Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that based on each region’s infection rate, schools across the state are permitted to open this fall.
Every region’s infection rate is below the threshold necessary by the state’s standards to open schools. The Department of Health reviewed submitted reopening plans from school districts and notified them of their status on Monday. As of Friday, 127 of the 749 school districts across the state had not submitted plans to the Department of Health and another 50 were incomplete or deficient. The determination of how individual districts open, in-person or a hybrid model, will be made by local school districts under strict Department of Health guidelines.
Cuomo also announced that school districts must post their remote learning plan online as well as their plan for testing and tracing students and teachers. Schools must also have 3-5 public meetings prior to Aug. 21 with parents, who will be allowed to participate remotely, as well as one meeting with teachers to go through their reopening plan.
On Monday, Pine Bush Central School District Superintendent Tim Mains provided an update regarding the district’s preparation for the fall.
The district’s hybrid team has adjusted the A/B schedule based on feedback from parents. “A” days will be Tuesdays and Thursdays and “B” days will be Wednesdays and Fridays. On Mondays there will be remote learning for everyone. The district anticipates that both all-virtual and all-hybrid students will follow the A/B rotation at the elementary level.
Pine Bush is also exploring an alternate means of determining who falls into the A and the B groups, based on geography, rather than alphabetically. Their goal is to design one set of bus routes that remain consistent throughout the year, so it makes sense to designate A and B students around the design of those routes. Students would also be assigned to be driven by their parents to even out and balance the two groups.
As the district continues to refine and finalize its Return to Learn Plan, they have scheduled a series of four town hall meetings in order to give parents and staff a chance to be heard. Three will be for parents and one will be designated for staff members.
Next week, on Tuesday and Thursday, there will be two in-person events. The third and final chance for parent input will occur at the board of education meeting scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Aug. 18. The session for teachers and other staff will occur on Thursday, Aug. 20 and will begin at 6:30 p.m. Both events will take place in the Pine Bush High School cafeteria. They will also be live-streamed on the district website and recorded. Masks will be required.
Like Pine Bush, the Valley Central School District also hosted a virtual town hall on Tuesday to address questions on reopening. The town hall was a meeting of staff members who have been part of the task force that created the district’s reopening plan with some that are in charge of certain parts.
If a child in the district is in the high-risk category or lives with an individual in the high-risk category, then they will be eligible upon request for full remote instruction. Parents and guardians should email requests to their child’s school no later than Aug. 19. Contact information is listed on the district’s website.
If a child does not fall into either of the above categories and a parent or guardian still feels uncomfortable with having their child attend in-person instruction, they should email their request to their child’s school no later than Aug. 19.
If a request is granted for full remote instruction, the district will have the child remain on full remote instruction for the first quarter. If circumstances do change while a child is on remote instruction, then parents and guardians should contact their child’s building principal.
“We will be using the above data to determine the best approach to instruct students who remain home,” Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle said in a letter to parents and guardians. “We will provide you with more detailed information once it is available.”