The Education Academy Emergency Preparedness Plan Updated May 2022
Board Approved May 2022
Filed with County Department of Education May 2022
*** (This document was re-approved with updates from The New Jersey Department of Education According to their most recent checklist. )***
Equitable Access/Addressing Special Education Needs/ELL and Bilingual
As with any good solid planning, this plan began, continued and was updated and enhanced through a collaborative effort of School Administration, Staff, Service Providers, Counselors, Instructional Aides, Behaviorist, Counselors, School Nurse, Parents/Guardians, Students, Sending Districts’ Administration and Child Study Teams, ASAH, NAPSEC, Attorney representatives, Parent Advocates, Law Guardians, Students’ in-home therapists, physicians, and caregivers – (through reciprocity agreements)- and Community Partners,(including Police, Fire, Rescue, Crisis Interventions), Virtual Platform Representatives, NJDOE, CDC, DOH, DHS, and DCPP.
Our families’ and students’ safety and well-being are the first two factors that have always been The Education Academy’s priorities. Communication with all our stakeholders is vital to create and sustain any plan that will not only work but survive, for the duration of a closure with additional updates throughout the journey. The Education Academy continually monitors our Parent and Guardians contact information which includes confirming residence and all emergency numbers and emails, including work contacts and emails. This is done through yearly questionnaires and continued with surveys throughout the year, as well as during Parent and Teacher conferences and CST and IEP meetings. Access to telecommunications and virtual platforms is confirmed regularly through District, school and Administrative correspondence and distribution of Progress Reports. Any inability to access any form of remote learning is documented and worked through individually with the family and student. This includes using alternate means of remote access such as cell phones, work packet distribution, putting families in contact with free internet providers, contacting case managers for available technology tool distribution. With all the above being said, this is a fluid document that will be updated throughout emergency closures when necessary and distributed.
All virtual platforms are chosen based on the quality of the programs, the ease of access and the academic rigor they provide, as well as the ability to be modified to meet all our students academic needs and abilities for use depending on program facets such as visual tracking and motor planning, reading abilities and levels met, as well as covering all New Jersey State curriculum standards as needed and necessary. Further, the programs utilized must have strong staff development opportunities that are easily accessible, so as the programs change, the staff is able to keep up with data collection and assessment without compromising student progress. As of the creation of this emergency plan,all the virtual platforms that The Education Academy incorporated in it are listed on the cover letter of this document. All platforms have intrinsic tracking to aid staff, students, and parent and guardians in illustrating time on task and tasks accomplished toward progress goals. Training on all the above is headed by IT staff and website administrator. The first day of school closure will be documented as Staff and Student orientation whereby training and practice and accessibility will be reviewed and amended, enhanced, supplemented to provide the optimum virtual learning environment possible meeting staff and student’s needs.
Finally, our partners in education must all be able to meet on a virtual platform that is convenient for them, as well as the school. Therefore, The Education Academy has created updated email addresses for all staff that will work across all virtual platforms utilized by our sending districts as well as our parents/guardians personal telecommunication tools. These venues selected provide professional development for staff utilization and have been a successful way of providing our districts and educational partners access to our staff remotely to discuss documentation of services provided as well as student progress towards goals and objectives of their individual educational plans. Student modifications are also noted on Teacher, Instructional Aides, One to One aides, Speech, OT, and Counselor logs, anecdotal notes and contact sheets. The venues utilized include Zoom, Google Meets, Google Hangouts, and Expanded Teleconferences. In the cases where there could be a language barrier, The Education Academy works with the sending district for the availability of a translator, as well as utilizing the program Google Translator to transcribe all correspondence appropriately for our particular audience with numerous languages and dialects available.
All families of The Education Academy provide their students breakfast and lunch when the students are in attendance. This has been our policy since inception of the school primarily due to the over-whelming dietary restrictions our populations traditionally have. With that being said, every Education Academy staff member knows that if any family is struggling during an emergency situation of school closure, that they are to notify Administration and these families will be put in contact with the services they are in need of-whether that would be with the district, county or state and our community partners.
What Does The Education Academy Virtual/Remote Instruction Day look like?…
Each of our six classroom teachers create a daily schedule with their instructional aides and one-to-one aides which is, upon administrative review, dispersed to our Behaviorist, Counselor, Speech, , and adaptive phys ed, reg. phys ed, health, and school nurse. Our service providers then work as a team to coordinate their services to assure the best scenarios are available and the children are meeting their IEP goals and objectives to the best extent possible.
Staff will continue to create lesson plans weekly which will be reviewed by the supervisor of the curriculum. Closure lesson plans will allow teachers take full advantage of the children being in a home setting where their individual life skills can be addressed. These life skills can include utilizing chores such as separating and folding clothes as part of a project-based curriculum which The Education Academy espouses. These mundane daily tasks can be shown to provide the children with a higher self-esteem and to practice skills that encompass areas of weakness such as motor planning and dexterity etc. Parents and guardians will benefit from seeing first hand why their child has a problem and the process will provide a visual for working it through. A follow up can be an art lesson where the children illustrate what they practiced and accomplished. The teachers goals will be to assist with teaching and practicing real-life skills in the student’s real-life setting.
