Students from the Wallkill and Pine Bush Central School Districts were back on campus’ this week, as hybrid instruction began.
After beginning the school year with virtual instruction for all students, the in-person hybrid model began Monday. Students in grades K-12 will come in at 25 percent capacity through Thursday with Friday designated as an online learning day for Group A and Group B. Fifty percent of Group A participated in in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday while 50 percent of Group B will take part in in-person instruction today and tomorrow.
Beginning Tuesday, students in grades K-12 will come in at 50 percent capacity. Group A will attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while Group B will have in-person instruction on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, all students will be on distance learning.
“We had a great start to the school year with distance learning and now we are prepared to bring back students on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, using the hybrid instructional model,” Wallkill Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle said in a letter to parents and guardians.
In order to bring students back safely, students will comply with established health and safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, six-feet social distancing and not coming to school if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
If there is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, the district will work with the county health department to identify any direct or proximate contacts of all suspected or confirmed COVID-positive students, faculty and staff. A direct contact is anyone who was within six feet of a suspected or confirmed case for a continuous period of 10 minutes or more. Proximate contacts are those who have had brief close encounters or extended encounters at a distance greater than six feet with a suspected or confirmed case. The county health department will be responsible to contact all individuals who were exposed.
“We will make our best effort to minimize the disruption of in-person learning; however, you should be prepared for the possibility of a group of individuals, specific classroom(s) or an entire school to shift to remote instruction for a period of time if it is determined such action is required,” Castle said in a letter to parents and guardians. “These decisions will be made in collaboration with the county health department.”
Students in grades K-6 began in-person hybrid learning yesterday. This comes after pre-kindergarten students began hybrid learning and students with disabilities in most special classes began in-person learning two weeks ago.
Students from Group A will attend school in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays while those from Group B will go Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays will be virtual for all.
State guidelines require the district to screen students and staff each day that they come to their buildings. Parents will complete a health questionnaire each day that their child is scheduled to attend in-person instruction. They will receive a reminder each morning via a text and/or email with a link to this questionnaire. A separate text/email will be sent for each child who is scheduled to attend that day.
“It’s important that this be completed and submitted each day your kids attend school,” Pine Bush Superintendent of School Tim Mains announced to parents on the district’s website. “If we don’t receive the questionnaire, then we take your child’s temperature once they arrive, but prior to their entry into the building. If the temperature reads over 100 degrees, the student will be directed to a supervised isolation room at the building until you can come to pick them up.”
When students come to school, they will need to use a district-issued Chromebook that is specifically assigned for their exclusive use. However, if a household has a dedicated device for each child at home, they are not required to borrow a Chromebook. These children can use their own devices at home, while their district issued Chromebook would be kept at school. For those who do borrow Chromebooks, it would come with them back and forth when they come to school. The district has persuaded the insurance company offering optional insurance to extend the deadline to Oct. 16, in anticipation that more parents will request Chromebooks.
While in school, students will wear masks and social distance. Mains believes that students will be safe during the hybrid instructional model.
“I know that there is a lot of noise about the rising number of cases of COVID in Orange County, but that has largely been driven by the zip code that covers the Town of Palm Tree,” he said Friday. “I monitor the number of positive cases in the county and in all of the county schools every day, and we still feel comfortable about our return to more in-person instruction next week.”