Schools Eye Hybrid Method For School Year

School districts across New York submitted their plans to return to school to the state department of education on Friday.

Most Chautauqua County schools opted to plan for a hybrid method — combining a mix of in-person and remote instruction.

Southwestern Central School District Superintendent Maureen Donahue told The Post-Journal that her district will divide families up by “Red” and “Blue” groups and alternate days as “Red” and “Blue Days.”

“If I’m a “Red” kid, on the day that I’m home and I still have to be logged in and learning and working on curriculum,” she said. ” It’s not perfect. It’s not what anybody would’ve wished and what we signed up for. We’re doing the very best that we can given the circumstances. Everybody really has put their best foot forward. … This plan is hours of work on behalf of our parents and multiple staff members and we have a lot of work to do before school starts.”

That was done through a thought exchange, Donahue said.

“We put out a thought exchange first, asking some questions,” she said. “People are appreciative, but they also know that they need to get back to a schedule and get their kid to school so they can get back to work. I get that. People are nervous and none of us want to either contract COVID-19 or spread it.”

“We are going to have kids that we are going to identify that are going to come in every single day,” she added. “There will be individual situations and we’re looking at a variety of different things that would be factors for us. Kids that are on the off-day will be receiving full virtual in grades 6-12.”

The district will also utilize Microsoft Teams to take attendance and monitor student activity, she noted — especially on their out-of-school learning day.

“Daily attendance will be taken whether in-person or remote and we will be sticking with the schedule, have added more communication,” she said.

“Medical facilities use Microsoft Teams to collaborate and because we’re an Office 365 school, we’ve already done the training. Everything is in there that we need.”

That dedication to a return to normal learning and assessment — despite part of it coming remotely — was also a focus for Sherman Central School, said Superintendent Michael Ginestre.

“At Sherman, it’s going to be completely different than what we did in the spring,” Ginestre said. “Our plan is to run in-person and remote learning simultaneously and broadcast live every class out of Sherman so that anybody with a device and the Zoom link can access the class. It doesn’t’ matter if you’re home or if you’re in school. You will still have access to your teacher.”

This was done to provide equity to students, he noted.

“Every student will have a schedule and it will look similar whether it is in-person or remote,” Ginestre said. “We will take attendance every period. If you’re home, you’re going to be required to be online. Grading will be the same as it was prior to the pandemic.”

Ginestre’s district will hold in-person instruction for Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade Monday through Thursday with Friday serving as the lone in-person instruction day for middle and high school students due to building limitations and social distancing guidelines.

“The process was pretty extensive,” Ginestre said. “We used guidance from health officials and we convened basically internal committees of administrators, teachers and staff members. After that, we presented our plan to the board last Monday night to get their input. We sat down and wrote it all together last weekend. We tweaked it this week as we found out more guidance and submitted it today.”

The district also will hold a community forum on Aug. 10 once the Aug. 7 deadline for the state to approve or deny plans has passed.

“The next phase for us is communications,” he said. “We’re waiting because we would like to see what the governor says on the 7th before we really engage in live forums with our community. By then, we should know what route we’re taking. On the 10th we’ll engage the community for our plans after the governor makes the announcement. It’s a lot of scheduling. We’ve completely thrown out our old schedule because of the hybrids and remote plans.”


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