The clock is ticking for school districts in New York to figure out their plans on keeping students and staff safe if they reopen in the fall amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
State officials have mandated that school districts must have a plan in place that includes social distancing, hybrid learning options, and other intangibles if they plan to potentially reopen in September as New York recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some districts have even looked into testing students and staff for the virus upon their arrival at school buildings.
The New York State Education Department and Board of Regents have tabbed a “school reopening task force” comprised of educators statewide last week to help figure out what the “new normal” will be when schools eventually reopen following the summer break.
Districts will now have until Wednesday, July 15 to submit their learning plans to the state for approval.
It remains unclear how social distancing will be maintained in locker rooms, school buses, cafeterias, and classrooms, with some districts concerned there could be a spike in budgets to aid in those efforts.
According to reports, some districts have expressed concern that no matter what the next academic year looks like, it will be impossible for educators to cover entire curriculums to their completion.
Some in the Hudson Valley continue waiting on more guidance from the state.
“While much will depend on what the Governor’s statewide restrictions are at that time, we will be prepared to meet the needs of our students regardless of the instructional platform,” school officials said. “Once we receive additional guidance from the State, we will be prepared to move into the next stage of our planning.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released last month found that approximately half of 1,323 voters polled nationally between Thursday, May 14, and Monday, May 18 felt that schools will be safe to reopen in the fall.
The poll found that 50 percent of voters said they do not think it will be safe to send students of any age back to school in September, against 43 percent who believe it will be safe.
Fifty-two percent said that they do not think it will be safe to send students to elementary, middle, and high schools in the falls, versus 40 percent who think students in grades K-12 should stay away from schools.
“As we continue to consider what our educational communities will look like next school year, our paramount concern is to ensure the health and safety of children and adults in our schools,” Chancellor Betty Rosa said. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed firsthand the inequity in educational opportunities and resources available to our children and we will keep educational equity at the forefront of our decision-making.”
The New York State Education Department’s Reopening Task Force has its fourth meeting on Wednesday, June 24. Check Daily Voice for updates on school reopenings as more information is released.
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