Local schools begin work on reopening plans

Local school districts have organized committees and subcommittees to examine what it would take to reopen school doors in the fall. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

BRASHER FALLS — Even before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday that school districts must come up with plans to reopen schools, some local districts were already ahead of the game.

Gov. Cuomo said districts must devise a plan for students, faculty and staff to safely reopen and resume in-person classroom instruction in the event that officials decide to reopen schools this fall.

No decision has yet been made when, or if, schools will reopen this fall outside online learning models that were used to close out the 2019-20 school year.

In Brasher Falls, St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Robert A. Stewart said they have already appointed a committee and subcommittee to look at how they could reopen in September.

“Our Reopening Committee has been formed and consists of BOE (board of education) members, administrators, Teamsters and teachers representatives,” he said.

The overall committee has five subcommittees that Mr. Stewart said are designed to help in determining how they will reopen in different areas. The subcommittees include Continuity of Instruction, Transportation and Sanitation, Technology, Health and Safety, and Scheduling.

“We have been analyzing the guidelines that other states have developed in anticipation of what we might be required to do. We have developed a list of possible hurdles to be overcome in order to return to school and are working upon solutions,” he said.

Mr. Stewart said they will be distributing a survey to community members, asking a few critical questions to help them prepare. He said the survey would be distributed later this week on the district’s Facebook page and website.

He said that, like other school districts, they’re waiting for information from the governor’s office and state Education Department to provide some guidance. Once they receive that, he said it will be shared with the community “to keep you as informed as possible during this uncertain time.”

The Massena Central School District has also formed a Reopening Committee that has met this week, Superintendent Patrick Brady said in his latest update on the district’s website. The committee includes administration, union leadership and representatives from Trinity Catholic School.

“We created five subcommittees to examine various aspects that will need to be considered for school reopening such as health and safety, scheduling, transportation, food service, etc. These subcommittees will be led by administration and will include staff, parents and students,” Mr. Brady said.

The Health and Safety subcommittee is co-chaired by head nurse AnneMarie Miller and Greg Tessier, the district’s director of facilities. Jefferson Elementary School Principal Duane Richards chairs a Teaching and Learning subcommittee for grades pre-kindergarten to six, while J.W. Leary Junior High School Principal Alan Oliver chairs the 7-12 Teaching and Learning subcommittee.

A Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health subcommittee is chaired by Kristin Colarusso-Martin, and a Transportation/Food Service/Athletics subcommittee is chaired by Director of Transportation Allen Rowledge and Food Service Director Peter Bertrand.

“These committees will begin by examining the top obstacles to reopening and how they might be overcome based on three scenarios: 1) In-person learning with new safety requirements; 2) a hybrid of in-person learning and remote learning; (3) continued remote learning,” Mr. Brady said.

“I appreciate the work of these groups as they plan together to bring our students and staff back safely. We have many challenges to overcome to make this happen,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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