Teamwork includes, but is not limited to, providing services together, such as our traditional SPOT (Speech and OT groups). As our parents and guardians are an integral part of our at-home learning team a phone call by a staff member is made daily which assists with attendance and time on task for the students and provides a time for the parent to ask any questions, or the staff member to provide one to one assistance as well as a welfare check. If staff members have concerns they contact Administration and the families will be put in contact with not only additional in-house staff such as counselor and school nurse but also outside services such as Police, Fire, Rescue, Crisis Intervention, DCPP, and their in-home therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, behaviorists where possible with appropriate reciprocity agreements and/or verbal affirmation which would later be requested in writing as soon as possible.
Zoom meetings are scheduled on average three to four times a week with additional individual meetings where necessary for tutoring and one-to-one services. I needs to be noted that The Education Academy recognizes that with the varied classifications and disabilities that the school services it will be necessary for schedules to be flexible and fluid and students afforded respite and breaks. “Recess” and breaks take on a whole new meaning during at-home learning. Staff is very creative utilizing techniques such as show and tell time, as well as showing videos, photomontages and virtual visits to museums, and sharing musical playlists.
Student progress will be recorded digitally, virtually and by anecdotal notes (inclusive of any and all modifications used per student and/or group setting) which will be sent as e-mail attachments to Administration for review and then forwarded to Administrative Secretary for second proof-reading and filing. Upon approval of the files, as well as the logs of the same will be sent monthly to sending districts, case managers ,and business offices along with billing and attendance. Progress Reports will be mailed to districts and parent guardians according to the school calendar.
Parent and Guardian conferences during closure are available on whatever venue the families have a comfort level with. Administration will be involved in all such conferences and available by personal cell phone anytime, as always, as it appears on business card and is available to families and districts, as well as emergency services 24/7. Individual Educational Plan meetings, annual reviews, and evaluations where feasible, will be coordinated with sending districts and held virtually using venue of their choice. These venues include, teleconference, Google Meets, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.
All staff will be taking advantage of the numerous Professional Development opportunities that are typically available to schools and institutions of learning during emergency school closures. Further, The Education Academy has virtual partnerships that provide on-going all year long PD monthly or clFaculty/Staff meetings will be increased during this time also. Logging of PD hours will be periodically checked and Certificates filed when received.
Staff pursuing additional certifications and/or completing degree work will continue to do so and submit bulleted documentation of same periodically upon request to confirm participation and re-imbursement of same as contractually agreed upon.
Attendance During Remote/Virtual/At-Home Learning
All Education Academy staff take attendance daily for their Remote/Virtual/At Home learning settings. Student attendance is confirmed throughout the day with a multi-faceted approach. First, the classroom teacher takes attendance to begin the scheduled day. All service providers also take attendance prior to the provision of their individualized and/or group services. The virtual platforms utilized daily record usage by date and time stamps. Finally, the parent phone calls throughout the day to determine participation, assist with prompting, address barriers or road blocks to the student’s learning that day, verify health and welfare, resolve conflicts, provide strategies for behavior management are noted and confirmed as positive or negative attendance. Attendance is deemed negative when no parental or guardian contact can be made and/or calls made have not been returned, no work has been done on any virtual platforms, verification of work done on packets distributed can not be verified that day, school nurse welfare checks could not be completed, DCPP case worker could not reach their cases and police welfare checks could not be affirmed. After every attempt aforementioned and applicable to said student has been documented, District is notified first through the case manager and then when determined necessary through the Superintendent’s office and Business Office.
The NJDOE attendance register rules are followed with the standard Five (5) Day notices being sent to the sending districts and the parent/guardians. The student and their family will be notified that their child has lost privilege status and advised what the CST Team along with The Education Academy has decided needs to be done and or/demonstrated to attain back said privilege status. (In egregious cases, a special IEP meeting will be held to discuss the importance of participation by the student on the required venues and the District in coordination with The Education Academy administration can determine together the consequences of poor attendance on the student’s Progress reporting and IEP goals and objectives. Further, these consequences could include a retention recommendation and loss of approved transition for that academic school year. As mentioned prior in this document, attendance is forwarded to the sending districts monthly for billing purposes and by request anytime.
The maintenance and security of The Education Academy school building will be addressed by our designated security staff and cleaning teams during extended school closure. The landlords for The Education Academy, M.C.A Properties, L.L.C., will conduct periodic checks of the school building as per mutual agreement. Through our reciprocity with the Lacey Police Department, drive throughs will be made to assure no vandalism to property and building can be ascertained. Access to the school building during closure will be limited and only upon Administrative approval.
The Education Academy’s designated security staff makes periodic visits to the school building during any closure. A security checklist is followed daily during open school and will continue during closure and extended closures on a set schedule covering the outside and the inside of the building. Our Security System, Securall, provides 24/7 coverage anytime the building is locked and the system is activated. The appropriate agencies will be notified upon activation, Police, Fire, Rescue and Medical. Adminisration and Landlords are contacted in the event of a security breach, as well as Fire Alarm Activations to the system. All systems are inspected annually and the required certificates posted and filed accordingly with the appropriate agencies including NJDOE. Further, our Pest control company, Cowley’s Pest Control, will be provided access to the building for their regular maintenance during extended closure.
