School districts in New York submitted their reopening plans to the State Education Department on July 31. The Valley Central, Wallkill Central and Pine Bush Central School Districts have unveiled their plans for the upcoming school year.
All Valley Central students will be separated into two teams: Team 1 and Team 2. Team 1 will attend school in-person on Monday and Thursday. They will receive online instruction on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Members of Team 2 will have in-person learning on Tuesday and Friday. Their online learning will take place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Special education (12:1:1, 6:1:2, 8:1:2, Life Skills) and Alternative Learning Center at Maybrook students will attend school five days a week. Students will also be given the option of all-online instruction.
Health protocols will be heightened this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All entrance areas will have hand sanitizer available to accommodate any staff, visitors and/or students as they enter the buildings. Students will be given time to use the bathroom and hand wash/hand sanitizer throughout the day, in particular when coming to school, before lunch, after lunch and at the end of the day at a minimum.
All classrooms and buildings at large will be cleaned and disinfected, with attention to the high traffic areas including door knobs and handles.
The nurse’s offices have been looked at in detail and accommodations are underway to provide as much as possible a segregated space for sick and well children. The nurses will be wearing barriers or personal protective equipment when encountering sick children.
Facial coverings/masks will be worn by all people entering a school. All staff and students are required to wear a mask while in school, unless they can maintain the six foot social distancing rule.
Prior to entering all Valley Central locations, Valley Central faculty, staff and students must complete a medical screening questionnaire. This questionnaire is accessible on the district’s website or a paper copy at the school buildings.
No outside visitors will be allowed on school campuses, except for the health, safety and well-being of a student and only with permission from administration. All visitors must check in at the greeter’s desk for temperature screening and to fill out the COVID-19 check-in health screening.
Superintendent of Schools John Xanthis noted that this plan intends to ensure that students and employees feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses.
“As we begin a school year unlike any other, I would like to personally assure you that the Valley Central School District is placing the safety and health of our students, staff and families above all else,” he said.
Like the Valley Central School District, Wallkill has developed a hybrid instructional model that combines in-person (50 percent capacity), online and remote instruction for all K-12 students.
Students in grades K-12 will be separated into two groups: Group A and Group B. As a result, the district will be able to provide in-person instruction two days a week to all students at 50 percent capacity and be in compliance with the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Health requirements. The remaining days of the week will be remote and online instruction.
The group each child will be placed in will be determined by the building principals during this month. In determining the groups, the building principals will place students in the same household in the same group to assist families. Building principals will notify parents and guardians of their childs’ group on or about Aug. 21.
In order to adjust to the new health and safety protocols in a school setting, the district will bring in students the first week of school at 25 percent capacity using a two-hour delay schedule. On or about Aug. 21, the building principals will provide parents and guardians with the day their child will be attending during the first week of school.
“We will continue to provide you updates throughout the month of August,” Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle told parents and guardians in a letter on July 28.
According to Pine Bush’s reopening plan, all students in grades 9-12 will begin the year on Tuesday, Sept. 8, in an all-virtual learning environment. The high school students will follow their regular schedule of classes each day but assignments will be spread out to make the work more manageable. Students will connect to their classes via Google Classroom. Attendance will be tracked and reported daily.
“We were forced into an all virtual solution at the high school level because we simply could not effectively maintain social distancing in that building,” Superintendent of Schools Tim Mains announced on the district’s website. “Even with an every-other-day schedule, there would be more than 800 teens changing classes each day and that just wouldn’t work. When we are able to bring high school students back to the building, it will most likely be phased in by grade level, beginning with freshmen.”
Instruction for the elementary and middle schools will be different. Students will either be attending their schools in-person on an every-other-day schedule, learning from home on the day they are not in school. Or the parents can choose an all-virtual option for them. Either way, all students will follow an A day, B day schedule, seeing their teacher every other day and working independently on the other day. The district plans to make sure that students in the same family follow the same days to be in school.
“At the K-8 level we can maintain the proper distancing in the classrooms with half of the students attending each day,” Mains said. “On the days when those students are in the building, they will be given their assigned work to do for the following day when they are learning from home.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s ready to make an initial decision on reopening schools this week.