MASSENA — Although it’s subject to change as the COVID-19 situation changes, Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick Brady provided the latest information on their 2020-21 reopening plan to community members during a virtual forum held this week on YouTube.
In fact, he said, they had already made two changes since their plan was sent to the state Education Department and Department of Health for review and approval — the taking of temperatures both at home and at school when students arrive, and a requirement to wear masks all day except for meals and mask breaks.
“We are setting up screeners for temperature checks in the school,” Mr. Brady said. “We will provide mask breaks during the day for students at different times. Unless authorized by the administrator or teacher, masks are to be worn at all times.”
He said they’ll be posting COVID-19 information, including changes to their plan, on the district’s website so everyone can stay up to date.
He said they were working with groups that include parents, staff members, administrators and community members to provide the safest plan possible and still provide a solid education for students.
“We know that parents have concerns about reopening. Everyone has concerns about reopening school in the midst of a pandemic. We recognize that,” Mr. Brady said.
As part of their reopening process, he said they have been measuring classrooms to ensure students remained 6 feet apart from each other, except for physical education and music, which require 12 feet of space. They are also placing signs in the hallways to direct traffic flow, much like individuals would find in some stores.
Staff and parents will be required to answer medical questions every morning on an app, and parents will also need to pre-screen their children every morning, including a temperature check, before they’re sent to school.
Under the district’s plan, pre-kindergarten students will be assigned to an A or B group and will attend school for a half day, resulting in an ever-other-day face-to-face instruction model. Monday will be at home extension activities, the A group will attend in-person instruction on Tuesday and Thursday, and the B group will attend on Wednesday and Friday.
Kindergarten students will have a digital day on Monday, with teachers setting up activities for them to do online, and will be attending half-day sessions in school Tuesday through Friday, with Group A in the morning and Group B in the afternoon.
Students in grades one and two will attend in-person instruction Tuesday through Friday, with Monday as a digital day. Jefferson Elementary School Principal Duane Richards said those were the “foundational years” when face-to-face instruction was critical.
Students in grades three through 12 will also have digital instruction on Mondays, and then attend school face-to-face every other day, while attending remotely on opposite days. Mr. Brady said their plan is to divide the students into A and B groups alphabetically. The A group would attend in person on Tuesday and Thursday, and the B group would be in school on Wednesday and Friday.
Parents can also opt to have their students stay home for complete remote instruction. He said about 24 percent of the district’s families were opting for remote instruction.
“We understand. Everybody has to make their own decisions,” Mr. Brady said.
Students in Board of Cooperative Educational Services special education programs will learn on-site five days a week. Students in all district self-contained, special education programs will be on-site four days a week. Students receiving special education-related services such as speech counseling, occupational therapy or physical therapy will continue to receive those services.
Chromebooks will be distributed to students, and Mr. Brady said they’re working on developing a technology support plan for families with no internet access. Hot spots will be available in the community as they were when schools closed in mid-March and went to remote learning.
Meals will be provided to students whether they’re in school or participating in remote learning. For students in remote learning, a meal pack will be available for pick-up on Mondays each week unless otherwise scheduled. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on a “grab-and-go” format while students are in school. Classes will either eat in their classroom or cafeteria based on a designated schedule.
At the high school, students will rotate from class to class rather than teachers, and no lockers will be assigned to students.