IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — School districts across New York are finalizing their reopening proposals to be submitted to the state by the end of the month.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state government would make a decision on reopening schools in the first week of August after each district proposal is reviewed.
Locally, some districts have laid out hybrid models which would include rotations between in-person and remote learning, to provide more time for sanitizing classrooms and decreasing the amount of total people in a building at a given time.
West Irondequoit Central School District Superintendent Dr. Aaron Johnson says the district is leaning towards a proposal which would have more in-person learning for younger students, and more remote learning for older students.
In an interview with News 8 Monday, Dr. Johnson said WICSD’s current plan would have students in kindergarten through sixth grade in classrooms for four days per week with remote learning on Wednesdays. The current plan would have students in seventh grade through 12th in schools for two days per week, split up into two rotating groups.
“What that’s going help us to do is, number one, really continue to keep our finger on the pulse of how things are going with our staff, students, and families, solicit feedback from those folks, and be reflective in our process and make changes along the way,” Dr. Johnson said. “It’s also going to allow us time for professional development, which is is necessary. We know it’s going be needed time for support; social, emotional, mental health, academic.”
West Irondequoit has six schools which houses kindergarten through third grade instruction and the superintendent says the extra facility space will ensure proper safety protocol is in place.
“They’re smaller buildings with smaller groups of students to begin with so we were able to logistically take a look at the floor plans there and break those classrooms by half 50% distribution,” Dr. Johnson said. “And then working within our given staff, we’re going to have those groups of students working with a staff member throughout the day and then the teacher will move from group-to-group.”
Regarding school lunches, Dr. Johnson says the current plan will have students from kindergarten through sixth grade eating lunches in classrooms and students from seventh grade through 12th will eat in the cafeteria.
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Additionally, Dr. Johnson said if their plan is approved, all cafeteria lunches will be served in pre-packaged containers, and there will be more lunch periods than usual.
“We’re going to increase the number of lunch periods because of the distancing necessary and the students will come down, socially distanced with the six feet,” Dr. Johnson said. “So they’ll be packaged, there will be limitations on what we can offer to minimize the spread of any viruses or anything like that.”
Regarding masks, the superintendent says the school’s policy will be similar to New York state’s in the masks will be required when socially distancing isn’t possible.
“It’s required when students are not going to be physically distanced, if they could be compromised,” Dr. Johnson said. “So anytime they’re in passing, they’re going to be masked. Teachers are going to be masked during instruction, but as long as they are socially distancing they are going to be able to take off their masks.”
The superintendent said more specific masking guidelines would be issues, plus additional training sessions on the masking policy.
“The policing is one thing I think schools are very worried about, and we’re not going to set any students up for a confrontation,” Dr. Johnson said. “We’ve been working very hard at culture and climate in our buildings and so we’re going to approach it by having discussions with students having constant reminders about the importance of it, and make sure we have good signage around our buildings.”
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School districts have to submit their reopening proposals to the state by Friday, and then will find out the following week if they will have the green light to reopen.
For more information on West Irondequoit’s school reopening plans, visit this website.