‘In the Loop’ with the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education
By Jodee Riordan
Board of Education President
With our reopening plan now out, we are working diligently as a district to put our plan into action. We are focusing on reopening Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the hybrid model outlined in our plan. Our plan allows students to attend school in person or choose a 100% remote learning option. As parents decide what the best option is for their children, we are committed to providing all the information we can to support our families.
First, carefully follow Superintendent Paul Casseri’s messages to the community. Paul sends updates via email regularly with absolutely everything you need to know. Things change quickly in this new COVID-19 world, and Paul updates the community in real time. The messages are shared on all social media. This week, the district also began sending text message notifications with a link to Paul’s community message.
Visit the Lewiston-Porter website for complete information. Click the COVID-19 reopening tab on the homepage to be directed to the “COVID-19 Communication & Information” center. There you will have access to all plans, FAQs, documents, forms and a complete archive of COVID-19 communication from the superintendent.
Attend one of our family forums: primary level forum (grades K-5): Aug. 12 at 5:30 p.m.; Aug. 19 at noon; Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. Secondary level forum (grades 6-12): Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m.; Aug. 20 at noon; and Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. All forums will take place in the high school auditorium with proper social distancing and all safety protocols on place.
The forums will offer an opportunity for parents to review and ask specific questions regarding our plan. Attendance at each forum will be limited to 50 parents per event, with only one parent per family. The events will be hosted live in a virtual, interactive format with unlimited attendance capacity. Families who attend virtually will be able to submit questions live online during the forums.
To register to attend in-person, or for the links for each virtual meeting, go to “Community Forums” in the “COVID-19 Communication & Information.”
In order to fully prepare for the new year, we ask that each family complete the learning and transportation commitment form as soon as possible. This will allow us to complete planning for both teaching and learning and to determine accurate bus routes. It is vital that we 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.
The deadline for this commitment was set for Friday, Aug. 14, but, in response to feedback from parents, that has been amended:
“Some parents have questioned why the district planned Family Forums after the deadline for the decision of August 14th. I am sorry for the confusion. The forums were created to have opportunities for parent family feedback through August. We recognize that many families know what they want to do and simply need clarification to better understand the model. We hope that the majority of families will be able to respond by August 14th. Please understand that if, as a family, you plan on attending a forum either in person or virtually and wish to make your decision as to whether to return in the staggered attendance model or opt for the 100% remote after these meetings that is absolutely fine,” Paul stated in today’s community message.
While we are encouraging families to make the decision as soon as possible, parents can make their decision through Friday, Aug. 28, if needed (following the final forum on Aug. 27).
Paul also addressed the specific concerns of our families of children with special needs: “We know that this process has been very difficult for families of students with disabilities. These are our most fragile students both from a health and a learning standpoint. The New York State Education Department was quite clear that all aspects of a child’s IEP must be met in any learning model that is developed. Certainly, we will address general questions related to special education at all our forums, but given the sensitivity of some of these cases and keeping in mind HIPPA and FERPA rights of families and children, it is essential that families reach out to the Director of Special Education, Dr. Barbara Godshall, and/or building Principals to develop and address specific needs and concerns.”
As we move forward with our planning, we continue to wait for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce what reopening will actually look like in New York state. The decision on reopening schools rests fully with him. We could open with the hybrid model outlined in our plan or be told to go 100% remote.
While the governor prepares this decision, he has continued to add requirements and (sometimes conflicting) guidance. We continue to work together, and in collaboration with our fellow school districts and local and state officials, to meet each change. As soon as we know the official word, we will communicate how our plans fit within the framework allowed by law.
The Board of Education will meet for a work session at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. We have been meeting in-person since July 1, following all safety guidelines and protocols. The public can attend all meetings via Zoom. The link is posted on the district homepage: meeting ID: 722 6316 0298; passcode: Lewport.
Please join us.
We will meet next on Monday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m.
Stay strong, Lewiston-Porter!