schools to add apps onto devices. Supervisors can request apps to be added through  NPS@schools.nyc.gov  A student OSIS number will need to be provided to the NYC DOE to add requested apps to appropriate student devices.  EFM staff can provide Supervisors a list of students and their corresponding OSIS number and Supervisors will contact NYC DOE.  If you have further questions pertaining to more specific information from the NYC DOE, you can call 718 935 3650.
 
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Question: Will students be given a Lexington device to bring home? Will this be a daily activity to bring the device home?  What if the child leaves it at home, and then we need to use it the next day in class? We know students often do not bring the necessary materials back to school the next day.
 
Reply: Students are accountable to bring devices to and from school so that they are best prepared if we start in-person learning and have to change to virtual learning.  If they leave it at home, we will work the best we can in the classroom.  The same as if it were a textbook. We can check with Information Technology (IT) to see if they can provide a few extra laptops for emergency use.
 
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Question: Virtual Learning also should be following the child’s schedule. So how will the school provide PE, Art, etc., to a Virtual Learning that is just following the schedule of the in person teacher?  A student cannot be expected to follow any teacher - curriculum or specials - while being on an IPad at home and participating live stream. If a Virtual Learning option is offered, the school must adhere to providing all required curriculum areas (SED guidelines). 
 
Reply: Art, gym and technology can post their courses on Schoology.  Assignments can be posted and they will be required to have live ZOOM classes as well.

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Question: Clothing- I have read that coveralls could be an option for staff to wear that come in frequent contact with young children, etc.  Could I (staff) choose to wear professional scrubs to work, instead of their personal clothing?  
 
Reply: This is allowed as long as they are professional in appearance. These will not be provided as the school is not making it a requirement.
 
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Question: If virtual learning is chosen for all students, what steps are being taken to ensure high quality teaching?  
 
Reply: All staff are certified or working towards certification within a year of hire and expected to deliver high quality lessons.  Teachers are expected to continue their learning of technology, as well as the curriculum.  The School Supervisors will continue to monitor, supervise and check in with staff on a regular basis. In addition, staff can request whatever resources or assistance they may feel they need to maintain quality.

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Question: Will there be ongoing monitoring by supervisors on quality of lesson planning and instruction? 
 
Reply: Yes, this will not change as the result of whatever model we institute. The School Supervisors monitor the Google files and plans daily.  They will participate in virtual learning classes through observations. If teachers are suggesting they want a standard lesson plan to use for each class, school supervisors can provide that.  Teachers are encouraged to meet/discuss with their supervisors if they have concerns about their own classes. School Supervisors will continue to have department meetings and encourage staff collaboration.  We are considering having staff and administrators meeting regularly to share the discovery of best practices and successes in virtual learning. Supervisors will revisit teacher evaluations and PPRs to make sure that they are incorporating technology skills into evaluations.
 
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Question: When moving to different classrooms for various subjects, what plan do you have for managing crowds in the hallways?
 
Reply: Signage for hallways will be set up to direct traffic and encourage social distancing.  There will be a direct flow of traffic in hallways, including maintaining a single line, no side by side as well as no mingling across hallways.  Faculty and Staff members will monitor.  Flexibility and adaptability are critical for success.
 
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Question: In the section on fire drills in your re-opening manual, no specific plan is provided for managing crowds in the hallways, staircases, and doorways to the outside areas.  Can you give us more information about this?  
 
Reply: The fire lines will be spread out (at least six feet apart), using the soccer field and the tennis courts.  Everyone will practice social distancing.  A chart will be shared with Faculty and Staff members. In addition, stakes/flags will be set on the fields to identify class lines. Dismissal will be done in a staggered fashion: third floor goes out, then second floor, then first floor.  At the conclusion of the fire drill, the youngest will enter the building first and oldest last.
 
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Question: What steps are being taken to enhance bilingual aspects of virtual learning? 
 
Reply: Using LOOM, teachers are creating materials that incorporate both ASL and Spoken English. Student interns may be able to also create materials. The Bilingual Coordinator will schedule times to join the Zoom classes across all departments.

