Plattsburgh City School District Re-Opening Plan
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Remote Learning, Testing & Contact Tracing Plans
To the Plattsburgh City School District parents, guardians, students and community,
On behalf of the staff and Board of Education of the Plattsburgh City School District, I am proud to share this draft reopening plan for instruction in Fall, 2020. This was developed amidst incredibly difficult circumstances, and the evolving nature of the ongoing pandemic has prompted me to label this document as a draft, until such point as final directive is received from the Governor, and/or updated guidance is released by the Department of Education and/or Department of Health. This plan does, however, represent the district’s most complete and evolved plans, as of July 31, 2020.
The committee which helped to construct this plan worked diligently to identify, consider, and devise solutions for a seemingly unending number of challenges. These committee members are enumerated herein and deserve our community’s sincere thanks.
Though the scenarios outlined in this document will surely be of primary concern to parents, students, and staff of the district, the larger community will no doubt benefit from understanding the direction and efforts of the schools which it supports, and should be reassured by the district’s efforts to balance continuity of instruction, health risks to students, staff and community, and decrees by government authorities.
As you will see, the district has developed three parallel modes of instructional delivery: fully in-person, fully remote, and a hybrid. Each presents numerous challenges and none of these various systems can be deemed as desirable, or as effective as the pre-pandemic education for which our district was so admired. However, amidst unfavorable conditions, our district has most certainly created the best-possible, most reasonable educational programming, and we will continue to support and educate students as best the circumstances permit.
Fully in-person instruction is how we (barring any subsequent governmental directives) anticipate beginning the academic year. In this delivery system, we will endeavor to replicate the traditional school day and school experience, while of course making necessary pandemic-driven adjustments. All parties should be aware that this pandemic-era, in-person instruction will deviate significantly from the traditional, pre-pandemic experience. Further, it must be fully understood in advance that social distancing will not be universally possible, and that mask-wearing will be expected whenever spacing is constrained.
The remote delivery of instruction, though undesired and still not ideal, was an area of great strength in our district during Spring, 2020. The universal availability of high-speed internet within the City of Plattsburgh is a tremendous comparative advantage enjoyed by our students, and the respectable remote instruction of the early phase of the pandemic closure will be enhanced so as to include more live, direct video conferencing opportunities, a consistently-used educational platform, and a heightened general degree of comfort with the education delivered in the digital realm. Should this mode become necessary, we will build upon the experiences of last year’s closure to offer an even more authentic, more interactive version of remote instruction.
Finally, if and as circumstances demand a reduction in population density within our buildings, a hybrid delivery system which features a rotational system for students has also been created. In situations where this delivery system is appropriate, students will continue to enjoy periodic in-person interaction with their teachers and with a subset (approximately half) of their peers, but will receive the balance of their instruction remotely. While students and families will still need to advance through some material and assignments independently in the hybrid mode of instruction, regular in-person engagement with, and direct instruction from, teachers will allow for ongoing assessment of learning, enhanced relationship building, and some measure of all of the other benefits of in-person learning.
These plans are sound, and an incredible number of safety and operational accommodations have been developed. Where, I believe, we will all be most challenged, is in quickly moving between these modes of instruction. When such ‘pivots’ are necessary, we will endeavor to do so without any lost instruction — switching between systems overnight. Clearly, this will require both effective communication and incredible flexibility by all parties.
Aside from students who pursue remote instruction as part of homebound instruction directed by a medical provider, families will not have the choice to elect one of the three planned instructional modes. Rather, our students and faculty will move together through these modes if and as circumstances surrounding the virus dictate. At present, notwithstanding any further decrees from Governor Cuomo, the district plans to begin the 2020-21 school year in full in-person mode (with all of the many health and safety measures outlined herein in-place), and to ‘retreat’ to the hybrid or full-remote modes as circumstances dictate. Systems which offer parental choice of mode were considered and viewed with disfavor because of issues with scaling staff to student participation, and because of concerns about the inequity of simultaneously educating students within our district via different (and disparately effective) modes. Whatever Fall, 2020 holds for our district with regards to the virus, we will approach the challenges which await as a cohesive unit.
The district recognizes the childcare challenges which different and potentially-changing modes of educational delivery might cause for parents. Project Connect has been discontinued for Fall, 2020, but the district is engaged in discussions with the YMCA regarding the provision of before- and after-care programs in our three elementary buildings, or for our elementary school students at a central location. Perhaps more concerning for parents are the childcare challenges faced under the full-remote and hybrid modes of instructional delivery. Though no formal plans are yet in-place, the district is similarly-engaged with the YMCA for providing childcare supports in these circumstances. During full-remote instruction, as was the case during the Spring, 2020 closure period, the district’s facilities would be available, and it is hoped that the YMCA might offer daytime childcare in spaces within our schools. During hybrid instruction, these school sites will not be available (as they will be occupied by a rotating subset of our students), and it is hoped that the YMCA will be able to provide childcare services at a non-school site within the City of Plattsburgh. Additional information about childcare programs will be shared with parents as soon as possible.
Your continued support and cooperation are so very appreciated. We should, each and all, be honored by our community’s and district’s response to these most challenging of circumstances.
Superintendent of Schools