Staff Security will keep checks on bathroom facilities by flushing toilets periodically and water outlets, including sinks and water fountains will be run for short periods to maintain them at full service and good working order. The same will be done by our landlords, M.C.A. Properties, L.L.C., by mutual agreement.
HVAC and other electrical and gas connections will be checked, as well as the maintenance closet. Regular bi-yearly maintenance on same will continue, as well as any required inspections, (fire, sprinkler systems, elevator), kept up to date and recorded, posted and filed with the appropriate agencies. The computer lab will be inspected for any power outage issues and rectified as soon as feasible.
Designated Cleaning staff have been trained for daily cleaning and “Deep” “Intensive” cleaning when necessary, particularly in the event of a health related closure. All cleaning will include frequently touched surfaces, such as doors and door handles, light switches, door jams, desks and chairs, student materials that are shared such as books, or games etc., water fountains, sinks, faucets, microwaves, refrigerators, technology and windows. Filters and Ducts will be cleaned and/or changed regularly by the appropriate service providers, “Polar Air”, as necessary. All CDC, DOH and NJDOE guidelines, in addition to any aforementioned items regarding sanitation, will be addressed and met continually throughout closure. All staff have received training in regards to health and sanitation and know how to not only remediate problems if they occur, but report same to Administration. The Education Academy School nurse provides health and sanitation training refreshers yearly, as well as proper hand-washing techniques to the entire Education Academy, administration, staff and students alike. Daily hygiene is embedded in The Education Academy curriculum and handbooks.
Extended School Year Program- Building Closure Plan
In the event that a building closure occurs during the traditional 5-week full day Extended School Year Program, the students will have access to the same virtual platforms and remote home learning programs that can be used during closure for the traditional ten (10) month school year.
Further where Fridays have always been a special field trip day for ESY, The Education Academy has added a Virtual Field Trips platform to their library of resources digitally in its place. This platform has a multitude of resources for all age groups, attention spans and interests and can also be used as an addition to our Behavior Modification Program. Another addition to our Behavior Modification Program starting remotely this summer will be a Puppy Therapy Experience where The Education Academy continues their partnership with Puppy Love Rescue and will have live virtual visits with the many foster families and pups as well as the facility itself and their adoption programs held locally several times during the summer. Participation in this opportunity requires privilege status and points redemption as well as administrative approval for every student.
An emphasis also on outdoor activities will provide an extended recess option providing structured setting ideas such as outside neuro-motor sensory therapy or yoga or running in place, calisthenics, etc.
As the true purpose of an extended school year program is to aid in eliminating academic as well as social emotional regression during the summer months an additional emphasis on 21st Century Skills and goals will be had but provided through stimulating and fun activities and this is where STEAM comes in.Utilizing technology the students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and gain further exposure to technology literacy. The primary theme for The STEAM Club of ESY will be Global Awareness.
Our STEAM Club has become the most popular club during two marking periods of the traditional school year for the past three years it has been around. So having a STEAM Club accessible to all age groups during Remote ESY will take the sting out of not being physically in class with all their peers for the students. This remote plan will also allow for classes to combine with our older groups mentoring the younger ones. The platforms of choice for this will be Google Meets or Zoom.
All therapeutic services are offered during ESY thereby allowing for students to continue their exposure and practice of individual therapeutic programs. Group settings utilizing a project base format such as a theatrical show have been a popular way of attaining these services, however the opportunity will also include small group/individual settings to provide intensive services where building closure and family adversity limited full participation by certain students.
The latest digital platform that has been created especially for school access is called“The Library Is Open”. This venue allow access to numerous library catalogs and resources that can only enhance the traditional reading lists and novel studies offered. This platform will be available to all our ESY classes.
The emphasis on hand washing and the working through social distancing and how the classroom will look for students and what the requirements will be will be worked through together with staff, students and their parents and guardians. The ESY program will provide the time where staff can prepare the school building to provide for the health and safety of all involved, staff, students, parents, district visitors, etc. Virtual tours and explanations will be provided to all students and their parents as well as the discussion of new requirements such as a family health survey of exposure etc. or symptoms experienced or presently experiencing and the requirements for re-entry for every student. The Education Academy will follow all CDC, DOH, and NJDOE guidelines to provide the optimum environment for the health and safety of staff and students.
Unannounced visitors will be limited and all approved visitors must abide by social distancing rules and the use of protective equipment and any other measure recommended by the groups aforementioned such as no touch temperature taking. Refusal to follow any and all rules will result in non-admittance to the school building until such time the visitor complies.
This document was submitted and approved by the Board of Directors of The Education Academy on May 20, 2020 and forwarded to the NJDOE County and State offices, All Sending Districts and posted on The Education Academy website on May 21, 2020.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Linda A. Phillips
Director, The Education Academy
Addendum: Staff List with Titles **All staff of The Education Academy are considered essential with respect to The Education Academy Emergency Preparedness Plan.