By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Grand Island Central School will embark on a hybrid reopening of school in September, school board members learned at a monthly meeting last Monday.
The hybrid model with cut daily attendance at school in half.
Reopening plans to be submitted to the state Friday “are subject to change,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian Graham at an online meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education.
Graham said that, after discussing the survey data with the board, “We’re going to be recommending a hybrid approach” to schooling in September.
The hybrid plan was one of three considered.
√ Plan A: Minimal social distancing with 100% of the students returning to the classrooms in September.
√ Plan B: Moderate social distancing with a hybrid approach of 50% of the students returning to the classrooms at a time in September and the other 50% distance learning.
√ Plan C: Maximum social distancing with all students participating in distance learning.
The plan devised by the district reflects the depth and breadth of input from stakeholders representing all school buildings, Graham said, adding 12 task force committees have worked since June on the reopening plan. Parent surveys and student input were also part of the reopening plans.
Parents, not the district, will need to screen their children’s health before sending them to school, and employees will need to screen themselves.
“The parent needs to do that work. The employee needs to do that work,” Graham said.
Parents should screen their children at home before boarding the bus or drop-off at the school, he noted.
“So clearly, everybody is going to have to participate in screening their own health and the health of their child before they come to school, or come to work,” Graham said.
In devising the plan, the district had six “Guiding Principles for Reopening Schools.”
√ Consider the safety and wellness of students and employees, first and foremost;
√ Respond to the needs of vulnerable and high needs populations;
√ Be adaptable and flexible with the ability to move throughout the academic year from one reopening plan to another based as it relates to public health needs;
√ Synergize multiple operational and academic factors to develop effective plans;
√ Ensure engagement with all voices represented in the schools; and
√ Maintain consistent communication with students, families and employees to ensure respect and success within the evolving situation.
Graham said the district would prepare to “flip a switch” to switch reopening plans on the go as public health dictated. Graham said the plan will be posted online at www.grandislandschools.org/reopening.
More than 120 individuals, including parents, teachers, students, administrators and school-related personnel, had input on the plan, which responded to directives from the state. On July 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced there would be a formula to decide the reopening of schools by region. For schools to be reopened:
“A region must be in Phase 4 and the infection rate in that region must be under 5 percent. If the rate goes above 9 percent, the schools will be closed. For reopening, the state will look at a region’s average infection rate over 14 days. For closing, the state will look at the average over a seven-day period.”
Graham said as of Monday’s meeting, he believed the current average was at 1%.
Schools will educate students in proper hand and respiratory hygiene and provide the necessary supplies, Graham reported.
According to the board presentation, the district will teach mask, proper hand washing and hand sanitizing, and social distancing etiquettes.
“I’m asking all of our parents to help our children become acclimated to face cloth coverings now,” Graham added.