COLTON — All students in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School District will be returning for in-person learning on Sept. 8, although parents have the option of having their students take part in remote learning from home rather than in-person instruction.
“We’re very fortunate to have a building and facility which has large classrooms, which is atypical,” Superintendent James Nee said during a virtual town hall meeting on Monday.
He said the district was required to prioritize its special education students, those who attend Career and Technical Education, and elementary students when determining who could be brought in for in-person instruction.
“After we figured those three areas, we believe we can safely bring our whole student body in and have social distancing methods met. We also know that child care would be an issue, so we did take that into account. We think we can do it safely,” Mr. Nee said.
He said they’ve added a seventh bus run to minimize the number of students on each run, allowing them to properly social distance the students. They’re also determining how many students they can have in each classroom while still maintaining the social distance of 6 feet separation.
“We’re close in a lot of areas. There are some classrooms where we have not achieved that goal,” Mr. Nee said.
He said, on the advice of the Public Health Department and medical experts, they would require students to wear face coverings throughout the day, with occasional mask breaks.
“We’re going to talk about breaks and getting those masks off in an appropriate way. The truth is, for much of the day, the expectation is that they will be masked. We’re really trying to keep everybody safe. I know that’s probably not what everybody wanted to hear, but that’s going to be the reality,” he said.
Parents will be asked to provide face coverings for their students, but Mr. Nee said the district wold do its best to provide masks to anyone who needs one, as long as they have them on hand.
Students taking part in in-person instruction will have longer periods of time at their desks, he said. But they’ve added physical education every day for kindergarten through grade six to encourage more movement, and teachers will be encouraged to have their students take breaks.
“We’ll work on that in order to have that movement that students desperately need through the day,” he said.
Students in grades pre-kindergarten through six who are taking part in remote learning will have tasks to complete at home.
“We will have those items that the student can work on. We’re asking teachers by grade level to kind of give direction about what time you will remote in to the class for approximately 45 minutes to an hour each day. It might be reading lessons, it might be math lessons,” he said.
Students in grades seven through 12 who are remote learning will need to be ready for school at the same time as those students who are attending in person.
“They will follow their schedule throughout the day,” Mr. Nee said.
Students in grades one through 12 will have Chromebooks for use at home, and they’re working on getting iPads for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. He said they are also working on a regional model to provide internet access to homes that lack it.
There will be no after-school bus run to start the year so there will be no extracurricular activities such as clubs.
“If we can figure out a way to have them, we’re going to look into those items,” Mr. Nee said.
He said they’re waiting to hear from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association regarding fall sports.
Food will be available for purchase every day, and lunch may take place in classrooms to maintain social distancing.
Students in grades six through 12 will have individual lockers, while the younger students will be sharing spaces.
“We are going to have to work out how we share that space,” he said.
Backpacks will be allowed, but within reason, Mr. Nee said.
“We’d like to see the students use the lockers to the best of their ability,” he said.
Two more town hall sessions are scheduled for Monday. The times will be posted on the district’s Facebook page.