The Newburgh Enlarged City School District [NECSD] Board of Education [BOE] held a special meeting last Tuesday to discuss operation reopen.
“Tonight is a very critical update in this work,” said Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla.
The district’s reopening plans are guided by four guiding principles: ensure the safety and wellness of scholars, faculty and staff, deliver high-quality instruction to students, regardless of delivery model, be open to changing policies that don’t work, and plan for progress, not perfection.
“I’m extremely grateful that our community has come forward and provided us with essential information for reopening schools,” said Padilla.
Two Fridays ago, the district held three forums on reopening schools. Nine hundred people attended the community forum, and 600 people attended the elementary and secondary school forums.
“On behalf of the 12,000 scholars we serve, we say thank you to you,” said Padilla.
Reopening schools runs into the dilemma of health concerns and educational priorities. Padilla said that the district is recommending a 100 percent remote learning model throughout September, and any other time the governor puts forward an executive order closing schools.
The district hopes to transition to a hybrid model in the first week of October. Each model has a blue and gold cohort. Cohorts will be determined by last names.
Principals will also have the authority to move children to different cohorts based on programming and how many children are in each cohort.
“No matter what decision we make, we’re going to adversely affect families,” said Padilla. “I need everyone to accept that and understand it, there’s no perfect plan. No matter what we do there’s going to be a group of parents impacted.”
The district has partnered with the Newburgh Armory Unity Center to create a virtual academy that will offer support to families during the remote option.
The armory will offer a venue at no cost to the district with wifi access from Monday to Friday. At the armory, students will be able to receive remote instruction during both the remote and hybrid model while their parents are at work.
“I can’t understate the power of this collaboration,” said Padilla. “Over the last couple of days I’ve been in constant contact with Mr. Kaplan, the founder of the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and the chair of this phenomenal place, this center.”
Padilla said Kaplan has agreed to work with the district over reopening plans.
The district has committed to providing furniture, meals, and student devices. Volunteers will monitor students at the armory unity center. Padilla said the district is still looking for other partners and venues to help practice socially distanced learning.
On August 10, the district hopes to offer the opt-in due date for the parents choice model. August 18 will be when the district has to submit its second round of school guidance, and August 17 will be the soft date for the second round.
The BOE approved the district’s reopening plans at the end of the meeting.