Area schools will continue distance learning
NEW YORK STATE-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced schools in the state will continue distance learning and remain closed for in-person teaching for the rest of the academic year, Friday, May 1. The announcement follows dozens of other states that are also taking similar precautions because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Local schools have already made and delivered thousands of meals for students during the initial closure and the program will continue according to the governor.
At the same time, all schools and colleges will need to create re-opening plans that re-imagine how school facilities will be used going forward. According to the state, these plans should consider how schools can monitor the spread of COVID-19; how to reinforce student safety; when and how to resume extracurricular activities; protocols for special student populations; steps to ensure student mental health; alternative academic calendars; among other considerations. All plans will be reviewed and then approved.
"It's critical that we protect our students from this virus, and given the current circumstances we are in we do not think it is possible to put the necessary precautions in place that would allow us to re-open schools this academic year," Cuomo said.
There are over 300,000 coronavirus infections in New York, however locally both Yates and Schuyler Counties have consistently had very low infection rates with 28 and nine cases as of Friday, May 1.
"In the coming weeks we will form a statewide task force made up of educational leaders, including superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, school board members and other stakeholders, to guide the reopening of our schools," said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe in a joint statement. "By working together with these partners, we can ensure that our children's educational, developmental and overall wellbeing is considered during this important discussion."
The state will make a decision about summer school programming by the end of May.
With in-person school being closed, so too are the athletic events for the rest of the year. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) said all section games in New York are canceled and that 43 other state high school associations have canceled their sports seasons.
NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica has begun the process of selecting members to serve on an ad hoc committee to address and analyze the potential impact of COVID-19 on the fall 2020 interscholastic athletic season. The ad hoc committee will include local district officials, section executive directors and NYSPHSAA's executive director as well as potential representation from the New York State Education Department, NYS School Boards Association and the NYS Department of Health. The committee will convene to make recommendations if needed to NYSPHSAA's 11 member sections to assist with planning and coordination of high school athletic programs.
"I would like to commend the work of the 11 NYSPHSAA section executive directors who have worked tirelessly to benefit the students in their sections," said said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director. "Many throughout our state were hopeful students would have the chance to participate in high school athletics this spring and return to some sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll on many aspects of our lives and high school athletics is one of them. At this time, we must focus our attention on the health and safety of all New Yorkers. Please stay safe and stay positive during this difficult time."
School administrators are currently looking at options for graduation celebrations for seniors. Across the state, options have been discussed including virtual celebrations, social-distanced drive thru style events or drive-in events.