During the week of Aug. 3-7, Governor Cuomo is expected to make a decision about whether schools will reopen in September. In preparation for this possibility, New York required all school districts to propose a plan that includes models for in-person instruction, fully-remote instruction and a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction, with each following the NYS Department of Health Guidelines, NYSED Guidelines for Reopening, and Guidance from the CDC.
We submitted our re-entry plan to the state today, Friday, July 31. As you know, we were not given a lot of time to put this together, and we followed a template to create the plan. We recognize the result is somewhat challenging to navigate and so next week we will update the information online to make it more user friendly. In the meantime, it may be helpful to review the presentation made to the Board of Education on Monday, July 27.
We developed our re-entry plan with careful consideration, adherence to guidelines and the goal of returning students and staff to a safe learning environment. To assist us, we established a committee made up of school and district leaders, utilizing sub-committees with staff and the district’s medical director. Committee members identified five guiding principles that we followed in creating our plan:
The health, safety and well-being of the children and adults is paramount.
Educational equity will be at the forefront of decision-making.
Maintain continuity of instruction for all students.
Communicate with stakeholders, such as staff, families, students, and the community.
Ensure flexibility to meet the needs of all students regardless of changing circumstances.
The committee as a whole was charged with reviewing current practices and protocols and developing plans that will allow the district to reopen, in some way, while also adhering to the NYS, DOH, and CDC guidelines.
A comprehensive systematic strategy informed by the CDC and the DOH is at the forefront of our plan. When our buildings are open our practices will include and address:
Feedback from our families and staff members was critical to our plan development. To get that input, we opened a ThoughtExchange at the end of the last school year and also shared a survey with families. Families will receive another survey in the near future that will help us fine-tune our plan so that we can all be ready for instruction to begin in September, whether it is in-person, remote or a hybrid of both.
The Instructional Models we developed are explained in the School Schedules section of the plan. We recognize that these models pose challenges and benefits depending on children’s and family’s needs. Developing the different instructional plans has proven to be a complex balancing act that involves incorporating many moving parts including, but not limited to, health guidelines; parent, student and staff concerns; protocols for masks and health screenings; and physical space limitations.
Now that our plan has been submitted to the state, we will work closely with our staff to dig into the details of the plan that will be necessary to make this all actually work.
We know there are no perfect options here. The 2020-21 school year will be far from “normal.” But please know, we will do our best to make sure that all of our students receive the high-quality education they deserve, in a safe and welcoming environment.