GOUVERNEUR — For Gouverneur Central, like school districts around the country, question marks still punctuate much of K-12 planning for the 2020-21 year. But one thing is clear: school districts plan to roll with the questions and uncertainties as the COVID-19 global health crisis evolves.
In 22 days, GCSD students and staff will begin a fall term of hybrid instruction, regular sanitation, limited in-person class sizes and importantly, Superintendent Lauren F. French said this week, flexibility.
“This is not going to be easy,” Mrs. French told district families during a video live stream Thursday. “There are days where this just appears like a long, daunting insurmountable task, objective, a job. But when we look at why we’re doing this and who this is for, this is for our children, this is for our scholars, this is for the members of our family.”
In an effort to balance remote learning with maintaining personal relationships and some in-person interaction, the district has generally planned in-person learning two days and remote learning three days each week, with students grouped for in-person days by last name. Families can also opt for complete remote instruction.
The district was granted an extension from the state’s July 30 deadline for submitting reopening plans, and GCSD’s 80-page document was shared with families and posted to the district’s website earlier this month. The plan details state-mandated protocols across several categories, including hygiene, testing, sanitation, transportation, nutrition, technology and special education.
Three cloth masks will be provided to each student and staff member, Ms. French said, adding that controls put in place and healthy choices at school must be carried into homes and the community.
The nature of the novel coronavirus and community spread, Ms. French said, prevents her from offering a “100 percent” guarantee that all district children will be safe and healthy from the pandemic this year, though GCSD is committed to taking every step to promote health and safety.
“Our number one care, our number one concern, our number one objective is to limit the opportunity for exposure, and we do that by controlling the number of children, scholars in the building at any time, we do that by controlling how close they are to each other, we do that by controlling the amount of cleaning that takes place, we do that by controlling the presence of masks and we do that by controlling the exchanges that potentially occur on a hallway,” Ms. French said.
But, she added, “everyone has to work in partnership.”
“What you do at home and what you do in the community and what our scholars do, any weak link in that entire chain of events, or that entire environment will weaken what we are able to do here at school,” she said. “We can’t miss the target on this, we can’t miss the golden opportunity to support our youngsters in the way they need to be supported and our families the way they need to be supported. It’s going to take all of us pulling together.”