By Jodee Riordan
Board of Education President
Lewiston-Porter has submitted its reopening plan to the New York State Education Department (NYSED). The reopening plan provides for in-person instruction, remote learning, and a hybrid of the two approaches as required by NYSED. Superintendent Paul Casseri shared our reopening plan with the school community this week. The full plan was shared in his email and is posted to the district website, www.lew-port.com.
Thank you to the 1,148 people who provided feedback through our survey. You significantly helped to shape our plan. As we worked to finalize the plan throughout the week, guidance from NYS continued to evolve beyond the 145-page document published July 14.
Clarification issued regarding social distancing now requires all students to be at least 6 feet part at all times, effectively eliminating the opportunity for all students to be on campus at one time. Based on guidance from the New York State Department of Health, the Niagara County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department, a hybrid learning model appears to best address the health and safety of our students and staff.
We will offer two options to return students to school:
•Option one is a hybrid model. In this option, we have divided our school population (pre-K -12) into two groups: A green group, letters A-L; and a white group, letters M-Z (making sure all students from the same family are in the same group). Mondays will be a full remote learning day. There will be no student attendance and all learning will take place remotely.
Students in the green group will attend on Tuesday and Wednesday, while students in the white group will attend on Thursday and Friday. For self-contained special education students and for English language learners, Mondays will be remote learning and attendance will take place Tuesday through Friday as required by NYSED guidance.
•Option two is a remote learning option, simultaneous with the hybrid model. This option will be handled separately and will be guided by specific staff assigned to facilitate specific online learning programs for elementary students (K-5) and secondary students (6-12). This option will be handled by a dedicated core group of teachers focused solely on delivery of these learning programs.
Families with underlying medical issues or families that are simply not comfortable with a return to school may select this option.
There is specific paperwork that must be completed at each building for families that are selecting this option. Parents must make a decision for this option and complete all required paperwork by Friday, Aug. 14, so we can understand exactly how many families we are serving through 100% remote learning.
Parents who make that decision will be asked to remain in full remote learning through the first 10 weeks of school. Families can rejoin the hybrid model or any other shift in our plan after 10 weeks.
As Superintendent Casseri stated in his email, we are ready and willing to move to full attendance if New York state guidance changes or the governor’s final decision on schools (expected next week) creates any possibility of full student attendance. The final decision on school reopening rests fully with the governor. He could allow districts to implement their approved instructional plans, assessing reopening on a regional basis, or he may make a statewide decision not to reopen schools, which would force us to a 100% remote option. We will know more next week.
Once Gov. Cuomo announces exactly what reopening will look like, Lewiston-Porter will hold a series of parent forums. These will offer an opportunity for parents to review and ask specific questions regarding our plan.
Parents must sign up by building, and these forums will be limited to 50 parents per event. Only one parent per family may be in attendance at the forums. A sign up for these events will take place by building.
The forums will all take place in the high school auditorium on the following dates and times: elementary (PEC/IEC) forums will be held at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12; noon, Aug. 19; and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 26. Secondary (middle/high school) forums will be held at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13; noon, Aug. 20; and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27. The events will be hosted live in a virtual, interactive format. We encourage your family to attend.
The Board of Education fully supports the reopening plan and all efforts of the Lewiston-Porter administration, faculty and staff in returning to school safely and providing the best possible education to each student during this ongoing crisis. The board has been involved in planning at each step of the process. We share your concerns: We are parents, too. Our children, our families, are going through this with yours.
Please read the plan carefully and watch for more guidance from Superintendent Casseri. Please know everyone at Lewiston-Porter is here to support you and your family, whatever your needs.
In sharing the reopening plan, we understand many families will want and need more information, and others may even be critical of the plan. We encourage everyone to attend the forums, ask questions and continue to offer feedback. Feel free to reach out to me directly.
We are all in this together, and together we will all get through this.