School district: parents are conflicted on reopening plans

By Lina Wu
Posted 7/29/20

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District [NECSD] held a virtual presentation on Facebook on its potential reopen in the fall last Friday afternoon.

Although nothing is final yet, the district …

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School district: parents are conflicted on reopening plans

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The Newburgh Enlarged City School District [NECSD] held a virtual presentation on Facebook on its potential reopen in the fall last Friday afternoon.

Although nothing is final yet, the district presented the first draft of the family guidebook with potential for feedback from the community. The district will put out a revised draft with the feedback from last Friday’s presentation.

Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla said up to 14,500 participants have offered the district their feedback on reopening plans.

“There are conflicting opinions and perspectives,” said Padilla. “There are folks who feel that we should be going back to school in some form or fashion, and then there are folks who feel we shouldn’t; that we should be continuing to monitor but staying remote. Both perspectives are equally important and valid.”

The family guidebook features the district’s guiding principles for planning, likely realities and constraints, and current known information.

“We have to plan for what if scenarios,” said Padilla.

“We also have to be agile and nimble in the event we’re forced to close,” said Padilla. “Either by executive order or because we may have a positive case in a particular building.”

The first day of school is September 1, but the district hopes to change the school year calendar. The calendar may be changed to frontload the superintendent conference days. Padilla said they hope to change the calendar to four superintendent conference days at the start of the school year.

The first four days will allow critical training and planning for faculty and staff.

The district currently has four phases as to how students can be transitioned into the schools. The district is considering making phase one to be 100 percent remote for the month of September.

“We understand that many of you feel this is the right approach but we also recognize some of you believe it’s not the right approach,” said Padilla. “Again we want to hear from all of you. Again we believe this is for the best interest of our district.”

Phase two is expected to begin the first week of October. Only certain grade levels and class groups will be included in phase two. Phase two for elementary schools will include pre-k, kindergarten, specific students in special education programs, English language learners, OT/PT speech, homeless students, and children who live in shelters.

Phase two will also involve sixth graders, and ninth graders.

Potentially phase three could begin the second week of October, middle of October, or the first week of November.

The district will monitor other districts, and the county’s infection rates.

“Part of the critical information I want you to walk out of here knowing is none of this is final,” said Padilla. “There is still a lot of opportunity to revise this.”

The district is considering cohorting students into two different groups. The district plans to transition from fully remote to a hybrid model in the first week of October.

The district is looking at an AABA model, which means students from group A will go to school from Monday to Tuesday and then be remote from Thursday to Friday. Some students will have additional in person learning on Wednesday. Also students from group B will start off remote and transition to in person.

The third model is giving parents the choice to decide if students should learn remotely or in-person. The third model depends on the district’s capacity and need.

Padilla said employees feel that parents should be given an option.

If the district takes on the third model, parents will be given a chance to opt in to the model on August 10. Secondary school parents will open in for the entire quarter. Elementary school parents will opt in for the entire trimester.

“This would be a way to honor parents who want to go in and those who want to stay remote,” said Padilla. “The challenge I have is if you opt into this model, you have to stay in for the whole time. We can’t handle hundreds of children coming one week, and not coming one week. It causes a lot of operational and instructional problems that we’re just not equipped to handle.”

Padilla also shared examples for elementary, middle and high school educational materials. The rest of the family guide focused on teaching and learning, health and safety precautions, social-emotional supports, and more.

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