WEST IRONDEQUOIT; VICTOR, N.Y. (WROC) — Students heading back to school in West Irondequoit were greeted with smiling faces Thursday morning.
“It’s amazing seeing our kids walk through the doors, their eyes are smiling, we can’t see their faces but we know that they were happy to come back,” said Kelly Santora, elementary school principal.
Students at the middle and high school are operating under a hybrid model. They’re sorted into two groups – blue and gold. The blue group attends school in-person on Monday and Thursday, the gold attends on Tuesday and Friday – making today a blue day. Wednesday is a designated remote-learning day, to allow for additional cleaning in the building.
“All students in the blue cohort are either joining in-person today or joining us remotely online, and our gold cohort students are learning virtually via Schoology and an online learning platform today,” said Maryanne Heiman, principal of Dake Junior High School.
The elementary students attend four days a week in-person, with Wednesday also a designated remote-learning day.
“To actually see the kids in-person and have those interactions, that’s really important,” said Steve Schockow, a social studies teacher at Dake Middle School. “So far so good. The kids are basically quiet anyways on day one, but extra quiet today because they got the masks going. They are probably a little bit nervous but they seem to be happy. They’re following all the guidelines perfectly.”
Schockow said the building is laid out to ensure distancing everywhere. Desks have orange stickers where students sit, to mark off six-feet distance. He said all core-subject areas are each focusing on a certain topic relating to safety. For example, social studies is focusing on the topic of social distancing.
Like West Irondequoit, Victor schools have staggered their arrival and dismissal times. News 8 got to take a look at what the dismissal process looked like at the end of the day for Victor schools.
“Like a well oiled machine, kids come out of classrooms, are six feet apart with masks on, plenty of adults there to make sure they get on the right bus, also lots of kids getting picked up by parents that’s a whole system as well,” said superintendent of Victor schools Tim Terranova.
Their plan also involves two groups of students for hybrid learning – one blue and one gold. Blue attends school in-person every Monday and Tuesday and every other Wednesday, gold attends Thursday, Friday and every other Wednesday.
Full remote learning was an option for both Victor and West Irondequoit.
“I can’t thank the staff enough – all the way from transportation, bus monitors, all the staff members that made sure students got to school safe, parents too,” said Terranova. He said parents and staff also do a health screening before students come to school every morning.
Before dismissal, students at Victor ended the day with a tradition done a little differently this year. Those in the intermediate school have an annual ‘read aloud’ on the first day – which this year, had to be done over zoom.
“They have a community read aloud, with a book they choose every year to really set the tone around the respectful and responsible and positive culture we want here in Victor,” said Terranova. “Normally the meeting is on the turf field for an assembly, but we did it via Zoom this year, thanks to leadership of principal Kevin Swartz, and Library Media Specialist Maggie Elliott.
“This is what we are doing here. Not going to lose opportunities, we are going to continue to make opportunities, make sure they exist, we just had to do it a little differently this year,” said Terranova.