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Bethel Eyes Full In-Person School Instruction

Small class sizes and ample room is helping officials at Bethel Baptist Christian Academy plan for all in-person instruction in the fall.

The private school located on Hunt Road in West Ellicott released it reopening plan, and includes details on resuming classroom work and keeping students and staff safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently 60 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grades in addition to 14 faculty and staff positions.

Unlike some area school districts with hundreds of students, Bethel Baptist Christian Academy notes in its reopening plan it is expecting “in-person instruction for all students since our school population is so small and have moved classes to more spacious rooms where necessary.”

Some local districts are eyeing a hybrid return plan, with students learning both in the classroom and at home.

Enzo Leo, chairman of the school committee, said BBCA enjoys a 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio. “The teachers remain very dedicated to these kids to help them learn,” Leo said.

When schools across New York state closed in March due to the coronavirus, BBCA went to distance learning that included sending two weeks worth of instruction home to students. The work was then returned to teachers and additional work was sent back home.

“It was pretty nice,” Leo said of the virtual teaching method, noting that each student had direct access to their teacher. “The teachers did a great job of preparing and doing the best they could. We’re very happy, and I’m proud of the commitment they have to the students.”

Regarding its reopening plan, the school has outlined several measures for the fall:

¯ students, teachers and staff will be required to wear face masks while entering and exit the building. In addition, masks will be required for students when moving between classrooms;

¯ every classroom will be equipped with hand sanitizer, in addition to dispencers located in the halls and other areas of the building;

¯ recess and physical education classes will be held outdoors as much as possible, but will be held indoors during inclement weather;

¯ classes normally held in small rooms will be moved to larger locations;

¯ canceling the fall sports season.

Leo said the tentative plan is for all instruction to be done in-person at the school. He said temperatures of all students, teachers and staff will be checked each day before class; those with a temperature above 100 degrees will be sent home.

If the virus forces schools to close in the fall, Leo said BBCA will be prepared to go with a virtual learning teaching method.

“If we had to do that we will be ready,” he said, “but we’re hoping we don’t have to do that based on what the governor has said. I think we’ll be in good shape.”

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