School districts in Westchester are finalizing drafts of their plans to potentially reopen in the fall as New York continues its recovery from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
With the state continuing its battle against COVID-19, school administrators have been advised to prepare for a hybrid-learning model that includes a combination of remote and in-person education.
Districts will follow a model that includes students returning to classrooms while offering remote learning for parents who choose to opt-out and keep their children at home.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously announced that schools will be allowed to reopen if they are in a region with a 14-day average daily infection rate of 5 percent or lower that is also in Phase 4 of reopening the economy.
“No one knows what we will be up against when our school districts start to reopen again,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer stated.
“If we do see plans for a return in September, administrators will have a limited amount of time to make crucial decisions about how to provide a quality education for our students, while maintaining their health and safety, which will always be our top priority.
“It is my hope that this working group will make the transition process smoother, and provide an easy venue for districts to reach out to us for the support they may need.”
The state has advised districts to plan for three potential outcomes that include:
- A whole district virtual model where all students are learning at home full time;
- A whole district hybrid model where some students learn daily at home while others attend in the school buildings with teachers, which would reduce the density in the buildings and plans for social distancing;
- A whole district full return model with all students returning to school with masks and other personal protective equipment.
Students entering school buildings will have their temperatures checked, though it is unclear if face coverings will be mandated, though they have been suggested, and classrooms and other school spaces will be reconfigured to maximize social distancing.
Districts will also have increased and emphasized sanitization protocols put in place to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread.
“We are trying to make decisions that will maximize instructional time for students while adhering to the guidance documents and the rules set forth within those documents,” a superintendent in Northern Westchester stated.
“The plan will need to be very fluid and versatile and we will need to be able to shift from one version of instruction to another very easily based upon the prevailing health conditions in the area at the time.”
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