NORFOLK — Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials have announced their proposed plan to reopen in the fall — bringing in all elementary students for in-person schooling, and having middle and high school students come in on an A-B schedule.
“This plan isn’t what you want, it’s not what I want, it’s not what our kids want, it’s not what our families want,” Superintendent James Cruikshank told board of education members Tuesday.
But, he said, they were faced with two limiting factors — the amount of space on buses and within the building.
“We’ve looked at reorganizing space. We’re going to try to accommodate as many kids as possible. We have to look at this as phase one of our reopening. This is the beginning stage,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
He said they have surveyed parents to find out some information, such as how many people would select 100 percent remote learning if that option was available. That would allow them to plan transportation and spacing in the school, where students must maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
“We couldn’t take kids and put them in the regular classroom. We also need to know how many will be on the bus,” he said.
Mr. Cruikshank said the state Education Department has advised, if they could not bring back all students, to make certain groups a priority. They include special education, students with disabilities and students attending Career and Technical Education.
He said they would identify those students and work to bring them back as soon as possible.
“We recognize there are students that have special needs, need a little more attention and need support to be successful. We can do it for some groups, and that’s what we’re looking at,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
The proposal addresses what could be potential issues for parents at some homes.
“We also looked regionally and said, in the north country there are six children for every one day care slot,” he said.
That was one of the reasons they opted to bring back all elementary students, he said. It was also the easiest group to adjust to conform to space requirements.
He said, with middle and high school students, they were looking at a hybrid schedule “because we don’t have the space to pull off bringing them in every day.”
Under the proposal, students in the “A” group will be at school on Monday and Tuesday, students in the “B” group would come in on Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday would be remote learning for all of those students.
“Schools in the north country that are doing 100 percent every kid, every day are mainly your smaller schools. I cannot figure out how they are doing it,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
With Wednesday serving as a remote day, he said they would have time if there was an outbreak in the A group before bringing the B group into the school.
“For us, that was the most logical. I’m not saying that’s the right choice. I’m saying that’s what we feel is the most logical. We’re going to have a positive test at some point. We might even have a mini-outbreak,” he said.
Masks will be required for all students, except during meals and as directed by teachers.
“Will you need a break? Yes, of course. Our teachers will understand that,” Mr. Cruikshank said.