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Question: If an employee has an underlying health condition, what accommodations will the school make?  Will staff be forced to take time off?  What happens when paid time runs out?
 
Reply: If an employee is fearful of returning due to an underlying health condition, Lexington will treat any refusal to return as a request for an accommodation under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  This will trigger Lexington's obligation to engage in the "interactive process.” As part of this process, Human Resources would require documentation from the employee’s health care provider of the need for an accommodation.  Together with the employee’s supervisor, the director, and the employee’s health care provider, we would discuss what, if any, accommodations could be offered to the employee that would allow the employee to return to work and yet, keep safe. 
 
If, after engaging in the interactive process, it's determined that there are no reasonable accommodations that would enable the employee to return to work and the employee is not able to perform the essential functions of the job remotely, the employee might qualify for FMLA if the employee’s condition is determined to be an FMLA-qualifying "serious health condition".  Again, medical documentation would be required from the health care provider. 
 
In addition, while engaging in the interactive process, the employee might qualify for a two (2) weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  Under the FCCRA, the health care provider must advise that the employee quarantine or self-isolate because the employee is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.  If an employee seeks EPSL for this reason, the employee is eligible to be paid at 100% of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a cap of $511/day or $5,110 totally. 
 
After that, if an employee has not returned to work and we are still engaged in the interactive process, the employee can use her/his/their remaining sick days to continue being paid. 
 
Article XIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states that EFMs can take up to 3 sick days for non-specified reasons.  Additionally, Article XVI states that the School may authorize “other” leaves where, in the judgement of the Superintendent, such leave will be in the best interests of the School and the EFM.
 
Each situation will be considered and evaluated separately.
 
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Question: Some Staff members have children/relatives living at home who are immunocompromised. 
 
Reply: If a staff member lives with a child/family member who is immunocompromised the staff member may use emergency paid sick leave provided by the FCCRA. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (ESSTA) provides 2 weeks or 80 hours of leave if the employee is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolate during the pandemic.  Paid leave is limited to $200 per day ($2,000 in the aggregate). 
 
NYS Paid Family Leave may be available if the individual the staff member is caring for is a family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild, or grandparent).  In 2020, the NYSPFL benefit is 60% of an employee’s average weekly wage to a maximum of $840.70.
 
In accordance with ESSTA, a staff member can use her/his/their regular paid sick time to care for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or who needs preventive medical care. 
 
Article XIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states that EFMs can take up to 3 sick days for non-specified reasons.  Additionally, Article XVI states that the School may authorize “other” leaves where, in the judgement of the Superintendent, such leave will be in the best interests of the School and the EFM.
 
Each situation will be considered and evaluated separately.
 
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August 13, 2020

 Suggestion: There is a lot of information missing from the Lexington published plan options.  It would be very helpful if questions (and answers when there are some) were posted (anonymously) in an open format for everyone to see.  Not only would this cut down on repetition for the committee, it would allow people access to thinking and concerns from various points of view.  Personally I think families and staff should be able to share to better understand what we'facing together.  ​

Reply: We are reviewing and answering questions that were submitted to AskQQSchoolReopeningPlan@lexnyc.org, this week. The questions and responses will be posted on the website by the end of tomorrow (Friday). In the meantime, we will identify a dedicated person to review and answer questions as we go along in coming days and weeks.

Question: I know the school has budgetary concerns.  It is going to cost a lot of money to equip the school with health mechanisms.  It'd be a waste of money because the school may close after a few weeks.  Our money would be better used on training for virtual learning and other activities that the school could offer to the students and their families.  What are your thoughts on this?
 
Reply: Lexington has set a budget for PPE and other upgrades as recommended by CDC, NYDOH and NYSED. We are committed to the safety and well-being of everyone at Lexington School & Center for the Deaf. We have set up a total of four sessions with families (3) and Faculty/Staff (1) during the week of August 17th. We will listen and identify common themes and concerns. Then we will plan accordingly to the best of our ability. 
 
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