As deadline approaches, schools share plans
NEW YORK STATE--The 2020-'21 school year will be one of many changes for students, parents and teachers throughout the state and county due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. After guidance was recently released to schools, plans for the new school year are due to the state by Friday, July 31.
Dundee Superintendent Kelly Houck gave an over 50-minute Facebook Live presentation, Monday, July 27 detailing many factors for the new school year. She said the full written guidance would be available this week.
While again stating the ultimate decision on schools is in the hands of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Dundee has developed a comprehensive plan to have students back in the building in September. Houck said Gov. Cuomo is expected to make his decision between Aug. 1 and 7.
Houck mentioned Dundee's smaller size is an advantage when looking at new health guidelines and all students are expected to have in-person education. This will involve a staggered day with elementary running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and junior-senior high from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kindergarten and Pre-K will have half days.
Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings only when social distance can not be maintained. For example, students that ride the bus will be required to wear a covering while being transported but once they have entered their classroom at school it can be removed. The classes will be reduced to between eight and 13 students allowing for social distancing at all times.
Before a student gets on the bus or enters the school building, whichever is first, their temperature must be taken with a reading not over 99.9 degrees. Questions are being sent home to parents that also evaluate daily health and are a part of the overall "screening." Staff members will also have their temperatures taken.
Students will be in "cohorts" to reduce exposure to each other and will have breakfast and lunch delivered to the classroom.
Houck described the overall plan as "fluid," and the school is expecting input from the community to make changes as the situation and need arises. At this time, visitors will not be allowed in the building.
Houck added the district will be focusing on preparing students at school for distance learning should the need arise. She referenced last year where students thought they were going home for a long weekend in March but never returned to school. Without preparation, it made it difficult for proper systems for virtual learning to be implemented in a matter of days.
Last week, Penn Yan Central School District released their 70-page document and a two-page summary of their plans. Schools will have different scenarios they can pivot between which includes full time, in-person instruction; hybrid instruction and distance learning.
For example, the summary document states for full-time instruction: "All students are in session on a daily basis following the traditional building times and bell schedules. The traditional model incorporates all required health and safety guidelines including social distancing, mask wearing, and more." Hybrid instruction: "The hybrid instruction plan would divide students into two cohorts. For example, the cohorts could meet in-person two days per week (Tuesdays/Thursdays) with virtual, small groups, and/or independent work on the opposing days (Monday/Wednesday/Friday). This will limit the number of students in the building at any given time while allowing us to adhere to the health and safety guidelines." Finally, distance learning 2.0: "Schools are required to be closed. All students are learning virtually from home. The re-design of this model is anchored by reflections and learning as a result of our collective experiences in the Spring of 2020; therefore, it is termed "Distance Learning 2.0." Attendance will be taken daily and assignments will be given and graded."
Penn Yan will also give a remote learning option per family choice. The letter says, "This is a full-time online class option for those who are unable to return to school for medical reasons and/or general discomfort. This will be a credit-bearing option offered to any student/family interested. We anticipate this commitment being long-term for a family."
As it stands, the plan includes what is referred to as a "soft start" to the school year. This means there is a two-week hybrid model that transitions into a more regular day by Monday, Sept. 21.
Penn Yan's full plan can be seen at: https://bit.ly/pyreopeningfeedback
Hammondsport Central School provided the following updates via social media in the last week: "HCS is preparing socially distanced classrooms that will keep our students six feet apart and will allow them to keep their masks off during instruction. Students will be able to focus on working with their classmates and teachers and not focus on a mask. Student and staff safety is our first priority!"
An additional update said, "When school reopens, the state department of health requires that all students must have their temperature taken every day before they get on a bus or enter a school building. It is recommended that parents do this screening at home and the student brings the screening results with them to the bus or school. We will be reaching out to see if this is something that parents are willing and able to do. We are seeking donations of thermometers for any families that may need them to make this happen."