Fall 2020 Reopening Information
We hope this message finds you healthy and enjoying your summer. Since March, we have been working tirelessly trying to come up with the best scenario to reopen school, while keeping our students and employees safe, meeting all of the Department of Health and State Education Department guidelines, and trying to meet the needs expressed in the surveys that we administered.
This week we began sharing our ideas and plans with school board members and leaders of the teacher’s union. We also received changes to the state guidance from the New York State Education Department that required that we review and alter many of our reopening plans. Then last Friday, the Commissioner of Education for New York announced her sudden resignation. We also know that the Governor indicated that he would give his final answer about schools the week of August 3rd. As the guidelines changed, so has our ability to include more students at school every day.
For the start of the 2020-21 school year we will begin instruction in a hybrid model. Some students will attend school in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays and others will attend school in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will be provided with remote learning for the days they are not in school. Please see the Reopening Schedule document for more details. Notification about which days your child will attend will be announced no later than August 14.
Here are some other important notes about the start of the school year:
- The school year will start without athletics (delayed until September 21st at the earliest)
- The only extracurricular activities that will be allowed are those that can be completely virtual
- Field trips will not be allowed unless they are virtual
- We will not be able to allow the use of our indoor facilities by outside groups
- The way we start the school year will likely not be what we finish the school year with, so our initial schedules need to have the flexibility to be changed
- New Staff Orientation is scheduled for August 24, 2020
- The first day of instruction will be September 1, 2020
Last week’s guidance from the NYS Department of Health clarified that mask-wearing will be mandatory for ALL students unless they have a medical or mental health exemption, in which case we will make accommodations for them. Students who refuse to wear masks when they need to (hallways, common areas, buses, classrooms when 6 feet cannot be maintained) will be given the option to wear their mask or learn virtually at home.
We know that some parents will choose remote learning for their children in the Fall, or will not send their children if they need to wear masks, so we are planning for those types of scenarios in our scheduling as well; we will have an additional survey about this topic in the very near future. Rules related to COVID are not our rules, but we need to enforce them and respect the wishes of those who choose not to follow them by giving alternate means of education.
Transportation & Busing
We WILL be able to provide busing for our students and know that many parents will choose to transport their children to school. A survey will be out soon to communicate this.
Health & Safety
The school nurses and Director of Wellness met last week to review our PPE inventory status and needs, and to understand the numerous protocols that need to be clarified before school can reopen. These items include daily screening for all students and staff regarding COVID-19 symptoms, dealing with students or staff who become ill during the school day, and a myriad of state-mandated protocols.
We have refined our plans and created what we believe is the safest way to begin the school year. In the coming week, we will begin sharing more of our plans with more teachers, office and facilities staff, the reopening task force, and finally with all of you. We are obligated to submit our reopening plans by July 31, 2020. Then, we will all wait for the Governor’s decision.
Community Zoom Meeting
We plan to host a Community Zoom Meeting on Thursday, August 6, at 5:00 p.m. to answer any questions you may have. Details about this meeting will be distributed via email and social media next week.
A Word of Thanks
Once again, thank you for your patience and support. Our students, staff, and community have demonstrated exceptional resilience in the most trying of circumstances. Thank you in advance for your feedback. Our plans will only evolve and improve as we gain a better understanding of your thoughts and marry that with what we are able to do at school. Thanks again to the many individuals who worked so hard to get us to this point.
Finally, while we are eager to return full-time and understand your desire to do so as well, we believe that the plans we are creating are our absolute best approach for keeping everyone safe while continuing to support students and families. We will constantly monitor our plans and make adjustments as needed.